Sepang International Circuit to host Formula 1 PETRONAS Malaysia Grand Prix™

The Formula 1 Petronas Malaysia Grand Prix™ is scheduled for 27-29 March 2015 at the Sepang Interantional Circuit (SIC). This will be the second stop in the F1 calendar after the Rolex Australian Grand Prix™. With plenty of movement of top drivers across teams and the return of Honda into the championship, the tone is set to be competitive for the title this year.

Race

With India riding high on the racing popularity wave, Tourism Malaysia and the Sepang International Circuit is holding the ‘Race your way to Sepang’ challenge among corporates to promote the Malaysian leg of the F1 craze. At the event, a special Formula 1 Package with travel partner Yatra.com will also be launched.

Mr Manoharan Periasamy, Director, Tourism Malaysia(1)
“We have been promoting the Petronas Formula 1 event for a few years now and the response has been quite encouraging. For this year’s promotions we have planned 2 corporate events in Mumbai and Bangalore where the participants will compete in Go Karting racing Challenges. The fastest team stands a chance to win an all expense paid trip to Malaysia to watch the race live,” said Mr Manoharan Periasamy, Director, Tourism Malaysia. The winning team will be hosted by Starwood Hotels and the Air tickets will be sponsored by Malaysia Airlines.

This year Malaysia celebrates Malaysia Year of Festivals (MyFEST) 2015. Themed “Endless Celebrations”, the year-long calender is packed with festivities of every genre; for instance cultural festivals, shopping extravanganzas, international acclaimed events, eco-tourism events, arts, music showcases, food promotion and other themed events. Continuing the momentum and efforts to promote the destination, MyFEST 2015 is set to make Malaysia the top-of-the-mind tourist destination, encouraging tourists to stay longer in order to enjoy the festival offerings nationwide added Mr. Manoharan Periasamy.

“The Sepang Interantional Circuit (SIC) is not just about the Formula 1 race, but also the state of the-art facilities. Situated 85 kms from the Kuala Lumpur city centre, the track features 15 corners and 8 straights including two high-speed stretches. The high standard facilities is an ideal place for world-class international events and corporate to commercial programmes.

Ms. Sharmila Nadarajah - Chief commercial Officer of SIC.(1)

Sepang International Circuit is very keen on promoting the venue for events like weddings, family days, conferences, annual dinners and team building programmes”, said Ms. Sharmila Nadarajah – Chief commercial Officer of SIC.

The race this year is dubbed as the F1 carnival – the first of its kind at the Sepang International Circuit (SIC), the 2015 Formula 1 PETRONAS Malaysia Grand Prix™ will have something for everyone. From go-karting at the Xtrack or just chilling at the Cool Zone complete with a water-course while waiting for the excitement to begin on track. And of course, what better way to end the exciting day than by enjoying a fantastic performance at the After Race Concert once the dust has settled on the track says Ms. Sharmila Nadarajah.

The Malaysian Grand Prix tickets are sold from as low as INR1,640 for Hillstand seats. The Grandstand seats are sold from INR5,720 for F stands and INR13,470 for K1 stands, where fans will have a perfect view fronting the first turn of the circuit. The main grandstand starts from INR6,940 to as high as INR36,100 for the best view.

For those who like to enjoy the race in a more stylish way complete with fine dining, come over to the Club Suite and experience the race from inside Sepang International Circuit (SIC) luxury suites. They can choose between a view fronting the pit or catch the entire action from the race on the Southern track. Price per person starts from INR93,800.

MALAYSIA TOURISM PROMOTION BOARD OR TOURISM MALAYSIA is an agency under the Ministry of Tourism & Culture, Malaysia. Tourism Malaysia focuses on the specific task of promoting Malaysia at all levels. Since its inception, Tourism Malaysia has grown by leaps and bounds and it has emerged as a major player in the international tourism scene. In 2013, Malaysia registered 25.7 million tourist arrivals and RM65.4 billion in receipts, making tourism its second largest foreign exchange earner and the sixth highest contributor to its Gross National Income (GNI).

Through the Tourism NKEA, collaborative efforts between the Ministry of Tourism and Culture, other Government agencies and the private sector have been enhanced to help secure Malaysia’s position as a leading tourist destination. The targets set under the Tourism NKEA will be achieved through the implementation of twelve Entry Point Projects (EPPs) clustered under five themes: Affordable Luxury; Nature Adventure; Family Fun; Events, Entertainment, Spa and Sports; and Business Tourism.

Five Month long flight & Food from Nestle!

