Category Archives: Sight seeing

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.”

This summer head to ND’s Film World, near Mumbai

ND’s Film World, first of its kind Bollywood theme park in Karjat (64 Kms. from Mumbai), offers visitors a platform to fulfil their filmy dreams and much more. Visitors can explore their favourite film characters and sets of super-hit films like Jodha Akbar, Prem Ratan Dhan Payo, Jail, Indu Sarkar and many more. Everything is larger than life here and India’ first Bollywood theme park very well lives up to the tag line: Jeelo Apni Filmy Khwahishein. Not only that, visitors can also dress like their favourite Bollywood stars and there is a 20 percent discount on the entry fee from Monday to Wednesday.

ND Art World Pvt Limited was started in 2002 by the veteran art director Shri. Nitin Chandrakant Desai to create a foothold in the entertainment industry. Shri. Desai started his career as an art director with Tamas and then moved on to the big screen. He worked on a variety of films winning many national awards for his early works. In 2005, he started ND, a film and television production studio, in Karjat. At ND Studios, he has created a place where there are no restrictions for art to flourish. The studio offers a unique proposition as it provides services for all stages of Film production, from the initial stage of storyboarding to the final stage of VFX.

As Nitin Desai started out as a production designer, he believes in giving attention to every detail of his design, in a similar way he believes that every production-taking place in ND Studios should have minute attention to detail and he wants to guide artists to make the film that they want to make. ND’s Art World has the vision to intersect tourism, media and entertainment industry through India’s first and only entertainment theme park, which is just a few hours’ drive from Mumbai and Pune. This Park is the perfect getaway, which allows visitors to fulfil their filmy wishes and promote Bollywood tourism. You can visit:  http://www.nitindesaiartworld.com

ND’s Film World reservation number – 02192 273354.

When:  Monday to Wednesday (Summer offers), Timings –  10.00 AM to 7.00 PM

Take your children who have a creative streak in them.

Magnificent Mehrangarh Fort, Memorable Trip, Jodhpur, Rajasthan India

We have very fond memories of attending my cousin Aarti’s wedding in Jodhpur some three years ago, which was a typical Rajasthani marriage in Jodhpur. When marriage 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…

Phoophaji arranged a vehicle (read: luxury car) 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 round 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 spell – bound. 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…

…but Mehrangarh was different, it has lifted for tourists to go various levels, one need not necessarily climb rather take the steep walk to visit the fort. I must say a visit to the fort was very enlightening and it opened many layers of Rajputana, Raja-Maharajas, their aesthetic sense, their valour and love of their land. No wonder Mehrangarh has a steady stream of Indian and foreign tourists, in every season. We were lucky to have visited in winter, which further added to our experience about Mehrangarh fort. Standing high above the plains on this isolated rock, the Fort covers an area 460 mts in length and 230 mts in width, with walls that vary in height from 6 to 36 mts.  Inside its ways, there are several palaces, which are known for their intricate carvings and sprawling courtyards. The foundation of the fort was laid on May 12, 1459 by Rao Jodha on a rocky hill nine kilometres to the south of Mandore.

The invincible fortifications are six meters thick. Some of the walls still bear cannon marks they had once withstood. The Chamunda Mataji was Rao Jodha’s favourite goddess, he brought her idol from the old capital of Mandore in 1460 and installed her in Mehrangarh. She remains the Maharaja’s and the royal family’s Isht Devi or adopted goddess and is worshipped by most of Jodhpur’s citizens as well. Crowds throng Mehrangarh during the Dussehra celebrations. It contains period rooms like Moti Mahal – The Pearl Palace, Sheesha Mahal – The Hall of Mirrors, Phool Mahal – The Palace of Flowers, Takhat Vilas -Maharaja Takhat Singh’s Chamber.

Burnished red sand stone, imposing, invincible and yet with a strange haunting beauty that beckons. The beauty and the grandeur of numerous palaces in the fort narrates a saga of hard sandstones yielding to the chisels of skilled Jodhpuri sculptures. To enter the Mehrangarh fort, seven gates have to be crossed.

