33 Quick and Delicious Recipes

Navaratri is a special celebration that takes place in India when the goddess Durga is venerated and is accompanied by a special diet for 9 days. During this period a series of rituals are performed that include from fasting to special meals and those that should be avoided. For example during the Navratri people avoid meals with garlic, onion, rice, wheat flour, semolina, chickpea flour, corn starch, flax seeds, oats, legumes.

The truth is that there is a lot of food not allowed during the navratri. In addition to the meat and eggs there are many vegetables, and even then there are hundreds of recipes for dishes for those festivities. Well that's what catches my attention, that no matter how much you restrict there are always many more alternatives. Beyond Gulab Jamuns to Payasam, from the favorite nostalgic to modern avatars, we bring to you the most beloved Indian desserts.

In this fast-paced world where we look for everything to be done quick and easy, there is one thing that we are compromising on is our food habits. In this busy schedule, we look for fast foods that are junk and unhealthy, and can lead to a lot of health problems in the future. So why not change into a healthy alternative that is not only tasty, but also quick and easy to cook as well.

Why Jowar?

Jowar can definitely be called as the apt alternative. It has high-quality fiber that will help in easy digestion and other health benefits like weight loss, control sugar levels in the blood. It can also reduce high blood pressure and prevent heart strokes. Jowar is rich in proteins, vitamins and minerals and other nutrients. With so many beneficial factors, it is important to add this in our daily diet.

How to add Jowar in daily diet?

Jowar is not as popular as wheat flour, except in some regions of South India. At the outset, it will be little difficult to replace wheat with jowar. But one can bring about the change slowly. Here we introduce you to 6 simple jowar recipes which is easy to cook and makes a delicious dish. These easy to cook recipes will not only introduce you to jowar, but also makes you addictive. The habit can become long lasting and will impart many benefits. You just need to take the first leap in trying out jowar recipes.

Quick and Delicious Recipes

Tips for fasting during Navratri:

From day 1 to 3: You can go for a fruit diet and eat any sweet fruit, such as apple, watermelon, papaya, banana, grapes and drink coconut water.

From day 4 to 6: You can eat a specific day meal from Navratri, the rest of the day fruits, buttermilk (you can find the recipe on how to do it) and milk.

From day 7 to 9: You can follow the traditional meals of Navratri. A traditional meal from Navratri may contain rice, tapioca, sweet potatoes, ghee, milk and buttermilk. These last three have a refreshing effect on the body. To fulfil the liquid intake you can go for pumpkin, coconut water, fruit juices (better not combine sweet and acid fruits), and vegetable soups. These liquids apart from giving you energy helps in the detoxification process of the body. You can also have fruit salad of papaya, pear and apple.

Instead of rice or oats you can use barley, rye or millet. With millet, you can prepare sama chawal or samvat rice khichdi, a kind of millet porridge and spicy potato. Very similar but looser, like a pilaf, is the sama ki khichdi or moraiyo or mordhan khichdi, similar to bariis iyo bataato.

With the tapioca pearls women also make sabudana khichdi, a pilaf of tapioca pearls, sabudana thalipeeth, which are like potato rotis and tapioca pearls, sabudana pakora, a variant of the pakoras but without the dough that covers them. Very similar to the recipe of sabudana vada, sabudana tikki is also very similar but flatter and with different spices. Well, there are many more if we also add the sweets and the rest of the ingredients.

Embrace the joy of the Navratri festival with the best of our fasting recipes. From old favorites to newer ones, indulge in a lot more than the usual stuff.

1. Sabudana Khichdi

Sabudana is full of starch or carbohydrates which gives you the energy boost needed during the fast. Sabudana khichdi is made with sabudana, peanuts and sweet spices. Sometimes the peanut is added to add beauty to its taste. Rich in its nutritious content, Sabudana Khichdi serves as a sumptuous meal during fasting.

2. Kuttu Ka Dosa

This Navratri moves beyond the usual Puris Kuttu and raises something different. A crunchy dosa recipe made of kuttu ka atta (buckwheat flour) with potato filling.

One of the simplest and easiest recipes are dosas or pancakes. Make a batter out of the Jowar flour and cook some delicious Jowar dosas or pancakes and have it hot with a spicy chutney. You can mix chopped or grated vegetables into the batter to make uthappam or vegetable dosa or make plain dosa by mixing Jowar flour and curds. Onion and Coriander can be spread over the dosa to make a crispy onion dosa for a change.

Godhi dosa is prepared using wheat flour and little bit rice flour with coconut chutney and onion sabzi. It is best when you add jaggery to dosa. A good masala dosa has three broad elements:

A thin but crisp and firm dosai that holds its shape even with the filling inside. The batter should be made especially for dosai and it should be neither too fermented nor too fresh. But, it shouldn’t dry out in the AirCon air to become poppadom. And when you soak the dosai, use it to hold the potato filling and dip it into the sambar and or chutney, it should not become a gooey mess.

The individual elements should stand apart but in total alignment with one another. The onion has to be shredded thin, fried with minuscule bits of ginger (garlic is optional here), turmeric powder, a finely chopped green chilli, red chilli powder that is not too hot, some green peas along with the boiled and mashed potato. The peas should still be whole and not mashed in.

Potato should not be mashed totally. A couple of fried cashew nuts can up the game by several notches. Even shallots should be small because you can’t handle large vegetables and dosai and chutney and masala in one go. A smashed yellow pumpkin gives a great consistency and mild sweet aftertaste without jaggery. It should be thick enough to soak dosai.

Too thick? That’s for rice, not for dosai. The chutneys have to be fresh. Not more than two/three hours old. A good coconut chutney with fresh broken coconut. A green chutney with coriander, mint and coconut. A red chutney with tomato and onion. Groundnut chutney and gun powder are not for masala dosa.

3. Singhare ke Atte ka Samosa

Feast while you fast! Your favorite tea snack with fasting ingredients like water chestnut flour, Sendha Namak and a Chironji spice filling.

4. Jeera Aloo

Jeera aloo is a fasting dish that is easy and quick to prepare. It does not take much of your time and works brilliantly during fasting. When you're hungry and want something really fast, boil a few potatoes and then sauté. It is really very abundant. Jeera (cumin) is one of those spices that is an integral part of various Indian dishes. Taste the relaxing flavors of this light and delicious curry made with potatoes.

Kadi may be the favorite dish of all time. Kadhi can be a substitute for the simple and can be added with the pakoda to add it to the taste. Rajgira kadhi is good for fasting because it is easy to digest. Dahi (curd) is incredible to eat and lends itself to being a great appetizer and helps in digestion thanks to the good bacteria of Dahi.

5. Makhana Kheer

Desserts inspire applause, here is a low-fat kheer recipe made with Makhana and walnuts. Indulge without worrying about the scale!

6. Banana Milk

Take lukewarm milk in a bowl. Add sliced ripe banana and 1/2 teaspoon sugar to it. Charge with this nutritious lassi made with the goodness of yogurt, bananas, honey and walnuts. You can also add a pinch of cardamom powder and toasted and crushed almonds.

7. Arbi Kofta

Tired of eating potatoes for breakfast, lunch and dinner when you fast? Try the delicious Arbi Kofta which is a perfect snack for you. Fried Arbi is made with fried taro roots, very famous during the Navratri festival. Minimum in spices and rich in nutrients, Arbi serves as good food to rejuvenate your body with energy. The taro root contains a very significant amount of dietary fiber and carbohydrates, as well as high levels of vitamin.

8. Vrat Wale Chawal Ka Dhokla

A fresh recipe that gives you a break from the usual fried pakoras and puris. Steamed dhoklas made with samwat ke chawal. A healthy way to fast.

9. Kebab-e-Kela

Fasting should not be more boring! Spicy banana skewers that melt perfectly in your mouth and satisfy your soul.

10. Sonth ki Chutney

A perfect accompaniment to your regular pakodas or bhajis and also with your vrat-friendly snacks.

11. Kaddu ki sabzi

Pumpkin is a widely used vegetable during the Navratri fasting season. While people fast, light food becomes easy to digest and therefore, pumpkin is preferred among other vegetables. Pumpkin, which is a rich source of vitamin A, is a very nutritious, extremely nutritious food, full of vitamins and minerals but low in calories.

12. Sweet Potato Tikki

For an ideal food for the cold climate and rich in nutritional value, sweet potato tikki serves the purpose. Sweet potatoes give you a powerful nutritional punch.

13. Modak

Coming to sweets, this food which resembles momos contains stuffings of jaggery mixed with shredded coconut (called as gul-chun in Marathi). A famous Indian dessert prepared during the Ganesh Chaturthi festival. Steamed modaks are known as the favorite cuisine of Ganesha. It is a combination of desiccated coconut and jaggery which is mould together in rice flour, sago, nutmeg and saffron. Steamed to perfection.

So, you’ll find it cooked every Tuesday (staunch devotees) or every month or worst case, 5 days every year during Ganesh Chaturthi festival!

14. Veg Pakora

Take 1 potato, 1 onion, 1 cauliflower and chop it. Another side, take a bowl, put 1 cup gram flour (besan) into it with half cup water. Mix it well and make a batter. Wash the vegetables and put them in the batter. Then, take a pan with refined in it and heat it on a high flame. Now, fry the pakora on medium flame to make it more crispy. Put some chat masala over it and serve.

15. Bread Bhel Puri

Cut 4 slices of whole wheat bread into small pieces. Slightly toast them in a pan or microwave. Chop an onion, cucumber, tomato, green chilli, coriander. Toast fist full of peanuts. Mix all ingredients and add a pinch of salt and chat masala to it. Sprinkle little bhujia on it. Healthy bhel is ready.

16. Sabudana Vada

The vada are traditional fried snacks in several regions of India. The sabudana vada made with potato and tapioca pearls, are usually prepared during the navratri period. Women prepare alternative meals with the rest of foods that are allowed, such as sabudana vada.

For this recipe we must first make them soft, but if we cook them they will be too soft and then too hard. So we leave them to soak in cold water, avoiding the heat (if it is very hot leave it in the fridge). Mix them with the rest of the ingredients. Proceed to their cooking by adding in oil until the whole mass is golden. If we do not increase the heat it will also be when the tapioca pearls have softened enough to be able to eat the whole preparation without noticing hard balls.

