Category Archives: Travel

MTDC Resorts – A Boon for Tourists in Maharashtra

MTDC RESORTS

Travellers from across the globe are pouring in every day to discover new destinations in the state. The Maharashtra Tourism Development Corporation (MTDC) has constantly worked to offer an enriching experience to the visitors. The six resorts that were built by MTDC in the last five years at Sakoli (District Bhandara), Ambhora (Nagpur), Mozari Point Chikaldara (Amravati), Bodhalkasa (Gondia), Gaganbawda (Kolhapur) and Kunakeshwar (Sindhudurga) have immense potential to allure visitors from across the globe and help MTDC to promote untapped destinations. The details of these resorts, and how to reach them are as follows:

  1. SAKOLI

Sakoli is a small town in district Bhandara of Maharashtra. From cultural and historical spots, natural beauty, adventure and entertainment activities there are several exciting prospects for travellers to discover Sakoli. Just a few kilometres away from the Chulbhand river and surrounded by ponds and lakes, Sakoli is located on the Mumbai-Kolkata national highway.

You can reach there by road, located 101 Kms from Nagpur for which all kinds of transport is available whereas nearest railway stations and airport are Nagpur.

From here you can visit Andhalgaon, known as the dark village in Bhandara tehsil, apart from being a major supplier of Kosa silk cloth, is also famous for its weaving industry and manufacturing silk-bordered clothes, The Gondumari Palace, 10km away from Sakoli, is a place of historic importance and Explore the wildlife of Nagzira National Park and Navegaon Bandh Bird Sanctuary.

Here you can stay at MTDC’s leased out its property to M/S Tuli Hospitality Pvt Ltd and is an ideal destination for visitors looking for homely comfort.  

  1.  AMBHORA

Ambhora Village is situated on the bank of Wainganga River in Kuhi Taluka 75-km away from Nagpur. The key attractions of Ambhora are the shrines on the confluence of the three rivers — Wainganga, Kanhan and Amba. Overwhelmingly beautiful, Ambhora is home to Shri Harinath Temple and Ambatitthak Buddha Vihar which have major pilgrim footfalls at least thrice during festivals annually.

You can reach here Road: State transport buses are available from Nagpur to Ambhora and visitors can hire private transports too. Nearest railway station and airport is Nagpur.

You can visit Markanda, a shrine devoted to Lord Shiva and a sacred place of worship for Hindus,  in the middle of Chamorshi which is situated on the bank of Wainganga river. Tadoba, called the Jewel of Vidarbha because of its rich tiger reserve, is the oldest national park in the state. Ambakhori, situated on the bank of Pench River, is the main attraction with its waterfalls and forests.

You can stay at MTDC’s Holiday Resort, Ambhora, an ideal destination for the travellers to experience the nature’s ecstasy.

  1. MOZARI POINT, CHIKHALDARA
Mozari Point

Mozari Point is situated in a picturesque setting with a deep valley on three sides. It offers splendid views of sunrise and sunset. This point is 2-km away from Chikaldara district headquarters. Visitors can also approach the Devi Point area and west side of Gawilgarh Fort which provides a magnificent view.

Public transports are available from Nagpur, Badnera and Akola.  The nearest railway stations are Badnera and Akola which are almost 80-km away from Chikhaldara. Several trains from Mumbai, Pune, Nagpur halts at both Badnera and Akola junction. The closest airport is at Akola, which is 150 km away from Mozari Chikhaldara.

You can visit Gugamal National Park spread to 1673.93 square km was built in 1974. It is a small part of the Melghat Tiger Reserve. Bhimkund-Kichakdara is fenced with lush green background from all sides. Bhim-Kund is nearly 3500 ft. deep and visitors take bath to wash away their sins. Panchbol Point is 4-km away from Bir Lake. The five hills edges are linked naturally with several valleys to form a huge valley. This point is known as Five Eco Point.

You can stay at MTDC Mozari Point Resort has very spacious rooms with neat and hygienic ambience. The restaurant offers decent and homely food.

  1. Bodhalkasa

Bodhalkasa, an attractive nature trail with wide dam and enlivenment, is about 135-km from Nagpur. There is an array of activities like speed boating, paddling and thrilling water sports. It is a perfect destination for adventure and wildlife. The visitors can dine with the tribes, explore their culinary, and culture.

Public transports are available from nearest town Tirora.  Nagpur, Tirora and Kachewani are the nearest railway stations, and the closest airport is Nagpur.

You can visit Bodhalkasa dam, an idyllic getaway for visitors, which is filled with adventurous nature trails, it is an excellent opportunity for visitors to enjoy jungle safari. Visitors can also avail of water sports activities like riding, paddling and speedboats.

