Category Archives: Destinations

PM Modi features in Man Vs Wild on Discovery Channel, one of its kind adventure travails!

A few days ago, a video suddenly caught my fancy, especially as a travel – blogger and the one who watches Modiji’s activities closely, where he was shown with Bear Grylls, do I know about him?  I thought he was the one who shot one such documentary with the U.S. President Barack Obama, and all of us thought to wish we had such a cool head of state. Indeed, today we have one!  He is the one who thinks innovatively to serve the cause of the nation be it of environment conservation or education of girl child. He has his plate full. I noticed PM Modi in a never seen before avatar in this highly viral documentary. Like you all, my curiosity also grew and tried to find more on this!

So for the first time, India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi is going to be featured on the popular TV show Man vs Wild with Bear Grylls, the show’s host.

He posted a teaser clip and wrote, “People across 180 countries will get to see the unknown side of PM @narendramodi as he ventures into Indian wilderness to create awareness about animal conservation & environmental change.

Mark your calendar to Catch Man Vs Wild with PM Modi @DiscoveryIN on August 12 @ 9 PM. 

Modiji is known for being media savvy and using new avenues to reach out to the younger generation. This video can be seen as his latest gesture in this regard. The video shows dark forests, unexplored flora and fauna and tigers in all its wilderness!

As per a statement released by the makers of the show, Modi said, “For years, I have lived among nature, in the mountains and the forests. These years have a lasting impact on my life. So when I was asked about a special programme focussing on life beyond politics and that too in the midst of nature I was both intrigued and inclined to take part in it.”

He added, “For me, this show presents a great opportunity to showcase to the world India’s rich environmental heritage and stress on the importance of environment conservation and living in harmony with nature. It was a great experience spending time in the jungle once again, this time with Bear, who is blessed with indefatigable energy and quest to experience nature at its purest.”

Bear Grylls also talked about the episode and said, “It is such a privilege to be taking Prime Minister Modi on an adventure into the Indian wilderness and I feel truly honoured to get to spend time with this remarkable world leader. The wild reminds us that we need each other and that together we are stronger. I am so excited to spend time with the PM and to get to know the man who leads this great nation.”

The show is known for its host Bear Grylls’ survival techniques in extreme conditions and his love for flora and fauna. In the 45-second teaser video, a voiceover introduces Modi as the head of the largest democracy in the world.

It further shows Modi welcoming Grylls in India, and then taking a trip to the interiors of India together. At one point in the video, Grylls gives Modi a jacket to keep him safe.

The video promises a fun ride into the diverse wildlife of India and how to reach there through different means.

Who is Bear Grylls?

Edward Michael Grylls OBE (born 7 June 1974), better known as Bear Grylls, is a British former SAS serviceman, survival instructor, and honorary lieutenant-colonel, and, outside his military career, an adventurer, writer, television presenter and businessman. He is widely known for his television series Man vs. Wild (2006–2011), originally titled Born Survivor: Bear Grylls for the United Kingdom release. Grylls is also involved in a number of wilderness survival television series in the UK and US. In July 2009, Grylls was appointed the youngest-ever Chief Scout of the United Kingdom and Overseas Territories at age 35, a post he has held for a second term since 2015.

Do I need to write anything about Modiji? Not at all! He is the world’s most talked about, written about and most followed leader on social media & he is our Prime Minister.

Dr Ram Manohar Lohia Park: Green Lung of Lucknow

Now, I will take you from where I had left, Janeshwar Mishra Park, Lucknow. After having some great time in the morning, we moved on to Lucknow’s Lohia Park in Gomti Nagar, which looked to me nearly 20 minutes’ drive. Indeed, Lucknow’s greenery and cleanliness are talking points. Janeshwar Mishra Park is very well-structured, equipped with modern amenities, you name it and have it, overall made by planning and design (by LDA) offering a variety of experiences for one and all.

But, if you are a true nature lover, love your morning walk and jog, yoga and meditation or just love to sit and look around, and if you love to blog and write (like me), Lohia Park is the place to be in. The park is lush green, which made Me Mumbaikar green with envy. We don’t have anything anywhere close to this park. Amidst sky-scrapers, highways, metros, flyovers, commercial offices, schools, hospitals…we have forgotten that what a good park is like.

