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Best places to visit in India during Monsoon

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After two hot months when sun bakes most of the cities of India, comes Monsoon, the season of rains and gives a new lease of life to flora and fauna.

The rains also fill some more passion and energy into the tourism industry. Gone are the days when July-September were considered off-season. Monsoon tourism is the new trend of Indian tourism industry, which is also becoming a don’t-miss thing among the tourists, both local and foreigners.

Romancing the rains in hills, rainforests, temple towns and beaches is the new idea of spending some memorable holidays with loved ones.

Here we have made a list of the best places to visit in Monsoon, where going for a vacay is the perfect idea. Explore

Goa waterfall

A view of Netravali waterfall during monsoon in Goa. Photo IANS

Goa

Watching the dark clouds making elephants in the sky while lying on the white sand…this is not a dream but a reality during rainy season in Goa. The lush green landscape of Goa become all the more attractive and fresh during rains. The entire environment becomes so relaxing that you will feel rejuvenated within moments while being away from work and routined life. From taking a lazy stroll at Miramar beach to enjoying some adventure sports designed especially for rains to digging in steamy seafood sizzlers in the beach shack – options are unlimited when you are in Goa.

A number of adventure sports professionals are offering special Monsoon packages which include exciting activities, such as fly-boarding (Hrithik Roshan style), river rafting, trekking, Kayaking, bumper ride and more. Spending some cosy time with the special someone a cruise is also a great idea!

kerala monsoon

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Kerala

God’s own country becomes all the more adorable when rains beautify its lush landscape with various shades of green and make it a treat to heal the mind, body and soul. From Kochi to Thiruvananthapuram, Kerala’s spice plantations, palm trees and tea gardens are a sight to behold in Monsoon season. The best thing about rains in Kerala is that they are not incessant ones that stall all daily activities of life. It rains for brief intervals and sunshine mostly doesn’t lose sight in most parts of Kerala.

Water cascading down in torrents at the famed waterfalls of Athirappilly and Vazhachal, the sight of rain-heavy clouds dotting the hills of Parambikulam reserve forest and going along a trek at the scenic rainforest with myriads of waterfalls glistening like silver hold the tourists spell-bound with their pristine beauty.

Rainy season is also the best time to stay in a resort and enjoy the Ayurveda treatments along with rains. The mix of hot and cold weather adds more benefits to these programs. Kerala Tourism Board also organises several festivals in Monsoon around food, music and culture of Kerala, which are also a must visit.

Leh Highway

Sonmarg: Srinagar Leh highway. Photo IANS

Leh

This one is a surprise! Yes, Leh. Nestling deep in the lap of Himalayas, Leh is an exciting visit any time of the year. But during Monsoon particularly, Leh retains its true character with bright blue skies and crisp air, temperature ranging between 10 and 20 degree celsius.

Leh actually falls in a rain shadow area. There are no heavy rains here but brief intervals of downpour. This time is best to experience white water rafting in Zanskar and Indus River as water level remains on all-time high. Trekking, which is the way of life for the locals here, is also popular with tourists. One can go for some of the most challenging treks, such as Spituk to Stok, the Kang Yatse trek and also Markha Valley trek. Just get a pair of hiking boots and waterproof gear and get set go to experience the incredible view of the deep gorges and snow-clad mountains.

What can be more exciting than festivals! Monsoon is also the season of festivals celebrating Karsha Gustor in July at Karsha, largest monastery in Zanskar Valley; Pheyang Tsedup in July/August, the annual festival at Pheyang monastery and Korzok Gustor in July/August at Korzok monastery, near Tso Moriri Lake.

Coorg

www.thrillophilia.com

Coorg

Imagine lush green forests, scenic waterfalls and abundance of acres of coffee and spice plantations, where you can take the fresh aroma of coffee and spices and pamper your senses while enjoying the picturesque views of pastoral hills take your breath away. During rains, the beauty of Coorg reaches another level! Coorg is rightly called the Scotland of India.

One can enjoy white water rafting on the Cauvery, trekking on Mt. Tadiyendamol is for those who love to enjoy some adrenaline rush, Tibetan settlement in Bylakuppe having Buddha sculptures and paintings is a must-visit in this region.

Trekking is a popular activity in Coorg as it has so many famous treks, such as Malethirke temple at Karada-Palangala village, Mandalpatti and more. Coorg has a lot to offer – rich historical past, mouth-watering cuisine and some days away from stress and hustle bustle of life.

