NGT Rewind: Kumaoni Mountain Escapes, New Visa Initiatives and Kerala Getaways

The best of Nat Geo Traveller from Nov 7-13. | By NGT Staff  
Marari VIllas Hotel Kerala Beach
The larger beach side accommodations at Marari Villas, just south of Kochi, are good for family vacations. Photo courtesy Marari Villas

What’s New

SINGAPORE’S VISA-FREE TRANSIT Planning a trip for New Year’s Eve? Singapore now offers 96-hour visa-free transit to Indian travellers—just in time for the holiday season. All you need is an onward flight ticket and a valid visa to Australia, Canada, the U.K., U.S.A., and a few other countries. Plus, we’ve got guides to make the most of the four-day stay. More here.

MONEY TALKS: Got your mind on your money and your money on your mind? With Prime Minister Modi announcing new ₹2,000 and ₹500 notes, we decided to take a closer look at the fine print, and found a monument and a space mission. More here.

UAE VISA APP: Visiting Dubai just got easier thanks to a new app for getting a UAE visa. Emirates passengers can use the app to apply for a single-entry e-visa that will be emailed to them in four working days. With winter bringing in Dubai’s most pleasant weather, now really is the best time to go. More here.

BIRD COUNT: In honour of celebrated naturalist Dr. Salim Ali’s birthday on Nov 12, the Bombay Natural History Society is hosting a nationwide bird count this weekend. It’s really easy to participate. Birdwatch from your apartment window, or use our picks of the great outdoors. More here.

Trip Ideas

KERALA SHORT BREAKS: No matter what mood you’re in, a holiday in Kerala is always a good idea. Want a romantic getaway? Charter a houseboat and navigate the serene backwaters. Itching for a safari? There are many wildlife sanctuaries to choose from. Or want to disconnect from the daily grind and do nothing? Mararikulam provides a quiet retreat to wind down the year. God’s own country is at its coolest in winter—go now. More here.

GO NOW: If you thought cherry blossoms were synonymous with Japan, think again. The Himalayan cherry tree grows wild in the northeastern state of Meghalaya, which is celebrating the flowering with its own Cherry Blossom Festival from Nov 14-17. There will be guided night walks, rock concerts, choir performances and bike rallies. The best part? It’s all free. More here.

BLUE LOTUS LAND: Every November, the tiny town of Pushkar hosts the world’s largest cattle fair, drawing thousands of travellers. But there are more reasons to linger at this desert rose. Think atmospheric cafes, a cottage industry of rose products, and ghats whose waters are said to have special powers. More here.

PLANTATION STAY: Mornings at this serene Assam stay begin by sipping estate-grown chai over rolling plantation views. Spend the day river rafting, bicycling, or on safari, wind down with a tea-tasting session, and count the stars before falling asleep. More here.

MOUNTAIN ESCAPE: Not much happens in the Himachali town of Beral—and that is precisely its charm. It forces you to slow down and observe the beauties of the Nawer Valley: burnished apple trees bending with fruit, traditional homes stacked like jenga blocks, and pure mountain air all around. More here.

GREEN HIDEAWAY: Looking for the ideal spot to sit back and gaze at the Himalayas? Look no further than Uttarakhand’s Binsar Forest Retreat, with its Swiss tents and cottages that afford clear views of the snowy peaks. More here.

OFFBEAT BOLLYWOOD: Mumbai is home to Bollywood, and everybody from the taxi driver to the bartender here has an opinion on the silver screen. Use our quirky guide to get close to the beating heart of Bollywood, complete with Sanju Baba chicken, Bollywood karaoke, and hunting for film posters. More here.

Travel Reads

SOUP QUEST: Pho, a steaming soup of noodles, spices, and meat, is a street-food staple in Vietnam, found at nearly every corner. So how do you find the perfect bowl? More here.

ART BY THE SEA: At Copenhagen’s Louisiana Museum of Modern Art, the art doesn’t cease to surprise. There are over 60 outdoor sculptures set on the rolling lawns. Inside, tiny rooms are covered in mirrors or bathed in sound. Plus, it’s a great day trip from the city, with dazzling sea views and a scrumptious buffet. More here.

THE GIFT THAT KEEPS GIVING: Most see travel as a luxury, but for Editor-In-Chief Niloufer Venkatraman, travel is an investment that one generation gives to the next. More here.

PHOTO MASTERCLASS: Travel photography is not about travel, as National Geographic’s Ami Vitale will tell you. It is as much about humanity as about location. More here.

SHORE SHOT: Bollywood may have portrayed the ravines and gorges of the Chambal Valley as India’s badlands, the favoured stomping ground for villains and dacoits. But this area has its heroes too. Like the folks at the Turtle Survival Alliance who are working to protect two endangered species of turtles in these waters. More here.

DECODING MAPS: In a time when travellers often rely on apps rather than physical maps to reach their destination, going back to the roots of mapmaking can feel like entering a magical world. Meet the historian who traced the history of cartography, from an illustration by Claudius Ptolemy from 150 A.D. to Google Earth’s images today. More here.

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