Category Archives: Travel

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

The message given by Costa Cruise & Bombay Port Trust in the press – conference held in Hotel Trident on August 1, 2017, 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.

Sanchi Ka Stupa – Fond Childhood Memory!

index

I visited Sanchi many many years ago as a child  with my uncle (Chote Chacha) without any understanding of where I was going. The only happiness was about missing school for those two days…

…but recently I saw a program on Travel XP on Sanchi ka Stupa and vivid memories of visit rolled before my eyes. I could not resist myself writing and exploring more about it. Now I realise what a place it was…

sanchi 1

So for the unitiated, the Buddhist vihara at Sanchi, famous for its Great Stupa is located at Sanchi Town in Raisen District of the state of Madhya Pradesh, India, it is 46 km north-east of Bhopal.

Sanchi, variously known as Kakanaya, Kakanava, Kakanadabota and Bota-Sriparvata in ancient times, has a singular distinction of having remarkable specimen of Buddhist art and architecture right from the early Mauryan period (c. third century BC to twelfth century AD). Sanchi is famous in the world for stupas, monolithic Asokan pillar, temples, monasteries and sculptural wealth.

It was Emperor Asoka who laid the foundations of a religious centre at Sanchi fascinated probably by the location of the hill or because of his Queen Devi, who was the daughter of a merchant of Vidisha. He erected the Great Stupa (Stupa 1) here after redistribution of mortal remains of Lord Buddha for erecting several stupas all over the country in order to spread Buddhism. This stupa was originally a low structure of brick, half the diameter of the present edifice hemispherical in shape with raised terraces at the base. It was enclosed by a wooden railing and a stone umbrella at the top. This Great Stupa served as a nucleus to the large Buddhist establishment during the later period.

sanchi 2

During Sunga times, several edifices were raised at Sanchi and its surrounding hills. The Asokan stupa was enlarged and faced with stones and decorated with balustrades, staircases and a harmika on the top.

sanchi003

In the first century BC the Andhra-Satavahanas, who had extended their sway over the eastern Malwa, caused the elaborately carved gateways to Stupa 1. The Great Stupa of Sanchi displays an austere grandeur and the exquisite carvings of the doorway depict in detail the significant episodes and miracles from Lord Buddha’s life and events depicted in the Buddhist Jataka stories.

sanchi004

From the second to fourth century AD Sanchi and Vidisha came under the Kushanas and Kshatrapas and subsequently passed on to the hands of the Guptas.

images

During the Gupta period some temples were also built and sculptures were added displaying the classical grace and simplicity of the era. Further, statues of Lord Buddha seated in the canopies facing the four entrances of the Great Stupa were also added. Sanchi also flourished during the 7th – 12th centuries A.D. when shrines and monasteries were continued to be added. Thus Sanchi displays harmonious co-existence of Hindu and Buddhist faiths.

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.

IMG_20160625_174422054 IMG_20160625_174357159 IMG_20160625_174221808 IMG_20160625_174444436

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.

IMG_20160625_174114685 IMG_20160625_174105652 IMG_20160625_174103102 IMG_20160625_174036851 IMG_20160624_204553399

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.

8408home-banner-02a

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.

8619VIS_3091_2007

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.

Rajasthan never ceases to surprise you, so did Udaipur!!

A reluctant trip to Udaipur turned out to be most fascinating one, Read on to know how?

IMG_20160425_190502770

The trip in April to Rajasthan was not a great idea according to many but my brother –in-law Anurag encouraged me to make it. And I made it!! Anurag who had studied there told me elaborately about the place and sight-seeing spots and we almost followed his itenery. The train journey by Udaipur Superfast from Bandra to Udaipur was pleasant but when I came out of station I was quite fascinated by its architecture and immediately clicked some pictures there. As we have been watching in Rajasthan Tourism Commercials which says: Rajasthan never ceases to Surprise you! It applied to us: Me & My husband Mukund too! Weather was nice especially evenings.

No wonder Udaipur has been inspiration for countless artists, architects and poets for several years. Not only this it has been part of many a romantic Bollywood and Hollywood movies and earned a name for itself: ‘City of Romance’ besides fondly addressed as ‘City of Lakes’. They all conjure up a wonderful and fascinating image and Udaipur is worthy of them all.

Interesting historical note on city of Udaipur:

Maharana Udai Singhji roamed the country side well away from the hub of Mughal activity and eventually came across lake Pichola, the principal being Chand Pole at northwest corner, the Hathi Pol on the north, the Delhi-Gate on North East , the Suraj Pole of the east and Kishan Pole on the south and cradled protectively by the surrounding tree clad Aravali Mountains, a green & pleasant area, with a cooler climate than surrounding lands, abundant water supply, fertile soil and plenty of good hunting. Udai Singh ji founded this as new capital and this is how Udaipur came into being.   

So immediately after reaching hotel which we had booked Online: Kaveri Palace, we set out to famed Fateh Sagar Lake and voila what a place it was. The setting was just awesome: nicely lit, breezy, waves, boat-rides, camel rides, Chaupati like food court and many tourists having gala time there. We took a long stroll on the side and watched beautiful lake closely. It was quite an experience in itself!

