All posts by bienumv

Love to read, write, travel and talking to self & people!

Heart-Breaking: Notre Dame De Paris engulfed in fire


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Last week we received very heart-breaking news of a major fire engulfing the medieval Cathedral of Notre-Dame in Paris, one of France’s most famous landmarks. The 850-year-old Gothic building’s spire and roof have collapsed but the main structure, including the two bell towers, have been saved.

The major cause of the fire could be linked to the renovation work that began after cracks appeared in the stone, sparking fears that structure could become unstable. The fire began at around 18:30 (16:30 GMT) and quickly reached the roof of the cathedral, destroying its stained-glass windows and the wooden interior before toppling the spire. Watching such an embodiment of the permanence of a nation burn and its spire collapse is profoundly shocking to people all over the world.

Some 500 firefighters worked to prevent one of the bell towers from collapsing. More than four hours later, the main structure had been “saved and preserved” from total destruction.

Thank God, the destruction could have been massive which was saved due to the timely action of firefighters.

This icon of the French capital city doesn’t need any introduction. The Notre-Dame de Paris Cathedral is located on the Ile de la Cité, in the 4th arrondissement. It took more than 200 years to build and, for a long time, it was the highest building in Paris. It hosted the coronation of Napoléon Ist and his wife, Joséphine de Beauharnais, which inspired the painter Jacques-Louis David to do the famous painting The Coronation of Napoleon, today exhibited in the Louvre Museum. The Notre-Dame de Paris cathedral also has a major role in the mythical eponymous novel by Victor Hugo, published in 1831. In this famous novel, Quasimodo, an orphan hunchback living in the cathedral as a bell ringer, falls in love with the beautiful Esmeralda, a bohemian who dances at the town square.

No other site represents France quite like Notre-Dame. Its main rival as a national symbol, the Eiffel Tower, is little more than a century old. Notre-Dame has stood tall above Paris since the 1200s.

It has given its name to one of the country’s literary masterpieces. Victor Hugo’s The Hunchback of Notre-Dame is known to the French simply as Notre-Dame de Paris.

The last time the cathedral suffered major damage was during the French Revolution. It survived two world wars largely unscathed.

The church receives almost 13 million visitors each year, more than the Eiffel Tower. A UNESCO World Heritage site, it was built in the 12th and 13th centuries and several statues of the facade of the Catholic cathedral were removed for renovation

The roof, which has been destroyed by the blaze, was made mostly of wood. Some of the art and artefacts were stored overnight in City Hall but they would be moved to the Louvre museum as soon as possible, said French culture minister Franck Riester. Many of the cathedral’s important artefacts – including paintings, sculptures and textiles – were held in its many chapels around the nave.

Sections of the cathedral were under scaffolding as part of the extensive renovations and 16 copper statues had been removed last week. Deputy Paris Mayor Emmanuel Gregoire said the building had suffered “colossal damages”, and teams were working to save the cathedral’s remaining artwork.

The damage is of such a massive scale that even one-billion-dollar won’t be enough!

News courtesy: BBC

Mumbai Concrete Jungle & Japanese Miyawaki Jungle? Connection??

Yes, there is a connection? IIT B, host to the very thick plantation and hordes of trees all over the campus is a rare sight in Mumbai which is home to innumerable residential and commercial skyscrapers, flyovers, highways, road, rail and metro network. Do we ever give time to think how much green cover has been lost in the race of infra development? Latest being Metro Car shed coming up in the green lung of Mumbai – Aarey colony. What to say of massive uprooting of plants/trees across Mumbai for Metro routes!

Like many of us, the scenario hurt Subhajit Mukherjee who left his rewarding corporate job to plant trees all over Mumbai. Yes, you heard me right. He is the one responsible for greenery in Mumbai who has planted over 50,000 trees in an around Mumbai. His love for trees/ greenery dates back to his childhood when his grandfather in Allahabad use to take him for plant selection for the back yard of his Bungalow.

Later in life, he realised his calling is there, amidst trees. He is the founder of Mission Green Mumbai and known Environmentalist, who has taken the onus on himself to sensitize citizens of Mumbai towards the importance of greenery. En route IITB, we visited Aarey Nursery where I got to know so much about various plants there. It was an experience, I loved it over a picnic, where I was just amidst plants, trees and greenery.