Me, Ritu & Kamalji, after buying tickets at the park’s entrance started walking on the jogging track which was covered by huge trees. These trees provide dense shade to joggers and walkers like us, I am sure temperature would have been 1-2 degrees less than the city. On both sides, there are green belts, some rare flora and fauna, unique variety of plants, trees, some very old trees, flower beds, water bodies and an imposing statue of Lohia ji. No wonder, Lucknow is known for its statues…more on statues later!

…While we were walking, I spotted a swing and I did not miss the opportunity of being on the swing. I don’t remember how many years ago I sat on a swing, real swing not the ones we have in Essel World, Imagica, Singapore’s Sentosa Island or Hong Kong’s Disney. Who would know the pleasure of swinging on a simple swing except for our generation! Gen Y doesn’t even know what they have missed!!

I was told that park is developed by Lucknow Development Authority (LDA) and I must say there are doing the commendable job by keeping Lucknow Green and Lucknowites Pink. Made in the memory of Dr. Ram Manohar Lohia ji, the park is spread in 76 acres. It has four courtyards and all have ticket windows with ample parking space.

Starting from the South-East corner of the park, the Main Navigation Path goes through the centre and ends at the North-East corner, measuring around 1 kilometre in length and 4.50 metres in width. The Main Navigation Path which is made up of Kota stones flooring also has a strip in the middle of the path where seasonal flowers are grown. Special architectural lights on designer polls can be seen all around the navigation path.

Right from the entrance, there are pathways in various directions of the park along with natural mounds, flower nursery and other areas. It looks like a light spreading in various directions. The total length of these light beam path is 2.7 kilometres and it is made up of vitrified tile along with white sandstone strips in the middle.

The semi-circular path situated near the main memorial area is almost 500 metres long, also six memory columns and walls are situated along the semi-circular path.

Just near the main memorial area, a flower garden is located in the area of 2 acres. This garden is always blooming with seasonal flowers, also there is a baradari located in the middle of the garden.

A unique system for Rain Water Harvesting has been installed in the park.

Indeed, I loved being there, more than anywhere else in Lucknow. Can’t thank Ritu and Kamalji enough. They are just wonderful hosts…

 

 

 

Hussain Sagar Lake & Hyderabad Blues!


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We planned to visit iconic Hussain Sagar Lake of Hyderabad while returning from Chilkur Balaji Temple, it was afternoon time, dark and cloudy, even drizzling. In such a weather, any site could not have been more fascinating than Hussain Sagar Lake in Hyderabad. The lake is situated in the midst of twin cities: Hyderabad & Secunderabad. The lake is so huge that it almost looked like a seashore, in the middle of the lake, there is a huge statue of standing Lord Buddha which has a height of 16 m and weighs almost 350 tonnes. Made up of white granite, the statue is on the ‘Rock of Gibraltar’. The lighting show at the statue is something that is worth watching.

The stroll on the sides of the lake was quite pleasant and soothing. Had I been living in Hyderabad; I would have visited this place quite often. It was a pleasant site to see the cleanliness around the lake. In fact, all places which we visited were quite clean, rather spic and span, which made a rather unusual sight for #MeMumbaikar. Probably this is the impact of Modiji’s Swachchta Abhiyan for which we are paying 2% Cess. At least in some state, it is properly utilised.

Having been bordered by Indira Park in the east, Sanjeevaiah Park in the north and Lumbini Park in the south, the lake presents a setting quite rare to find in the middle of any city. There is also a bund on its banks, which was built to control the flow of water. This artificial lake now beautifies the city gracefully. Not just for beauty, it is also known for its historical connection. On the banks of this Hussain Sagar Lake, the treaty between Mughals and Golconda was signed.

