Tourism in India & the year 2014 & hard facts

Relaxation in Visa Regime with introduction of visa-on-arrival enabling Electronic Travel Authorization for 43 countries was a high point for the tourism industry in 2014. Besides the ETA, the ministry launched welcome cards for foreign visitors and operationalised a long – awaited tourist helpline.

Mega Destination Plan

The Ministry also launched a project for Gwalior under a Mega Destination Development Plan for growth to tourism in areas which are least developed. The project with an estimated cost of Rs. 24.93 crore is expected to boost tourism potential of the area.

Rs. 1 Lakh crore

The foreign exchange earnings from tourism until November this year, with a growth of 12.1 % over the earnings of the same period last year.

Rs. 500 Crore

The budget allocated for developing five new tourist circuits around specific themes – Ganga Circuit, Krishna Circuit, North East Circuit and Kerala Circuit.


The number of countries, including the US, Israel, Germany & Russia, whose citizens get the facility of visa on arrival.


The number of visas processed under visa on arrival facility since the launch of the scheme on November 27.


The number of countries the Government aims to extend this facility to in phases

6.8 Lakh

The number of foreign visitors who came to India during January – November highest till November in any year during the last decade and an increase of 7.1 % over 2014.

Source: DNA

Holiday(Holics) rejoice in 2015!!!!

In my office when the list of holidays for 2015 arrived on my desk, my eyes scrolled to look for Diwali Holidays, particularly when I have changed the job hence list of holidays in new office was all the more important. My joy knew no bounds when I noticed that Diwali starting on Wednesday followed by holiday on Thursday, Friday and weekend. If I take Monday and Tuesday off, I will have full week as holiday. My curiosity grew and I started having complete look on other holidays – festivals, I was astonished to note that most of the holidays of the year are either falling on Fridays or Mondays or worse on Thursdays – Voila! What a year to plan short – breaks, weekend gateways, long-weekends, week-long holidays, that too paid ones.

This is when I started taking one good look at the calendar and here I would like to share with you that calendar reveals that three and four day weekends are spread throughout the year, and if you take couple of days here and there you can enjoy whole week long holiday. For people like us who are working five days a week, there are seven three-day weekends in the year with key holidays and festivals coming at the beginning or end of the week which included Republic Day, Holi, Good Friday, Maharashtra Day, Gandhi Jayanti, Bhau Beej and Christmas.

There is a four-day weekend in December, with Eid-E-Milad and Christmas being celebrated on consecutive days, and at the start of the weekend. If you have holidays on Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose Jayanti and Buddha Poornima, there are two more four-day weekends in the year; with these holidays combining with other common holidays and Saturdays- Sundays sandwitched in between.
Not only this, you can also enjoy extended four-day weekends on seven other occasions by combining a day’s leave from work with New-Year’s day, Mahashivratri, Ambedkar Jayanti, Tamil New year, Parsi New year, Ganesh Chaturthi, Bakri-Eid or Dussehra which either falls on Tuesday or Thursdays.

Those working on 6 days a week also have reason to rejoice with many festivals falling on Saturdays like Gudi Padva, Mahavir Jayanti, Eid-ul-Fitr, Rakshabandhan & Muharram.

Indeed all holiday (holics) who look for excuses to travel, can now plan their travel in advance to avoid last minute rush. If you are very busy, you can contact travel agencies to plan out a few good holidays/ vacations/ outings for you. If you like to do it yourself, then start now and make most of your festivals/ holidays and paid leaves. Can any year be better than this?

May the year 2015 ring in lot of travel for you to your favourite destinations.

Wait for my next post when I will share with you some exotic destinations to which you can plan your holidays.
May year 2015 bring in lot of happiness, blessing & destinations for all my readers.

Season’s Greeting & Happy New Year!!!

White Christmas dreams dashed…well almost in the U.S. !

A large storm system packing high winds and heavy rain is on track to sweep through the eastern half of the U.S. just in time to disrupt Christmas Eve travel plans, grounding flights and tying up traffic, meteorologists warn.


“It’s really a wide-ranging storm system with several weather phenomena that could cause delays across the eastern portion of the country,” Mike Musher, a National Weather Service meteorologist, told “Unfortunately, it’s happening at one of the most-traveled days of the year.”
In New York, light to moderate rainfall will give way into a soaking storm Christmas Eve, and rain was expected through the day in some New England states as well, Musher said.

