Category Archives: Tourism

Maharashtra Tourism and Airbnb celebrate one-year milestone of partnership

Shri Jaykumar Rawal, Hon’ble Minister of Tourism Government of Maharashtra:  “Tourism is not only a source of revenue for the state but is also a key source of growth for local communities.” 

He was speaking on the occasion of the celebration of one-year milestone partnership of Maharashtra Tourism Development Corporation (MTDC) with Airbnb and the launch of Tourism Entrepreneurship Accelerator Programme in the state to boost the tourism prospects.

The program aims to drive economic growth in local Maharashtra communities by helping micro-entrepreneurs in hospitality sector grow their business through four key pillars of support- Training, Enabling, Access and Promotion.

The program would be launched first in Elephanta village where MTDC and Airbnb will associate with Gram Panchayat and identify 35 homes and get aligned with Airbnb standards. Hosts of these homes would be the first set of entrepreneurs benefitting from this program.

Shri Jaykumar Rawal, Hon’ble Minister of Tourism Government of Maharashtra, added, “In Airbnb, we have found a global partner whose vision to create skilled micro-entrepreneurs in hospitality and homestay ecosystem to further expand Maharashtra’s tourism potential. We are pleased to expand our partnership with Airbnb with the launch of the Tourism Entrepreneurship Accelerator Programme, which will help mentor and support budding entrepreneurs in in hospitality sector and build a strong homestay network across key destinations. This is the first-of-its-kind tourism initiative in India where the Government has used the revenue shared by a partner to create a program to benefit various underprivileged communities in the State. With new innovative initiatives like this one, together with Airbnb, we aim to attract a larger global audience and exponentially boost tourism in Maharashtra,”

Commenting on the occasion, Shri. V.K. Gautam, Principal Secretary, Department of Tourism and Culture, Government of Maharashtra, said, “Through the Accelerator Programme, Maharashtra Tourism and Airbnb aim to create a homestay ecosystem in Elephanta and create at least one hospitality micro-entrepreneur in every village across Sindhudurg, Ratnagiri and Palghar. In year one, we target to create and nurture 1500 tourism and hospitality entrepreneurs. This will motivate tourism and open up new destinations and unique experiences for travellers.”

“Airbnb’s commitment to create 50,000 hospitality micro-entrepreneurs in India. The launch of the Accelerator Programme is a major step towards realizing our commitment and Maharashtra is our lead partner in creating a progressive, sustainable tourism ecosystem in India,” said Mr Chris Lehane, Global Head of Policy and Communications, Airbnb. Lehane added, “Airbnb has always been committed to building a more inclusive tourism sector across the world and no more so than in emerging markets like India. Enabling and empowering all communities, including those that may have not previously benefited from tourism is integral to inclusive tourism. We are therefore excited about the launch of the Tourism Entrepreneurship Accelerator Program to mentor budding hospitality micro-entrepreneurs in underserved communities.”

Last year, Brian Chesky, CEO and Co-Founder of Airbnb, in his meeting with the Honourable Prime Minister, had shared, “Through our partnership signed last year, Airbnb and Maharashtra Tourism have worked together to train hundreds of micro-entrepreneurs across key tourism districts.” 

Mr. Amanpreet Bajaj, Country Head, Airbnb India, said: “We’re thrilled to today announce the expansion of this partnership through the Tourism Entrepreneurship Accelerator Programme and continue to play a role in supporting healthy, sustainable tourism in Maharashtra.”

Key elements of the Programme include:

○ Training: Airbnb will create a comprehensive training toolkit which will be used by Maharashtra Tourism to identify quality destinations, homes and entrepreneurs, as well as by Airbnb to train selected entrepreneurs on technology, hospitality, financing, regulations and promotion.

Enabling: Airbnb has been sharing a portion of its earnings in Maharashtra with Maharashtra Tourism towards tourism development in the State. Besides, using this fund as the program’s foundation, Maharashtra Tourism will connect trained entrepreneurs with existing government programs for additional funds.