Though Airplane food isn’t for gourmets, but the pilots of the Solar Impulse 2, a solar -powered airplane that is scheduled to start a round-the-world journey next week, are looking forward to the fare Swiss food giant Nestle SA has specially prepared for them.

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Over the five-month flight, Bertrand Piccard and Andre Borschberg will nosh on mushroom risotto, quinoa tabouleh and other meals prepared by the Nestle Research Center. The menu, which requires them to eat 11 times a day to keep their strength, is a step up from the sandwiches the pilots ate when they flew across the U.S. in 2013.
“One hot meal per day is important,” said Mr. Piccard, adding he particularly liked a potato gratin dish that tasted as good as his wife Michele’s. “Not only can you enjoy it, but you can also look forward to it.

To ensure the food is hot, Nestle is using bags that heat themselves using a chemical reaction similar to winter hand warmers. These typically contain ingredients which when exposed to the air oxidize and release heat.

Amira Kassis, whose team at NRC, developed the food, said the challenge of designing the menu, which repeats every three days, was compounded by the nutritional needs of human beings. People need more energy at higher altitudes, even though the elevation decreases their appetites, she said.
“The food has to be energy and nutrient dense,” Dr. Kassis said. The team used simple ingredients, such as rice, olive oil and milk, to achieve the target nutritional levels.
The Nestle team had initially considered cold food, but chose hot meals following requests from the pilots to help them overcome the tough conditions they will encounter, Dr. Kassis said. But that decision created another set of problems: How would the pilots heat their meals at altitudes as high as 8,500 meters (nearly 28,000ft) in an unpressurized cockpit just 3.8 meters square?
The team thought about dry foods that could be prepared by adding water, Dr. Kassis said. “But we ruled that out because there are a lot of electronic instruments in the cockpit and we couldn’t risk getting water on them if the plane hit some turbulence.”
To preserve the food, Nestle developed sterilizing processes, which involve heat treatment for a little more than 10 minutes. The company is looking at patenting the process and possibly using it in other products.


The food also has been designed to remain fresh for up to three months, without artificial preservatives, following a request from the pilots. The menu also includes rice and chicken with summer vegetables, as well as carrot, potato-and-leek and chicken soups.
Dr. Kassis says Nestle will use the research to develop future products, including foods for the elderly. Like the pilots, older people often have restricted movements, increased energy needs but lower appetites, she said.

Messrs. Piccard and Borschberg are due to fly nearly 22,000 miles with stop-overs in China, India and the United States, among other places. Overall they will spend around 500 hours airborne, with the longest stretch across the Pacific from China to Hawaii lasting nearly six days.

All the food will be kept in a special food box, to preserve it from temperatures which will range from -40C to 40C aboard the aircraft.

Source: Wall Street Journal

Travel Agents Federation of India conference takes place in Israel

India and Israel came together this week to talk tourism, with 600 travel agents from the Asian subcontinent arriving in Jerusalem for their annual conference.

Israel

The destination of each year’s Travel Agents Federation of India conference is influential; some 71 percent of India’s outgoing tourists base their travel decisions on the recommendations of travel agents.

“We see great potential in this conference to position Israel as an attractive tourism destination for the Indian tourist – similar to the way in which Israelis see India as an important tourism destination,” Tourism Minister Uzi Landau said.

The trip has helped ease worries about the conflict, according to participants.

“It is a very important factor in the mind of the travelers from India. Even the travel agents had a different concept of Israel, whether it’s safe to travel or not,” TAFI president Zakkir Ahmed said. “The only way to clear their mind was to come here and actually see it. Now when we go back, I think they will have a different outlook of Israel. I don’t think they’ll look at it as a place of conflict,” he added.

Israel opened a Government Tourism Office in Mumbai two years ago, and hopes to nearly triple the number of Indian tourists to Israel, from 34,900 in 2014 to 100,000 by 2017.

Indian outgoing tourism grew 13 percent from 2012 to 2013, according to the World Travel Organization, and numbers are expected to reach 50 million by 2050, up from 12.5 million in 2010. But violent outbursts do affect tourism, which saw almost 40,000 Indians visit Israel before Operation Protective Edge moderated it last year.

Aside from the conflict, say tourism officials, there are other issues Israel needs to address to make Indian tourists feel as welcome as Israeli backpackers do on the beaches of Goa.

“There should be more air connectivity,” said Ahmed; El Al only operates three flights a week to Mumbai, and none to New Delhi. He also suggested that the visa process could be simplified, restrictions lifted, and applications put online.

Hassan Madah, who heads Israel’s tourism office in Mumbai, said Israel was working on these issues and was trying to lower the threshold for group visas from 10 to five.