The National Weather Service predicts Christmas Eve snow from Missouri to Michigan. Three inches of snow could fall in Chicago, where O’Hare and Midway airports are projecting around 4.2 million travelers throughout the holiday season, MyFoxChicago reported.
By Tuesday afternoon, reported more than 3,600 flight delays in the U.S., with more than 600 flights canceled. Many of the affected flights were reported in New York, Philadelphia and Baltimore airports.


AAA expects 98.6 million Americans to travel 50 miles or more from home during the year-end holiday season, an increase of 4 percent from last year.

Musher said the storm system will begin clearing out on Christmas, though some areas of New England and the Great Lakes region may still suffer from rainfall. By the weekend, however, temperatures in the eastern part of the country will rise to five to 10 degrees above normal, and conditions will be sunny by Saturday, he said.

By Tuesday afternoon, heavy rain, accompanied by frequent lightning and damaging winds, was already falling in Atlanta, and reported that a tornado later in the day was “not out of the question.” Severe thunderstorms with the potential of tornadoes had also developed in Georgia and Louisiana.
Meanwhile, severe storms have killed at least four people in Mississippi and damaged homes and businesses throughout the state, leading Gov. Phil Bryant to declare a state of emergency for two counties.
Bryant’s office said thousands were without power Tuesday night around Columbia, which is about 80 miles southeast of Jackson.
Jones County Emergency Management director Marda Tullos said a man and woman were killed Tuesday inside a mobile home in the storm’s path.

About 50 miles southwest, Marion County coroner Norma Williamson tells WDAM that two people were killed in Columbia.
Watches and warnings were out for a swath of Mississippi, Louisiana and Alabama with the storms moving toward Georgia, including Atlanta, and Florida late Tuesday into Christmas Eve.
Snow from another system fell in some Midwestern states Tuesday, including nearly 2 feet in South Dakota’s Black Hills. Wind and blowing snow shut down eastern Colorado’s Interstate 70 into Kansas.

Source: Fox News

Take me there: Lyon, France!

Fountain Bartholdi and town hall in Lyon

France’s second city may not have the romance or glamour of Paris but what it lacks in photo opportunities, it more than makes up for with its cosmopolitan and forward-thinking spirit, world-class museums and gastronomic reputation to rival – some would say outstrip – the capital. The opening this month of the Musée des Confluences (, a science centre and anthropology museum in a futuristic steel-and-glass building, is the latest stage in an ambitious regeneration project which is creating a new neighbourhood on the peninsula where the Rhône and the Saône rivers meet.

What to do?

Take a walking tour of the city’s “traboules” – a network of covered corridors built by silk weavers in the 19th century ( Stock up on cheese, charcuterie and praline tarts at the weekend food market on Boulevard de la Croix-Rousse. This historic neighbourhood is also home to some of the best shops and cafés in the city. The extraordinary collection of art and sculpture at the Musée des Beaux-Arts ( is second only to the Louvre, while architecture lovers will enjoy the adventurous new buildings springing up in the new Confluence district (

Where to stay?

Hip budget hotel chain Mama Shelter chose Lyon for the opening of its fourth Philippe Starck-designed property last year (from €69,

Where to eat?

Lyon is famous for its “bouchons” – cosy dining rooms serving hearty regional fare such as tripe, roast pork and quenelles. Bouchon des Filles is one of the most creative, putting a modern spin on classic Lyonnaise dishes (20, rue Sergent Blandan).

Insider tip..

“Walk up the Montée de la Grande Côte, home to artisans and independent shops,” says Lucy Vanel, owner of cookery school Plum Lyon ( “Get a panoramic view of the city at the top, then head to Sébastien Bouillet’s shop on rue d’Austerlitz to see the ‘chocolate wall’”.

Source: The Guardian

Malaysia Festivals arrive in 2015 with a Bang!

