The Odisha government has confirmed the presence of tigers in three more forests in the State.Movement of the Royal Bengal tigers has been captured by closed-circuit television cameras installed at the Hemgiri forest in Sundargarh and Debrigarh sanctuaries in Sambalpur districts, while indirect evidence such as people hearing tiger roars and cattle killing by big cats have been collected from the Muniguda forest in Rayagada district.These evidence have prompted Forest and Environment Minister Bijoyshree Routray to put the State’s tiger population at around 60.Increasing populationThe Similipal Tiger Reserve in Mayurbhanj and the Satokosia Tiger Reserve in Angul district are two known habitats of the big cat in the State. According to a tiger census conducted by the State government in 2016, there were around 40 tigers in Similipal. The Wildlife Institute of India had estimated the tiger population of Similipal at 28 in 2014.“We believe that the Sunabeda sanctuary in Nuapada district has four big cats. Neither movement of tigers has been captured on camera, nor has any formal tiger census been conducted there. Sunabeda has been a stronghold of the outlawed CPI(Maoist) because of which the tiger census at the sanctuary has been postponed in the past,” said Mr. Routray.More tiger reserves The Minister said sightings of tigers is a sign that a robust ecosystems exists in the State. The government is planning to propose identification and development of Debrigarh and Sunabeda as two new tiger reserves in the State.At present, the State government is focusing on increasing the tiger population in Satkosia reserve. As part of its strategy, six tigers (three pairs) were to be brought from Madhya Pradesh. Two felines have already been released in Satkosia, but resistance from local population in buffer villages has delayed the transportation and release of the other tigers.
StayWildflower Hall, ShimlaSet in the midst of 23 acres of lush woods of pine and cedar, this luxury resort has rooms that offer commanding views of the Himalayas and the food and service are truly world-class. But your most abiding memory of Wildflower Hall could be the rejuvenating massages offered at its immaculate spa. Tel: (0177) 264 858; www.oberoihotels.com Moksha Himalaya Spa Resort, Centara Boutique CollectionTucked away in the Shivalik valley, this resort makes for a perfect getaway and reaching it is even more exciting–the final leg of the journey needs to done by taking a cable car. The stunning views of the valley are visible from almost every corner of this resort, whether you are in the suite, at the heated infinity pool or the terrace restaurant. Do visit the spa to unwind completely. Tel: (01792) 232 301Homestays near ShimlaWith Shimla getting saturated, the concept of homestays has caught on. Mashobara offers quite a variety and among its inventory, Violet Hill and Forest Hill Villas come in for special mention. There’s also Marigold Holiday Cottages in Sidhora, a picturesque village 15 km from Shimla. Himachal Tourism also offers a choice of 160 homes across most districts.EatThe Oberoi Cecil Restaurant, ShimlaA stay in Shimla is not complete without at least one meal at the Oberoi Cecil. Both the food and the ambience are equally appealing at this wood-panelled restaurant. The selection of dishes spans both European and Asian cuisines. Popular with visitors, its theme evenings celebrating the heritage of the Cecil are quite a draw. Tel: (0177) 280 4848Casa Bella Vista Cafe, ManaliCraving for international cuisine? The sprightly Casa Bella Vista, near the Log Huts, overlooking the Manalsu rivulet, will come to your rescue. This is the perfect place to sit under the deodars for a scrumptious Spanish meal. Surprisingly it only serves vegetarian food. But don’t skip the freshly baked, thin-crust wood-oven pizzas. Tel: (01902) 221 985Chonor House, Dharamshala If you are a Richard Gere fan and also a foodie you cannot escape a visit to Chonor House. The actor makes it a point to stay at Chonor House whenever he’s in town. The courtyard restaurant is perfect for lunch and you are sure to enjoy the Tibetan and Thai food on offer. Finish your meal with a hot cappuccino and a mouth-watering pastry from the selection of sweet treats. Tel: (01892) 221 006/468ShopShawlsThe colourful bands of woven patterns found on shawls stand out distinctly wherever you travel in these hills. The designs are strongly reflective of the intermingling of traditions, especially Tibetan and Chinese, those influences coming by way of trading ties. And now there is a shift in colour codes with subdued pastels and rich earthy tones appearing on the shelves. The Bodh Shawls in Manali is a recommended place to pick up stylish new patternsKangra PaintingsThis form of art dates back to the 18th century when Mughal rulers came to India. You can pick up these Kangra and Basholi miniature paintings from the Bhuri Singh Museum in Chamba and the Kangra Art Museum in Lower Dharamshala. Both have an excellent collection of Kangra Valley arts and crafts. The Kangra Art Museum also includes a gallery of the famous miniature paintings and has a collection of sculpture, pottery and other anthropological items.Fruit WineImagine sitting at a restaurant, gazing at a green