When the dough has little potato it melts and breaks in the oil. The tapioca pearls, which already retain water, soften. If there is too much tapioca in the dough, it all comes together and forms a salsita that does not do well oil. If you make the first sabudana vada and break it, and they remain as translucent, it is that the dough needs more potatoes.

They can also be grilled, with little oil, in a non-stick pan, covered. In that case make them a little flatter and put the fire a little lower, since they will be in contact with the pan all the time. Cook both sides and leave a moment on absorbent kitchen paper. I have not tried the oven, but you can try it too.

With the base of the recipe (tapioca pearls hydrated + potato + peanuts) you can invent your own similar vada. And if we start to vary it with whatever we want, we can add hard tofu (shredded with hands), cooked quinoa (and drained), carrot cooked and cut into small pieces, fresh parsley, chopped shiitake mushrooms, and roasted pumpkin.

17. Parathas

Bread lovers can bake a healthy bread by replacing maida or all purpose flour with Jowar flour. This is easy to make and healthy recipe as jowar contains a lot of fiber. You can add some dry fruits to the bread dough if you are someone who does not fancy plain bread.

Paratha is one of the favorite dishes of the majority of Indian families, especially in Northern parts of India. This recipe, which is easy to cook and a staple food in many households is generally made from Wheat flour. Jowar flour can replace wheat flour to make it more healthy and taste different. Jowar can give a twist to your taste buds with the most familiar Parathas.

You can also add different vegetables or paneer to spice up the plain paratha. A special Chutney made from Groundnut, onion and garlic, is preferred by many as a side dish with Jowar Paratha. Any side dish that is usually cooked with parathas will taste great along with your jowar parathas.

They also make chapathi which is dry and crisp from Jowar flour which has a shelf life of 5-6 months! Khadak Roti is the local term for this and this Roti is good for consumption during travels, for supplying to places which are affected by floor, earthquake etc.

18. Idli

Idli is considered as one of the best breakfast by the WHO. Idli is a perfect combination of carbohydrates (rice) and protein (dal) with a good amount of fiber content. The batter is made by a fermentation process which makes it best for gut health. It is soft and fluffy which makes it suitable for all age groups.

Idli is light and easy to digest. It is cooked by a steaming method without adding oil and without direct contact with heat. All these make it a best breakfast option. One can eat 3-4 idlis per meal based on their health goals. Best time to eat idli is at breakfast. It can also be had at dinner. To enhance the protein content, have idli with sambhar.

This is for all those who want an easy way to grind idli batter. Soak 3 cups of idli rice (boiled rice), one cup dosa rice (raw rice) and half cup of good urad dhal with a little fenugreek seeds. Soak them all together after mixing and washing them in a big vessel in the morning. Grind after 6 hrs. Mix salt. Let ferment. At night it will be ready if the temperature is warm.

It may swell up faster in hot temperature. Keep in the fridge. Use next day to make soft idli. Have with sambar/chutney/idly spicy powder with sesame oil.

19. Poha

Moist it nicely. Soak Poha in water, drain the excess water and leave it for 4 to 5 minutes before cooking. Let the moisture get inside the Poha flakes. Always cook Poha in low flame. No matter how hungry you are, never cook Poha in high flame. After Mixing Poha with spices just cover the lid and cook it in low flame for 2 to 3 minutes (not more than that otherwise it will blow away the moisture).

After cooking for 2 minutes just turn off the heat and leave the lid ON for another 2 to 3 minutes. Let the Poha flakes cooked in its own steam. This will not only soften the flakes but also make it fluffy.

To prepare Dahi poha soak a cup of brown poha (brown rice flakes) in two cups of curd. Add a pinch of salt, chat masala, fresh chopped coriander, small green chilly chopped into tiny pieces and pomegranate seeds to it. Mix well and eat.

20. Rotis

Roti or rotti is a popular breakfast food in South India. Generally, rice flour is used to make roti and is called Akki Rotti. This soft and crispy dish is relished with chutney. But making this using Jowar flour is a good option as it will be crispier and healthier.

Vegetables like Carrot, Cabbage, Methi, cucumber etc. can be used along with onion. Just grate or cut any vegetable into small piece, cut some fresh coriander leaves and one green chili, mix it with Jowar flour and make delicious roti on tawa for a healthy and tasty breakfast.

Those who do not like Khadak Roti or Rotti can try soft roti. The procedure is simple, just boil 1½ cups of water, when water starts boiling, add little oil or ghee, salt and then add Jowar flour while stirring continuously. The mixture turns into solid dough. When this dough cools, knead it with little oil, make small balls, roll it into thin layers and bake it on tawa.

This can be served with dry vegetable curry or gravy one or with simple chutney. Makes a good breakfast recipe for elders also as it is soft and full of fiber.

21. Dal Makhani

Dal Makhani is a pure delight from Punjabi cuisine. It’s black lentils that have been simmered for hours in butter, spices, and cream. It’s so indulgent, so tasty, so comforting. You can eat it with rice, but my favourite thing is to eat it with plain naan. At the Golden Temple in Amritsar, the Dal Makhani is cooked for over 10 hours.

23. Thalipeeth

This is another common food found to be cooked by Marathi people. It is made up of flour of several grains like wheat, jowar, bajri, etc. with some vegetables and spices. It is enjoyed with ghee or chutney.

23. Panjiri

This is a nutrition snack savored in Punjab and Haryana. Panjiri contains rich ingredients like whole wheat flour, dry fruits, ghee and sugar. It is very tasty and prevent us from cold and cough.

24. Pathrode

The Pathrode refers to Colocasia leaves that are rolled and steamed or occasionally deep fried, using a batter made of basan and ground dal.

25. Chaman Kaliya

This is a cream based cottage cheese (paneer), cooked in a different ways to lend a finer quality to it's exquisitivness.

26. Kakara Pitha

It is a sweet dish from Odisha. They are made from cardamon flavored semolina (suji) and wheat flour. Chitau Pitha makes its appearance in the Odia homes on the occasion of Chitalagi Amabasya, also known as Chitau Amabasya. Basic ingredients are rice and coconut. Tastes nice if served with chutney or khir (khiri).

27. Chhena Poda

We can call it Indian Cheesecake. Chhena Poda is dish from Odisha. Chhena poda literally means Roasted Cheese in Odia. It uses homemade cottage cheese that is kneaded with dry fruits and sugar and finally baked in oven until it turn golden brown. Chhena poda is the only well known Indian dessert whose flavor is predominantly derived from the caramelization of sugar.

28. Aamras ki kadhi

Should I try the rasmalai or the aamras? So you end up eating 4–5 of those dessert cups. As you roll out of there, you vow never to go back. But you do. If you want give your regular kadhi a new taste, try Aamras ki Kadhi, which blend mango pulp with gram flour and is cooked in buttermilk gravy.

29. Biranji

Biranji rice with mulgai yengai (brinjal curry) is very famous in Ranebennur, Haveri and Hubli. Rice, cinnamon, garlic, dry red chillies, dried coconut, butter are used in making this. It’s best with brinjal/capsicum curry.

30. Bhatt Ki Dal

It is a daal prepared by black beans in the gravy of tomato, garlic, chili, bean, and other spices.

31. Dubuk

It is either prepared by grinding black beans or Gahat Ki Dal (a very special lentil) by tempering cumin seeds, asafoetida, chili, garlic cloves, and salt.

32. Bal Mithai

A very famous sweet made from caramelized sugar and milk.

33. Sambar

Cook the Toor Dal or Moong dal or mixture of both separately in a pressure cooker. Add small amount of ghee or oil while cooking which will give soft even cooking. Choose the vegetables for sambar wisely. Always choose vegetables in pair. Either local vegetables like brinjal, Drumstick, ladies finger or English vegetables like carrot, beans.

Always use the home ground red chilly powder and coriander seed powder or use the best tried commercial chilly powders. When making Tadka use mustard, cumin, fenugreek seeds, red chilly flakes and asafoetida. Shallots (small onions) are preferred over the big onions as shallots give more taste to sambar. Use country tomatoes rather than the salad one as the country tomatoes give more sourness and taste.

Make fresh Sambar powder which contains the roasted powdered grams like urad dal, channa dal, rice, till seeds, pepper corns, grated coconuts. Always add the Sambar powder at the end so that the flavour remains in the mixture. Add tamarind water extracted from a small sphere (goli gundu) size tamarind after the vegetables are added. That will complete the dish.

For breakfast sambar add small jaggery bits. Use generous amount of corriander leaves.

Challenge your creativity and come up with more great dishes. So what are you waiting for? Get into your kitchen, wear the chef's hat and apron and try one of the above dishes or invent something new to tingle your taste buds and still keep you fit and healthy.

A Dream Wedding in Udaipur

Today, rummaging through my hard drive, I found the photos of my trip to India and quickly gave in to the desire to plunge into images of the marriage of my friend. In a flash, everything explodes in my face from the dance, the perfumes, the colors, the laughter and the waves of emotions that caught us during the days of the ceremony.

At this time of the year all of northern India is filled with colors, not only because of the large number of festivals that are celebrated, but also because of exotic wedding destinations. It is the time of the wedding and each wedding has, in most cases, a duration of three days. I say in most cases because they can also last 7 or 30 days! I believe that the 30 day events are almost not celebrated.

When someone marries in India, the whole neighborhood knows it. The awnings of colors that suddenly appear in the streets say it. I remember first the joy of receiving months in advance the announcement made by my former roommate who was about to marry the one he spoke to me so much with flashes in the eyes and the excitement in the voice. The invitations are usually large, very baroque and it includes the schedule of the celebrations. If there are 100 guests, 101 cards are printed, because one is for the god of luck and happiness.

A Dream Wedding in Udaipur

Wedding Preparations

I was welcomed like kings, nursed by my dear friend and family, pampered by uncles, aunts, and cousins. When I arrived in Udaipur, the adorable mother of my friend had rummaged through the closets of the house to pull out outfits that she had then spread on the bed so that I choose my finery for the first part of the wedding ceremony.

Since I had not planned to bring an outfit for the wedding, I spent a few hours in the afternoon shopping in one of the malls. I had then tramped in a small shop waiting to find the happy owner. I spent hours admiring the fabrics, the fine work of goldsmith, trying the delicate fabrics to choose the one I would wear during the celebration. After a long time in the mall I almost forgot where I was.

