Me & Mehrangarh fort in Jodhpur, Rajasthan, India

It was one of those relaxed mornings in Jodhpur when my cousin Aarti’s wedding functions were over.

This is when I decided to steal few hours to make most of my visit to Jodhpur, in fact to bring it to full circle as it was family re-union of the sorts after ages and this being last marriage in the family, the grandeur surrounding it cannot be explained in words. We set out to Mehrangarh Fort at around 12 noon when weather was very pleasant and reached after around 40 minutes drive.  As I reached the fort and looked down, I could catch the bird’s eye view of entire city. It was such a memorable sight.

Mehram 1 Mehram 2 Mehram 3 Mehram 4 Mehram 5 Mehram 6

Mehrangarh Fort located in Jodhpur city, is one of the largest forts in India. It is situated on a lofty height, 400 feet (122 metres) above the city, and is enclosed by imposing thick walls. Inside its ways, there are several palaces, which are known for their intricate carvings and sprawling courtyards. The foundation of the fort was laid on May 12, 1459 by Rao Jodha on a rocky hill nine kilometres to the south of Mandore.

The invincible fortifications are six meters thick. Some of the walls still bear cannon marks they had once withstood. The Chamunda Mataji was Rao Jodha’s favourite goddess, he brought her idol from the old capital of Mandore in 1460 and installed her in Mehrangarh. She remains the Maharaja’s and the royal family’s Isht Devi or adopted goddess and is worshipped by most of Jodhpur’s citizens as well. Crowds throng Mehrangarh during the Dussehra celebrations. It contains period rooms like Moti Mahal – The Pearl Palace, Sheesha Mahal – The Hall of Mirrors, Phool Mahal – The Palace of Flowers, Takhat Vilas -Maharaja Takhat Singh’s Chamber.

Burnished red sand stone, imposing, invincible and yet with a strange haunting beauty that beckons. The beauty and the grandeur of numerous palaces in the fort narrates a saga of hard sandstones yielding to the chisels of skilled Jodhpuri sculptures. To enter the Mehrangarh fort, seven gates have to be crossed.

The work of building the fort originally commenced in 1459 on the behest of the founder of Jodhpur – Rao Jodha but much of the fort as it stands today was built in the era of Jaswant Singh. This magnificent fort is spread over 5 kms. and is located on top of a hill which is all of 125 meters high.

The Mehrangarh Fort encloses many palaces, which are known for their intricate carvings and sprawling courtyards. The Moti Mahal which is made of elaborately carved stones is the dwelling place of the royal throne of Jodhpur which is popularly referred to as the Sringar Chowki in local parlance.

There is also the majestic Umaid Villas that showcases some remarkable Rajasthani miniature art work. The Ajit Villa is conspicuous with its rich collection of musical instruments and regal attires while the gorgeous Phool Mahal is where the legendary Jodhpur Coat of Arms is preserved.

The parapets of Phool Mahal are adorned with exquisite art works portraying various melodious scenes. There are seven gates, which include Jayapol (meaning ‘victory’) built by Maharaja Man Singh to commemorate his victories over Jaipur and Bikaner armies. Fattehpol (also meaning ‘victory’) gate was built by Maharaja Ajit Singh to mark the defeat of the Mughals. The palm imprints upon these still attract much attention even today.

The museum in the Mehrangarh fort is one of the most well-stocked museums in Rajasthan. In one section of the fort museum there is a selection of old royal palanquins, including the elaborate domed gilt Mahadol palanquin, which was won in a battle from the Governor of Gujarat in 1730.

The museum exhibits the heritage of the Rathores in arms, costumes, paintings and decorated period rooms. Mehrangarh fort has never ever been seized. The invincible fortifications are six meters thick.

Some of the walls still bear cannon marks and today this magnificent Jodhpur fort is a living testimony that recounts the chronicles and legends of Jodhpur’s rich past.

It was really a very memorable afternoon like icing on the cake. I wish we had more time to splurge on this Rajasthani marvel.

If Rajasthan visit is on your agenda, don’t give it a miss…Watch video for a great experience!