This trip took us around the city which boasts of huge commercial buildings, shopping malls and shopping arcades and general shops. Roads are wide and well maintained, traffic moderate and everything easily accessible. There is an impressive network of Metros which must be helping office goers in a big way. There are many flyovers also, which boasts of vertical gardens beneath. Yea, the striking feature would be that though the city has the tag of tech city with a lot of development taking place all over, lots of residential complexes and commercial complexes coming up all over, the city boasts of its fair share of greenery all over.

My cousin Vandana shared that ladies love to work here that way it is quite safe for them. It is very well lit and some areas are quite impressive with their lighting. If you are in Hyderabad, Hyderabadi Biryani is must, we could see Biryani joints all over along with some attractive pan boutiques. Paradise Biryani, being most famous and biggest, has a junction in its name called Paradise junction. Vandana hosted us most delicious biryani I could think of made by her expert cook Shabana, under the guidance of Vandana. One more memorable experience!

Shopping in Hyderabad is quite a delightful experience for its inimitable pearls, south silk Mangalgiri cotton, Gadhwal silks and Kanjeeverams and other assortment of beautiful and reasonably priced sarees. I freaked out on them…shop keepers and staff are very cordial; they show you any number of pieces without any expectations and are very well – equipped with interiors, lighting, display and staff. They speak very good Hindi besides Telugu and English and understand the consumer’s pulse.

I noticed two Kendriya Vidyalayas and many other schools in the vicinity. Hyderabad is famous Education Centre and boasts of ISB, Administrative Staff College of India, IPS Police academy and ICFAI.

Indeed, we loved being in Hyderabad and spending some very quality time with my cousin Vandana, who I believe equally cherished my company. Hyderabad Blues persist

Charminar, Hyderabad: Yeh Dil Maange More!!

June 28: Day 3 in Hyderabad


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After enjoying two-days stay in lush – green Aalankrita Resort, now was the time to move on to my cousin Vandana’s place in Jeedimetla, Hyderabad. They (Vandana & Jijaji) keenly awaited our arrival in their beautiful apartment and loving hearts. This was the first time I was visiting them with husband Mukund. Our meeting was like a house on fire!

After the initial meeting, greeting and eating, sisters set out for the day outing. Though the day was not that well-planned, it turned out to be the most exciting day of the entire trip. We set out for iconic Charminar where her friend Shahla with her daughter Laiba joined us. I had never visited Charminar earlier, so I was quite excited to view it even from a distance.

An identifying feature of the city, Charminar is the most prominent landmark located right in the heart of Hyderabad. The monument was erected by Quli Qutub Shah to signify the founding of Hyderabad. As is evident from the structure, it was so named as it consists of four minarets. Although it lies right in the centre of the city with traffic and crowds milling all about it, Charminar certainly manages to hold the gaze. It is also famous for the market that sprawls around it and is called ‘Laad’ or ‘Chudi’ Bazaar.

The market was not open yet, so we had to make up with the whatever shops were open. If it is a Friday, then visit Charminar market only after 3 PM before that market doesn’t open that much. After scouting for some bedspreads, we moved on for some marriage shopping, which Shahla wanted to do. Initially, I got slightly nervous as I found the market quite strange, with no women present in the market. We were the only bunch of women in the market. But I must admit that shop keepers were really respectful and cordial, who showed us many pieces. She picked up some beautiful suits, dress material for shararas, kurtas and dupattas. Though the market is very big around Charminar, there are no eating joints, so we had to catch whatever was available from a streetside joint. Snacks were really delicious.

It was not just shopping time, but bonding time too! Though I met Shahla and her daughter Laiba for the first time, we bonded well. There were discussions on choices, selections, occasions, children, family, engagement and Shahla shared some fine details about Nikaah ceremony.

I and Vandana clicked a lot of pictures, she was very generous with that. We recollected those good old days when we were studying and strutted around the Rajouri Garden market for the nitty-gritty. For the first time, I saw some beautiful Khada Dupatta outfits worn by Muslim brides. I must admit that the outfits were really creative and reasonably priced.