He interacted with a young team of IIT Bombay recently, who was invited for his guidance for making surroundings green – Indoor and Outdoor to keep AC away in summers. The team enjoyed the interaction very much as he showed the importance of greenery and even a small step in the direction can make a valuable contribution towards climate change. He suggested creating a dense forest on the window of the office which will have a cool effect, besides some dense plants, flower beds and what not.

As “Green Man” he was delighted to be in IIT B because of its green environs. He suggested: let’s make it greener by creating Miyawaki Forest. I knew nothing about Miyawaki forest…he briefly told me that it is dense forest which can be created on a small piece of land, and it is so thick that you have to water trees from outside only. I said wow! Even I can water them.

So, for the uninitiated Miyawaki, it is a method of afforestation/planting trees which involves the planting a number of different types of trees close together in a small pit. By closely planting many random trees close together in a small area enriches the green cover and reinforces the richness of the land. This will lead to co-existence of plants and as a matter of fact, each plant draws from the other vital nutrients and they grow to become strong and healthy.

The speed with which forest cover is depleting, where century-old trees are being brought down in a few hours, though this loss is irreversible. But the solution lies in creating Miyawaki forests, which is a method of tree plantation grows saplings 10 times fast and the forest is 30 times denser. In just 2 years the forest growth is unimaginable.

Don’t you think Miyawaki forest is the answer to cities which are turning to concrete jungles? A small patch of forests in multiple locations within the city will act as a green lung for the metro.

A word about the person from whom this concept originated – Akira Miyawaki from Japan is advocating the value of natural forests and the urgent need to restore them from the last four decades.

Akira Miyawaki is a Japanese botanist and expert in plant ecology, specializing in seeds and the study of natural forests. He is active worldwide as a specialist in the restoration of natural vegetation on degraded land. Since 1993, he has been Professor Emeritus at Yokohama National University and Director of the Japanese Center for International Studies in Ecology. He received the Blue Planet Prize in 2006.

Our salute to Miyawaki and our home-grown Dr Chetan Singh Solanki, Prof. IITB and Solar Energy Pioneer who are doing remarkable work towards creating awareness about green, clean energy access to the world and Subhajit Mukherjee, Environmentalist who is showing the way to Mumbaikars for greener Mumbai.

Currently, Dr Solanki is on a Global mission to sensitize people particularly young generation towards menace of climate change and how it can be countered with renewable energy sources like Solar Energy.

Proud to be associated with him in Gandhi Global Solar Yatra…which is going places literally, not just in India but across continents!

You can visit http://www.ggsy.in to know more, and if you choose to donate, pls do and be a part of this mission which is bound to bring the change.

IITB: Indian Institute of Technology Bombay

Special Thanks to Swati Kalwar for organising this interaction!

#MainBhiChowkidar

On Saturday Modiji launched #MainBhiChowkidar campaign, as soon as I watched the video I was like WOW! And couldn’t stop sharing since. Every Indian must watch. What a way to counter Congress’s narrative on Chowkidar and highly regressive and distasteful – Chowkidar Chor Hai! Looks like it is bound to resonate with Indian public, especially with people who want to see Modiji winning rather sweeping 2019.

PM Modi expressed beautifully in his tweet while sharing the video that every conscious citizen of the country is Chowkidar, we all are Chowkidars in our respective fields. People immediately started responding with their selfies/photographs/ posters and their interests and contributions in respective fields on social media. People are proudly saying #MainBhiChowkidar. After closely watching so many elections, I have never seen such great connection with the concept after “Mile Sur Mera Tumhara” which has celebrities (though it was not for elections), whereas this has aam janta.

PM added, every Indian who is fighting corruption, dirt or any other social evil is a Chowkidar. Everyone working hard for the progress of the country is Chowkidar. Which Indian would not say #MainBhiChowkidar.

The campaign also drives the narrative of PM’s strong and decisive image which is coming up as a very strong point in the coming elections.

The video has anthem style which is melodiously rendered, doesn’t shout out loud – Vote for Modiji – rather it effectively conveys – Vote for the country – Vote for yourself – Vote for your children – Vote for your future. What could have been a better way of communicating than this?

Video urges people to join PM on March 31, for a program titled Main Bhi Chowkidar where he will interact with people across the country for the pledge BJP has leveraged, a unique tech innovation called conversation cards. People have started getting a personal message from PM when they take a pledge.

#MainBhiChowkidar has resonated well with the public in no time.