Sepang Will Be Perfect for Indian F1 Fans, says SIC

 Mr. Dhananjay Saliankar – Starwood Group of Hotels – Director Sales, Mr. Mohamed Sathik Ali Mohd Meera – GM Western India – Malaysia Airlines Mr. Manoharan Periasamy – Director – Tourism Malaysia Mr. Ashutosh Mehere – Cox and Kings Dato Razlan Razali, CEO, Sepang International Circuit
Mr. Dhananjay Saliankar – Starwood Group of Hotels – Director Sales,
Mr. Mohamed Sathik Ali Mohd Meera – GM Western India – Malaysia Airlines
Mr. Manoharan Periasamy – Director – Tourism Malaysia
Mr. Ashutosh Mehere – Cox and Kings
Dato Razlan Razali, CEO, Sepang International Circuit
Dato Razlan Razali, CEO of Sepang International Circuit & Mr Manoharan Peraisamy, Director of Tourism Malaysia at the F1 event in Mumbai
Dato Razlan Razali, CEO of Sepang International Circuit & Mr Manoharan Peraisamy, Director of Tourism Malaysia at the F1 event in Mumbai

For the first time in four years, Sepang International Circuit (SIC) – promoter and organiser of the 2014 Formula 1 Petronas Malaysian Grand Prix – has recommended for motor racing fans in India to adjust their travelling plans to Sepang, which will be hosting Round 2 of the World Championship next month.  

“Hence, coming to Sepang will provide you a 2-in-1 unrivalled package of Malaysian hospitality and F1 extravaganza. With lucrative travel packages and sales discounts, the 2014 Formula 1 Petronas Malaysia Grand Prix is an event not to be missed by any motorsports fan throughout the world. “It’s a case of a 2-in-1 offer package – you get the best of Malaysian hospitality at discounted prices and an unrivalled motorsports experience at one of the world’s best racing circuit.

“In fact, it would be more than just motorsports experience in Sepang. It’s a host of everything extraordinary as ‘Sepang Comes Alive’ at the 16th edition of the Petronas Malaysian Grand Prix,” Razlan added. Tickets for the world class event are as low as INR 1,820.00making Sepang, which first hosted the prestigious race in 1999, as one the most affordable venue in the Formula 1 calendar. Main Grandstand tickets, which provide excellent viewing at vantage points are priced between INR 40,230.000 and INR 6,370.00.

Razlan said: “At Sepang, fans can witness the F1 teams and drivers pushing their machines to the limit as they battle around the slick, challenging racing circuit. It would be totally different from the contest at Albert Park.  “And, you will also experience plenty more than just the best of F1 excitement in Sepang. It’s a total experience of Malaysian carnival and food festival, shopping escapade, extreme sports, auto jamboree, entertainment, fun and games, a captivating opening ceremony gimmick and a post-race concert featuring world renowned DJ, Calvin Harris as the main act,” he added.

To be staged at what is now a well-known concert venue – the SIC Helipad, the post-race concert, which would be held after the conclusion of the race, would also feature other international and local acts such as Super8 & DJ Tab, Rasztooten, Imma*Bleep*Youup! and Ben Gold. “Grandstand ticket holders as well those with C2 Hillstand tickets would get free admission to the concert. Those with C1, K2 and K3 Hillstand tickets would need to top up for the concert tickets. For the very first time in the history of the event, the off-track attractions would feature special 3D exhibition at the Mall Area, which would trace back the history for Formula 1 in Malaysia since the last 15 years.

“We would be installing over 30 3D panels, which would be designed as the Walls of Fame and take the fans to experience a special Formula 1 journey,” Razlan said, adding that fans would also be treated to a special F1 3D Motion as the climax to 3D experience.

“After the walk through exhibition, fans would be treated to a special 3D cinema on Formula 1 Petronas Malaysia Grand Prix,” said Razlan, who also announced that the popular Tourism Malaysia Pavilion, which showcases the wonders of Malaysia, would make its presence for a second consecutive year. Over at the national capital in Kuala Lumpur, fans can indulge themselves in countless F1-theme activities and events including various meet-the-drivers sessions, the GP Street Demo and the open-for-public pre-race Twin Tower@LIVE concert, which would be held for two consecutive days on March 28 and 28 at the Petronas Twin Tower.

To be held on March 23, the PMGP Street Demo, would be held along the stretch in front of Suria KLCC at Jalan Ampang, featuring Mercedes Petronas GP Team as well as other racers from the Petronas-sponsored racing teams.  The prestigious Gala Dinner would be held in Kuala Lumpur on March 27, but with a difference for the 16th edition of the Petronas Malaysia Grand Prix.

 “It would still be on invitation basis. But, what’s different this year is that the Gala Dinner concert will have a separated standing room allocated for general F1 ticket holders,” he said, adding that a formal announcement on the artist would be announced later. On top of that, in conjunction with the Formula 1 Petronas Malaysia Grand Prix, Malaysia will also play host to two international conferences starting with the Offshore Technology Conference Asia (from March 25 to 28) which will be held for the first time in Asia and expected to draw over 1,500 delegates, 500 exhibitors and 15,000 trade visitors followed by the World Airport Cities Conference from March 31 to April 2.