Now was the time to visit Bangle Bazaar, actual name Laad Bazaar in the vicinity of Charminar, you can’t call them Bangle shops, they are fit to be called Bangle Boutiques which sold some outstanding collections. Shopkeepers stand outside and lovingly address you as Baaji (Sister) for inviting you to their shops. The self-confessed, bangles obsessed that I am, it was a mecca for bangle shoppers like me. I did not know what to pick, what to leave. I had a great time looking at such beautiful, intricately worked bangles, finally, Vandana helped me with picking some. Now some clarity came, and I freaked out on bangles, jhumkas, chokers, sets etc. I have returned several hundred bangles richer.

While in Laad Bazaar, use your bargaining skills to the T.

Shahla did that for me, I had laddoos in both hands, Shahla bargained and Vandana paid…

Couldn’t have asked for more!!

But I was like, “Yeh Dil Maange More!!

#Aniwedssoumya – Taking a leaf from Chetan Bhagat’s Two States – North-South Marriage

It took me quite a while to convince myself to travel to Hyderabad for Aniruddh’s wedding. How much so ever, I wanted to travel, the circumstances were just not favouring my wish… 

… I was plain lucky, my wish was granted! 

Aniruddh happens to be the dear son of Aparna & Praveen Chaturvediji, and our friendship dates back to some 25 years odd while I was with PICUP, Lucknow. It was very gracious of her to have maintained the same relation as ever. I always wanted to attend the wedding but as it was in Hyderabad, I was not very sure of attending it. But Aparna ji literally helped me make up my mind and the program. I don’t have a sister, so she is like my elder sister, whom I fondly address as Di always, keeping official relation aside.

All of a sudden, I was all set to travel to Hyderabad to Anriruddh and Soumya’s wedding. Moreover, I had never attended any South Indian marriage as far as my memory goes, so I was particularly excited.  When Aparna di told me that Soumya is from Andhra Pradesh, my mind went back to the movie written by Chetan Bhagat – Two States. It was going to be North-South marriage. This was the only similarity, there was no opposition from any side, as was shown in the movie. Chaturvedis were most happy to have Soumya as their daughter-in-law. Aparna di would be most loving, friendly and cooperative saasu ma…Soumya would be lucky to have her in her life!

…we landed in Hyderabad on June 26, excitedly reached the beautiful marriage venue – Aalankrita Resort, Thumkunta Village, Hyderabad. It is a breathtakingly beautiful, spacious, aesthetically done, green 4-star resort which was a dream for a destination wedding. The rooms were spacious and well – equipped, presenting a lovely view with very cordial staff to boot. They were smilingly at our service always…

On reaching Aalankrita, we had breakfast at Aashna restaurant, which served sumptuous American breakfast with an assortment of some interesting South-Indian fare. Chaturvedi’s were most welcoming hosts, including Anirudh and her sister Tanya. These children have grown before us so excitement was even more to see them married and Tanya strutting around with her cute toddlers – Son & Daughter. The excitement was palpable on her face as the groom’s sister.

After enjoying breakfast, we moved to the room to get ready for Mehndi in the afternoon at lovely venue Tapasya, which was very aesthetically decorated for the occasion – The Mehendiwalis, the churiwalas, the chunri walas and the dholak walis. Dholak ki Thaap, Churiyon ki jhankar, Mehendi ka Rang and piping hot tea, made the perfect setting. I could not resist dancing to old Hindi songs and all loved it. I picked up some nice assortment of bangles, which beautifully complimented my sarees.

Now, the evening was a time of some real action and fun, the time for seherabandi, safabandi and baraat. Anirudhji dulha ban chuke the

Dancing to some thumping Bollywood numbers, big, fat, Chaturvedi baraat joined by family, relatives and friends reached bride’s place…where all baratis were accorded traditional welcome. This was followed by Sangeet ceremony where few performances are worth mentioning, Bride & groom’s medley of retro songs, Tanya and her husband Sanjay’s – Swag se karenge sabka swagat, Cheena didi and her husband’s nostalgic dance to – Ik pyaar ka nagma hai, Cheena’s didi’s ( Aparna di’s charming elder sister) inimitable Ghoomer dance. Her energy and spirit were matchless. Another one by two sisters – Radha Kaise na jale! As Cheena didi entered in her beautiful Padmavat style – Marwari Style lehenga chunri and rakhdi, I knew there is a Ghoomar dance in the offing.

