Posts Tagged 'British'

Don’t Just Dance with the Penguins; Dive in and Swim – Cape Town, South Africa

Tranquillity, comfort and all you need in a vacation home

Tranquillity, comfort and all you need in a vacation home

Cape Town is beautiful city with a rich ethnicity, history and unique geography. Its inhabitants are made up of many cultures including Indonesian, French, Dutch, British and German as well as native Bushman, thus making up a motivating blend of heritage.

The city offers an appealing architectural legacy, fine cuisine and blooming gardens. The imposing presence of natural features such as Table Mountain towers above the city on one side as the sea does to the other. The range of museums are so vast, that you will never get to visit them all.

By heading just 15 minutes outside of the city limits, rows of picturesque towns will appear. You will find yourself in a paradise for nature lovers and hikers alike. Cape Town is also within ten minutes to vineyards of the acclaimed South African wines considered outstanding by many wine connoisseurs.

The surrounding mountains and forests will give immediate relief as you’re miles away from the stresses of modern-day life. The whole family can get in the spirit with a vacation rental that is little more than a stone’s throw away from some of Cape Town’s most popular tourist attractions. This three bedroom gem at Silvermist Mountain Lodge sleeps six.

The official National Park, Boulders Beach, is a forty minute drive from Cape Town but is well worth it.  This is a must on your itinerary. Located in a gorgeous haven between Simons Town and Cape Point, this world renowned beach houses something you would never come in contact with during any other seaside visit.

Once there, the cantaloupe-round granite boulders give shelter and affords interesting discoveries of one little cove after another. Boulders Beach is excellent for snorkeling and swimming.

If anyone told you that you could see penguins in the wild along the beach, you would come to the conclusion that maybe Antarctica is not too far away. Penguins are seen as a vulnerable species and can be seen in zoos throughout the world.

Silvermist Mountain Lodge is one of many to enjoy Cape Town

Silvermist Mountain Lodge is one of many to enjoy Cape Town

Instead, discover penguins first hand at Boulders Beach, allowing a real view of their colonies. With your camera in hand, you become completely charmed by their antics as they congregate on the beach. This is probably the only place in the world where you can actually swim among the penguins but keep your distance. Although they are not put off by tourists, let them do their own thing.  Just relish the once in a lifetime opportunity to see them in the wild. 

There are penguins at the aquarium in Cape Town too, but once you have seen them at Boulders Beach, anything else would appear secondary. So if the members in your party insist on heading to the aquarium; visit it first.

Boulders Beach is just one of the many sites to check out in Cape Town and its surrounding areas.  It is so easy to do so much when you stay at a vacation rental home.

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Be a ‘burra sahib’ in scenic hill station Shimla, India

Shimla is a beautiful scenic town, covered in forests of pine,oak and rhododendron which is located in the state of Himachal Pradesh in North India. This charming town is nestled in the north western Himalayas at an altitude of 6,988 ft( 2130 metres) and is an extremely popular summer and winter destination with both foreigners and locals alike.

Shimla like another Himalayan town, Darjeeling was designated as a ‘summer capital’ during the years of the British Rule in India as Shimla also enjoys a rather agreeable climate. The summer temperatures in Shimla range between a minimum of 14ºC and a maximum of 20ºC, though it does have quite a cold winter when temperatures can fall below freezing to -7ºC.

It was this agreeable summer climate and the natural beauty of this mountain town that drew the British to Shimla. Shimla came under British rule when they annexed it after the Gurkha war in 1819. The British then went about establishing it as one of their summer capitals, so that the British residents who were stationed in India at that time could enjoy its pleasant summers and escape from the scorching heat that roasted the plains during the summer months. Even today, there is much evidence of British rule in Shimla in the form of the many tudorbethan and neo-gothic structures that dot Shimla’s landscape. Some of these magnificent colonial buildings are the Viceregal Lodge, Auckland House, Gorton Castle, Peterhoff house, and the Gaiety Theatre.

To access Shimla easily, the British also constructed one of the longest narrow gauge railway routes which connected Shimla to the city of Kalka in 1906. The construction of this railway was an engineering marvel and the railway at that time was called the “British Jewel of the Orient”. The Shimla Kalka railway line operates until today and provides easy access to Shimla from the closest major city, Chandigarh which is located in the state of Punjab.

