Katarmal Sun Temple - Almora

Visit here is all joys and a curiosity that how such a mammoth construction took place at this place..

Lanes of Istanbul - Where civilizations merge

Being one of the oldest cities on this earth, Istanbul is a delight to history lovers...

Malana

A place which has been lying forbidden and disconnected from the mainland. Malana still follows their culture and traditions...

Temples at Batesara

Around 350 temples are estimated to have existed here. Excavation work is ongoing to restore temples of a lost era.

Murud Janjira Fort

In 15th century AD, this majestic structure was constructed inside the Arabian Sea to protect the kingdom from the pirates.

Seychelles

Untouched beauty, unbridled love, riot of colours the nature is here and how well the people add to it.

June 1, 2018

Mystical Caves of Patal Bhuvaneshwar

After snaking around for most part of the day, travelling from Jageshwar in search of that coveted mysterious limestone cave temple, we were about to reach the place from where we would have got a chance to go under the earth.
14 km from Gangolihat in the Pithoragarh district of Uttarakhand is the mysterious place known as Patal Bhuvaneshwar, (पाताल भुवनेश्वर). The meaning of “Patal” is place under the earth. Small walk of 5 minutes and we were at the entrance of this cave, which is 160 m long and 90 feet deep from the point of entrance. But we had to wait as entry to the cave is permitted only in batches along with a dedicated guide. Those suffering from high Blood Pressure and breathing problems (Asthma) are advised not to go down.




World of Caves at Patal Bhuvaneshwar is an encyclopaedia into our mythology and has reference to various Eras of time, Sagar Manthan (Ocean churning), Lord Ganesh beheading, Pandavas, River Ganga in Lord Shiva’s hairs and many more. Reference about this cave is found in ‘Manaskhand’ and ‘Skandpuran’ whose 800 verses tells about Patal Bhuvneshwar. Cave is spread upto 160 kms long, however exploration is allowed only till a small distance. Cave is all natural, not constructed or carved by any human.
From the entrance we were seeing that this cave has a narrow tunnel-like opening, however this leads to a number of caves. We have to get down 90 feet on some very steep and slippery stairs. I got some tremendous workout, by holding on just to a chain in one hand and carrying my 4-year-old kid in other hand.
Built by the flow of water, Patal Bhuvaneshwar is not just one cave, rather a series of caves within caves. At some point we have to just lie down flat to get down inside the cave. Stairs’ stones have got some natural carvings as well. You need not fear the darkness as the cave is fully electrically illuminated. Photography is strictly prohibited and cameras, mobile phones have to be deposited outside the cave. The below pictures were clicked from one of the outside shops, selling the pictures of this legendary cave.
As soon as we enter the cave, the first formation visible on our left hand side is stone carving of Sheshnaag (King of All Serpents) holding the earth on his head.

Few steps ahead, is a small havankund (small enclosure to perform rituals), where once a havan (ritual) was performed by the gods to burn all the snakes. It is believed that one snake hid inside the fruit to save his life we can see the snake like carving on the wall of the cave.






Moving forward we came across a structure, resembling the lower part of the body below the head of a human. It is believed that at this place the head of Lord Ganesh was cut by his father Lord Shiva. Furious by this act of Lord Shiva, Goddess Parvati took a terrifying form (avatar). Scared by this Lord Brahma put a flower on top of the lower body of the Ganesha, nectar was flowing out from this flower to preserve the body of Ganesh for the time Gods arranged to replace the head with head of Elephant. That is how Lord Ganesh came in the form of Elephant God. The nectar dripping down from the petal of the flower would have preserve this head for ever.


The place where devotees worship Lord Shiva. This Shivalinga was placed here by Shankaracharya. Suddenly we came across a stream with many pebbles in it. Those pebbles were giving an impression of many people standing in an assembly. The guide revered them as thirty-three Koti (type) devi-devta of Hinduism. Practically with in these 33 types referred to as Gods, all the forms of life existing on Earth are covered. That is why Hinduism lay so special emphasis on preserving and respecting all forms of lives.

