#Dubai Sightseeings – Important updates


Miracle Garden shall be open until the end of May 2015

Dolphinarium is closed from 15 June until 16 July

Burj Khalifa Prime Hours: 17h30 – 18h30 Hrs

At the Top, Burj Khalifa during Ramadan

10h00 – 01h00, Prime hours will be limited to 17h30 – 19h00 inclusive

Note on Ramadan


This year, we are expecting  Holy month of fasting “Ramadan” to be from 17 June to  17 July (approximate dates, / actual dates to be announced closer to the date only, as this will depend on moon sighting).  During this month, eating, drinking, smoking etc in public areas during day time i.e from sunrise till sunset,  will not be allowed .

There won’t be any entertainment during Desert safari or onboard dhow/night clubs may remain closed and parties with loud music / dancing etc will not be allowed. Hotels may serve alcohol in their outlets after sunset only. In general, hotels will have 1 main restaurant open for breakfast & lunch. Standalone restaurants (which are outside hotels/ or in shopping malls) will remain closed during day time and will open after sunset only


The Greek isle of Santorini has survived through its past history and natural disasters to retain its title as the most photogenic paradise.

photogenic paradiseview of oia village

It starts out as a holiday from hell. Greece is in the throes of stormy weather in the beginning of summer – our ferry is cancelled and we have to settle for expensive air tickets. As we land on the island, the sky is a smouldering grey and the first drizzle depresses us; we were looking for islands in the sun…instead, we wrap ourselves in fleece and caps as we head out.

According to Greek mythology, Santorini was a handful of dirt that the sea god Triton gave to the Argonauts. Another tale says that the god Zeus hurled the core of the island at his enemies – the Titans – and the imprint of his fingers can be still seen on four inlets of the island. Called Kallisti, “The Loveliest,” when it was first settled, this crescent shaped photogenic island locally called Thira, is famous for its dramatic setting.

oia village streetchurch with blue dome

Rimmed by striated red and grey volcanic cliffs and lined with a chain of vertiginous villages, with white sugar cube houses that drip down the edges like frosting on a cake, it is probably the most photogenic in the Aegean. Three thousand years ago, Santorini changed forever when a volcano exploded with such force that the centre collapsed into the ocean and a tsunami wipe out the entire Minoan civilization. Plumes of lava ripped through the skies in a mammoth explosion. Legend has it that the lost city of Atlantis was inspired by his volcanic eruption.

a cafe in city of firahouses in fira

BLUE AND WHITE LAND: We choose to stay at Oia, a pretty village in the northern most part of the island, in a traditional cave hotel that is chiseled into the soft volcanic rock where one villa’s roof is the next villa’s balcony. The owner is generous and upgrades us to an apartment, as we have arrived during off-season just after Greek Easter, when the islands are slowly being readied for the summer. This is when hotels are painted, woodwork is polished and plants are tended to. This jumble of cave houses called hyposkafa was built for fishermen and sailors. These were nestled in the cliff rocks, and one could see only their arched entrance, so that the inhabitants could hide from pirates. Above these cave houses are Venetian mansions built for the wealthy sea captions, called kapetanea. It’s a world where white and blue are the predominant hues.

doors to heavenBoutiques

Locals say that the Turks who settled on the island were banned from using the national colours of Greece, and to defy them, they painted the houses in the colours of the national flag! Oia is also an artist’s hub, with colourful shops lining the main street paved in marble, selling jewellery, paintings and carvings as well as distinctive doors painted with scenes from the village.

From Oia, we walk down to the small fishing village of Amoudi Bay lined with seafood in small eateries, giving us the chance to snorkel and swim in the clear waters.

As the sun comes out, changing the complexion of our vacation for the better, we gaze enviously at the luxurious villas with their infinity pools spilling over the sides of the cliffs. Rows and rows of white balconies with blue swimming pools and umbrellas hug the sides of the cliffs.

Precipitous paths wrap their way around this maze. We spend our days walking through the vertical world, watching adroit waiters lugging breakfast on their shoulders nonchalantly, shops displaying colourful watercolours, blue domes of churches framed with sprays of bright pink bougainvillea, offering a striking contrast to the white and blue colour scheme of the entire island. I get lost often, walking through the labyrinth of streets that were meant to thwart pirates long ago.

