Ooty is branded as the Queen of Hills, and it is because of its sheer beauty and radiance. The city is alluring throughout the year, and it makes up for a perfect destination for a year-round trip. Ooty is nestled between the beautiful the Nilgiri Hills and remains one of the favorite tourist destinations for people looking for a low-key travel destination.
The ideal time to visit Ooty is from March to June since the temperature stays below 20 degree Celsius. Although winters can be chilly, the summer is where the colors are at! The monsoon season brings greenery and fresh winds to complement the atmosphere.
Since most people visit Ooty in summers; it makes sense to look for 5 star hotels in Ooty beforehand. Travel websites offer incredible deals on flights, and hotels. You need a one-stop solution for a trip that makes your life easier and convenient.
Here’s a list of places that you should visit on a summer trip to Ooty!
Ride the Nilgiri Mountain Railway
Constructed by the British in 1908, The Nilgiri Mountain Railway is a world heritage site. The 46-km toy train journey commences from Mettupalayam and covers beautiful tunnels, curves, bridges and more to reach Ooty. On the way, a traveler is greeted by beautiful lush green foliage and the Nilgiri hills. The train goes from 300 feet to 7200 feet and will make paint some breathtaking views in your psyche. The valley view is enchanting and magical!
A popular destination in Ooty, the lake was built in 1825 and is about 2.5km long. One can go for picnics, paddle boating and enjoy the mesmerizing beauty of the Nilgiris. Make sure you reach Ooty Lake post lunch to enjoy the summer time breeze!
Standing at a peak altitude of 8,600 feet, Doddabetta Peak is the highest point in Southern India. It gives users a breathtaking view of the Nilgiris and is a must visit spot of Ooty. The panoramic views will leave you gasping for breath; such is the beauty of this place.
Located at about 20kms from Ooty, Pykara Waterfall makes up for a great outing. It is surrounded by pine trees, a lake, and the waterfall itself. People usually come here for picnic and adventurists can do some speed boating on the lake. If you are going with your beloved, the walk through the pine trees is especially magical!
The botanical garden is spread over 22 hectares and hosts more than 650 species of flowers and trees. It is a delight for any nature lover, and more so if you are a horticulturist. There is a 20million-year-old tree nested inside which is a major attraction for tourists. A tribe called Toba is settled on the top of the Botanical Garden, and their culture is evident in the surroundings.
A paradise for history buffs, the Stone House was built in the year of 1822. It hosts several ancient relics and has an amazing architecture to go with it! It is also the first Bungalow of Ooty, and today it hosts the Government Art College in its premises.
If you are scheduling to visit Ooty, then April to June remains the best season for a mesmerizing tourist experience. The weather is pleasant, and you might even get to experience the first glimpse of a monsoon! Visit it in summer and wake up to the misty clouds. A travel website usually makes the process easier, and you can find solutions for all your needs in one place. Yatra, MakeMyTrip, and others are famous in India for their offers and seamless, straightforward services. Ooty is a spellbinding place, and you should put it on your list for a happy summer!
A Choking City: What the Ongoing Toxic Week in Delhi Means for its People
A joke on the morbidity of New Delhi is circulating among Delhiites (people from Delhi) that while the lives of the citizens were disrupted in November last year due to ‘note-bandi’ (ban on currency), November of this year presents an even tougher test for the people with ‘saans-bandi’, a ban on breathing. The receding autumn or advent of winter was a once beloved season of a good number of people in the city who welcomed the change with a complete revamp of their wardrobes with colourful woollens. It is now characterized with bleak skies, an air of gloom and a little bit of grey in everything you see outside of your house.
For the past three days, I have been acutely aware of the air I am breathing, felt unproductive and apprehensive in spells for no good reason, and felt the need to confine myself to my house for as long as possible. These are some of the less apparent effects of the thick blanket of smog that has engulfed the national capital region. As a number of people donned with different types of masks on the roads and on Snapchat serve as a constant visual reminder of how the city is choking, a flurry of articles and news updates have presided over my feed. One of them included a horrifying viral video recording of vehicles ramming into each other due to poor visibility on the Noida-Agra Expressway as people scrambled to get themselves and their children out of the way, while some other articles argued about how currently breathing in Delhi for a day is the equivalent of smoking twenty cigarettes.
A sudden state of emergency
Less than two days ago, when the air quality in Delhi visibly worsened, Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal likened the city to a ‘gas chamber’. The PM 10 and PM 2.5 levels in different parts of the capital have rocketed above the levels that are considered safe, and the Safar (System of Air Quality and Weather Forecasting And Research) has declared the air quality as ‘severe’ for at least the next three days after which the level may drop to a not so safe either ‘very poor’ level. In some parts of the city, the AQI (air quality index) was detected on monitors at 999, the highest possible reading, which suggests that the level might be even higher. The visibility during the early hours has also dropped to very low levels. Among the different reasons for the observed level of pollution in Delhi, slow winds at this time of the year have been identified as the prime contributor along with stubble burning by farmers in the neighbouring states of Punjab and Haryana. Combined with the dust particles present in the air, omissions from vehicles that plague the roads in the region throughout the day, and those from factories and construction activities, these factors dictate a recipe for creating uninhabitable conditions.