About Tourism Malaysia India

Malaysia Tourism Promotion Board, popularly known as Tourism Malaysia, was established to promote Malaysia as a top-of-mind tourist destination showcasing Malaysia’s unique wonders, attractions and cultures; develop domestic tourism and enhance Malaysia’s share of the market for meetings, incentives, conventions and exhibitions (MICE). Tourism Malaysia’s objective is to promote Malaysia as an outstanding tourist destination and make the tourism industry a major contributor to the socio-economic development of the nation. In India, Tourism Malaysia offices are conveniently located in cities like Mumbai, Delhi and Chennai.

This year, Malaysia celebrates its fourth VISIT MALAYSIA YEAR (VMY) with the theme “Celebrating Malaysia Truly Asia”.  During the celebration of VMY 2014, the country will be abuzz with various colourful parades, carnivals, festivals, shows, events, conventions and celebrations. These will cover a wide range of activities from sports and culture to festivals and arts, reflecting a celebration of the diverse lifestyles and customs of Malaysia. It will contribute to the Government’s target to receive 36 million tourist arrivals and RM 168 billion in receipts by 2020, as outlined in the Malaysia Tourism Transformation Plan (MTTP) 2020.

 

Goa much more than beaches – Visit VIVA CARNAVAL 2014, February 28 – March 4, 2014

Goa is all set for hosting yet another edition of VIVA CARNAVAL 2014…this was announced with much fan fare by none other than The Minister of Tourism, Government of Goa, Shri Dilip Parulekar at Bungalow 9, Bandra. It was a perfect setting for the evening as venue itself enthused the spirit of Goa and all of us had great time there.   The event kicked off with an very informative presentation by Mr. Nikhil Desai, MD of GTDC, and Director of Tourism on Goa as well as Carnaval.

This year’s Carnaval is all set to  revive the yesteryears’ fervor with larger-than-life décor, mask installations and a Food & Cultural Festival – the biggest of its kind in Goa. Goa Tourism has left no stone unturned to take the 2014 Carnaval experience to a heightened level of excitement and entertainment. The festival, as usual, will feature float parades in four cities i.e. Panaji, Margao, Vasco and Mapusa. Apart from the float parade, this year’s event will also include a Food & Cultural Festival for the first time where visitors will not only get to taste local Goan Cuisine but also cuisines of 15 other states of India. It will offer visitors the opportunity to experience cuisine and culture through a unique blend of food, fun, local and national live music performances, fashion shows, and entertainment.

An element of competition has also been introduced with entries being invited for the King Momo Contest and the cooking competition. This public event recognizes Goa’s diverse population including its vast tourist populace and promotes a message of tolerance, friendship and inclusiveness.

The other highlights of the Carnaval announced by Hon’ble Minister are:

~ Tourism Minister Shri Dilip Parulekar speaks to media in Mumbai to unveil grand plans for this year’s event. Tourism department expecting over 2.5 lakh tourists.

~ The celebrations begin on February 28 with the Food and Culture festival and go on till March 4. Brazilian samba, live performances by Raghu Dixit Project and Strings to light up celebrations

~ Announces other events and festivals lined up in 2014 to promote Goa as the ideal destination for celebrations

~Upcoming movie ‘Youngistaan’ comes on board as movie partner for Goa Carnaval 2014

While addressing the media, The Minister for Tourism, Government of Goa, Shri Dilip Parulekar, said “The festivities will begin on February 28 with the inauguration of the food and culture festival and wind up on March 4. The Minister also added that this year’s event will be one of the most colourful and vibrant editions of the Carnaval. The event is Goa’s tribute to its diverse population and heritage; it aims to spread a message of peace, unity and harmony.”

VIVA CARNAVAL 2014 announcement event
VIVA CARNAVAL 2014 announcement event

Minister added, “ The Goa Carnaval is the highlight of our annual calendar and we want to ensure that this will be an unforgettable experience for locals as well as visitors to the state. Our vision is to see that the Carnaval here becomes as popular as the legendary Brazilian Carnival.”

Adding further, Minister informed that Goa Tourism is keen on promoting the state as a place for celebrations. “Goa is a place that induces a contagious celebratory spirit, right from weddings to festivals everything here is celebrated with pomp and fervor. This is why we are also promoting and packaging festivals and events like the Carnaval 2014 followed by Cashew & Coconut Festival, Goa International Travel Mart. Others like Shigmo, Sao Jao, Bonderam and Tirpurari Purnima have some quaint traditions associated with that are a testimony to Goa’s rich history. It is also our effort to preserve the heritage and cultural lineage of our state.”

