Monks Diaries


Om-Mani-Padme-Hum: The Tibetan Prayer Flag

icon time18-Jun-2019

icon location Kochi

icon profile TreeMonks

Travellers to the Himalayas have an emotional connection with multicolour Tibetan Prayer Flags! This rectangular flag has deep meanings and rich connections with the Tibetan and Chinese Cultures! 

Each colour of the flag symbolizes an element. The red, blue, yellow, white and green Buddhist prayer flags represent elements like air, fire, water and earth. White symbolizes air, red is fire. Green is water, yellow is earth, and blue is wind. They also represent directions – North, South, East, West and Center. The sacred mantra inscribed on the flag - ‘Om Mani Padme Hum’ has a very deep meaning. 'Om' is the sacred syllable, 'Mani' means the Jewel while Padme refers to the sacred Lotus and Hum is the Spirit of enlightenment.

The mantra doesn't carry any particular meaning, but the mantra encompasses a combination of values like compassion, ethics, patience, diligence, renunciation and wisdom. It is said that if you recite the mantra during meditation, it can cure pride, jealousy, ignorance, greed and aggression. 
It's a good omen to receive the Tibetan Flag as a gift or have the flags in your belongings like House, Vehicles etc.

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Eight Best Hostels in South India


Post by Deepa Thomas

Do you want to get richer by spending less?
The easiest way is -Whenever you travel, stay in hostels!
It turns out to be far cheaper than hotels. Hostellers are usually wanderers
from all over the world, passionate about life and travel.
Nothing can make you richer than the experience that you gather by meeting
such people and taking time to talk about their nation, places they have visited,
sharing with them about your travel sagas and so on.

For less than $20/night you can stay in the best of hostels in India. At this rate you
can rent a bed (usually a bunk bed in a dormitory) and share a bathroom, lounge
and a kitchen with other travel mates. Most hostels have free wifi, a laundry
room, lockers and food on demand. Hostels are ideal for backpackers, young
couples or low-budget travelers who care less for privacy and desire to gather as
much experience as possible during their travel.
This blog from
TreeMonks is intended to give you some insight into the facilities
offered by few top hostels in South India. Pick your backpack and step out to
have some fun in one of these escapes.

1. Roambay, Mysore - Karnataka

Painted in pristine white and traditional yellow, this hostel is a century old
mansion that has been renovated tastefully for their guests to experience
heritage with a touch of modernity. Located in the heart of the city near the
Mysore palace, hostellers can explore all the tourist sites easily. Preethi and Pavan
your friendly hosts does everything to ensure your stay is comfortable. This hostel
has a spacious communal room, clean sanitary, comfy bed, offers yoga classes and
complimentary breakfast. With the option of private room, 6-bed female
dormitory, 8-bed, 4-bed or 2-bed mixed dormitory, this hostel caters to both solo
women and men travelers around the globe.
Very soon they are to introduce a service wherein you can hire a bike for roaming
around the town and a café to enjoy some fresh snacks.
Motto: Explore, Munch and Snooze

Larger hostels suits larger groups.

2. Micasa Hostels, Pondicherry

With a kinky interior, Micasa is located about half a kilometer from Pondicherry
railway station. Bike tours, karoke night+, yoga classes, cooking classes, night
skating, museum and gallery tour are some of the activities the hostellers from
Micasa can indulge in. Most of the places of interest to tourists can be accessed
on foot from here. They have a lift to take you to your designated room - ensuite
private room, AC rooms, female dorm or mixed dorm. There are separate
bathrooms for males and females, laundry service, a kitchen to do some selfcooking,
a terrace on top to enjoy the view, cupboards to safely dispose
belongings, free wifi and a long list of rules that have to be strictly adhered to for
the safety of fellow roommates.
Very soon they are coming up with a 3-storied hostel with 4 common areas, a
home theatre and a huge capacity to accommodate 60 people.
Motto: Our reviews say it all!