Our guide then drew our attention towards three Stalagmite formations that looked like three heads. He told that these heads represent the trinity of Hinduism – Brahma, Vishnu and Mahesh. Those three heads had three corresponding Stalactite over them. Out of these three, water was dripping over the heads of Shiva and Vishnu, but had dried over the head of Brahma. Guide explained that once Brahma and Vishnu started argument on which one is greater. Lord Shiva intervened on request from Lord Vishnu and Mahesh and took a form of giant Lingam (Avatar of Lord Shiva). Winner will be the one who will locate the end of this lingam. Vishnu soon realised that there is no end to this lingam and indeed Lord Shiva is the greatest. However, Brahma decided to lie to Lord Shiva and asked flower Ketaki to testify in his support. This lie turned fatal to Brahma, as infuriated Shiva cut his fifth head (which lied) and also cursed Brahma for not to be worshipped by anyone. So Brahma lost his devotees and the falling water had dried over Brahmas head. Perhaps this is the reason why Lord Brahma, despite being hailed as creator of Earth is not worshipped like Lord Shiva and Vishnu.
Also flower Ketaki was cursed that it will not be used in any ritual henceforth. Though Ketaki flower (known as Screw Pine) is highly fragrant and is used for preparation of perfumes and fragrant Oils.
We saw a small tunnel like opening was there which looked like open mouth of a dog and drops of water were drippling down from the tongue. The guide told us the story about it is that if someone goes inside his mouth and travel till the tail, will attain Moksh.
Moving ahead further inside the caves, we saw 4 doors type structures out of which 3 were closed and one was open for walking through. Guide informed that the 4 doors are door of sin and crime, the door of war, the door of righteousness, and the door of duty (पाप द्वार, युध द्वार, धर्म द्वार और कर्तव्य द्वार). These doors associated with important events in the past were open in the beginning - door of sin and crime (पाप द्वार) closed after the death of Ravana, door of war (युध द्वार) was closed after battle of Mahabharata and the door of righteousness (धर्म द्वार) was closed after Yudhishthir (eldest of the Pandavas) attained nirvana. Today only the door of duty is open, highlighting the fact that humans should only focus towards righteous duty in this age.  To convince us about the closed doors, the guide flashed his torch in the directions of closed doors and we were able to see closed paths, which looked like closed with time with landslides.

And there is also a Crane, face of which was pointing to the other side. Once the legendary Swan was assigned duty to keep a watch over the heavenly nectar pond. However, the Swan got greedy and decided to drink the nectar. Furious Gods cursed the Swan with neck turned to another side. 





Every step here was unravelling our rich and resourceful mythology. In one corner we noticed a stream of water and some white impression looking like the Jatas (rolled hairs) of a yogi. This time the connection was about coming of river Ganga on Earth. King Bhagirath who pleased Goddess Ganga (River Ganga is considered as river from heaven) to come on earth and liberate his ancestors who were cursed by the fury of sage Kapil.  However, Goddess Ganga told that Earth is incapable to hold the weight of her descent on Earth.  So King Bhagirath prayed and requested Lord Shiva. Lord Shiva agreed to hold the descent of Ganga from heaven in his hairs and allowed to flow thereafter. That is why river Ganga is also known as Bhagirathi. My goodness, what this trip is turning out to be.

The Jatas like structure actually are the Jatas of Lord Shiva, below which there is a kund (small enclosure for water) filled with that Ganga water and was made by Vishvakarma. As told by the guide no one knows the end point of his kund.
Moving forward the guide drew our attention towards a stone which was growing up vertically from bottom. This stone represents the present time era of Kalyug, it is said that once the stone will grow upto the top it will be the end of this world.








