Karl Rock's Blog

India Travel Safety & Advice plus the Best of Incredible India

Category: Travel Itineraries

Orchha, chhatris, MP. Photo source: Flickr

The Best Places to Visit in Madhya Pradesh

“See India’s heart,” that’s how the Government’s Incredible India campaign describes Madhya Pradesh, as it is located in the center of the country, resembling the heart of the nation. It’s a state with a blend of heritage, culture, wildlife, food, and one of the biggest rivers – Narmada.

Sanchi

This place has Buddhist Stupas – hemispherical structures typically containing relics of the Buddha or his followers. The Sanchi Stupas were constructed on the orders of Emperor Ashoka. There are numerous stupas, temples, monasteries and an Ashokan pillar.

Points of interest:

  • Unesco world heritage site ‘Mahastupa’ (The Great Stupa)
  • Gupta Temple
  • Asokan pillar at Archeological museum
  • Chaiyta, Vihar
  • Bija Mandal, Vidisha District

Best Conveyance:

  • Air Travel – Nearest airport is in Bhopal city. Sanchi is 55 km north-east of Bhopal airport, which is well-connected with other airports like Mumbai, Ahmedabad, Raipur and Delhi.
  • Train – The nearest station is Bhopal. One can reach Bhopal by train and avail a bus / car from there for Sanchi.
  • Road – Sanchi is at a convenient distance from places like Bhopal (46 km), Vidisha (10 km) and Indore (232 km). Various tour operators provide private taxis and cabs.

Best Season to visit: July to April

Accommodation: Check availability on http://olrs.mpstdc.com/

Sanchi. Photo Source: flickr

Sanchi. Photo Source: Flickr

Khajuraho

Khajuraho is famous for its ancient temples that depict some of the finest art in the world. These temples depict various forms of meditation, spiritual teachings, kinship, wrestling, royalty and most significantly, erotic art.

Points of interest:

  • Kandariya Mahadeva Temple
  • Lakshmana Temple
  • Chitragupta Temple
  • Parsvanath Temple
  • Bija Mandal, Vidisha District
  • Can visit Panna National Park from there

Best Conveyance:

  • Air Travel – Khajuraho Aerodrome about 2 km from the town center and is well connected to cities like Delhi, Mumbai, Hyderabad, Varanasi and Indore. Taxis are available from the airport to reach the city centre.
  • Train – Khajuraho Railway Station, is around 5 km from the main town centre. The station is well connected to Delhi and Varanasi and (via Satna Railway Station) to Mumbai and Kolkata.
  • Road – Sanchi is at a convenient distance from places like Bhopal (46 km), Vidisha (10 km) and Indore (232 km). Various tour operators provide private taxis and cabs.

Best Season to visit: September to February

Accommodation: Check availability on http://olrs.mpstdc.com/

Khajuraho, MP. Photo source: Flickr

Khajuraho, MP. Photo source: Flickr

Kanha National Park

Kanha National Park is one of the largest parks in Madhya Pradesh. You can find Royal Bengal tigers there.  National Geographic’s award-winning ‘Land of the Tigers’ was shot here. A safari in Kanha is a must to have.

Points of interest:

  • Sonf Meadows
  • Kanha Meadows
  • Sindoor Trees
  • Shravan Tal
  • National Park

Best Conveyance:

  • Air Travel – Nearest airport is in Jabalpur (170 kms). The second best option is Nagpur airport (290 kms).
  • Train – The nearest railway stations are Bilaspur – 175 kms, Gondia – 127 kms, Jabalpur – 214 kms, Nagpur – 280 kms and Raipur – 216 kms
  • Road – The routes are: Jabalpur – Mandla – Kanha, cabs for hire available Raipur – Simga – Kawardha – Chilphi- Gadhi- Kanha, cabs for hire available Nagpur – Seoni – Balaghat – Baihar – Kanha, cabs for hire available.

Best Season to visit: September to February

Accommodation: Check availability on http://olrs.mpstdc.com/

Tiger at Kanha National Park, MP. Photo Source: Flickr

Tiger at Kanha National Park, MP. Photo Source: Flickr

Hanuwantiya

Located around Madhya Dweep which is a group of islands in the Indira Sagar dam and Hanuwantiya which is by the bank of Indira Sagar dam. Hanuwantiya also hosts India’s only and largest water carnival, Jal Mahotsav, every year.

Points of interest:

  • Boriyamal Island
  • The boat club/house
  • Tent City

Best Conveyance:

  • Air Travel – Indore Airport is the nearest (150 kms. / 03 hrs. approx.) to the Madhya Dweep group of islands.
  • Train – Khandwa is the nearest railway station is 50 km away.
  • Road – Connected by road from Indore, Bhopal and Khandwa

Best Season to visit: July to April

Accommodation: Check availability on http://olrs.mpstdc.com/

Hanuwantiya, MP. Photo source: Flickr

Hanuwantiya, MP. Photo source: Wikimedia

Bhedhaghat

Marble rocks along the graceful Narmada river. These tall mountains, are known to magically change shapes as you sail along the river, along with the Dhuandhar falls. Treat yourself with a boat ride on a moonlit night at the marble rocks.