Shri Parulekar then went on to enthusiastically outline the plans for this year’s event and mentioned that the state is geared up to expect and accommodate over 2.5lakh tourists during this time. The Carnaval 2014 commences with a Food and Culture festival on February 28, which will highlight the cuisine and rich legacy of Goa. This festival will also feature participation from other states. To add that element of glamour and excitement to the proceedings, a Brazilian troupe will be especially flown in for an electrifying Samba performance. Prominent musicians including the Raghu Dixit Project, Strings and some famous home-grown bands will perform at the festival too. It is expected that a fashion show and a fire display will also be included in the celebrations.

VIVA CARNAVAL 2014 announcement event

The event also saw actors Jackky Bhagnani and Neha Sharma, who star in the upcoming movie Youngistaan, speaking to the media about their experiences in Goa and association with the Carnaval. Youngistaan  is the official movie partner for Goa Carnaval 2014.

Goa Tourism is also taking measures to ensure that high standards of safety, hygenie and cleanliness are maintained in the state. Shri Nikhil Desai, MD of GTDC, and Director of Tourism, Government of Goa, said, “We have taken measures to ensure 100 per cent safety for everyone and have increased the deployment of police force at tourist spots. We are also in the process of increasing room inventory for tourists.”

 

 

Epcot International Flower & Garden Festival in Walt Disney World Resort, Florida

Kermit the Frog will find it is easy being green when his artfully-crafted character topiary debuts during the 21st Epcot International Flower & Garden Festival presented by HGTV March 5 to May 18, 2014 at Walt Disney World Resort.  With flamboyance to spare, a floral Miss Piggy will join Kermit and his blooming banjo in the World Showcase topiary display.

Urban Farm Eats will be the new Outdoor Kitchen on the promenade with a sustainable garden featuring tilapia, eggplant and other farm-raised treats. Guests can try new menu items including the Land-Grown Eggplant “Scallop” with Romesco Sauce, Ghost Pepper Dusted Tilapia with Winter Melon Salad and Mango Chutney, plus red and white vegan wines and gluten-free beer.

Epcot International Flower & Garden Festival

The festival’s nearly 100 whimsical topiaries and its 11 tantalizing Outdoor Kitchens with sweet and savory indulgent bites are reason enough to visit the 75-day flower and garden extravaganza. Yet the park will be packed with so much more as it transforms to a rainbow-hued wonderland of sweeping gardens and exhibits. Stars of HGTV, including Alison Victoria of “Kitchen Crashers” and Matt Blashaw of “Yard Crashers,” will appear each weekend at the Festival Center, Audubon will debut its new Hummingbird Garden and Mike & Sulley’s Monstrous Garden opens as a fun-filled play land.

More Festival News . . .

  • Goofy, Donald Duck and Daisy Duck topiaries will appear in a new Epcot front entrance garden vignette celebrating spring with a butterfly hunt adventure.  The topiaries will have a new computer-generated look while telling an entertaining story.  Goofy’s butterfly net will prove useless as topiary butterflies light on the back of his floral garb.  A topiary bee buzzes on an exasperated Donald’s head.  The garden will feature a real waterfall and pond with water lilies.
  • Now in their second festival year, the festival’s 11 food and beverage garden marketplaces have been dubbed Outdoor Kitchens, where chefs will be cooking a variety of new and popular returning menu items, including vegetarian and gluten-free dishes, in 2014. At The Smokehouse BBQ Outdoor Kitchen, Piggylicious Bacon Cupcakes and Smoked Turkey Ribs are on tap with a lineup of great brews. Last year’s top menu picks like the Watermelon Salad with local baby arugula, feta cheese, pickled red onions and balsamic reduction will be back for an encore at the Florida Fresh Outdoor Kitchen.
  • A new Mike & Sulley’s Monstrous Garden welcomes families with a whimsical play land of activities. Dozens of additional character topiaries, including Mickey Mouse and Peter Pan will surprise guests beyond the park’s iconic Spaceship Earth.
  • The Flower Power Concert Series welcomes two new acts in 2014:  Gary Lewis and the Playboys (“This Diamond Ring”) March 14-16, and The Alan Parsons Live Project (“Eye in the Sky”) May 16-18.  During opening weekend, the series kicks off at America Gardens Theatre with fan-favorite band The Guess Who (“American Woman”) March 7-9.  Other pop acts set to perform include Chubby Checker & the Wildcats, The Village People and Paul Revere & The Raiders. (Entertainment is subject to change).
  • Hummingbirds at Home, a new exhibit presented by the National Audubon Society, will feature walk-through hummingbird gardens and tips on how to attract the magical creatures that migrate to Florida from South America each year.
  • For the second year, illuminated gardens will cast a festive glow across the park when the sun sets each evening.
  • Mater of the Disney-Pixar “Cars” film hit is back by demand with the new Mater’s Parts, Plants and Play Garden. Tinker Bell’s Butterfly House will be aflutter with hundreds of the winged beauties and a fairy topiary of Tinker Bell.
  • At the Festival Center in the park’s Future World, twice-daily interactive gardening workshops will set the stage for outdoor do-it-yourself inspiration, and gardening guest speakers will appear daily.  Fridays through Sundays, HGTV design celebrities will host home, garden and design seminars.

