The Country Retreat Farmstay, Bankli and Jawai Hills

What an amazing experience staying at The Country Retreat Farm house which is surrounded by fields with no concrete houses visible till the extent of your visibility.

It is certainly an experience for those who are willing to spend few nights away from the hustling and bustling modern cities. The retreat is truly authentic. It has a courtyard to sit and read books during the day and a small garden for the early morning and evening tea breaks.

The farm has a total of 4 guest rooms which are uniquely decorated.They are furnished with antiques and artifacts of the bygone era. It is incomparable with any other homestays or bed and breakfast Inn’s.

Meals

The delicacies served during meals at the property are delicious. You get to experience the authentic Rajasthani cuisine with local spices (you might not get the same taste anywhere).

Bankli village

Bankli is very small village in the Pali district of Rajasthan and one can notice only few houses enroute.The area is fascinating, quiet and very close to the nature.

The nearest railhead from Bankli is Jawai Bandh which is approx. 22 kms away. Falna is one of the important station in that route where a lot of trains stop there, it is approx. 40 kms away from Bankli.

Bankli is remote and very unique.

The major attractions in and around Bankli are as below:

  • Leopard Safari at Jawai Hills
  • Jeep Safari followed by hike to the Mallinath Cave Temple
  • Bird watching at Wetland which is also called the Rann
  • Jeep Safari through the countryside of Rajasthan, remote and rustic villages, visit to local schools and witness the Nomadic Rabari tribes
  • Elephant Rock Hike
  • Excursion to the famous Ranakpur Jain Temple Complex followed by a visit to the hidden waterfalls in the area
  • Excursion to Jawai Dam, the large reservoir is home to various migratory and residential birds including crocodiles

Green area around farmstay

Rock Mountain Temple View

Jawai-Hills-Rock-Mountains.jpg

Jawai

Jawai is one of the places which have a good number of Leopard populations in Rajasthan. It offers a lifetime experience spotting and sighting the Leopard in open. The landscape of the region is breath-taking with rocky Mountains, caves and the Jawai Dam. Unlike other national parks in India, the game drive is organized in an open Jeep either at Sunrise or Sunset. However the best sighting is during the night when the Leopards are out to the nearby villages for hunting. The sighting are almost next to zero during the day as they mostly relax in their caves and come out only in the evenings to sit on the boulders, waiting for darkness and for their next prey.

The terrain is a mix of rocky boulders, forests and open landscape adjoining local villages which makes an abode for the Leopards.

Jawai is the only place in Rajasthan and in India where Leopards and Humans co-exist with each other in complete harmony. There has NOT been a single incident reported from the area where Leopards have attacked any humans for food.

Bera Safari Lodge

Bera Safari Lodge is a Luxury homestay in Jawai Hills which is surrounded by rocky boulders which has a very high possibility of Leopard sighting from the property itself if you are lucky.

Jawai

Jawai has a population of around 40-50 Leopards in the Aravali regions of Godwad/Bera/Jawai. The area is also inhabited by the Rabari Tribe (The Shepherds/Herdsmen) and they can be easily recognized by their Red/Maroon Turbans.

Best properties to stay are the Bera Safari Lodge, Godwad Safari Camp and definitely the Sujan Jawai Camp. There are also other properties in the area like Amritara Jawai Sagar, Jawai Castle Resort, Castle Bera, The Country Retreat Farmstay in Bankli etc.

The region is famous for the Leopards and Shepherds i.e. Rabaris. Animal found in the area are Indian Leopard, Chinkaras, Desert Cat, Indian Wolf, Pythons, Jungle Cat, Blue Bulls etc.

The Leopard Safari in the Jawai Hills does not require passport details or passport scanned copies as the area does not fall under the forest department and not controlled by them. The local authorities and the government are working hard to stop the mining activities happening around the area in the wake of conservation efforts to save the wildlife.

Kandy, Sri Lanka

Kandy is a large city in central Sri Lanka. It’s set on a plateau surrounded by mountains, which are home to tea plantations and biodiverse rainforest. Kandy is one of the most sacred places of worship for the Buddhists due to The Temple of the Tooth Relic (Sri Dalada Maligawa) which is situated here in the heart of the city and on the banks of the Kandy Lake (Bogambara Lake).

The festival of the Tooth

Kandy celebrates one of its kind of festival in the month of July/August each year during the full moon dates known as the Kandy Esala Perahera or The Festival of the Tooth, is a grand festival celebrated with elegant costumes followed by a historical procession to pay homage to the Sacred Tooth Relic of Lord Buddha.

The procession consists of many traditional local dances such as fire-dances, whip-dances, Kandyan dances and various other cultural dances. The elephants in the procession are adorned with luxurious garments and the festival ends with the traditional diya-kepeema ritual, a water cutting ceremony which is held at the Mahaweli River in Kandy.

The month of Esala (July/August), during which period this annual pageant is usually held, had been considered a month of celebrations and festivity, both among Indians and Sri Lankans. Even from the lifetime of Lord Buddha in the 6th century BC, the Esala festival was held to commemorate Lord Buddha’s Conception, his Renunciation and the First Sermon. Esala is also considered to be the beginning of the raining season (Vassana) when the monks commence their Retreat. Also, this month is considered to be the period when ritual performances to the protective divinities are held, (e.g. Paththini puja) as recorded in the text ‘Paththini-Halla’.  Being considered a ‘chaste’ month, the period is held sacred for the availability of water.
Major attractions
-The Temple of the Tooth Relic which is a UNESCO World Heritage Site
– Peradeniya Botanical Gardens.

