Mathikettan Shola National Park

Mathikettan Shola National Park or Mathikettan  National Park is one of the smallest national parks, with an area of just 12.82 square kilometers. This national park is at Poopara village in  Udumbanchola taluk, Idukki district, Kerala state.
An Elephant inside Mathikettan Shola National ParkAn Elephant inside Mathikettan Shola National Park

The area under the national park is a reserved forest. It is rich in flora and fauna. It became a  national park in 2003.

The word Mathikettan means ‘mind confuser’ in Tamil Language, an Indian language spoken in the area. One forgets the path once he or she enters the park. Hence, the name Mathikettan National park. For this reason, seek the help of a guide when going inside the park.

There are different trekking packages available, accompanied by  Forest department approved guides. There is a bird watching trekking route in the evening around 4’o clock. There is a morning trekking tour available, which starts at 6.30 am.

Pampadum Shola national park is another national park situated close to Mathikettan Shola park.

How Do I Go to Mathikettan Shola National Park?

Mathikettan Shola National Park is accessible form Poopara. Poopara is on the Munnar – Kumily road. Munnar is at around 34 kilometers distance. Similarly, Kothamangalam town is at around 90 kilometers distance from this national park.

Cochin International Airport  and Madurai International Airport are the nearest airports to the National park at around 123 and 141 kilometers distance, respectively.

Kottayam railway station is the nearest railway station to the National park, at around 155 kilometers distance.

Toll free number of  Kerala forest and wildlife department is  1 800 425 4733.

Conclusion

To sum up, Even though Mathikettan Shola National Park is one of the smallest national parks, it is rich in flora and fauna.

Are you going to the park? Please leave your comments below.

Did You Know that Datia Palace was Built to Welcome Mughal Emperor Jahangir?

Datia Palace alias Bir Singh Palace or Bir Singh Dev Palace is a place at Datia city in Madhya Pradesh state, India. It was built by Birsingh Dev to welcome Mughal Emperor Jahangir.
Datia Palace alias Bir Singh PalaceDatia Palace alias Bir Singh Palace

Bir Singh helped Jehangir in ascending to the Mughal Throne, after Emperor Akbar’s death. There was a bitter power struggle between five prominent and legitimate sons of Emperor Akbar, after his demise. Jehangir succeeded in defeating his brothers (with Birsingh Dev and others help), after an eight day power struggle.  In return, Bir Singh was made the ruler of Datia state. It was expected that Emperor Jahangir  will be visiting this palace. But emperor Jahangir never visited Datia Palace (for reasons still unknown).

Datia Palace is known by different names like Satkhanda Palace, Datia Mahal, Purana Mahal meaning “Old palace”, etc.

Satkhanda Palace was built by Maharaj Birsingh Dev, the founder of the Princely state of Datia. In A.D 1614, on a visit to Mathura, Maharaj Birsingh Dev got himself weighed with gold. After this, he started constructing the Bir Singh Dev Palace in 1614.

No royal family members ever stayed in this palace; though it served as office.

Bir Singh Dev Palace is made on an isolated rock, on the western side of Datia city.

Datia Palace in Detail

It cost 35 Lack Indian Rupees (78 thousand US dollars) in the 16th century, to built this magnificent and beautiful palace. It took nine years to build  Datia Mahal.

Datia Mahal is a magnificent seven storey palace. Mahal is the Hindi word for Palace. The southern face of the palace overlooks a large lake. Bir Singh Palace is square shaped. It is approximately 80 meters long and wide.

There are four octagonal towers; one at each corner. Ceilings of the palace is finely carved.  There are 440 rooms and many courtyards.  Interior walls are decorated with Bundela paintings.

There is a 40meter high, five storey tower at the center. The dome atop the tower is lotus petal shaped.

Purana Mahal is a fine example of the fusion of Indian and Islamic architecture. It is a combination of Mughal and Rajput architecture. Arched doorways and dome are examples of Mughal architecture. Sculptures and paintings of birds, animals and flowers is part of Rajput style of architecture.  It was built entirely with brick and stone.

Other Places of Tourist Interest Near Datia Palace

Numerous ancient temples, some of which dates back to pre-historic times, are  the hallmark of this city.  This city is nick-named ‘Laghu Vrindavan’ or ‘Small Vrindavan’.