One issue is cultural, added Madah. Jain vegetarians, for example, do not eat root vegetables or onions, so they would have difficulty in Israel even in places that serve vegetarian or vegan options.

Source: Jerusalem Post

Ilaha de Calma, DIU – Where time literally stands still!

Recently Diu Tourism has launched a TV Commercial which caught my fancy being a curious travel blogger that I am. Not only this when I opened today’s Times of India, I saw a very attractive campaign – Ilha de Calma – DIU Tourism.

More on the ad film, which starts with a young woman executive stuck with her busy chaotic life. A sudden break in the chaos happens when we cut to the serenity of the island. We watch her indulging herself in the calm surroundings and experiences of the island. The commercial ends with her enjoying the sunset atop a lighthouse as the logo of Diu, Ilha de Calma is revealed. The commercial supported by print ad shows inclination of DIU tourist traffic to the calm, serene and unexplored destination.

I was completely drawn towards DIU due to its wonderful beaches, blue waters, churches, wide roads, forts, light-house and most importantly its Portuguese demeanor. Now it was constantly on my mind to make it to DIU sometime during this year, what if I have to compromise my trip to Phuket. Now my research began on the destination which made fall in love with it even more…
The more I was reading about it, the more determined I became to be there in 2015!

Only time will tell when I can make it but I would like to share my research with my esteemed readers who too can explore this unexplored destination, you career ladies listening, oops watching! I am sure DIU commercial wouldn’t have missed your attention.

If you look around Ilha de Calma, you will find Portuguese history infused in its very being. Enriched with fascinating tales of the bygone era, this serene island became a part of the Indian Union Territory on December 19, 1961. Deriving its name from the Sanskrit word ‘dweep’, history has established it as an untouched island boasting of a magical blend of sea, sand and sun. Whether it is the food or even the brilliant architecture, you will find a surreal touch of Portuguese history running through the veins of the island. From this confluence of cultures, Diu’s own legends and tales have emerged. Take a break, take your time. Uncover myriad secrets of Diu covered under layers of time.

Here, you can walk barefoot on sun kissed sands, even as gentle waves wash over your feet and crumble your stress away. It looks as if Isle of Calm or as they say in Portuguese, Ilha de Calma is giving you heart-warming welocme. Since time immemorial Diu has rightly personified this emotion. Just a walk through the coastal enclave promises and you get limitless peace. Explorers have been known to travel far and wide for a break off the beaten path and in search of peace. This soulful destination is 67 kms from Gir, 90 kms from Somnath, a quick flight away from Mumbai and a short road trip away from Ahmedabad.
There are few must visit tourist places like:

Ghoghla Beach

Ghoghla Beach, with its golden sands, is the largest beach on the island of Diu. For those seeking adventure, this beach presents the perfect opportunity for swimming, sunbathing, parasailing or surfing. Food and accommodation are easily available at the beach. Ghoghla beach offers splendid views with occasional sightings of dolphins.

DIU Fort

The Diu Fort is a majestic sentinel silently overlooking the Arabian Sea. Built in 1535, this Portuguese fort was known to provide a strategic vantage point against enemy attacks. The fort with its double moat, a splendid array of cannons, small chapels, engraved tombstone fragments, and look-out points, presents a perfect getaway for those looking to escape the humdrum of city life.

Naida Caves

The Naida Caves are an explorer’s delight. Located outside the city wall of the Diu fort, these caves are a network of hewn hollows and steps which beg to be explored. The history of the caves suggests that the Portuguese hacked off building materials during their reign, which resulted in the formation of the caves. Plan a visit on a clear sunny day, and be assured that the cave’s natural openings will not disappoint with a spectacular display of light.

Lady of Immaculate Church

Built in 1610, this impressive church is dedicated to Our Lady of Immaculate Conception. Its baroque style of architecture and curiously treated volutes make it the most elaborate of all the Portuguese churches in India. This place of worship, with its white spires that seem to reach out to the skies, proclaims peace and divinity in the quite, little enclave of Diu.

St. Thomas Church

The Church of St. Thomas was constructed in 1598, and it served as one of the major churches of Portuguese India. The Church is one of the few churches in India that boasts of Gothic style architecture. Its whitewashed exteriors still bear the worn out and faded frescos of the Portuguese era. In 1998, the abandoned church of St. Thomas was converted into a museum.

Cycling Track

Get away from the maddening rush of urban-living and lose yourself in the beautiful, calm island of Diu. The Diu cycling track is a part of a green initiative by the Government and is designed to help tourists enjoy the serenity of Diu in its most natural way. Hop on a cycle and explore the island on its newly completed 4.2 km track.