Almost every street seems to end in a whitewashed church. Santorini has just eight thousand inhabitants, but more than three hundred churches with their signature blue domes and pretty bell towers, most of them built by grateful seamen, for having been saved from fierce storms.

ISLAND RETREAT: we take a trip to Fira, the capital of the island, accessed by more than 500 steps from the port. If Oia is tranquil, Fira is robust and full of life.

Fira is where the big cruise ships come and dock and the presence of big spenders have resulted in a lot of gaudy stores. We walk through the cobbled lanes paved with volcanic stone, ‘Gold Street’ filled with shops selling expensive gold jewellery and rest our tired traveller’s feet at cafes with panoramic views of the volcano.

There are liveried donkeys that ferry tourists who choose that over a cable car from the harbour at the foot of the cliff. I see a time warp of wizened old women basking in the sun and Greek orthodox priests with long beards, alongside camera-toting Japanese tourists who fill up their memory cards recklessly.

Santorini is a hedonist’s paradise, with infinity pools and black beaches to bask on – but scratch below the surface and you will find the scars of its turbulent past; hoteliers build properties teetering on the edge of the volcanic crater, and farmers till the hard soil and plant vines in spite of the lack of rain.

I realised how fragile the island and its romantic hotels are when I take a trip to the volcano, walking up a grey ash path, with the whiff of sulphur and the hiss of steam signifying that it still has life.

I follow it up with a swim in Palei Kameni, a hot sulphur spring where you feel like you are drowning in a pool of sewage, but it works wonders for your skin.

ANCIENT WONDERS: long ago, Santorini was home to one of the most advanced civilizations of the world. I find the ghosts of the past everywhere. I see them in the gorgeous wall paintings in the Museum of Prehistoric Thera in the capital. Some of the oldest vineyards are still found on Santorini’s surprisingly fertile soil. For a time warp experience, I visit the southern tip of the island, where the Bronze Age archaeological site, Akrotiri, exists with the ruins of ancient settlements with mosaics and frescoes preserved perfectly for centuries under layers of pumice. Imagine a Minoan city, with well-planned streets and squares and three-storey houses, buried by a volcanic eruption. Artefacts, furniture and vivid frescoes that decorated the houses of its sophisticated wealthy sea merchants that were unearthed show that its must have been a very sophisticated civilization.

Come sunset, I head to the end of the village, for the famed Santorini ritual of watching the sun inching towards of purple horizon, casting vivid shadows of purple and orange on the whitewashed facades. I look forward to dinners at open air restaurants on the precipice that arrange their tables and chairs on the edge of the cliff and give the phrase ‘meal with a view’ a completely new dimension!

cooled lava rock souvenirspainted doors n windows in oia

With more than 300 days of sunshine and rich volcanic soil, Santorini is quite the foodie paradise – on every table in the island are fava beans grown on the island and made into a puree with capers and other flavouring. We feast on local specialties like baby squids batter fried and tomato fritters made with the island’s aromatic cherry tomatoes.

My Santorini sojourn is all about those Eureka moments; catching sight of a gorgeous seascape painted on old doors and windows of an art gallery, a black cat napping on a blinding white parapet, a little secret courtyard aflame with geraniums, a blue door that seems to lead nowhere, the constant soundtrack of pealing church bells and finally, the rosy hues of the setting sun against the dramatic cliffs heralding the curtain call to yet another day in paradise.

Courtesy by K.T.

Khajuraho – Madhya Pradesh

The temples of Khajuraho are India’s unique gift to the world. They are an ode to love in stone and are a testimony to the extraordinary breadth of vision of the Chandela Rajputs under whose the temples were conceived and constructed. The Khajuraho temples were built in a 100 years, from 950-1050 AD. of the 85 original temples, 22 have survived till today to constitute one of the world’s great artistic wonders. Architecturally the temples are a highly imaginative recreation of the rising peaks of the Himalayas, abode of the gods and are divided into three geographical divisions that group the temples as western eastern and southern.


Must Watch

The Western Group: This is the main group and is the must see if you have less time. The temples are built on large platforms and have tall shikharas under which is situated the garbha graham for the main deity. The largest and the most typical of the Khajuraho temples, is the Kandariya Mahadeva temple which soars 21 m high. Dedicated to Shiva, the deity is a marble shiva lingam. The temple is exquisitely carved and almost 900 sculptures on the platform.

