Scenic Udaipur with welcoming CLUB MAHINDRA


First come first! Why and how did Udaipur happen?
Udaipur happened because of Club Mahindra! I received a Gift Voucher from Club Mahindra Stall at one exhibition, but was reluctant to use it. After keeping it for nearly a month in my drawer, I decided to read the voucher and make use of it. Though I am a complete non-believer in complimentary passes/ vouchers etc. as I believe nothing comes for free! Yet I decided to explore the voucher. The procedure was simple, I mailed voucher details at the given email id, and in 48 hours I received a mail stating my voucher code which enabled me to redeem my voucher. I was still very apprehensive, but I went ahead redeeming it. On very user friendly Club Mahindra Website I could see all their properties and I zeroed in on Udaipur as I liked their property very much and thought that three days stay would be enough in Udaipur. After booking my stay in Udaipur property, I received a confirmatory call from them and it rolled…it was a couple vouchers for me and my husband Mukund.

A day prior to our booking, I received the call from Club Mahindra Udaipur confirming my stay on the given dates. I was delighted. On reaching there, I was accorded princess welcome with Dhol wala playing especially for us. I just loved it! Inside the resort, a very welcoming team welcomed us with a welcome drink – my favourite Rooh Afza!! When I told them that I am a travel blogger, team members excitedly asked many questions about my blog and happily agreed to take me for the property tour.

Interiors are very tastefully done and rooms were just amazing with wonderful colour combination of Peacock blue and white. The property has lush – green and sprawling lawns and facade facing Aravali ranges. I clicked lot of pictures there. When I was told that there would be a puppet show in the evening, it excited me no end and I was the first one to reach the terrace. I requested Dholwala to play Dhol, and he happily obliged.

I thoroughly enjoyed the puppet show as I got to relive my childhood. The fine dining restaurant offered exquisite cuisine for dinner and breakfast. Overall it turned out to be a pleasant experience as we were dropped by their in-house bus to Udaipur Station which is nearly 7 Kms away. Initially I was apprehensive about travelling that far…but it was worth it by all means!

I am blogging about my dreams and passions for the Club Mahindra#DreamTrails activity at BlogAdda. You can get a Club Mahindra Membership to own your holidays!

Malaysia introduces e-visa for Indian tourists

Travelling to Malaysia got a little more convenient. The Malaysian Government recently introduced the Electronic Travel Authorization Visa (e-visa) for a short visit to Malaysia. At this point in time, the e-visa facility is available to Indians residing in India only and is valid for a single journey stay of maximum 30 days in Malaysia for tourism purposes.


India is a significant contributor to the tourism economy of Malaysia. Last year as many as 722,141 Indian tourists visited Malaysia making it the 6th largest contributor to tourist arrivals. Mr. Mohd Hafiz, Director, Tourism Malaysia, Mumbai said, “We are always trying to make travel to Malaysia as convenient as it can get and the introduction of e-visa is a major step in that direction. We are confident that with this ease in visa process more and more Indians will now consider Malaysia as a destination of choice for their next holiday.”

The Malaysia e-visa comes at a fee of around Rs 2710 and can be obtained within 24- 48 hours with a validity of 3 months. For more details on the e-visa facility, please visit


Book Review – Thicker than Blood by Munmun Ghosh

Thicker than Blood by Munmun Ghosh explores the relationship of a childless couple – Mayuri and Vimal and their stressful journey towards parenthood.  Everything looks perfect in the marriage, the family, the surroundings, the relatives and most importantly compatibility between the couple, which is most important factor in any marriage. The turmoil begins when Mayuri fails to conceive and she traverses all paths on the planet to conceive. As a natural reaction, for any anomaly in the body we reach out to medication/ surgery and Mayuri and Vimal just did that. The account of what goes in the mind of childless mother is very vivid, how far a woman can go to become a mother right from consulting a gynaec, fertility specialists, babas, religion, superstitions, home medication, extramarital affair, IVF, Surrogacy…what not, and Mayuri does it all.  Her desire of motherhood is so strong that she is ready to sacrifice her biggest asset, her relationship with her husband Vimal, who loves her immensely. It was quite a revelation to me how fertility treatments tax the couple physically, emotionally, socially and financially and shops running in the guise of fertility clinics.