If you are planning to stay for long in a place, go for a hostel that has a kitchen.
Make your roommates taste your culinary skills and teach each other your

3. Share Hostel Munnar

Located amidst the tea plantation in Meencut, this hostel is a short ride from
Munnar town. Tobin, your host and the staff genuinely takes an effort to make
you feel at home. You can laze around by putting a tent in the garden or rest in
the hammocks around, to have a relaxed holiday with free wifi and free breakfast.
For less than $1 you can enjoy a meal too. To stay, they have separate
dormitories for females and males and a kitchen to cook up something
interesting. A home away from home, this place is kid-friendly and has facility to
get your laundry done. The host takes the hostellers on a guided tour in a tuk tuk
to see the nearby places in Munnar, joins you on trekking and to explore
distances there is jeep safari.
Motto: Build relationships that last!

There is always some fun brewing at hostels.

4. Short Girraffe Varkala - Kerala

All those travelers who are spirited and curious to explore and engage with the
world, excited to experience a new place regardless of language barriers, and
cultural differences are welcomed by the Short Giraffe staff with a warm smile.
This hostel is located just a few meters from the cliff and the Papanasam beach in
Varkala. It is an old Kerala home that has been refurbished spreading positive
vibes for all their guests.
The hostel offers variety of accommodation types, from tents through private
huts to dorms. All rooms come with medium-sized lockers, an indoor common
area for hostellers to meet up, mini library to read, plenty of board games and
table-tennis table to play. Outdoor facilities include a huge garden with
hammocks to relax, a slack line to try some balancing acts and badminton net
with racquets. There is a designated barbeque area with sitting arrangement
around it, a kitchen wherein you can cook up something interesting or take the
services of the chef at reasonable cost. Some of the amenities offered include free
wifi, airport transportation and a scooter that guests can use for short trips free of
Motto: To spread a smile across all folks!

To keep you in high spirit throughout the journey, you need a wholesome
lodging experience and that’s what a good hostel provides.

5. The Lost Hostel, Fort Kochi - Kerala

Lost Hostel in Fort Kochi is very close to the beach. The hostel is a 100 year old
Dutch house that has been renovated. The upper floor gives a panoramic view of
the Kochi port and the lower floor of the house is a common area for fellow
hostellers to share their tales of travel. They have AC and non-AC mixed dorm and
twin room with shared bathroom as accommodation option. The hostel is well
located for you to walk around and explore the culture of Kochi, see the street
art, the Chinese fishing nets, the old churches, the quaint Jewish part of town or
go to the ferry for a boat ride. By providing clean linen, free WiFi, lots of books to
read and games to play, the hostel provides facilities to make your stay truly
Besides Fort Kochi, the Lost Hostel has properties in Munnar, Varkala, Madurai
and Goa
Motto: Travelling is about sharing your values and experiences and giving
something back to the world.

If you are on shoe string budget, instead of splurging on fancy rooms, save your
bucks to buy an experience like a Kalari ayurvedic massage or explore the
heritage Silk Route.


6. Design Ashram, Calicut - Kerala

Design Ashram is a 100 year-old courtyard residence located in the Gujarati
Street, a historically and culturally significant locality in Calicut. The hostel is
renovated tastefully retaining the rustic ambience. It is owned by a trader family
from Gujarat whose ancestors had migrated to Calicut from the coast of
Saurashtra when Muhmud Ghazni had invaded their hometown in 1027 AD.
Design Ashram is a spacious dormitory but does not have a communal living
space. Instead they have a beautiful Peepal tree courtyard for like-minded
individuals to bond, share and brainstorm around, like how the traditional Indians
still do in villages. The private room has a kitchenette and a private bathroom and
the mixed dormitory features a fridge, a shared kitchen, and a shared bathroom.
This hostel organizes weekly and monthly events like the book swap, open-mic
Wednesdays and art workshop to provide positive reinforcement to the art and
culture scene in Calicut, and provides a platform for young artists to experiment
with their talents.
The property is within walking distance to the beach, Lalithakala academy art
gallery, Kalari martial art school and some very good restaurants serving both
international and Malabar cuisine. Within 2.5 km radius, there are major tourist
places nearby like the Konad Beach, Mananchira Square, SM street and

If you want to carry something valuable on your journey, but fear theft, go for
a hostel that provides lockers or safes.