Access: Airbnb and Maharashtra Tourism will connect selected entrepreneurs with local partners to offer them access to technology, address language barriers and provide mentorship support. Airbnb’s co-hosting model has the potential to help village youths or community-based organizations with smartphones and better language skills become partners to micro-entrepreneurs with quality homes.

Promotion: Once entrepreneurs are ready to host travellers, Airbnb will partner with content creators to promote the homes to tourists around the world. Maharashtra Tourism will also use its promotional platforms to support the entrepreneurs.

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/

Founded in 2008, Airbnb is a global travel community that offers magical end-to-end trips, including where you stay, what you do and the people you meet. Airbnb uniquely leverages technology to economically empower millions of people around the world to unlock and monetize their spaces, passions and talents to become hospitality entrepreneurs.

 

Taj Mahotsav in Shilpgram, AGRA!

Taj Mahotsav, one of the most eagerly awaited festivals, is celebrated from 18th  to 27th, 2018 February every year at Shilpgram near the Eastern gate of  “Taj Mahal”.

This 10 days long carnival is actually a vibrant platform that gives you information about India where you can find India’s rich arts, crafts, cultures, cuisine, dance and music. Taj Mahal is the most beautiful historical place of India which tells about incredible India. Taj Mahotsav is organized by UP Tourism and it is a source to increase Indian Tourism.

Held annually in the historic city of Agra where lies the majestic Taj Mahal, the Taj Mahotsav is perhaps one of the most spectacular and celebrated events in the Indian calendar. Organized by Uttar Pradesh Tourism, this festival pays due respect to the matchless cultural heritage of the state and the country as a whole. One can see this event as a concise and compact representation of the Indian cultural diversity that is coated in the fabric of a 5,000-year-old history and mythology.

It is a time when the best of India’s arts, crafts, culture, cuisine, dance and music comes to the fore in a manner that is hard to pass by. The crème-de-la-crème of Indian folk artists, musicians, dramatists and other artisans gather at the 10 days celebration and enliven the environment. A great time indeed, for the ones who have the appreciation for the classical and folk arts.

Shopping options are plenty during Taj Mahotsav as the entire event scene assumes the look of a small market where you can shop for handicrafts, antiques, woodwork, ivory work and other speciality items of India. As a natural consequence, this fiesta remains a major tourist attraction for the town of Agra.

In its 27th year, the Taj Mahotsav – a cultural bonanza, began in 1992 and since then its grandeur has reached the greater heights. Hosted at Shilpgram, a close distance from Taj Mahal, a large number of tourists join this festivity of multiple facets. The festival starts with a procession, including bejewelled elephants and camels, drum beaters and performances by folk artists and more. About 400 artisans from different parts of the country show their craft before national and international visitors.

The festival presents beautiful hues of Indian art and culture!

http://www.tajmahotsav.org/

 

 

 

 

Head to GOA for GOA CARNIVAL 2018

The popular annual GOA Carnival will be held across the coastal state from February 10 to 13. The main float parade of the festival will be held in the State capital Panaji on February 10. So now when Goa Carnaval is around the corner, and the state of Goa is all gearing up for the much-awaited festival of the year, you can choose to be there this weekend!

My friend Angela has flown from London for the Goa Carnival, I will keep you posted with some live updates from her! A true blue and proud Goan!

Here you can enjoy the four-day festival in different cities that will keep you on your toes all through the festivity. Enjoy the parades, the dances and the Goan traditional music that will keep you energetic and enthralled throughout the show.

The Goa Carnival has over 500 years of history and dates back to the times when Goa was a Portuguese colony. This event is unique to Goa and is celebrated only here. You can enjoy amazing parades full of colourful costumes, lots of music, beautiful floats, and attractive dances. Huge street celebrations are organized all over the state. Evenings and nights are for non-stop parties. All these festivities are usually held in February or March, before Lent. This is one of the most anticipated events for local people.

