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Posted on: Tuesday , Aug 25, 2009 At 11:35 AM

Worshiping Ganesha With Elephants

When we were all  busy worshiping Ganesha during the festival and going from street to street looking at decorations on the big statues, there was a more interesting celebration happening in the forests of Mudumalai Wildlife Sanctuary. The worshipers here were not people like you and I, but elephants!

22 elephants from an elephant camp brought the Ganesha idol, and two of them performed a pooja in front of a gathering of locals and tourists.

The tourists would be surely amused at the fair, but I wonder if the elephants enjoyed the whole thing. But the good thing - the elephants received special food for their effort at the end of it.

Read more about it at'100237294.html

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Posted on: Tuesday , Aug 25, 2009 At 11:14 AM

Jet Airways Pilots Plan To Go On Strike

This is an important news to make note of, if you are planning some travelling in September.

National Aviator's Guild, a union on Jet Airways pilots, has declared that they will go on an indefinite strike starting from midnight of September 7th.

The trouble started when Jet Airways decided to terminate two of its pilots a few days ago. The sacked pilots claim that Jet Airways was taking a measure of retribution for their role in establishing a trade union of Jet employees.

If you have any travel plans in September and have a Jet Airways ticket in hand, be prepared with some alternate options. Read the full story at

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Posted on: Tuesday , Aug 25, 2009 At 11:05 AM

Books For The India Explorer - Vi: Coorg

See right-side column for earlier posts about travel books on India. In this post, I am listing four books that gives insights into the history and culture of Coorg, a hilly region in southern part of Karnataka.

Nuggets from Coorg History by CP Belliappa. This book has insights on the last four hundred years of Coorg's history. It is written as a compilation of short chapters, each one telling an interesting story.

Gazetteer of Coorg by G Richter. A book published in 1870, this is written by the then principal of Government School in Madikeri. The book documents every aspect of Coorg in detail, including the region's culture, biodiversity and history.

Tale of a Tiger's Tail and other yarns from Coorg by CP Belliappa. Another book by Belliappa is a compilation of humorous short stories from Coorg.

Kodavas by BD Ganapathy goes into details of culture and history of the people of Coorg.

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Posted on: Monday , Aug 24, 2009 At 23:03 PM

Overlooked Stunning Structures

Featured in a recent list of Reuters' top ten 'overlooked stunning structures' is Jaipur's Jantar Mantar.

Reuters website mentions Jantar Mantar as "The Griffith Observatory of its time, this 17th-century planetarium of sorts played a pivotal role in predicting the area's astronomical and meteorological events. Among its many gems is a giant sundial. "

Have you seen the Jantar Mantar and felt that it is a special place? I spent a few days at Jaipur a year ago, and passed by Jantar Mantar without seeing it. I went inside the enclosure hosting these structures that initially looked weird, only to find that the observatory was under renovation. Some sections were half painted and some places covered with scaffoldings. I decided to skip Jantar Mantar that day. But whenever Jaipur comes into my mind, I always remember not being able to take a guided tour of Jantar Mantar.

Read the full story at Reuters website, which has the full list of 'overlooked stunning structures' -

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Posted on: Saturday , Aug 22, 2009 At 23:17 PM

Flower Bursts

One of the charming things about the Himalayas in the monsoons is the burst of flowers that can be seen occasionally. In places like Manali, you can sometimes see large areas full of tiny flowers. Here are a couple of pictures I had shot during one of my visits to Himachal.


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Posted on: Saturday , Aug 22, 2009 At 21:30 PM

Of Drought And Travel To Mountains

After giving an optimistic view for the last two months, Government of India has relented and accepted that the monsoons have failed. Many parts of India have not seen regular rain falls this year, and North India is seeing continuing sultry weather. 

This also means more and more people are trying to get out of the plains and finding refuge in the mountains. Hill stations like Shimla are having extended season, and the number of tourists visiting is higher than usual. I was told that hotels in Shimla were completely booked and there was no accommodation available last weekend.

A friend who owns a riverside property about 100km Shimla have been seeing good business. They usually closes for the monsoons every year, but have decided to stay open this time.