I personally have contributed to the cause of the country without ever making a big noise about it. I have never taken a bribe, never bribed anyone, tagged authorities and made them act for the garbage heaps, distributed saplings to thousands of people in Schools and Colleges. Associated with Dadar Beach clean up the program. Taken a keen interest in activities of the Government in last five years and have used my social media handles to the full potential to support Modiji.

RAGA’s Chowkidar Chor Hai and Rafale Rafale Rafale and Saboot, Saboot, Saboot have fallen flat, nobody seems to be believing him, though he tried very hard.

Look forward that how Congress counters this campaign, probably with #MainBhiPappu (Due apologies to all the Pappus)

Watch Mile Sur Mera Tumhara for sheer nostalgia as it has been a part of our gowing up years…

 

 

Ayodhya’s answer – Ayutthaya in Thailand

One again Ram Mandir in Ayodhya was in the news yesterday when all TV channels were discussing the topic through panel discussions, and TV anchors were racing for outdoing each other on the subject. A highly disputed and discussed subject on the planet, Ramjanmabhoomi has been a subject of curiosity all over the world. Everyone has its opinion on Ayodhya dispute but no one’s matters.

While Indians were very hopeful that Ram Mandir will be constructed in the tenure of full majority Government of BJP and with Modiji in the centre and Yogiji in UP, this does not look like happening any time soon.  The channels picked up the topic as the Supreme Court on Friday referred to the Ayodhya land dispute case for mediation and ordered panel to start proceeding within a week and complete it in 8 weeks. There is some spark here, hope some way out happens soon…till then you wait, wait and more wait for Mandir in Ayodhya.

But if you are very keen to visit Ayodhya but can’t visit you, can visit Ayutthaya ( Ayodhya ) in Thailand. Though Ram Mandir in Ayodhya still looks like a distant dream for us, we can now do with the grand Ram temple being constructed in Thailand’s Ayutthaya.

The capital of the mightiest Siamese kingdom (33 kings ruled from here) Ayutthaya was indeed named after our own Ayodhya, and many Thai kings have taken on the official title of King Rama I, II, III and so on.

The Ram temple is being constructed on the bank of Chao Phraya river which flows through the heart of Bangkok. It is said that in the 15th century, the capital of Thailand was a city called Ayutthaya, which is Ayodhya in the local language.

When Burmese soldiers overran this city in the 18th century, a new king rose. He called himself Rama I, established the city now known as Bangkok, wrote the epic Ramakien, which is Ramayana in the local language, made it the national epic, and got it painted as murals on the walls of the Temple of the Emerald Buddha, patronised by the royal family, it is believed.

Though he was a Buddhist, the king established his royal credentials by identifying himself with Lord Ram, who was as much a hero for Buddhists of south-east Asia as he was for the Hindus of South Asia.

This once-prosperous Siamese trade and political capital go down as the most glorious as well as the most devastated city in Thai history. Still, tourism is healthy, as the city is bursting with stories to tell.

Wandering through endless ancient ruin sites, you can’t help but feel humbled by the ingenuity of the Ayodha craftsmen and their powerful spiritual beliefs. At the centre of Ayutthaya City is Ayutthaya Historical Park – a UNESCO World Heritage Site – the most visited site in the area. Here, the four spectacular temples of the early Ayutthaya period (1350 – 1529) stand amongst a dense canopy of ancient trees. West of it is the site of the Royal Palace and Royal Chapel (Wat Phra Si Sanphet) – the political and spiritual heart of the lost kingdom.

Ayutthaya is located on a distance of 100 km from Bangkok and it is nearly two hours drive, you can decide to stay overnight there.

So do it with Ayutthaya in Thailand till we have our own in Ayodhya!

 

Ayodhya: Mandir Kab? Vikas Ab!


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While Court was busy in giving tareeq-pe-tareeq, Modiji, Gadkariji and Yogiji developed Ayodhyaji as a remarkable pilgrimage and tourism centre. Now people visiting UP, can’t miss visiting Ayodhya, it is a prominent destination on India’s tourism map and of course holy shrine of all Hindus. Mandir kab Banega, Mujhe Nahi pata, but Ayodhya Jana to Banta hai…

Ayodhya is one such holy city in the entire world which is in the news every day, round the year. Why? I don’t need to tell you here. But recently, it was in News for a different reason, when Mr Nitin Gadkari announced infrastructure projects worth Rs. 5300 crores in Ayodhya, which included improvement of 84 Kosi Parikrama Marg and Ram Van Gaman Marg, which was long overdue. These two projects have religious significance for pilgrims.

