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East meets West in this sun-soaked state, where Indian culture intertwines with Portuguese influences left over from a 500-year occupation. The beaches have long served as a magnet for serene hedonists. To the north, the tourist-centric scene is prevalent, with an international flair that is now skewing more hip than hippie. Travel south for stretches of unspoiled sand and an escape from large resorts. Temples, mosques and wildlife sanctuaries provide diversions from the beach.
Candolim is just north of the Mandovi river and is home to Goa's most popular and well known resort and holiday village. As such, it's not a typical backpackers destination. The Candolim beach itself does not have much to offer when compared to its livelier neighbor, Calangute. However, if sunbathing and take the occasional dip is your thing then Candolim will offer you the perfect experience. One of the more interesting sights from Candolim beach is the bulk carrier ""River Princess"" which ran aground 100 metres offshore. While at the Candolim beach do not miss out the Aguada Fort. The fort was built by the Portuguese way back in 1912 for defense against the Dutch and the Maratha invaders. Candolim is aslo a very popular evening destination as it has a number of very good resteraunts and night clubs.
Also known as the ""Queen of Beaches"" , Calangute is is Goa's flagship beach. It is also the most commercialized of all beaches in Goa. Due to its extreme popularity, Calangute beach beckons tourists and backpackers from all over the world and the beach remains choc-a-block with tourists all year around. The beach is dotted with shacks and a lot of the clubs open up onto the beach. There are lots of shows held on the beach including rock, pop beat shows, open air dances, and fetes. Calangute offers all modern amenities like a post office, banks, foreign exchange offices and medical facilities. When in Calangute a must see is the Church of St. Alex, built in 1741.
Counted amongst the most popular and lively beaches in Goa, Baga(Beach) is literally an extension of Calangute. Baga is smaller than the Calangute and Colva beaches lying on either side of it. It is favored by tourist who want to sun bathe in peace during by day and enjoy the Goan nightlife by night. However, Baga can be just as exciting for the more active tourist and offers a wide range of water sports from jet skis to parasailing. Baga is known to have the best range of restaurants and the liveliest nightlife in the area. While you are there don't miss the Saturday Flea market for all kinds of odds and ends, handicrafts, jewellery and snacks
Deep in the foothills of the Western Ghats, Chikmagalur draws in-the-know travellers in search of a green getaway. Located close to the region’s hilltop temples, coffee plantations, and national parks, the district capital's biggest surprise is that it's retained its off-the-beaten-path ambience.
The misty hills, lush teakwood and sandalwood forests, and acres of tea and coffee plantations of Kodagu are, in a word, stunning. Also known as Coorg and dubbed "The Scotland of India," Kodagu is a postcard-perfect region of scattered villages and hamlets, which are the epitome of old-world charm. Kodagu is ideal for outdoor activities such as trekking, angling and white-water rafting, and major festivals like Keil Poldu (worship of weapons), Cauvery Shankaramana (return of the river goddess) and the Huttari (harvest) festival are a huge draw.
Popularly referred to as Ooty, this gem among southern hill resorts is covered in eucalyptus and pine trees and coffee and tea plantations. On a clear day, it's possible to see as far as the Mysore plateau from Dodabetta Peak, the district's most prominent viewpoint. The Stone House, a landmark 1822 bungalow, and St. Stephen's Church are remnants of the area's first British settlement. Also noteworthy: formal botanical gardens, a children's mini-garden and a contemporary art collection.
Sprawling tea plantations surround the serene hills of Munnar, which attract adventure travellers hungry for paragliding, treks to Anaimudi (South India's highest peak) and hikes originating at the confluence of three mountain streams. The stone Christ Church, built by the British in 1910, is adorned with renowned works of stained glass, and Eravikulam National Park, about 10 miles away, is home to equally colourful wildlife, including the endangered Nilgiri Tahr (ibex), ruddy mongoose and 120 bird species.
Kodaikanal has an endangered animal called the grizzled giant squirrel. To us, that alone is reason to book a trip ("grizzled giant squirrel" might be the best animal name ever). Perched on the woodsy southern crest of the Palani Hills, nearly 7,000 feet above sea level, this popular lakeside resort town is a magnet for nature lovers. Wander the peaceful slopes, keeping an eye out for birds, exotic flowers and, of course, grizzled giant squirrels.
Blossoming bougainvilleas, crumbling cathedrals on leafy boulevards and 18th-century colonial buildings colour the former French colony of Pondy, which sits on the Bay of Bengal. But it's also unmistakably Indian, with colourful festivals throughout the year, several mosques and the Sri Aurobindo Ashram. Quiet beaches stretch north and south from town, good for swimming and sunrise strolls. Pondy is a popular weekend getaway destination from Chennai and is easy to navigate on foot or by bicycle.
Want to make your co-workers insanely jealous? Just casually drop "I’m holiday making in the Maldives this year" into conversation, preferably in the dead of winter. Or better yet, go there without mentioning it to anyone—then send them a "Wish you were here!" postcard.
Sparsely-populated beaches that give way to an ocean brimming with interesting marine life and coral gardens are just one of the reasons to visit the beautiful Andaman and Nicobar Islands. Ghandi Park, Sippighat Farm and the century-old Cellular Jail (now a pilgrimage destination) provide glimpses into the past and present of these peaceful islands with a mysterious and multicultural past.
Bali is a living postcard, an Indonesian paradise that feels like a fantasy. Soak up the sun on a stretch of fine white sand, or commune with the tropical creatures as you dive along coral ridges or the colorful wreck of a WWII war ship. On shore, the lush jungle shelters stone temples and mischievous monkeys. The “artistic capital” of Ubud is the perfect place to see a cultural dance performance, take a batik or silver-smithing workshop, or invigorate your mind and body in a yoga class.
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