Gangeshwar Temple

The temple finds its name in mythology as the temple where the five Pandavas worshipped Lord Shiva during their exile. The most remarkable feature of the Gangeshwar Temple are the five shivlings set amidst the rocks. The shivlings get washed by the waves of the sea, exposing only the tip of the lingams during high tides. The cave temple exudes powerful energy and is much revered by devotees of the mighty Lord Shiva from around the world.

Portuguese Fort

The Diu Fort is a majestic sentinel silently overlooking the Arabian Sea. Built in 1535, this Portuguese fort was known to provide a strategic vantage point against enemy attacks. The fort with its double moat, a splendid array of cannons, small chapels, engraved tombstone fragments, and look-out points, presents a perfect getaway for those looking to escape the humdrum of city life.

DIU has a very interesting history which goes like this that Pandavas during their 14 years of exile had passed a few days at a place known as Mani Nagar DIU which was under Yadavas led by Krishna Vasudeva during Mahabharata period. According to mythology, DIU was ruled by the great King Jallandhar who was daitya Demon and was killed by Lord Vishnu with his Sadarshan Chakra. The temple of Jallandhar still exists in DIU. A palm fringed, largely deserted and secluded beach, Nagoa is undoubtedly one of the most beautiful beaches in India. The unique shoe shape of beach makes it all the more beautiful.

Demographics

The island of DIU, an erstwhile Portuguese colony, is situated off the Saurashtra coast of Gujarat bordering Junagarh district. During the period from 14-16th century Diu was one of the best sea ports and a Naval base. The town and district were historically part of the Saurashtra region of Gujarat and an important port on trade routes of Arabian Sea of Indian Ocean.
Diu is located at 20.71°N 70.98°E the Island is at sea level and covers an area of 38.8 km². The climate is extremely warm and humid, with an average annual rainfall of 1500 mm.

With no tall buildings except the fort, Diu has a characteristically low skyline. Old Diu is known for its Portuguese architecture. Local transport is available from Una (Gujarat). Jet Airways services the island from the mainland, landing at Diu Airport. The nearby Nagoa beach and offshore lighthouse are popular tourist destinations, and the coast is a popular recreational area for parasailing, boating, and jet skiing. There are several hotels and resorts and there is a growing hotel and leisure industry. Unlike Gujarat, alcohol is legal in Daman and Diu.

The languages spoken in Diu include Gujarati, Portuguese, English and Hindi.

The nearest railway junction is Veraval, which is 90 km from Diu. Major cities like Mumbai, Ahmedabad, Pune, Jabalpur (Madhya Pradesh), Dwarka and Thiruvananthapuram are directly connected to Veraval Railway Station. Moreover a meter gauge at Delwada is just 8 km from Diu. Daily, two trains connect Junagadh & Veraval to Delwada Railway Station.

Information Courtesy: www. http://visitdiu.in/

Road Show by Tourism Minister of Malaysia for MYFest 2015 in Mumbai

Tourism Malaysia has launched Malaysia Year of Festivals (MYFest) 2015 with the theme ‘Endless Celebrations’ with much fan fare to showcase and celebrate the country’s bountiful and diverse cultures and festivities as a tourist attraction. With the Proboscis Monkey as the mascot, the MyFest 2015 campaign will continue to boost the tourism sector and ensure that the Malaysian tourism industry remains robust after the Visit Malaysia Year 2014 campaign.

Malaysia's Honorable Minister of Tourism and Culture, Dato Seri Mohamed Nazri Aziz  during Tourism Malaysia PC in Mumbai

Malaysia’s Honorable Minister of Tourism and Culture, Dato Seri Mohamed Nazri Aziz is in Mumbai to raise awareness about the attractions of MYFest 2015 and addressed the media at Taj Mahal hotel, Mumbai. He is accompanied by the Malaysian Sales Mission delegation, officials from the Ministry of Tourism and Culture,State representatives and members of the travel trade fraternity. While the primary objective of the visitis to strengthen Malaysia’s standing as a dream travel destination and increase tourist arrivals from India, the honorable minister is also looking forward to driving strong support from both the Indian media, travel trade and airlines fraternity for the ongoing MYFest 2015.

“This magnificent country has always been an important market for Malaysia. It has consistently been one of the top 10 tourist generating markets to the country, and has continuously made significant contributions to our tourist arrivals and tourist receipts,” said Dato Seri Mohamed Abdul Aziz.Until October 2014, Malaysia has registered 6,43,335 Indian tourists, which is a 20.7%, increase for the same period last year (5,32,964).