Guide pointed towards the dark corner of the cave and said this is the place where the Pandavas stayed while enroute to the heaven.
While coming out the guide told about Kalpwriksh, Kaamdhenu (the sacred cow) and Airawat (the mighty white elephant that carries Indra, the lord of rains), treasures from churning of ocean. And showed stone formation resembling the Kalpwriksh, udders of Kaamdhenu and legs of Airawat.
This was the end of our exploration of this amazing place and the journey we covered on our bare feet or on our knees. A journey which as per the mythology gives significance equivalent to Badrinath, Kedarnath and Amarnth travel.

PS - Photography is strictly prohibited and cameras, mobile phones have to be deposited outside the cave. The above pictures were clicked from one of the outside shops, selling the pictures of this legendary cave..


May 1, 2018

Exloring Arabian Sands of Udupi Beaches

After the divine temple run in the first half it was the time to let our souls soak the peaceful and unspoiled ambience of the beaches around Udupi. In Udupi you can never have too much of a beach.  

15 km. from Udupi temple is one of the most serene and pristine beach which you can find in the state of Karnataka. Kaup or Kapu is a village located between Udupi and Mangaluru. Local language spoken here is Tulu and in Tulu language Udupi is known as Odipu.
As we are about to reach the Kapu village, the coast line opens up to reveal beach lines with perfect white sand in front of us from what looked as a misty distance. This is the Kaup beach, with its tropical climate is a hot favourite spot for the locales and everyone who comes to visit the Mangalore Port City. Attractions in and around Udupi promises to keep your spirits uplifted during your visit at this place.

The main attraction at the Kaup beach is the Kaup Light House which was built in the year 1901 on a 27.12m high rock.

You can indulge in some rock climbing. Make sure you reach up to the highest point to view from the top, a few fishing boats parked and backwater bodies.


Backwaters of Udupi…! Surprising, Curiosity and excitement.
After sipping freshly brewed sweet lime water, we started for Malpe Beach. This is not just a beach but a destination in itself, this is the gateway to St. Mary Island, where you can turn into a geologist in some amazing rock formations.

For many tourists coming to Mangalore/ Udupi, perhaps the sole reason is a visit to this beach/ island. 
Read more about St. Mary Island.

2 km. from Malpe Beach is the most important Fish market for states of Karnataka as well as Tamil Nadu and Kerala. Read more about Malpe Fish Market.

No trip can be justified until you have enjoyed the local delicacies. Our friend Deekshit was benevolent enough to invite us for to his house for an authentic evening munch of “Buns served with coconut chutney, Mix Curry and fresh Papaya plucked from his home garden”. Home cooked food outside your home is a sheer pleasure.




Recharged with the Mangalorean delicacy, we soon said Bye Bye to the main roads and took the local village roads in search of some concealed wonder in this region. Approx. 9 km. from Malpe Beach is the “ThimmanKudru Suspension Bridge“. Popularly known as “Kemmannu Hanging Bridge”.

280 feet long Suspension Bridge is supported by ropes. River flowing beneath and fisherman picking the best parts from the earth’s surface which is 70% covered with water, the landscape of this place is nothing short of an artists’ canvas.

For the eyes looking for beauty, this backwater spot is no less than a hidden marvel. Along the way you will come across many delicately balanced small small bridges over these backwaters.

7 km. from the hanging bridge is the Delta beach (locally known as Kodi Bengre beach). This is the meeting point of beloved Suvarna river with her lover Arabian Sea.

You can drive right up to the delta point of the beach, park your car nearby and get amazing views of pristine beach. There is hardly any crowd at this beach, so this makes a perfect setting for some tender moments with your beloved or an ideal opportunity embrace your solitude with the setting sun. Relish the happiness coming in waves. 

Delta Beach, has a mini port for fisheries, which is well visible from the beach.

While returning back, do not forget to thank the Gods for this wonderful trip in the Durgaparameshwari temple (5 km. before Delta beach). The temple cladded in white colour is beautiful during the day and becomes stunning during the night.

As most of the temples in this region, this temple too has a wonderful roof carving.