Maharaj Birsingh Dev build 52 palaces and monuments, all around the state. Datia palace is the most famous among these 52 monuments.

How Do I Go to Datia Palace?

Datia Palace is at a distance of around 75 kilometers from Gwalior city.

Satkhanda Palace alias Datia Mahal is situated in between Gwalior and Jhansi stations. Datia Palace alias Bir Singh Dev Palace is visible from the train.

Do you Know the Legend Behind the Name Change of Nurpur, Known for Nurpur Fort Ruins?

Nurpur is  a small town in Himachal Pradesh, known for the ancient fort ruins. Nurpur Fort ruins can be seen in this  town. This town was the capital of kingdom of Nurpur, originally known as Dhameri.

Nurpur Fort
Nurpur Fort

This kingdom was founded during the end of the eleventh century, by Raja Jhet Pal.  He was the younger brother of the then ruler of Delhi. The Kings of Nurpur kingdom bore the title Raja.

During the reign of Raja Basu Dev, Nurpur reached its peak. It was between 1580 and 1613. Raja Basu Dev built the fort here.  The kingdom became a feudatory  state under  the Mughals. Later on, they were defeated by Maharaja Ranjit Singh in 1815, who  established the Sikh Empire.

In 1849, this tiny kingdom with an area of just 180 square kilometers was annexed by the British East India Company. Raja Jaswant Singh Pathania was the last monarch of the kingdom.

16th century Brij Raj Swami temple is situated inside the fort. This temple is unique that idols of Lord Krishna and Meera Bai are work-shipped here.

The British has destroyed the fort partly and an earthquake also destroyed this fort in 1905.

Legend Behind Name Change from Dhameri to Nurpur

The name change of this town from Dhameri to Nurpur has a story behind it. It is believed that Nur Jahan, wife of the Mughal emperor Jahangir, was so impressed by the beauty of this small town that she decided to stay there for the rest of her life.

To avoid the town becoming the central point for Mughal domination, the then rulers decided to tell her a lie to avoid her from staying there. They told the queen that staying in the town for a long periods of time may spoil her  beauty due to  a fictitious local disease.  The terrified queen, immediately left the town.

Name of the town was then changed to Nurpur, to honor Nur Jahan. (Nur Jahan was the most powerful and influential woman at the Mughal court. She was the only Mughal empress to have coinage in her name. )

How Do I Go to Nurpur Fort?

Nurpur Fort is in Nurpur town, which is connected by road network to all parts of the state. Pathankot-Kullu – Manali highway passes through this small town. Pathankot is at around 26 kilometers distance. Palampur  is at around 87 kilometers and Dharamsala is at around 60 kilometers from Nurpur

Nearest Airport is situated at Dharamshala.  Jammu Airport is at around 129 kilometers distance, while Amritsar Airport  is at around 134 kilometers away.

Nearest Railway station is at Pathankot, which is a major station in Punjab.

Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel’s Statue of Unity (SOU) – World’s Tallest Statue

Statue of Unity (SOU) is the  statue of ‘Iron Man of India’, Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel. It is the world’s tallest statue in  Narmada district, Gujarat state, India. It has a height of 182 meters (597 feet).  The total height of the structure including the height of the statue is 240 meters (790 feet). Base of the statue is 58 meters high (190 feet) . It is eructed on a river-island facing the Sardar Sarovar dam alias Narmada Dam.


Sardar Patel statue (Photo courtesy | Twitter @PMOIndia)

Sardar Patel (31 October 1875 – 15 December 1950) was a freedom fighter and the  Deputy Prime Minister of India. He was also the First Minister of Home Affairs. He also served as the First Commander-in-chief of the Indian Armed Forces. This post was abolished  and merged with the post of President of India, on his death in 1950. He passed away on the 15th of December, 1950.

Sardar Patel was very much instrumental in persuading the 565 princely states of India to accede to India, after they have been released from British suzerainty in 1947. This earned him the sobriquet “Iron Man of India”. (While agreeing to accede to India, Royal family members were given ‘Privy Purse‘, an annual payment from the consolidated funds of India. This was abolished in 1971.)

The statue of unity or SOU is surround by a lake with an area of around 12 square kilometers. The monuments and allied infrastructure occupies an area of 20,000 square meters (220,000 sq. ft.).

