10 Natural Wonders of India
1. Hot water spring - Manikaran
Manikaran (45 km. from Kullu)
India has more than 350 hot water springs, and the most famous of them are loacted in Manikaran near Kullu, Vashisht near Manaliand the sulphur rich springs of Yeshi and Yumthang in Sikkim. On the banks of the Parvathi river the Manikaran springs has both religious and geological significance. Manikaran is a pilgrimage centre for Hindus and Sikhs. The springs at Manikaran come out to surface with pressure and are very hot. It is said to be radioactive. The healing properties of the Manikaran Springs are well known all over the country. Rheumatism and muscular pains are said to cured very fast by taking bath in this water. The area has a steep geothermal gradient which means that as you dig deep, the temperature of the rocks increases very quickly (more than 30 degrees for every km of depth.
When underground water accumulates it is heated by the rocks underneath and this hot water makes its way towords to the surface to form geothermal springs. The locals have been using this geothermal heat for cooking purposes. The springs sorround a large gurudwara and it is located at a picturesque spot with blench clouds of steam thrown up by the springs.
2. Indroda Dinosaur & Fossil Park
(120 kms from Bhuj)
The closest that you can ever come to Jurassic park in India is the Indroda Dinosaur and Fossil park is the country's only palaeontological dinosaur park. Fossilized Dinosaur eggs displayed at Indroda Fossil Park. Located in Gandhinagar in Gujarat, it is the only dinosaur museum in the country. It is run by Gujarat Ecological and Research Foundation (GEERI).
Located 1120 kms from Bhuj the park is built on the site where the world's second largest collection of dinosaur eggs were found. These eggs are currently displayed in the museum and its size ranges from duck eggs to cannon balls. Several fossilised dinosaur skeletons preserved dinasaur footprints (called casts) and eggs from around Gujarat have also been brought here and displayed.
The find of the eggs meant that about 65 million years ago Indroda would have been a hotbed of nesting activity for Dinosaurs and there is this thrill in your mind when you move around. There are also scale models of dinosaurs like the Tyrannosaurus rex, Branchisaurus, Stegosaurus and Iguanodon all poised in frightening positions and carnivores amply equipped with man sized teeth. Its a great place for kids too.
You can find more details here - www.geerfoundation.gujarat.gov.in/parks
3. Barren Island Volcano
In the east the islands of Andaman & Nicobar islands has the little Barren island home to South Asia's only active volcano. The island itself is mostly composed of the volcano and its debris and is part of the chain of volcanoes that mark the boundary between the Indian tectonic plate and the Burmese plate. The volcano stands 305m above sea level though it extends almost 2,000m below it. The height of the volcano could alter though if a particularly violent erruption destroyed the volcano's flanks and reduced its size or if a slow lava flow continued to add debris to its sides, increasing its height.
The volcano's last erruption took place on July 19, 2009 and it continues to spew clouds of ash till date. The island is uninhabited but a number of wild goats have mysteriously made it their home and its not unusual to see them venture down to the sea to get a drink of salt water.
Though tourists are not allowed on the island for safety reasons, there are numerous cruise vessals and ferries that take passengers to the island's edge, from where you can get breathtaking views of the volcano's ash plume, or a sight of the lava that the volcano is known to occasionally disgorge. Dont miss this place on your visit to Andaman.
4. Columnar Basaltic Lava
Coconut Island, St Mary's island
St. Mary's Islands are a set of four small islands in the Arabian Sea off the coast of Malpe in Udupi, Karnataka. According to folk legend, in the year 1498, Vasco da Gama landed at St. Mary's Islands on his voyage from Portugal to India.
When a volcano erupts thick viscous basaltic lava is thrown out which cools rapidly and it contracts in such a way that a series of spiderweb like cracks develop in it. These cracks take the shape of hexagons and polygons and when the lava cools down into rock, wheat is left back is the long four to six sided columns of rock that look very much like they have been done by the human hands.
While the most famous of these columns form the Devil's Causeway in Northern Ireland, India has numerous examples of the sameone of which standing out in prominence is the formations of the St Mary's islandoff the coast of Karnataka.
These columns were created during the formation of the Deccan traps more than 60 million yeras ago and would have been taller but subsequent erosions has reduced its size. The only way to get to the islands is by ferry and the best time to go is during sunset when you can catch the last rays of the sun.