The most amazing thing about Goa is that fun and festivities that begin in December with the holiday season does not stop upon arrival of the New Year but continues up to the celebration of Goa Carnival or the pre Mardi Gras revelry, a tradition that dates back to the arrival of Portuguese in Goa way back in 1510.

Based on the Christian tradition of Mardi Gras (also known as Fat Wednesday) which refers to the events of the carnival celebrations; Goa Carnival is a festival that celebrates the culture and cuisine of Goa on a grand scale every year.

Originating from the tradition of Mardi Gras, a tradition of hedonistic feasts and dancing & drinking bouts before the fasting and abstinence associated with the penitential season of lent, Goa Carnival is a 4-day razzmatazz that is observed all through the state with great gusto and zeal.

Goa Carnival features a frenzy of tourist activities. Tourists indulge in feasting, merrymaking, drinking throughout the day. The festive mood is even more aggravated by the huge parades that move the various streets of Goa. These parades are accompanied by live bands and dances. Goa forgets to sleep during the carnival as these parades continue throughout the night. Most of the streets are decorated with attractive lighting and grand balls.

The festivities during Goa Carnival include dancing troupes, revellers wearing masks and costumes usually, electrifying music which is generally performed live, sports competitions, floats & parades and hedonistic pursuits like great food and drinking.

During the Carnival, you can see lots of traditional things: Goan art, short plays, Goan culture, food, music, etc. The final day of the festivities is the most spectacular. Try not to miss the famous red-and-black dance held by the Clube Nacional in Panjim. Altogether, these celebrations are about eating, drinking, and having fun. ‘Kha, piye, and majja kar’—says the legendary King of Chaos, Momo, to lead the crowd. Fire-eaters, acrobats, clowns, jesters, dancers, brass bands, and others follow him during the parade down the main street of Panaji.

Enjoy Goa Carnival

PCEB, Malaysia on a multi-city sales mission to India

Penang Convention & Exhibition Bureau (Malaysia) brings 17 Exhibitors from Penang on a 4-City Sales Mission to Woo the Indian Travel and Business Events Segment

The Penang Convention & Exhibition Bureau (PCEB) is proud to introduce the first-ever Penang Sales Mission to India with the objective of promoting Penang as the preferred and ideal destination for corporate and association meetings, incentives and leisure travel.

“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. “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.

Ashwin Gunashekhran, CEO, Penang Convention & Exhibition Bureau, Malaysia

He was speaking during the 4-city Sales Mission which kicked off from Kolkatta to Delhi, then Mumbai & Bengaluru in January, 2018. The mission led by Ashwin Gunasekeran, Chief Executive Officer of PCEB, the mission is supported by a Penang delegation of 17 partners, including the state bureau for leisure travel – Penang Global Tourism, hotels, destination management companies, event experts and PCEB’s official airline partner, Malaysia Airlines.

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).

In 2016, Penang recorded 1251 events with an estimated economic impact of USD 200 million. From January to September 2017, we hosted 1731 events with an estimated economic impact of USD 230 million. This translates to a 27.7% increase in the number of events and 7% increase in the estimated economic impact.

Ashwin Gunasekeran, the Chief Executive Officer of PCEB boasted that the youth from India loves to explore Penang especially for street food & heritage architecture.

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Penang Convention & Exhibition Bureau (PCEB) is a state bureau established in 2016to develop the Business Events and meetings, incentives, conventions and exhibitions (MICE) industry in Penang. PCEB aims to position Penang as the preferred location
for Business Events activities in the region. With its rich UNESCO heritage, thriving multicultural society, state-of-the-art facilities and vibrant natural attractions, Penang offers a truly eclectic tropical experience. In line with its mission to incubate the growth of Business Events in Penang, PCEB serves as Penang’s focal point for the coordination of all Business Events activities, providing expert assistance to organisations and Business Events planners at every
step of the planning. PCEB’s team of industry experts work hand-in-hand with professional service providers and world-class hotels, convention centres and unique venues to ensure the smoothness and success of each event organized. PCEB’s goal is to enhance our Business Events clients’ experience and at the same time to expand
the beneficial economic impact of local MICE businesses.