With the World Travel and Tourism Council (WTTC) predicting India to be the third fastest generator of travel and tourism demand from 2010 – 2019 with an annualised growth of 8.2%, promotions to the Indian tourists is high on the agenda said the visiting minister.

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“In MyFEST 2015, the year-long calendar is packed with festivities of every genre; for instance cultural festivals, shopping extravanganzas, international acclaimed events, eco-tourism events, arts, music showcases, food promotion and other themed events. With 165 direct flights from various destinations in India per week, travel to Malaysia has become very convenient and the Malaysian delegation is expecting to welcome close to 800,000 Indian guests this year, ” informed Mr Manoharan Periasamy, Director General Tourism Malaysia.

During the Sales Mission in Mumbai, Tourism Malaysia will also organise a travel mart for the travel trade players to meet and network. This is a platform to showcase Malaysia’s diverse tourism offerings and highlight the scope for collaboration between travel agents in Malaysia and India.

The Sales Mission also aims to strengthen the presence of Malaysia in the South Asian market, and to keep India’s travel trade, media and corporate sector updated on the current issues and tourism development in Malaysia, especially during the MYFest campaign.

Malaysia’s tourism sector continued to be a significant contributor to the country’s economy in 2014. Tourist arrivals grew by 9.6% to 22.8 million compared to 20.8 million or the same period in 2013. MYFest 2015 is expected to see around 29.4 million tourists visiting the country and generating receipts up to RM89 billion.

smart i

Launch of Smart-I App was another highlight of the event. You can download the App for most amazing travel and tourism deals in Malaysia be it for shopping, sight-seeing, dining, entertainment. You can download on Google Play or App Store.

smart ii

MAJOR RECOGNITIONS/ACCOLADES IN 2010 – 2015

1. Asia’s Best Golf Destination 2014’at the World Golf Awards 2014

2. Best Family Destination (2014) at the Lonely Planet Travel Awards 2014

3. No. 10 in Lonely Planet Best in Travel 2014
• The only Asian country to have made the list.

4. CNN’s World’s 100 best beaches (2013)– Perhentian Kecil island, Terengganu (No.13), Juara Beach in Tioman Island, Pahang (No.21), and TanjungRhu in Langkawi, Kedah (No.49) – compiled from various sources (travellers, colleagues, readers, on-site visits and research).

5. 1st Prize – UNWTO Ulysses Award 2012 – for Innovation in Public Policy and Governance for Malaysia Homestay Experience Programme

6. Kuala Lumpur – 4th – Best Shopping City in the World (2012 & 2013) through a surveydoneby global newsnetwork – CNN

7. 2nd Best Shopping Destination in Asia PacificbyGlobe Shopper Index – Oct 2012 – createdbythe Economist Intelligence Unit.

8. No. 1 – World’s Top Muslim-Friendly Holiday Destination
• A survey by Crescentrating – Singapore-based Muslim travel consultancy – released on 16 Jan 2013.

9. No. 4 – 2015 World’s Top Retirement Havensby Internationalliving.com – annual global retirement index 2015.

10. 10thWorld’sFriendliest Countries 2012byForbes Online, based on HSBC’sExpat Explorer Survey.

MALAYSIA TOURISM PROMOTION BOARD OR TOURISM MALAYSIA is an agency under the Ministry of Tourism & Culture, Malaysia. Tourism Malaysia focuses on the specific task of promoting Malaysia at all levels.

Ramayana: The Game of Life by Shubha Vilas: Timeless Epic, Contemporary Interpretations!

I would like to open my review with author’s note in the book titled: Ramayana; The Game of Life by Shubha Vilas which starts with a question: have you ever wondered if the age old epics hold any immediate relevance to our lives? My answer would be an emphatic YES.

Ramayana_Game_of_Life

When I was a child and religiously went to see Ram Lila holding my mother’s finger every night during Navratri in Bhopal, who would sacrifice his sleep to take us there but not without the pre-condition, that we have done our home work. (Incidentally my mother Usha Varma has also authored book – Ram Kahaani Kiski, an interpretation of Ramayana for youngsters of today). That was childhood significance of Ramayana; I lived with Ram, Sita, Lakshmana, Bharata, Shatrughana, Kekayi, Dasarath, Hanumanji and everybody else. I especially loved the righteousness of Ram, emotional upheavals of Lakshmana and Sita, the coy devoted wife. Ramayana is an epic of what proportion, probably I did not know at that time but those Ram Lila days meant everything to me. I eagerly looked forward to those nine days. Subconsciously I imbibed those values of obedience, truthfulness and righteousness, which held me in good stead all through. It was an inspiration then, now and forever!

