Top Places to see in and around Fort Kochi

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Almost every tourist attractions in Fort Kochi have a history of their own so is the Chinese fishing net. Kochi, the ‘Queen of Arabian Sea’, was once a major centre of trade with the Arabs, Chinese, Portuguese, Dutch and the British where everyone had left their marks. While some claim that the Chinese traders from the court of Kublai Khan set up Chinese fishing nets to shores of Kochi that dates back to 14th century; some others say Chinese explorer Zhang He introduced the Chinese fishing nets here in early 15th century. Whatever may be the correct claim, the fact is that this system is in use for more than last 500 years.

Once a fishing accessory, the Chinese fishing nets, now have become a major tourist attraction in Fort Kochi.

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Fort Kochi – Explore Amidst the Colonial Charm

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No cannon or other displays that go along with a Fort do exist at Fort Kochi. Though there are narrow alleys but none led to any gallery or a palace of any king or queen that a fort guards. In fact there exists no fort though the name endures it. Fort Kochi is a place within the city of Kochi and lies in the peninsula. Perhaps the name takes its first part since a fort was built in this region by the Portuguese.

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Vivekananda Rock Memorial, Kanyakumari

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A memorial to Swamy Vivekananda stands on a rock surrounded by sea at Kanyakumari where he was presumably meditated on 25, 26 and 27th December 1892 before leaving for Chicago religious conference. It is the point of convergence of the three seas, the Arabian Sea, Bay of Bengal and the great Indian Ocean.

Swamy Vivekananda, the great disciple of Sri Ramakrishna Paramahamsa (the best known saint of India during 19th century) and the founder of Ramakrishna Mission, on his quest to know the purpose of life, wandered all over India after the death of Sri Paramahamsa Dev. He came to Kanyakumari on 24.12.1892 and later, participated in the World Religious Conference at Chicago on 11th September 1893.

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Pangong Lake – Travelers’ Delight!

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The last leg of our journey to the mystical and majestic Ladakh was ‘Pangong Tso’! In local language Lake is called Tso. Pangong Lake falls in the disputed territory with China. So the whole lake does not belong to India. While China occupies two-third part of this magnificent high altitude lake, India remains satisfied with mere one-third part of it.

These days the Lake is a favourite tourist place among the domestic tourists much credit for which goes to the bollywood movie ‘3idiots’! …….

How incredible it was to see the tranquil lake and its azure blue waters! Pangong Tso is one of the largest saline lakes in Asia. On the Lake shore we walked and saw the effects of changing colours of the lake, aqua green to indigo blue! The saline water of the lake plays with the sunlight and produces different colours. We were told that during winter the lake freezes and become a solid surface to walk over it. Well, walking over a frozen lake! You need to check certainly the best season to visit there!

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Sand Dunes of Nubra and Diskit Monastery

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Usually deserts occur in low altitude, such as the great Indian Thar Desert. But there is also one high altitude cold desert in India which occurs in the Hunder village of Nubra Valley…………..We arrived there. It was beyond our imaginations and dreams to see such a vast bed of silver sands with brown mountains at the backdrop…………The sand dune offers to its visitors the great Central Asian double-humped camel safari. While other visitors were busy in getting their turn first for the safari, I went close to the camels. They look the same normal camels except those two humps. For the first time I saw those camels.

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Road to Nubra Valley over Khardung La

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We were told that weather is very unpredictable and highly unstable and can change surprisingly fast at Khardung La.  It may leave travelers trapped for hours or even days, but nothing like that happened to us, except heavy downpour on our way back on the following day.

We started descending from Khardung La. By now ‘Rahman’, the driver of our car became familiar with me. As I pointed the camera, he stopped the car. I came out to click. A small lake surrounded by the mountains just below the Khardung La looked so beautiful.

We set off again. Soon we passed the village Khardung. It is a tiny green village surrounded by barren mountains.  A drive of another 40 minutes or so and we met the river Shyok, a tributary of river Indus. The water of river Shyok looked muddy. Our journey continued by the bank of river Shyok.

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Thiksey and Hemis Monastery and The School of 3 idiots!

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The great Indian Films! They make places a popular tourist spot out of nowhere!! Amir Khan Starrer “3 idiots” is one of such Indian Boolywood movie. Some parts of the film were shot at Pangaong Lake, Ladakh and some in a school near Leh named “The Druk White Lotus School”. The school is located 15 km from Leh town on the Leh-Manali highway in the village Shey. This school made a popular tourist spot after the movie and damage of its building by cloudburst that struck Leh on August 2010. The actor Amir Khan visited the school after the incident and helped to raise funds for rebuilding of the school.

After the movie, the school receives a large number of visitor everyday and a person has been deployed by the school management for guiding the visitors. It has a visitor centre from where you need to take permission and the visiting time is 8AM to 1PM and 2PM to PM.

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Majestic Ladakh :: Hall of Fame and The Last Post

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As we entered inside the museum we were briefed by an Army Personnel. This two storey museum is maintained by the Indian Army and divided into various sections for displays. A section of the ground floor portrays the facts, culture and history of Ladakh. It has a souvenir shop where you can get t-shitrs, coffee mugs, caps, pashnima shawls etc. Enthusiast may shoot photos in Ladakhi attire in the photo shop and take the print for a nominal charge. Finding no interest in it, we went to another section of the same ground floor. The walls here are occupied by the pictures of Kargil War 1999. It transported us to decades back. The displays on the walls gave us a vivid portrayal of how Indian Army fought the war.

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Majestic Ladakh : Shey Palace and Stok Palace in Leh

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The upper floors of the palace house museum and monastery. While in the palace, you may come across with members of royal family. I did! It was for informing that photography inside the museum is not allowed! The rooms of the palace open to the visitors are the king’s room, queen’s room, palace gompa and a room that displays a Ladakhi Kitchen. Among all, the best I found was the royal Ladakhi Kitchen. It is the traditional kitchen of royal family which displays utensils, ceramics, clay pots and clay stoves with chimney. Dining area inside the kitchen is beautifully decorated with low height tables. It’s a no photography zone! A staff of the palace was with the visitors to discourage photography inside. But there are some parts of the palace where you can take photographs.

It was my great experience to visit these royal palaces in Ladakh. By PALACE what comes primarily to our mind is a grand royal residence which is made in timeless elegance. But the palaces of Ladakh are not of such kind, yet they stand high to show their presence in the glorious past of a kingdom that lost in time!

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Majestic Ladakh : Royal Palaces in Leh

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Like every other travelers in Ladakh, we too spent our second day in Leh. It is advisable to spend a day or two in Leh for acclimatization before going to any places of higher altitude like Khardung La or Pangong Lake. Leh has many great places to offer to its visitors including stunning landscape views, palaces, monasteries, stupas, war memorials and river Indus at Sindhu Ghat. We decided to visit the palaces and gompas on our second day in Leh and first to visit by us was the Leh Palace and Namgyal Tsemo Gompa.

Leh Palace of Namgyal Dynasty

The erstwhile royal residence of Leh locates around 2 Km from the main market place. Though the Palace locates on a hill top overlooking the Leh town it can be reached by car. As we reached the Palace we saw wandering young monks on bike!

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