February 25, 2019

My Favourite Places in Tamil Nadu

Enchanting Tamil Nadu in southern India is popular for its rich culture, traditions, art, and music. The state has a plethora of places to explore for both, the traveller and the tourist.

Once ruled by dynasties such as Cholas and Pandyas, the state is known for its innumerable temples with spectacular sculptures and carvings.  It also boasts of a beautiful coastline, lined with several less-explored beaches. The Niligiris biosphere has ensured that Tamil Nadu is also home to some lovely hill stations and dense forest reserves. This state, located on the tip of the Indian peninsula, offers some of the magnificent sunrise and sunset views in the country.

What makes visiting all these places in Tamil Nadu a great experience is the fact that its roads are well-maintained. This makes considering a road trip through the state a great way to experience Tamil Nadu.One can also opt for any South India tour packages that would cover various destinations.

While the popular ones always remain the preferred choice, India tourism and Tamil Nadu tourism are making great efforts to ensure that the not-so-popular destinations too get their deserving share of visitors.

Below are a few of my personal favourites when it comes to less-explored places to visit in Tamil Nadu.


The popular town of Rameshwaram lies across the Pamban bridge, which connects it with mainland India. A mere 29 Kms from Rameshwaram is Dhanushkodi, the deserted land which was totally swept away by a cyclone in 1964. The then flourishing fishing hamlet was left devastated and was considered a ghost town for a long period due to lack of human settlements.

Presently, there are some fishing families that stay here. A few dilapidated, crumbling, and windswept structures are what you can find here, apart from make-shift shops selling shells and fruits. The coastal stretch is gorgeous all the way, with the road running parallel to the sea; the sunsets are breathtakingly delightful.

A quick 4 kms from there, the same road takes you to Arichalmunai, the end tip of the Indian peninsula.


While the prominent colonial towns in India have mostly been under the British, French, Portuguese or Dutch rule, Tharangambadi or Tranquebar as it is sometimes called, was the only Danish colony. Located further south of Pondicherry and close to Karaikal, Tharangambadi was a flourishing sea port during the 15th century under the Cholas and Pandyas. Danes made their presence felt in India with the Dansborg Fort in 17th century and ruled the place for over 200 years.

Tranquebar presently has a few colonial buildings, old churches, narrowbylanes, a dilapidated fort wall, an old fort, and a beautiful sea shore. Tharangambadi, which means ‘Land of the Singing Waves’ in Tamil, stays true to its name with a beautiful shoreline.


The region of Chettinad in central Tamil Nadu is made of 75 villages such as Karaikudi, Pallathur, Athangudi etc. Of these, Kanadukathan stands out as the most charming one with its numerous dilapidated Chettiar mansions known as Nattukottais. When the Chettiar community moved into this region in the 12th century, the villages prospered and numerous palaces were built.
Over the years, the fortune of the community dwindled and they moved to various parts of the country. However, what they have left behind is a treasure trove of dilapidated, colourful palaces and a stunning heritage. A few of these grand palaces have been converted into hotels. Some of them have a care taker who would show you around.

With magnificent outer facades, carved doors, tall ceilings, Burmese teak furniture, Japanese ceramic tiles, Italian marble, and mirrors from Belgium, these mansions showcase the Chettiar community’s opulence and style of living.

The nearby Athangudi village is known for its popular tile making industry. The region is also popular for its spicy cuisine.


Situated at the base of Arunachaleshwar hill, Tiruvannamalai is a small temple town known for its Annamalaiyar temple. Dedicated to Shiva, it is apparently the second largest temple complex in India after Ranganathaswamy temple at Srirangam.

Tiruvannamalai is also known for its numerous ashrams, of which Raman Ashramam is the most popular one. As the ashram attracts people from world over, the town sees a lovely blend of foreign tourists and Indian pilgrims. It is pleasantly surprising to see many continental cafés alongside vegetarian hotels.

The hill behind Ramana Ashram offers lovely view of the town and temple. The KarthigaiDeepam festival held during the full moon night between November and December every year is quite popular, and pilgrims circumnavigate the Arunachaleshwar hill a day prior.


When we try to visualize tea estates in South India, images of Munnar, Ooty or Coonoor are conjured in the mind. If you are keen on a similar holiday but would like to stay away from the crowds, Valparai in Anamalai hills is the place to visit.

Lined with tea gardens, Valaparai is located close to the Sholayar forest; 40 hair pin bends from the sprawling Aliyar dam lead to this hill station. The views of the Aliyar dam from the viewpoints en-route are absolutely gorgeous.

Further, strolling through the vast tea gardens is an absolute delight. The Nallamudi Poojolai view point and Sholayar dam are the other nearby attractions. The place is also home to the elusive lion-tailed macaques. Do not be surprised to spot bisons amidst the tea gardens of Valparai.