You can stay at MTDC’s Bodhalkasa Resort which is about 7-km from Magezari Gate of Nagzira, wildlife century

  1. Gaganbawada, Dist.-Kolhapur

Located in Kolhapur, Gaganbawada is one of the most beautiful hill stations of Maharashtra blessed with scenic beauty and an eccentric view of the Konkan coastal region. Due to this reason, many Hindi and Marathi filmmakers are attracted towards this hill station. This is also one of the most favourite developing destinations for trekkers. It is located on the stretch of Kolhapur-Kharepatan route, merely 55 kilometres from Kolhapur and is abundant in natural beauty. A haze of fog covers Gaganbawada most of the time during monsoon making it the best season to visit the serenity.

You can reach there by Road which is an hour and a half drive from Kolhapur bus stand. Kankavli and Kolhapur are the nearest railway stations to Gaganbawada. The closest is the Belgaum airport and is well -linked with major metro cities.

You can visit Gaganbawada, located within the Sahyadri range in the traditional Western Ghats, offers an extremely popular fortification ‘Gagangad’, just 1-km away from the destination. Karul Ghat & Bhuibavda Ghat are the two ghats, which fall in the category of the most scenic routes that originate from Gaganbawada. The Morjai temple and plateau is an attraction to hikers. It is 8-km away from town at a height of 980 MSL, a perfect example of ‘Sada Ecosystem’.

You can stay at MTDC Holiday Resort in Gaganbawada, Kolhapur is suitable for visitors as it offers superior quality stay and accommodation facility.

  1. KUNKESHWAR (SINDHUDURG)
Kunkeshwar

Kunakeshwar is positioned in the Devgad taluka of Sindhudurg district, about 14-km away from Devgad and 438-km from Mumbai. Kunakeshwar temple is dedicated to Lord Shiva and is located on the hillock facing the sea, where we can see a scenic sundown. The temple was built in the 12th century and has a 10m stone wall separating the temple from the sea.

You can reach there by State transport buses from Devgad, Kankavli and Malvan go to Kunakeshwar on a regular basis, visitors can also opt for hired private vehicles for this hour-long journey. The nearest railway station is Kankavli, which is around 51-km away from Kunakeshwar. The nearest airport is Panaji, Goa.

You can visit the Rock Cave, 1-km east of Kunakeshwar Temple, is a place of tourist attraction. The idols of this cave are carved out of black stone. At the coastline of Mithbav and Tambaldeg bird watchers get to see an attractive variety of winged creatures. This beach is calm and has less chaos as it is not amongst the regular trips of the tourists. Kotkamate is a small village situated 15-km away from Kunakeshwar. This temple was renovated in 1725 by Kanhoji Angre the admiral of Martha Navy. The temple has sculptures of goddess Shri Bhagvati.

You can stay at Kunkeshwar Resort (MTDC) in Sindhudurg which offers a holistic view of its pristine beaches away from the hustle and bustle of the city.

 

 

 

 

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

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!

Turtle Sanctuary in Allabahad


Top post on IndiBlogger, the biggest community of Indian Bloggers

The holy city of Triveni Sangam ( The confluence of holy rivers – Ganaga, Jamuna & mystical Saraswati) and of Maha Kumbh,  Allahabad in Uttar Pradesh, India will have a new reason to visit – The Turtle Sanctuary at Triveni Sangam Ghat.

The Centre has approved the setting up of a turtle sanctuary in Allahabad and a river biodiversity park at Triveni Sangam (confluence of rivers Ganga, Yamuna and the mythical Saraswati), according to an official statement. The project, sanctioned by National Mission for Clean Ganga (NMCG), would also include a Turtle Rearing Centre — permanent nursery at Triveni Pushp and makeshift annual hatcheries.

It will provide a much-needed platform for visitors to learn about their place in the ecosystem, roles and responsibilities. The central government initiative, estimated to cost Rs 1.34 crore, will also improve people’s understanding of the complexity of co-existence with the environment and help generate awareness for reducing the impact of human activities on critical natural resources.

The Project:

  • The project will include Turtle Rearing Centre – a permanent nursery at Triveni Pushp
  • It will also provide make-shift annual hatcheries for turtles
  • The initiative is estimated to cost Rs. 1.34 crore also aims to generate awareness

The sustenance of more than 2000 aquatic species in the Ganga exemplifies the rich biodiversity of the river, a lifeline to over 40 percent of the country’s population, the statement added. Ganga and Yamuna in Allahabad are home to some of the most-endangered turtle species, Gangetic dolphin (Platanista gangetica), gharial (Gavialis gangeticus) and attracts numerous migratory and resident birds.

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/

Sanchi Ka Stupa – Fond Childhood Memory!

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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…

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.