It was almost mid-night and none of us wanted to sleep…

…Another action-packed day awaited us!

June 27, was the day of Panigrahan Sanskar – the marriage ceremony!

The marriage was performed in South Indian and North Indian ways, both with equal detailing, mantra and pheras. Soumya looked beautiful South Indian bride in her Red Kanjiveram and intricately embroidered blouse, complimenting traditional temple jewellery. The mandap was strikingly beautiful done up with Mogra flowers which were spreading the unique aroma. As in all the ceremonies, Aparnaji and Tanya looked resplendent in their beautiful sarees and lehengas.

Now was the time for cocktails & dinner which was in the open lawns, everybody decked up to the hilt and in some real classic, jewellery and finery, the evening started with cake cutting and Champaign opening. A video played in the backdrop with Anirudh and Soumya’s childhood photos, their friends and relatives wishing them from the U.S. and some other places.

To make the occasion memorable, I chose to wear sarees from Triveni Sarees, who made this selection for me, which earned me a lot of compliments. I wore magenta and blue temple border raw silk saree from Triveni for morning marriage function and in the evening, I wore Kanjiveram weave (from Tamil Nadu) saree in pink -orange and sea green gold pallu in traditional Gujarati way, thus ending the occasion with Two States. This was from their newly launched collection – Shakunt Weaves. My temple jewellery and Laxmi necklace complimented the sarees beautifully! For the first time, for any marriage, I shopped to my heart’s content, I enjoyed it and everyone loved it!

Thanks, Triveni for helping in the selection and making the occasion truly memorable!

I made a cute & pretty friend Asmita Sahoo, who gave me some valuable styling tips for all occasions.

A chance meeting with old friend & colleague Deepika Kumar.

Special mention of Aparnadi’s Mausaji, retired I.A.S. from Hindu College ( my college) who passed out the year I was born. Great interaction with very charming senior couple!

No saree experience is complete without mention of Bhagyashree who revived my interest in wearing saree after many many 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!

 

Promoting the Buddhist Circuit by conserving the cultural inheritance of Aurangabad

Maharashtra Tourism Development Corporation (MTDC) in association with Ministry of Tourism organized an International Buddhist Conclave in Aurangabad on 24th August 2018 with an aim to enlighten the people on various destinations associated with the Buddhist culture in the state. The idea is to highlight and promote Ajanta and Ellora as a tourist hotspot in the international Buddhist Tourism map.

MTDC is working to create new avenues in the state for Buddhist Tourism by strengthening their ties with Buddhist nations around the globe. MTDC is also planning to offer its land bank to Buddhist countries for developing Buddhist theme park and monasteries near Ajanta, the UNESCO heritage site in Aurangabad. MTDC is planning to tie up with KJ Somaiya Centre for Buddhist Studies to introduce new tour packages to promote Buddhist Tourism in the state.

The Ministry of Tourism has selected Ajanta and Ellora, UNESCO heritage sites under their Iconic Destination Project, to offer world-class amenities to the tourists. The Ministry of Tourism is also joining hands with the Ministry of Highways to develop the roads in Aurangabad for better connectivity of the iconic caves with the airport so that it becomes convenient for tourists coming in from other locations in the country.

Maharashtra has rich Buddhist heritage and culture. It is an idyllic destination for visitors who are looking for harmony and peace. Maharashtra Tourism Development Corporation (MTDC) is encouraging local bodies to build Buddhist Circuits in the state. Some of the Buddhist Circuits are Stupa in Nalasopara, Global Vipassana Pagoda in Gorai, Mandapeshwar Caves in Borivali, Chaityabhoomi in Dadar, Elephanta Caves and Kanheri Caves in Sanjay Gandhi National Park, Karla and Bhaja Caves in Pune, Pandavleni Caves in Nashik, Deekshabhoomi in Nagpur, along with the UNESCO heritage sites at Ajanta and Ellora in Aurangabad.

