Give wings to your wanderlust in 2016!

Travel Bonanza, 12 Long Weekends in 2016

It’s the end of the year, and many of us travel freaks are busy with some last minute travel plans. No sooner the calendar for the New Year is out, we start checking on which holidays are giving us long weekends. And here’s the good news for all you travel enthusiasts. There are 12 long weekends in 2016, which means you can plan quick getaways – both to domestic holiday spots and international getaways – well in advance, without having to take too much leave. Here’s a list of holidays and places that you can check out.

  1. New Year’s Day: Friday January 1 – Sunday January 3

2. Sankranti / Pongal – Friday January 15 – Sunday, January 17
Republic Day – Saturday, January 23 – Tuesday, January 26 ( take leave on January 25 – Monday)
3. Holi / Easter Weekend Thursday March 24 – Sunday March 27
Ambedkar Jayanti – Ram Navami – Thursday April 14 – Sunday April 17
4. Independence Day – Saturday August 13 – Monday August 16
Janmashtami – Thursday August 25 – Sunday August 28 ( Take leave on Friday, August 26)
 5. Ganesh Chaturthi – Saturday September 3 – Monday September 5
 6. Bakri Eid – Saturday, September 10 – Monday September 12
Diwali – Friday, October 28 – Sunday October 30
7. GuruNanak Jayanti – Saturday, November 12 – Monday, November 14
9. Eid Milad – Saturday, December 10 – Tuesday, December 13 ( take leave on Monday December 12)

Preferred holiday destinations could be: Goa, Bangkok, Hampi, Dubai, Chikmangloor, Kodaikanal, Matheran, Manali, Hong Kong, Mathura for Holi, Uttarakhand, Indonesia, Madagaskar, Mauritius, Meghalaya, Tanzania, Delhi-Agra-Jaipur, Istanbul, Gangtok, Seychelles, Jaipur, Jodhpur and many more!

So get set going, start looking for getaways!!

My Review: The Best Seller She Wrote, The Block-Buster it would become!

Paperback king, Aditya Kapoor’s life is straight out of a modern man’s fantasy. His literary stardom is perfectly balanced by a loving wife and a spectacular career. With everything he touches turning to gold, Aditya is on a winning streak. Shreya Kaushik, is a student with a heart full of ambition. Young, beautiful, and reckless, Shreya speaks her mind and obsessively chases after what she wants. And what she wants is to be a bestselling author.


The back cover of the book catches the essence…

Coming from a banker & author of great standing, Best Seller She Wrote actually turned out to be a surprise package as Ravi Subramanian is known for the thrillers involving thrill, shrill, shocks, frauds…what not! With this book he treads a different path, the romantic thriller. The book starts slowly but catches pace as you move on. The life of main protagonist,  Aditya Kapoor resembles that of famous author Chetan Bhagat, at least to me it looked like that in the initial pages but as story moves on, the semblance melts. His life and character are any woman’s dream, a super-successful professional & celebrated author…who could have asked for more?

But his life takes 180 degree spin when femme fatale Shreya enters his life unknowingly, well knowingly! However it was difficult to absorb that such a celebrated author would fall for the charms and beauty of wannabe author, that too head over heels. Men would be men!

Sherya’s character as an overtly ambitious girl who wants to make a killing with her first book chooses Aditya Kapoor as a ladder to fulfill her ambition but fails to notice the snakes in the game of ‘Snakes and Ladders’. Shreya is beautiful, intelligent, charming, go-getter, effervescent and reckless at the same time. Her charms would make any man go weak in his knees and Aditya was no exception. What happens when celebrated author uses all his might to promote Shreya, his protégé, has been handled quite well by the author. Aditya is gung-ho and helpless at the same time in this relationship. He wants best of both the worlds – the love of his life and the family he loves immensely.

The mentions of real life people like Chetan Bhagat, Nirav Sanghvi of Blogadda, and Poonam Saxena of Hindustan Times lends authenticity. What goes behind the scenes in publishing business is also an eye opener. The most interesting part of the book is when Maya is struck with Ebola virus as lot of research has gone into those pages about the virus.

Coming to Maya’s character who has quit her flourishing corporate career to pursue her passion is quite lovable, is oblivious of her husband’s sexual escapades. A woman who is so well qualified & well placed herself, but her reaction to her husband’s extramarital affair is no different from any ordinary woman. She goes through same pangs like any woman who comes to know that her husband is cheating on her. Her reactions could have been more subtle rather than being so over the top.