The other important temples are the Chaunsath Yogini is the only granite temple and the earliest surviving shrine of the group ( 900 AD ), it is dedicated to Kali. The Chitragupta temple is dedicated to the Sun god, Surya. The image of the deity is five feet high, and driving a hourse drawn chariot. The Vishwanath temple is a Brahma Shrinewith a three headed image and a Nandi bull facing the Shrine.

The best preserved temple is the Lakshman temple which houses the trinity of Brahma, Vishnu and Shiva with Lakshmi, Vishnu’s Consort.

The finely carved sanctum has a three-headed idol of Vishnu’s incarnations, Narasimha and Varaha. 

Easter Group –

The Parsvanath Temple is the largest Jain Temple and exquisite in detail. The sculptures on the northern outer wall are particularly noteworthy. This Ghantai Jain Temple has a frieze which depicts the 16 dreams of Mahavira’s mother, and a Jain goddess on a winged Garuda. The Adinath temple dedicated to the Jain saint has detailed carvings of Yakshis. The three hindu temples of the group are the Brahma, containing a four faced lingam, the Vamana, which is adorned on its outer walls with carving of apsaras in a variety of sensuous attitudes; and the Javari, which a richly carved gateway and exterior sculptures.

Southern group –

Duladeo Temple: Dedicated to Shiva the apsara and ornamented figures are the temple’s most striking features..

Chaturbhuj Temple –

This temple has a massive, intricately carved image of Vishnu in the sanctum.

How to reach –

~ Regular sevies link Khajuraho with Delhi and Varanasi

~ Khajuraho is connected by regular buses with Satna, Harpalpur, Jhansi and Mahoba.

~ Khajuraho has its own railway station linking it to Delhi, Jhansi ( 172 kms ), Harpalpur ( 94 km ) and Mahoba ( 64 km ), Satna ( 117 km ) which is on the Mumbai – Allahabad line of the central Railway is a convenient rail link for those coming from Mumbai, Kolkata and Varanasi.


Jaipur’s forts, palaces, colors and hospitality will make you feel like the royals that lived here centuries ago

Across the rocky plains encircled by desert hills, with bastion and fortified walls spiraling over their contours, lies the capital of Rajasthan. I rolled the window down as we drove through early morning rush hour at Bapu Bazaar. Vendors prepared their fresh supply of fruits, vegetables and bright orange marigolds for sale, children crowded together in cycle-rickshaws headed for school, and there was an extraordinary chaos in the air, as every possible mode of transport, from luxury cars to scooters, rickshaws, horse-drawn carts and camels, all found their place on the same road. The morning sun reflected on the stunning 18th century architecture of pink sand-stone, turning into a soft shade of honeycomb with a pinkish hue.

In stark contrast, our car soon wheeled into a royal landscape which was home to a fairytale princess, the fabulous Rambagh Palace that is now a luxury hotel. The imposing exterior was reminiscent of the regal style of the buildings in the city. We were greeted to a rose petal welcome and led to our suite by an attentive turbaned butler.

The palace interiors were no less impressive, with long, white-marbled verandahs that wound around the courtyards. As the third wife of HH Maharaja Sawai Man Singh II, this was Rajmata Gayatri Devi’s first home after marriage. Sipping tea on the manicured lawns, you get a sense of the kind of grandeur that she wrote so fondly of, what with all the elephant polo matches, lavish meals and the Rolls-Royces. The palace’s resident peacocks complete the picture.

The sights and sounds of Jaipur, like its people, are vibrant and exuberant. It is a world of Bandhani And Leheriyan Saris, Mojari Chappals, Puppet dolls and Daal Baati Churma and Makkai Muthiya meal that we had been anticipating since we left. But first, a brief history lesson: just outside the city, accessible by car – or better yet, by elephant – is the spectacular Amber Fort. Built four centuries ago by Raja Maan Singh I, Amber Fort is renowned as an architectural marvel with stunning artistic elements and stonework, which used the practical approach of the ancient Indian study of vaastu.

Listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, Amber Fort gets approximately 5000 visitors a day, most of whom seemed to be waiting for an elephant ride up to the Fort.