7. Zostel, Vagamon - Kerala

With the idea to make travel fun, affordable, and safer, Zostel started a chain of
backpacker hostels with presence across 38 cities in India and Nepal. All their
hostels take care of the basic needs of hygiene, comfort and safety at affordable
cost. They even have a loyalty program which gets you discounts across all Zostels
and in their partner hostels. Zostels have vibrant community rooms with internet
kiosks, TV, board games, music player and books to pass your time, and a shared
space to meet up with like-minded travel buddies from various corners of the
world. They have safes to lock your valuables in, provides clean linen and water
dispensers to quench your thirst from time to time.
Zostel in Vagamon is a hostel nestled in the green meadows with quiet
surroundings. Their front yard faces vast expanse of lush green hills while the
backyard has a vista of tea estates. They have 8-bed mixed dorm, 8-bed female
dorm and a private room to serve the purpose of accommodation at Zostel,
If you are in a mood for an enthralling adventure, Vagamon is one of the best
places in South India for experiencing paragliding and a good host of adventure
activities like hiking, trekking, off-road driving and zip lining in the midst of
panoramic lush meadows, pine forests and waterfalls.
Motto: LiveItNow!

Though the idea and concept of a hostel remains the same, they are all unique
in their feel and surrounding.


8. Trippr Backpacker Hostel, Kodaikanal –Tamil Nadu

Trippr is a chain of backpacker hostels providing a cosy and economical stay for tr
avellers on the go. Located 5 kms from the main town of Kodaikanal on
Perumpallam Road, off Naidupuram, this property has one eight bed dorm, and
three four bed dorms, all with attached bathrooms. The ambience and décor of
the hostel reflects the beauty of the Tamil ethos. During those chilly calm nights,
on request the hostel can set a bonfire for their guests in the lawn.
The salubrious climate, the awe inspiring landscape, the enchanting green hills,
dense forests and cascading streams pull the guests towards Kodai for more. To
connect with new friends and to engage in lot many activities there is no better
place than Trippr.
Besides Kodaikanal, Trippr has hostels in Gokarna that is located right in front of a
private beach, in Alleppy near the backwaters you can go kayaking, or stay and
explore the wilderness in Chikamagalur.
Motto: Travel and recharge lives at Trippr.

All you free-spirited travelers, now that we at TreeMonks have picked the finest
inexpensive and unique hostels to suit your comfort level, look no further. Just
pick one, pack your bags and go hostelling. In there is a world of experiences
waiting for you.

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The Neelakurinji Days are here!


Post by Naveen

It’s time for nature’s wizardry over the hills over Munnar. Neelakurinji is all set to bloom – Yes, the purplish-blue shade shall cover the valleys of the mountains, turning it into a magical. It’s time for nature’s wizardry over the hills over Munnar. Neelakurinji is all set to bloom – Yes, the purplish-blue shade shall cover the valleys of the mountains, turning it into a magical. It’s time for nature’s wizardry over the hills over Munnar. Neelakurinji is all set to bloom – Yes, the purplish-blue shade shall cover the valleys of the mountains, turning it into a magical land.

Don’t miss the visual extravaganza – it comes once in 12 years! The monsoons are here in Kerala, with all its uncertainty, downpouring on every nook and corner of the state. In the hills of Munnar, the beauty and the beast-like traits of the rainy season keeps beating upon the region with silver liquid drops

It’s time for nature’s wizardry over the hills over Munnar. Neelakurinji is all set to bloom – Yes, the purplish-blue shade shall cover the valleys of the mountains, turning it into a magical. It’s time for nature’s wizardry over the hills over Munnar. Neelakurinji is all set to bloom – Yes, the purplish-blue shade shall cover the valleys of the mountains, turning it into a magical. It’s time for nature’s wizardry over the hills over Munnar. Neelakurinji is all set to bloom – Yes, the purplish-blue shade shall cover the valleys of the mountains, turning it into a magical

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The Picturesque Peechi-Vazhani Belt!


Post by TreeMonks

Ever imagined about the picturesque scenes that a dam can create at its collection areas? If you cannot imagine, then witness it for real at the Peechi-Vazhani Wildlife Sanctuary!

The Peechi-Vazhani Wildlife Sanctuary is the best pick for someone looking to lurk into the beauty of nature! It is a destination that is enamoured with the intrinsic beauty of nature.