As they sample from marketplace menus, guests can wander among multiple themed gardens and children’s play areas.  Dozens of Disney-crafted “flower towers,” herb gardens and beds of multi-colored blooms will add to the floral splendor of the park’s landscape.  Disney’s garden gurus estimate 70,000 bedding plants will surround the Future World east and west lakes alone; on the water, 220 mini-gardens will be set afloat.  Several special weekend happenings, including the popular Art in the Garden Weekend, will be scheduled.

While Disney guests celebrate spring, they also can explore the reimagined, design-centric Test Track Presented by Chevrolet, the hang-gliding sensation of Soarin’ and other high-tech Future World marvels.  In World Showcase, the spotlight will shine on topiaries of Disney princesses, storybook characters and even pandas and trolls, guests can discover the attractions, shops and restaurants that represent cultures and cuisine of 11 countries. Spice Road Table, which debuted in January at the Morocco showcase, will be open for lagoon-side noshing on tasty tapas.

About Walt Disney World Resort:

Walt Disney World Resort is a contiguous, nearly 40-square-mile, world-class entertainment and recreation destination featuring four theme parks (Magic Kingdom, Epcot, Disney’s Hollywood Studios and Disney’s Animal Kingdom); two water adventure parks (Blizzard Beach and Typhoon Lagoon); 35 resort hotels (25 owned and operated by Walt Disney World, includes seven Disney Vacation Club resort properties); 81 holes of golf on five courses; two full-service spas; Disney’s Wedding Pavilion; ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex; and Downtown Disney, an entertainment-shopping-dining complex.  Walt Disney World Resort is also included in vacation packages of Disney Cruise Line. Located at Lake Buena Vista, Fla., 20 miles southwest of Orlando, Walt Disney World Resort opened Oct. 1, 1971. Open daily, year-round.

Visit Malaysia Year 2014 – MyPass, Your Travel Buddy in Malaysia!

This year is Visit Malaysia Year 2014 (VMY 2014) and Malaysia is playing the perfect host. With over 200 events lined up in Malaysiathis year, it is indeed the right time for you to visit there. And to welcome you to the country is your perfect travel buddy MYPass.

 MYPass is a prepaid and discount travel card that offers travellers delightful discounts during their stay in Malaysia. Issued by Touch ‘n Go, Malaysia’s leading e-payment service provider, MYPass can be used to pay for products and services at KL’s public transport, retail stores, F&B, theme parks, attractions and many more. The card can be reloaded from as low as RM10 and up to a maximum of RM 1,500.

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1. Getting Started:

MYPass card can be used immediately once purchase. The MYPass card also comes with discount vouchers – simply present the card along with the voucher to enjoy discounts and other exclusive benefits.

2. Where to Reload:

It is preloaded with a value of RM10. However, it can be reloaded with more value into the card at nearest transit stations, petrol pumps, convenience stores and selected retail outlets.

3. Where to Use:

MYPass can be used at various places like public transport, Retail, Food & Beverages, Attractions & Theme Parks, Tolls& Expressway.

On this occasion Manoharan Periasamy, Director, Tourism Malaysia, said, “We are celebrating the fourth edition of grand year; VMY 2014 and MYPass complements this occasion perfectly. Malaysia is a place with something for everyone and MYPass will only enhance your experience there. From discounts and privileges at Theme Parks, Food & Beverages, Retail and Others, this card is a true travel buddy!

On purchase of MYPass, you get a complimentary Hotlink Sim Card and a 26-page travel guide with useful information to get your Malaysia journey started. The discount card is acceptable in multiple locations and for multiple purposes wherever the Touch ‘n Go sign is displayed and can also be refunded when you leave the country.

So to enjoy your stay in the best and most convenient way possible, connect with your perfect travel buddy in Malaysia and explore the essence of Malaysia, Truly Asia!