The work of building the fort originally commenced in 1459 on the behest of the founder of Jodhpur – Rao Jodha but much of the fort as it stands today was built in the era of Jaswant Singh. This magnificent fort is spread over 5 kms. and is located on top of a hill which is all of 125 meters high.

The Mehrangarh Fort encloses many palaces, which are known for their intricate carvings and sprawling courtyards. The Moti Mahal which is made of elaborately carved stones is the dwelling place of the royal throne of Jodhpur which is popularly referred to as the Sringar Chowki in local parlance.

There is also the majestic Umaid Villas that showcases some remarkable Rajasthani miniature art work. The Ajit Villa is conspicuous with its rich collection of musical instruments and regal attires while the gorgeous Phool Mahal is where the legendary Jodhpur Coat of Arms is preserved.

The parapets of Phool Mahal are adorned with exquisite art works portraying various melodious scenes. There are seven gates, which include Jayapol (meaning ‘victory’) built by Maharaja Man Singh to commemorate his victories over Jaipur and Bikaner armies. Fattehpol (also meaning ‘victory’) gate was built by Maharaja Ajit Singh to mark the defeat of the Mughals. The palm imprints upon these still attract much attention even today.

The museum in the Mehrangarh fort is one of the most well-stocked museums in Rajasthan. In one section of the fort museum there is a selection of old royal palanquins, including the elaborate domed gilt Mahadol palanquin, which was won in a battle from the Governor of Gujarat in 1730.

The museum exhibits the heritage of the Rathores in arms, costumes, paintings and decorated period rooms. Mehrangarh fort has never ever been seized. The invincible fortifications are six meters thick.

Some of the walls still bear cannon marks and today this magnificent Jodhpur fort is a living testimony that recounts the chronicles and legends of Jodhpur’s rich past.

It was really a very memorable afternoon like icing on the cake. I wish we had more time to splurge on this Rajasthani marvel.

If Rajasthan visit is on your agenda, don’t give it a miss…Watch video for a great experience!

When an official meeting turned towards JAL MAHOTSAV!

It is highly unlikely that an official meeting would turn the tide towards Jal Mahotsav in Madhya Pradesh, but it happened just yesterday. My guests told me that they handle the account of M.P. Tourism and mentioned that I should visit Jal Mahotsav currently on…my curiosity as a travel blogger grew and I wanted to know more about this water carnival of Madhya Pradesh. The State is very close to my heart as it is India’s heartland and the land of my childhood too.  The water carnival, which is currently on, will last until January 2, 2018.

So for the uninitiated, including me, Jal Mahotsav is set up in the lap of Hanuwantiya Island besides the pristine waters of Indira Sagar Dam on Narmada river, where the picturesque escapade compliments the joy that lies in the spirit of adventure. The water festival has now made the culturally rich Madhya Pradesh is known for its adventure tourism too. It gives one more reason to the people to tour to Madhya Pradesh. Along with celebrating the spirit of adventure, the festival also celebrates the spirit of MP. The absolute brilliance of the local artisans and craftspeople, melodious folk music and performances and lip-smacking cuisine – all these precisely describes and defines what “The Heart Of India” truly stands for.


Once an unexplored place, now a destination where India’s largest water carnival is held. Close to Khandwa district in Madhya Pradesh, lies an island in the backwaters of Indira Sagar Dam on River Narmada. Hanuwantiya Island, has now turned into an adventure hub with the support of MP Tourism. Derived from local village name with the same name, MP Tourism found Hanuwantiya suitable for water tourism activity. This is the story behind the makeover of Hanuwantiya from an untouched island to an adventure addition in Madhya Pradesh tourism packages.

Flying above the sparkling waters or speeding through it, India’s one of its kind water festival is full of land, water and air adventure activities all set on one canvas called Jal Mahotsav. The festival also represents the culture of Madhya Pradesh – a culture that stands for the rich skill set of its artisans, rich heritage and not to miss out, sumptuous cuisine! MP Tourism Jal Mahotsav is truly a dream for every adventure lover and a desire of every individual who seeks a holistic rejuvenation.