Commenting on the occasion, Shri Jaykumar Rawal, Hon’ble Minister of Tourism, Government of Maharashtra said, “It’s a privilege to be part of the International Buddhist Conclave in Aurangabad which offers an excellent opportunity for us to come together with all Buddhist countries under one roof and discuss mutual prospects and develop new opportunities. The main aim is to highlight the significant locations where Lord Buddha preached, taught and attainted enlightenment or nirvana in the state.”

Shri Vijay Kumar Guatam (IAS), Principal Secretary, Tourism and Culture, Government of Maharashtra added, “I am overwhelmed with the support we have received during the recent Buddhist Conclave 2018. Through this initiative, we would like to promote Lord Buddha’s teachings and encourage the rich heritage of the great religion. This event has helped in strengthening the ties between India and other countries. This is just a start and I feel there is much more to discover, we look forward to welcoming the Buddhists explorist across the globe.”

Commenting on the occasion, Shri Suhas Diwase, Managing Director, Maharashtra Tourism Development Corporation said, “Our objective is to widen the potential of Buddhist Tourism across the globe by encouraging tourists from Buddhist nations to experience its rich legacy through Buddhist monuments and centres in the state. I am certain that this step will prove to be of great interest to the tourists who wish to explore more about Lord Buddha’s journey and self-discovery and help in attracting visitors from other Buddhist nations like Japan, Sri Lanka, Thailand among others.”

About MTDC:

Tourism is one of the fastest growing sectors in the state that has generated substantial foreign exchange and significant employment prospects. Maharashtra Tourism Development Corporation (MTDC) was established with the aim of promoting tourism in the state.

Maharashtra is one of the most popular tourist destinations in India offering a diverse range of experiences from pristine beaches, wildlife sanctuaries, hill stations, natural caves, waterfalls, to imposing forts, colourful festivals, ancient pilgrimage shrines, museums, and historical monuments. For further details, please visit: http://www.maharashtratourism.gov.in/

 

Quick getaway places in Maharashtra to beat the heat this summer

Nestled in the tranquil mountains of Sahyadri range and the Western Ghats, Maharashtra is home to several hill stations with pristine natural beauty and peaceful surrounding. These hill stations are quick getaway destinations from the hustle and bustle of the city which allow the travellers to enjoy the fresh air that refreshes mind, body and soul. Maharashtra Tourism Development Corporation brings the coolest places for this summer vacation to enjoy the scenic beauty.

Mahabaleshwar

Zigzag roads, gushing cool breeze, vantage points with spectacular valley and buzzing flea market is the reason why one must visit Mahabaleshwar. One of the many highpoints of going to this place is to visit the strawberry ranches in and around the beautiful hill station.

Mahabaleshwar

How to get there

By Air: The nearest airport to Mahabaleshwar is Pune airport. The airport is well-connected to major cities in India.

By Rail: The nearby railway network is Satara, which is around 55 km away while the major railway junction is at Pune, 120 km

By Road: Many state transport buses go to Mahabaleshwar or one can also opt for private transport

Things to do and see:   

  • For the adrenaline rush, one can enjoy horse riding. For first-timers, this might be a bit of a task but it can certainly add a little adventure to their trip
  • Pratapgad Fort is just 22 kilometres from Mahabaleshwar and is positioned 1,080 meters above sea level, overlooking the road between the villages of Par and Kinesvar
  • Elephant’s Head Point is one of the finest points where the overhanging cliffs look like an elephant’s head and trunk
  • Mahabaleshwar Temple, a prominent landmark for tourists, has Lord Shiva as its deity

Where to stay:

MTDC Resorts in Mahabaleshwar offers a comfortable stay overlooking nature’s beauty.

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 Matheran

Extremely popular for its stunning views of the Western Sahyadris, Matheran is a hill station just about 100 km from Mumbai. Its proximity to the city makes it one of the most frequented holiday getaways for Mumbaikars. The climate is always pleasing, allowing a bunch of activities suitable for all age groups. Indeed, one of the best places for a stress-free vacation!

