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Chittoor’s Horsley Hills touch the clouds



The quaint hill station of Horsley Hills inChittoor district is the perfect refuge for weekend holidayers. Pristine air, panoramic views of the surrounding hillocks and dense forests, perfect weather and tranquillity — can one ask for more?

Standing at a dizzying height of 4,312 feet (1,314 meters) above sea-level, the unspoilt and tranquil environs of Horsley Hills in Chittoor district command breath-taking, panoramic views of the lush expanse of the broken hill ranges of the Southern portion of the Eastern Ghats. Located near the South Western border of Andhra Pradesh and Karnataka, this “Andhra Ooty”, with its rich foliage, wildlife and pleasant climate is undoubtedly one of the underrated hill stations in the country.

It is a little known fact that the hills, called Archeans, are geologically some of the oldest. The idyllic hill station has temperatures that range from 5 degrees celcius to a maximum of 32 degrees celcius. And on most days, the occasional clouds that pass by you, leave you in awe. Situated at a distance of 56 kms from Madanapalle, it is well-connected to Hyderabad, Tirupathi, Bangalore and Chennai, and boasts of several tourist spots and adventure sports in the vicinity.

The area is a treasure trove of deciduous flora and fauna and rich in eucalyptus, silver oak, mahogany, coffee, jacaranda, allamanda, gulmohar and flowering plants. It is also
famous for red sanders and sandalwood.

The dense forests are home to several wild animals and birds. Panthers, sambars,
wildboars, bears, four-horned antelopes, jungle-fowls, porcupine are found in the ravines.

The environs of the charming hill station is home to several species of birds. Great Indian bustard for one, is the more famous and fast-disappearing species found here. The hills are also frequented by migratory birds like the red-throated flycatcher, Montagu’s harrier, blue-headed rock-thrush, ultramarine lycatcher etc.

The invigorating scent of the eucalyptus trees, the soul-stirring sights of the underlying expanse, the echoing chirp of exotic birds and the tranquil aura that encompasses the hill station make it the perfect getaway for adventure-loving friends, couples and families alike.

Steeped in history
The hillocks got their name from WH Horsley, a British civil servant who served as the Collector of Cuddapah (Kadapa) between 1863-1867. In awe of the idyllic environs, he built the first building here — a summer bungalow — in 1862, that is now called ‘Forest Bungalow’. The tiles used for flooring were imported from England in 1863.

Originally, the hillock was called Yenugu Mallamma Konda by locals and the name has a rather interesting folklore history associated with it. According to local folklore, it got its name from Mallamma, who was a saintly lady, raised by elephants in these hills around 300 years back. A temple in her name, exists 20 kms from Horsley Hills. Also situated 20 kms outside Horsley Hills, en route Madanapalle, are three hillocks situated in a straight line that house three Mallikarjunaswamy temples on their respective summits. The famed Rishi Valley School that was founded by Madanapalle-born philosopher Jiddu Krishnamurti, is located at the foot of the very hills.

Environmental Park
The Environmental Park, known as EEC centre, was built by Hyderabadi environmentalist Balijepalli Venkata Subba Rao. The lush park is a mini-ecosystem in itself, complete with trees, coffee plants, a crocodile enclosure, a mini-zoo, lake Mansarovar and a
nature study centre. The study centre has a museum and also an AV room where one can watch videos on wildlife, apart from a library.

Gaali banda/Wind rock
The hillock that boasts of a cliff slope, made of a single rock that extends several thousand feet downwards, is worth a visit. One can walk down the entire hillrock, admiring the unobstructed view of the low-lying expanse. Enjoy the rejuvenating heavy winds as they blow past you.

Highview seeing point
It is the most popular spot located at the highest summit, that offers all-encompassing view of the underlying ravines, valleys, broken hillocks and dense forests. The view of the endless expanse, dotted by hills and forests is in itself worth the trip to the hill station. Don’t miss the sunset from this point — it is truly a spectacle not to be missed.

Kalyani tree
Do visit the 148-year -old eucalyptus tree — ‘Kalyani’ — that is visible from the Kadiri-Madanapalle road, that is 70 kms away, on clear days. Planted by WH Horsley in 1859, the tree was awarded the Maha Vriksha Puraskar a few years ago.

Lake Gangotri and Mansarovar
Gangotri is located at the entry of the hills, while Manasarovar is found next to the study centre in the Environ-mental Park. Folklore has it that both lakes never dry up.

Tourist spots near Horsley Hills
World’s largest Banyan tree

Thimmamma Marrimanu banyan tree, that is located at a distance of 75 kms from Horsley Hills, was awarded the Guinness Record title of the ‘World’s biggest banyan tree’ in 1989. Spread over eight acres, the sprawling banyan tree is named after Thimmamma, a lady who jumped into the funeral pyre of her husband and transformed into the tree with her husband, according to folklore. The tree houses a temple and Thimmamma’s samadhi. The temple is very popular and is known to bestow the miracle of birth upon childless couples. The place is open from 6 am to 9 pm and the Tirumala Tirupati Devasthanams (TTD) management is all set to take over the maintenance of the temple, that is currently overlooked by the village committee.