Apart from these places in Tamil Nadu, one can also visit the state capital, Chennai. For a great day outing with adventure and fun, visit MGM in Chennai. Check here for discounts on MGM tickets.

February 23, 2019

Khonoma: A Quaint and Secluded Village in Nagaland

Engulfed by hills, paddy fields and lush greenery is Khonoma, an Angami village 20 Kms away from the city of Kohima. Khonoma is where two prominent British- Angami battles took place in mid 19th century. The village also has a memorial erected in remembrance of the same. The village is often referred as the first green village in India. The initiative taken by the government and tourism board to keep the village as green as possible is well supported by the villagers who have stayed away from cutting trees and hunting.

The village is an hour’s drive away from Kohima and one can hire shared taxis to Khonoma. The dusty road winds its way past the hills from Kohima to Khonoma with nice vistas all along. Located on a ridge and at a height of more than 5300 feet, the village overlooks picturesque vast valleys and distant hills. Terraced paddy fields encapsulates the village and it is well recommended to walk down to these fields and stroll through them.  Believed to be around 500 years old, the village is home to 800 families.

Visitors can either languorously walk  through the village on their own, or book a guide and listen to the history of Khonoma and its people as he takes you through the village. The entrance gate is adorned with a large tribal art and the village also houses a couple of forts. The forts namely, Merhumia fort, Semomia fort and Thevomia fort are actually small houses which were used to keep women and children safe during battles.

The village is a pretty one with wooden houses, morungs (community building), a few shops and the friendly locals. The neatly laid stone pathway meanders through the clean village which has been well kept by the residents. It is common to see women weaving Naga shawls outside their homes. The common assembly area is known as Khwehou, where a huge raised circular area with numerous small stone slabs is used as a place for gathering and announcements. The village also has a natural water reservoir. Only a couple of houses still maintain the Angami architecture and a few of them have interesting artefacts such as rifles hung outside.

The people of Khonoma follow rich traditions and their important festivals are Sekrenyi and Thekranyi, held in the months of February and May respectively. The festivals are related to paddy cultivation and they are celebrated with games, dances and music. The village is also known for its carvings in stone which can be seen at some houses.

Though Khonoma is an ideal one day trip from Kohima, the village has a few guest houses in case visitors would like to stay over.

Travel Tips:
  • Shared taxis are easily available to commute from Kohima to Khonoma. The charges are INR 600 for a round trip with a 2-3 hour waiting period.
  • Make sure to obtain Inner Line Permits before visiting Kohima/ Khonoma.

How to reach Khonoma:

Khonoma is 20 Kms from Kohima. Kohima is 70 Kms away from Dimapur which houses the nearest railway station and airport. There are regular shared taxis that ply between Kohima and Dimapur. One can also opt for the public bus service.

February 18, 2019

Kohima in 24 hours- Places to visit

Engulfed by hills, Kohima is a bustling city nestled in the north eastern part of India and is known for its popular Hornbill festival. The city which is the capital of the state of Nagaland was also pivotal during the Second World War as it was witness to the English- Japanese treaty. Presently Kohima doesn’t portray any glimpses of the colonial times and has all the characteristics of a modern city. However, it has a few attractions apart from the Hornbill festival and the beautiful interiors such as Khonoma, Dzouko valley, Tuophema etc. Here are a few places to visit in Kohima if one has a day to spare.

War Cemetery

Maintained by the Commonwealth War Graves Commission, the war cemetery is located in the middle of the town. It houses more than 1300 graves of the brave Indian, British and Commonwealth soldiers who were martyred during the Second World War. An interesting point to note is that most of the martyrs were young and in their early 20s. The cemetery is neatly laid out with well manicured stepped lawns and flowering plants. Located at a height, the higher steps of the cemetery offer views of the sprawling city of Kohima. The cemetery is open from 8 AM to 3:30 PM during summers and from 8:30 PM to 3 AM during winters.

War museum

Kisama heritage village which holds the Hornbill festival every year also houses a World War II museum with a huge display of memorabilia. The museum offers a great insight into the stories, photographs and other details from the world war era. The Hornbill ground and morungs of various tribes are adjacent to this war museum. The war museum is 12 Kms from Kohima.

Local Markets

The local markets of Kohima such as Central market or BOC market offers quirky frames. From vegetables to snake fishes to frogs to snails to pigs, the markets offer a plethora of items on sale. It is not recommended for the faint hearted, but for the curious souls these are definitely interesting. It is always recommended to ask for permission before taking photographs inside the market.

Catholic Cathedral

Atop the Aradura hill, the Catholic Cathedral of Kohima stands tall overlooking the city. Known for its unique geometrical shape, the cathedral is the largest in North East India. Beautiful paintings adorn the interiors of this prominent landmark which was consecrated in 1991 with funding from the people of Japan.