Munmun Ghosh

I must admit, I am yet to read a book like this, opening chapters of the book made me feel as if I was reading a biology book on reproductive procedures where names have been given as Vimal and Mayuri. They could have been little subtle rather than being so explicit. At some point I thought of leaving the book as it didn’t seem to be going anywhere…but after few chapters book literally grows on you.

I must admit, it is the most wonderful book on the most unexplored subject. Authors may not want to venture into this genre easily but Munmun has done it. Her thorough research on the subject be it on the medical, biological or emotional aspect is evident in this special title. This book can be torch bearer for all women who are confronting this issue. Book’s pacy narrative, lucid language, styling, fine detailing, well-nuanced relationships and realistic settings & situations make it stand out. Reader can sense that it comes from a seasoned journalist and even more seasoned writer Ms. Ghosh. For the first time I experienced what a woman goes through if she is unable to bear a child through this poignant tale of husband and wife who fight out all adversities to make their family complete. Last but not the least, Jaico’s production values add immense value to the title.

There is an interesting contrast presented between the two women –  Mayuri & Seema. Seema, who is blessed with two children but gives priority to her ambitions, whereas Mayuri is ready to sacrifice everything in want of a child. Vimal’s character is well etched; he fits the bill completely as a torn husband who at times want to revolt to Mayuri’s desperation to bear a child and on the other hand cooperates too just to make her happy.

Thicker than Blood – As the name suggests – there are some other things too which are thicker than blood. Mayuri’s progression from a restless, depressed, frustrated childless woman to a doting mother of three is wonderful. The second half of the book is interesting, especially the entry of Mayuri’s college mate Shreyas which gives interesting twist to the story.   But it doesn’t stay long as reader gets the shock of untimely death of Payal, Mayuri’s niece. Author has handled the account of heart – broken family most sensitively.

Coming back to Mayuri and Vimal, who fail to become parents biologically after going through big emotional and physical turmoil, so much so that they come are on the brink of losing it all. Which decision changes their lives, and brings happiness makes very interesting reading and gives a lesson too. Blood is not everything; there are certain other things which are thicker than blood. Everyone should read the book to know about these things so that you can face the question “Does motherhood need to be biological always”.

When book ended, there was a sense of loss, why did it end as I had almost started living with Mayuri and Vimal in their world, in their shoes??? No!!!



Baisakhi di Balle Balle in Malaysia!!


Singh is King of the World!

Vaisakhi Celebrations in full swing in Malaysia

Malaysia is all set to experience the rich and colourfulbackground of the Punjabi Culture. On April 23rd, The Malaysian Punjabi Chambers of Commerce and Industries (MPCCI) is organising a Malaysia Vaisakhi Open House in Kuala Lumpur where thousands of Malaysian Sikhs and their friends will gather to celebrate the auspicious festivities of Vaisakhi!

Aptly named MyVaisakhi Fest 2016, the day long festivities on April 23rd, will be inaugurated by the Prime Minister of Malaysia ,Dato’ Sri Haji Mohammad Najib at the Malaysia Tourism Centre (MaTiC) at Jalan Ampang in Kuala Lumpur. The gathering is expected to be attended by over 4000 guests!


Besides bringing to life the essence of Punjabi culture, the highlight of the day will be an attempt to enter the Malaysia Book of Records for making 2000 chapattis in 3 hours! Needless to mention, one will get to see the never dying spirit of the Punjabis all set to break this record!

Dato Daljit Singh

MPCCI President Dato Daljit Singh said that, “ We welcome one and all to be part of our celebrations. In fact all Indians visiting Malaysia during this time should be a part of MyVaisakhi 2016! You can get a taste of home here!” “We have Dhol dances, Cultural shows , go kart rides, sand art, turban tying booth, henna art booth…everything that’s Punjabi will come to life on this day!”, added Dato Daljit.

Dato Daljit Singh is also Indian Community Relations Advisor to the Minister of Tourism and Culture, Malaysia.

Program details

Tourists can also get an insight into the Punjabi culture by visiting the Punjabi History, heritage and Culture exhibition being held until April 30.  The Sikh community has existed since the 16th century and MyVaisakhi 2016 is an attempt to showcase the Punjabi and Sikh tradition and history so that the younger generation can learn about where they come from and embrace their culture.

About Tourism Malaysia: 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 2015, Malaysia registered 25.7 million tourist arrivals and RM69.1 billion in receipts, making tourism its second largest foreign exchange earner.