Here’s how the grand festival – MP Tourism Jal Mahotsav became possible. In its efforts to make Madhya Pradesh known for its adventure tourism too, MP Tourism revamped the unexplored and untouched Hanuwantiya Island and turned it into a small city in itself. A tent city where people can rejoice and relax while at the same time be adventurous! In a small span of its inception, Jal Mahotsav has now become a very important part of Madhya Pradesh Tour packages with more and more people coming over to Madhya Pradesh to discover a completely new face of the state.
Here you can lose your heart and soul to the beauty of state where “The Heart of India” lies!!

Once an unexplored place, now a destination where India’s largest water carnival is held. Close to Khandwa district in Madhya Pradesh, lies an island in the backwaters of Indira Sagar Dam on River Narmada. Hanuwantiya Island, once an unexplored and unknown place, has now turned into an adventure hub with the support of MP Tourism. Derived from local village name with the same name, MP Tourism found Hanuwantiya suitable for water tourism activity. This is the story behind the makeover of Hanuwantiya from an untouched island to an adventure addition in Madhya Pradesh tourism packages.


Nestled in this Hanuwantiya Island is Jal Mahotsav – a striking contrast of adventure with serenity, of excitement with relaxation. An extravaganza to rekindle the spirit of adventure within oneself, India’s one of its kind water festival is all set to rule the hearts of all the adventure lovers once again! Well, if you aren’t an adventure buff, you shouldn’t be disappointed since the place unwinds surprises for everyone. Those in search of relaxation and a break from routine life can treat themselves to the comfort of a luxury tent, sit back and feel the cool breeze relaxing every nerve of your mind and body.

 With the vision of Honourable Chief Minister of Madhya Pradesh, Shri Shivraj Singh Chouhan to make “the heart of India” known for its adventure tourism, a dream called Jal Mahotsav was born.

I am GOING, ARE YOU?

Explore the Unexplored part of MP Tourism

 

Kanha National Park, Madhya Pradesh, India, Home to BIG CATS

Come 2018, & I will head to Kanha National Park for a DATE with ROYAL BENGAL TIGERS!!

Kanha National Park, located approx. 165 km from Jabalpur and 254 km from Nagpur, also known as Kanha Tiger Reserve, is a vast expanse of grassland and forest in the central Indian state of Madhya Pradesh. Tigers, jackals and wild pigs can be spotted in Kanha Meadows. The elevated plateau of Bamhni Dadar is home to birds of prey. Animals often gather at the watering holes of Sondar Tank and Babathenga Tank. The park’s flora and fauna are documented in the park’s Kanha Museum. Spread across 940 sq.km, Kanha National Park is one of the largest parks in Madhya Pradesh where the majestic royal Bengal tigers are found in good numbers.

The Park is respected globally for saving the Barasingha from near extinction. No doubt, it is one of the best-managed parks in Asia and a part of Project Tiger. National Geographic’s award-winning ‘Land of the Tigers’ was shot here, but the park is home to leopards, wild dogs and Barasingha as well. A safari in Kanha will surely get me thrilled, the way I was on a trip night Safari in Singapore, truly memorable.

The lush sal and bamboo forests, grassy meadows and ravines of Kanha provided inspiration to Rudyard Kipling for his famous novel “Jungle Book”. The Kanha National Park in Madhya Pradesh came into being in 1955 and forms the core of the Kanha Tiger Reserve, created in 1974 under Project Tiger. The Park’s landmark achievement is the preservation of the rare hard ground Swamp Deer (Barasingha), saving it from near extinction. Stringent conservation programs for the overall protection of the Park’s fauna and flora makes Kanha one of the most well maintained National Parks in Asia.

A heightened attraction within the Park is Bamni Dadar,  popularly known as Sunset Point that offers the most awe-inspiring backdrop of the sunset against grazing Sambhars and Gaurs, magnifying the natural splendour of the area. Aside from its diverse wildlife and bird population, the frequent sightings of Tigers roaming in the wild at Kanha Wildlife Sanctuary remain the most popular draw.

Be there, for your first outing in 2018!!

Why I am going there? Later on that!!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Mesmerising & Unexplored Arunachal Pradesh!