Malaysia is geared up to celebrate the New Year with MYFEST 2015 – Malaysian Year of Festivals. Through this initiative the nation aspires to rejoice 2015 as a year of Endless Celebrations across Peninsular as well as East Malaysia comprising the two states of Sarawak & Sabah on the island of Borneo. The nation is endowed with festivals and events that highlight the richness of culture and heritage embracing the food, dance, music and other exciting elements of this celebrated land. Listed below are some festivals and events planned in the month of MARCH 2015 :

1Malaysia GP Sale
March 2015 – Throughout Malaysia
Held in conjunction with the annual Formula 1 Grand Prix, the 1Malaysia GP Sale is especially felt in the Klang Valley where shopping malls and departmental stores hold great bargains. Tourists coming to enjoy the F1 race can arrive a little early or stay on after the race for the added shopping treat.


Chap Goh Meh Celebration
5th March 2015- Esplanade, George Town, Penang
On the fifteenth day of the Chinese New Year, Chap Goh Meh, also known as the Chinese Valentine’s Day, attracts singletons who throw oranges into the sea in the hopes of finding true soul mate.


MahMeri Ancestors Day Festival
7 March 2015, MahMeri Cultural Village,Pulau Carey, Selangor
This is an annual festival of the aboriginal MahMeri people, held to honor their ancestors. The festival showcases the unique cultural heritage of the MahMeri such as ancestral legends and sculptures masks which are fashioned out of a local hardwood. At the festival, visitors can see and experience various unique spiritual and cultural celebration ceremonies

mah meri

Festival Gendang Traditional Antarabangsa- International Drum Festival
14-15 March 2015 – Stadium Sultan Muhamad V1, Kota BahruKelanatan


The international drum festival showcases various drum performances and drum-making workshops to share this art of craft-making to the new generation. This programme does not only help to promote Malaysia’s great culture but is also a platform to hand down drum-making knowledge which are unfamiliar with the younger generation. It is not impossible, and without this effort, Malaysia in general and especially Kelantan may lose the art and knowhow of this craft that is popular amongst tourists. Drums are one of the signature products in Malaysia’s tourism products.

Lima 15 Tourism Carnival
17-21 March 2015- PulauLangkawi, Kedah

This even is organized by the Ministry of Tourism and Culture, Malaysia and is held in conjunction with the Langkawi International Maritime & Aerospace Exhibition (LIMA 2015), a dedicated exhibition for defense, civil and commercial applications.

Formula One Festival
27- 29 March 2015- KLCC – Kuala Lumpur

formula one

A festival poised for extreme pizzazz with spectacular and glamorous events as Kuala Lumpur City Hall continues to welcome a wide range of visitors to fully enjoy their KL experience as the festival revs into full gear. According to the mayor, the Formula One will reflect not only Malaysia’s vast experience in hosting the hottest race on earth but also a mirror to what an exciting and stylish city Kuala Lumpur is and can be.

Formula 1 Petronas Malaysia Grand Prix
27-29 March 2015- Sepang International Circuit, Selangor

grand prix

Watch adrenaline-pumping action at one of the most awesome tracks in the world. With its extreme hot and wet conditions, Sepang International Circuit is a challenge even for the finest drivers in the world. Don’t miss this race.

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.

In 2014, Malaysia celebrates its fourth VISIT MALAYSIA YEAR (VMY) with the theme “Celebrating 1Malaysia Truly Asia”. The VMY 2014 promotional campaign has started this year with a series of year-long special events and activities leading to VMY 2014. It will contribute to the Government’s target to receive 36 million tourist arrivals and RM168 billion in receipts by 2020, as outlined in the Malaysia Tourism Transformation Plan (MTTP) 2020.

I thought I was in Venice, at Melaka River Cruise

When our guide Jeevan told us that we are going for night river cruise, I was taken by surprise, till now I had known about the day-time cruises only. A self-confessed night animal, I freaked on the idea. Excitedly we reached the venue from our hotel – Hotel Hatten (Our stay courtesy: Malaysia Tourism). Melaka is a UNESCO Heritage site and it truly deserves the title owing to its history, culture, landscape, greenery, malls, jetty, Jonker’s street market, museums, churches and unforgettable becha ride. More on that later…

It was cool breezy evening, when we stepped into our cruise boat, absolutely neat and clean, well-lit and river waves making great sounds. River was absolutely clean and what a delightful outing it turned out to be. I heard that it was dirty like our Mithi river or even Ganges till few years ago, but now…you must visit to believe it. How spic and span it is! May be those who worked on the project, be invited to India to work on the face lift of our rivers. It is unbelievable that till a few years ago, the river was a stinking waterway lined with decaying houses on stilts and the untidy rear side of crumbling shop houses. At night many of the sights alongside the river are illuminated with colourful lights but during the day we would have got a better view of the murals and other details. But that was not to be…Lighting itself was quite a sight and delight!