Making amends: A scramble for order
The Indian Medical Association on 7th November declared Delhi to be in a state of public health emergency, urging the Delhi government and other bodies to take adequate steps to ensure minimum risk to citizens, especially young children and the elderly, who are most likely to suffer from the effects of pollution. After a worsening situation, the government has ordered all schools in the capital to remain shut till Sunday, and has rolled out plans to implement the odd-even scheme for vehicles in the city from next week. Parking fee throughout the city has also been increased fourfold and the prices for travel by the metro have been substantially reduced for the time being to promote the use of public transport. The National Green Tribunal (NGT) has also banned all construction and industrial activities till November 14 in a bid to provide the citizens of Delhi a breath of better quality air. Mr. Kejriwal has also approached his counterparts from Punjab and Haryana over the issue of stubble burning by the farmers but it remains to be seen how the move plays out in the coming days.
As the government battles against the situation, the public is taking measures to protect themselves in whatever way they can. An increasing number of doctors and specialists on the matter have advised people not to go out for morning walks or outdoor activities so as to not inhale excessive quantities of toxic pollutants. Some doctors have even advised their patients to leave the city for the time being if possible. Air purifiers for houses and masks for travelling outside have seen a huge rise in sales as nearly everyone has become an expert on the subject of filters and N95 and N99 have become trending words from pharmacies to WhatsApp conversations.
A year ago, while New Delhi wrestled with more or less the same conditions, UNICEF had called on the rest of the world to consider the situation as a wake up call. “It is a wake up call that very clearly tells us: unless decisive actions are taken to reduce air pollution, the events we are witnessing in Delhi over the past week are likely to be increasingly common”, it had said in a statement. If we are doing better than last year, it is still not enough, and all one needs is less than a minute in the open to be convinced of that. As the world battles with the effects of climate change, India’s bid to have a major global footprint in the coming decades is bound to take a serious hit if so many of its cities, and especially its capital follow a trend of being unlivable for a chunk of time at the end of every year.
At Attention! Is the National Anthem the New Test of Patriotism?
A fundamental question on patriotism has been plunged into the limelight during the course of the past few weeks: what role does the national anthem play for a country today? These few weeks have seen the populations of the larger countries of the world struggle with controversies surrounding their respective national anthems and the question has arisen in the midst of two unrelated incidents in the two largest democracies in the world. The result of these incidents has been an increasing divide between the masses in both the countries on what is acceptable in the name of your country’s anthem and where do we draw the line after which patriotism become an imposition. Let’s have a look at each one by one.
Kneeling for the American dream
During the previous season of the NFL, former quarterback of the San Francisco 49ers Colin Kaepernick created a ripple across the United States when he knelt during the national anthem to protest against the racism and police brutality constantly faced by people of colour in the country. The act was adopted by a number of players to signal that ‘Black Lives Matter’ and spread through the season and into the ongoing one. More recently, while a number of teams and players have decided not to follow suit, the act has been propagated by yet more players, and the phenomenon has caught the scorn of President Donald Trump and Vice President Mike Pence who have, among a good section of Americans, condemned the kneeling to be disrespectful towards the anthem, the flag, the troops that sacrificed their lives so their citizens could live the American dream, and to the country itself.
The President has also tried, although unsuccessfully, to push the league to get the players to stand for the anthem and also to fire the ones who don’t comply. “We’re proud of our country. We respect our flag,” said Trump at a campaign event in September. “Wouldn’t you love to see one of these NFL owners, when somebody disrespects our flag, to say, ‘Get that son of a bitch off the field right now. Out. He’s fired! He’s fired!'”
Earlier in October, Vice President Mike Pence left the game between Indianapolis Colts and San Francisco 49ers after players from the latter chose to kneel in protest yet again. “I left today’s Colts game because @POTUS and I will not dignify any event that disrespects our soldiers, our Flag, or our National Anthem,” Pence later tweeted of the game.
It doesn’t take a second read to notice that the issue has been blown out of proportion by Mr. Trump and Mr. Pence, and they are not alone in this. A poll conducted by CBS shows that 65% of white respondents felt that kneeling during the national anthem is wrong, while 75% of black respondents approved of the act. The report also suggests that many Americans are not likely to be in support of the act unless they are told what its goals are. “No player is disrespecting our Country or our Flag. As thousands have shown in the past, it takes bravery and courage to speak and confront these issues as our players have, especially when it is unpopular with some”, executive director of the NFL Players Association DeMaurice Smith said, giving voice to the true motive of the movement. The issue was never about patriotism, about the anthem or about the flag, much less about disrespecting them. It was always about racism, and more people need to know that. Moreover, the NAACP has argued that if a player were to be dropped out of a game due to the act, it would be a violation of his constitutional right to free speech. However, in light of such arguments, one may wonder where one must draw the line on what is acceptable in the name of the national anthem.