Directions for all above spots…


Pray to the Gods for more such trips and keep on travelling Guys.

April 24, 2018

Novotel Goa Dona Sylvia Resort: A serene nest

Experience the calm of South Goa at this Mediterranean-styled hotel.





The sheer entrance of this place reminds me of the Seychelles. Consequently, the hopes and expectations have also heightened. For, that archipelago in the Indian Ocean has made me quite choosy when it comes to beach destinations. And, going by the first look, it seems I will not be disappointed.

The resort has that quiet yet happening look and feel to it. It all starts from the reception which seems like opening the property’s heart out to the guests. The pool flanked by the palms adds to the holiday vibes. The peace on the faces of the other guests tells you that your blissful moments are also just around the corner. A stroll to the beach leaves no doubt in mind. Those clear turquoise-blue-green waters of the Seychelles made me avoid Goa for quite some time.


Or perhaps I outgrew North Goa’s crowded shores, loud places and soiled waters. South Goa redeems it all for me and makes me a fan all over again. So, standing at the Cavelossim beach, I am both surprised and happy that this part of Goa still boasts of blue water, white sand and clean beach. The resort, meanwhile, nothing less than a little luxury village in itself, and my room – a wonderful mix of traditional and contemporary, is a serene nest every city-dweller like me yearns for. And, the various hues that the setting sun leaves on the sky, also making the Arabian Sea glisten like warm gold, has me hooked.  
The dinner at Seagull, the all-day dining restaurant takes it further to being spoiled. And, the poolside grill restaurant – Mama Mia leaves no scope for self redemption.
As I give in to a round of its gorgeous-looking mixes and drinks, paired oh-so-well with perfectly-grilled salmon in a light lemon-butter-sage sauce, this place has won my heart.
A quick round of the property the next morning shows how the partnership between AccorHotels and Alcon Victor Group has brought newness to the property but delightfully retained the old Goan-Portuguese flavours. The earlier Dona Sylvia Resort, and now Novotel Goa Dona Sylvia Resort, is hence even perfect for planning your wedding as its sprawling green lawns that merge with the sand work for both traditional and modern themes. The fine dining Indian restaurant – Kebabs & Kurries, can make you even feel like a royalty of the yore with its finest of recipes, picked from nowhere else than the royal kitchens.
The lobby bar, Amalia, will have you return to the Goan mood and join the live music performers to belt out a couple of your favourites too. Don’t worry, the audience is already in a blissful zone, thanks to the delicious finger foods and drinks that you won’t get anything else than a grand applause.
The old-world charm and the new-age luxury of this place indeed have an effect on your nerves. So much so that, despite not knowing how to swim my ultra-relaxed self decides to go for water sports. The calm mind leads to a brave heart and I triumph over the waves like a pro. Do not miss a round of water sports at the beach, it can be a life-changing experience (and, for the better). The hotel staff, always ready to help, will help you fix this adventure dose for yourself. The ones travelling with kids need not worry too as the place has enough to keep the curious minds occupied. The kitchen can even take care of their unpredictable taste buds and demands. Be it family, friends or business, every vacation, event or moment becomes perfect here.


(Travel Diaries editor Garima Verma was hosted by AccorHotels) 
Contact us for reviews at: info@travel-diaries.co.in


April 15, 2018

Athirapilly: Waterfall of Magnificence

Kerala: It's more than backwaters!
Kerala duly addressed as Gods own country, is a narrow strip of land lying in the west corner of peninsular India. Keeping Lakshadweep sea to its west and Western Ghats to its east, this highly literate state of our country stands proudly for its natural and scenic beauty, from dense ever green forests, diverse flora and fauna, hills and peaks to lakes and beaches, preserving cultural heritage and what not. It is one of the truly blessed place on this planet and we are lucky that India owns it.  
As in current trend there is a shift from seeing to experiencing and those who look for experiential travel, Kerala is a hot destination. Here words won’t be enough and mere picture can’t convey what it feels being there and experiencing every bit of it. From top to bottom, Kerala has a lot to offer to its travellers.
City sight-seeing is too conventional for those who believe in offbeat travelling. Athirapilly waterfall is one such destination in Thrissur district of Kerala, situated on the Chalakudy river, at the entrance to the Sholayar Ranges of Western Ghats. Athirapally falls also known as the Niagara Falls of India, fall down from approximately 80 feet  through numerous parallel streams, painting the canvas in white. These falls were recently seen as the Jal Parvat in the movie Bahubali.

