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Posted on: Wednesday , Nov 25, 2009 At 15:43 PM

Books For The Indian Eplorer - Vi

'India Explored' brings you a series on books for the travelling Indians. See the right-side column to go through earlier books in the series. Today's focus is on a few books written by well known writer Ruskin Bond.

  • Rain in the Mountains. A compilation of short write-ups and stories by Ruskin Bond includes some beautiful narration of life from his window and his life in Mussourie.
  • Indian Railways Stories. This is a compilation of stories about Indian Rawilays, a system celebrated by writers since the days of British. The compilation has stories from well known writers like Rudyard Kipling and Bill Aitken.
  • Delhi is Not Far. One of the well known books by Bond, this is about a struggling writer living his dreams.
  • Night Train at Deoli. This is a book with a collection of short stories. Like most of Bond's work, this too is a beautiful narration of simple yet touching scenarios. The story 'Night Train at Deoli' is a narration of a college boy's unrequited love.
  • Our Trees Still Grow in Dehra. This book contains memoirs of Bond, his growing up in Dehradun, his family, friends and people around him and further about love to the mountains of Garhwal.

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Posted on: Wednesday , Nov 25, 2009 At 15:02 PM

Divorce Tourism

I had heard of some common terms like romantic holidays, rural tourism, pilgrimages. And then there are some less common ones like Ramayana Tour and Bollywood Tourism. But this is the first time I am getting to hear about such a thing called 'Divorce Tourism'.

But the idea is simpler than it looks. Book the couples who have a troubled marriage in a holiday to a romantic getaway and provide some counselling and spiritual advices while they are there. The plan is mooted by Mumbai based KV Tours and Travels. I would not know about the guidance and counselling part, but the holiday locations look hardly new. It comprises the same honeymoon holiday destinations like Shimla, Manali and Goa.

While the media is buzzing with the news, the website of KVTours doesn't give much information. It simply has a few images of couple looking away from each other. See

See more details at


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Posted on: Wednesday , Nov 25, 2009 At 13:29 PM

Indigo Seat Booking Fare

While booking my ticket from Bangalore to Kolkata on Indigo's website, I was pleasantly surprised to see an option to choose my seat number. I was used to getting a seat allotted at the time of checking in, so this was new to me. Out of curiosity and a wish to pick a seat of my choice, I clicked on it and opted for a convenient seat. A bigger surprise awaited me at the next page as I was asked to pay an additional hundred rupee for my seat reservation. 

That's when I realized that a Ryan Air like payment system has already arrived in India, where you pay an additional price for everything you add. In the subsequent pages, I also found options to pre-order my meal or buy extra luggage space at an additional cost.

I think it is not a bad idea to ask additional payments for every additional service, as long as a necessity (such as access to toilets, for which Ryan Air was thinking of fixing an entry fee) is not termed as additional service.

Have you seen any such additional payment options when you booked tickets with other airlines? Let us know.

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Posted on: Tuesday , Nov 24, 2009 At 12:36 PM

Wildlife Population Increases In Kashmir

The insurgency in Kashmir in the last few decades has made the people of Kashmir go through a lot of pain and suffering. But the wildlife in Kashmir seems to have actually benefitted.


The strong presence of army in the state and the fear of being caught in a fire between armed forces and insurgents has kept the poachers indoors in the troubled years in Kashmir. The mammal population in the national parks of Jammu and Kashmir has increased many fold.


According to officials, population of Asian Black Bear population in Kashmir has increased from a mere 700 to 3000 in last two decades. Also flourishing are the birds and animals like leopards, musk deer, black partridge and pheasants.


In a rather curious incidence, bears even mauled terriorists and killed 2 of them in the recent past!


Tourists too have reasons to rejoice. With peace returning to valley, Kashmir is opening its national parks for safaris and other tourist activities(See earlier report on India Explored for details).


More information.


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Posted on: Tuesday , Nov 24, 2009 At 11:23 AM

Destination Of The Month: Kerala Backwaters

The backwaters of Kerala are wonderlands where water occupies more earth surface than land. People live in tiny islands that comprises just their house and a farm. They commute through the village and outside via water channels using their own boats. A lot of their life is spent on water.

Picture by Aparna Kunde on oktatabyebye

The abundant water lands coupled with tall coconut trees and the triangular Chinese fishing nets constitute the picturesque landscape of Kerala Backwaters. Tourists can spend nights floating on the water in Kettavallam or house boats - comfortable rooms in self sufficient boats with bed rooms, kitchen and sit-outs.

Most of these backwaters are located around the towns of Alappuzha (Alleppey) or Kumarakom.

Know more about Kerala backwaters

The Season

Weather in Kerala is unkind to visitors for more than half the year. Summers can be very hot and humid. When the monsoon begins, it pours continuously and sun rarely comes out. Come winter, from November to February, Kerala is a beautiful place to be in. The glorious winter sunsets paint the backwaters in hues or red and orange, adding a drama to the already colourful landscape.