Sanjay & Diana make interesting couple and Sanjay as Aditya’s buddy rocks! Sanjay’s character is multi-dimesnional and multi-layered. The affair between Aditya & Shreya is the back bone of the book which is a cross between love & deceit. At many places it is very clearly etched out that Shreya is using Aditya to fulfill her ambition, which he is unable to figure out. Shreya gets too much too soon; the price she paid was too high or was it pittance?  The sex escapades between Shreya & Aditya are too explicit, leave nothing to imagination, which is close to reading erotica.

Over all book makes an interesting read.

It is difficult to leave the book in between as you want to finish it in the one go. Having worked in a publishing house, I could relate very well to the nuances used by the author through his protagonist Aditya Kapoor.


Needless to mention, the genre has been handled with élan by the author who is an established name in the industry for his corporate thrillers. You should certainly read to know what happens when worlds of celebrated author & wannabe author collide? Is it possible to love two people at the same time? Can real ambition come in the way of blind passion? Can trust once broken, be regained? Master storyteller Ravi Subramanian has delved into the glitzy world of bestsellers and uncovers a risky dalliance between a superstar novelist and his alluring protégé which readers would love to explore.

Oh yes! Cover Design stands out for its visual appeal.

Indeed, The Bestseller She Wrote is a combustible cocktail of love, betrayal and redemption. Recommended reading but be prepared for something drastically different from the author who is known for writing something drastically different!

• ISIN: 978-93-85152-38-2
• Genre: Romance / Drama / Thriller
• Publishers: Westland Books
• Price: Rs. 295/-
• Author: Ravi Subramanian
• Book Courtesy: Blogadda ( Autographed Copy)

Photo Courtesy: Sanjay Jain

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

चित्रकूट के घाट पर हुई संतन की भीड़, तुलसीदास चन्दन घिसे, तिलक देते रघुबीर

Recently my brother Prabhat went to Lucknow for some of his official work. Having a special connect with Lucknow, as we have lived and worked there for many years, I called him to know that which all places he is planning to visit in Lucknow. Prabhat told me that he is skipping Lucknow and is visiting Chitrakoot instead, the land of Lord Ram & Tulsidas.


I questioned, “Is this the same place, which has mention in the famous ballad “चित्रकूट के घाट पर हुई संतन की भीड़, तुलसीदास चन्दन घिसे, तिलक देते रघुबीर” He laughed when I recited the Ballad to him. Going by the fact that the religious and spiritual person he is, he sounded quite excited about going to Chitrakoot. He called me once he reached Chitrakoot after driving for nearly six hours and was mesmerized by the greenery and beauty of the place. My curiosity grew in the place but I had to wait for some more days for him to return to get updates on Chitrakoot. He doesn’t like to be disturbed in his religious and meditation sessions. But the wait was worth. The place is indeed very religious and spiritual and is a heaven for Ram Bhakts. I thought of sharing the details shared by him with my readers. You will particularly love the place if you are a true Ram Bhakt!


Celebrated in ballads and the scriptures for its natural beauty and closely associated with the epic Ramayan, Chitrakoot or “the hill of many wonders” is a hallowed centre of pilgrimage. Prabhat first told me how you can reach there. The nearest airport Khajuraho is 185 kms and the nearest railway station Karvi is 8 kms. Also, Chitrakoot is well connected by road. There are regular bus services to Banda, Allahabad, Jhansi, Varanasi, Chhatarpur, Satna, Kanpur, Faizabad, Lucknow, Agra, Maihar, etc. Some Road distances are : Allahabad – 125 km. Satna – 75 km. Lucknow – 285 km, Mahoba – 127 km, Kalinjar 88 km and Jhansi 274 km.


Prabhat first told me about Hanuman Dhara, a place he loved immensely. Located on a steep hillside, it is approachable by a flight of 360 steps. Here, the waters of a natural spring cascade over an image of Lord Hanuman. This is a hill where there are 3 main spots – Trimukhi Hanuman mandir, Panchmukhi Hanuman mandir (Main) and Seeta Rasoi at the top. There is a continuous stream of water that falls on Hanuman idol and the source of water is not known.


He bought grams of “Chana” and fed langurs there which are in abundance. He added, “Langurs are very calm and will hold your hand and eat every chana one by one. This is a real fun for the kids.” People return after seeing Panchmukhi Hanuman mandir and do not go to Sita Rasoi. Sita Rasoi is not in good condition and is just an old room where Sitaji cooked food during ram vanvas. There are two ways so take one way to go up and come back using other. This place is around 3 km away from Ramghat.