Nuwara Eliya, Sri Lanka (Ashok Vatika)

Nuwara Eliya was previously known as Seetha Eliya and Hakgala Gardens is the place where Ashoka Vatika used to be located ( Ashoka Vatika is the place where Ravana had kept Sita Devi in Lanka according to the Ramayana epic).

Hakgala Botanical Gardens

Nuwara Eliya is a city in the tea country hills of central Sri Lanka. The naturally landscaped Hakgala Botanical Gardens displays roses and tree ferns. It shelters monkeys and blue magpies. Nearby, is the Seetha Amman Temple, a colorful Hindu shrine, decorated with religious figures.

Little England

Nuwara Eliya is a hill station unlike Kandy and the temperature here is cool and cold in the night. It is also called 'Little England'.

One of the distinctive features of Nuwara Eliya's countryside is the widespread growing of vegetables, fruit and flowers usually associated with Europe. This "Little England" is covered with terraces growing potatoes, carrots, leeks, and roses interspersed with tea bushes on the steeper slopes.

The slow-growing tea bushes of this highland region produce some of the world's finest orange pekoe tea. Several tea factories around Nuwara Eliya offer guided tours along with an opportunity of tea tasting as well as to purchase their products.

The main attractions here are:

  • The Golf course
  • Victoria Park
  • boating/fishing on Lake Gregory.

Something different, every time

There are those places one goes multiple times. Typical situation is when you live near a popular tourist destination. The first time you go to see the most popular spots as part of a school trip. Then, you visit with one of your relatives who came visiting. A year or two later you happen to go to the same place again. Another relative, one more visit as you tag along. How do you ensure that you don’t suffer boredom. The first timers enjoy, while you feel tired and your legs won’t budge.

Well, there is a trick that could make every visit equally enjoyable. Its quite simple. Look for something different or do something different. The difference often presents itself and one should take it up as an opportunity.

I have visited Mysuru (Mysore) several times. But each visit has been thoroughly enjoyable. The Mysore Maharaja’s Palace is always on the agenda. Yet, on almost every visit, there has been something different to view. This time, I went there just to look at the illuminated Palace. Its a sight for the eyes. Since the Palace is huge, the vision is filled with a glorious sight. From the grounds in the Palace, its worth viewing the illuminated structure from various angles.

As I visited the Palace during the day as well, I took a tonga (horse cart ride) around the Palace; something I had never done earlier.

This time around, the visit to the Chamundi hills and the Sri Chamundeshwari temple was also a new experience. Probably die to the heavy rush of people thronging the place, vehicles were not allowed all the way to the top. Hence, we were forced to alight and park the vehicles. Then, I had to take the steps to the temple. That was a different route which I had not used earlier.

Well,  a slight change in agenda or timing is all that’s needed to make each visit different. Once, I had taken a different route to Mysuru. I took a detour to visit Shravan belagola to view the giant statue of Bahubali.

I am sure, there would be many more opportunities to visit Mysuru and each visit will be unique.

 

 

Colombo, Sri Lanka (Ceylon)

Colombo is the commercial capital and the largest city of Sri Lanka. It is located on the west coast of the Island. It was successively ruled by the Portuguese, Dutch and the British. Colombo is a busy and vibrant place with a mixture of colonial era buildings, modern high rise structures, shopping malls, galleries, museums, churches, mosques, temples etc.

The name ‘Colombo’ was first introduced by the Portuguese in 1505 A.D. The name is believed to be derived from the Sinhalese name of ‘Kolon thotha’ which means port on the River Kelani or ‘Kola-amba-thota’ which means harbor with leafy mango trees.

Gangaramaya Temple is one of the oldest Buddhist Temples in Colombo which demonstrates a mixture of various architectural styles.

The other places to visit in Colombo are the National Museum, Old Parliament, Colombo Fort, Old Dutch Hospital, Pettah Market, Independence Memorial Hall and Galle Face Greens.

The city of Colombo attracts a lot of tourists in the month of February to attend the Annual Pageant called the Navam Maha Perahera which is celebrated during the Full Moon days. The first Perahera was held in 1979 with few traditional artists and today it one of the most important cultural pageants in Colombo, with many visitors attending from across the globe.

It is a fascinating show with whip crackers, fire dancers, flag bearers, hundreds of beautifully decorated elephants, traditional Uda Rata, Pahatha Rata and Sabaragamuwa dancers, drummers, flutists and the procession of Buddhist Monks.

Tigers in Bandhavgarh National Park

FeaturedTiger in Bandhagarh National Park

With the highest know density of Tigers in India, Bandhavgarh National Park is a must visit place for all wildlife lovers.

It is located in Madhya Pradesh, India.


Apart from Tigers, Bandhavgarh is also known for ancient caves, a reclining statue of Lord Vishnu and other wildlife including Deer, Gaur (Indian Bison),Nilgai and several species of birds.