In recent years it has had a major facelift. Yes, there has been a lot of new development but at the same time an effort has been made to preserve many of the historic buildings and bridges along the river. Even the newer buildings have been painted with colourful murals depicting different aspects of Malacca’s rich history and culture.
The Melaka River Cruise is a great way to see the sights of Melaka at a leisurely pace, in comfort and without breaking the bank. The Melaka River is where the town began and it has played a key role in Melaka’s colourful history. Taking a river cruise is like seeing Melaka from the back door.

There are two jetties, one at each end of the route. You can begin the cruise from either jetty:

Muara Jetty, next to Quayside Heritage Centre, close to the Maritime Museum easily recognisable by the replica of the Portuguese ship Flor De la Mar. From here the cruise takes you upstream as far as Taman Rempah jetty where the boat turns around and brings you back to the starting point. The round trip takes 45 minutes and covers 9 km.The boat’s recorded commentary will begin on the return leg of your journey (from Taman Rempah to Muara Jetty).
Taman Rempah Jetty, where a small spice garden is located, next to the Hang Jebat Bridge linking Jalan Tun Mutahir to Jalan Tun Sri Lanang. From here the cruise travels downstream as far as Muara jetty where the boat turns around and takes you back to the starting point.

Not to be missed while in Malacca.

My companion Sudipta Dev told me that it was even better than Venice, and I had every reason to believe her!

You too can believe me!

Keys Hotels launches Keys Hotel Vihas at Tirupati

It’s the third property at a pilgrimage destination

KEYS Hotels, a leading chain of mid-market hotels, recently launched its 17th hotel—Keys Hotel Vihas at Tirupati. With this, Berggruen Hotels Pvt. Ltd., which operates in India under the brand name of Keys Hotels and Keys Resorts, promises their guests a unique experience at its hotel. The hotel will be operated on a Keys franchise.

Speaking at the occasion, Mr. Sanjay Sethi, MD and CEO, Berggruen Hotels, said, “The launch of Keys Vihas Hotel is yet another important milestone for Berggruen Hotels. It reaffirms the rapid growth story of the Keys brand. We are excited about the Tirupati property, and hope our guests too will be enthralled by the experience at the hotel.”

Located in heart of the city, Hotel Keys Vihas is at convenient distance from Tirumala Temple. The hotel is equipped with 58 spacious rooms and 3 luxurious suites. It boasts of unique themes and elegant color palette of creams, golden and brown. The rooms offer a perfect ambience for both business travelers as well as pilgrims. The multi-cuisine restaurant ‘Nine Flavors’ serves sumptuous cuisine crafted from the finest of ingredients and a splendid menu that changes with each season.

The hotel also offers 2 halls, each with the capacity of accommodating up to 120 guests and equipped with state-of-the-art audiovisual technology, dedicated for meetings & team events. Other amenities include high speed internet and a travel desk, which makes Keys Hotel Vihas, Tirupati an ideal venue for business gatherings or special occasions.

Mr. P. Rathnaiah (Owner) Keys Hotel Vihas, Tirupati said “We are delighted at this alliance with a young and dynamic brand such as Keys Hotels. This partnership will help Vihas Hotel create a distribution footprint for its hotel business through their sales offices nationally.”

Funded by Berggruen Holdings, a New York headquartered proprietary fund, Berggruen Hotels was formed in September 2006.

Berggruen Hotels launched its brand “KEYS HOTELS” in January 2007 and opened its first hotel in 2009 under this brand. Keys Hotels has total of 36 hotels in India including those under development and follows the following modes of growth: Management contracts and franchise model.