The old town of the city is around Lake Pichola. The lake has two small islands, that of Jagniwas and that of Jagmandir. The first is completely occupied by a palace built by Maharaja Jagat Singh II in 1754. It is now a luxury hotel. The second island also has a palace, but a little older, as it was built by Maharaja Karan Singh in 1620.

Near the bridge there are some Ghats where a musician try to win over travelers with some typical instrument of Rajasthan. Valentine's Day is a popular day for weddings in India and in entire Udaipur I can see reception rooms decorated with flowers and colorful and glittery fabrics.

A Dream Wedding in Udaipur

Sangeet Ceremony

A few days later, still under the enchantment of this tale from the Arabian Nights, I dressed in my first outfit and seized the essence of the feast that is already established in the minds. The cousins ​​arrived one by one and I was peacefully relaxing in the garden. The sangit is celebrated before the wedding.

This celebration is typical of women, in which they sing, dance and eat. The relatives and friends of the bride's family participate in it. The dhol is traditionally played, a traditional instrument, and it is the moment of henna decoration of the hands and arms. It is assumed that the closer the bride is to the guest, the more complex the drawing is.

In the street, a group of blue-clad musicians sang a new tune, while a dance in a circle was improvised. Some clapped, some hummed and some laughed, taking us all into a whirlwind where all followed the rhythm cheerfully. The men seemed busy in a corner of the garden. Some were simmering to drink a drop of whisky.

Then we sat around a priest, and the first blessings began in small groups. The meal was quietly taken in a serene atmosphere, obviously waiting for the sun to set to start the festivities. A fire was then lit, and the first performances began. The aunts embarked on a touching choreography, while the younger sister showed us her talents as a dancer.

The future bride marveled us by his ease, as the music was chained and here we are on stage in turn, drawing applause and cheers from the family. My friend had charged me with a mission for his big day to learn the choreography of a Bollywood movie Dabang in front of an audience supposedly restricted to the family!

After a few quick rehearsals, the time was no longer moving, because I already had to wiggle in front of a delirious audience. Finally, the last salvo of dancers announced the end of the show and suddenly from the children to great grandmothers, stood up and began to let loose to the sound of Bollywood music, releasing such energy that we let ourselves go on the beats until late at night.

Carried away by crazy rhythms, I return to my room. The future husband retired, and the real marriage would take place the next day. The music endure until more than midnight.

A Dream Wedding in Udaipur

Wedding Day

The sound of drums awaken me early in the morning announcing to the whole neighborhood that the family is celebrating. We worked all morning in a cloud of perfumes, powder, and flamboyant fabrics. The excitement reigned and contaminated the whole household. I was draped in fabulous kurta pyjama and was finally ready to go in the back of a pickup that would transport me to the place of the official ceremony.

Some members of the family were already present, in a sumptuous decor worthy of the garden of eden. Statues of Buddha and Shiva were erected here and there were beds of flowers. Small pools bordered the sofas. The vegetation abounded around us, conferring a feeling of being one with nature.

The bride, adorned with gilding and a fiery red sari, finally arrived at the side of her mother on the huge red carpet that led to the festivities. The emotion was palpable.

Suddenly, the audience stood in suspense. I heard the clamor rising from the street. In orange turbans, the men approached enveloping the magnificent groom. The ceremony could finally begin. Separated by a transparent veil, the future spouses faced each other, surrounded by their closest relatives, while most of the guests enjoyed the abundant dishes from the international buffet. Some enjoy the banquet and the music, after taking boring pictures with the family.

Actually it looks more like a fair. The food stalls surround the room, beautifully decorated with colorful fabrics and luminous ornaments. In a first line snacks are served with pakoras of onion and fried vegetables, samosas, fried chickpeas with spices, and some small sweets. Later there is the serve yourself counter with big steaming casseroles opening each time a guest approaches.

There are curries of vegetables, chicken and paneer, dal, dishes in sauce and a variety of rice, essential to accompany the rest of the meal. There is also naan and paratha. The tandoor ovens are on one side of the room and the unmistakable sound of the hands hitting the mass does not stop sounding throughout the evening. Fresh bread is always ready.

The drinks are passed on trays served by attentive waiters who cannot let the guests' go dry. Alcohol is not served, as is often the case in most family gatherings. I try all the wonderful sweet and savory dishes of the buffet, and I wanted to taste everything! To make your mouth water I could tell you I had delicious butter naan with donuts of very spicy vegetables, and curries with peanut and lentils. To end I have goat milk ice creams with almonds and spices, fried swirls of sugar that melt in my mouth with a taste of honey.

I was bewitched by the colors, the incense, the rituals that unfolded before my eyes. The priest continued his incantations for a very long time. The couple, with a complicit look, exchanged flower garlands and passed them around the neck according to the tradition. Then they go around the sacred fire seven times to celebrate the new union.

In a real relief and indescribable joy, the few guests gathered around this ultimate moment and then threw flowers on the newlyweds. The photos flashed in all directions. It seems that time stops when the families of both greet each other and exchange flowers, in a gesture that shows that a marriage is not only between two people, but also between two families.

But attention falls shortly after. Paradoxically, the bride and groom are not the absolute protagonists of the wedding, and while they are getting married, it is enough to look back and see how some people keep eating! A large number of the guests does not leave where the food is served. The cooks continue filling food that the waiters empty on the plates of the diners. The tandoor continues to bake naan and empty drink glasses ask to be refilled.

When I arrived in the street, my car had just taken off, with another one taking on board my friend and her wife, leaving everyone around in tears. Somewhat overwhelmed, I ended the evening, realizing that my gifts will never have been opened. Tomorrow I leave for Chittorgarh to discover the story of Rani Padmavati and the jauhar customs.

A Dream Wedding in Udaipur

8 Bucket List Ideas for Places to Visit in India

If you are thinking of exploring India during your next vacation, make sure you take a peek at various forms of culture and the vivid natural beauty. Take your time and travel your heart out in this beautiful land. Here, all is the land of saints and sages, all is the land of soldiers and warriors, all is the land of teachers and mentors, so magnificent is this land!

Now if we talk about the captivating hill stations of India, India is blessed with some of the most astounding places best suited for a traveler.

Bucket List Ideas for Places to Visit in India

So, when you visit these spots you can more readily pass judgment on why the Gods picked only India to make it their homeland.

1. Diamond Triangle of Odisha

Drive to Chilika Lake and then to Gopalpur along the sea. Kalijai Temple is located in an island on the Chilika lake which is the largest saltwater lake of Asia. It is accessible from Barkul via boats. The government boats charge Rs 260 per person and the journey takes more than 3 hours. One of the longest dam in the world in the largest artificial lake of Asia, Hirakud Dam is in the solitary majesty through the great river Mahanadi.

Drive to Konark, where the Sun Temple that is on the beach of the Bay of Bengal is an architectural marvel. Of particular interest to tourists are the southern coasts of Gopalpur and Dhabaleswar, which have long been surpassed by the more popular ones near Puri.

Spend the day in the artisan village of Raghurajpur near the lace that specializes in paintings of Patachitra, an art form belonging to Batik using bright colors painted on palm leaves. Continue towards Bhubaneshwar and stop at Dhauli Stupa where Ashoka of Kalinga dynasty embraced the teachings of Buddha.

Sand art, though has its origin in modern times, still is brought to its best in Odisha by none other than Sudarshan Pattnaik. Sambalpuri Nritya, Chhau Nritya are the most popular semi-classical dances, having their origin in Odisha. Odissi is a well-known classical dance of Odisha. Baliyatra and Panchuka Punei are some more auspicious festivals of Odisha celebrated with great pomp and pleasure.

Manabasa Gurubara, an auspicious ceremony is observed by married women for four consecutive Thursdays on the occasion of Lakshmi Brata in the month of Margashira. Jhoti chita (hand drawings with rice paste) on floor and walls reflect Odia culture and tradition. Khudurukoni Osha is very popular and is meant for unmarried girls only with joy and delight on their faces when they go to pluck flowers along with their favourite sakhis and sahelis.

Poda Pitha, Enduri Pitha, Manda Pitha, Tala Pitha, Chakuli Pitha, Pahala rasagulla, Chhena Poda are some of the most popular Odia delicacies. In fact, Pahala in Odisha is as famous as Kolkata for Rasagulla.

2. Riding on an Elephant

If you visit any of the large forts of North India, you will be offered the chance to take an elephant ride. It is not only a great photo opportunity, but you will also see more of the town below. You can travel in comfort, but be sure to arrange your tour ahead, or you might end up paying extra for a few bananas for the beautifully decorated elephants.

3. Visiting the Temples

In Chhattisgarh you will find the Teevardev Mahavihara. Visiting the temple is a once-in-a-lifetime experience, and you should not miss it. Jogimara cave is next to Sita Bengra in Ambikapur. The ceiling and walls of this cave is filled with drawings of birds, flowers and human figures executed to perfection in red, yellow and black, dating from the 3rd century.

4. Seeing a Palmist

If you believe in Vedic astrology, you might want to find out what traditional palmists have to say about your future. Palmists do not charge an arm and a leg in India, and you will be surprised how much they will know about you in just a few minutes. You can ask them any questions and their predictions are said to be pretty accurate.

5. Visiting a Market

If you would like to try the local Indian cuisine, you might want to avoid the tourist areas and go to any of the local markets to taste the real street dishes offered for Indians like chhena poda. You can also shop for fabric, get a kilt or a local garment made in just a few hours to measure for much less than it would cost you to visit any tailor shop at home.

Be sure to make the most out of your money, though, and always use the local currency. Check out the Currency exchange prices and compare them as the rates vary at different locations. If you are visiting India, you need to engage with the locals and experience life through their eyes.

6. Make Time for a Comfortable Farm Stay

If you like it simple and want to get back to the roots, organic farm stays are your best option. Listen to the sound of birds chirping, know how your food grows and eat it fresh, smell the fragrance of the rich soils and view India in its most rustic form. Break away from the shackles of the urban life for a while and keep yourself grounded in the simplicity of life on a farm.

7. Attend the Holi Festival

In India each year, spring is welcomed in a very special way. Holi, is the festival of colors and one of the most important festivities in the country. During this celebration, people paint and throw colored powders called Gulal. The party begins on the first full moon night usually at the beginning of March, with the one known as Holika Dahan, which revolves around the bonfire.