I will also be heading towards Shimla in the second week of September. I will be spending a few days travelling in the beautiful deodar forest stretches between Shimla and Chail. Watch this space for some stories and photographs from the region.

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Posted on: Saturday , Aug 22, 2009 At 18:21 PM

Ladakh Confluence

A four day music festival, called Ladakh Confluence, is scheduled from August 26th on the banks of Indus in Ladakh. The festival will have artists coming from all over the world and performing at the venue, which is nestled in the mountain region above 10,000 feet.

Besides the music shows, there will be many other events planned during the days of the fest. It includes wildlife and nature film shows, children's activities, dances, photography, thangka painting sessions and many other activities with local flavours. The tickets for the confluence will be available online till 26th, after which they can be purchased at the venue.

At the moment, the news from Ladakh is that it is becoming difficult to find accommodation in Leh during the festival days. If you are thinking of Ladakh sometime in the next 10-15 days, it would be best to plan your trip in advance and book your accommodation.

For more details on the festival and to book tickets, visit They can aslo help you plan your travel and book your accommodation.

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Posted on: Friday , Aug 21, 2009 At 19:29 PM

Swine Flu And Travel

I live in Bangalore, one of the cities where people have died of swine flu. The number of people infected now stands at a few hundreds, which is a cause for alarm. I see people wearing masks everywhere, preferring to stay cautious. Those who wear masks probably constitute a very small percentage, but significant enough that I keep bumping into them every now and then.

That brings me to the question - would I cut down my travel plans due to fear of infection? Travel news feeds are full of reports about fall in tourist numbers, thanks to the flu. A few governments have even issued advisory against travelling to India. A few travel agents I spoke to fear about decline in domestic travel as well. Would it be sensible to stay at home and be careful?

Opinions may differ and some people tend to be more cautious than other. For me, it would be hard to sit at home worrying about an infection that has affected a miniscule share of our population. Yes, there would be some danger of infection when you are in a crowded transport or in a large gathering, but I might as well risk it than stay home. I would not advice everyone to do the same, but am curious what people think about it. What is your take on the flu? Would you prefer to stay cautious or just get out when you wish to?

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Posted on: Friday , Aug 21, 2009 At 19:07 PM

Night Traffic Ban In Bandipur

The Government of Karnataka had issued orders to ban all vehicular traffic after 9pm in Bandipur National Park earlier this month.  A PIL filed against the order has now been dismissed by the Karnataka High Court, ensuring that the traffic ban is here to stay. Starting from the first week of August, vehicles were not allowed inside the park from 9pm to 6am.

The ban applies to two important roads connecting Mysore with the South. NH212 and NH67 pass through the national park, connecting Mysore with Ooty and Wayanad. The ban however doesn't apply to public transport buses belonging to state governments.

The ban means that you would not be able to drive through Bandipur if you are travelling to Wayanad or Ooty from Bangalore. If you intend to travel from Bangalore to these areas in a private vehicle on a weekend, you would be forced to depart on a Saturday morning instead of Friday night.

See full story at

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Posted on: Friday , Aug 21, 2009 At 17:40 PM

Elephant Charges Tourist

Two French tourists were charged by a female elephant near Mudumalai Forest Ranges in Tamil Nadu. One of them, a retired school teacher died on the way to the hospital, while her sun suffered leg injuries.

This could be one of the rare incidences where a tourist was attached and killed by an elephant, but the incidences of tourist and elephant encounters are not uncommon. It happens regularly in Nilgiri Biosphere Reserve, where the tourist activity has increased manifold in last decade.

The forests in this region host a dense population of elephants that often comes into close encounteres with tourists. While elephants in groups are mostly harmless and only mock charge the tourists to keep them away, getting uncomfortably close to the herd can result in trouble. The web is full of stories of people who had to come face to face with the pachyderms in the forests of Madumalai, Bandipur, Nagarahole and Wayanad. It is a temptation to get closer to these beautiful animals and live the wildlife experience to the fullest, but wisdom lies in exercising caution and staying at a distance.