With Yogiji as CM of UP, Ayodhya got its due, many infrastructure projects have been commissioned, Saryu aarti became the talk of the town and tourists have started visiting Ayodhya. Though Ram Mandir is still subjudice with next hearing coming up in Supreme Court soon (tareeq pe tareeq), if doesn’t get shelved as has been happening from last so many months, testing the patience of Indian public. All are helplessly watching – when Ayodhya dispute will be put up for hearing and will not be deferred on some or the other flimsy ground. Keeping our fingers crossed.

Read on to know its history and geography and more…

The Ayodhya city situated on the banks of the River Saryu being associated with a mythological epic Ramayan as the birthplace of Lord Ram has various temples that are prominent spiritual places for tourists to visit. Along with temples,

Historically Ayodhya was known as Saketa which was an important city during the 6th Century in civilized India. Indeed, during Buddha’s time, Saketa was ruled by Prasenadi whose capital was Sravasti. Even, during Maurya rule, Saketa continued its prominence and was attacked by Bactrian Greek expedition allied to Panchala and Mathur during 190 B.C.

During the Gupta rulers, Ayodhya reached its highest political significance such that during the reigns of Kumaragupta and Skandagupta capital of the empire was shifted from Pataliputra to Ayodhya where the old name of Saketa was replaced to Ayodhya. Ayodhya name of the city defines the city as Lord Rama’s capital city. But, during Narasimhagupta the empire was destroyed by Huns that caused the shifting of the capital to Kanauj in the 6th century. It resulted in the oblivion of Ayodhya. In the early second millennium, Gahadavalas came into power at Kannauj. During his rule, Gahadavalas built several Vishnu temples at Ayodhya. In subsequent years, the cult of Rama developed within Vaishnavism, with Rama being regarded as the foremost avatar of Vishnu.

Consequently, Ayodhya’s importance as a pilgrimage centre grew and tourists can visit so many pilgrimage places in Ayodhya. Ayodhya also has various other tourist spots. Some are:

Ram Janmabhoomi Temple

However, the area of Ram Janmabhoomi is disputed since the destruction of Babri Masjid built on it; yet due to its mythological association with Ramayan as the birthplace of Lord Ram, this place is a major tourist attraction in Ayodhya. This place possesses spiritual significance for Hindus and hence it is a place worth visiting.

Hanuman Garhi

Another important temple that is situated in Ayodhya is Hanuman Garhi that is solely dedicated to Lord Hanuman. The temple is characterized by the 70 steep steps that should be scaled in order to reach the temple complex. Truly, this place is a must to visit.

Treta Ke Thakur

Treta Ke Thakur is an ancient temple situated on the banks of the river Sarayu in Ayodhya. This temple has a beautiful idol of Lord Ram carved out in black sandstones.

Kanak Bhawan

This temple is built on an area that was supposed to house another temple which was gifted to Sita immediately after her marriage by Lord Ram. The temple was later renovated by King Vikramaditya of the Paramara dynasty and again rebuilt in 1891. This temple has a marvellous architecture that makes it worth visiting.

After the independence of India from British rule, Ayodhya has been an important city of Uttar Pradesh from a spiritual point of view.

The distance between Lucknow to Ayodhya is 135 km by Road and 142 km by Rails. Aerial distance is 125 km. There is/are 15 direct train(s) from Lucknow to Ayodhya. You can reach Lucknow by Air and Train, very well – connected network of airports and railways.

Not only in India, in Uttar Pradesh, in Thailand, but the place known as Ayutthaya is also named after Ayodhya – the birthplace of Lord Rama in India. Thai kings called themselves as Rama and their capital Ayutthaya. Beautiful!!

More on it my next post…

Wedding Reception – laden with so many beautiful memories…

The year started with marriages of two very special people: My batch mate Mukesh Mathur’s daughter, Heetakshi’s marriage followed by Mr Harsh & Mrs Pramila Roongta’s Son Akshay’s marriage to Vasundhara.

My association with Mr Roongta dates back to the year 2008 when I joined ApnaPaisa without having any clue what the future would entail in the hardcore personal finance background. Mr Harsh Roongta is an expert & celebrity columnist and panellists on many TV channels. Voila! It turned out to be such a great experience that 6 years passed like a dream. As the time passed, we all became a family.  While attending the reception, so many memories rolled before my eyes on seeing Rajesh Vyas, Hemang Desai, Sushil Mishra,  Shuklaji and dear Mandakini… missed presence of Mr Balwant Jain ji.