During this evening, people take the opportunity to prepare sweets such as a pie filled with dried fruit, or succumb to the romance between fire shavings and sandalwood aroma.

One of the most famous versions is Lathmar Holi in the state of Uttar Pradesh, more specifically in the villages of Vrindavan and Barsana not far from Mathura, during which the women of the village go to the square where they beat the men with a stick. In Delhi, different parties vibrate around the city between DJ's, colors and laughs in a much more cosmopolitan atmosphere.

Jaipur welcomes even more colors and even a festive Elephant that is celebrated on the same day as Holi. The powerful intoxicating effect of the bhang is an important part of the celebration of Holi, a festival that knows no restrictions. Its consumption is especially rampant in the north of the country, where it is celebrated with a special enthusiasm.

The drinks and food is impregnated with bhang. The bhang ki thandai, a cold drink made with almonds, rose petals, ginger and spices such as garam masala, the pakoras and the vadas, all hide that secret and sacred ingredient that helps to intensify the festive spirit of Holi. One of the most popular variants is bhang lassi, a drink made from fresh leaves and cannabis seeds and a yogurt milkshake with spices.

Shantiniketan, in the state of Bengal, gathers Tagore recitals among colored powders, games and women dressed in yellow representing abundance. A version called Basant Utsav that links with the turmeric color that invades Manjal Kuli, the discrete Holi of Kerala. In Punjab, Holi is celebrated as Hola Mohalla, a day reserved in honor of the Sikh warriors through more solemn but equally enjoyable rituals.

8. Spa in the Himalayas

It is situated near the cities of Rishikesh and Haridwar. Ananda in the Himalayas is one of the best spa hotels and amazing destinations which gives you unprecedented experience an amazing luxury. It is a wonderful place for recreation and relaxing which is added with adventure and fun games like nature trek, golf, billiards and wildlife safaris. Located about 260 kilometres from Delhi, Ananda is accessible by train, road and air and is considered one of the most luxurious experiences in India.

9 Best Hill Stations in Maharashtra

For travelers who love nature, here is a list of some of the top hill stations near Maharashtra you can explore on your next trip to India on last-minute flights. India is a stunning land and home to some of the most beautiful hill stations ever. While most are aware of the hill stations in North India, not many are aware of the hill stations scattered across the rest of the country.

The South, East and West regions of the country are home to equally gorgeous hill stations as well. If you forget your lonely planet guide, this interesting list of hill stations in Maharashtra will help you plan your itinerary depending upon which hill station you'd like to visit first on your trip to India.

Best Hill Stations in Maharashtra

Here are some of the best hill stations in Maharashtra.

1. Malshej Ghat

Malshej ghat is a mountain pass in western ghats range and is almost equidistant from both Pune and Mumbai. It comes alive in Monsoon and is good alternative for a bike trip. The route is beautiful with serpentine roads and dense green forest on both side. Harishchandragad Fort, which is at the end of this walk, is almost a mystery.

It is believed that the main complex was built in the sixth century and was mentioned both in history and in mythology. Trekking enthusiasts climb all the way to this fort for the great charm of witnessing the story from up close. You have to drive to Bailpada from Kalyan for the trek. It's easy and you can get to the fort in about eight hours. Make Kokan Kada your stop at the top.

The nearby Kedareshwar cave has an ancient shivalinga inside, which is usually half submerged in the water of a nearby stream. In addition, the ceiling of the cave rests on a single pillar, while the other three are completely broken. You can enjoy a panoramic view of the entire Konkan region from the fort. You need a whole day for this trek.

2. Bhandardara

Bhandardara is another hidden gem which is not so hidden now. Bhandardara is about 70 km from Nashik, 185 km from Mumbai and about 185 km from Pune and a popular hill station with many attractions around it. Tourists are attracted to the Wilson Dam built on the Pravara River, the Umbrella and Randha waterfalls, a clean and large Arthur Lake, Kalsubai Peak, the highest mountain in the state of Maharashtra, an ancient temple of Shiva Amruteshwar and the historic Ratangad fort.

This trekkers paradise is located north of the Ahmednagar district in Akole tehsil. Accessible through winding roads that lead through some of the most breathtaking natural scenery, Bhandardara is a popular place to visit in the state. In recent years, this little village has attracted so many travel lovers that now it is called holiday resort village.

What makes this one of the best hill stations in Maharashtra is the fact that it offers a diverse variety of attractions which include gorgeous waterfalls, lush green hills, stunning rivers, and ancient forts among plenty of other things. Hiking, trekking, and rock-climbing are some of the most popular things to do at Bhandardara.

Many cool places to stay at include a one of kind Treehouse stay.

3. Amboli

A relatively lesser-explored region in the Sahyadri Hills, Amboli is one of the most beautiful hill stations in Maharashtra popular for being an eco-hotspot. Elevated about 600 plus meters above sea level, this hill station is best visited during the monsoon season when waterfalls and misty mountains come alive.

Invest in cheap flights and come explore stunning attractions in Amboli which include famous viewpoints, towering Amboli Ghat Waterfall and lush greenery.

4. Matheran

The closest and brilliant hill station to Mumbai in Maharashtra, Matheran offers a great deal of walking and trekking tracks and stunning views. It's a spot to relax from any clatter and noise. Far away from the noise, crowd and air pollution, this spot is one of the most stunning spots in Maharashtra and is one of the best places to visit in India in July.

The most unusual thing about this spot is, vehicles are not permitted here. Vehicles are completely prohibited here. You can't go there even on your bike. Free entirely of automobiles, Matheran is one of the most eco-friendly hill stations of Maharashtra.

Located amidst the scenic hills of the Western Ghats, Matheran was developed and used as a summer resort by the British in early 1900s with the building of the Matheran Hill Railway. This is also one of the smallest hill station in Maharashtra and since being declared eco-sensitive, it is also the most pollution-free hill station in India.

Kolad is a very popular place for those who seek connection with nature and for lovers of activities such as rafting. The Kundalika River, is formed by the Mulshi dam, something that offers the possibility of this adventure sport. The Mulshi Dam is in the backdrop of mountains. It is a popular eco-tourism destination and there are many beautiful resorts If you wish to stay overnight.

Mulshi is a village very close to Pune. Surrounded by Sahyadris, it’s best enjoyed in monsoons.

5. Khandala

Khandala is one of the most popular tourist destinations in Maharastra, which attracts tourists from all over India. The flora and fauna of Khandala makes it one of the the best summer vacation places in Maharastra. Khandala is a very popular hill station. People plan for Khandala in order to get relief from the humid climate, sunstroke and traffic-filled roads and to embrace nature.

Khandala is one of the top 10 hill stations in Maharashtra which never seem to lose their sheen irrespective of whatever new attractions come up. Famously mentioned in an Aamir Khan song from the movie Ghulam, Khandala is one of the most scenic hill stations near Mumbai. Located about 500 plus meters above sea level, this scenic hill town offers scores of trekking and hiking opportunities across picturesque trails.

This is one of the best hill station in Maharashtra you can explore on your visit to Mumbai. Rajmachi Fort is a different getaway for hikers, nature lovers and travelers arriving in India. From there you can enjoy an incredible view of the Sahyadri mountains and the flocks of the Shirota dam.

First, it is important to note that the best time to visit Khandala are from mid June to October, because this region increases its beauty with clouds, waterfalls and natural green landscapes.

Regarding its location, it should be noted that it is constituted from two highlands, Shrivardhan and Manaranjan. At its base are the Rajmachi village and a forest reserve. In addition, beyond this area, flying over the Ulhas River you can find the Rajmachi Base Camp. The fort is located in Udhewadi, a local village whose families warmly welcome travelers and offer local cuisine.

There are treks that can be hired in Pune to discover the Fort, the Caves and other places in the area. As an example you have the Rajmachi Night Trek. It mainly consists of a 18 km night route through a thick and humid forest, where the views are spectacular late in the afternoon and at dawn. In addition, a special atmosphere is created because you go through it listening and seeing different types of forest animals, or fireflies twinkling around you.

6. Lonavala

Living in Mumbai and thinking about the best places to visit in India during monsoon season? Well, there's one right next to you - Lonavala! Lonavala is also one of the closest hill stations around Maharashtra near Pune and hence serves as a popular weekend getaway for Puneites and Mumbaikars both. Lonavala is located 5 km from Khandala.

With the beginning of the monsoon, the Sahyadri mountain ranges and the ghats awaken with fascinating vegetation, breathtaking waterfalls and pleasant climate. For a quick escape from the hectic city, plan a trip to the picturesque hilltop town of Lonavala.

Enjoy the expansive view of a stream flowing at the top of the cliff called The Tiger point and enjoy the tranquility of the Karla caves built by Buddhist monks around the 3rd-2nd century BC. There is a famous waterfall near the Bhushi dam, which is a very popular place for all monsoon lovers.

Mahabaleshwar and Lonavala in Maharashtra are extremely captivating. People who admire natural surroundings and tranquility must visit these places. One of the most stunning hill stations in Maharashtra, Lonavala is also among the most popular hill stations near Mumbai.

Not only is the region replete with rich natural beauty, it is also home to some of the most stunning historical architecture in the form of forts and palaces. Lakes, forts, dams, museums and resorts galore, Lonavala is one of the most uniquely diverse hill stations in Maharashtra.

The Karla And Bhaja Caves near Mumbai and the Bedse Caves are natural caves carved into rock walls. They were enlarged and individually arranged from the top to the base, a technique that avoids the use of scaffolding. The natural caves also offer an ideal panorama that allows to see in the distance and to be visible.

Like most sites carefully chosen by the Buddhist community, these caves have the advantage of being close to rivers, essential to the survival of the community. From an architectural point of view, these rock ensembles are an invaluable treasure.

Entirely made of stone, the Chaitya halls - destined to house the object of worship and the vihara, dwellings of the monks - faithfully copy the wooden architecture of a very distant time of which no constructed example has come down to us. Details as precise as the beams and rafters abound to the point of doubting the viewer.

But the trompe-l'oeil art reaches its peak on the facades of the caves, where a multitude of false wooden balconies inspired by palace architecture, animated by characters in full conciliabule give the impression of a great depth. Another fundamental element of Indian architecture is thegavaksa, kudu or Indian arc reproduced ad infinitum accentuates this false sensation of depth.