How to get there

By Air: Chhatrapati Shivaji International Airport Mumbai which is at a distance of around 100 km from Matheran is the nearest airport

By Rail: Matheran railway station is linked to most major cities and it is also connected with Mumbai and Pune railway junctions. Tourist can step down at Neral to head towards Matheran.

By Road: Mumbai and Pune are connected to Matheran through the Mumbai Pune Expressway

Things to do and see:

  • One can experience a majestic view of the sunrise at the Panorama Point in Matheran
  • Enjoy a remarkable view of the city and the remains of Prabal and Vishalgad Fort
  • Matheran is home to a diverse species of monkeys and langurs
  • Rambagh point is one of the most prominent picnic spots, offering a remarkable view of Karjat and Khandal

Where to stay:

MTDC Resorts in Matheran is located amidst lush green hills and valleys which offers a relaxed stay.

Ajmer: The abode of the holy shrine – Hazrat Khwaja Moinuddin Chisti

Last night while watching Travel XP, I noticed they were showing a Dargah, which looked very familiar to me and my joy knew no bounds when I came to know that it was none other than famed Dargah of Ajmer, Rajasthan, India.

I have very fond childhood memories of visiting Dargah when my chacha (father’s younger brother) use to take us while we visited him during our summer vacations in our school days. I was very fascinated by the shrine as it had very divine and serene atmosphere with a huge congregation of devotees always. Childhood memories became vivid as the show moved on, I recollected visiting all these places as a child but unfortunately could not visit in a long time, though I always long to visit the place especially for Dargah.

Any tourist visiting the state of Rajasthan cannot afford to miss the Hazrat Khwaja Moinuddin Chisti Dargah in Ajmer besides many other things which beautiful city of Ajmer has to offer. It is old saying that people who visit Ajmer Sharif and pray with pure faith and loyalty at his Dargah will free their soul. Hazrat Khawaja Moinuddin Hasan Chishti is also known by different names as, Khawaja Gharib Nawaz, “Sultan-Ul-Hind”, Khwaja Baba, Khwaja Gharib Nawaz Ajmeri, Khwaja Sahib, Khwaja Saheb, Khwaja Ajmeri Saint Moinuddin Chishty. The Dargah Khawaja Gharibnawaz ( R.A) has several tombs, buildings, Daalaans and courtyards are of  Mughal architecture. As a child, the big degchi fascinated me the most where tons of rice was cooked for Chadava and devotees. I always wondered how they would be cooking in such a huge vessel and that still remains a mystery.

Ajmer Sharif Dargah, Ajmer Dargah, Ajmer Sharif or Dargah Sharif is a Sufi shrine (Dargah) of a Sufi saint, Moinuddin Chishti located in Ajmer, Rajasthan, India. The shrine has the grave (Maqbara) of the revered saint, Moinuddin Chisti. The dargah of Moinuddin Chishti (Gharib Nawaz -Benefactor of the Poor), is an international waqf, an Islamic mortmain managed by the Dargah Khwaja Saheb Act, 1955 of the Government of India.

Ajmer Sharif Dargah is 2 kilometres (1.2 mi) away from the main central Ajmer Railway station and situated at the foot of the Taragarh hill, and consists of several white marble buildings arranged around two courtyards, including a massive gate donated by the Nizam of Hyderabad and the Akbari Mosque, built by the Mughal emperor Shah Jahan. It contains the domed tomb of the saint.

Akbar and his queen used to come here by foot on pilgrimage from Agra every year in observance of a vow when he prayed for a son. The large pillars called “Kose (‘Mile’) Minar”, erected at intervals of two miles (3 km) along the entire way between Agra and Ajmer mark the places where the royal pilgrims halted every day. It has been estimated that around 150,000 pilgrims visit the site every day.

The main gate to the shrine is the Nizam Gate, followed by the Shahjahani Gate, erected by the Mughal emperor Shah Jahan. In turn, it is followed by the Buland Darwaza, built by Sultan Mahmood Khilji, upon which is hoisted the urs flag, marking the beginning of the death anniversary rituals.

So if you are planning a trip to Rajasthan, do pay obeisance to the holy shrine in Ajmer and achieve that unique divine experience.