For more information, please visit http://www.pceb.my and follow them on
Facebook: @PCEB.my
Twitter @PCEB_MY
Instagram @penang.unfiltered

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

The Great Mumbai Shopping Festival is here!

Aamchi Mumbai is all set host apro “The Mumbai Shopping Festival” from January 12 – 31st organized by MTDC,  purportedly on the lines of the Dubai shopping festival.

It will be first of the kind grand shopping cum fun and fair mela with many themes like fashion shows, street performance and more all around Mumbai city and Suburban, Thane and Navi Mumbai area. Complete 3 weeks (20 days Shopping festival mela) starting 12th January 2018 will last till the end of the month will be a grand trade fair and discounted shopping event with an extra dose of late night fun and fair with hotels, airlines giving discounts and restaurant and bars opened late night too. A great opportunity to enjoy best discounts and offers at more than 50 different locations in Mumbai.

MSF 2018 is a joint initiative of ‘Maharashtra Tourism’, ‘OMCPL’, ‘Maharashtra Unlimited’ and ‘Visit Maharashtra’. A festival dedicated to shopping here forth putting Mumbai city on the world map as a huge Shopping Destination. These 20 days events bring in Entertainment, Prizes, Lifestyle, Great Experience with almost every part of Mumbai on Sale, Discount and Offers of about 5000+ local & international brands covering South Mumbai, Western Suburban, Thane, Navi Mumbai and Far North Vasai Virar locations. Many Associate partners like MCHI Credai, Naredco, FICCI, GJEPC India, Retailer Association of India, India Bullion and Jewellers Association Ltd and Federation of Retail Traders Welfare Association gave support and push to this festival. The Opening ceremony of this festive event will be held on 12th January at BKC (Jio Garden) and Similarly Closing at Gateway of India on 31st January 2018 by Hon’ble CM.

Shopping Partners

Shopping destination and Hospitality partners like Malls, Restaurants, Hotels, Various Retail Outlets, Departmental Stores, Petrol Stations, Airlines, General Stores, Movie Theatres, Online Shopping giants are all connected together for this mega shopping event of Mumbai. Below are the listed partners:

Music Concerts, About 13 Stage and Sports Events and Many performing arts can be observed at 13 various locations in Mumbai city, Suburbs, Thane and Navi Mumbai area. Below are the details.

Street Performances

Music Concerts for all genre performed by Bollywood and Marathi folk world along with Local Musicians and talents less known. College and Rock bands, International EDM artists will all be seen rocking late night performing Classical, Rock, Indie Pop, Jazz and more.

Venues

Bandra Carter Road, Girgaum Chowpatty, Shivaji Park, Worli Sea Face, International & Domestic Airport, Juhu Beach, Outside 3 Star Hotel Kharghar (Navi Mumbai), Vashi Railway Station, Galleria Mall Powai, Upvan Lake Thane, Cypress Garden Mulund and Maxus Mall Mira Road.

Late Night Zones & Bazaar

During Weekends, Late night Bazaars are organized opened till and wee hours (Till 4 Am). Few locations are kept wide open for fun and entertainment for family and friends to enjoy along with shopping. Below are the dates and late night locations :

  • 13th January & 14th January (Bandra Jio Garden, BKC)
  • 19th January & 20th January (Mindspace Malad Link Road)
  • 26th January & 27th January (Powai)
  • Food Trucks and Khao Galli Food Options

Food Truck Association of India will showcase food options at the trending food truck eateries of Mumbai. These will be a weekend fun and eateries zone with dates as detailed below :

13th and 14th January at Worli Seaface.