Over the years, Keys Hotels has been on an aggressive growth trajectory with addition of several owned, managed and franchised business hotels. Of the total current portfolio of Keys Hotels, 16 properties are in operation with 6 owned, 7 hotels under management and 3 under franchise contract with a total inventory of close to 1,500 rooms. Keys Hotels currently have presence across 13 cities in Ajmer, Aurangabad, Bengaluru, Chennai, Goa, Jaipur, Ludhiana, Mahabaleshwar, Mumbai, Pune, Silvassa, Shirdi and Thiruvananthapuram.


Hungry Child, a blot on Indian Society, let’s work together…


When I saw blogadda’s invitation for bloggers to contribute a blog post which will enable to feed a hungry child, viz. Blog to feed the child, I took it upon this as my moral responsibility. What could be better than this award if I am able to feed a hungry child in my role as a blogger? Under Corporate Social Responsibility, we are always contributing with our might to give it back to the society but this is a unique opportunity.

sarv shiksha

So my thought process takes me back to 16-17 years when my daughter was a toddler and I was forever running after her to make her eat. It was a mammoth task to feed her milk, breakfast, lunch and dinner and the day she would eat nicely, it seemed to me like a mission accomplished. The day she did not eat for whatever reason, I would remain depressed till the time she had ate. As a mother I was ready before time with her meals, so that she can have her meals in time. One day when she created lot of fuss over eating, I realised, that probably my daughter doesn’t know what hunger is all about. What it is like being hungry? What happens when you don’t get food on time? Does she know the importance of food? Do we know how many children in our country sleep without food? How many children suffer class room hunger? All these questions crossed my mind in a jiffy.


I decided to keep her hungry one full day, only on water. By the night she had known that how important it is to have food. One must respect food. Today she is a young girl with fine habits of respecting and sharing food, eating well and in time. Not only this, she is also sensitive to the fact that we should not waste food, as it may feed another hungry child.


It is quite unfortunate that even after 67 years of independence; India has not achieved independence in the field of food and education. Millions of children don’t have access to education, food, lighting, clothing, shelter…what not whereas some children have access to these things in abundance. They are living in opulence, without even giving a thought on what these under-privileged children go through when they have to give up on these basic necessities in life? This dis-balance needs to be addressed and here every responsible citizen has a role to play. We can’t shrug off our shoulders and say, ‘What can I do? Government should do something”. Of course, Government has a big role to play and it is playing its role well by providing mid-day meals in schools to children in Government and Government aided schools. According to me mid-day meals is wonderful initiative which has drawn children to schools in huge numbers. But yes, there are flaws in its administration like hygiene, availability of manpower, subsidies, Government machinery, and outreach of benefits but still it is working well.


Now with Mrs. Smriti Irani at the helm as HRD Minister who as a woman is quite sensitive to such issues and trying her best to ensure that no child remains at home in want of food. A hungry stomach can’t do anything, forget studying. How can one child concentrate in studies if he/ she is hungry? Mid Day Meal in schools has had a long history in India. In 1925, a Mid Day Meal Programme was introduced for disadvantaged children in Madras Municipal Corporation. By the mid 1980s three States viz. Gujarat, Kerala and Tamil Nadu and the UT of Pondicherry had universalized a cooked Mid Day Meal Programme with their own resources for children studying at the primary stage. By 1990-91 the number of States implementing the mid day meal programme with their own resources on a universal or a large scale had increased to twelve states.

mid day meals

Food norms have been revised in 2009 to ensure balanced and nutritious diet to children of upper primary group by increasing the quantity of pulses from 25 to 30 grams, vegetables from 65 to 75 grams and by decreasing the quantity of oil and fat from 10 grams to 7.5 grams. Cooking cost (excluding the labour and administrative charges) has been revised from Rs.1.68 to to Rs. 2.50 for primary and from Rs. 2.20 to Rs. 3.75 for upper primary children from 1.12.2009 to facilitate serving meal to eligible children in prescribed quantity and of good quality .The cooking cost for primary is Rs. 2.69 per child per day and Rs. 4.03 for upper primary children from 1.4.2010.The cooking cost will be revised prior approval of competent authority by 7.5% every financial year from 1.4.2011. This scheme can do wonders to the lives of millions of children in the country.