Read the full story of elaphant attach at

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Posted on: Tuesday , Aug 18, 2009 At 12:30 PM

Karnataka On Oktatabyebye

Besides writing on this blog, I have been frequently spending time writing on oktatabyebye about places to visit in Karnataka. It is a long list now, covering most of the well known places in the state. If you are planning to go anywhere in the state and looking for information, this compilation of write-ups from me should help you find what you need.

  1. Udupi
  2. Dandeli
  3. Agumbe
  4. Gokarna
  5. Hampi
  6. Chitradurga
  7. Srirangapatna
  8. Dharmasthala
  9. Chikmaglur
  10. Bandipur
  11. Jog Falls
  12. BR Hills
  13. Nagarahole
  14. Kemmannugundi
  15. Belur
  16. Mekedatu
  17. Melukote
  18. Shivanasamudra

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Posted on: Tuesday , Aug 18, 2009 At 11:34 AM

The Hoysala Heritage

Most of you would have heard of the temples carved in stone in Belur and Halebeedu. These temples built by the Hoysala Kings are known for their fine architecture and intricate carvings. They are also among the well known tourist destinations in Karnataka. If you are living in Bangalore or elsewhere in South India, it is very likely that you have already visited these places. But did you know that there are dozens of equally beautiful temples around Belur and Halebeedu? The monuments spread around Belur and Halebeedu do not show up prominently on the tourist map, and hence rarely visited.

Take the Veeranarayana temple in Belavadi for instance. It is just 12km from Halebeedu and you see hardly any visitors there. But it is a fine structure with an array of 108 pillars, all of them polished to perfection and each one carved differently. Not very far from Halebeedu are a bunch of Jain Temples huddled together, again built with many round pillars adorning the front porch.

There are countless such temples to see, like the four-shrined temple in Doddagaddavalli or the temple with a round front-porch in Arasikere. The Hoysala Kings had built nearly a thousand temples during their four hundred years of rule. Nearly a hundred have survived even today, many of them restored to their old glory by ASI.

Travel Wise, an initiative formed by me and a fellow travel writer aims to show these centers of perfection in stone to the curious travellers. We do occasional weekend trips from Bangalore with small groups. Our next tour is scheduled on August 29th. See for more details.

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Posted on: Monday , Aug 17, 2009 At 11:00 AM

Kargil As A Tourist Destination

Ten years after the war against the intruding forces from Pakistan, Kargil was in news once again last month when the nation paid homage to the martyrs. To help people visit those places where our soldiers fought successfully, the Government of India is planning to develop Kargil as a tourist destination.

The first concern is here is of safety, as Kargil is very close to the Line of Control and can be a target for firing from the other side of the border. Kargil also requires much improvement in terms of tourist facilities. Options for accommodation is Kargil are very few, and a rush of tourists may result in shortage of supply. The government is planning to pump in twelve crore rupees to resolve these problems and to improve security and tourist infrastructure in the town.

Kargil is significant not just a place where a war was fought, but as the gateway to the picturesque and isolated Zanskar Valley. It is also a transit point where people tend to stop and spend a night during the long journey from Srinagar to Leh. Improvement in tourist infrastructure can help travellers in travelling to these places in more comfort.

See more details at'100225790.html

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Posted on: Monday , Aug 17, 2009 At 10:29 AM

Sundarbans And New 7 Wonders Of Nature

After the declaration of seven wonders of the world two years ago, it is now time for deciding seven natural wonders. The seven natural wonders campaign has been running since December 2007, in which more than 440 locations were nominated for the honour. Of the 440 initial nominees, 77 were shortlisted through a voting. 28 of them made it to the last round after being filtered by a panel of experts.

The selection process for the final seven has already begun. A public voting will decide the winning entries, which will be unveiled only in 2011. The one location from India in the final 28 is Sundarban Delta, the world's largest mangrove forest.

To see the list of finalists, visit To vote for your favourite locations see

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arunchs arunchs lives in Bangalore(Karnataka) and is interested in travel, photography, reading, movies, music,...

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