19th and 20th January at Mindspace Malad.

26th and 27th January at Powai.

Infiniti and InOrbit Mall Malad, High Street Phoenix Lower Parel, Phoenix Market City Kurla, Oberoi Mall Goregaon, RCity Mall Ghatkopar, Grand Central at Seawood Navi Mumbai and Thane Viviana Mall.

Super Markets Brands & Grocery Stores

DMart, Big Bazaar, Crossword, The Bombay Store, Reliance Fresh, Haiko Powai, Vijay Sales Outlets, Nature’s Basket, Reliance Mart and Digital outlets.

The idea is to come to Mumbai, enjoy its delicacies, visit tourist spots and shop, availing attractive discounts everywhere. “It is going to be a unique experience!

MMRDA Smart Card, Really Smart!

The smart card that is to be introduced by the Mumbai Metropolitan Regional Development Authority (MMRDA) is likely to change the way you travel and shop in the city. The cross-transport smart card can also be used as a credit and debit card, at shopping malls, movie theatres and for online transactions. The planning authority is expected to start inviting bidders to design the software for the much-delayed single-ticketing system in December.

The card can be used across different modes of transport such as metros, monorail, suburban railway and BEST buses.

A senior MMRDA official said that the card can act as a debit or credit card and can be used even for non-transit transactions. The official said: “We will tie-up with banks to issue these cards that can be used for fare payment and in shopping malls.”

Apart from this, officials said that the cards will be based on an “open loop” system for fare collection.

An open-loop system would entail banks to operate at the back-end, unlike the conventional closed-loop system where the transport authority collects fares.

Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis is keen on getting the project on track. A first-of-its-kind initiative in India for multi-modal corridors, the smart card may, however, reach you only by 2019.

The project is expected to be implemented in a phase-wise manner.

MMRDA is expected to begin the implementation of this project with the metro. Besides the existing line that connects Versova and Ghatkopar, the new lines are expected to link Colaba to Seepz, Dahisar to Andheri East and to Mankhurd, Lokhandwala to Kanjurmarg, Wadala to Thane, and Thane to Kalyan.

MMRDA is then planning to implement the system with the BEST buses and railways. The planning authority is also going to hold a competition to finalise the design for the smart card.

Now travelling and shopping across Mumbai will be BIG FUN!

Source: The Hindustan Times

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!

Board ‘Costa Cruise’ from Mumbai, & explore Incredible India!

The message given by Costa Cruise & Bombay Port Trust in the press – conference held in Hotel Trident, amidst the presence of who’s who of the tourism & cruise industry…

…A gracious host, Mrs. Nalini Gupta, Managing Director, Lotus Destinations (Representative of Costa Cruises in India) welcomed and updated present dignitaries & media on Cruise Scenario in India and plans of Costa Cruise going forward!

Mr. Sanjay Bhatia, Chairman of Mumbai Port Trust said, “The timing is right for cruise liners to come to India as the Government is taking proactive steps for utilizing our vast coastline. I would like to thank the cruise companies that have taken the initiative to start sailings from Mumbai and have shown their confidence in the Indian Government and India market. We are looking forward to many more ships coming to India and Mumbai port, going forward. They can count on Mumbai Port’s efficient managerial, organizational and planning support and assistance at all times. Our objective is to exceed the expectations of the cruise liners and the cruisers, both domestic and International. Come, cruise from Mumbai and feel India!”

Ms. Nalini Gupta, Managing Director, Lotus Destinations (Representative of Costa Cruises in India) said, “Costa Cruises expanding its sailing offerings to include shorter sailings of 3 & 4 nights from Mumbai and Cochin specifically for the Indian market confirms its strong interest in India. The cruising market in India has come a long way from only a select group cruising in far-away locations to today a much wider audience holidaying on ships cruising directly from India. I sincerely thank Mr. Gadkari & Mr. Bhatia for all their efforts in making this happen.”