Since the time I have attended  Arré Outdoors  travel bloggers meet for showcasing & promoting tourism in Arunachal Pradesh, I can’t stop thinking about the place – the North East India’s jewel. It has been tickling in my mind what Arunachal Pradesh would be like. Though I had watched its splendour in the movie “Rangoon” which was actually shot in Arunachal Pradesh and was the only shining star of the otherwise unbearable movie. Taking a cue from there, my search began for Arunachal Pradesh and here are few interesting details for you to include AP on your wish list to travel.

Arunachal finds mention in the literature of Kalika Purana and Mahabharata. This place is supposed to be the Prabhu Mountains of the Puranas. It was here that sage Parashuram washed away his sin, sage Vyasa meditated, King Bhishmaka founded his kingdom and Lord Krishna married his consort Rukmini.

The widely scattered archeological remains at different places in Arunachal bears testimony to its rich cultural heritage. Arunachal Pradesh, a serene land tucked into the North Eastern tip of India, invites you to relax in its picturesque hills and valleys, enjoy its Salubrious climate and meet its simple and hospitable people, with their glorious heritage of arts and crafts and colourful festivals that reflect their ancient faith in the inexorable power of nature.

The visitor has a wide variety of options to pick from. There are places of worship and pilgrimage such as Parasuramkund and 400 years Old Tawang Monastery or the sites of archeological excavations like Malinithan and Itanagar, the serene beauty of lakes such as Ganga Lake or Sela lake or the numerous variations of the scenic beauty of the snowclad silver mountain peaks and lush green meadows where thousands of species of flora and fauna prosper. In addition, the state provides abundant scope for angling, boating, rafting, trekking, and hiking. Besides, there are a number of wild life sanctuaries and national parks where rare animals, birds, and plants will fascinate the visitor.

Nature has provided the people with a deep sense of beauty which finds delightful expression in their songs, dances, and crafts. The climate varies from hot and humid to heavy rainfall in the Shivalik range. It becomes progressively cold as one moves northwards to higher altitudes. Trees of great size, plentiful climbers, and abundance of cane and bamboo make Arunachal evergreen.

Arunachal Pradesh is considered to be the nature’s treasure trove and home to orchids, known for their exquisitely beautiful blooms, from one of the dominant taxa with more than six hundred species, occurring in varying elevations and climatic conditions throughout the state.

The area of the district is approximately 2085 sq. km. bordered by Tibet in the North, Bhutan in the Southwest and Sela ranges separate West Kameng district in the East.

The name TAWANG derives from some bearings on surroundings. But people’s interpretation is that the name TAWANG was given by Mera Lama in the 17th century. One can reach Tawang from other parts of the country via Guwahati and Tezpur in Assam. From Guwahati (Assam) or Tezpur (Assam), one has to go to Bhalukpong in West Kameng district of Arunachal Pradesh and from there via Bomdila and Sela Pass one can go to Tawang by road.

The inhabitants of the districts are all of Monpa tribes except Shyo village which is dominated by people of Tibetan origin. The Monpas belong to Mongoloid stock. They are well built, fair in complexion. Their houses are built with stones and timbers. Agriculture and Animal Husbandry is the fundamental means of the Monpas occupation.

Tawang Monastery is one of the most important elements in the Social and Religious life of the Monpas. This Monastery is known as “GOLDEN NAMGYEL LHATSE”. It is one of the largest Lamaseries of Mahayana sects in Asia. Lam series comprise of several sections ranging near about four hundred years, devoted to Love, Learning, and Purity of life.

This fortified complex covers an area of 135 sqm. meters enclosed by a compound wall of 610 meters long. Within the complex, there are 65 residential buildings and 10 other structures. The library has valuable old scriptures mainly Kanjur and Tanjur numbering 850 bundles.  It is dated back to 17th century A.D. There are two major religious festivals of the Monpas viz “LOSAR” and “TORGYA”. Both festivals are celebrated once annually. The LOSAR s celebrated to the commencement of New Year. Every third year of Torgya, the festival of Dungyur is celebrated. Both “Dungyur and Torgya” festivals are celebrated at the premises of the Tawang Monastery with traditional gaiety and enthusiasm.