Everything seems to be done to make as tangible as possible a construction frozen in stone.

7. Panchgani

A stunning hill station near Maharashtra in the Sahyadri range, Panchgani was actually initially developed as a summer resort by the British during the mid-eighteenth century. One of the most beautiful hill resorts of Maharashtra, Panchgani quickly became a retirement place for British officials.

Replete with stunning natural beauty and home to diverse, remarkable species of flora and fauna, Panchgani is one of the most popular weekend getaways for people of Mumbai and Pune alike.

The place could be quite crowded but the list of romantic places in Maharashtra is incomplete without mention of Panchgani. Nestled in the Sahyadri Mountains in the midst of lush trees, Panchgani has been the favorite refuge of visitors since the time of Britishers. And even today, the tinsel village remains full of people in a hurry of tourists.

Rajpuri caves, Parsi Point, Sydney Point and Table Top Mountain are some of the places in Panchgani, where you can spend some quality time with your loved ones. If you have extra time at your disposal, make a point to visit Wai, a picturesque village, on the banks of the Krishna River, is known for its beautiful temples and ghats.

8. Panhala

Devi Ambabai is famous and ancient temple in Kolhapur and famous Jyotiba Temple is also located in Kolhapur. The Panchanganga river originates in the western ghats. It has five tributaries and surrounds the Bhogavati, Tulsi, Kumbhi, Kasari and the Dhamini rivers. Kolhapur has a number of lakes. The Rankala lake is famous Lake and it's also famous point of Kolhapur.

The popular food of Kolhapur is Kolhapuri Misal and Kolhapuri Bhel. Pandhara Rassa is a dish made from mutton.

9. Mhaismal

Lonar, located in Buldhana district is famous for crater, also known as Lonar lake or Lonar crater, formed over 50,000 years ago due to the collision of a meteorite on the surface of the region. It is a meteor impact lake and the only known hyper velocity impact crater in basaltic rock anywhere on Earth.

When in Aurangabad, one should not miss this marvelous piece of sculpting art – Ellora Caves. Carved grandly and beautifully, Ellora Caves are a UNESCO World Heritage Site today. The famous Kailasa temple of Ellora was built on the model of the Virupaksha temple. This temple is 1400 to 1500 years old built by Rashtrakuta Kings. The temple is cut out of a single igneous rock weighing about 400,000 tons.

Not a surprise it is the largest monolith temple on the planet. The top of the superstructure over the sanctuary is 32.6 metres (equivalent to a 9 stories building) above the level of the court below.

Imagine carving a massive rock to create this. It is to remind you that this volume is created by removing stone manually. The carvings inside it are intricate to blow your mind. The story of Ramayan is engraved in the wall. And so is the story of Mahabharata. The details on Pillars is mind blowing.

The shrine has windows, inner and outer rooms, gathering halls, and a massive stone lingam at its heart – is carved with niches, plasters, windows as well as images of deities. The court yard is 82 x 46 m.

Designated as UNESCO World Heritage Site, Ajanta Caves are finest examples of ancient rock-cut caves. There are 29 caves in total and were built during second and sixth century BC. Visiting these caves would add more excitement to your vacation.

The Ajanta and Ellora festival aims in bringing the rich ancient culture of Aurangabad into spotlight. Held annually in Soneri Mahal, this festival is the vibrant blend of classical and folk performances. Soneri Mahal is the last standing palace of Aurangabad. The Rajput styled architecture exhibits ancient pottery, sculptures and other antiques.

The exquisite Pitalkhora Caves which were discovered in 1853, are made up of 14 rock-cut structures which have fine architectural styles and paintings. For those engaged in historical expeditions, these caves would be another feather in their cap!

Aurangabad Caves are a group of 12 rock-cut Buddhist Shrines. Carved with precision, these caves represent aesthetic culture of Maharashtra. Aurangabad Caves are indeed an architectural marvel of the state.

Located just 3 kilometers away from the Aurangabad Railway Station, Siddharth Garden and Zoo is one of the prime tourist attractions of Aurangabad. The place enjoys presence of diverse wildlife, colourful flowers and sparkling aquariums.

Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Museum is one of the prime cultural houses of India. Being one of the main heritage buildings of the city, this museum stands against well-decorated garden and pleasing atmosphere.

Panchakki obtained its name from the grinding mill which was designed to provide grains for pilgrims. Amidst the sheer utility of this building, its beauty was not compromised at least. There is a reason why this spot is the prime attraction of Aurangabad.

Bibi Ka Maqbara took inspiration from the world-famous monument – Taj Mahal. The beauty and eminence of this monument attract tourists from all around the world.

10 Instagram Worthy Places In Australia

Hunting for the best Instagram spots in Australia? Here are epic Australia Instagram spots you definitely need to visit and experiment. With nearly 25,760 kilometres of coastline, Australia has some of the best Instagram spots in the world. But how do you narrow down those thousands of kilometres to find the Instagram worthy destinations that are truly, the best?

Well, we combed through over hundred of social media posts — to find out what are the best Instagram spots for you. We found the locations that were generating the most buzz with reefs, beaches and point breaks, which challenge the most experienced Instagrammer and created this definitive list of Australia’s best Instagram towns. There are still more welcoming spots for beginners, who can learn safely.

A few months ago a study was released that talked about millennial's choose their vacation destination based on how Instagram worthy a destination is. So forget about price or practicality, it is all about how good the place looks. And if there was anywhere to fit that criteria, then it is going to be a place like Australia.

With some unique wildlife, world-famous landmarks, and stunning weather, it is easy to see why Australia is the most Instagram worthy destination and would make a great choice. But where are the most photographed places in Australia? Here are some of the top offbeat Australian cities that will make your Instagram followers green with envy.

Instagram Worthy Places In Australia

Here is our list of the best Instagram spots in Australia.

1. Mount Gower, Lord Howe Island, New South Wales

We thought we’d start with the best. In our opinion anyway. The walk to the top of Mount Gower is not only spectacularly beautiful, with the views over Lord Howe Island getting better with each step, but it’s also the only place in the world where you’ll find Providence Petrels, for example. Tolkien fans will feel strangely at home, apart from when they’re skirting some of the cliff edges and holding their breath! It is a challenging walk for sure, but well worth the effort.

2. Jervis Bay

Hyams Beach is the beach with the whitest sand in the world and is one of the most instagrammed sights in Australia. The Guinness World Record says it has bestowed the palm of the best at the Australian beach. Hyams beach is located south-east of Australia at Shoalhaven, in Jervis Bay in New South Wales, about 180 km from Sydney.

Besides having the whitest sand in the world, Hyams Beach is located in a central position with respect to all the offers of Jarvis Bay. Also spelled Jarvis Bay, this offbeat yet spectacular place is fast becoming one of the most popular destinations in Australia. Offering crystal blue waters along with shimmering sandy beaches, the beauty of the place cannot be described in enough words.

Adventure lovers will enjoy the watersports opportunities here while animal lovers will immensely be enthralled by indulging in a bit of Dolphin spotting. There is also the Booderee National Park you can explore whose top attractions include Bristol Point, Murrays Beach, and Greenpatch among others.

Nearby activities include a Marine Park, walking trails on rocky ridges and native forests. The crystal waters of the beach offer activities of snorkeling, diving, sailing and surfing.

3. Newcastle

There is no doubt that some of the most exquisite drinks out there are wines. And lucky you, since Australia is actually one of the top wine producers in the world, boasting some of the best of this beverage all over the country. So, it would be a shame not to savor this when you're in Sydney. Even better, if you are still looking for the one, you might actually find them while sipping on some pinot noir.

You can turn to services for professional dating in Australia and who knows, you might find the perfect match who shares your taste and preferences.

4. Hervey Bay

While not a place that is world-famous, it is a great spot to go if you are after some great images. The sea is stunning, and there is even a chance that you could spot some whales if you charter a boat out of the bay. Pretty epic, right?

5. Fraser Island

Naturally, being an island, even though it is a very large island, there are lots of places to get great images that feature water. And the South Bank in Brisbane isn't any different. With a view of the city, the sea, and a large ferris wheel, it is ticking all of the boxes for Instagram.

In addition, the city has some of the most picturesque corners, such as the West End and its street market or the Story Bridge, which are essential instagram-worthy spots in Brisbane.

Fraser Island, the largest sand island in the world, the Botanical Garden, the Brunswick and Paddington shopping streets, and the Brisbane City Hall and King George Square cultural centers are other Instagram worthy places around Brisbane.

6. Wilsons Promontory National Park

Cleft Island, also known as Skull Rock is only about 5 km off the Australian coast, so visible with the naked eye. From the mainland, it looks like a half-submerged skull, invoking all kinds of wonderment and fantastical imaginations. It is the home to seals and about a squillion seabirds.

But almost nobody has been there. The shores are steep sheer granite, so difficult to scale. In prehistory, any Aboriginal seeking food or shelter would not bother. There is an abundance of these close by, with far less effort involved. It is part of a national park, so in recent times, visiting was verboten.

7. Coffs Harbour

The Ball's Pyramid is the highest sea erosion pillar in the world, with a height of 562 meters. It is located in the southeast of Lord Howe Island in the Pacific Ocean. It is the remnant of shield volcano, formed about 7 million years ago.

8. Uluṟu-Kata Tjuṯa National Park

The incredible Ayers Rock, also called Uluru, is one of the most spectacular sights to behold in Australia. Located in the heart of the Red Center in Australia’s Northern Territory, it is a sacred site for the local indigenous folk. Thereby, climbing this is considered a great insult to them.

Visited by a growing number of local as well as foreign tourists, Ayers Rock is an important and recognizable symbol of Australia today. Nature lovers will be enthralled by a visit to this massive mountain offering endless beauty to behold.

Found in the northern territory of the country, this is a place like no other. Your images will pop with the striking colors of the red rock formation, the earth around it, and the blue sky setting the picture off in the most instagrammed place in Australia.

9. Watarrka, Kings Canyon Rim Walk, Red Centre, Northern Territory

It would be a shame to go all the way to Kings Canyon without getting up early in the morning, and having a crack at this walk. You’ll start by climbing up to the top of the rim, which can bring a sweat on to say the least, but once you’re up there it’s a lot easier.