As soon as you reach the location, the noise of splashing water will give you goose bumps. The waterfall is all hidden amongst the green and you can barely spot it from the road. A ticket of Rs. 15 per head is charged at the entry and then a walk of 10 minutes from the gate of the premises, which is maintained by department of Kerala tourism, takes you to the scene- where a calmly flowing river, drops down abruptly making one gigantic waterfall.

Here you can experience the river, the waterfall, the dense green forest, the arc of Western Ghats, all at once without any hindrance, the clear picturesque beauty of nature.

After the top view, it’s time to move down to the plunge pool. It’s a trek of 1km approx. through the dense green and a wet forest. Its bit slippery, so proper footwear and caution is recommended. The noise of waterfall will automatically attract you and without any feeling of hardships you will reach to the most worthy and a never seen before kind of place. The splashes of crashing water will leave you wet and the scene is more magnificent. It seems as if nature is joyously welcoming you, with a touch.
OH MY GOD and WAAOW, that’s the only thing I could scream out of excitement, because I have never felt this close to nature. It was worth the effort.

Though the waterfall is perennial but best experience comes post monsoon. You can visit it on all the days from 8:00AM to 6:00PM, however weekend attracts local rush too. You can enjoy local food and snacks at small eating joints and hawkers outside the premises. While walking to the plateau point or while standing at the bottom of the waterfall, you can get yourself clicked/ take Selfies to inspire your friends for this offbeat voyage. 


If you have time, you can go for Vazhachal waterfall, which is just 5Km from here. It is again a scenic spot and is famous for endemic species found in surrounding forest. One must start returning to Cochin by evening as there are no proper facilities of accommodation in the vicinity.

How to reach?
Athirapilly is 66km from Cochin city and 55km from Cochin International Airport via NH 544 and Nearest railway station is 30km from here in Chalakudy. 

About Cochin - While searching online you will come across name "Kochi" as well. Cochin and Kochi are one and same. British used to call Kochi as Cochin. Finally in 90's the name Kochi was declared as official name of Cochin. 
Cochin has been often referred as Queen of Arabin Sea and has been one of the most important centre of Spice trade since 14th Century. Cochin was well known to Greeks, Romans, Jews, Arabs and Chinese since ancient times. Cochin has found references in documentation by travellers like Ma Huan (from China, 15th Century) and Niccolo' Da Conti (from Italy, 15th Century). Spices like Ginger, Cloves, Cardamom, turmeric and black pepper grown in this region are renowned world wide.

Also would like to mention that Cochin International Airport is the world’s first fully solar energy powered airport and it is a perfect blend of nature and technology with heritage and modern architecture. Well connected to other major cities of India, Cochin is now a financial, economical and industrial powerhouse of Kerala. Landing here will give a kick start to your journey of exploring Southern India.

Keep travelling Guys...
(With Contribution from Shraddha Verma)