Last year, Costa Cruises was the first ever cruise liner to offer cruises directly from Mumbai to Maldives. This year, Costa Cruises is introducing shorter 3 & 4 nights sailing options specifically for the Indian market. Indians can now choose to cruise on a 4 nights itinerary from Mumbai to Cochin (via Mangalore) or 3 nights itinerary from Cochin to Maldives. This is in addition to the 7 nights Mumbai to Maldives & 7 nights Maldives to Mumbai options available.

The Italian cruise liner will be homeporting in Mumbai a month earlier than last year and will perform a series of weekly sailings from November 2017 to March 2018.

Speaking at the launch, Mr. Buhdy Bok, President of Carnival Asia said, “We are delighted to increase our capacity in this region, by offering 3 & 4 nights short cruises dedicated to the Indian market. Guests based in India can now embark or disembark right at their door-step for short cruises, giving our guests a rich and immersive experience in Italian culture – from hospitality to cuisine, and art, a distinct experience for a new way of travel.”

Since Costa announced the launch of cruising from Mumbai last year, they have seen interest and bookings from a wide variety of travel groups, which includes families, senior citizens, honeymooners and experiential holiday agencies. There has also been a lot of interest from corporates, who are looking set to book the first few sailings out of Mumbai. The built-in infrastructure on the ship makes it particularly easy for corporates to hold large events in one location. Theme-based bookings seem to be a trend, with groups who are keen to experience a special kind of holiday. For example, there is a cycle-themed sailing that is currently being promoted on this route.

Costa Cruises has deployed its ship, Costa neoClassica that is part of the neo collection on the India itinerary. This classic cruise ship has a total of 654 cabins, including sea view cabins and suites with private balconies. Fully-equipped with a Casino, Theatre, Disco, Ballroom, Grand Bar, it aims to provide plenty in entertainment. 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 huge duty free shopping centre and also offers a wide selection of books in the library for those who love to unwind with a book.

Enhancing the cruising experience further is the gastronomy: the food & wine on offer is based on Italian regional menus with a choice of dishes representing different regions of Italy and proudly reflecting the country’s rich and unrivalled culinary heritage. In addition to this vast range, guests can also take advantage of tasty vegetarian and vegan dishes.

On board Costa neoClassica, guests will also have the chance to taste the real original Neapolitan pizza at Pizzeria “Pummid’oro”: thanks to an agreement with the Università delle Scienze Gastronomiche di Pollenzo, Costa Cruises offers pizza prepared using only sourdough and selected ingredients such as San Marzano DOP tomato. In addition, cruisers will be able to enjoy a variety of Indian cuisine and the restaurants onboard are fully equipped to cater to special diet requirements of Indian, travellers, which includes Jain food.

Costa Cruises – to begin shorter, 3-4 night sailings in Indian waters

4 nights Mumbai – Kochi to start from November 2017

3 nights Kochi – Maldives to start from November 2017

Costa Cruises is the Italian Cruising Company part of the Carnival Corporation & plc, the largest cruise company in the world.

Travel-Knots welcomes Mr Kannanthanam J Alphons, New Tourism Minister & IT

Indeed, Minister with a DIFFERENCE!!

Read on to know why this holds true for him, truly inspirational figure, proud to have him as Tourism Minister.

Mr Alphons is a 1979 batch IAS officer of the Kerala cadre. Alphons became famous as Delhi’s “Demolition Man” when he headed the Delhi Development Authority, having cleared DDA areas of encroachment removing around 15,000 illegal buildings. This got him listed in Time Magazine’s list of 100 Young Global Leaders in 1994. Born in Manimala village in Kerala’s Kottayam district, he pioneered the literacy movement in India and as District Collector of Kottayam, he made it the first 100 percent literate town in India in 1989.