“Padharo Mare Desh!” yelled out short, pot-bellied turbaned tour guide Gyaan Singh, in his uncanny American accent. We cheated the serpentine queues to enter the Fort, thanks to his wasta (influence) and soon we were taking in enough history to fill an encyclopaedic volume. He walked us through the Suraj Pol, Jalebi Chowk (an Arabic word referring to a place for soldiers to gather), Ganesh Pol, Sila Devi Temple, the stately courtyards, and numerous other places of unimaginable intrigue all amongst this immaculately planned palatial fort of red sandstone and marble masonry, lattice-screens and mirror work walls.

After taking in all that history, we made our way to some retail therapy in the bustling markets of the city. Jaipur is famous for its textiles, block prints being made by local artisans, silver and of course the spectacular Jaipur gems.

The next morning, we bid farewell to the city and our not-so-humble abode and headed for the undulating Aravalli hills to pink sandstone and limestone-walled resort, reflecting Rajasthan’s famed architectural history. The Tree Of Life Resort and Spa offers a quiet tranquillity – it is an ideal place to unwind and rest. It inspired my very urban children to go off on a ‘nature walk’, so that is something. They reported back with an interesting list – “a real carrot garden, four monarch butterflies, three big squirrels and a large German Shepherd…..that belongs to the lady in the next villa.”

Up here in the Aravalli hills, under the clear blue skies, with no cellphones, no computers or schedules to uphold, you get a chance to be pensive and contemplative. Perhaps, that is my version of being Royal in Rajasthan.

Courtesy by K.T.

3 cubs’ death exposes foresters’ callousness

The train accident that claimed three Asiatic lion cubs near Pipavav ( Gujarat, India ) on Wednesday night has raised serious questions about the forests department’s seriousness in ensuring the safety of these endangered wild cats, many of which have strayed from their original home in Gir ( Sasan, Gujarat, India ).

Three lion cubs were crushed to death near Rampara (Gujarat, India) railway crossing about a kilometer from Pipavav.

After a series of incidents last year in which lions were killed under trains in this particular area, the forest department had deployed trackers along the five km railway stretch between Baraftana junction and Pipavav railway station (both places are in Gujarat, India).

However, sources conformed to TOI that around 53 trackers were relieved by the department on March 31.

Forest officials, however, denied relieving them. “We have not relieved any tracker as they are casual laborers and we call them whenever we need them”, M.R. Gurjar, deputy conservator of forests, (social forestry), Amreli division, told TOI.

Interestingly, as soon as the news about the lion cubs’ death spread, all the trackers who were relieved were called to join work immediately.

“We were finding it difficult to handle the wild cats that come to the tracks. This required round the clock duty but surprisingly we were told not to come after March 31”, said a tracker, requesting anonymity.

There are around 60 to 70 lions along the costal parts of Rajula and Jafrabad Taluka (in Gujarat, India) of Amreli District.

Courtesy – Time of India

Song of the Wilde – The Bandipur Tiger Reserve



We sat down for a romantic dinner at a candlelit table for two, on the periphery of the Bandipur Tiger Reserve in south India and the air resonated with mystery and menace. We heard an owl hoot, the electrifying alarm call of a deer ripped across the jungle and then the low growl of a tiger resonated in the depths. It was a chilling moment, but laden with ineffable beauty.

The king of the jungle was probably on the prowl in the forest beyond The Serai Bandipur, a plush jungle resort in Karnataka, around 226 km from Bangalore. As we sipped a drink and pondered on the surreal nature of our tryst, we exulted that the Royal Bengal Tiger was roaring back, having been written off by doomsday prophets as being on the brink of extinction.


A handsome total of 2226 tigers have clawed back into the big cat census of 2014 as opposed to 1706 in 2010, and the southern Indian state of Karnataka has the highest number in the country. Indeed, Karnataka was the first state in India to set up a commando force to fight poachers and, today, the Bandipur Tiger Reserve supports the highest density of tigers in the country.