Points of interest:

  • Marble Rocks
  • Chaunsath Yogini Temple
  • Dhuandhar Falls

Best Conveyance:

  • Air Travel – The nearest airport to this place is Jabalpur which is just 23 km away.
  • Train – Jabalpur is the nearest railway station to Bhedaghat.
  • Road – Easy to reach Bhedaghat by road, as buses, tempos and taxis run regularly from Jabalpur.

Best Season to visit: July to April

Accommodation: Check availability on http://olrs.mpstdc.com/

White Marble Rocks at Bhedaghat, MP. Photo source: Wikimedia

White Marble Rocks at Bhedaghat, MP. Photo source: Wikimedia

Bay of Islands. Photo by Andrea Lai https://flic.kr/p/aASWJb.

The Ultimate Northland, New Zealand Itinerary [+ HD Video]

While I’m back home in New Zealand for six weeks, I decided to jump on my beloved Kawasaki Versys and travel to the very tip of New Zealand and discover the best sights, food, and quirkiest accommodation on the Northland Twin Coast Discovery Highway.

Highlights of Northland include:

  • Adventure activities and the blue waters of the Bay of Islands
  • Seeing where the Maori and Europeans signed the Treaty of Waitangi
  • Hiking around the tip of NZ
  • Sandboarding
  • Walking among the mighty Kauri trees in the Waipoua forest
  • Swimming at some of New Zealand’s best beaches and lakes

It’s a rather tame ride along the Twin Coast Discovery Highway compared to my previous trip through the extreme beauty and danger of Ladakh and Kashmir. This ride is more about lush green beauty, adventure activities, beaches, and high-speed riding.

This isn’t my first time in Northland. It’s my third. The last time I ventured to the “subtropical” far north of New Zealand, the weather was terrible, and my iPhone died in a torrential downpour while braving the elements to visit the very tip of New Zealand, Cape Reinga, where the Tasman Sea and the Pacific Ocean meet. Not so fun.

The Twin Coast Discovery Highway + Cape Reinga Route

The Ultimate Northland, New Zealand Itinerary Map

Day 1: Auckland to Paihia (258 km, 4 hours)

 

Do: You need a full afternoon in far North’s tourism capital Paihia. Don’t miss the beautiful lush Waitangi Treaty Grounds where the treaty between Maori and Europeans was signed, the nearby Haruru Falls, and the stunning Hole in the Rock adventure cruise – out on the water is where Paihia, aka The Bay of Islands, shines!

If you have more time in Paihia go on a kayaking adventure, fishing, or swim with dolphins.

If you feel like a taking a dip in mineral-rich natural hot springs, head to the centre of the island and soak in the 14 different pools at Ngawha Springs.

Just before Paihia: If you have never experienced glow worms before, then the Kawiti Glow Worm Caves are worth stopping for an hour to check out!

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Eat: Head 3 km out of town to the renowned Haruru Falls Takeaways for amazing burgers and classic Northland Hoki & Chips.

Sleep: Take the car ferry over to Russell (15 km, 40 min). Russell is the picturesque first permanent European settlement just across the water from Paihia. Stay at the Orongo Bay Holiday Park in one of their unique American Indian Tipi accommodations or their glamping tents.

Tipi accommodation at Orongo Holiday Park.

Tipi accommodation at Orongo Holiday Park. Photo by Orongo Holiday Park.

If you want to stay in Paihia, The Mousetrap Backpackers or Haka Lodge Backpackers are both excellent places, Haka is right bang in the centre of town and Mousetrap is about 300m away down a sleepy street. The only downside to Haka is they have no on-site parking and you can’t park overnight on many of the surrounding streets. I found a free place to park about 150m away on Bayview Road.

Day 2: Paihia to Cape Reinga (213 km, 3 hours) to Kaitaia (111 km, 1.5 hours)

There are two ways from Kaitaia to Cape Reinga, by road or beach. If you’re riding an adventure bike, then you can take state highway 1 up and ride down Ninety Mile Beach (an official highway in NZ) back to Kaitaia.

Do: An hour out of Paihia is Coopers Beach which is an idyllic place to cool off in the water and devour what’s commonly known as the best fish & chips in NZ from the nearby Monganui Fish Shop.

A few kilometres before Cape Reinga is the Giant Te Paki Sand Dunes. Rent a board, climb up, and slide down!

Once you’ve checked out the view from the lighthouse at Cape Reinga, take the short 3 km return (1 hour) walking track to Sandy Bay from the car park to check out the rocky coastline. If you have more time and energy take the Te Werahi Beach track afterwards too (2.5 km return, 1 hour).