Reading Ramayana: The Game of Life by author Shubha Vilas opened completely new avenues to my interpretation of Ramayana, which has such invaluable lessons not only for our personal and social lives but also for our professional lives. I knew that Mahabharata is laden with some invaluable lessons in Management, but for the first time, the Ramayana by Shubha Vilas gave us those practical management solutions be it in the field of Administration, Human Resource, Public Relations, Communication, Board – Room manoeuvrings, Crisis Management, besides teaching us adept handling of emotions like fear, negativity and hopelessness. Not only this, it also teaches us how to handle adversities and temptations which is another highlight of the book.

There are few gems by the author in his analysis of applicability of the lessons learned in Ramayana like unquestioned devotion to Parents, Gurus and King, morality and righteousness towards People, love towards Siblings and warm & loving relationships between Husband and Wife. This way Ramayana has application not only in all stages of life but all aspects of life.

Coming to Shubho Vilas’s creation, certainly it is not a creation which can be flipped through and read for the sake of reading. I read it with a pencil in my hand for taking notes and some pages I had to read twice. It transcended me to TretaYug and Ram Rajya and I loved it as it gave me a break from the daily grind of professional and personal life. The book’s language takes beauty of Ramayana to just another level, not even once I thought that beauty of the language is lost or even compromised. The Cover is attractive but I could not decipher why the sub title: Shattered Dreams? The book’s layout and readability is class apart, brought to us by Jaico Books where I worked as Editor once, so nostalgia on that account too. I would like to make special mention of visual of khadaus in the foot notes; wished book had some more illustrations to make it more appealing.

khadau

I highly recommend it to youngsters of today who can certainly take many lessons from the foot notes given by the author and enjoy themselves the beauty and richness of language. Here they will be surprised by how the wisdom of those days can be imbibed not only in today’s day to day life but also in their professional life.
The story of Ravana’s birth and Sati Anusuya gave it a new dimension.

The book gives us the most important lesson that though we are bound by our destinies, we should never leave our morals in any given situation. Quote here few gems, which may encourage youngsters to read the book:
1. When magnitude of love is equated with quantity of facility given, relationships become transactions, mutual understanding becomes contracts, serving becomes an investment and denial becomes breach of agreement.
2. The difference between Rama’s confidence and Dasaratha’s over confidence lies in its application.
3. Puzzles are fun to solve on paper but when life itself becomes a puzzle, then fun fizzles out.
4. Different words spoken by different people in different situation have different impacts.

Readers should look for most practical lessons in Management and Administration interspersed in the book. The book is riveting narration of Rama’s Coronation as King of Ayodhya, which did not happen and the circumstances which led to his exile, and it is not just plain narration, it takes you through what circumstances led to the sudden turn of events and how everybody handled and reacted to it. The beautiful & romantic narration of Ram & Sita as lovers and husband and wife is another highlight of the book. Many modern day couples can take lesson from here that how love, caring, sharing and unflinching devotion towards each other can give new perspective to their lives.

The book is certainly not a weekend reading, it is to be read every day, bit by bit for better understanding as book itself is little slow paced, but should not be given up and read till the last word for some more invaluable learning. This is my first read and review of the much – respected author Shubha Vilas for his modern day epic, so really could not write a critical review.

It is a must be read by people across all generations for its contemporary interpretations!

This review is a part of the biggest Book Review Program for Indian Bloggers. Participate now to get free books from Blogadda.

Keys Hotels Bags TripAdvisor Travellers’ Choice 2015 Award

Keys Hotels & Keys Resorts, a leading chain of business hotels in India added yet another feather to its cap – the prestigious TripAdvisor Travellers’ Choice 2015 award. Through this award, the popularity of Keys properties is evident because the guests contributed towards this success by voting in huge numbers and reflecting positive sentiments in reviews.

Keys Hotel Temple Tree, the four star property located at Shirdi topped the chart amongst 53 other hotel properties located in Shirdi. Located in close proximity to the Sai Baba Temple complex, this property also ranked 4th in the ‘TripAdvisorTop – 25 Family Hotels’ category in India.

Similarly, Evershine – A Keys Resort, an upscale 5 star property in Mahabaleshwar located amidst fragrant strawberry valleys ranked 8th in the ‘TripAdvisorTop – 25 Family Hotels’ category in India.