Today organisations like Akshaya Patra, which is the world’s largest (not-for-profit run) mid-day meal programme serving wholesome food to over 1.4 million children from 10,661 schools across 10 states in India are doing commendable job. The need is for many more Akshay Patras who are there to do this selfless service to children, who are suffering from class room hunger. The need is to feed them with nutritious and hygienic food, and then only every Indian will feel truly liberated. Education & food to some, deprivation to many is the norm, which needs to be addressed and we as responsible and privileged citizens of the country should contribute with our might for things to change. We should associate ourselves with self-help groups, NGOs and other welfare organisations and generously contribute to the cause. We can also devote our free week days in helping them cooking and serving meals to these children; imagine how satisfying it would be.

Class-room hunger has paralysed Indian society, it has kept parents away from sending their children to school, as they want their children to work and earn their meals. How unfortunate the scenario is? Imagine if every child eats well and studies well, it will open host of employment opportunities for him and India will be country of every ‘true’ Indian’s dream.

Great to know that blogadda has initiated the thought process and indeed it has shaken us from inside. Time for my daughter’s dinner…I have to rush. But not without the thought for those millions of children who may be sleeping without food…

I am going to #BlogToFeedAChild with Akshaya Patra and BlogAdda.

Double Tree, Double Delight at Hotel Hilton in Johor Bahru, Malaysia

Our last and final destination was Johor Bahru, though I had been to Johor Bahru briefly in 2009, but I saw it in a completely new light with this Mega FAM trip organised by Malaysia Tourism. After paying tribute to shopper’s Mecca – Johor Premium Outlets located on the outskirts of Johor, we reached Hotel Double Tree Hilton. Somehow I got the feelers that this hotel and our stay would be unique here. How true my senses turned out to be! A very warm welcome awaited us and a complimentary Cookie Card was given to us on arrival. A cookie lover, that I am, I wasted no time in getting my cookie. The cookie is given to every guest who checks in the hotel. I was curious to know about this and I was told that hotel gives out approximately 77,000 chocolate chip cookies each day adding up to more than 28 million cookies annually. Since 1995, Christie Cookie Company has been the keeper of their secret cookie recipe. That’s why they taste so good!

Double tree
Ideally located in the Central Business District, within walking distance of the Persada Convention Center, the contemporary DoubleTree by Hilton Hotel Johor Bahru overlooks the surrounding city and the Straits of Johor. Here you can enjoy easy access to City Square shopping and attractions including Johor Zoo and the Sultan Abu Bakar Mosque. Changi International Airport and Senai International Airport are easily reached from the hotel.

Mr Amarinder Sadana, Director, Business Development accompanied by Hadi Abdullah, Sales Manager took us around the hotel where many more surprises unfolded. More on that later. A very hospitable staff took us to our rooms which were very spacious, well-lit, well-equipped and could see swimming pool located on the 13th floor. It was heavenly experience to sit on the window and watch Johor’s skyline from hotel’s window early morning.


Next morning our day began with breakfast at Makan a multi-cuisine restaurant manned by expert chefs and other staff. Food was just awesome like Pancakes, Omelettes, Stews, Sausages, Croissants, fresh salad bowls, juices, breads, idli’s what not. That was best part of the day. I looked forward to that every day. Indeed Makan Kitchen is an eclectic mix of famous cuisine prepared in live, interactive kitchen showcasing diversity of many native favourites from different states of the country.

Mr Sadana and Mr Abdullah took us round the hotel and we were witness to some really luxurious suits which are best suited for royalty where one could unwind in a spacious guest room, offering city or Straits water views, a large desk, 40″ LED TV and WiFi. Not only had this it had facilities for a kitchenette, laundry facilities and Executive Lounge access.

Mr Sadana said, “You can hold a business or social function at our hotel with 13,993 sq.ft. of event space, including two magnificent divisible ballrooms, five meeting rooms and an outdoor terrace. Whether you have a corporate business meeting or your dream wedding, we will do it with élan.” He added, “We have 335 well – appointed guest rooms and suits including 22 apartment style suites.”
During the tour, Mr Sadana took us to 13th floor where swimming pool was located. This was the outdoor pool with separate pool for children.