The reception was held at MCA Club BKC and venue is a story in itself…creatively decorated and beautifully lit, I felt like a young girl there…wanted to click selfies all over…

The bride looked resplendent in her outfit – White Lehenga with pink & gold work & Pink Chunri. The impromptu gig performed by their college mates took all of us by surprise.  I and Mandakini had a great time together, relived so many old memories…had a fun time at Selfie booth, take away was our pictures clicked there. Overall, it was an evening to remember for…

Mr & Mrs Roongta showed the same old warmth like always and he was so delighted to see all of us together.

I and Mandakini decided to wear Saree on the occasion. She wore a beautiful yellow saree with Gold cut-work border teamed with a red brocade blouse.

I chose to wear Benarasi Coffee Coloured Saree from House of Triveni  – selected for the occasion from their Sanchari Collection which is sort of assortment of Royalty collection. Intricately layered with golden thread work & broad golden border with designer motifs & extravagant pallu with complimenting blouse.

Malaysia’s Penang Convention & Exhibition Bureau Leads Delegation of 13 to India

Launching New Incentives and Support for the India Market

The Penang Convention & Exhibition Bureau (PCEB) launched its second sales mission to Mumbai on January 10 at the ITC Grand Central as part of the second edition of its Penang Sales Mission to India.

Beginning the mission in Chennai on 7 Jan, the Penang delegation hit Ahmedabad on 9 Jan and will continue on to New Delhi on 14 Jan with the objective of promoting Penang as the preferred destination for corporate and association meetings, conferences, and incentives, and leisure travel.

Led by Ashwin Gunasekeran, Chief Executive Officer of PCEB, the mission is supported by a Penang delegation of 12 partners, including hotels, destination management companies, attractions and theme park, professional conference organisers, event experts, and PCEB’s strategic airline partner, Malaysia Airlines.

Capitalising on Penang’s rising popularity in India, the Penang Sales Mission to India will host, in each of the four cities it is visiting, a B2B engagement session with participating Business Events and leisure travel buyers from India as well as a media session with the local Indian and Business Events media.

Penang’s state executive councillor for Tourism Development, Heritage, Arts & Culture, the Honourable Mr Yeoh Soon Hin will be attending the New Delhi leg where he will be having official meetings with tourism authorities and key players in India.

“This mission is joined by some of Penang’s finest offerings in the hospitality, travel and events sectors, and will showcase the best of what Penang can offer to the Indian market,” he added.

Penang is world-class travel destination, one that is famed for its unique offerings of a modern international island city, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, lush rainforests, beautiful hill station, shopping galore and fabulous food. Additionally, this Northern Malaysian state is also a rising Business Events destination. Currently, Penang is the top-ranked second-tier destination in Malaysia in the ICCA (International Congress and Convention Association).

“India is one of the top five markets for Business Events in Penang, and over the past year, we have received encouraging interest from event planners and conference organisers,” says Ashwin Gunasekeran, the Chief Executive Officer of PCEB.

In 2017, 13% of Business Events of Asia Pacific origin was from India, contributing RM190 mil or USD 46 million. In 2018, Penang’s largest Business Event – V Con 2018 – which saw a participation of 16,000 delegates from around the world reported that 80% of their delegates were from India.

The number of Indian travellers flying into Penang has also increased in recent years. The Penang Immigration Department reported that for the period between Jan to Nov 2018, 7,250 Indian travellers flew into the Penang International Airport, compared to 6,569 in the same period in 2017. The 10.37% increase came despite there not being direct flights between Penang and India.

To further attract the Indian outbound meetings and conference market, PCEB introduced a new support package specially tailored for India. The support packages start from as low as sponsorship of souvenirs and welcome luncheon for the organisers valued at RM2,000 (for confirmed meetings/conferences of 50 to 100 delegates) to hosted site inspections, welcome luncheon for organisers, cultural performances and souvenirs valued at RM15,000 (for incentive groups of 501 delegates and above.

Given the encouraging media coverage of the Penang Sales Mission to India last year, PCEB is also announced that it is running the #BusinessEventsPenang Media Award for India 2019. The award – four full expense paid trip inclusive of flights to Penang for 5D4N to attend PCEB’s BE @ Penang 2019 conference and the media familiarisation tour from 4th to 8th Dec 2019.