On this achievement, an ecstatic Mr. Shoumo Mukherjee, Chief Sales & Marketing Officer, Bergrruen Hotels Pvt Ltd said, “We are humbled to receive this honour. We extend our gratitude for the extensive support and feedback from our guests. This is a proud moment for the entire Keys Family as being positioned amongst the topmost hotels by Trip Advisor, a renowned travel portal that helps millions of travelers across the world find the perfect hotel for both holiday and business trips. We at Keys Hotels, are committed towards providing our guests with the best in class services and will continue to strive towards upholding their trust across all our properties.”

About Berggruen Hotels (Keys Hotels)

Funded by Berggruen Holdings, a New York headquartered proprietary fund, Berggruen Hotels was formed in September 2006. It boasts of a strong management team led by Sanjay Sethi. The top management has a cumulative experience exceeding 200 years.

Berggruen Hotels launched its first brand “KEYS HOTELS” in January 2007 and positioned it as mid-market chain of hotels. Keys Hotels currently boasts of 36 franchise hotels in India including those under development. This leading brand adopts various methods for growth and expansion including, management contracts, selective lease and franchise model. Recently the company launched its upscale business hotel brand the Keys Klub.

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, 15 properties are in operation with 6 owned, 6 hotels under management and 3 under franchise contract with a total inventory of close to 1,500 rooms. While 21 properties are in various stages of development comprising of 7 owned 14 managed properties with a total inventory of close to 2,000 rooms slated to open in due course of time. Keys Hotels currently have presence in Aurangabad, Bengaluru, Chennai, Ludhiana, Mumbai, Pune, Shirdi and Thiruvananthapuram with Keys Business hotels while Ajmer, Mahabaleshwar, Goa and Silvassa with Keys Resorts. The Keys serviced apartments are operational in Whitefield, Bengaluru.

Kailash Mansarovar: Not just Yatra, Most life – altering Spiritual experience

“The idea of a going on a trek or a mountaineering feat is always toward a sense of achievement, to make yourself bigger than who you are. But the idea of a pilgrimage is to subdue yourself.”
– Sadhguru

You would recollect that I had posted about what all it takes to undertake Yatra particularly this season. Hope your preparations are underway. Now I am bringing you about what Kailash Mansarovar Yatra is all about, what all you can include in your pilgrimage and for what reasons. Hope this will help you. Believe me this Yatra is different from any other Yatra you have taken in your life time. You can make it even more special, spiritual, informative and fruitful by updating about it. I am honored to help you in this venture so that you are bothered by this phenomenal task. Please read the piece in entirety to know how this yatra will be a life-altering spiritual experience for you.

Mount Kailash is the striking peak standing in the remote south-west corner of Tibet in the Himalayan Mountains. Rising at an elevation of 6638 m (21778 ft), is one of the highest parts of the Himalayas and serves as a source of some of the longest rivers in Asia. Known as Gang Tise or Gang Rinproche in Tibetan, it is a precious and prominent symmetrical peak. Made up of black rock, Mt Kailash is a wonderful diamond like shaped mountain that is surrounded by beautiful landscape which is rugged and dry.
Mount Kailash is one of the most sacred mountains and has become an important pilgrim for four faiths: Buddhists, Jains, Hindus and Tibetan religion of Bon. Every year thousands of people from all over the world make pilgrimage to this place. Followers from various beliefs have been visiting Kailash from thousands of years and have been circumnutating this holy mountain on foot. It is believed that visiting Kailash and following this tradition would bring in good fortune and wash away sins of one’s lifetime. However the journey of 52kms/32miles on foot in a single day is not easy and one needs to be strong both physically and mentally to complete it. Generally people take 3 days to finish this walk. The Hindus and Buddhists pilgrims walk around in a clockwise direction but the Jain and Bön followers walk around counterclockwise.

According to Hindu legends, Shiva, the god of devastation and rebirth, resides at the pinnacle of this famous mountain named Kailasa. Mount Kailasa is considered in many sects of Hinduism as heaven, the ultimate destination of souls and the holy center of the world. The narrative in the Puranas, Mount Kailash’s four faces are made of crystal, ruby, gold, and lapis lazuli. Referred as the pillar of the world that rises 84,000 leagues high. From it flow four rivers, which stretch to the four quarters of the world and divide the world into four regions.

Tibetan Buddhists trust that Kailash is the home of the Buddha Demchok who symbolizes supreme harmony. They also state it was on this sacred mountain that Buddhism relocates Bön as the primary religion of Tibet. According to myth, Milarepa, winner of Tantric Buddhism, arrived in Tibet to challenge Naro-Bonchung, who was the spokesperson of Bön. The two magicians engaged in a great sorceries battle, but neither was able to gain a crucial advantage. Buddhism in Tibet known as the religion “Bon” believes Mount Kailash as the abode of the sky goddess Sipaimen. In Jainism, Kailash is known as Mount Ashtapada and is the place where the creator of their faith, Rishabhadeva attained freedom from rebirth.