The famed temples
Three temples atop three hillocks that are aligned in a straight line around Horsley Hills and Madanapalle are popular tourist spots in the Chittoor district. Devotees throng the temple on Maha Shivatri and full-moon nights. The Sri Akanda Malleswara Swamy Devasthanam is perched atop the Malliah Konda — the middle hill — located in Angallu near Madanapalle.

Where to stay
The most popular choice with visitors is the AP Tourism Hill Resorts that is perched atop the hills. The resorts is a comfy haven, equipped with modern-day amenities and services. Apart from cottages, rooms, the resort boasts of a swimming pool surrounded by hills, a Kerala ayurvedacentre that is a unit of Santhigiri Ashram, a bar, a full-fledged restaurant, a kids play area, a conference complex and adventure sports facilities.

Adventure sports area
People can choose from a wide array of exciting activities like zorbing, rappelling and trekking that can be booked for a minimum batch of 10 participants. Burma bridge, earthquake, spider web, rope sliding, horizontal ladder are some of the high rope activities one can opt for, besides the trampoline, archery, etc. The adventure sports are open from 7 am to 6 pm and anyone above 5 years are eligible.

Swimming pool
Nestled between scenic hills, the swimming pool is open from 8 am to 6 pm. Two adults and a child staying at the resort, are entitled to one hour of swimming at no extra cost. One can also opt for fun activities like water-walking in the swimming pool.

Room stay
There’s no dearth of the types of accommodation one can opt for at the resorts based on one’s preference and budget.

Weekday tariffs that apply from Monday to Thursday are a tad cheaper than weekend tariff. Breakfast is complimentary.

Whisper Winds (8) — `1,445
Wind Whistle (6) — `1,223
Wild Winds (AC) (8) — `2,335
Wind Fall (4) — `2,558
Horsley Suite (AC) (1) — `6,671
Governor’s Bungalow (AC) (6) — ` 2,224
Cottages (big) (4) — ` 1,557
Cottages (small) (6) — ` 735

Prices for stay between Monday and Thursday, inclusive of taxes

Room bookings can be made round-the-clock over phone, the APTDC website or via email. One can call 08571-279323/324, 09440272241 or 09951611040 to book rooms or email All debit and credit cards are accepted.

– All rooms have room service and the rooms are clean, self-sufficient and are well-maintained.
– The check-in and check-out time is 12 noon.
– Lunch buffet is `115 per person
– One can opt to dine at a make-shift table near the room, set up under the stars.
– Music and campfire can be set up at a cost of `5,000 between 7.30 and 10.30 pm.
– There is no ATM on the hill, so ensure you withdraw cash at the nearest towns Angallu or Madanapalle.

How to reach
From Hyderabad (524 kms)

Buses: Direct overnight
private and government-run buses to Madanapalle are easily available.
Train: You can travel from Hyderabad to Tirupati by train and Tirupati to Madanapalle by bus. Catch the Kacheguda-Bangalore Express to reach Dharmavaram. The Dharmavaram-Pakala train halts at Madanapalle Road Station.
Road: Drive down to Horsley Hills via Anantapur and Madanapalle.

From Bangalore (140 kms)
 Private buses run every hour during the day from Kalasapalayam bus stand. KSRTC and APSRTC buses leave from Majestic bus stand every hour.

From Tirupati (123 kms) and
Cuddapah (125 kms)
There are buses every hour in the day to Madanapalle.

Mandanpalle to Horsley (40 kms)
Autorickshaws and taxis are available on hire.

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Many trains will be terminated




Many trains will be terminated

Many trains will be terminated due to fog. Please read this news paper report:-

dhund hind

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India Railway will help you visit Taj Mahal




“All arrangements have been made and our systems are in place. The trial will begin December 25. It has taken us a long time to work on this project which will change the image of the ASI,” Superintending Archaeologist, Archaeological Survey of India (ASI), N K Pathak said.

The Indian Railway Catering and Tourism Corporation (IRCTC) will be the service provider of the e-ticketing facility, in collaboration with the National Institute of Smart Governance, he said.

After one month trial of the e-ticketing facility at the Taj Mahal, the ASI would extend the similar facility to other monuments, managed by it.

ASI officials said the e-tickets will have security features including bar code, and bar code scanners would be installed at the entry gates.

The ASI is training its staffs for effective and efficient use of the facility, which is likely to put an end to the long queues at the ticket counters.

Tourists had to stand for long hours in queues to buy entry tickets.

Tourism circles in Agra have welcomed ASI’s initiative saying the facility would help check resale of entry tickets and fake tickets by unscrupulous elements.