There are beautiful lakes around Tawang. One is Pankang Teng Tso (P.T. Tso ) lake. It is a fetching heaven for tourist only 17 KM away from maddening crowd of the township. It is a beautiful natural site and provides tourist a lucky chance for deep communion with nature. Other eye-catching lakes are Sangetser lake, Banggachang lake.

When to visit: During the period, April to October.

How to reach: By bus from Tezpur (Assam) or Bomdila

Where to stay: Circuit House, Inspection Bungalow, Hotel Niche, Hotel Shangrila.

Clothing: Warm clothing throughout the year

Nearest Airport: Tezpur(Assam).

Nearest Bus stand: Bomdila.

Nearest Railway Stn: Rangapara (Assam).

Info courtesy: Arunachal Pradesh Tourism

Serene, green, enlightening Sarnath – famed Buddhist Destination

Readers you would recollect that my earlier post was on famous Buddhist Destination Sanchi Stupa in Madhya Pradesh, India where I had recollected my childhood memories of visit to Sanchi. Giving continuity to that, today I want to recollect my visit to Sarnath few years ago on a trip to Varanasi.

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While in Varanasi, I thought of visiting my cousin there and he insisted that we visit Sarnath which is around 10 Kms away from Varanasi. Reluctantly I and my mom agreed as I was already tired of visiting religious places of Varanasi. But it was to happen and it happened, but what a surprise it held for us. When we reached Sarnath, some excavacation was going on there which was very similar to the one I had read about in my History books.

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My cousin who was well versed with the place told me that it is a highly revered Buddhist pilgrimage centre. It is believed that after getting enlightenment at Bodh Gaya, Lord Buddha preached his first sermon, sanctified as Maha Dharm Chakra Parivartan, at Sarnath. They are digging the site to bring out more details about Gautam Buddha. It was the sprawling site with lush green facade and a stupa in the centre. “After his enlightenment in Bodhgaya, the Buddha went to Sarnath seeking his five former companions. He found them, taught them what he had learned, and they also became enlightened. This event is referred to as “the turning of the wheel of the Dharma” and also marks the founding of the Sangha, or the community of monks,” my cousin shared with us. I got more interested and came to know about it more through various books which I bought from Varanasi on Buddhism and Sarnath.

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The highlights of Sarnath are:

  • The great Dhamekh Stupa and several other structures stand testimony to the importance the place enjoyed at that time
  • The Chaukhandi Stupa is the place where, during his first visit to Sarnath, Lord Buddha met his first five disciples
  • The area is a treasure trove of archaeological findings such as Dharmrajika Stupa and Mulgandhkuti Vihar
  • The smooth glistening pillar established by Emperor Ashoka in 273-232 B.C. marks the foundation of the Buddhist Sangha, and the Lion Capital atop this pillar is now India’s National Emblem

Sarnath, located just 12 km from the Hindu holy city of Varanasi, is the site of the deer park where Gautama Buddha first taught the Dharma after his enlightenment. Sarnath is one of four holy Buddhist sites sanctioned by the Buddha himself for pilgrimage. The other three sites are: Lumbini (birth); Bodh Gaya (enlightenment); and Kushinagar (death).

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Sarnath has previously been known as Mrigadava, “deer park,” and Isipatana, meaning the place where holy men (Pali: isi) fell to earth. The latter name is based in the legend that when the Buddha was born, devas came down to announce it to 500 holy men. The holy men all rose into the air and disappeared and their relics fell to the ground.

The current name Sarnath, from Saranganath, means “Lord of the Deer” and relates to another old Buddhist story in which the Bodhisattva is a deer and offers his life to a king instead of the doe he is planning to kill. The king is so moved that he creates the park as a sanctuary for deer.

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What to See at Sarnath

All of the ancient buildings and structures at Sarnath were damaged or destroyed by the Turks. However, amongst the ruins the Dharmekh Stupa is impressive at 128 feet high, and 93 in diameter. This dates from around 200 BC and is the spot where the Buddha is said to have preached his first sermon.

Only the foundations remain of the Dharmarajika Stupa, but it is notable as a rare pre-Ashokan stupa.