Larson & Tubro (L & T), a leading Indian multinational company, bagged the contract for design, construction and maintenance of the statue, for a sum of  ₹2,989 crore (US$420 million).  Construction work  was started on the 31st October 2014.

The completed statue was dedicated to the Nation on the 31st of October 2018,  by Honorable Indian Prime Minister Sri Narendra Modi. 31st of October 2018 was the 143rd birth anniversary of Sardar Patel.

Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel's Statue of Unity - World's Tallest Statue

Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel’s Statue of Unity (World’s Tallest Statue) in Gujarat, India

There is an Observation deck at 135 meters height.

How Do I Go to Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel’s Statue of Unity (SOU)- World’s Tallest Statue?

The statue of Unity (SOU) is on an island named Sadhu Bet. It is at a distance of around  3.2 kilometers (2 miles) away  Narmada Dam. Rajpipla is the nearest major town to the statue of Vallabhbhai Patel, at around 25 kilometers away.

Vadodara (Baroda) railway station  is at around 90 kilometers distance from the statue of Patel. Ankleshwar railway station is at around 93 kilometers distance from SOU.

Ahmedabad, the capital of the state of Gujarat, is at around 197 kilometers from the statue of Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel.

SOU Tickets i.e. Online Ticket Booking to Visit Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel’s Statue of Unity

Online tickets to visit the tallest statue one earth can be booked at the website of Sardar Vallabh Patel Rashtriya Ekta Trust. There are separate SOU Tickets for entry and observation deck If you buy any of these two tickets, then the bus ticket (to travel inside) is free.

Neyyar Wildlife Sanctuary

Neyyar Wildlife Sanctuary is situated in Thiruvanthapuram district, Kerala state, India. The office of the wildlife sanctuary is at around one kilometer distance from Neyyar Dam. It was declared as a wildlife sanctuary in 1958.

Mugger crocodiles in the crocodile farm in Neyyar Wildlife SanctuaryMugger crocodiles in the crocodile farm in Neyyar Wild life Sanctuary

Neyyar River and its tributaries, Mullayar and Kallar, flows through Neyyar Wildlife Sanctuary. Agasthyarkoodam,  the highest peak in Agasthyamalai with a height of 1,868 meters  or 6,129 feet, is situated within Neyyar wild life sanctuary.  A portion of the  Neyyar sanctuary is included in Agasthyamala Biosphere Reserve,  which was declared as a World Network of Biosphere Reserves and also a UNESCO biosphere reserve.

Agasthyamala is a famous pilgrimage destination for devotees of the Hindu sage, Agastya. Selected number of passes are issued each year, during the first week of January. Full size statue of Agathiyar is there at the top of Agasthyamala.

Neyyar Wild life Sanctuary is rich in flora with thick vegetation cover. Fauna includes  barking deer, bonnet macaque, elephant, tiger, leopard, sambar, sloth bear, Nilgiri langur and Nilgiri tahr. 39 species of mammals are there in this wildlife park.  176 bird species, 30 reptile species, 17 amphibian species and 40 fish species are reportedly seen in this wildlife sanctuary.

What is there to See inside Neyyar Wildlife Sanctuary?

Neyyar Elephant Rehabilitation Center inside the wildlife sanctuary is home to many an elephants; from calves to aged ones. Neyyar Wild life Sanctuary also offers Elephant ride.

Boating facilities are available inside the sanctuary.

There is a deer rehabilitation center inside the wildlife sanctuary at Neyyar.

There is a crocodile farm or crocodile park in the sanctuary.  20 mugger crocodiles are there in this farm.

There is a lion park, with 2 lions, if my memory is correct.  Entry fee to Lion safari is  rupees 395 per person.

There is an aquarium and the entry fee is rupees 25.

Entry Fee to Neyyar Dam is rupees 10 and car parking costs rupees 25.

There is a guided single day trekking package to Meenmuty falls. Two day trekking is also available here, with overnight stay inside the wildlife sanctuary.

You will get good food with fish fry, at the nearby canteen, on one side of the dam.

How Do I Go to  Neyyar Wildlife Sanctuary?

Neyyar Wildlife Sanctuary entry is from the administrative complex of Neyyar Wildlife Sanctuary, near Neyyar Dam.

Neyyattinkara Railway Station is the nearest railway station at around 20 kilometers distance from the wildlife park entry gate. The nearest airport is at Thiruvvananthapuram, at around 40 kilometers away.