Now tell me about Ram Ghat, I quipped. On the banks of the River Mandakini, and centre of ritual activity, this ghat is the most frequented in Chitrakoot. The “Aarti” performed in the evening is particularly beautiful. This is a main ghat in Chitrakoot. You can do boating here by hiring boat for around Rs. 100–150 for an hour. Many of them have pet rabbits on the boats and playing with them would be really fun for the kids. Tulsidas statue is there on the ghat. Bharat Milap temple is also there on this ghat and all this you can cover this in around two hours. Daily arati happens at 6PM in the evening and you should find some time to secure a place to attend the arati. This is a central place in Chitrakoot.


Other attractions being:, Gupt Godavari Caves where there are around three caves. Water streams flow through these caves. You could see few crabs in the water but they do not and never harmed pilgrims. It becomes very humid in these caves since there are no proper arrangements of ventilation, so be prepared. In one cave water flows over stones and it is not be convenient to walk over such short stones, so be prepared as per your physical fitness/weight. This place is around 20 km from Ramghat.


Kamadgiri is a forested hill of prime religious significance, this is believed to be the original Chitrakoot. The Bharat Milap Temple is located here. Pilgrims perform a ritual circumambulation of the hill to seek blessings. Sphatik Shila: This picturesque spot is marked by two immense rocks. It is believed to be the place where Lord Rama and Sita feasted their eyes on the beauty of Chitrakoot.


Chitrakoot is also known for its Kamadgiri Parikrama which is around 5 kms round which can be completed in approx 2 hours. One should be beware of notorious monkeys on the parikrama, at times they can be really nasty.

So when you are in Lucknow, Kanpur, Allahabad or Jhansi, must pay visit to Chitrakoot to enjoy nature in its most unadulterated splendor.

– With inputs from UP Tourism.

MALAYSIA, Asia’s Best Golfing DESTINATION 2015


Malaysia’s golf tourism industry added another feather to its cap when the country took home the ‘Asia’s Best Golf Destination 2015’ award at the 2nd Annual World Golf Awards in Portugal recently. The Els Club Teluk Datai in Langkawi, which received the ‘World’s Best New Golf Course’ award last year, was conferred ‘Asia’s Best Golf Course 2015’.

Speaking of the achievement, Mr. Manoharan Periasamy, Director, Tourism Malaysia India said, “Malaysia takes pride in its golf courses that offer challenging fairways amidst spectacular sights, world-class facilities and amenities. We strongly encourage golfers from around the world to visit Malaysia not only to play golf but also to enjoy a wide range of fascinating tourist attractions.”

Playing on great golf courses in a range of different environments is what avid golfers like to do when they travel and this is exactly what Malaysia offers. Golf in Malaysia offers four completely different experiences. You can go back to nature and play golf in the jungle sharing the course with Asia’s biologically diverse plants and animals. Or head to the highlands and tee off several thousand feet above sea-level. You don’t need to miss a game even when you’re on an island as we have beachside courses awaiting the island going golfer. Or just play golf downtown! With over 200 golf courses which are accessible to visitors, you will never have to travel far to find a wonderful new golf experience. Add to this, you will also have plenty of time to enjoy the other delights on offer in every region of Malaysia.

World Golf Awards serves to celebrate and reward excellence in golf tourism, world class courses and golf destinations. Golf tourism constitutes a vital segment in the global travel and tourism marketplace. An estimated 60 million golfer visits will take place in 2015 to the 32,000 golf courses and resorts worldwide.

The 2015 World Golf Awards focuses on the leading 130 nations who are shaping the future of this dynamic industry. While celebrating and rewarding excellence across golf resorts, courses and the golfing destinations throughout the world, World Golf Awards strives to ultimately raise the golf tourist customer experience and stimulate both the domestic and international golf tourism market.

Votes were made by professionals working within the golf travel and tourism industry – senior executives, travel buyers, tour operators, agents and media professionals. Votes were also cast by the public (golf tourism consumers). The voting works on a first-past-the-post system to ensure impartiality and independence. Votes were submitted online via the World Golf Awards website.

The winners of each national category went head-to-head with the winners of the other countries before the unveiling of the World Winners.

Uttar Pradesh (U.P.): The Katerniaghat Wildlife Sanctuary: Visit to earn an audience with Big Cats!

Every morning, I switch on my FM Radio for quick & stress-free updates on city & its surroundings. This is almost a ritual with me and there are few adverts which catch my fancy, as I shirk ad breaks in between the program. But how to escape? After all it is a Commercial venture. Indeed money makes the world go round!