The decaying ruins of the Mulagandhakuti Vihara mark the place where the Buddha spent his first rainy season in meditation. In the 7th century, a writer described it as 200 feet high and containing 100 niches containing a Buddha carving along each wall. A life-sized statue shows the Buddha turning the wheel of the law.

To the east is the modern Mulagandhakuti Vihara with its beautiful wall paintings; behind it is the Deer Park, which is maintained as an open animal park and still attracts deer.

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The Ashoka Pillar at Sarnath survived the Turkish invasion but was broken during excavations. The base still stands in its original spot and has some interesting carvings.

The splendid lion capital that topped the pillar, which thankfully survived its 45 foot drop to the ground is on display at the Sarnath Archeological Museum. The museum also houses some of the greatest treasures of Indian Buddhist art, including almost 300 images.

There is also a Bodhi tree planted by Anagarika Dharmapala which was grown from a cutting of the Bodhi tree at Bodh Gaya. It is located next to a Sri Lankan monastery.

Six national temples have been built by various Asian communities at Sarnath.

Six national temples have been built by various Asian communities at Sarnath since the site’s restoration, including a Tibetan temple and Sri Lankan temple.

Must visit Sarnath, when you plan to visit Sarnath.

Kamal Mathur, Guest Contributor on Janeshwar Mishra Park Lucknow

From the lens & pen of travel enthusiast and media professional, travel-knots presents before you an Exclusive Photo-Essay on Lucknow’s Janeshwar Mishra Park, the biggest in Asia by our Guest Contributor for the month – KAMAL MATHUR from Lucknow.

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Spread over a massive area of 376 acres with water bodies running across it, it is just magnificent. Named after a leading socialist leader,Janeshwar Mishra, (Gomti Nagar Extension,  Lucknow) park is a sprawling beauty and has pride of place on Lucknow’s landscape.  Till now Lucknow has been famous for so many landmarks right from Charbagh Station to Imambaras to Tunde ke Kababs to Chikankaari, to top it all its inimitable Lucknowi tehzeeb! Now it has another landmark in its kitty – the Janeshwar Mishra Park!!

Janeshwar Mishra

You cannot miss the sight of the 25 feet high imposing statue of Janeshwar Mishra, the moment you enter from the main gate. The lush green lawns, the Palm trees lined pathways and the magnificent fountains in the ” Khukri” shape lake add grandeur to its beauty. Gondola rides in the lakes is on the cards. Home to various species of birds including migratory ones, the park is rich in flora and fauna.

The park is designed with exclusive and extensive cycle tracks that provide an excellent visual and cycling delight to the visitors. The total length of the proposed cycle track is 5.28 km that is deemed sufficient for the site. Adequate cycling infrastructure i.e. cycles, parking and sit outs along with cycle tracks are being provided. A suitable management system for the use of cycles is there so that visitors can ride the bicycles for a defined duration on individual or group booking basis.

By the name, it sounds that it will be a place for adults or senior citizens who like to spend quality time in the sunset years of their lives. Of course, that has been taken care in ample measures, but park has some great offerings for children too with many exciting slides & swings.

For young adults, park offers the Health Zone with an open air gymnasium, Jogging & Walking Tracks, the Cycling Tracks besides entertainment and recreational facilities.

&&& All this with a Food Court with its yummy offerings.

The highlights are:

  • Two Vijayanta Tanks( of 1971 war fame )
  • MIG-21 fighter aircraft
  • 207 feet high flag mast with 60 feet wide & 90 feet tri-colour on it

Which patriot would not like offer salute here!

Lucknow Development Authority (LDA) has developed this eco-friendly in the heart of the city at Gomti Nagar. It has been conceptualised and designed as a multi-functional environmental and recreational green park which will not just provide sustainable habitat for various species of birds but also double up as a major entertainment and recreation centre for all sections of the society.

The site can be accessed from four different directions and therefore four separate entries in North and South-East direction are located at suitable points. The site is also bound by a 45m Row Bund road on the River side with embankment. The site can always be accessed by private modes such as cars and two wheelers but not many public transport options such as buses are available for the members of the public.

Request UPTourism to promote this awesome tourist destination so that people don’t miss visiting while they are in UP like Taj Mahal!

If you too want to contribute landmarks in your city / country or the place you have visited recently, write to me on: bienumv@gmail.com.