Places of Interest during visit to Holy Kailash

TIRTHAPURI

Tirhtapuri 2
Tirthapuri, positioned northwest of Mount Kailash in Western Tibet is intimately associated with Padmasambhava (Guru Rinpoche). It is one of the interesting places near Kailash; pilgrims particularly come here after completing their Kailash pilgrimage. They bathe in the pools fed by the holy springs and also pay a visit to the cave and monastery which is connected with Guru Pinpoche and has his footprints. The barren landscape around the Tirthapuri hot spring is filled with steam and colorful prayer flags stretched across the river gorge provide this spot a scenic and magical view for all.

GAURI KUND 

Gauri Kund

Gauri Kund, a water body that is also known as the Lake of Compassion, lies on the way while going on downwards from Dolma – La (Dolma Pass). This steep descent from Dolma Pass is a wonderful lake which is at an altitude of 5608 m. As per Hindu mythology, there is a fascinating tale about Gauri Kund and has been described in legend “Shiva Purana”. The lake is also famous as “Parvati Sarovar” as this was the place where goddess Parvati had acquired her son Ganesha (Elephant headed God). Goddess Parvati had formed an image of Ganesh from the soap lather on her body and breathed life into it. She placed Ganesha at the entrance of her home as her janitor to prevent anyone from entering while she was bathing. Now Lord Shiva happened to return at this point of time and was stopped by Ganesha. Offended by this disrespectful act from Ganesha, Lord Shiva cut off the boy’s head. Pravati was grief-stricken by seeing it and insisted that the boy needs to be brought back to life. Lord Shiva took the head of a wandering elephant and placed it on the body and life was restored and Parvati had her son back.

YAM DWAR 

Yam Dwar 2

Yam Dwar is situated in Tarboche which is approximately 30 minutes drive from Darchen. The exact meaning of the Yam Dwar in Hindi lingo is “the gateway of the God of Death.” It is the initial point of circumambulation of Mount Kailash, known as Chorten Kang Ngyi which means two legged Stupa in Tibet.

ASHTHAPAD

Mt. Kailash seen from Ashtapad - 24

Located at a height of 17000 ft, Asthapad is the bottom of Mt. Kailash and one of the main holy places for the Hindus and Buddhists. It is also considered a major Jain Tirths as the first of the 24 Jain Tirthankara “Shri Adinath Bhagwan” had attained salvation (Nirvana) at this place. The literal meaning of Asthapad is “Eight Steps” as Astha means Eight and Pad means Steps in Sanskrit and that’s how the place derived its name.

SIWASTHAL 

Sivasthal

Just around 2 hours walk from Deraphuk Gomba situated on the way to Dolma – La is Siwastal. Many pilgrims visit this place as it is known a duplication of the magical funeral ground at Bodh Gaya. Pilgrims here experience ritual death and enter into the dreadful presence of Yama, before being reborn on top of the Drolma La. One can easily notice the ground which is laid out with unbelievable collection of clothing, shoes, and bags along with terrible things like bones, hair and even blood. These things are mainly the offerings which are made by the people who pass from here. Above the burial ground is a red foot print of Milareppa (Tibetan yogi & poet) on the surface of a rock.

TARBOCHE 

tarboche flagpole

Tarboche flagpole, is one of the most important aspect of Tibetan spirituality. On “Saga Dawa” which is an impressive and capturing annual festival of Mt. Kailash this giant flagpole which has numerous prayer flags on it is brought down and replaced. This annual festival or one can also mention it as a carnival attracts Tibetans from all over along with other tourists and pilgrims. This ritual is performed every year on the full moon day of the fourth lunar month of the Tibetan calendar, to celebrate Sakyamuni’s enlightenment”. During the flagpole ceremony as the poles tip is raised and pointed east towards Gyangdrak Monastery, monks of that monastery carry out a special ritual. A cacophony of music from long trumpets, conch shells and other instruments welcomes the rising flagpole. It is like a magical event that captures one’s senses. People gathered there attach there prayer flags and help in making the pole rise again. The flagpole should be standing in a perfect upright position or it is believed that things will not be good for Tibet.

But more than anything, the journey to Mount Kailash is a life-changing experience for the few thousands of pilgrims who undertake it every year, teaching them a sense of self like nothing else can. For a pilgrimage to this isolated, timeless, breathtaking and fascinating spiritual spot is like a journey within you.
Hope you are gearing up well for your Kailash yatra.