Kannanthanam had set up the NGO Janshakti in 1994 for social works. On retiring from IAS, he contested the Kerala assembly polls in 2006 to become an independent MLA from Kanjirappally. He was also a member of the committee to prepare the final draft of the National Education Policy 2017. He also authored the book “Making a Difference”.

Alphons’s life is nothing short of a miracle. Having passed his high school from a non-electrified village Malayalam medium school, he became one of the toppers of the 1979 batch of the IAS. He vowed that he would never be a door mat for the politician, but would be a voice of the hapless citizen. For 27 years he was their voice, running pitched battles against the corrupt system. He was rated to be one of the most competent officers in the history of the civil service. He was on TIME magazine’s list of 100 young global leaders in 1994. He is an inspirational orator and has spoken to over three million people, mostly students, in the past 35 years. In 2006, he quit IAS, contested as an independent from Kanjirappally constituency and got elected as an MLA on 32nd day with a huge majority, spending less than Rs10 lakhs. He decided that he wanted to be a different kind of an MLA. He drove his own car and lived in a tiny room in the rest house and got allocated Rs 350 crores for the constituency and won the best MLA award.

Power to bring Happiness

“Alphons believes that ultimately there is only one purpose in life: HAPPINESS. It is his strong belief that we should leave the world happier than we arrived. Lots of people believe in happiness, but mostly for themselves. Alphons believes that we got only one life and our destinies are deeply interwoven. There can be no islands of happiness. He refused to be MLA from Kanjirappally a second time, even though he would have been a Minister this time. His argument was simple: “When half of India is starving and when half the children in India do not go to school, I have no business to be an MLA from the richest constituency”. He said he wants to work on three things: food on every table, every child to school and a job for everybody. He says he got into IAS because it was the most powerful service in the world. For him, power means the ability to create happiness for the persons who come in contact with him, not the ability to bully anyone into indignity. He got into politics because it gives him the power to bring a smile on human face. ”

Major Accomplishments:

  • One of the toppers of the IAS, 1979 batch.
  • Featured in TIME MAGAZINES’S list of 100 young global leaders in 1994 (cover story-5th Dec 1994).
  • Pioneered the literacy movement in India, by making Kottayam Town the first 100% literate town in India in 1989, as District Collector.
  • Kottayam District achieved a quality health index better than the United States of America when he was the District Collector.
  • Built a cancer centre at Kottayam Medical College, with contribution from 8.2 million people.
  • Demolished 14,310 illegal buildings in Delhi, and reclaimed land worth Rs. 10,000 crores, as Commissioner, Delhi Development Authority.
  • Times Of India survey showed that 89.6% Delhiites supported his action, the highest rating for any public official any time.
  • Is an inspirational orator; was the best inter university debater in India for three years, while in the University.
  • Was instrumental in sanctioning self-financing professional colleges in Kerala, in 2001, when he was the Secretary, Higher Education, leading to an investment of Rs. 4,000 crores in this sector. The initiative has created over 1,00,000 seats in professional colleges. Declared the results of the entrance examinations to professional colleges in seven days, when he was the Commissioner for entrance examinations, Kerala.
  • Authored the bestselling book titled “Making a Difference”, published by Penguin India, in 1996. The Malayalam translation, “India Mattathinte Muzhakam”, published by DC Books, is its 12th edition.
  • Resigned from the IAS and got elected as independent MLA from Kanjirappally on 32nd day with a huge majority.Has won the best MLA award in Kerala in 2009.
  • Set up JANSHAKTHI, an NGO, in 1994, to get the citizens to believe in their ability to make government accountable to people. It has over 265 branches in Kerala. Worked for a year in Janshakthi’s slum project in Delhi after finishing tenure as Commissioner, DDA.
  • Won T.RAMARAO award from Kottayam Public Library in 2008, for making the most outstanding contribution to the development of Kottayam.

Travel-knots extends a hearty welcome to New Tourism Minister.