Nagaland State Museum

This wonderful museum has a magnificent display of myriad artefacts, armoury, household items, musical instruments, jewellery, paintings and photographs of the various tribes of Nagaland. The museum showcases the rich culture of Naga tribes apart from a deep insight into their lives, history and anthropology.  There are also numerous sculptures displayed outside the museum which have been unearthed from various locations. The museum is open from 10 AM to 3 PM and remains closed on Mondays.


Café culture and western music have slowly caught up with the young generation of Kohima. There are a few lovely cafes in the city which serve both local and continental cuisine. FIFA café, Symphony café, Oasis restaurant etc. are some of the recommended places to eat in Kohima.

Travel Tips:

  • It is recommended to visit the war cemetery and state museum during the first half of the day as they close early in the evening.
  • Shared taxis are easily available to commute across the city.
  • Every shop and restaurant shuts down by 7 PM every day. 
  • Make sure to obtain Inner Line Permits before visiting Kohima.

How to reach Kohima:

Kohima is 70 Kms away from Dimapur which houses the nearest railway station and airport. There are regular shared taxis that ply between Kohima and Dimapur. One can also opt for the public bus service. Shared taxis are available to commute within the city.

Food and Accommodation:

There are cafes and restaurants across the city. Most of them serve local cuisine and non-vegetarian fare. There are numerous hotels and guest houses in Kohima. EcoStay hostel is a good option for budget travellers.

February 13, 2019

Nagaland ILP for Indians

Inner Line Permit or ILP is a travel document that is required by Indians to visit Nagaland. This document is mandatory for all Indian citizens unless they are a domicile of Nagaland. This can be procured from Deputy Resident Commissioner’s office in New Delhi, Kolkata, Guwahati, Shillong or Dimapur. Dimapur is the only city in Nagaland which people can visit without the permit. While travelling from Dimapur to Kohima or Hornbill festival or to other deeper regions of the state, one needs to show the permit at the check post as you exit the city.

The procedure to obtain ILP for Nagaland is a simple process at Dimapur.

  • Go to Deputy Commissioner’s office. The office opens by 9:45- 10 AM during weekdays.
  • Buy the ILP form by paying Rs.10. Fill the form and submit it along with a photocopy of any of your photo ID (Adhaar card, Voter’s ID) and two passport size photographs.
  • Pay Rs.160 along with the form for the permit.
  • ILP for each visitor has to be applied individually.
  • Collect the ILP from the same counter after 1.5 or 2 hours. Make sure to have a couple of copies of the ILP when you exit Dimapur.

One can also apply for the ILP online.

Foreign nationals do not require the permit, but they need to register themselves at the nearest Foreigners Registration Office at the earliest upon entering Nagaland. However, citizens of China, Pakistan and Bangladesh require a Protected Area Permit (PAP).

February 8, 2019

EcoStay Hostel, Kohima- Review

Kohima, the capital of Nagaland is known for the Hornbill festival that happens a few kilometers away from the city very year. The city also has a few other attractions such as war cemetery, naga museum etc. There are numerous home stays, camps and hotels available in Kohima. However, the city has only one or two hostels that caters to the backpacker community who are on budget travel.

EcoStay Hostel is a fairly new hostel located next to the war cemetery. It is beautifully designed with capsule beds, complimentary breakfast, free wifi and all basic facilities. This mixed hostel has ten capsule beds next to each other and they look lovely lined up together. The common baths are adjacent and there are separate toilets and bath areas. The common area has a couple of tables for the inmates to have breakfast or to work on their laptop. This lovely hostel is centrally located and the charges are INR 450 per bed.

What I loved:

  • Design: Capsule beds are still not popular in India, but this hostel gives you a chance to experience the same.
  • Beds: The capsule beds might look a bit claustrophobic, but they are actually very comfortable and cosy.
  • Baths: The baths and toilets are neat and well maintained.
  • Breakfast: Though the breakfast includes only coffee, egg and a muffin, the fact that it is complimentary makes the tariff look attractive.

What I did not like:

  • Power points: There are no individual plug points for each bed. The points are outside the beds and in the common area.


EcoStay Hostel,

TCP Gate, Near WW II cemetery,
Midland Colony, Kohima,
Nagaland- 797001
Ph: +91-7005916834

P.S.: This is not a sponsored post.

February 6, 2019

Portraits from Hornbill Festival

Festivals are always a great place to capture portraits and candid frames. Hornbill festival known as the 'Festival of Festivals' is undoubtedly the place to visit if one would like to photograph the Naga tribes. Below are a few frames I captured during Hornbill Festival 2018 near Kohima, Nagaland.

P.S.: I was hosted by The Holiday Scout at Hornbill Festival.
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