 

Kankaria Lake: Most Paisa Vasool tourist destination in Ahmedabad!

We planned trip to Kankaria Lake, Ahmedabad in a jiffy and what a trip it turned out to be! It is a sprawling lake which is the second biggest lake in Ahmedabad in Gujarat. It is located in the southern part of the city in the Maninagar area. A lake front has been developed around it, which has many public attractions like boat ride, toy ride, zoo, kid’s city, tethered balloon ride, water rides, Water Park, food stalls and other entertainment. The lake front was revamped in 2008. It is also well-known for Kankaria Carnival, a week-long festival held here in the last week of December when many cultural, art and social activities are organised.

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It is the most paisa vasool tourist attraction which has only Rs. 10/- as entry fee and you can enjoy whole day there however other attractions come for a fee but not much. We could not spend much time there as we had to catch up for the dinner at Vishala. So much so, that my niece Rashi and nephew Rishabh were teasing me that I had only gone there to touch the lake. Whatever, I enjoyed very much being there. The lake reminded me of Fateh Sagar Lake which we had visited recently in Udaipur. We took a boat ride, train ride and walk through the promenade. It was lovely breezy evening at Ahmedabad, which we will always remember.

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Kankaria Lake was built by Sultan Qutbuddin in the 15th century. The work was completed in 1451 CE and was known as “Qutb Hauz” or “Hauz-i-Qutb”. It was used for bathing by the kings. It had a water purification system but it has been lost with the time. At one point of the circular lake, there opens a walkway which later merges into a garden called Nagina Wadi (which means beautiful garden in Urdu) that is located in the centre of the lake. With an approximate circumference of 3 miles (4.8 km), it represents the regale history of Ahmedabad. It is a 34-sided polygon having steps which leading down to water level.

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Major attractions snap shot:

Kankaria Zoo

Kamla Nehru Zoological Park was established by Rueben David in 1951 spread over 21 acres. It was rated as the best zoo in Asia in 1974. They are 450 mammals, 2,000 birds, 140 reptiles in a 31-acre zoo. It is a treasure of wild animals like tigers, lions, python, anaconda, snakes, elephant, albinos (white), like the rhesus monkey, spotted deer, white blackbuck, chinkara, elephants, emu, jungle babbler, bush-quail and common palm civet. Kankaria Zoo has also records in breeding of rare species in Zoo like pythons, crocodiles, bearcats and wild asses. Reuben David was awarded Padma Shri in 1974 for it.

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Balvatika

It is a children’s park named after Jawaharlal Nehru. Balvatika has a boat house, playroom, butterfly and weapon displays, mirror house, toy house and planetarium. Presently most part of the park is under renovation. New rides will be introduced soon.

Amusement Park

Netherlands based company installed five rides in the amusement park in 2014. It includes the Boomerang Roller Coaster, the Flipping Arm, the Torching Tower, Disk ‘O’ pendulum and the merry-go-round. It will also have a kids play zone for computer games. The fee is of Rs. 300 which includes food also, this way it’s quite a steal.

Kids City

Kids City is a miniature world designed for kids. It is spread in 4240 sq.metre area having 18 activity centres including banks, fire station, science lab, radio station, police station, court room and prison, dental as well as medical hospital, theatre, BRTS, heritage gallery, town governance, IT centre, News room, ice-cream factory, etc.  AMC had applied for copyrights and patents on the individual games in the premises, the unique point system, Virmo (Virtual Money) and the design of the different venues in games.

Toy Trains

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A train named Atal Express (Named after Atal Bihari Vajpayee on his birthday 25 December 2008) was imported from London, the train circles the lake on a 2.3 km track at a speed of 10 km/h. The train has the capacity to carry 150 passengers, including 36 adults. The train is manufactured by Severn Lamb. During the first 11 months of introducing the train, it attracted nearly a million visitors.  After the success of this train, another train was also started which named Swarnim Jayanti Express. All trains on the railway, and hence the railway itself, are 2 ft (610 mm) narrow gauge.