Source: Wikipedia

Desaru Coast set to welcome Indian business and leisure travelers in 2018

Malaysia’s First Premium Integrated Destination to increase Tourist Receipts with New Offerings

 “India has always been an important market for Malaysia. In 2016, a total of 6,38,578 Indian travelers visited Malaysia, maintaining its position as the sixth top tourist generating market to the country. Desaru Coast will definitely make the Indian excited and thus giving a boost to arrivals to the country” said Mr. Mohd Hafiz Hashim, Director – Tourism Malaysia, Mumbai. He was speaking during the exclusive preview of Desaru Coast here in Mumbai recently.

Speaking on the occasion, Mr Philip Whittaker, Chief Executive Officer of Integrated Theme Parks & Attractions and Chief Commercial Officer of Themed Attractions Resorts & Hotels Sdn. Bhd. Said, “  “Desaru Coast’s India tour will open doors for us to connect with buyers of all sectors within the travel-value chain commerce whilst positioning Desaru Coast as the destination of choice amongst holidaymakers and business travelers alike within the region. We look forward to sharing a preview of the destination that will appeal to international travelers with its myriad of offerings.”

 Ms. Olivia Ooi, Senior Vice President, Destination Sales & Marketing, 2. Mr. Philip Whittaker, Chief Executive Officer of Integrated Theme Parks & Attractions and Chief Commercial Officer of Themed Attractions Resorts & Hotels Sdn. Bhd.
3. Ms. Kristine Lim, Vice President, Destination Sales & Marketing

Developed by Desaru Development Holdings One Sdn. Bhd., Desaru Coast is located at the south-eastern region of Malaysia, spanning over 3,900 acres along an unspoiled 17km beachfront facing the South China Sea. The destination is easily accessible via land, ferry, and air. Desaru Coast is home to four globally renowned hotels and resorts, two world-class golf courses, a themed water park, a retail village as well as a conference centre.

Anchored by Desaru Coast Adventure Waterpark, one of the world’s biggest water parks with the largest wave pool in Southeast Asia, the attraction also presents visitors with a Malaysian fishing village atmosphere. Visitors can also experience the first water coaster in the region and a unique mix of wet and dry rides.

The fully-integrated beach-front destination will encompass globally renowned hotels and resorts namely The Westin Desaru Coast Resort, Anantara Desaru Coast Resort & Villas and Hard Rock Hotel Desaru Coast.

Adding to the vast array of leisure and holistic offerings is Desaru Coast Riverside, a 23-acre water-front landscaped retail and lifestyle village located in the heart of Desaru Coast that delivers an all-inclusive leisure experience, including a range of retail, eateries and entertainment outlets. Completing the unique blend of experiences that the multi-billion-dollar integrated destination has to offer is the Desaru Coast Conference Centre, an equipped multipurpose venue with a banquet area and exhibition space that can host up to 1,000 participants. The conference centre is furnished with meeting and breakout rooms, VIP lounges, a pre-function area, and courtyard to cater to MICE events, corporate functions and entertainment events.

Golf aficionados will get the chance to tee-off at the first Els Club in Southeast Asia, the third in the world, The Els Club Malaysia in Desaru Coast. The Els Club Desaru Coast comprises two championship golf courses, the 27-hole Ocean Course and the 18-hole Valley Course. Managed by Troon Golf, the Ocean Course was designed by 4-time Major Champion, Ernie Els, while the Valley Course was designed in collaboration with Els’ long-standing friend and major champion, Vijay Singh. Golfers can be guaranteed a world-class golf experience with an incredible view.

Desaru Coast is set to unveil its destination offerings in stages, with the opening of The Els Club Desaru Coast – Ocean Course in September 2016 and The Els Club Desaru Coast – Valley Course in March 2017, followed by the remaining components from end June 2018.

The Indian travel community and visitors are welcomed to find out more about the latest updates on Desaru Coast developments at SATTE, New Delhi, Booth no. E170, Hall 1 (January 31st – February 2nd, 2018).

For more information, visit www.desarucoast.com