Hague, picture perfect!!!

The third largest city in the Netherlands, as well as the country’s political and administrative center, The Hague welcomes visitors from all over the world to take part in its international flair, multinational business scene, rich culture and stunning architecture. Split into eight main districts, the city is a stylish mix of history and modernity with something for everyone.

Peace Palace, UN International Court of Justice in The Hague, Holland
Peace Palace, UN International Court of Justice in The Hague, Holland

Pictures account by Guest Blogger by Nicole Clarke!!

Must visit the link for awesome account of Hague in Netherlands.

Gallery: The Hague, Netherlands

Goa on your mind for vacation? Think Havelock Island!

Few days ago when I called my cousin Rinku who is an Administrator with IIT Kanpur, she surprised me by excitedly telling me that she was going to Andaman for her April Vacation with husband Anuraag and children Gauri (Aged 10) and Gauransh (Aged 2) with group of friends. My interest grew in the place and I probed more being a travel blogger. She told me that they would be taking a flight from Lucknow to Kolkata, after which they would go to Port Blair. Port Blair would be her base but their main tourist destination would be Havelock Island. Havelock is a picturesque natural paradise with beautiful white sandy beaches, rich coral reefs and lush green forest. It is one of the populated islands in the Andaman group with an area of 113 sq. km. and is located 39 km of north-east of Port Blair. She added, “Havelock Island is blessed with beautiful sandy beaches fringed with green canopy of the rain-fed forests. We are going to enjoy the frolic and fun at the azure sea.” She would be there for nearly a week; I wished her a very successful journey and hung up.

With snow-white beaches, teal shallows, a coast crammed with beach huts and some of the best diving in South Asia, Havelock has a well-deserved reputation as a backpacker’s paradise. For many, Havelock is the Andamans, and it’s what lures most tourists across the Bay of Bengal, many of whom are content to stay here for the entirety of their trip like my cousin Rinku and her group of friends.

Now I wanted to know more about Havelock Island and I started digging for articles on the place. Luckily I bumped on with an article on Havelock in Mid-Day titled Seven Beach high in Havelock by Bindu & Radhakrishnan Unni. They shared that Andaman’s Havelock Island offers a 7-beach in 1 offer within 113 kms. Indeed it was a very wonderful account of the place.

So if you are planning your next trip to Goa, think again, in favour of Havelock Island!

Havelock Island (often just Havelock for short) with an area of some 92 Sq.Km is the largest of the islands which comprise Ritchie’s Archipelago, a chain of islands to the east of Great Andaman in the Andaman Islands. The island population is comprised of Bengali settlers. It is one of the few places that the administration of the Andaman and Nicobar Islands union territory of India has permitted and encouraged development of tourism, with a focus on promoting eco-tourism.

Havelock Island avoided much of the devastation which was visited upon most of the shores affected by the 2004 Indian Ocean earthquake and its resultant tsunami, and there were no documented casualties. Beach No. 7, better known as “Radha Nagar” Beach, is one of the most popular beaches in Asia. The elephant beach at Havelock is known for rich marine life, especially the corals. Beach No. 5 is famous beach for Israeli tourists.

Elephant beach is another ideal site for snorkeling. It has a rich coral reef formation and amazing underwater marine life. One can reach Elephant beach by small cruise boat from Havelock Jetty in about 40 minutes. By road one can go up to the Forest Camp which is 8 Kms from the Jetty towards Radhanagar side and from there by walk to the Elephant beach which will take another 40 minutes. Private ferry operators organize tours to Elephant beach from Havelock.

Beach-combing, sunbathing, scuba diving, seawalk, snorkeling, watersports, surf riding, swimming, game fishing, watching the sunset or sunrise, elephant ride, bird-watching, trekking, sailing, kayaking and much more you can do in Havelock.

The abundance of marine life around Havelock provides a rich variety of varied diving sites.  ‘Seduction Point’, ‘Aquarium’, ‘Lighthouse’, ‘Pilot Reef’, ‘Mac Point’, ‘Minerva Ledge’ and ‘Turtle Bay’ are promising areas for diving. The ideal dive season is from December to May.