April 4, 2018

Temple Hopping - Day out in Udupi

Situated in the state of Karnataka, Udupi is a city renowned for its fabulous temples and pristine beaches. Visiting Udupi is full of joy that is ever fresh and full of fragrance.
Millions of people from all around the world come here to experience the divine serenity of these beautiful temples.
Sri Krishna Mutt is the most prominent temple in Udupi. This holy temple is the seat of Lord Krishna and is considered to be one of the holiest places in southern India.
The unique feature of Shree Krishna Mutt temple is that the Lord Krishna (in child form) is worshipped only through a nine-hole window, Navagraha Kitiki. It is the tradition in this temple to worship the Lord only through this exquisitely carved, silver – plated window. 
It is believed that the present statue is the same which was created by Lord Vishwakarma and handed over to Goddess Rukmini (Wife of Lord Krishna). This Idol of Lord Krishna was worshipped at Dwarka by applying sandal paste. With due course of time, the statue got totally covered by sandal paste. But, how this Idol reached Udupi, thousands of miles away from Dwarka (near to Gujarat). Story goes like this:
"---- After Lord Krishna, the city of Dwarka had submerged into the Sea. The Idol too was washed away with the sea waters. Time passed, and sometime after centuries one Sailor found a sandal block and he started using this sandal block as a weight to balance the ship. When this sailor came near to Udupi shore, suddenly his ship was caught in huge storms. That time saint Madhavacharya was near the shore and prayed to the Lord Vishnu to save the ship. Miracle happened, the storm stopped and the grateful sailor thanked saint Madhavacharya and offered him the sandal block as a token of gratitude.
When Saint Madhavacharya started to remove the sandal cover, the statue appeared and through his vision, he realised that this was the same statue of Lord Krishna which was created by Lord Vishwakarma and was worshipped by Devi Rukmini. Overjoyed by this, the saint bought this statue to Udupi, and since then this statue has been kept at the present place. ----"
No doubt the place has immense religious significance and people from far off places come here to seek blessings of Lord Krishna.
It’s not always that only devotees come to worship the God. Lord Krishna had turned the face and created a hole in window to let one of his devotee see him. Story goes like this; in the 16th century, an ardent devotee Kanakadasa, was not allowed inside the temple as he was from a lower caste. So he started worshipping the God from the other side of the wall, outside the temple premises. Pleased by the prayers of Kanakadasa, Lord Krishna created a small hole in the back wall of the temple and turned his face to that hole so that Kanakadasa could see him.
This hole came to be known as Kanakana Kindi. This hole/ small window is religiously worshipped by all the devotees and signifies the true devotion to the God, by heart.
Temple also houses a rare Panchmukhi statue of Lord Hanuman, which signifies faces of five Gods in Lord Hanuman.
When Lord Hanuman went in search of Lord Ram and Laxman, he came to know that the demon Ahiravna can be killed only if the 5 lamps which are placed in five different directions are extinguished all together at the same time. Then Lord Hanuman turned into 5 faceted God: Hanuman, Hayagreeva, Narsimha, Garuda and Varah to extinguish all the five lamps simultaneously and then eventually killing Ahiravan. This was something very few people are aware about.
Legends and stories associated with the temple are also decorated on the temples walls.

There is also a holy pond, Madhavapushkarni (sort of step well), at the entrance of the temple. Temple in middle of the pond is opened only once in a year, on occasion of Vijaya Dashami.

Lot of devotees live here in the temple premises and many people gather daily for worshipping Lord Krishna. There is single queue for everyone and no special privilege is granted to anyone for priority in offering prayers. The temple daily serves free lunch in the premises, and this is how the wood used for cooking is stored. I mistook this for another temple!

This temple follows a strict dress code, "Male visitors" have to remove the Upper Clothing, Shirts and vests. All the time spent here, we enjoyed visiting other temples without upper clothing and it was an experience when we didn't felt conscious or felt if anyone is watching.


Surrounding the Sri Krishna Matha are several temples, the most ancient being made of basic wood and stone of 1,500 years’ origin. Check this Lord Shiva temple, with a wall painting of Lord Shiva..

Another one with beautiful architecture:

With all the divine ambience and vibes in the air, The Krishna temple at Udupi is also known as the Mathura of the South.
12 km. from Shree Krishna Mutt is another fascination place, The Kunjaragiri Durga temple.

The temple is located on top of a hill and the hill offers some breath taking sceneries of Udupi.