Your picturesque vacation rental at Shilon Bagh

Your picturesque vacation rental at Shilon Bagh

Your vacation rental in Shimla will enable you to enjoy the unique ambiance of this old-world town which is also known as the Orchard of India as much of India’s apple crop is grown here. You have a choice of two vacation rentals in Shimla, the first of which is located in the mountain village of Shilon Bagh which is located at height of 7200 ft in the Himalayan Mountain range. The Shilon Bagh resort is especially picturesque as it is set in the midst of a large apple orchard and offers gorgeous views of the surrounding mountains and forests. Your vacation rental at this resort enables you to enjoy the various recreational facilities offered by the resort all year round as well. Your vacation rental at Shilon Bagh is ideally located and is easily accessible from the main city of Shimla and other popular locations like the winter sport destination, Kufri and the picturesque mountain village of Chail ,which was actually the summer residence of the Maharaja of the state of Patiala before independence and which today is home the highest cricket ground in the world.

In fact the second choice for your vacation rental is actually located on the road that connects Kufri to Chail and from your vacation rental located here you can easily access the many attractions of main Shimla City as well as its neighboring areas like Mashobra which is a popular picnic spot, Naldhera which is famous for its well maintained 9 hole golf course and Tatapani which is renowned for its natural sulfuric springs whose waters are believed to have medicinal values.

Your vacation rental on the Kufri Chail Road

Your luxurious vacation rental located on the Kufri Chail Road

No matter where you choose to have your vacation rental you will be able to explore the many attractions of the main town of Shimla, like The Mall which is Shimla’s main street on which many restaurants, clubs, banks, bars, Post Offices and tourist offices are located . The Mall which is the main meeting spot of the people of Shimla also has the historic Gaiety Theater located on it. Other attractions in Shimla include the Christ Church which is one of the oldest churches of North India, the Annandale recreation ground which is located at height of 6117 feet and is considered to be the playground of the people of Shimla, where picnics and polo matches are a regular occurance, the Shimla State Museum which has displays of miniature Pahari paintings which are native to Shimla and other displays of magnificent sculptures, bronzes wood-carvings and costumes, textiles and jewelry of the region.

The term ‘Burra Sahib’ was actually coined by the Indian people to describe the British colonists so when you choose to spend some time at your vacation rental in scenic Shimla, you will actually be able to experience how the ‘Burra Sahibs’ spent their summers at this summer capital all those years ago.

Magical,mystical, Mussoorie in India enthralls and delights one and all

The magical hill station of Mussoorie is yet another hill station which was popular as a summer retreat during the many years that the British ruled over India. This charming hill station is located at the foothills of the Himalayas and is situated at an altitude of 2000 meters (6600ft). The boundaries of this utterly enchanting hill station also include the nearby military cantonment area of Landour and as well as the neighboring townships of Barlowganj and Jharipani. Today this city of Mussoorie which is a popular holiday destination falls under the district of Dehradun as it is located only 34 km from the city of Dehradun which is located in the Doon Valley. In fact Mussoorie affords gorgeous views of the Doon Valley and Shiwalik range of mountains.

View of Himalayas from Mussoorie - Photo credit Nagesh Kamath

View of Himalayas from Mussoorie - Photo credit Nagesh Kamath

History

The origins of this enchanting hill station which has often been described as a ‘fairyland’ can be traced back to 1825 when a British Captain called Young along with a fellow Briton who was the Superintendent of Revenues in Dehradun discovered this beautiful wonderland and decided establish a shooting lodge here. Soon many other Englishmen followed intrepid twosome to establish yet another summer retreat for India’s British rulers during the times of the Raj. In fact the British like in other locales around the country were quite adamant that they wanted to keep their summer retreat exclusively for their own folk and soon had signs posted on the main street of Mussoorie which was known as ‘the Mall’ that proclaimed that Indians and Dogs were not allowed on the streets of Mussoorie as well. A few brave locals like Motilal Nehru the father of Independent India‘s first prime minister Jawahar Lal Nehru were openly defiant of this rule and chose to walk the streets of Mussoorie even though they had to pay a fine to do so. In fact the hill station has strong ties with the Nehru family, as Nehru’s daughter Indira Gandhi often vacationed here and Pandit Nehru’s sister Vijaylakshmi Pandit actually chose to spend much of her life in this magical wonderland called Mussoorie which is often shrouded in mist and fog because of its cool year round climate.