You’ll walk through an incredible variety of landscapes, and about half way through you’ll reach the Garden of Eden – a shady oasis with a beautiful watering hole, surrounded by rare vegetation. The Watarrka National Park also has its own mini Bungle Bungles, comprised of the distinctive red ochre that’s made the area famous – a pretty amazing place overall.

After the initial hike up it’s not too tough, but it’s the heat that’s the main issue here, and if you haven’t set off by 9am, you’re advised not to go.

10. Mount Sonder, Larapinta West MacDonnell Ranges, Northern Territory

Before long you’ll see the sun rise over the West MacDonnell Ranges, and, having seen the sun rise in many a place in this country – I’d happily argue this is the best. When daylight finally emerges you’ll see spectacular views across the mountains and the surrounding plains.

17 Best Things to Do in Indonesia

Indonesia is the largest archipelago in the world. First, Indonesia is a large area with many islands. It is made up of more than 17,000 islands, of which the main ones are Sumatra, Java, Borneo, Sulawesi and Bali. The most visited for their exoticism are the Maluku Islands, Papua or Lombok. Where in Indonesia do you want to go? Your question must be more specific.

Do you want to explore Lombok or only Gili Islands which are bordered by Bali? So after you get the tourist locations you want to go to, you can find detailed travel and tips on the Internet. The shore along much of the mainland of Indonesia isn’t great, but there are countless well-known islands like Bali and Komodo that salvage its rating.

Are you going to Indonesia for the first time or have you ever been to Indonesia before? If this is your first time and want to easy journey, go to Java, Bali or Lombok. Because the facilities and infrastructure on the islands of Java, Bali and Lombok are good and comfortable for tourists. If you have a long time for example 1 month, you can even go all three.

Between locations is easier by plane or even by land using buses, trains and connected by ships. So it depends on the budget you have. Determine your traveling style. Java island is also wide. Start from Central Java to the east, from East Java cross to Bali by ship and from Bali cross to Lombok by fast boat or public boat. Between Kelingking and Wedi Ireng, Indonesia should get credit for its coastal scenery.

If you are planning a trip to Bali and Indonesia, you are likely to find that flight tickets are much cheaper during the monsterous monsoon in Indonesia. If you don't mind the inconvenience of getting wet every now and then, and would like to explore this stunning country on a budget, traveling to Indonesia before and after the monsoon can be a good idea.

It is hard to determine when the rain arrives, due to the changes in the gulf streams strength and direction in the past few years. It is almost impossible to predict how heavy the rain will be. Still, if you choose to travel between January to April or October to November, you will have to be prepared for some travel disruption and inconvenience. Once you know the risks and have made all the precautions, you can plan your vacation accordingly.

Life in Indonesia is easy. The weather is great, the land is beautiful. You can take your motorcycle and find amazing places to unwind; forests, waterfalls, beaches. Indonesians are experts at stealing hearts. They have the most beautiful smiles and they speak softly. Of course with time you realise that a nice smile doesn’t necessarily mean a nice person. But it is still nice to be surrounded by smiling faces.

Best Things to Do in Indonesia

1. West Bali National Park

If you have arrived at the tip of Bali, don't forget to stop by Menjangan Island. You can stay overnight in the village of Pemuteran, go to the people's harbor to bargain for snorkeling or diving. The island of Menjangan has the most beautiful underwater world in Bali compared to some other regions such as Amed and Tulamben.

2. Ubud

After having lived an unforgettable New Year's Eve in Kuta, we headed towards Ubud with a lot of desire to flee from the chaos of Kuta and breathe a lot more zen air. It was time to leave Bali and, with all the sorrow in the world because that island had stolen our hearts.

We left the Bali island by the extreme northwest of the island, by Gilimanuk to be more exact. From there ferries leave every hour towards Banyuwangi, already on the Java island. Our last stop in Bali was Sanur so from there we had to take a taxi to take us to Ubung which is where the buses to Gilimanuk leave from.

When you arrive at the Ubung station you will be offered all kinds of transport to Gilimanuk, much more expensive than what it really costs and they will try to buy you the bus ticket along with the ferry ticket. Do not get involved! It took us about 3.5 hours to get to Gilimanuk and once there it was very easy to take the ferry to Java. The bus leaves you in the same port.

The ferry trip (1 hour) was most entertaining. In that journey you start to see that you are already moving away from the tourism of Bali and you are entering a more authentic and deep Indonesia. People threw coins into the sea asking for wishes and many of them wanted to take pictures with us, it was very interesting.

3. Yogyakarta

Unlike Bali, the Java island is mostly a muslim island and as you approach the ferry you will appreciate it. You start to hear the chants of the mosques and suddenly you find yourself surrounded by veiled women. Everything pointed out that Java was going to be more adventurous than Bali, and it was!

Make the city of Yogyakarta as a travel point in Central Java. Yogyakarta City is a small city, a city of students and culture. From there you can go to the Magelang area where there are many ancient temples and to the Gunung Kidul area to see some seas if you want. But the waves in the sea of ​​Gunung Kidul are big.

See the craftsmen making Batik. Batik is a traditional Indonesian cloth. Each region has its own characteristics. Batik from Central Java is known to have a philosophy for each picture painted on fabric. In Yogyakarta you can rent a motorbike or take a pedicab because it is not far to the tourist site. From Yogyakarta to Magelang you can also ride a motorcycle.

Visit the famous Borobudur. Candi Borobudur in Magelang, Middle Java is one of the Forgotten Wonders. Candi Borobudur used to be one of 7 Wonders of the World, but because not many foreign country know about this than it become the Forgotten Wonder’s list. There are other old temples such as Prambanan, Boko temple.

Being the single largest Buddhist temple in the history of the world, you definitely cannot resist the temptation of touring this temple especially if you are a religious person. You will have the chance to see the famous Mahayana Buddhist pilgrims that are over 95 feet tall and tour the Island of Java. While here, you will view the breathtakingly beautiful volcanoes that lay in a rhythmic fashion around the island.

Kedung Kandang is a real hidden gem, because even our local driver admitted he had never been here before. While I was expecting to see a waterfall, I was pleasantly surprised to see the rice fields and the puddles underneath the waterfall.

Would you dare to go down the Jomblang Cave? It takes a 60 meter vertical descend hanging on a single rope to get here, but these views were absolutely worth it. Make sure to bring an extra set of clothes, as things will get muddy in this cave.

Karedok is local delicacy from West Java, Indonesia, although this delicacy is now available throughout Indonesia. Karedok has fresh and a bit umami taste. Karedok is made from raw vegetable ingredients such as cucumbers, bean sprouts, cabbage, long beans, sweet potatoes, basil leaves, and eggplants.

Karedok is always completed with a special dressing. The dressing for karedok is a peanut sauce made from red chili, garlic, kencur, peanuts, tamarind water, brown sugar, salt, and shrimp paste. Modern version of karedok often has kerupuk (crackers) and minced boiled egg as condiment.

4. Malang

Cool weather. There are many plantations there. It was time to go to Java to two of the most famous volcanoes in Indonesia, Ijen Volcano and Bromo Volcano. Malang city becomes a strategic point for you to Mount Bromo. There are tour packages that you can take from Malang, or you can stay overnight in the villages around Mount Bromo. Don’t worry, Mount Bromo is very easy to reach because there are comfortable stairs.

5. Bromo Tengger Semeru National Park

After a month touring Lombok, Gili and Bali it was time to say goodbye to the island of Gods and leave for Java. While we can say that Ubud is a little spot in the incredible Bali, we recommend you not to miss the opportunity to spend at least one day discovering this incredible town, the spiritual center of the island. We left Bali with the feeling of needing more time there. We would have liked to extend our stay in that magical island but we only had another month of visa in Indonesia and many things to do and see in Java.

If the visa extension procedure in Bali were easier surely we would have been longer in Indonesia. The bureaucratic procedures are so heavy that we were too lazy to go through the same thing that we already had when asking for the first extension. But well, papers aside, Java expected us full of adventures and anecdotes to remember. It's time to make our expedition to the Kawah Ijen, the blue lava volcano.

If you like trekking then don't miss the Ijen Crater. Ijen Crater is famous for its blue fire. Imagine a 5-meter-high flame flickering in the night sky. It's so cool. There is a lot of sulfur in the gas emitted by the volcano. Under high pressure, sulfur and air ignite, and the flame generated is blue. That's why Ijen volcano emits blue lava.

Ijen Crater is located between Banyuwangi Regency and Bondowoso Regency of East Java. The ferry that comes from Gilimanuk, in Bali, leaves you in Banyuwangi, which is precisely the best place to stay if you want to visit the Kawah Ijen volcano.

Through Airbnb you can also find very good offers. Or if not, you can take a train or bus directly to Banyuwangi to cross to Bali. But in Banyuwangi there are some seas which are also beautiful.

We do not want to spoil your fantasies but do not imagine the red lava of the volcano that you have always seen on television but of blue color! First of all it will cost you a bit to see the lava because smoke does not stop coming out of the volcano and secondly you will not see the lava move but rather you will see some blue flames and the surrounding rocks as if they were red hot but in this case the bright blue.

In spite of this, the Ijen volcano is something unique to see and of course we loved having lived it. Not only the power to see blue lava, but the whole experience of the walk in the middle of the night, the miners working with the sulfur, seeing the sunrise inside a volcano.

With conventional cameras it is impossible to photograph the blue lava, only those from National Geographic can. So if you do not have a super reflex camera do not waste your time taking pictures in which then you will not see anything and enjoy the moment watching such a spectacle of nature to retain it in your memory.

Right next to where you will see the blue lava there is a turquoise lake of hot water! The gases that give off the volcano and the sulfur mine overwhelm a bit and sting the eyes. The sulfur extracted from the mine is basically used to make cosmetic products.

Surely this happens with many other products that we use and we have no idea where they come from.
This situation reminded us a lot of the experience that we lived in the Potosi mine, in Bolivia. About 8 or 9 in the morning they will leave you again in the hostel and you will be able to rest because you have spent the whole night awake.

6. Gili Islands

To be in paradise without exploring what it hides under its waters? Nah, it's not a good idea! So put on your glasses, grab a snorkel tube and plunge into the crystal clear waters of Gili. Gili Islands are a small group of islands in the northwest of the Indonesian island of Lombok. The archipelago consists of the three sister islands Gili Meno, Gili Air and Gili Trawangan.