There is also a Parashurama temple nearby. The area of hill is known as Durgabetta, and it is believed that Lord Parashurama is still in deep penance in the cave in eastern side below the Durgabetta even today.
Do not miss out a huge statue of Madhavacharya at the foothills of Kunjarugiri, while on the way to Kunjarugiri temple.

2 km. from Kunjarugiri temple (13 km. from Udupi temple) is another holy place, Pajaka Kshetra. It is the birthplace of Sri Madhavacharya, founder of Dwaita Philosophy.
In the premises there is a small stepwell type pond named Vasudeva teertha. In the childhood days of Madhavacharya, once his mother wanted to have holy dip in four teerthas around Durgabetta. But she was unable to visit due to bad health, so at that time child Vasudeva (Lord Krishna) created this pond and assured his mother that, a dip in this pond is equivalent to dip in all four theerthas.

Exquisitely carved in the Wood, the roofs of this temple are notable.

There is also a university in the premises where students learn divine knowledge of Vedas and Sanskrit.

How much time you want to spend in Udupi temples depends on you only. Continue the feel the divine ambience of Udupi temples in the peaceful atmosphere. 
For convenience: The route to Pajaka Kshetra from Shree Krishna Temple. 


Udupi is not only temples, there are a number of pristine beaches to make anyone fall in love with one beach after another beach. Take a break for lunch and keep exploring Guys.


April 1, 2018

Hidden Hops: A Local’s Guide to Brewery Hopping Through Asheville


Set against the backdrop of the Blue Ridge Mountains, the limitless talents of local artisans like musicians, artists, and designers make Asheville, North Carolina one of the most vibrant and engaging cities in the country.  
If you’re looking for a place to relax while visiting this hilltop haven, try sampling the many local breweries that produce some of the finest product in the county. Offering more than 100 locally-made beers every day, this short guide will bring you up to speed on all this city offers for aficionados.

The Rise of Asheville’s Brewery Scene
Craft breweries started to grow after the consolidation of major American brewing companies in the late 1970s. At that time, the number of small breweries dwindled to 44, and beer enthusiasts worried that it would limit the variety and taste of available brews.
Asheville definitely took this concern to heart, and by 2017, the city had the most breweries per capita in the nation. With a population of only 89,000 residents, Asheville has earned the well-deserved title of “Beer City USA” four times.
The beer district is primarily located on the South Slope, the southern part of the city. Whether you’re looking for a traditional ale or a unique and original flavor, if you can dream it, Asheville has it on offer.

Things to Do
Before hitting the bar, visitors can take a comprehensive tour as an introduction to the Asheville brewery culture. The history of brewing actually dates back to the late 1700s when the townspeople determined that it was too difficult to transport beer to an elevation of 2,216 feet above sea level. The passion and independence for creating craft beer has continued for centuries, and Asheville residents are proud to share their deep and rich beer history over a local pint.


Asheville Brews Cruise
The Asheville Brews Cruise was the city’s first brewery tour and received recognition in both Southern Living and The New York Times. Depending on the day, visitors can tour four different breweries, spending about an hour at each location.

The breweries on the route include Pisgah, Altamont, Hi-Wire, French Broad, Catawba, Green Man, Twin Leaf, Highland, One World, and the Wicked Weed Funkatorium. The tour price includes 12 four-ounce brew samples along the route. Tickets cost $60 per person, with a 50% deduction for designated drivers.

Amazing Pubcycle
The Pubcycle puts a different spin on brewery touring, requiring the work of ten peddlers and the assistance of a small motor to help during ascensions. The 90-minute tour makes two stops along the way. The 15-minute stops rotate, but the most visited breweries include Ben’s Tune-Up and the Conundrum Speakeasy. 
Tickets are $25 per person. The tour does not provide alcohol, but passengers may bring their own or purchase house brews during their visit to the pub.