The Peechi-Vazhani Wildlife Sanctuary was established in the year 1985 and sprawls over a complex 125 towards the eastern side of Thrissur in the premises of the Peechi and Vazhani Dam. To be exact, the Sanctuary is situated in the catchment area of the Peechi and Vazhani Dams. The Sanctuary happens to be the integral part of the Palapilli-Nelliampathy forests and forms the northern boundary of the Chimmini Wildlife Sanctuary in Thrissur.

The place is blessed with many a picnic spot along with an astounding location with rejuvenating boating options. The highest point here is the 923 m high peak which offers an excellent view of the underlying valley. There are more than 50 different kinds of orchids, exotic medicinal plants, teak and rosewood here. Tourist can find more than 25 different species of mammals like the Tiger, Deer, Sambar, Leopard, Spotted Deer, Indian Bison and Asian Elephant etc. here. There are more than a hundred species of birds, of which many are unique to the Western Ghats. The belt also has several snake and lizard species.

The reservoirs turn into beautiful lakes inside the wildlife sanctuary. Time spent in the place are tremendously relaxing, often a cool breeze melts down your hard thought and make you feel lighter!

For anyone heading to the Sanctuary, they shall arrive at the village of Peechi. Peechi village is the entry point to the sanctuary. Kerala’s Department of Forest organize exciting and adventurous trekking trails into the sanctuary. The trekking is recommended only for the experienced trekkers as it could get hectic on normal people. Unfortunately, unlike the other places, there are no Jeep Safaris arranged at this sanctuary.

Tourists find the place to be best visited during the months between October to March, when the surroundings of the jungle are ideal for animal spotting and trekking. The park has many accommodation options at the information centre in Peechi, available in the form of rest houses.

So this weekend, let’s run away from the madding crowds of Cochin and escape to the magic of Peechi Vazhani Wildlife Sanctuary, and spend some wonderful time among majestic hills, lush green forests and silvery lakes.

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Eravikulam Wildlife Diaries


Post by TreeMonks


In the series of Wildlife Hotspots of Kerala, next comes Eravikulam National Park in Idukki. This is a hero amongst the wildlife spots as it is world renowned for various uniqueness in it.

Idukki is one of the precious crown jewels of God’s Own Country and has attracted visitors from around the world for centuries due to its natural splendour.

The Eravikulam National Park lies hidden inside the wilderness of Idukki near Munnar.

The Park is home to the world famous Nilgiri Tahrs. This sacred haven for this exotic animal is a relief in a time when different species are disappearing off the face of the planet. Some rare animals and endangered species of butterflies can be spotted here. The park is also famous for great view of tea plantation, rolling hills and Neelakurinji.  Situated in the Devikulam Taluk of Idukki district, people also flock to this park to view the special Neelakurinji flowers that bloom once every 12 years. The next sighting is expected to be in 2030.

Eravikulam National Park is the first of its kind in Kerala. Yes - it is Kerala’s first national park. This park is famous for its collection of tahr. Nilgiri tahr is a goat like species that is endangered.

Munnar wildlife division and the Forest and wildlife division of Kerala runs the park. The park is a heritage site. The Eravikulam national park’s terrain includes hill plateau, grasslands, sholas, mountain peak, perennial streams that merge with Periyar River or Pamba River, waterfalls and others

The park also boasts of hosting South India's highest peak, Anamudi (2695 m), in its southern area. This park is spread over an area of 97 square kilometres and packs tons of fun spots for people to have a good time in. One can see the crowds around the Echo Point, where the natural view and unique setting adds to the eponymous phenomenon. The Rajamalai region of the park is open to the public and from here; the exotic Nilgiri Tahr can be viewed.

The Rajamalai region falls under the tourism zone of the area. The other two are the Core area and Buffer area which are both not open to the public. There is a host of trekking options as well in the area.

The rare flora and fauna present in the park also attract visitors. Official vehicles take people on trips where one can experience the biodiversity of a high elevation shola-grassland system. One can view rare terrestrial and epiphytic orchids and beautiful wild balsams along with the Nilgiri Langur, leopards and the Indian Bison as well. The early months of the year are the only time when the park is closed as this when the Tahrs are calving. The rare habitat and sanctuary is open to everyone throughout the year.