Fateh Sagar Lake, situated to the north of Pichola Lake and connected to it by a canal, was originally built by Maharana Jai Singh who had constructed even the more famous Jaisamand Lake. Later when the old embankment of the lake was swept away by heavy rains, the lake was reconstructed in its modern avatar by Maharana Fateh Singh. The foundation stone of the new embankment was laid by the Duke Conaught, Son of Queen Victoria in 1889. How do I know all this? The history is written on its banks as soon as you enter the Fateh Sagar Lake. The lake has been expanded to optimum levels to ensure that Udaipur would always have a substantial supply of water.

The lake, which covers an area of about two square miles when full, has one small island, which has been made by the Government of Rajasthan into a public park which has fountains known as Nehru Garden. Though Nehru Garden is not that well maintained, as I had expected.

While returning from Fateh Sagar Lake we halted at most famous picnic spot: Sukhadia Circle which looked to me situated in the middle of city and named after Chief Minister Shri Mohan Lal Sukhadia. It was a very fascinating picnic spot with its lush – green lawns, water fountain and boating. I found Udaipur people peacefully having great time there. Special lighting all over added to its splendour and beauty. But later I came to know that Sukhadia Circle is located in front of the Railway Training School and this huge circle has been converted into pond. Its diameter is 20 Ft. And it has 42 Ft. High fountain, unique in the country. As I told you above, the pond has green park all around it embedded with beautiful flowers and herbs.  

Our night sojourn completed with a round of Chetak Circle and nice hearty meal in the end.

Watch out this space for more on Udaipur!!!

  

Your Travel Forecast 2016, by Sanjay B Jumani in DNA

 

DNA

http://epaper.dnaindia.com/epapermain.aspx?pgNo=14&edcode=820009&eddate=2016-01-10

For clear reading of your travel forecast click link above.

This article caught my fancy and I thought of sharing with my readers. Whatever is your sun sign, forecast has some exciting travel adventures lined up for you.

Don’t miss reading, don’t miss traveling!

Source: DNA

 

 

KL PASS™ gives tourists more reasons to stay longer in KL

The KL PASS™, an integrated tourist pass was recently launched in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia offering tourists seamless access to tourism attractions and supporting amenities on top of other privileges and benefits.

KL Pass

With the KL PASS™, tourists are entitled to gain entry without further payment at participating tourist attractions. All they have to do is present their pass at the entrance for verification and once the card’s validity is confirmed, they will be granted entry. The KL PASS™ can also be used to gain discounts and other special privileges when shopping, dining and entertaining in Kuala Lumpur.

The KL PASS™ comes in six variants; 1-Day, 3-Day and 6-Day pass for adults and children. The 1-day adult pass is priced at RM165.00 while the 3-day and 6-day passes are priced at RM395.00 and RM675.00 respectively. The 1-day child pass is priced at RM125.00 while the 3-day and 6-day passes are going for RM325.00 and RM515.00 respectively.

Mr Manoharan Periasamy, Director, Tourism Malaysia said, “The KL PASS™ will help increase awareness of what Kuala Lumpur has to offer and contribute to the overall tourist experience encouraging them to even increase their length of stay in the city.”

Tourist attractions currently on board of KL PASS™ include The KL Tower, Aquaria KLCC, The KL Butterfly Park, Berjaya Times Square Indoor Theme Park, Batek Workshop at Kompleks Kraf, the Craft Museum, Discoveria@Avenue K, Escape Room @ Berjaya Times Square, Laser Battle @ Berjaya Times Square, MUD The Musical, The KL City Gallery, The KL Hop-On-Hop-Off, the KL Tram, Sunway Lagoon Theme Park, the Telekom Museum, The Foundry Workshop @ Royal Selangor and Zouk KL.

The KL PASS™ is available for purchase online as well as a number of sales outlets in the city and at KLIA. Foreign tourists may purchase the pass in their home countries and choose to either have the pass sent to them or collect their passes in KL when they arrive. Among the places the pass is currently available is at the KL City Gallery, the KL Concierge Kiosk and at the KL Hop-On-Hop-Off ticket counter. In the near future, a number of tourist attractions will also offer the pass for sale.