Beautiful,mystical Mussoorie photo credit Michael Scalet

Beautiful,mystical Mussoorie photo credit Michael Scalet

The hill station of Mussoorie also became the home of his eminence the Dalai Lama after he fled the Chinese occupation of Tibet in 1959. Today however the Dalai Lama and the Government of Tibet in Exile is based in another Indian hill station called Dharamsala which is in Himachal Pradesh,though many Tibetans continue to reside in the Happy Valley section of Mussoorie.

You have a number of choices for your holiday home in Mussoorie and the choice you make depends on the location that you prefer. You can either choose to have your holiday home in the heart of Mussoorie and be close to its main street known as the Mall or you can choose to have your holiday home in one of the resorts located on Mussoorie’s famous Gun Hill where cannons were once installed for the defense of Mussoorie. At your holiday home on Gun Hill you can choose to preserve your privacy while you spend your days trekking and enjoying the bounties of nature in the many hills surrounding Mussoorie or you can choose to ride the cable car and go to the Mall of Mussoorie for many urban attractions of the city it all depends on the type of holiday that you choose to have in this bewitching destination that is Mussoorie.

Your vacation rental at Hotel Green Castle Studio in the heart of Mussoorie

Your holiday home in the heart of Mussoorie

Mussoorie has a wide array of attractions both natural and man-made, which are sure to please all visitors who venture out to this charming destination.

Camel Back Road

 

This is a scenic trail located in Mussoorie which stretches over 3 Km between the Kurli Bazaar near Rink Hall and Library Bazaar. It is called Camel Back Road because it resembles the hump of a camel when it is viewed from a point near the gate of the Mussoorie Public School. The entire promenade is lined with lush trees and is a popular spot for morning and evening walks with the local populace. It is also a favored spot to see the sun setting in the magnificent Himalayas.

Kempty Falls

Located at a distance of 15 kms from Mussoorie on the Chakrata Road are the spectacular Kempty falls which are also discovered by a British officer called John Mekinan in 1835. The locale of these thundering falls was a popular picnic destination for the British officers who were stationed at Mussoorie. The falls are located at an altitude of 4500 feet and present an impressive sight though there are some other magnificent falls in the area as well like the Bhatta Falls, the Jharipani Falls and the Mosey Falls.

Sir George Everest House

This edifice is also known as Park Estate and it is located at a distance of 6 km from Mussoorie. This building houses the laboratory of the first Surveyor General of India, Sir George Everest. The highest peak in the world is in fact named after him and the house is located in an extremely scenic location which affords gorgeous views of the Doon and Yamuna Valleys as well as the Himalayas.

Your holiday home on Mussoorie's Gun Hill

Your holiday home on Gun Hill in Mussoorie

These are just some of the many attractions of this charming hill station of Mussoorie that you will have the chance to explore when you choose to book your holiday home here.

 

Fancy a cuppa? then head to the hill town of Darjeeling for some champagne tea and more

If you enjoy a good cup of tea, then its likely that you are well acquainted with Darjeeling tea which is also known as the champagne of teas and which when brewed properly actually yields a thin-bodied, light-colored liquid which has a wonderful floral aroma. Darjeeling tea is especially popular in the UK and other countries which were once a part of the great British Empire.

A cup of Darjeeling tea- the champagne of teas

A cup of Darjeeling tea- the champagne of teas photo credit adulau

This much coveted Darjeeling tea is produced in the hills of the district of Darjeeling which is located in the state of West Bengal in India. The district of Darjeeling is actually located in a range of hills which is known as the Shivalik Hills and these hills are a part of the lower Himalayas. During the years of the British Raj( the years that the British ruled the subcontinent between 1858 and 1947),this charming town of Darjeeling, came to be developed as ‘hill station ‘ or a summer escape for the British residents who were stationed in India during that time. Up until the time that the British came to rule in Darjeeling, this hill town was ruled intermittently by the kingdoms of Nepal and Sikkim and in fact the British acquired Darjeeling from Sikkim in 1835.