The low roars had died down soon after in that star-span-gled night as we savoured a gourmet repast laid out for us at The Serai, where luxury in the wild is the byword. Not surprisingly, the 990 sq km Bandipur Tiger reserve is no stranger to the luxury, these forests, though the 18th and 19 centuries, like to pulverise a tiger or two over an idle weekend.

bird-1chital fight

Built artfully across 19 acres (and enclosed by solar fencing), the resort has 17 acres of private wilderness around it. As we turned in for the night in our capacious suite, we could imagine the majestic cat scoping the jungle for a meal; transfixing a terrified fawn in his tawny eyed gaze; sizing up on a muscled Sambar and could almost hear the nervous titters of Langurs, high up in a gnarled old tree…

Nestling in the foothills of the Nilgiris, Bandipur that day was awash in shades of green where dawn crept in on silent feet, painting the vast lushness in pastel shades. Langurs swung from tree to tree to welcome the new dawn, birds trilled and the Giant Malabar Squirrel scampered up the sturdy trunk of a tree. The rare while bellied black woodpecker peeked out of a hole in a tree like an inquisitive old aunt; the greater racket-tailed drongo called, displaying his ability to mimic the calls of a number of birds while a crested serpent eagle sat prey. Spotted deer pranced as our jeep purred past and handsome stags locked velvety antlers in a display of brawn.

As the sun rose in the sky, it glanced off the axle-wood trees and glided the forest, turning it into a wonderland. Knotted old growth trees leant towards stands of dead bamboo as though to breathe life into their old, lifeless comrades; red pathways sliced the dense forest and suddenly, a herd of elephants – aunts, matriarch and baby, chomping their way through the jungle. As jeep stopped in quiet homage of the huge beasts, another group suddenly emerged from the other side, backlit by the climbing sun. Low sounds emanated from the herd as they communicated with their brethren on the other side of the divide.

Then a couple of them lumbered across the safari trail, even as our driver reversed the jeep to let them pass unhindered. But one gentle giant hesitated for a heart-stopping moment as though considering mock charge and then plodded away, having decided that we were not invaders. The most stirring moment was yet to happen: the herd trumpeted as they crashed through the jungle, sending shock waves through a silent landscape.

There were no encores after that, but it was a cameo of the world in all its raw innocence. And as drove back to the Serai, a graceful leopard draped in a tree just outside the property, a gorgeous beauty that combined raw menace and grace.

Later, we savoured breakfast at the resort, revelling in the scenic beauty of South African style lodge, which cleverly combines rustic chic with luxury. We spent the rest of the day under the thatched umbrella set up on the terrace of our residence suite, gazing at the Nilgiris blueing in the distance and heaving ourselves up only to go on a nature walk with the resident naturalist in the private wilderness of property. This is a not-to-be-missed activity for the formidable Kuttappan’s air of a fearsome bandit, complete with a rakish bandana and scarred face, is deceptive.

To embark on a nature walk with him is to experience the smaller pleasures of the jungle: points out the pug marks of a visiting tiger who might have loitered past at night; presents a non-venomous wolf snake to you as a mark of respect and affection; and lifts up from the forest floor a pair of deer antlers, velvety in the dying sun, with the tender care that one would accord a newborn baby!

kuttappan-resident naturalistwoodpecker

Kuttappan is a legend in these parts, a tribal who taught himself to read and write, despite a childhood spent in the forest eating birds and robbing wild dog kills for his family, which they would roast on a crackling fire and eat.

Later, as our vehicle trundled through the forest, we were resigned to the fact that we might not see the striped feline. But to out amazement, he made a guest appearance. He sat in a clearing in the distance, gazing back at us with disdain. We eyed each other for a while before he seemed to tire of our pesky presence. He rose and strode off into the thicket, his swishing tail waving goodbye.

Courtesy by K.T.

Khijadia ( Jamnagar, Gujarat, India ) aims for global site status

After Nal Sarovar( A Ramsar Site ), the state forest department wants Khijadiya Bird Sanctuary in Jamnagar districts as a Ramsar site. For this, it has sent a proposal t the Union Ministry of environment (MoEF). Till now, Nalsarovar is the only site which has been recognized as a Ramsar site in the state.

The World Wetlands Dat was observed on February 2. For the past couple of years, the department had been working on the proposals for Ramsar recognition for Khijadiya, Marine National Park in Jamnagar, and Thol Bird sanctuary in Ahmedabad, said officials.