Currently at Phase 1 of its development, the KL PASS™ will include more establishments and public transportation in Phase II. A very conservative figure of 20,000 cards are expected to sell within the first year of operations. The KL PASS™ website has organically attracted over 2,000 unique visitors in less than two weeks since it went live. What is more encouraging is that these hits have come from all over the world, including the UK, France, Germany, Spain, China, India, USA, Japan, Australia, New Zealand, Singapore and the Middle East.

image001

MALAYSIA TOURISM PROMOTION BOARD OR TOURISM MALAYSIA is an agency under the Ministry of Tourism & Culture, Malaysia. Tourism Malaysia focuses on the specific task of promoting Malaysia at all levels. Since its inception, Tourism Malaysia has grown by leaps and bounds and it has emerged as a major player in the international tourism scene. In 2014, Malaysia registered 27.4 million tourist arrivals and RM72 billion in receipts, making tourism its second largest foreign exchange earner.

image001(1)

Malaysia celebrated its fourth VISIT MALAYSIA YEAR (VMY) in 2014 with the theme “Celebrating 1Malaysia Truly Asia”. The promotion of the country continues with the MALAYSIA YEAR OF FESTIVALS

(MyFEST) campaign in 2015 with the theme “Endless Celebrations” emphasising the various festivals celebrated by its multicultural society. Both campaigns are key drivers towards achieving the country’s target of 36 million tourist arrivals and RM168 billion in receipts by 2020, as outlined in the Tourism NKEA (National Key Economic Area).

Through the Tourism NKEA, collaborative efforts between the Ministry of Tourism and Culture, other Government agencies and the private sector have been enhanced to help secure Malaysia’s position as a leading tourist destination. The targets set under the Tourism NKEA will be achieved through the implementation of twelve Entry Point Projects (EPPs) clustered under five themes: Affordable Luxury; Nature Adventure; Family Fun; Events, Entertainment, Spa and Sports; and Business Tourism.

Events to look forward to in coming TRAVEL season!

Mark your Travel Calendar for these interesting line up of Cultural Festival across India like Shantiniketan, Odisha and Mumbai.

Poush Mela at Shantiniketan, West Bengal, December 23, 2015 as Indie is not confined to Electronic Guitars and turntables, this is a peak into the rich heritage of Bengal in particular and India in general. Most notably, Baul Music – an eclectic blend of folk songs relating to Bhakti Movement. Commencing on the 7th day of the month of Poush, the fair officially lasts for three days, although vendors may stay up until the month-end. The key characteristic of this fair includes live performances of Bengali folk music, notably Baul music. Poush Mela is characterized by the live performances of Bengali folk music, especially the Baul music. It includes folk songs, dances and tribal sports. This fair offers a perfect insight of true heritage of the state. The students of Shantiniketan present their magnificent performance and make this festival more enjoyable and glamorous. Each day of this festival is filled with different activities. The last day of this fair is devoted to those who are related to Shantiniketan.

Indian Surf Festival (ISF) at Ramchandi Beach, Odisha in the first week of February 2016.

Indi surf fest

Not just for the music, but also simultaneously bask in the Sun at serene beach, go surfing and kite surfing, and for water yoga. Musically its last two chapters featured some of the country’s best less – known facts like Thaalavatam and Sitarsonic. The festival was curated by Bengaluru-based artist Vinay Pateel, who has been the Festival Curator since the second edition. The sweeping theme of the art was called Soul Flowers. About 30 flowers made out of bamboo were spread all over the festival, with a large central interactive installation. Motion controlled lighting on the installation engaged people one by one to play and express themselves through the flow of light that responded to their gestures.

‘A Rising Tide’ is a short documentary surf film, created by Indian surfer/filmmaker trio Tushar Pathiyan, Ishita Malaviya and Krish Makhija in association with Quiksilver India.

The Girl Power Zone was a special zone created to bring together female artists. Lizzy from Portugal, Nikkie from Odisha along with fashion labels Livingarts Lifestyles and Galang Gabaan. The geodesic domes made by Sebastian Vilarino from Argentina hosted the stage and performances. Sachin Shetty from Mumbai and Krilly from Australia made exquisite live paintings over the course of 3 days. BeeVee from Bengaluru had an exclusive Projection Mapping show visualizing the story of ISF Girl Power.

Mahindra Blues Festival at Mehboob Studios, Mumbai, Second week of February, 2016.

Mahindra Blues

The festival focuses on a genre of music which is slowly fading away from festivals radars: Blues. It’s no nonsense, and focuses only on best-known practitioners of Blues Music.
Known as Asia’s largest and finest Blues phenomenon, the Mahindra Blues Festival brings together some of the best Blues musicians in the world for two days of guitar-rippin’, soul-trippin’ music at the iconic Mehboob Studio in Mumbai.

Since its inception in 2011, the Mahindra Blues Festival has been instrumental in bringing down international Blues legends like Buddy Guy, John Lee Hooker Jr., Taj Mahal, and Walter Trout, among others, to Mumbai – fuelling a burgeoning interest in Blues music in the country. MBF has also become a great platform for Indian Blues bands to perform along with the best Blues musicians in the world. MBF was also nominated in 2014 for the ‘Keeping the Blues Alive’ award presented by the The Blues Foundation of America.
In 2015, MBF returned in its fifth year with a fantastic line-up featuring the likes of Buddy Guy, Quinn Sullivan, Doyle Bramhall II, Rich Robinson, Nikki Hill, Thorbjørn Risager and The Black Tornado along with homegrown talent like Warren Mendonsa of Blackstratblues, The True School Experience and the winners of The Mahindra Blues Band Hunt 2015.

So what are you waiting for? Get set for some super musical and cultural adventures!