Except for the calving times, the visit hours of the park are between 7:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m.

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Idukki Wildlife Sanctuary – the Nature’s Trove


Post by TreeMonks

The song from the famous Malayalam Movie Flick ‘Maheshinte Prathikaram’ rightly describes the beauty of Idukki. The land of Idukki was metaphoric with a girl of utmost charm in the song. The lyricist did no boasting as Idukki is, in fact, Midukki – a smart-young girl!

Yes, young! Idukki was only created in the 26th January of 1972. At that time, the district headquarters was at Kottayam. Later, in June 1976 it was moved to Painavu – the present headquarters. Idukki is world famous for the tea plantation hub of Munnar.

Munnar, in fact, was the summer resort of the British Colonial Government of the Madras Presidency. The town of Munnar is situated at the convergence of three mountain streams namely Muthirappuzha, Nallathanni and Kundala – hence the name Munnar.

Munnar has some of the highest-largest and most beautiful tea plantations in the world. This hill station, which is more than 5000 feet above sea level, is a tourist attraction noted for its scenic landscapes as well.

But Idukki is not just the beauty of Munnar. It is more of a wilderness – the wild beauty!

A vast region of Idukki is covered with forest reserve area; more than half of the district is covered by forests. Idukki is among the most naturally endowed districts in Kerala.

These areas of Idukki are declared as Reserve Forests and Wildlife Sanctuaries of under names. Idukki Wildlife Sanctuary is one amongst them. The Idukki wildlife sanctuary is filled with steep mountains, majestic hills and valleys. It covers the forest land between the Cheruthoni River and Mighty Periyar River. The world famous Idukki arch dam is located in the forests. The forest here is similar to that of Periyar Reserve Forest. Most forests are evergreen and semi-evergreen. One may also come across patches of Shola forests and grasslands.

There is a plethora of flora and fauna found in this wildlife-rich sanctuary. Elephants, Porcupine, Sambar Deer, Wild dogs, Jungle cats, Malabar Giant Squirrel, Wild boar etc. can be seen here. One of the best ways to sight animals is boating in the reservoir. Herds of elephants and other animals are seen at the banks as it is the major water source within the sanctuary. Venomous Snakes such as the Cobra, Viper, Krait and a large number of non- poisonous snakes are also found in Idukki Wildlife Sanctuary.

Idukki Wildlife Sanctuary is located near the Chinnar Wildlife Sanctuary. It is contiguous with Eravikulam National Park. Indira Gandhi Wildlife Sanctuary is to the northwest and Kodaikanal Wildlife Sanctuary is to the east.

Idukki Wildlife Sanctuary is one of twelve wildlife sanctuaries in Kerala. The Western Ghats, under the Anamalai sub-cluster, including all of all mentioned Wildlife Sanctuaries, is under consideration by the UNESCO World Heritage Committee for selection as a World Heritage Site.

Best time to visit Idukki Wildlife Sanctuary is from December to April. In Idukki, the temperature is in between 13 degrees C to 29 degrees C. March and April is the hottest period of the year. Except in the month of January to April the climate is usually cool and humid with the heavy rainfall. The Idukki Wildlife Sanctuary is open throughout the year for the visitors. Wildlife lovers may avail Trekking Packages to watch the animals and birds in the sanctuary. Entry timings are from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m.

Although, Kerala – the Gods Own Country has a different and fascinating flavour for tourists during all seasons and every season offers a new experience like no other.

No accommodation facilities are provided at the Idukki Wildlife Sanctuary. The best and nearest option for accommodation will be in Munnar. Most visitors to the Idukki Wildlife Sanctuary hire a cab and take day trips from Munnar or other nearby towns.


The nearest Airport to Idukki International Airport is Madurai in Tamil Nadu which is about 140 k.m from the place. The Cochin International Airport is around 190 k.m drive from Idukki. The nearest railway station is located around 140 k.m. in Kottayam.

Tourists can contact TreeMonks for trips to the Idukki Wildlife Sanctuary from Munnar and for a stay in Munnar Town at best rates. Call us at +91 9447960022.