valley and sipping a glass of chilled apple wine. Doesn’t it sound absolutely divine? Himachal produces a large variety of flavoursome fruit wines. They are created from apples, pears, peaches, cherries, kiwi, strawberries and many more fruits. They bring you the best from the orchards. They are available at most of the hillstations in HimachalSeeAdventure SportsThose who have the guts for extreme adventure can always expect Himachal to unravel something new. You can try rafting on the Spiti and Pin rivers. In Manali there is the option of heli skiing. A chopper transports you to the top of a peak and you ski down the slopes. Other adventure sports include mountain cycling, paragliding, ice skating and angling. Can you ask for more? Heritage Trail, ShimlaTake a walk around Shimla to see the heritage buildings. Start from the Gaiety Theatre at the Mall. The 122-year-old building is one of Shimla’s oldest heritage structures. Another building is the Christ Church, one of the second oldest churches in north India. After this, head to Viceregal Lodge on Observatory Hill. It is surrounded by oak and rhododendron thickets. Kullu DussheraKullu begins its celebration on Vijayadashimi, the 10th day. Some 360 deities from villages in Kullu valley, in carved gold, silver and copper masks, are brought down to Kullu town in decorated palanquins to pay homage to the main deity Raghunath. The processions are accompanied by drummers and dancers.advertisementadvertisement
The island of Kadmat has become a popular haunt for scuba diversEver been in one of those moods–when you want to get away from the madness of the city and wrap yourself in solitude, and yet you don’t want it to be so devoid of activity that it would bore you to tears? One would think that it’s precisely for such temperamental moods that Kadmat exists.Kadmat is one of the lesser known islands of the Lakshadweep uclster. It is slowly getting trendy, which is one more reason to head there pronto before it is overrun by the hordes. But the basic reasons for its appeal are much more compulsive. An elongated island, some 8-km long and half-a-kilometre at its widest, Kadmat is one of those rare places packed with such natural beauty that it could get a tad overwhelming at first. Apart from two large lagoons, one on each side of the island, Kadmat has plenty of palm-fringed sandy beaches and sand banks which look towards the azure blue waters of the Arabian Sea. So from leisurely dips in the tranquil sea to lolling around the beach and sun bathing, there’s enough methods of R&R here. But that’s not where the appeal ends. Kadmat is slowly gaining ground as a haven for serious water sports, and not just the tame boat-ride variety.Diving deep The island of Kadmat has become a popular haunt for scuba diversIn recent years, the Kadmat Dive School has become a very popular entity with scuba divers. The fascinating thing is the school welcomes almost anyone–from beginners to those seeking instructor certification. And so, scuba diving is probably the best way to see the wall like coral reefs which line the coast on the outer sea. On good days, visibility can be as much as 50 metres and can reveal a passing parade of tiny coloured fishes lion fish, lobsters, tuna, eels, turtles, rays and even sharks.A glimpse of life under the water surfaceThe underwater show is an entirely different world. So do a take an underwater camera along, just so it won’t seem like your fertile imagination just made up the whole thing. And before long, even though it could feel like just minutes since you have been underwater, it’s time to surface. However, there are many other ways to enjoy the sea. Kayaks, pedal boats and ordinary boats for rides are for those who want to play it safe. For the more adventurous, there’s sailing and water skiing to be tried.Minicoy callingAn aerial view of KadmatIf the underwater holds enormous fascination and the dives at Kadmat leave you longing for more, then Minicoy, another island in the cluster has some more interesting activity. Like Kadmat, it has an immense variety of marine life, but is made more interesting with the presence of three large shipwrecks just off its coast. The wrecks are virtual underwater museums and make for interesting viewing. Besides which, the fish found in and amidst the wrecks are found to be larger in size. Of special note are the rays, barracuda, red and black snappers and sharks.Home away from homeA state-run beach resortBack on shore, the Kadmat Beach Resort, a state-run enterprise, might not boast of elaborate meal options, but the seafood is certainly fresh and cooked to a delicious consistency. And as the sun goes down, and a cool breeze blows, even a simple meal becomes good enough to merit the title of a royal repast.By the end of the trip, the temperamental mood swings are a thing of the past and you will be ready to take on even the most challenging assignment with equanimity. advertisement Fact fileA glimpse of life under the water surfaceKadmat Island Lakshadweep archipelago, 407 km from KochiKadmat Dive School Kadmat Island; tel: Mumbai contact-(022) 6662 7381/82; www.lacadives.comMinicoy Lakshadweep archipelago, 390 km from KochiKadmat Beach Resort Kadmat Island; tel: (04897) 274 203; www.lakshadweeptourism.com