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Inland Cruising in India

Much of my life has been spent on water, even now. Professional, competitive and leisure activities involving water occupy my list of favourites. Thus, it has been a great pleasure to see the growth of serious tourism on rivers and backwaters over recent years. First it was the Houseboats in Srinagar, then when trouble caused the tourism wave to dry up, an enterprising person developed the Kerala rice barge into…

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Prayer Flags in Bhutan

Whilst visiting Bhutan you are never far away from the fluttering sight of prayer flags. Whether they are high up on hillsides, on bridges over rivers or standing close to buildings and near religious sites, they add a distinctive character to the landscape. To see a great splash of coloured flags over a mountain pass will give you a sense of relief that you have achieved the summit, which may…

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Driving in Bhutan

Bhutan is a mountainous country, and the roads cling to the valley sides. From the moment you arrive in Bhutan, whether by air or road at Phuntsholing, the mountains occupy every landscape. Fast-flowing rivers criss-cross the land, and these form steep valleys before flowing out onto the Indian plains. The land rises from 200 meters in the southern foothills to 7000 metres in the High Himalayas. Nearly all major towns…

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Mini Stupas in Bhutan

Tsa-Tsa – the miniature stupas of Bhutan As you travel across Bhutan, you will find, besides dzongs, chortens, and lhakangs, small stupas – cone-shaped clay castings tucked away in holy and sacred niches, clinging to rocky outcroppings near caves, piled high at the foot of prayer wheels, and even floating down rivers on rafts of sacred wood, such as cedar and sandalwood. These votive earthen offerings are called Tsa-Tsa, pronounced…

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Bhutan’s Great Game

Bhutan is a Buddhist nation, and one of the central precepts of Buddhism is a reverence for all life. So it seems somewhat incongruous that the nation’s favourite game involves a hunting instrument or weapon of war. But in Bhutan, the bow and arrow can only be used for play. In fact, when making arrows, one can only use feathers that were found on the ground; to kill a bird…

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Bhutan’s National Dress

The national dress of Bhutan is called the gho for men and kira for women. It was introduced during the 17th century to give the Bhutanese a unique identity. In an effort to preserve and promote its cultural heritage, all Bhutanese people are required to wear the national dress in government offices, schools and on formal occasions. The gho is a long robe hoisted to the knee and held in…

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Adventure at Koshi Tappu

The Koshi Tappu Wildlife Reserve first came about in 1976, when it became apparent that there was a great need to protect the beautiful but rare water buffalo, resident of the waters and forest along the Sapt Kosi. The Nepali reserve is positioned on 175 square kilometres of lavish wetland provided by the one-kilometre long barrage set across the Kosi River. An immense area of arable land surrounded by the…

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A Walk in the Himalayan Mountains

Adventure means many things to all kinds of people, be it life-endangering or travel and discovery, meeting new people and seeing exotic places. So-called soft-adventure can include a choice of the many treks around Nepal. They in turn are graded from the easy, moderate walking trips to the severe, where the trek rises and falls a great deal in covering a short apparent distance on the map. You can see…