Wear your nationalism on your sleeve
In November 2016, the Supreme Court of India made it mandatory for all cinema halls in the country to play the national anthem before the screening of films sighting that “it would instill the feeling within one, a sense (of) committed patriotism and nationalism.” The issue garnered a lot of attention back then, with the central government backing the decision made by the apex court. The population, however, was strongly split. The episode has come back into the fold as a little more than a week ago the Supreme Court again hinted at a modification in its order, passing the responsibility of making the final decision on the matter to the government. The court has now expressed that while every citizen has a duty to respect the national anthem and the flag, the judiciary need not step in to make it compulsory, effectively going back on its mandate from eleven months ago. The court also turned down a plea by the government to not make any changes to its previous order, and the government has found a huge number of its loyalists among the masses standing by its side on the matter, creating such a huge division among the masses. However, in addition to completely botching up an issue that could have been avoided, the Supreme Court has thrown the debate on whether the national anthem should be played in cinema halls and other events in the open once again.
As many supporters of the move and the government have been quick to play the ‘anti-national’ card on the opposition, asking them why they cannot spare 52 seconds of their time to stand proudly for their country, it becomes important to ask why one has to show their patriotism by standing for the national anthem when they are out to watch a movie and more importantly, why patriotism needs to be forced on citizens.
“Why do we have to wear patriotism on our sleeves? People go to the cinema for undiluted entertainment and to ease out”, said Justice D.Y. Chandrachud, one of the judges on the bench who has been against the move since the beginning. “Why do you think that one who does not sing the national anthem is not patriotic? You do not have to sing the national anthem to prove your patriotism. Values are inculcated in a broad social and political culture and patriotism cannot be inculcated among people by the Supreme Court order making it mandatory for playing the national anthem in cinema halls,” he said.
When the president of the second largest democracy in the world, backed by millions of his supporters, calls a protest against racism by kneeling during the national anthem disrespectful towards the country, it doesn’t make us patriotic. Likewise, when a huge fraction of the population of the world’s largest democracy voices its support on the imposition of the national anthem (and by extension nationalism) on the people, it doesn’t make us patriotic either. In fact, it makes us seem quite the opposite: it makes us seem insecure of our patriotism.
A comprehensive guide for visitors to Sunderbans
West Bengal’s most famous landmark is undoubtedly the Sunderbans, which is located at the South Eastern tip of the 24 Parganas. It is a part of the world’s largest delta formed by the rivers of Ganga, Brahmaputra and Meghna. Of the entire delta, 4,262 sq kilometres of the Sunderbans is situated in India, while another larger portion is a part of Bangladesh. 2,585 sq kilometres of the Indian side of the Sunderbans is dedicated to India’s largest tiger reserve, the Sunderbans National Park.
How to Reach
Sunderbans is well-connected to Kolkata by an excellent transport network of road, rail, air and waterways. Hence one can rent a car in Kolkata and undertake a short two-hour journey (100 kilometres) to reach this amazing National Park and Tiger reserve. This is truly a once in a lifetime experience and visiting this UNESCO World Heritage Site is an amazing adventure for the entire family to embark on.
The nearest airport to reach Sunderbans is Netaji Subhash International Airport, Kolkata that is about 112 kilometres away. For those who love the rail, Canning is the nearest railway station from Sunderbans National Park (about 48 kilometres). The adventurous ones can opt for motorboats which can be hired from Sagar Island, Namkhana, Raidighi and Sonakhali.
What can you see in Sunderbans?
The most famous and popular inhabitant of the Sunderbans is the Tiger and there are over 100 of these magnificent cats roaming the dense forests of this delta and even swimming through the network of channels and mangroves. It is an exciting adventure as you cruise through the world’s largest mangrove sanctuary and its waterways, all the while relishing the breath-taking sights. You can use one of the reliable outstation taxi services in Kolkata that will transport you to the Sunderbans quickly and safely.
The delta is also home to reptiles like the Estuarine Crocodile, the Olive Ridley Turtle and the Monitor Lizard too, all of whom are a part of a conservation program to safeguard their population. Keep an eye out for the playful dolphins, the saltwater crocodiles, the water monitor and kingfishers when you ride out on this expansive water body. The Sunderbans was once home to leopards, rhinoceros, swamp deer and water buffalo, which have turned extinct over the past few decades. Those wishing to travel with the extended family can book an Innova taxi in Kolkata for a hassle-free journey.
When to visit
If you can endure the heat, then the months of March and April are perfect to visit the Sunderbans for increased chances of spotting the Royal Bengal Tiger. November to February is a relatively cool period and is preferred by tourists too. Remember that during winter, the park closes earlier since the days are shorter, while during summer, you can stay in the park for a longer time. A large population of migratory birds also visit this place during summer and this gives you an opportunity to spot them. Travelling from Kolkata for a short trip? It is now easy to book cabs in Kolkata and enjoy this amazing adventure with family and friends.
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