Sierra Nevada Tour
Although the Sierra Nevada brand originated in California, Ashville has embraced it for years. Tours of this esteemed brewery vary in theme, price, and duration. The shortest tour is the 30-minute Guided Education Tasting, which focuses on their signature beers.
For those who want in-depth information on the beer making process, they offer a three-hour Beer Geek Tour. The guides also take tourists on a Trip in the Woods, a mile-and-a-half hike and lesson on the nature of North Carolina and how Sierra Nevada conserves natural resources. All tours come with free samples.

Sipping Through the South Slope
After taking a tour, it’s time to hit the pub trail. Starting from the southern part of the South Slope and heading back towards downtown, these locally recommended breweries are ready to entertain and surprise with their original concoctions.

Burial Beer Company
40 Collier Avenue
Burial opened in 2013 and is one of Asheville’s most impressive breweries. The forward-thinking owners Doug and Jess Reiser expanded a one-barrel brewery to a 10-barrel brewhouse with the help of their brewer Tim Gormley. They lean toward Belgian traditions while incorporating local ingredients like wildflower honey into their crisp blonde ales.
The taproom prides itself on its weekly releases, with craft beers ranging from the Bolo Coconut Brown Ale to the Skillet Donut Stout. The brewery is opening a second location, the Forestry Camp Brewhouse, which originally housed workers during the construction of the Blue Ridge Parkway during the Great Depression. 

Green Man Brewery
27 Buxton Avenue
Head north to meet the mysterious Green Man peering through leafy overgrowth on this brewery’s craft beer bottles. Founded in 1997, it is Asheville's second oldest brewery, and it’s one of its best for many reasons.
The Green Man Brewery is environmentally friendly, using high-efficiency equipment and repurposing used grains in cooperation with local farms. Although the Green Man Brewery has shifted its focus from traditional English style brews to American beers, some of the original lineup are still offered to appease their fans.
Popular selections include the Green Man Indian Pale Ale, with hints of fruit and mint, and the Green Man Extra Special Bitter (ESB) for those who prefer malt with a trace of caramel. Or try one of their new American beers like the Snozzberry Wild American Ale aged with fruit in oak barrels.  

Wicked Weed Funkatorium
145 Coxe Avenue
Wicked Weed has three locations: their pub, their brewery, and the Funkatorium. The Funkatorium offers just what the name promises: craft beers with a side of funk. It focuses on barrel-aged sours, which are aged in a wooden barrel to create that signature acidic tang.
Their Serenity won the Great American Beer Festival gold medal in 2013, and their Silencio incorporates vanilla beans and local coffee aged in Kentucky bourbon barrels. Wicked Weed recently sold their brewery to Anheuser-Busch, but the founders assure the locals and visitors that the brewery will stay true to its mission to produce original and innovative brews.

Ben’s Tune-Up
195 Hilliard Avenue
Another great stop is a converted auto shop named Ben’s Tune-Up, Asheville’s only sake and beer brewery. Sake is a Japanese unpasteurized wine made from rice, served hot or cold. Ben’s offers intriguing options like Lemon Ginger and Pineapple Jalapeño that are refreshing on a hot day.
Ben’s also features an Asian fusion menu to complement their craft beverages. Sample one of their reputed beers and then cleanse your palette with some of their house-made sake. Ben’s Tune Up also has one of the best open-air beer gardens in Asheville and hosts free events featuring local musicians almost every day.

Asheville Brewing Company
77 Coxe Avenue
The Asheville Brewing Company dates back to 1998. This brewery has three locations: North Asheville, downtown, and South Asheville. The original northern location includes a dine-in movie theater, where movies cost $3 per person and feature classics like Jaws or Spaceballs.
Try the Fire Escape Ale made with jalapeños or the Rocket Girl Lager, which is popular with the locals. The brewery also offers a full menu with many delicious pub favorites.

Final Thoughts
Asheville offers a vast array of beer for any connoisseur, from hoppy IPAs to classic English dark stouts. Asheville was first named Beer City USA in 2009, but this town has kept the beer flowing like mountain water for many years before they cinched the coveted national title.

(Contributed by Harry Parsons).