Vijaynagar Beach, Havelock, is a long stretch of sand on the east coast of the Island, punctuated occasionally by rock section. Most of the beach is lined by mahua trees, whose trunks grow along the ground for many feet before they begin to climb vertically. These trees have lent a distinct character to the sea front and provide shade, close to the water. Vijaynagar Beach is perfect for long walks along the sea. Dolphin Resort run by the Tourism Department and many other hotels are also located on this beach.

One can enjoy swimming at the calm and clear waters of Radhanagar, Vijaynagar and Elephant beach. Snorkeling is available to view shallow areas of the coral reefs without going underwater with scuba equipment. Under the water, one can glide along the coral shelf and experience the strange and striking coral formations. One can see fish swim, nibbling at colorful algae, sea anemones and plankton right next to you.

Havelock Island is logged using elephants.  The spectacle of elephants working in the forest and bathing and swimming in the nearby sea is a special attraction. The Elephant Training Camp managed by the Forest Department at Kalapathar open its doors to tourists occasionally. The Island is surrounded by emerald lagoons and tropical evergreen forests. In some stretches, mangrove swamps line the shores.

It is a landscape of primeval splendor. White-headed mynas or the woodpecker with a white-barred black mantle and red crown, fulvous-breasted woodpecker are endemic to the island. The olive-backed sunbird and Andaman swallow are other endemic birds in the islands, which are a birdwatcher’s paradise.

Kayaking is also gaining popularity in the Havelock Island. Safe and calm creeks offer an excellent scope for kayak lovers.

The main dive sites on Havelock are:

  • Lighthouse (6-20m)
  • The Wall (10-55m)
  • Minerva Ledge (10-18m)
  • Aquarium (12-15m)
  • Pilot Reef (6-18m)
  • Dixon’s Pinnacle (18-40m)
  • Jackson’s Bar (20-35m)
  • Johnny’s Gorge (25-30m)

One of the most popular sites, this is a small rocky outcrop in the open sea surrounded by an ocean of sand. The outcrops are home to large and small species. Dolphins, white and black-tip sharks, giant groupers, rays and eels among various others are found here.


Mid-January until mid-May sees the best weather, and often the best diving conditions. The days are mostly sunny at this time of year, and the sea sometimes flat enough to reflect the clouds. The monsoon usually hits around late May, lasting until the end of July, and is probably the worst time to visit the island – strong winds, frequent rain and low visibility underwater. August thru November see some occasional showers and slightly rougher seas, but diving can still be great at this time of year. The weather often takes a turn for the worse for the month of December through early January.

Havelock Island now has two ATMs; SBI and Axis bank. Some of the hotels and resorts are able to perform card transactions. Nevertheless, it is best to make sure you take plenty of cash with you from Port Blair. Also, it is hard to buy some items in the market – differing factors of sun cream can be hard to find, as can mosquito repellent.


From Delhi to Agra in 100 minutes flat, courtesy: Gatimaan Express

Circa 2016, April 5: Marked a leap for the Indian Railways towards the high speed age, with the launch of the much-touted Gatimaan Express, fastest train in the country.

This news brought me faint memories of my ride in Shatabdi Express from Delhi to Agra some 25 odd years ago. As a youngster, I was super excited to ride Shatabdi Express all alone, on maiden solo journey to city of Taj Mahal. I boarded the train early morning enjoying the meals served by very courteous staff on board. Indeed it was quite a revelation to me after travelling in ancient Indian Railways which halted at every station and moved at their own pace. Owing to the no questions asked policy followed by Indian Railways which made it all the more depressing.  But Shatabdi was very close to boarding a flight, same look & feel, same service & same speed. Those were the times when Indians enjoyed train ride looking outside, and we got the glimpses of our real India, not through the click of Google!


Times have really changed, when I read that on the maiden run of Gatimaan Express, passengers complained of non availability of Wi-Fi. I think this would have been a blessing in disguise when you enjoy India’s fastest train’s debut journey in all its splendor & glory, rather complain about it. At least I would have done that. But today people can’t survive without Wi-Fi for 100 seconds, what to say of 100 minutes journey. Where have we come and where are we going?