Coorg is easily accessible from Bengaluru, through a 6-hour long journey via Mysore road. It is also well accessible from Mangaluru, Hassan and even from Kerala.

Mandu

MANDU: Roopmati Pavilion. Photo Source http://www.mptourism.com

Mandu

Located in Madhya Pradesh is around 283 km away from Bhopal, Mandu is an ancient fort city in Madhya Pradesh. Mandu is popular for its unique architecture inspired by Afghan heritage. It is surrounded by stone walls with several darwazas (gateways). When in Mandu, you can visit the landmark buildings of the city, such as Hoshang Shah’s Tomb, a marble mausoleum and Jami Masjid mosque, an old mosque made in Mughal architectural style, dating to 1405.

Mandu gets a decent amount of rainfall in Monsoon season and its lush green beauty gets enhanced to the maximum during this time. This is why Monsoon is one of the best times to visit Mandu. During rains, your visit to the imposing Jahaz Mahal palace will be memorable. The palace stands between 2 lakes and when the rains fill the lakes to the brim, it indeed feels like sailing a big ship.

So pick up an umbrella and some waterproof gear and embark your journey to romance the rains this season.

DISCLAIMER : Views expressed above are the author’s own.

 

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Children of a lesser God

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Workers look inside a sewage treatment facility Sunday in a posh neighborhood in New Delhi. Five of their colleagues died of toxic gases that while cleaning facility’s tanks. (Burhaan Kinu/Hindustan Times/Getty Images)

Anil, Vishal, Sarfaraz, Pankaj, Raja, Kiran Pal and Umesh……………..Who are these people? They were all young men with a dream and a family to look after but they are all dead. They were sanitation workers and went inside sewer to clean but never came back.

Last week in Delhi, a photograph of an 11-year-old child crying next to the body of his father went viral on the social media. The pictures, tweeted by a New Delhi-based journalist early this week, showed the child sobbing next to his father Anil at a local crematorium, who died while cleaning a sewer last week in New Delhi prompted social media users to raise nearly 55 lakh rupees to support the family.

To step into a manhole to clean the sewer lines in urban India is as dangerous as fighting insurgency in Jammu & Kashmir. In last eight years at least, the death toll among sewer workers has started to converge with that of security forces killed in the beleaguered state. Statistically speaking, it is safer to be a soldier in the army serving in Kashmir than a sewer worker in India.

The Supreme Court has passed strictures against both central and state governments for sending people into manholes without even basic protective gear, and ordered Rs10 lakh to be paid to the survivors of each of those who died in the line of duty. Unfortunately, we don’t recall even a single instance where this compensation was awarded to the family members of dead sewer worker.

Nobody gives a second thought to a man who dies while cleaning the gutter. The best he can hope is just a casual description in the city pages of newspapers unless his death has a horrendous novelty, like in a recent case in Delhi when Anil, a 37-year-old man died of asphyxiation while cleaning a Delhi Jal Board (DJB) sewer in west Delhi’s Dabri last week on Friday.

Police said that Anil, a labourer was lowered in a 20 foot deep sewer by a weak rope tied to his waist which snapped midway. It was a double tragedy for the family as Anil had lost his four-month-old son only six days back. A week back three labourers were asphyxiated while a fourth is battling for life after reportedly inhaling poisonous gases inside a manhole they were cleaning in Lajpat Nagar.

This incident occurred less than a month after four men died while cleaning a septic tank in Ghitorni, Delhi. Joginder (32), Annu (28) and a 25-year-old unidentified man, were declared brought dead at AIIMS. Like in other similar cases reported earlier, the men weren’t wearing protective gear when they entered the sewer line.

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Sewage and septic tank workers, NCR, Delhi

According to reports, in all the death cases of the sewer cleaners recorded so far, none of the workers were equipped with protective gears like masks or any other safety equipment. Inspite of manual scavenging being banned by law, it continues nevertheless. Last month, the Delhi Govt had decided to fully mechanize the cleaning of sewers and provision of life imprisonment was suggested for those who failed to adhere to these new rules.

It is shocking that these sewer workers are forced to operate without bunny suites, masks, and oxygen cylinders. In fact, it was shocking to learn that the workers drink liquor before venturing into these death chambers to numb their senses. It is estimated that almost 90% of the workers are hooked to liquor. Many die young and there are few among those employed with municipalities who live till the retirement age.