Journalists and writers interested in vying for this award must submit the published article or news coverage on the Penang Sales Mission to India 2019 to PCEB by 28th March 2019. Should the submission be in a language other than English, the English translation must be provided. A panel of judges will judge the best reporting for each city, and the announcement of the winner will be made by the end of April 2019.

In the past year, PCEB has heavily invested in marketing Penang to India, as the potential for growth from the Indian market is vast. Besides the Penang Sales Mission to India 2018 which saw PCEB leading 17 partners to Kolkata, New Delhi, Mumbai and Bangalore, PCEB also joined the Global Panorama Showcase on its 8-city roadshow in 2018.

PCEB won the bid to host Global Panorama Showcase’s EDWIN Educational Programme, the first time the leading Indian travel product brought its programme to Malaysia. This saw PCEB hosting 120 Indian buyers at the inaugural Penang International Travel Exchange (PITE) 2018 from 4 – 8 September 2018.

 

Kumbh Mela: To witness the world’s biggest congregation of humanity

After the tumultuous year 2018, people are hoping big for peace, harmony & spirituality for the year 2019, as it is starting with the Ardh Kumbh Mela 2019, going to be held at Allahabad (Prayag) from January 14th – March 4th, 2019. According to estimates, the Kumbh Mela 2019 would have more than 12 crore pilgrims drawing in for the bathing ritual held in Allahabad.

With PM Narendra Modi performing the Maha Aarti on Sangam Ghat and announcing the prarambh of Ardh Kumbh along with UP CM Yogi Adityanath, this year Kumbh is unquestionably the most anticipated event of the Year 2019. Massive preparations are underway to provide bhakts with never before experienced. In the words of Yogi Adityanath, “ With Kumbh (Ardha Kumbh) Mela due in Prayag in January 2019, the preparations are afoot to host an expected 12 crore visitors. Inviting one and all to be a part of the Mela. He informed about the world-class arrangements of the Kumbh Mela, and of cleanliness. He added, “I promise, you will not find any dirt in the venue, which we have expanded to 10,000 acres from 5,000 acres. Also, this time, the Kumbh Mela will have more cultural attractions than ever before.”

Going by the arrangements put in by the Yogi Government this Kumbh, it is going to be a big tourist attraction for Indian & Foreign Nationals besides being Spiritual, Cultural and Religious experience which comprises its core. The major attractions being Shahi Snan, Sangam Walk and Laser Show etc. Not only this, the Centre has plans to start airboat service from Varanasi to Prayagraj for the Kumbh Mela as per the announcement made by Central Road Transport and Shipping Minister Nitin Gadkari recently. Inland Waterways Authority of India (IWAI) is arranging for a ferry service near Sangam Ghat as well.

Noted film producer Subhash Ghai upheld the Kumbh Mela as an inspiration for all artists. “As artists, we get inspired by history, our epics, our puranic sanskritis and give this punarjivan in our own ways. We consider the age-old Kumbh tradition that was mentioned as early as in the 7th century by Chinese traveller Hiuen Tsang, as a great pride of India. I hope by taking part in the Kumbh Mela, this unique gathering of humans focused on soul and world peace alone, we will give more power to this wonderful tradition.”

The Royal Bath or the Shahi Snan or the Rajyogi Snan is the first holy bath that is taken by Nagas, followed by saints and sages of different Akharas (religious groups) in the Sangam. Millions of pilgrims follow these saints and sages down onto the river; the Nagas take the lead.

The organisers have left no stone unturned to make Kumbh Mela as women-friendly as possible with sensitisation training and the establishment of separate ghat among other measures. The Gobind Ballabh Pant Social Science Institute (GBPSSI) at Prayagraj is training about 8500 police personnel and additional 9000 paramilitaries on gender, cultural and linguistic dialect sensitization. In another first at the Kumbh, women – only ghat is being constructed.

The city of Prayagraj will host its first Kumbh in January 2019 after its recent rechristening. Kumbh Mela 2019 promises to be a grand spiritual event in which millions will throng from around the world at the holy confluence of rivers Ganga, Yamuna and Saraswati.

It is believed that the Kumbh Mela starts when astrological positions of Sun, Moon and Jupiter are fully occupied. This is considered a holy time in the Hindu religion. Prayagraj is connected by air to several domestic destinations. The airport is at Bamrauli and is 12 km away from the city centre. The city has four major railway stations namely Allahabad Junction, Prayag Station, City Station at Rambagh and Daraganj Station. Prayagraj is well connected by road as well.