It is said that the ensuing online facility would also help the ASI in managing the number of visitors.

(This article was published on December 13, 2014)
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Take a break: top 7 places for bird watching in India




Summer is setting in, sure. But, what about taking a break from Delhi and head to Maharashtra, for there are places there that are still playing host to winged visitors. Plus, the Flamingo Festival, starting on March 29, will be an added bonus. “The peak birding season started around October and is coming to a close by May,” says Rahul Jauhari, who runs the website Atul Sathe of the BNHS adds, “Mangroves in Vikhroli, wetlands in Nhava-Sheva region are good spots.” Here are some other places that the duo highly recommend.

Ulwe and Uran
What: Both places are renowned when it comes to bird watching. However, the numbers are rapidly dropping, thanks to rampant construction in the region.

Often spotted: The list of birds seen here is endless — from Marsh Harriers, Blue-tailed Bee-eaters and Green Bee-eaters to Black-shouldered Kites and Red Wattled Lapwings. Uran is the older haunt for bird watchers, but, according to the experts, is now a shadow of its original self. However, Red-vented Bulbuls, Ashy Prinias, Asian Pied Starlings, Moorhens, Scaly Breasted Munias, Red Avadavats and Spot Billed Ducks, among others, can still be seen in these parts.

Nagla Forest
What: One of the lesser-known spots inside Sanjay Gandhi National Park (SGNP), in Borivali East, Mumbai.

Often spotted: Situated to the north of Bassein Creek, this is thought to be one of the most highly rewarding walks at the SGNP. Nature lovers are in for a treat as well. Birds like the Grey Junglefowl, Indian Grey Hornbill and Rufous Woodpecker can be spotted while on the trail.

Tungareshwar sanctuary
What: Home to three types of forest — dry deciduous, moist deciduous and semi evergreen — it forms a corridor between  SGNP and Tansa Wildlife Sanctuary.

Often spotted: Species like the Rufous Treepie, Shikra, Black-hooded Oriole, Brown-headed Barbet, Red-whiskered and Red-vented Bulbul can be seen in the area.

Thane Creek and Padale Gaon
: These spots are frequented by birders in the area.
Often spotted: While Thane Creek is known to attract Flamingos and Waders this time of the year, Black Kites seem to favour Padale Gaon. Apart from the Raptors, Munias, Woolly-necked Storks, Drongos, Egrets, Marsh Harriers and Sandpipers are also seen the region.

Kanheri Upper Trail
What: The route involves a gradual climb through the wooded forest of the SGNP.
Often spotted: One of the few places to offer the perfect mix of nature and adventure, catch a glimpse of the Greater Racket-tailed Drongo, Shikra, Grey Jungle Fowl, and Indian Peafowl. Or head to the plateau near Kanheri Caves, which is excellent for viewing raptors, like the Crested Serpent Eagle. You could also visit the ancient Kanheri Caves.

What: The mudflats here turn into a bird watcher’s paradise as they play host to millions to pink visitors.

Often spotted: One of the best places in the city to spot Flamingos, this is a good time to head there. It is also a good place to see migratory birds such as the Broad-billed Sandpiper, Common Sandpiper, Black-tailed Godwit, Whimbrel, and Eurasian Curlew. On a good day, one will also catch a glimpse of the Common Redshank, Little Herons, Little Egret, Brown-headed Gull, Grey Plover, Sand Plovers and Avocet, among others. The annual Flamingo Festival is also scheduled to take place on March 29. Nature Park
What: Once a treeless garbage dump, this park located in the heart of the Mumbai (Dharavi) now acts as its green lung.

Often spotted: It is home to several migratory and resident species like the Black Kite, Shikra, Eurasian Wryneck, Little Green Bee-eater, Barn Swallow, Bluethroat, Purple Sunbird, Great Egret, Greater Coucal and Laughing Dove.

Bhandup Pumping Station
What: A well-kept secret, the lake near the pumping station attracts water birds. Signs put up also say that one can spot mongoose and snakes here. spotted: The area is known to host water and land birds, and often, Flamingos can be seen here as well. That apart, the Clamorous Reed Warbler, Common Kingfisher, Red Avadavat,  Pond Heron, Woolly-necked Stork, Eurasian Marsh Harrier, Black Kite, Asian Pied Starling, Painted Stork, Little Cormorant, Rose-ringed Parakeet, Laughing Dove, Red-wattled Lapwing, Green Bee-eaters and Blue-tailed Bee-eaters, among others, are common visitors.

Also Head to Airoli Creek and vashi bridge: These spots are frequented by birders looking for Flamingos and Waders.
talawe: This area on Palm Beach Road is yet another hotspot. The water body behind the NRI Complex, Seawood Estates, is a great place to observe birds.

Dombivli: Well-known birding sites here include Nilje Lake, the Bhopar area, Dombivli Creek and Khoni.

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