Mumbai’s municipal corporation does not have data specifically for sewer workers, but last year, they acknowledged the death of 1386 conservancy workers since 2009. Another report released by the National Commission for Safai Karamacharis, a government agency, said on an average, one manual scavenger has died every five days in India since January 1, 2017.The report also said that if the amount of Hydrogen Sulphide in sewer is high, the death will be instant.

Bezwada Wilson, an activist who launched “Safai Karmachari Andolan” – a campaign against manual scavenging in 1995, told the press that the government numbers are a fraction of the data about sewer deaths as over 300 people were killed in the sewers in 2017 itself. He further added that there is no effort from the government to end this inhuman practice, which primarily employs the lowest rungs of our society, belonging to Dalit caste.

It’s getting difficult for the community of sewer workers to survive because they are already marginalised. If a person calls a worker to clean his sewer, he can neither refuse to work nor can he ask for the safety equipments to enter in the manhole. Though, there is a law in place but nobody gets punished. Law can take place only if there is a political will but unfortunately that is missing. If we look at the budget allocation, it clearly shows that sanitation workers are not a priority for this government.

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Life after Parrikar’s Delhi airlift doesn’t look easy for Goa BJP

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Manhohar Parrikar

After nearly three decades of Manohar Parrikar’s complete dominance over the affairs of state BJP, the party is now looking at life in Goa without him, who is battling advanced pancreatic cancer and was airlifted to New Delhi’s prestigious AIIMS on Saturday.

With apparently chances of Parrikar’s return to active politics bleak, life doesn’t appear all that smooth for the Goa BJP leadership, at least for now, as it is already battling crises of lack of credible successors, skeptical alliance partners who have sniffed the weakness, and the possibility of an ugly succession battle for power in Parrikar’s absence.

For now, several core Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leaders in Goa seem to be in favour of dissolution of the state assembly, instead of allowing leaders from other alliance parties to head the coalition.

Barely hours after Parrikar took off in a specially chartered flight to the national capital on the instructions of the BJP high command, alliance partners Maharashtrawadi Gomantak Party (MGP) and the Goa Forward have already started scrapping publicly over sharing of power.

“The BJP should appoint the senior-most leader in-charge. Goa has already suffered because of lack of leadership. We need to fill that void,” state MGP chief Dipak Dhavalikar told reporters, throwing his party MLA, brother and Public Works Department Minister Sudin Dhavalikar’s hat in the ring for the post of officiating Chief Minister.

However, Goa Forward president and Town and Country Planning Minister Vijai Sardesai has already rejected the option to make Dhavalikar the Deputy Chief Minister, with an ailing Parrikar continuing in the top post.

Both parties had contested the 2017 Assembly poll on an anti-BJP plank but had later joined the BJP-led coalition government on the condition that only Parrikar should head the coalition.

Another proposition, which was discussed by Dhavalikar with the BJP leadership about merging his regional party MGP with the BJP, has seen stiff resistance from the cadres of both parties.

Last week, state Congress president Girish Chodankar in a letter to Goa Governor Mridula Sinha had asked her not to consider the possibility of dissolution of the state Assembly and invite the Congress, which has more MLAs than the BJP in the 40-member House, to form the government instead of dissolving the House.

Party leaders say, under the current scenario, the best option would be Union Minister of State for AYUSH and North Goa MP Shripad Naik, who is a popular leader of the OBC, a significant vote bank which is peeved at the “pro-Brahmin politics” orchestrated with Parrikar at the helm of state and party affairs.

“Shripad is widely acceptable, both as a person and a politician. His nature is to take everyone along,” a BJP leader said.

There are also talks within the party about a possible anti-incumbency factor working for Naik in the upcoming Lok Sabha election. Getting Naik, a three-time MP from North Goa, back into the state politics would serve well for the party instead.

Elder to Parrikar by three years, Naik, 65, is complete counterfoil to Parrikar’s personality. While Parrikar is a sharp, incisive and intimidating, Naik is warm, gentle and known for his warm camaraderie.

Naik, in a way, has also been at the receiving end of Parrikar’s style of functioning, which did not allow any second power centre in Goa to develop.

The other options being touted within the party are Speaker Pramod Sawant and state BJP president and Rajya Sabha MP Vinay Tendulkar. While Sawant’s candidature has been opposed by alliance partners, Tendulkar could emerge as the dark horse in the BJP’s quest for a homegrown CM.

