Category Archives: Tourism

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.

 

 

 

Royal Enfield embarks on its first ride to the Land of the Gods – Tour of Uttarakhand

First edition of Tour of Uttarakhand begins September 15th, 2017

Royal Enfield, the world’s fastest growing motorcycle brand has opened registrations for the first ever edition of the Tour of Uttarakhand for its customers and aficionados. Leisure motorcycling enthusiasts can register for the most recent addition to Royal Enfield’s coveted line-up of rides at https://royalenfield.com/tou/register/. Commencing on the 15th of September from Dehradun, the Royal Enfield cavalcade will traverse across one of India’s most picturesque regions, the home of the Himalayas before culminating at Dehradun itself on the 24th of September.

The ride to the land of the Gods will be a journey like never before for the participants, taking them through the lesser explored regions of the Himalayas, forest reserves, wildlife and to Mana, the last village on the Tibetan border. The riding terrain will give them a scenic view of landscapes, barren snow-capped mountains and frozen water bodies while allowing for an intriguing pure motorcycling experience. Whether appealing to the explorer in oneself or alluring the ones looking to break out of the monotony of everyday life, The Tour of Uttrakhand will be an experience worth cherishing for one and all.

Flagging off from the capital city of Uttarakhand, the convoy will make its way to Harsil, Nelang Valley, Niti Pass, Auli, Kausani, Jim Corbett and back, covering a distance of close to 1,500 km for over 10 days. Royal Enfield has been pioneering leisure motorcycling in India and with the Tour of Uttarakhand, it aims to provide a novel riding experience by chartering into an unexplored yet fascinating territory.

Royal Enfield aims to provide “pure motorcycling” experience, wherein the man, machine and terrain come together as one. In its constant endeavour to support and encourage the riders to explore the unexplored terrains, Tour of Uttarakhand is one such initiative that will bring them closer to fulfilling their need for exploration in the home of the Himalayas.

The oldest motorcycle brand in continuous production, Royal Enfield made its first motorcycle in 1901. A division of Eicher Motors Limited, Royal Enfield has created the mid-sized motorcycle segment in India with its unique and distinctive modern classic bikes. With its new manufacturing base in Chennai, India, Royal Enfield is able to grow its production rapidly against a surge in demand for its motorcycles. With more than 50% growth every year for the last 5 years, Royal Enfield is fast becoming a very important player in the global mid-size motorcycle market and is working towards re-inventing this space with motorcycles that are evocative and engaging and great fun to ride.

Royal Enfield also organizes and supports many motorcycling events and rides globally, more prominently the Rider Mania – an annual gathering of Royal Enfield riders from all over the world to the lovely beaches of Goa, and the Himalayan Odyssey, the most arduous motorcycle ride over some of the toughest roads and highest mountain passes in the Himalayas. Royal Enfield also conducts the popular ‘One Ride’ where people around the world ride out on their motorcycles on the first Sunday of April.

To know more about #TOU2017 visit: https://royalenfield.com/tou/

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

Trupti ko Rajasthan kuch aisa laga – Truptsthan!

जहाँ हवाओं में राजस्थान का संगीत है: माटी बांधे पैजनी, बंगड़ी पहने बादली!

My colleague Trupti Sharma along with her bunch of young, adventurous & enthusiastic friends ringed in New Year in mesmerizing Rajasthan & the choice was in favour of Dessert trek at Jaisalmer.  In over a week – long trip to Jaisalmer, Trupti experienced Rajasthan like never before…

… Trupti ko Rajasthan kuch aisa laga!

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Trupti was gracious enough to share her experiences along with unique photo-essay for travel-knots readers. Enjoy reading it here!!

Phir dekhiye Rajasthan appko bhi kuch aisa lagega!!!

Jaisalmer Trek: The Transition:

  • From 2016 to 2017
  • From one state to another
  • From Camp to Second Home
  • From Strangers to Friends
  • From Friends to Family
  • From Can I do it to I bet you cannot do it

But it was truly:

Challenging | Freezing | Arid | Windy | Quiet | Calm | Noisy | Golden | Royal | Natural | Raw

It was anything but boring…

Camping, Trekking, Climbing, Camel Ride, Boating, Posing, Singing, Folk Dancing; Challenging your physical and mental endurance, we did it all in Rajasthan

Base Camp: Jaisalmer City – Border Home Guard Ground

Higher Camps: Kharara Camp | Sam Sand Dunes | Sudasari Sand Dunes | Bama

When Trupti decided to be part of this trek and started checking on tickets to neighbouring cities of Jaisalmer in Rajasthan, which was good three months ahead, I was surprised to note that all tickets to Jodhpur, Jaisalmer, Jaipur or any possible city in Rajasthan were full or super expensive and she had to take Mumbai – Delhi – Jaisalmer route to reach base camp.  Unexpectedly she found Delhi not at all cold and she even enjoyed cold water shower there. From Delhi she embarked on her journey to Jodhpur.  This is the magic of Rajasthani soil…माटी बांधे पैजनी, बंगड़ी पहने बादली!

Thankfully she found Jaisalmer to be super impressive, quite a deal for true – blue Mumbai girl. Trupti found Station very clean and did not shirk it from terming it “One of the best”.

I present here the Trupti’s account of her Jaisalmer trek:

Jaisalmer is the largest district in India in fact even bigger than many Indian States which is also clean and royal in its look and feel.  It is endowed with perfect lighting which provided ample reflection for our pictures. I found everything there to be so grand and royal, even houses are made of hand carved stones which I had never seen before. It was a pleasure ogling at those beautiful stone house which a rarity in Metro we live in.