Balloon Safari

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Ahmedabad Eye is a tethered balloon ride set up near Kankaria Lake after renovation. The tethered balloon complex spread over 3000 square yard, is divided into four sections including a restaurant, tethered balloon, heritage exhibit and an exhibition displaying the making of the Ahmedabad Eye. SKYZ is a balloon themed restaurant located at the Ahmedabad Eye complex. It is managed by Ahmedabad Municipal Corporation. Rainforest theme restaurant is also there.

Stone Mural Park

India‘s biggest Stone Mural Park named Gurjar Gaurav Gatha on the side walls of the circular lake in which sculptors are depicting, in pink sand stone, the history and rise of Gujarat is under construction. It has murals covering 3150 sq feet depicting the history of Ahmedabad right now but when completed, it will measure 6000 feet in length and will be world’s largest mural (30000 sq.metre).

Never mind, all this, something’s should always remain on your itinery to visit the city again!

Still I feel Gujarat Tourism need to aggressively this most paisa vasool complete entertainment destination in Ahmedabad, Gujarat.

Sabarmati River Front: Our home grown Thames River Front, London, well almost!

I was very keen to visit Sabarmati River Front while in Ahmedabad since the time I had seen it on Television; well all of us had seen PM Narendra Modiji hosting Chinese Preisdent Xi Jinping & his wife at Sabarmati River Front in Ahmedabad. The mini Gujarat created there caught entire nation’s fancy besides the walk in sprawling lawns of the river, wide promenade, and crystal clear waters and to top it all Gujarati dance performers performing all through. Who wouldn’t have loved to be there?

Finally after nearly two years of wait, I could make a trip to Ahmedabad along with my husband Mukund and daughter Tanya. My first concern was visiting Sabarmati River Front. Though it was not that easy, as I insisted our driver and guide rolled into one to take me to the same point where Chinese President was hosted by Modiji. He took us round town and finally we could spot one promenade where we spend time on drizzling evening.

Still I was not satisfied as it was nowhere close to what we had expected or seen on television, sensing that, driver promised me to show that spot next morning and he did. Voila! What a promenade it was on the banks of River Sabarmati?  We spend good amount of time enjoying the breeze and marvelling at outstanding amalgamation of nature and mankind.

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There is huge amount of construction activity going around Sabarmati, in fact in entire Ahmedabad, but London’s Eye on the promenade caught my fancy. May be in my next trip it is all on, so that we could have more fun.  The Sabarmati Riverfront Development has been envisaged as a comprehensive development of approximately 11 kilometres of length on both the banks of the Sabarmati River encompassing all its potentials as primary goals. The project approach is to bring about an overall environmental improvement, social upliftment and sustainable development along the Riverfront.

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In 1997, Ahmedabad Municipal Corporation (AMC) set up a Special Purpose Vehicle – Sabarmati Riverfront Development Corporation Limited (SRFDCL) to manage the construction and development of the project.

Sabarmati Riverfront, proposed in 1960s, the construction began in 2005. Since 2012, the waterfront is gradually opened to public as and when facilities are constructed and various facilities are actively under construction. The major objectives of project are environment improvement, social infrastructure and sustainable development.

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The average width of the river channel was 382 metres (1,253 ft) and the narrowest cross-section 330 metres (1,080 ft). It is uniformly narrowed to 263 metres (863 ft) without affecting its flood carrying capacity and the riverbed land is reclaimed on the both east and west banks to construct 11.25 km long riverfront. It can hold 470,000 cu ft/s (13,000 m3/s) without spillage. The total of 202.79 hectares of land is reclaimed. The reclaimed land is used for public as well as private development. More than 85% of the reclaimed land will be used for public infrastructure, recreational parks, sports facilities and gardens while nearly 14% will be used for commercial and residential purpose.

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Sabarmati River has been an integral part in the life of Ahmedabad since the time the city was founded in 1411 along the river banks. Besides being an important source of water, it provided a backdrop to cultural and recreational activities. During the dry seasons, the river bed became a place for farming. With time it also offered place for various informal economic activities, and the river banks were used by informal squatter settlements.

It was truly dream come true for me.

Request Gujarat Tourism to do all out promotions so that it can emerge at most happening tourist spot in India, on the lines of River Thames in London.