The town of Darjeeling which is located on an elevation of 6,982 ft (2,128 m) enjoys a very agreeable climate which is characterized by five seasons mainly spring, summer, autumn, winter, and the monsoons. Summers in Darjeeling are usually mild with temperatures summer hovering around 25°C (77°F) and it is for this reason that the British decided to establish the town of Darjeeling as one of their summer capitals. They could then retreat to this summer capital to escape the sultry and oppressive heat of the plains. Over years the town of Darjeeling, became the favored summer destination of many wealthy Indians as well especially the maharajas and the zamindars( land owners) from the neighboring city of Calcutta who like the British chose to vacation in the pleasant environs of Darjeeling.

Your holiday home at Sterling Darjeeling close to all the 'tearrific' sites

Your holiday home at Sterling Darjeeling

If you choose to have your holiday home in Darjeeling you will be able to explore the many delights of this enchanting hill town which has a rich culture and history. Your holiday home in Darjeeling can be a studio, a one bedroom or a two bedroom depending on your individual preference. No matter what kind of holiday home you choose to have in this Queen of the hills, it is ensured you will have easy access to the wondrous sights of this quaint and historic town

The Darjeeling Himalayan Railway

The British actually were responsible for a lot of the development in Darjeeling and in 1881 they established The Darjeeling Himalayan Railway here which continues to run until today over a route that stretches over 80 km (50 miles) from Silguri to Darjeeling was declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO in 1999. It is only the second railway in this world to be bestowed this honor and it is one of the prime tourist attractions of Darjeeling. Though nowadays many these locomotives are powered by diesel engines and the only steam locomotive (affectionately known as the ‘Toy train’) that operates is the on the route from Kurseong to Darjeeling

The famous 'Toy Train' of Darjeeling photo credit Joe Gratz

The Darjeeling Himalayan Railway -Photo Credit Joe Gratz

The Tea plantations

The British also realized that Darjeeling’s unique topography and temperate climate was also conducive to the cultivation of tea and they established a number of tea plantation here which specialized in the production of many black teas and other blends. Darjeeling teas are often considered by tea aficionados to be the finest teas in the world. Many of these tea plantations which date back to the mid nineteenth century continue to operate in Darjeeling until today and employ much of the local population. They are well also established tourist attractions.

Lloyd’s Botanic Gardens

Located below the market place, is this green oasis which is yet another renowned attraction of Darjeeling. The Lloyd’s Botanic garden displays the lush alpine vegetation which is native to Darjeeling and it has verdant lawns which have poplar, birch, oak, and elm trees all of which are found in the forests that surround this hill town. These gardens are also famous for many varieties of orchids which are housed in a hot house and attract scores of visitors to the gardens.

Pamaja Naidu Himalayan Zoological Park

Darjeeling’s zoo is famous for the conservation of alpine animals and it also excels in the captive breeding of animals such as the snow leopard and the endangered Himalayan wolf and the Red Panda.

The spectacular Kangchenjunga sunrise Photo credit aaron ostrovsky

The spectacular Kangchenjunga sunrise Photo credit aaron ostrovsky

Tiger Hill

Tiger Hill is one of the highest hills surrounding the town of Darjeeling. It rises 8500 feet above sea level and is a popular tourist attraction for awe-inspiring views that it affords of the majestic Himalayan peaks. People love to come out to Tiger Hill in the early hours of the morning to watch the sun rise over the Himalayas .As day breaks, the twin peaks of the Kanchenjunga mountain are first colored pink and then orange by the early rays of the sun and present a truly magnificent sight which is easily accessible to you when you book your holiday home in Darjeeling.

Ghum Monastery

Darjeeling is home to a multi ethnic population who follow a number of religions like Buddhism, Hinduism, Christianity and Islam. As a result of which a number of beautiful monasteries, gothic churches and elaborate temples can be found here. The Ghum Monastery which is built at a height of 8000 feet and is located 8 km from the main town of Darjeeling is one such monastery which is frequented by the many visitors who flock to Darjeeling.

Elite Boarding Schools

Apart from the railway and tea plantations, the British were responsible for yet another important development in Darjeeling and this was the development of excellent boarding schools which were initially built and established in this quaint town by Scottish missionaries who wanted to ensure that the children of British residents had access to the same education that was imparted in some of the best public schools in England like Eton, Harrow and Rugby. St. Joseph’s College, Loreto Convent, St. Paul’s School and Mount Hermon School are some of these historic erstwhile colonial schools many of which are now over a century but continue to attract students from all over India and other countries of South Asia until today. Today these schools are run either by the government or by private and religious organizations or trusts and are yet another popular attraction of Darjeeling.


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