Coming back to Gatimaan Express, I would love to take this journey of 100 minutes on my next trip to Delhi, but for the uninitiated, Delhi – Agra is very busy route as any Indian/ foreign tourist coming to Delhi has Agra on his iterinery. With Gatimaan provide Gati to this journey makes visit to the city of world famous Taj Mahal makes it even more special. The semi high-speed train, with a 5,400 horse power electric locomotive and top speed of 160 kmph, covers the nearly 200 km distance between Delhi’s Hazrat Nizamuddin railway station and Agra Cantonment station in exactly 100 minutes, as promised. It will operate six days a week, except on Friday. Gatimaan Express has had two successful train tests and is now known as India’s fastest train, surpassing New Delhi Habibganj Shatabdi Express, the former fastest train of India.

The train, painted in blue and grey with a streak of bright yellow in the middle, sputtered to a start but soon picked up speed as it crossed the Okhla railway station and from there on, completed its journey at a tearing speed, even as the 237 passengers on board settled down in their cushy seats of the spanking clean AC Chair Car coaches.


For the passengers, the high points were the ever smiling train hosts and hostesses, who greeted them with flowers and chocolates. A sore point, however, was unavailability of free Wi-Fi services that railways had promised.

Interesting facts and figures about the Gatimaan Express:

  • Gatimaan Express is equipped with 5,400 HP electric locomotive and 12 modern coaches
  • Each coach costs around 2 to 2.5 crore and there will be two spare coaches besides the 12 regular coaches
  • The train will run at a maximum speed of about 160 km/hr and will cover a distance of around 200 kilometres in 100 minutes
  • The train will be equipped with eight inch LCD TVs, installed at the back of every seat
  • These screens will be powered by satellite and will broadcast live feed
  • The train has been installed with special features  such as sliding doors, automatic fire alarm, advanced passenger information system, emergency breaking system, etc
  • An Executive Class ticket will cost you Rs 1,365 and an AC chair car will cost you Rs 750
  • Train passengers will not only be ushered to their seats by train hostesses and offered roses but will also be given free access to multimedia content such as movies, news and cartoons during their journey to Agra
  • Since the fare will be 25 percent higher than Shatabdi Express, catering services in Gatiman Express will also be better. Passengers will be treated to whole-wheat upma, mini dosa, Kanjeevaram idli, fresh cut fruits, aloo kulcha, swiss roll, roasted dry fruits and chicken roll. Chicken sausages with Spanish egg white omelette and date walnut slice cakes will also be served in Bone China.


Couldn’t have asked for more from Mr. Prabhu!


travel-knots welcomes Mohd. Hafiz Hashim as New Director, Tourism Malaysia

Welcome! Tourism Malaysia’s New Director

Mohd Hafiz Hashim recently took over as Director, Tourism Malaysia, Mumbai with effect from April, 2016.


Malaysia is expected to attract 1 million Indian tourists this year and Mr Hafiz’s main responsibilities include developing the Western India market targeting especially the Tier2 and Tier 3 towns to reach these numbers. Mr Hafiz is also planning to promote niche products like Mohdself-drive, luxury travel, eco-tourism, sports tourism, business travel etc. to reach out to special interest segments of the Indian traveller.

In his earlier roles, Mr Hafiz has served Tourism Malaysia offices in Singapore, Sydney, Melbourne and Auckland.

For more media releases, media info and media features on Malaysia’s tourism industry, kindly visit the Media Centre of Tourism Malaysia’s website at

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 2015, Malaysia registered 25.7 million tourist arrivals and RM69.1 billion in receipts, making tourism its second largest foreign exchange earner.

Through the Tourism NKEA (National Key Economic Area), 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 and achieve the country’s target of 36 million tourist arrivals and RM168 billion in receipts by 2020.    

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.  

Bring In Summers, Triveni Way!

Summers are here and what could be better that beating the heat with summary pastel coloured Georgette sarees from the house of Triveni from Surat. The highlight of the Fashion Flow 2 collection is that it has kept up with the tradition of gleaming and modernistic offerings. This is an extension of Fashion Flow. The collection brings the fresh set of colourful printed sarees in flowing Georgettes. The frame of the sarees is completed by readymade laces and brocades. Floral prints with Geometric escapades are spread across the length of the saree in varied colors with catchy eye pleasing repeats and rhythm.

Blouses in gracious Bhagalpuri silks with printed details complement the sarees. Stylish cuts and style lines in new patterns adds to the wearer’s statement.

Team the sarees with contemporary silver and junk jewelleries to add new dimension to your look. A soft bun and uptied bangs will keep you at comfort and chic-ease. Let the colors speak for you; begin your track to the collection, NOW!

You can order these lovely sarees Online from