(Mayabhushan Nagvenkar can be contacted at [email protected])

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Amit Shah’s 50-year dream: Whistling in the dark?

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Amit Shah

Bharatiya Janata Party : President Amit Shah’s boast at the national executive meeting about the party ruling for 50 years may have been in keeping with his usual aggressive, bombastic style, but it has been interpreted in two contradictory ways.

One was to see it as a sign of arrogance and the other was to discern in the seeming extravagant claim a hint of whistling in the dark to keep up the party morale. Both the surmises have an element of plausibility.

If the assertion underlines hauteur, the reason undoubtedly is the BJP’s belief that it faces no serious challenge at the moment. Notwithstanding the continuing unemployment, agrarian distress, high fuel prices, falling rupee, stagnant exports and the unease among the minorities and Dalits, the opposition has not been able to get its act together.

Because of this failure, there are now doubts about how it will fare in the forthcoming assembly elections in Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh since the BJP’s main opponent in these states, the Congress, which was earlier expected to have an easy run, has been unable to reach an understanding with the Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) and is troubled by its familiar internal squabbling.

Besides, the question as to who will be the opposition’s prime ministerial face is yet to be settled while there has been no clearcut articulation of an economic blueprint. The BJP, on the other hand, is pursuing a well-defined path. Even as “vikas” (development) remains its catchphrase, it also cannily indulges in the ruses of what a dissident saffron intellectual and former BJP minister, Arun Shourie, has called a “one-trick pony”.

The “trick”, according to him, is to foment divisiveness which has been highlighted by the communal uncertainties posed by the National Register of Citizens, which the Assam Chief Minister, Sarbananda Sonowal, wants to be extended from his state to the entire country so that the “ghuspetiyas” (infiltrators or illegal immigrants) can be summarily evicted. “Chun chun ke nikaloonga”, as Amit Shah has thundered.

The BJP’s confidence apparently stems from the belief that while the promise of development will keep the youth and the middle class on its side — as has been confirmed by the Delhi University Students Union election results where the BJP’s student wing, the Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad (ABVP), won three of the top four seats — the party’s nationalist plank targeting “ghuspetiyas” and the so-called urban Naxalites will keep the opposition off balance.

It is obvious that the opposition has found no effective answers to the allegations of being soft on illegal aliens and Maoist sympathisers and has to depend on the judiciary to keep any excesses of the ruling party in check as in the matter of lynchings.

How indifferent the BJP is towards such outrages or the disquiet expressed by the “secular” intelligentsia about its rule was evident from the seeming satisfaction which Amit Shah derived from the fact that the party keeps on winning despite the murder of Mohammed Akhlaq, allegedly for eating beef, or the “award wapsi” of the urban elite.

It is not surprising that he believes that a combination of the promise of economic growth and a depiction of the opposition as unpatriotic will keep the “lion” safe from the “wild dogs”, to quote the similes used by Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) chief Mohan Bhagwat while addressing the World Hindu Congress in Chicago to describe the Sangh Parivar and its opponents.

On its part, the RSS has been engaged in broadening its appeal by calling the non-saffronites to its conclaves. It goes without saying that a possible mainstreaming of the avowedly pro-Hindu organisation will help the BJP to shake off to some extent the taint in the eyes of its opponents of its association with the RSS and thereby help in the fulfilment of the dream of ruling India for half a century.

It cannot be gainsaid that at the moment, much is going for the party. It has a Prime Minister whose popular appeal is testified by virtually all the opinion polls despite the government’s palpable inadequacies. The party also has a chief whose micromanagement of the organization has turned it into a formidable election-winning outfit.

In addition, its publicity is boosted not only by its members in the government and the party, but also by an army of trolls who lose no opportunity to pounce on the BJP’s critics with venomous abuses. Not to be left behind in supporting the ruling dispensation are some ‘nationalist’ television channels whose commitment to neutrality is conspicuous by its absence.

With so much in the BJP’s favour, its 50-year project may not seem all that far-fetched — except that the Indian voter remains famously inscrutable. Considering that the BJP secured no more than 31 per cent of the votes at the height of its popularity in 2014, it is obvious that a large percentage of the population do not think much of the party.

It may be this inconvenient fact which made Amit Shah whistle in the dark.

(Amulya Ganguli is a political analyst. He can be reached at [email protected])

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