Gili Islands have enjoyed great popularity for years, especially among backpackers, but for a long time small boutique hotels with high standards have found their way to the paradises of the island. From Bali it is best to reach the Gili Islands by speedboat in about 1.5 hours from the Padangbai ferry port.

They say that in the waters of Gili you can see turtles with relative ease. You can snorkel for free directly from the beach or hire an excursion that takes you to visit the three islands.

The first stop is usually off the west coast of Gili Meno, with corals and colorful fish. The last stop is the southern part of Gili Air. Many say that in the Gili you can enjoy one of the best sunsets in the world. And boy, it's true! See the sun hide behind the volcanoes of Bali across the Java Sea.

Gili Trawangan is the largest and best-known of the three Gilis, and is also often described as a holiday island. Whether in the night market of Trawangan where you can stuff yourself with sate, nasi campur or grilled fish or in one or another restaurant with sea view dare with Indonesian cuisine, it seems delicious. In the market area during the day there are also very cheap restaurants with excellent food, a smart choice for budget travelers!

The best snorkeling areas for free in Gili Trawangan are in the northeast part. The best bars to spend the night are the Sama Sama, in which every night there are bands that play reggae music, with a super disco and chill out bars in the sunset area. Take a picture of the sea swings. One of the most famous is where near the swing (everything an instagram star) there is also a hammock.

Go snorkeling around secret Gili islands with manta rays and turtles. Besides snorkeling with turtles, snorkel around some amazing underwater statues. There are quite a few of them around the island. This particular site is called The Nest and is located off the coast of Gili Meno. It has gained a lot of popularity worldwide.

Reach here early in the morning. These underwater statues are created by a well known underwater sculptor Jason deCaires Taylor. These 48 life size statues are placed on the ocean floor for creating an artificial reef. The hope is to see corals grow along this artificial reef. The concrete used to make these statues is environmentally friendly and the statues are quite the sight to behold.

The statues are 3 metres below the water and next to a reef. It can be reached by amateur swimmers as well. But make sure to be the first people here in the morning to avoid major crowds.

7. Lombok

If you go to Lombok for a holiday, consider going to touristy areas out of Mataram, the capital city. If you like going to bars, crowds, night party, boating, diving, and snorkeling, stay around Senggigi beach and Gili Trawangan. There are many four to five star hotels and resorts in Gili Trawangan. If you like to enjoy beautiful beach scenery, sunbathing, with less crowd, you can stay in southern beaches of Lombok around Kuta Beach.

The weather there is warmer with less precipitation, with white hot sand and bigger waves, and limestone cliffs along the beaches. It is now more convenient to go the this area since the new airport is nearby. However, you can also rent a car and go to explore other areas of Lombok. Lombok is unique in its cuisine such as ayam taliwang, plecing kangkung, etc.

It also a producer of pearls, which is abundant around Senggigi beach. Don’t forget to visit Sasak village, which shows the traditional house and life of indigenous Lombok tribe. If you are more adventurous, you can even climb mount Rinjani and see its crater called Segara Anakan. Or you can go further to east Lombok to see pink beach.

You're here for some beach time, so get to it as soon as you arrive. What to do? Visit Tangsi beach which is one of the only 10 pink sand beaches in the world. Then take your first surfing lesson at Tanjung Aan beach or Selong Belanak beach. Watch Komodo dragons, heaviest lizards on earth, before these islands get closed for tourists! Head to El Bazar Cafe and Restaurant for Mediterranean food bolstered by locally caught seafood.

Rinjani is an active volcano found on the Lombok island. At 3726 meters it is the second highest volcano in Indonesia after Kerinci, in Sumatra. Its crater, at 2000 meters above sea level, hides an immense turquoise lake, the Segara Anak, and another small volcanic cone, the Gunung Barú.

The main attractions are its spectacular landscapes, ranging from leafy forests with monkeys and waterfalls, to long fields in the purest Savannah style, the views of Bali, Gili Islands and the crater from the top, its thermal waters. It is very important to be warm. Although at the foot of the beach it is very hot, we must bear in mind that we will spend a night at 2670 meters high and temperatures go down a lot.

In addition, the strong icy winds during the climb to the top are a classic. It is also necessary to carry some money in cash, since in the camps there are small stalls where you can buy energy bars (much needed), cookies or a drink other than water. You can buy sachets of Extra Joss, a powder that when mixed with water turns into a Red Bull type, which can serve as an energy kick if your forces falter on the way to the top.

The 2-day route starts at the place where we hired the tour. They pick up and take to the small town of Sembalun, at 1100 meters high. There we prepare our backpack for trekking Mount Rinjani and leave everything unnecessary to go as light as possible. They give breakfast, which in our case was made of toast with cheese and jam. After breakfast, the route begins.

The first section consists of a gentle ascent along paths through infinite yellow fields. 3 breaks are made to eat and regain strength. All the meals were a combination of rice, noodles, vegetables and chicken, cooked in different ways, but the truth is that they filled a lot and were good enough to have been cooked in the middle of the bush.

About 3 hours later we arrived at the third hut, at 1700 meters high. There are 5 strong climbs with a small flat part between them. At the end we reach the edge of the crater, where we have spectacular views of it and the top. There, at 2670 meters, the porters set up camp. It is amazing how the temperatures fall as the sun sets. They serve dinner, a soup of noodles and vegetables very warm. It is best to go to bed soon because the next day we wake up at 2 in the morning to climb to the top.

At 2 they wake us up with breakfast, a hard-boiled egg and a toast with jam, and we prepare for the ascent. I had to use the flashlight of my cell phone across the cold wind and darkness. The first section is the one with the highest slope and the road is sheltered from the wind, which makes it quite affordable.

The second section is the most difficult with almost no places to shelter from the wind and worst of all, a sandy soil and volcanic ash. When we approach the top, the first rays of sun begin to appear. This is where the third section begins. The feeling when arriving at the top is indescribable. The effort is really worth it.

We can see the whole island of Lombok, especially the crater with the lake, the Gili Islands, and even the Agung volcano of Bali. The views of the sunrise are spectacular. The descent becomes much more distracted thanks to the views and some monkeys. It took us about 2 hours to return to the camp but it must be said that we take it easy and stop to take pictures and enjoy the views.

Once in the camp we prepare a banana pancakes for a second breakfast. Then we return to the town of Sembalun by the same road to end the trekking in the afternoon.

In case of the 3-day route, everything would be the same until the descent of the top. From there one goes down to the crater lake (2000 meters above sea level). Nearby you can find thermal baths where everyone bathes to relax and recover strength after the climb to the top. Then you have to go back to viewpoint at 2650 meters, where you can enjoy the views of the crater from another angle.

Next morning start the road to Senaru. On the way enjoy lush forests with monkeys and different types of birds and two beautiful waterfalls. For me it was the best experience of my trip to Indonesia along with diving in Komodo. Even if you do not reach the top it is totally recommendable since the views are impressive.

8. Flores

If you like adventure and exploration of underwater beauty, visit East Nusa Tenggara province (there are Labuan Bajo, Komodo Islands and Lembeh Strait Marine Park in Alor. For culture you can go to Wae Rebo and to the traditional village of Bena). You can explore up to the island of Sumba even to the border of Timor Leste.

To go to East Nusa Tenggara you can take a plane or even a public boat if you want to go in a backpacker style. There are also overnight packages on the ship that start from Bali or Lombok. Usually they will stop by small islands along the journey to Labuan Bajo. Ship prices vary depending on the facility. There are boats that provide private rooms with air conditioning. So the budget depends on your travel style.

9. Komodo

Komodo is a small island of Indonesia located in the smaller islands of the Sonda. Komodo National Park is famous for hosting the Komodo dragons, the largest living species of lizards in the world. The Komodo dragon of Indonesia is the largest reptile in the world and also one of the most effective killers of the animal kingdom.

A small abandoned island Pulau Kanawa will welcome you if you have finished your marine adventure of Lombok and Komodo. The island offers an endless experience of snorkeling and the great vacation. where your days will be enchanted by the magnificent views of the nearby islands, the white beaches, the tranquility, and the nature.

10. Bunaken

Take a plane from Jakarta and fly over the Borneo island. From the plane it is possible to see perfect cuts in the landscape, endless lines where on one side you see jungle and on the other, desolation or dry land.

Explore Sulawesi Island. Sulawesi Island is broad, divided into several provinces. You can choose one or if you want to explore everything you might need one month. Taka Bonerate National Park, Togean, Selayar Island, Lembeh island, Bunaken, and for culture in Toraja.

Once you get to North Sulawesi, there are some places you can visit, such as the infamous Bunaken Marine National Park, Tangkoko Batuangus Nature Reserve, White Water Rafting Nimanga River, Manembo-Nembo Nature Reserve, Mount Lokon, Mount Mahawu Volcano Trek, The Bukit Kasih, Tomohon Market, Lake Linow, Lake Tondano, culinary trip, diving trip for whale-sharks, and so on.

The Bunaken island, or Pulau Bunaken is located a few kilometers from Manado, the most important city in northern Sulawesi.

Bunaken is located within the Bunaken National Park. It hosts more than 300 types of coral and 3000 marine species. Apart from that, something usual in these latitudes, it is an idyllic place, where the nights are lit by the thousands of noises inside. Dive, seeing seabeds full of life with dozens of clownfish, the fish known worldwide for the Nemo film and a great defender of its anemone.

Now it is so famous that it has become one of the star fish and still it is easy to see even doing snorkeling, an activity that by the way does not detract at all from diving, since the waters are quite transparent. Snorkeling in Bunaken is almost like doing a dive in a pool full of wildlife.

At the end of the day's dives see the phenomenon of the tide in all its splendor. Diving at night is an experience that a diver should not leave out. Almost the whole island is surrounded by a coral reef. Finally, one of the extra activities you can do in a place like this is see dolphins, but not one or two, hundreds. Depart to Makassar to see one of the tribes with more chilling customs of the world, the Tana Toraja.

Maluku and the surrounding islands Halmahera, Morotai, Ternate and Bandaneira have beautiful seas and underwater. You can get on a plane. There are also many backpackers who even take ships from Jakarta or Surabaya, East Java. Of course it will take a long time if using a ship.