The convention on Wetlands of international importance, called the Ramsar Convention, is the only global environmental treaty that deals with a wetland ecosystem. The treaty was adopted in the Iranian City of Ramsar in 1971.IMG_8252

Once recognized as Ramsar Site, the wetland will be given funding. Besides, the state and the international body will work towards the wise use of all their wetlands through national land use planning, appropriate policies and legislation, management actions, and public educations. They will also ensure their effective management. According to officials, so far there are 2170 odd Ramsar sites in the world. And Nalsarovar has been listed at 2078. According to the proposal, Khijadiya is home to the globally threatened black necked stork, which is a resident species of the wetland declared as a Sanctuary in May 1981. Apart from the black necked stock, other globally threatened species such as Dalmatian pelican, dater, and Asian open bill stork, black necked stork, black headed ibis, Eurasian spoonbill, Palla’s Fish eagle, pallid harrier, Indian Skimmer, Osprey are also found here.

Khijadiya sanctuary is spread over just 6.05 sq. km. However, the sanctuary and its adjoining areas habe a diverse habitats and ecosystems which include marine habitat, fresh water habitat, marshy lands, mangroves, prosopis areas, salt pans, open mud flats, intertidal mudflats, creeks, scrubs sandy beaches and adjoining farmlands. Because of its high diversity of landscapes, the sanctuary has a rare distinction of having maximum bird species density in the state with more than 220 species in a relatively very small area, the proposal  states.

Courtesy – Times Of India 

Birds Bonanza


Photo Courtesy – Times Of India 


1) Jebel Hafeet

Difficulty: Easy

Distance: 182 km from Dubai and 178 km from Abu Dhabi

Time: The drive itself takes two hours each way, which makes for the perfect day trip

It might be a small residential town, but there is plenty to see and do in Al Ain. But you must drive through Jebel Hafeet as it is truly extraordinary. This huge mountain -approximately 1250 metres in height – is on the border of the UAE and Oman and offers picturesque views along the way.

WHAT TO DO THERE: Before reaching Al Ain, make a quick stop at the Green Mubazarrah, a lush area with hot springs. Upon reaching your destination, pick and choose from a wide variety of activities that are on offer.

Highlights include the Al Ain Palace Museum; Al Ain Zoo and Wildlife Park and Wadi Adventure which has a number of activities that include water sports such as white water rafting, kayaking and surfing.

Jeble Hafeet


Difficulty: Intermediate

Distance: 159 Km from Dubai and 266 Km from Abu Dhabi

Time: Suitable for day or weekend trip

With its stunning views of the mountains and an interesting heritage village, Hatta is well worth the drive. Don’t forget your passport because there are border checks – though some place may accept Emirates ID.

WHAT TO DO THERE: Hatta’s ultimate highlight is the Hatta Pools, which is a cluster of rock pools that have been naturally carved by rain over millions of years. You can easily spend the day there jumping into the water splashing about and having fun.

The best time of day to see the pools is in the early morning or late afternoon, when the misty light settles over the peaks, casting shadows between the many crevices. Hatta heritage village, meanwhile, is home to an old watchtower and restored stone buildings of the old town.

Stay at the Hatta Fort Hotel a secluded retreat with chalet-style suites overlooking the Hajjar Mountains, and mini-golf and archery. Fancy camping…there is the Wadi Al Qahfi campsite, which is just a few minutes away from Hatta Pools.


3) Fujairah Road

Difficulty: Easy

Distance: 113 Km from Dubai and 220 Km from Abu Dhabi

Time: suitable for day or weekend trips

One of the best things about a road trip to Fujairah is that the emirate is approximately 80 percent mountains. There are plenty of beautiful views to take in on a sunny day, as well as many unique photo stops.

What to do there: If you are heading out on a Friday, be sure to make a pit stop at the Friday Market, which sells everything from inflatables to high-end carpets. Don’t be afraid to haggle. Fujairah offers a range of activities including rock climbing and hiking. Diving enthusiasts can check out Snoopy Island- named because the island is shaped like the Peanuts character. Another attraction, Wadi Wurayah, is the only WWF-protected mountain range in the UAE and home to a natural waterfall. Fujairah has a wide range of places to stay, from the budget-friendly Star City Hotel Apartments to the top-rated Le Meridien Al Aqah Beach Resort.


4) Fossil Rock

Difficulty: Easy for off-roaders; an intermediate challenge for beginners

Distance: 31 Km from Dubai and 331 km from Abu Dhabi

Time: Can easily be covered in half a day

Officially named Jebel Maleihah, this large area is more commonly known as Fossil Rock thanks to the numerous marine fossils of shells and small sea creatures that can be found on its slopes. Due to its close proximity to Dubai, this route is perfect for anyone new to desert driving and who wants to try a road trip that is relatively easy. It is also a great starting port for anyone looking to learn off-roading. However, you will need a four-wheel-drive vehicle, and it is recommended that you go with someone who already knows how to drive in the desert.