After this he took us to Tosca – Fine Dining Italian Restaurant and believe me I had never seen such wonderful restaurant in any of my international sojourns. Tosca is located poolside of 13th floor. Mr Sadana added, “Our Italian Trattoria and bar offer rustic Italian food prepared with contemporary flair for lunch and dinner, along with stunning views over the Straits of Johor. Not only this it also offers dining options ranging from indoor, private family dining room with transparent kitchen, poolside and private rooms.” Wining & Dining would certainly be a treat here with friends, family and business associates.


Their friendly and attentive staff provided personalized service throughout our stay. No wonder they call it CARE (Create A Rewarding Experience). “From your arrival to your departure — and everything in between — we’ll go above and beyond to make you feel cared for,” quipped Abdullah.

Our stay was signed off with Breakfast meeting at the Coffee Shop adjacent to The Food Store where we were joined by Mr Edzuar Zar Ayob Azari, Director, Tourism Malaysia, Johor, Mr Shyam Nath Nair, Honorary Chairman, Malaysian Association of Hotels, Johor Chapter and Mima Melisa Shahban, Tourism Officer. Their interactions in a separate story…
The Food Store offers café style stmosphere for a quick cup of coffee and juice. You can choose to eat in or “Grab & Go” with a wide variety of freshly made pastries and sand witches which are available throughout the day.

For Bookings & Other details, you can write to:
Call: 6072786868 or visit the website:
After having sumptuous lunch comprising of Chicken Soup and Barbequed Chicken with very friendly Mr Abdullah, who did not forget to give us box of cookies which my daughter Tanya gorged on my arrival in Mumbai.

– Photos by Bienu Verma Vaghela

MUD Theatre, Kuala Lumpur…Thundering Performance, Thunderous Applause!

We landed up at the venue on a rainy afternoon to watch MUD theatre at Kuala Lumpur located in the heart of the city, Panggung Bandaraya and what a surprise it turned out to be! Theatre lover that I am, and have watched theatre extensively, I must admit that I had never experienced anything close to MUD ever before.

The raw appeal of setting, the backdrop, real actors, simple costumes, basic props – to me it looked it like that I had come to watch a school play. So child like excitement was there. Incidentally I had done no research on this visit, out of sheer laziness but it turned out to be a blessing in disguise. I was bowled over by Victorian Settings, lighting, sound system, actors drawn from different nationalities…to put up a brilliant act which left audience spell bound.

The story revolved around how Kuala Lumpur rose from the ashes…read MUD owing to its native’s sheer perseverance, hard-work and strong will to make it.

Performers won our hearts with their simple song and dance act, emotional dialogues and I specially loved the “Thali” dance by actors. I must say it was very well choreographed. The dancer in me rejoiced with the dance…Yeh dil maange more! Reading the minds of audience like us, actors invited the audience to dance with them on the stage, and believe me audience happily obliged.

If you are visiting Kuala Lumpur, you must include this in your program but for this you should be theatre lover at heart.

You can get entire information about the venue, tickets, location etc. here at MUD, KL.

My story wouldn’t be complete without writing about the theatre which was designed by A.B. Hubback in 1901. This Mughal-inspired complex features a unique curved façade and a copper dome above the main porch. This was the first official administration office for the Kuala Lumpur Sanitary Board and witnessed important meetings that shaped Kuala Lumpur’s early town planning. It was declared open by Sir William Treacher in 1904 at a grand farewell ball in his honour.

Later, Panggung Bandaraya was central in the early development of the performing arts in Kuala Lumpur. Though there is little documentation on the performance history at this venue. Not forgetting the many performing arts practitioners who generously shared memories of their time in Panggung Bandaraya. There have been many changes in the landscape around Panggung Bandaraya yet this heritage building has proudly stood tall through the years. Here I felt I was at Horniman Circle back home, Mumbai.
Last but not the least, MUD was courtesy, Enfiniti Vision Media (formerly Enfiniti Productions Sdn Bhd) is the company responsible for bringing one of Malaysia’s most beloved tales to the theater stage. The hardworking cast and crew including Tiara Jacquelina, M. Nasir, Christine Hakim, Alex Komang, Adlin Aman Ramlie, Dato’ Rahim Razali, Sofia Jane and a stellar cast of regional stars are really making the city proud.

My trip to MUD may be attributed to special efforts of Malaysia Tourism.