The western coasts of the islands are a seashell haven with seashells of various shapes and sizes littered along the coast. There is no sand beach to swim and relax since it is scatted with basaltic rocks
5. Borra Caves (Stalactites and Stalagmites)
Araku valley, Visakhapatnam
Little might have one about these Satlactite and stalagmite caves in our own country. The other worldly wonders of cave formations have found appeal on TV but the Borra caves in very own Andhra Pradesh are home to these and numerous formations togesther called speleothems.
When mineral rich water drips off the roof of the cave, it leaves behind a tiny ring of minerals in its wake. As it drops on the floor, it leaves behind yet another minuscle mineral deposit. Over time these deposits grow to form soda straws and cones on the ceiling, while forming conical cake like structures on the floor.
Borra caves are home to these as well as some irregularly shaped structures in limestone which have been fancifully named by the locals by what they mostly closely resemble. One stalagmite resembiling a lingam (symbol of Lord Shiva) even has a shrine around it. the Borra caves are also said to be the deepest in the country. November and December are ideal months to visit the caves. The caves are open to visitors from 10 am to 5:30 pm.
6. Lonar Crater lake
Lonar, Buldana District
About 50,000 years ago, out in space part of an asteroid or comet dislodged itself from a larger mass and hurtled towords Earth at hyper velocity. As it entered the atmosphere the susequent friction turned it into a giant fireball burning off most of its mass but leaving enough to make a crater a kilometer across and about 250 m deep.
This crater then filled up with water to form what we know today as the Lonar Crater lake.
The Lonar Crater lake is the only meteorite impact crater to have formed in basaltic rock and owing to its origin, the lake's water is saline and highly alkaline in nature. This also means that its home to some of the most unique flora and fauna in the country, a fact that's brought scientists from all over the world here to study its characteristics .
Mythology has alo woven itself around the origins of the lake and a number of temples dot the periphery of the crater. Despite being number one of the most geologically important feature in india, the lake is surrently in danger of being contaminated by the the pesticides and fertilizers used by farmers in the area, destroying its unique eco system.
7. National Fossil Wood Park
Sometimes a natural disaster like an earthquake or a sudden volcanic erruption buries large swathes of forests or lone trees in soft sediment. Trapped and devoid of oxygen the tree preserved almost intact but not only that, the mineral rich water finds way through the sediments and it binds the cellulose of the wood replacing every cell and every bit of bark and ring with minerals usually silica. Centuries later when an archeologist or geologist turns aside a rock he finds the tree preserved with all its details intact only now after all these years its stone.
200 fossilised trees of this sort which is around 200 million years old ranging in length from 3-15 m and upto 5 m in girth are seen lying horizontally scattered over the National Fossil Park about 1 km east of Tiruvakkarai village and 155 kms from Chennai. Much of the park lies in disrepair because it is not much of a tourist interest place.
There is also a National Fossil Wood Park in Sattanur, Perambalur District in Tamil Nadu and Akal Fossil Wood Park, Jaisalmer Rajasthan.
8. Siachen glacier
Located in the north in Kashmir at the Indo-Tibetan border of India, it is one of the world's highest glaciers. India and Pakistan has soldiers deputed here permanently. It lies in the karakoram range of Himalayas and is located 18,875ft above sea level.
The worlds highest battlefield, the temp here dips to -50 degrees and snow covers to 35ft. River Indus gets its water from this glacier.
9. Nellitheertha cave
The cave is wide in the begining but as we go in it becomes narrow and we have to cral forward. Further one has to crawl in, as we move in the cave widens again and there is a lake inside. A natural shivalinga is seen here, many people come here to worship Shiva. The quality of mud is unique which people carry home.
Behind the shiva linga is another cave which is still unexplored. The cave receives water dripping down from the roof in the shape of gooseberries. Hence the name Nelli (gooseberry).There are animals inside the cave like snakes, scorpions, porcupines etc. The cave is closed for 6 months it is open from Oct to April. Know more -www.nellitheertha.com
10. Valley of Flowers
Located in the Himalayas, the Byundar valley, the valley of flowers are above 3,500m above the sea level and is now a heritage as well as a national park. The snow capped mountains, waterfalls, glistening streams make this place in Chamoli district of Uttarakhand on of the most beautiful places on earth. The flowers bloom in the months of August to September, and offers rare and wild varities of over 500 species. A trek of 17 kms by foot is required to reach the place.
Read more at - www.euttaranchal.com/tourism/valley-of-flowers