WHAT TO DO THERE: on the way to Fossil Rock, there is the greenert-rich oasis town of Al Awir, and halfway along the route is an estate that is home to a number of gazelles and deer. Speaking of wildlife, there are plenty of other animals to spot along the way, including the pharaoh eagle owl, yellow-spotted sand lizard and cape hare. All of these animals tend to be harmless, do not bother them and they won’t bother you. In addition to fossil spotting, desert driving in Fossil Rock is truly spectacular. The sand in this area is a beautiful rich orange-red colour with easy-to-master dunes.

fossil rock

5) Dibba

Difficulty: Intermediate as it is a bit of a long drive.

Distance: 152 km from Dubai and 286 km from Abu Dhabi

Time: perfect for a weekend escape.

The UAE’s east coast is a perfect getaway. This small section lies between two regions of Oman, the Musandam Penninsula and the region around Muscat. One of the most popular road trips in the UAE is to Dibba, which is in Fujairah. This town lies on a coastal plain, nestled in mountains with green fields and ancient relics.

WHAT TO DO THERE: Dibba is renowned for its relics and historical places, including tombs and tools that date back to 7000 BC. So this is a real treat for anyone interested in discovering more about the region’s history. In fact, archaeological finds have revealed that the area has been inhabited by man since the Stone Age. In the third millennium BC, Dibba was a commercial center frequented by the Phoenicians. Sightseeing highlights include the Al Bidyah Mosque- one of the oldest in Arabia – as well as Dibba Castle and Portuguese Fort. A trip underwater is a must-do for enjoying the diverse marine life. It is worth taking dhow cruise with one of the area’s tour companies that offer snorkeling or diving trips. A great swimming and fishing spot is Dadna Beach, where natural rockfaces are reflected in serene blue water.


Courtesy by G.N.

Taking wings to save wildlife

Shah left studies to learn animal, bird rescue in SA

About a year ago, if a person in Kalipat Village, Rajkot, Gujarat, saw a snake he would kill it immediately. But thanks to the efforts of 22-year old Divyaraj Shah from the village, now nobody even harms the snake or any other wildlife.

Now, if they see a snake, villagers call Shah who rescues it and releases it in the wild.

“On an average, I rescue 10 snakes every month from Kalipat Village ( Rajkot, Gujarat ) alone,” says Divyaraj who has dedicated his life for protection of wildlife.

In fact, Shah left his studies mid-way while pursuing graduation from St. Xavier’s College in Ahmedabad in 2010-11. He went to South Africa to learn about wildlife and their rescue and rehabilitation processes. He stayed there for 10 months in the outskirts of Pretoria and learnt to deal with birds, wild animals and how to release them in the wild.

“I went to South Africa because I wanted to work for wildlife conversation. It is important to learn scientific methods to rescue and rehabilitation of wildlife. There is a huge difference in dealing with domestic birds and wild birds. It is difficult for rescued birds to adjust again in the wild,” says Shah.

He also advocated rescue of the birds in captivity.

A local charitable trust in city rescue wild birds and hand over them to Shah for rehabilitation. The birds which are being rehabilitated include Barn Owl, Shikra, Black Kite, Black Shouldered Kite, Short toed Snake Eagle, spotted owlet, egrets and ducks.

“In Gujarat, rescue efforts are commendable but there is a lack of knowledge about what to do with the rescued birds. A week ago, a barn owl was rescued near city. A volunteer who rescued it gave anti-rabbis injection and wild bird died immediately,” Shah said describing the lack of awareness among wildlife volunteers.

Shah even found a solution to rat menace in Kalipat ( Rajkot, Gujarat ). He gave villagers cages to catch the rats, which are then fed to the rescued snakes by Shah. “Since I give snakes their natural food, they survive in captivity and then I release them in wild,” the wildlife enthusiast said.

“Villagers and farmers are happy as the problem of rats has been reduced significantly,” he added.

Shah has successfully released over 300 birds in the wild. Now, he plans to set up an ICU for birds at his eight acre farm on outskirts of the city.

Courtesy – Times of India

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