Recently, one ad which caught my fancy and ears was about Dudhwa National Park, which also had mention of a place called Katerniaghat Wild Sanctuary in Uttar Pradesh. So why did it caught my fancy? What was different about it? Firstly it was about my home state – Uttar Pradesh and secondly it was talking about a wild – life sanctuary which immensely interests me. The ad was of UP Tourism which was telling listeners about wild – life sanctuaries in UP. I visited Dudhwa National Park long ago sometime in 90s but I did not know about Katerniaghat then and even now, till I chanced upon this ad of UP Tourism. I think UP Tourism should advertise more frequently about its sights so that people in other states come to know what UP has to offer besides its law and order problems.


This is how I got interested in Katerniaghat Wild Life Sanctuary in UP which is situated in the Upper Gangetic plain falling in the Terai of Bahraich district of Uttar Pradesh, India. The Katerniaghat Forest provides strategic connectivity between tiger habitats of Dudhwa and Kishanpur in India and Nepal. The sanctuary has a mosaic of Sal and Teak forests, lush grasslands, numerous swamps and wetlands. It is home to a number of endangered species including gharial, tiger, rhino, Gangetic dolphin, Swamp deer, Hispid hare, the White-backed and Long-billed vultures.

Katerniaghat Wild life Sanctuary is part of Dudhwa Tiger Reserve Lakhimpur kheri with total area of 400.09 sq.kms.  There is a buffer area of 150.03 contiguous to the sanctuary mostly in Motipur and Kakrha ranges of the division. The forest area of the Sanctuary has its characteristic complex of Sal forests tall grasslands and ecosystem of Girwa and Kaudiyala streams of Ghaghra river. The Sanctuary having mosaic of diverse habitats is very rich in biodiversity and is having various endangered species of mammal, plants and fauna.

Total area of Katerniaghat wild life division is in 551.02 and the best time to visit is between November 15 to June 15.
The whole of the area is subject to the climatic variations typical of the plains of northern India with their extremes of heat and cold. In winters the area very cold and foggy and heavy dew fall regularly with the result that the vegetation remains damp for most of the day. The days at this time of the year are cool and bright. Forests occur generally in January. The nights remain cool and dew falls until late in the spring, the hot weather commencing in April and lasting until the rains break towards the end of June.

Katerniaghat Wild life Division Bahraich was declared Sanctuary in the year of 1976 and was also included in Project Tiger in year 2003. The forest of Katerniaghat, situated in Bahraich district in the foothill of Himalayas are exquisitely beautiful with majestic sal trees dominating the landscape. The Girwa river flowing through these forests is home to many water birds as well as Crocodiles, Gharials as well as Gangetic Dolphins. The Girijapuri bairaj on the Ghaghra river becomes home to migratory birds during winter months.
Besides beautiful forest of Sal and teak viewing of Tiger , Leopard, Gangetic dolphin , Maggar, Ghariyal and many other rare species of wildlife area main attraction of the area.


How to get there?


Road- From Lucknow via Bahraich to Bichhia Rail – Nearest Railhead Bichhia, located on Gonda-Bahraich Branch Railway line (Meter Gauge) of NER, whereas Gonda is situated on the main Railway line from Lucknow to Gorakhpur. By Air-Nearest Airport Amausi Lucknow – 210 kms. KWL is approx. 500 Kms from Delhi.
The tourist campuses at Motipur and Kakraha are jungle theme locations offering a treat of nature and thrill to adventurous tourists visiting the place. There are a total of four cottages available at each place for now, and all cottages promise a magnificent view of the sal forest making the traveler’s visit a memorable one. Here guests are expected to respect the jungle environment. The visitors are housed in newly built air conditioned ‘Tharu huts’ located at Motipur and Kakraha campuses in the sanctuary. The campuses are properly walled and provide complete safety to the visitors.

Trained nature guide are available at both Motipur & Kakraha campuses for the purpose of guiding tourists and interpretation of the sanctuary while on visit inside. These guides have been registered with the UP Forest Department and are helpful in spotting wildlife during the trip. As per the regulations for the visitors, taking one such guide per vehicle is mandatory for all tourists.

The tourists can also enjoy boating in Giriwa river and jungle safari facilities, during the visit. The safari takes you through the sanctuary in an open 4×4 gypsy, with some of the most knowledgeable guides at the wheel. Keep your eyes peeled for pugmarks, and mobile phones off. There’s plenty to see: Gharials, crocodiles, herds of spotted deer, peacocks in frenzy, paradise flycatchers, and crested serpent eagles. Pray hard enough and you may just earn an audience with the reigning big cats in this area.

Source: UP Eco tourism