11. Batam

If you are looking for a quick getaway from Singapore, Batam Island is the best option and both Indonesian and Singaporean people come here as there are many things you can do as a tourist here. It is currently a decent place to make a getaway with family or friends who want to have fun doing water sports, eating fresh seafood, going shopping or even enjoy a spa and a good massage.

The options for water sports are banana boat, parasailing, windsurfing, kayaking and jet ski. You can also find activities on the Nongsa coast or, if you want an option where there are not so many people, the Melur Beach on the island of Galang. On Batam Island you can also do scuba diving and snorkeling.

Batam is known by connoisseurs in golf for having some of the best golf courses in the world and is a very popular activity on this island. Here you will find the Tering Bay International Golf course, designed by Greg Norman, one of the best golf course designers in the world. Batam is one of the best places to go with a mountain bike and where you can pedal through a dense green jungle and end up facing the sea.

To do this you must take the road on your own through the Duriankang Reserve and the Nongsa Coast. It will take you about 30 kilometers by bicycle to go from Turi Beach/Nongsa village, through Teluk Mata Ikan, down the coast to Batu Besar until you reach Tering Bay. Maha Vihara Duta Maitreya temple is famous for its laughing Buddha statues.

The Barelang Bridge itself is a piece of spectacular architecture, consisting of a total of seven bridges

One of the best places to shop in Batam Island is the Nagoya Hill Mall. You can find local food products like the popular Kueh Lapis (cake), Indomie (instant noodles) and tidbits. You can find a great selection of seafood such as prawns, crabs, mussels and much more. If you come from Singapore then you will find that, in comparison, beer and alcohol in general is much cheaper.

12. Sumbawa

There is Moyo Island, although we don't hear much about it, but it is quite often as a holiday destination for world celebrities such as Mick Jager, David Beckham and even the Princess Diana.

13. Belitung

The seas in Bangka and Belitung have their own uniqueness. The waves are also very calm. You can go to orangutan conservation, or do diving and snorkeling in Derawan, Sangalaki, Nabucco, Kakaban (you can stay overnight on one of the islands and do island hoping) in Kalimantan.

14. Medan

Sumatra has the island of Weh which is also known among scuba divers. Or you can go to Toba Lake in North Sumatra. Popular cuisine in Indonesia during Ramadan is Shredded Cucumber Ice. Cucumber ice is originally from Aceh, Indonesia and consumed during iftar mostly in Sumatra Island. This simple beverage made from peeled and seed-removed cucumber. After the cucumber is shredded, it’s combined with simple syrup, lime, and ice cubes.

15. Jakarta

Museum Bahari (Maritime Museum) and Menara Syahbandar (Syahbandar Lighthouse) in North Jakarta is very close to old Sunda Kelapa harbor. One thing that will immediately strike you is how colonial period museums in Indonesia are not very well maintained. Many of the wooden structure were in dire need for repairs. Nevertheless, the surrounding area had some interesting locations.

To the south is a warehouse-turned-cafe called Galangan VOC which has an inner courtyard where you can relax from the heat. This area has a mixture of colonial period buildings and even buildings marked in Chinese characters that may have been ethnic Chinese centers of business in the late colonial period and early years of the republic.

Kota Tua (literally Old Town) area is most known for Museum Fatahillah, also known as the history museum of Jakarta, where you can find artifacts from the various periods of the city's history. Other interesting places to check out include Cafe Batavia, where you can find the local drink bir pletok (which is not actually beer, but a ginger-based beverage).

Further south is the Jakarta Kota train station. This structure is iconic for its circular arch roof, in many images and videos of Jakarta, but not many people who live in the city actually see it from the inside.

Museum Taman Prasasti (Inscription Museum) is a cemetery for Dutch, British, and Japanese colonial figures. Taman Mini Indonesia Indah (Miniature Park) in East Jakarta is perhaps the closest equivalent to a Disney World in Indonesia (whereas Dunia Fantasi, or Dufan, in North Jakarta would be closer to Disneyland).

There are multiple specialized exhibit halls (such as history of telecommunications in Indonesia), complexes exhibiting the cultural assets of each of Indonesia's provinces, as well as the Keong Emas (Golden Snail) IMAX Theater. Many will see this site as a relic of the Suharto period.

In Jakarta’s city center, Istiqlal Mosque is the biggest mosque in Indonesia located across to Cathedral Church. These two house of worship represents religious harmony in Indonesia. Jakarta has traditional music originally from Betawi (native Jakartan) ethnic group named Keroncong Tugu and Tanjidor. These traditional music often play traditional songs in Betawi or Malay Language.

European influence could be seen on the use of trumpet, violin, viola, trombone, clarinet, cymbal, snare drum, bass drum, guitar, accordion, and oboe, that often used in Western orchestra. Besides National Monument (MONAS) and Hotel Indonesia roundabout, Jakarta has other freemasonry symbol located in Menteng, Central Jakarta. Certain areas in Jakarta like Melawai and Kota are famous for it’s bizarre nightlife activity.

Skouw is located in the easternmost part of Indonesia, in Jayapura Regency. Jayapura is also the capital of Papua Province. Skouw has become one of West Papua's iconic places. It is the best border in the Pacific. However, what makes Skouw interesting is the market. Skouw Market is known very well among the Papua New Guineans.

Sota is the second largest cross-border post after Skouw. The place has the Merauke Kilometer Zero Monument, the first statue of Indonesia's Founding Father Soekarno, and the cross-border gate. Once known as Holtekamp Bridge, the bridge spanning over the Youtefa Bay, Jayapura, now is known as Youtefa Bridge.

Although Jakarta is well know for wide availability of Indonesian food an the melting pot of international cuisines, Jakarta do have a lot of local foods. Semur Jengkol are native Jakarta’s food made from jengkol, seasoned with sweet soy sauce, tomatoes, and brown sugar. Many people are fond of semur jengkol because it is sweet, tasty and resembles meat.

Soto Betawi was originally created by Chinese community in Jakarta. Soto Betawi consists of goat meat and various innards such as intestines, tripe, ears, throat, lungs, liver, even the brain and “torpedoes” (testicles) seasoned with coconut milk, milk, ginger oil, and various spices. Soto Betawi is also complemented with tomatoes and chips.

Sayur Babanci is a traditional food from Jakarta that is rarely found. Enjoying this food can be an interesting experience for local and foreign tourists because it is an exotic dish. Sayur Babanci or Ketupat babanci has no vegetables at all. The name Babanci is due to the fact that the shape of this vegetable is unclear or resembles banci, because it is considered not soto, not gule, and not curry.

Many also believe that the name babanci is taken from the words Babah and Enci because this food was once made by Betawi-Chinese Peranakans. The reason, only rich merchants and landlords can serve this food on big festives.

Sayur Babanci have become scarce because of their complicated manufacturing cooking processes. To make sayur babanci, 21 types of ingredients, herbs and spices including rare spices such as kedaung, botor, temu mangga, and bangle.

This is the widely local food from Jakarta that often served for breakfast. Nasi uduk literally means "mixed rice" in Betawi dialect, related with Indonesian term aduk ("mix"). The name describes the dish preparation itself which requires more ingredients (coconut milk, clove, lemongrass, cinnamon, and pandan leaf) than cooking common steamed rice and additional side dishes like tofu, fried tempeh, egg, shredded chicken and crackers. Nasi uduk often served with peanut sauce too.

Dodol Betawi is traditional sweet delicacy from Jakrta which made from sticky rice, brown sugar, granulated sugar and coconut milk cooked on a stove with wood firewood for 8 hours. Dodol Betawi is often used as a gift during Ied Fitri and Chinese New Year. Dodol Betawi somewhat looks like the traditional Chinese glutinous rice cake named Nian Gao.

Gabus Pucung is a Jakarta dish made from snakehead fish with a black broth. The black broth color comes from rowal fruit. The fish is steamed in various herbs, chili, and rowal fruit, and completed with several vegetables.

The name Tangkar itself is a term for beef rib in Betawi language. Soto Tangkar has long history. During the Dutch colonial era, when the Dutch masters throw a party, they usually slaughtered cows for the party. The masters will separate certain parts of the cow that are slaughtered to give to the workers including the head, the inside (lungs, intestine, tripe, etc.) and the ribs.

By these workers, the parts are processed into a variety of foods. The ribs then processed into a special food, the ribs are boiled or cooked for about two hours, after which seasonings or spices are added, such as turmeric, pepper, lemongrass leaves, bay leaves and coconut milk. Therefore the new food was created and named as Soto Tangkar.

16. Nusa Lembongan

In this list, Nusa Penida and Nusa Lembongan were to be the most popular drift diving spots in Bali. Almost all the diving sites around its area are incredibly famous. You can have the opportunity to see some truly amazing animals such as manta rays, large tuna, eagle rays or Mola Mola. Plan a day trip as this place has few locations and is a separate island that will require a ferry trip. You also need transport on the island to go from one part to the other if you want to see all the locations.

In fact, all the places you have read about are nearby. There is Crystal Bay, Manta Bay, Manta Point, Blue Corner, and Ceningan. You should visit some of these places if you would like to see a true representation of the underwater flora and fauna.

17. Padang

About 160 kilometers off the west coast of Sumatra, Indonesia's largest and northernmost island, is one of the world's most popular destinations for flying on the waves. The Mentawai islands are a practically virgin small archipelago made up of about 70 volcanic islands.

Metawai Islands can be lived in a very different way. Equally the main objective of every surfer is to take those tubes that is seen in many videos, but between sessions you can see an incredible, surprising and virgin place, and one of the most ancient cultures that exist in harmony with nature. The closest airport is the one in the city of Padang (Sumatra).

The access point to reach these remote Indonesian islands is through the Padang fishing port, where fleet of boats are located to take surfers to the Mentawai islands.

The most recommended option is to spend at least one night there on the way out and another on the way back. The Mentawai boats leaves on Tuesdays and Fridays from Padang at 7 in the morning and makes a stop before reaching the main town of Siberut. Buy your tickets to get to Padang from Monday or Friday and leave on Wednesday or Sunday.

Nasi Padang (Padang-style rice) is a mini banquet of meats, fish, vegetables, and spicy sambals eaten with plain white rice; Sumatra's most famous export and the Minangkabau people’s influence to Indonesia and Malaysian cuisine.