Cape Reinga 5. Photo © Karl Rock.

Cape Reinga. Photo © Karl Rock.

Eat: Fish of the day at the Monganui Fish Shop is something you can’t miss on your way to Cape Reinga. They’re situated on the water at the end of town, the view from the restaurant is a standout!

Blue Nose and Chips at the Mangonui Fish Shop. Photo © Karl Rock.

Blue Nose and Chips at the Mangonui Fish Shop. Photo © Karl Rock.

On the way back from Cape Reianga stop at Te Kao Store for one of their massive ice creams.

Sleep: Instead of going back to Kaitaia where there’s plenty of accommodation, I stopped at the remote and highly-recommended Wagner Holiday Park, 70 km from Cape Reinga. It didn’t disappoint! Another place I’ve stayed at is Northwind Lodge Backpacker at the nearby Henderson Bay, it’s secluded, picturesque, and his it’s own beach too.

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Day 3: Kaitaia to Dargaville (174 km, 3 hours)

During this ride, you’ll be taking the $5 Hokianga Ferry to cross to the historical township of Rawene where you can get a glimpse into early colonial life.

If you’ve ever heard the story of Opo the friendly dolphin who used to play with beachgoers and even let children ride on his back, then you should stop by sandy Opononi and swim where Opo used to. If you want to hear the story, stop at Opononi i-SITE to watch a short documentary about Opo.

Opo the dolphin playing

Opo the dolphin playing

Do: If you decide to take state highway 1 instead of the ferry, then stop for a walk among the boulders at Basalt Boulder Valley.

Also in Opononi is sandboarding. If you go at high tide you can slide over and into the clear waters of Hokianga Harbour!

Opononi. Photo © Karl Rock.

Opononi. Photo © Karl Rock.

Before you hit Dargaville stop once more to check out the lush Waipoua Forest. It’s an ancient forest of towering trees and rare birds. Just five minutes walk from the road you can spot the largest kauri tree in NZ, and that you’ll probably ever see – it’s around 2000 years old!

Over 2000 years old! Photo © Karl Rock.

Over 2000 years old! Photo © Karl Rock.

The significance of Kauri: Kauri trees are one of the world’s mightiest. They grow over 50 m tall and 16 m wide and live for thousands of years. Their wood was perfect for building boats, carving, and houses, and their gum great as a fire starter. The decimation of kauri began in the 1700s with the arrival of European settlers. The Wapoua forest was saved from destruction due to their remoteness, and in 1987 it became protected by the Department of Conservation as well as all kauri on private land throughout NZ.

The Kai Iwi Lakes are a perfect place to take a break and enjoy a dip in the crystal-blue waters surrounded by white sand. They’re two of the deepest and largest dune lakes in NZ. In summer they’re popular for swimming, fishing, and waterskiing.

Eat: Dargaville is known for its kumara (sweet potato) so stop at Blah Blah Blah Cafe for one of the many dishes featuring locally grown kumara.

Sleep: If you’re camping then stop before Dargaville at the tranquil Kai Iwi Lakes Campground.

Day 4: Dargaville to Auckland (176 km, 2.5 hours)

Do: On the way back to Auckland stop off at the quaint little village of Matakana. Every Saturday from 8 am – 1 pm they host the best local farmers market I’ve ever experienced. You can find all sorts of locally made produce and delicacies such as artisan baking, Italian sausages, organic chocolate, olive oil, coffee and more.

If you want to relax at a beautiful golden sand beach with mild surf then head to Omaha which is just 10 minutes away from Matakana.

Eat: Get an outdoor table at the Matakana Village Pub and enjoy a big juicy burger. The Tuck Shop is another good choice if you’re after a quick bite to eat.

After passing through Walkworth, a great place to stop to pick up great NZ made honey is the Honey Centre Walkworth. I always stop here to buy hard-to-find unprocessed honeycomb. It’s cut straight from the hive and packaged!

If you’re after great cheese, then your final stop before Auckland should be the Puhoi Valley Cheese Company’s factory. It’s just a few kilometres off state highway 1 past the tiny Puhoi township.

High Court of Karnataka

Best of Bangalore: 1, 2, and 3 Day Bengaluru Travel Itineraries

Bangalore is the Silicon Valley of India. It is the hub of India’s IT industry. It is also known as the garden city of India. With its towering buildings, well-kept gardens and small cafes, Bangalore is truly a city worth visiting.

Whether you have 1, 2, or 3 days, there’s enough to do in Bangalore to fill your time. With the below itinerary you’ll be able to visit the major highlights of the city at a relaxed pace. If you only have one or two days just choose the days that are most appealing to you. The days are designed with the location of the activities in mind, you won’t be running all over town. Interested? Read on.

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