Millions of people visit Prayagraj during the Kumbh Mela. Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath said that the city expects 15 crore visitors during Kumbh Mela 2019. Peshwai is one of the attractions of the Kumbh Mela. Peshwai marks the beginning of the Kumbh Mela and is a marvellous procession. Holy men and their entourage arrive at the Kumbh on elephants, horses and in carriages.

Uttar Pradesh government is organising Sangam Walk for the tourists visiting the city for Kumbh Mela. A laser-light show will be one of the attractions this year. The show will be held at Allahabad Fort.

Indian, as well as foreign nationals from abroad, are expected to visit the Kumbh Mela. Heads of foreign missions in India were invited by the government to observe the preparations at the site Kumbh Mela.

This is the first time that about 1500 cameras would capture images and videos across the city. This would enable organisers to understand crowd behaviour and pedestrian’s movement which is very critical handle crowds of this scale.

Plan your visit in advance for that unique spiritual experience!

Inputs: News 18 and ET

 

A date with Costa Cruises’s neoRieviera

December 7, 2018, Mumbai: Europe’s No 1 cruising company, Costa Cruises, is commenced its India season for the 3rd time with the arrival of its ship, Costa neoRiviera at the Mumbai International cruise terminal. The day turned out to be truly special when Costa Cruise hosted a DATE with media and bloggers on the Cruise itself, which provided us with some very interesting insights. For me, this was the first time I had seen the ship with such close quarters as we were taken for the entire tour of the ship. Costa newRievera is nothing short of a sailing five – star hotel in the seas from Mumbai via Kochi to Maldives. Icing on the cake was some breathtakingly beautiful on-board performances!

So why should you choose a Costa Cruise?

  • The Only Italian finest cruise to home port in Asia
  • Exclusive entertainment for children
  • No Visa for Indian nationals
  • Children under 18 cruise free if sharing a cabin with two adults
  • A holiday for everyone, fun-filled activities
  • Maximum value with minimum cost

The Mumbai home port starting on December 7, was celebrated in the presence of Shri Tawde, Hon’ble Minister School Education, Sports and Youth Welfare, Hon’ble Minister of State, Water Resources, Ms Stefania Costanza, Consul General of Italy, Shri. Sanjay Bhatia, Chairman of Mumbai Port Trust, Mr Ashish Kumar Singh, Principal Secretary Transport and Ports, other senior Government officials, Marco Salvatico, Director, MICE & India Business Development, Costa Cruises and Smt. Nalini Gupta, Managing Director, Lotus Destinations, Representative of Costa Cruises in India.

The event kicked off with an announcement of the sailing of Costa neoRiviera from Mumbai to the Maldives via Cochin for the 3rd season. The sailings are from 08th December 2018 to 16th March 2019. This is the 3rd season that Costa Cruises will be homeporting in Indian waters and is the only international cruise liner in India to offer regular cruises directly from Mumbai to Maldives, confirming its strong interest in proactively developing the Indian cruise market.

This year Costa Cruises has deployed its ship, Costa neoRiviera which will begin its first sailing from Mumbai with an Indian Wedding. The built-in infrastructure on the ship makes it particularly easy for groups to hold large events in one location. This classic cruise ship has a total of 654 cabins, including sea view cabins and suites with private balconies. With around 670 crew attending to approx. 1,700 passengers, the ship maintains its exclusivity and provides dedicated services to guests. Fully-equipped with a Casino, Theatre, Disco, Ballroom, Grand Bar, it aims to provide plenty in entertainment from Magic shows operas and dancers that will captivate even the most well-travelled folks with spectacular performances.

The ship prides itself in serving up a culinary feast, catering to different dietary needs. Italian food is a speciality, with provision made to ensure customisation towards the Indian market by providing Indian & Jain meals. The wellness centre is spread across 1,300 sq. m with a gym, treatment rooms, sauna and steam room. It also has an outdoor jogging track, 4 Jacuzzis and 2 swimming pools. For those who would like to go shopping, the cruise ship has a duty-free shopping centre and also offers a wide selection of books in the library for book lovers.