After this our next destination was “Patvaaon-ki-Haveli” where we found forever welcoming Rajasthani folk-singers, where we found Rajathani folk music spreading like aroma in the air.  We sang and even danced with these Rajasthani folk artists. Moreover, they did not expect much money from us; they thanked us for whatever we gave them. Indeed they were very humble, warm and welcoming.  I would like to mention here that colourful turbans have perpetual charm midst tourists coming here which would cost you not more that Rs. 50.  Before entering “Patvaaon-ki-haveli” don’t forget to gorge on delicious Paani – Puri where law of multiplication applies in full – force. Go on gulping, without counting though.

Now we had to embark on our first higher camp – the Kharara camp, where we came across lot of windmills and trust me windmills are one of the best inventions, just like mountains even they make you and your problems look relatively very small. To give you an idea- to reach top of an industrial windmill one needs to have 60 levels on a Human pyramid or terrace of a 38 storey building.

After walking around 12 Kms, we reached our second higher camp – Sam Sand Dunes, my first experience of sand dunes was quite amazing, nothing short of mesmerizing. It was little crowded since most people travelling to Jaisalmer visit Sam dunes but in a lot of ways it was still untouched. I must admit, evenings are the best part of a trek and you don’t have to walk with super heavy rucksack. Moreover, it is neither very hot nor very cold here. Last but not the least, you get to chill, sing, rest, roam around and watch one of the most beautiful sunsets.

So after all this and more like sand sliding, photo shoot and amateur Dangal, we were all set to march back to our camps. On our way we encountered few folk singers –  two kids and one ‘ol chap – and I am happy we met them as it was so much fun singing and dancing along on Rajasthani folk music for over an hour.  So much so that we broke into an impromptu “Sangeet Ceremony”  of our friends  Unnati & Madhu who are chained to get married in coming few months to their respective groom and bride.

In the second leg of our trek from Sam Sand Dunes, we had to reach Sudasari Desert National Park, which threw biggest challenge as we had to do 10 kms ride on camel and 12 Kms of walking along with crawling and hitch hiking!

I can term Camel ride as good and bad both, but to enjoy camel ride, you need to be in sync your rhythm but how do you keep up to a camel who keeps switching songs?

Moreover, trek to Sudasari is not at all easy. Firstly, it is near impossible to get permissions for trekking groups and even for individuals it takes at least three months of approval process but thanks to YHAI’s goodwill and good work that we (group of 40 people) were not just able to trek in but also got to camp one night.

Sudasari Sand dunes were amazing, so calm still so powerful… trust me deserted deserts are much more beautiful.

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Other major take away from this trip is that I got to know so many people from different parts of India say now I have friends from AP, Gujarat, Jharkhand, TN, Karnataka and parts of Northern India.

Pictures & text courtesy: Trupti Sharma

 

 

Bollywood Park, Dubai opens its doors tomorrow!

Come November 17, Circa 2016 and Dubai will open its doors to the first theme park in the world dedicated to all things Bollywood!

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The park is generously packed with action, adventure, romance, comedy, music, dance, flavour and emotion, in true blue Bollywood style.

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A celebration of Mumbai’s legendary film industry in five zones inspired by Bollywood blockbusters, visitors can enjoy live entertainment, stage performances and flamboyant cinematic rides in an experience unlike any other.

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For the first time ever, you will live, learn and experience the kaleidoscopic world of Mumbai’s famous film industry, in the world’s first Bollywood themed park covering 1.7million square feet.

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Bollywood Parks Dubai is the first park of its kind in the world. In five fascinating zones, you can experience different environments inspired by the greatest Bollywood blockbusters.

If you are planning a trip to Dubai, add this must visit attraction in your travel plans particularly if you are a Bollywood buff.

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Be prepared to be greeted by a vibrant display of cafés and live entertainment at the Bollywood theme park Dubai, all before the party starts at the Rock On!! Restaurant.

The Bollywood parks feature an array of cinema-centric rides and attractions based on movies starring some of the biggest names in Bollywood – Shah Rukh Khan, Hrithik Roshan, Aamir Khan, Salman Khan, and Farhan Akhtar.

At Mumbai Chowk, you can stroll the streets of Mumbai with its famous food, shopping and party spirit. To add some thrill; join the mafia boss Don on a chase through the streets of Dubai

At Rustic Ravine, you can explore the spirit of rural India comes to life in a picturesque setting. Be part of never-ending adventures as played out in Dabangg, Lagaan and Sholay.

At Royal Plaza, you can experience visual splendour like never before at Rajmahal Theatre, the home of the region’s first Broadway-style Bollywood musical.

Here at Bollywood Film Studios featuring Hall of Heroes.  

If you want to learn how to create a blockbuster like Zindagi Na Milegi Dobara, and meet your favourite Bollywood superheroes, such as Krrish and RA.One at the exciting Bollywood theme park, this is the place to be in.

This iconic landmark is the heart and soul of Bollywood Parks Dubai. With several shows per week, this world-class venue will play host to the region’s first Broadway-style Bollywood musical.

Don’t miss the chugging train, an ever-present image in Bollywood films, in this show, performers atop our train rooftop stage will dance to a range of popular songs that have romanticized the Indian train. The shows also celebrate the Taporis, the small time street hustlers of Mumbai, with their unique vocabulary and a cadence of speech that makes for great comedy and characterization.

Can you afford to miss the destination when in Dubai?