Sanjay Bhatia Chairman Mumbai Port added “Cruise Tourism is a niche travel segment and its demand is expanding amongst Indians. Observing this trend, we have planned to encourage Cruise Tourism by inviting cruise liners to explore Indian waters. I am thankful to our Minister who acknowledged and supported our efforts to boost Cruise Tourism”. Elaborating the plans, Mr Bhatia said, “This year we are going to have 60 callings overall in Mumbai, and in April two bigger cruises are coming, which will have 100 callings in Mumbai. There is a new SOP in the Ministry of Tourism and Ministry of Shipping. We are developing this part of the Mumbai a key tourist destination, we are developing an international cruise terminal of the size of the International airport. We are very keen that cruise tourism develops as it would also open many employment avenues. ”

Nalini Gupta, Managing Director, Lotus Destinations, GSA Costa cruise India, says “This is exciting times to be in the cruising industry in India. I am quite confident, every Indian who experiences cruising with neoRiviera will take away nostalgic memories with them” She added, “I would like to thank Costa Cruise headquarters for showing that kind of confidence on Indian markets and Govt of India who is getting Cruising policy into place. I believe that the cruising industry is here to stay and 2020 belongs to cruising industry of the country.”

Memories of Mehrangarh Fort alive, once again!

PeeCee Wedding Wows in Mehrangarh Fort, Jodhpur, ultimate wedding destination!

Circa 2018, Date December 1, when all eyes are on Jodhpur which has moved from being a historical town in Rajasthan to preferred GLOBAL wedding destination of none other than Priyanka Chopra and Nick Jonas.

With this comes alive vivid memories of the marriage of my cousin Aarti’s wedding to Mohit in Jodhpur nearly five years ago, which, our entire clan called “Gwalior Gharana” attended. What to say of hospitality extended by dear Suman Bua and Phoophaji. It was beautiful weather in February when we were privy to the beautiful Rajasthani wedding which was a beautiful amalgamation of show and soul…

Now that International superstar Priyanka Chopra has zeroed in on Jodhpur for her marriage to American pop singer Nick Jonas, once again Jodhpur is in the limelight. Though Deepika and Ranveer chose a villa in far-flung Italy, PeeCee scores more points for choosing regal and historical Mehrangarh Fort and Umaid Bhavan palace.

When Aarti’s marriage ceremony got over, my phoophaji advised us to visit Mehrangarh Fort and Umaid Bhavan Palace which had already caught my fancy while coming to my dear Suman bua’s home for Aarti’s marriage. He arranged a vehicle for us and very next morning we were out to visit Mehrangarh Fort. Though tired because of marriage ceremonies, I was quite excited to visit the fort which looked so imposing to me while driving around the beautiful Rajasthan city of Jodhpur. Moreover, I have a fetish for forts and I may be credited for visiting several forts of India across States. The palaces in Rajasthan are truly royal and magnificent and it is very difficult to rate them on these parameters. Every fort has its own charm and a story to tell, the only common thread being Rajasthani Culture and architecture. Every fort awe-inspiring, leaving you to spellbound. The story is the same here, when accompanied by my husband Mukund, who was like – Oh another fort, another steep climb, guide telling Raja Rani Kahaniyan…tiring day!

The pre-wedding functions for PeeCee and Nick will unfold over three days, beginning on November 30 and culminating with a wedding (both Christian and Hindu) on December 1 and 2. I have come to know that Priyanka’s sangeet ceremony will be held at the magnificent Mehrangarh Fort, while the Umaid Bhawan Palace Hotel, also in Jodhpur, has been chosen as the nuptial venue.

The Mehrangarh Fort has been known to host high profile events – the enormous 14th-century fort was rented out for Elizabeth Hurley and Arun Nayar’s wedding reception in 2007, and Naomi Campbell’s lavish birthday bash for ex-boyfriend Vladimir Doronin’s 50th birthday. The red sandstone fort, known as the Citadel of the Sun, is built at a height of 125 metres above the city and is surrounded by imposing and intricately carved thick walls. The fort is known for its expansive courtyards and features seven entry gates. The most famous of these gates is the Jaya Pol, constructed by Maharaja Man Singh to celebrate his success over the armies of Jaipur and Bikaner. Fatteh Pol, which also means victory gate, was raised by Maharaja Ajit Singh to celebrate the defeat of the Mughals. The fort also houses several other structures such as the Moti Mahal (Pearl Palace), Phool Mahal (Flower Palace), Sheesha Mahal (Mirror Palace), Sileh Khana, Daulat Khana, and one of Rajasthan’s most well-stocked museums, the Mehrangarh Museum.

I spent quite a lot of time in Mehrangarh Fort and believe me every moment was worth it.

Wish Priyanka Chopra well for her regal marriage ceremony in Mehrangarh Fort in Jodhpur.