The Boat Races

Annual boat races in the backwaters attracts large crowds. The long snake boats are driven by a large team of enthusiastic participants. Nehru Trophy Boat Race in Allapuzha is one of the most popular events in Kerala. Read more about Nehru Trophy Boat Race

Picture by Dharmendra Singh on oktatabyebye

Things to do and places to see

Alleppey is well known for its backwater cruises and the house boats. While you are cruising through the backwaters, you can see some traditional craft materials made of coir and savour some great Keralan food. Also visit the Alappuzha beach. You can see the Snake Boat Race if you are there at the later half of monsoon season. See more about Alappuzha.

Kumarakom is known for its luxurious resorts as much as it is known for the scenic beauty. Besides taking a boat in the backwaters of Vembanad Lake, you can also visit Komarakom Bird Sanctuary. Read more about Kumarakom on oktatabyebye.

Places to Stay

Some of the popular places to stay in Alleppy include Marari Fisherman Village Beach Resort and Lake Palace. Read complete list of hotels and user reviews for Hotels and Resorts in Alleppey.

Kumarakom is known for some of the finest accommodations in Kerala. Well known among them include Taj Garden Retreat and Kumarakom Lagoon Resort. See complete list and user reviews of hotels and resorts in Kumarakom.

Images of the backwaters

See more images from Alleppey and Kumarakom.

More information

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Posted on: Tuesday , Nov 24, 2009 At 09:26 AM

Indian Sets A Travel World Record

Kashi Samaddar was unhappy when he had visa troubles and got stranded in Johannesburg for two days. One of the causes of the problem, it seems, was his Indian passport. Unlike anyone else, he did not keep quiet and forgot about the issue. He vowed to visit as many countries on earth as possible with his Indian passport.

Starting on the mission, he travelled extensively and visited as many as 194 countries in nearly seven years and ended up create a record of visiting maximum number of countries in a short period.

But the accomplishment was not easy. It was very hard to get visas in some less know small countries. He faced multiple rejections but did not give up. The journey wasn't easy either. He narrowly escaped being bombed once and had to go without food for three days another time.

After his accomplishment, Samaddar has now setup "Travel, Tourism and Peace Initiative" to convince countries to make their visa norms simpler. See the initiative's website -

Read more.


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Posted on: Tuesday , Nov 24, 2009 At 09:05 AM

Ladakh Is Now More Accessible

Bordering Pakistan on one side and China on the other, Ladakh has been provided with a large military presence for protecting our boundaries. Access to some places along the border are restricted due to security constraints. While some locations such as Pangong Lake and Nubra Valley can be accessed only with a permit, areas very close to the border are out of bounds for Indians as well as foreign nationals.

The good news now is that the defense ministry has now decided to open up more areas for tourists and climbers, irrespective of their nationality. The decision now awaits clearance from home ministry.

Turtuk, the last village near the border to Pakistan will now be made accessible to tourists. The village of Turtuk was reclaimed by Indian Army in the war against Pakistan in 1971. The new areas will offer a bigger treat to mountaineers and climbers, who will get access to 104 peaks for climbing. 

See complete details at

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Posted on: Tuesday , Nov 17, 2009 At 21:49 PM

Introducing Sandakphu

Where in India can you expect to find one place where you can see Mt.Everest as well as Mt.Kanchenjunga from the same place? There are probably very few such places where it is possible. Sandakphu is one of them.

Sandakphu is the tallest peak in the state of West Bengal, standing at a height of 3636 meters. Its location close to the high Himalayan ranges aids it with some great views of the tallest mountains on earth.

Thankfully, despite its high location, there is a small village at the peak and basic accommodation is available for travellers. On the top, it is not just view of the distant mountains, but also the verdant hills and rhododendron forests that appeal to the visitors.

Approach to Sandakphu however is not simple. It takes a long days walk to the peak, or a difficult jeep ride through rough roads. The view from the top would be worth the effort of the journey.

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Posted on: Tuesday , Nov 17, 2009 At 12:16 PM

Compilation Of Best Hotels

Expedia has compiled a list of top 10 hotels from across the country and also rest of the world in an easily navigable page. The list has many usual suspects like The Oberoi Amarvilas in Agra and Taj Lands End in Mumbai. 

The top slot is bagged by The Oberoi Grand in Kolkata.

While most of the entries are predictable 5 stars, there are a few surprise entries do exist in the form of Gateway Hotel Ganges in Varanasi, The Ambassador Hotel in Delhi and Lemon Tree Amarante Beach Resort in Goa.

See the complete list on expedia website -'au You can also click on each hotel to get details and facilities.

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Posted on: Tuesday , Nov 17, 2009 At 12:03 PM

Kumbh Mela 2010

Kumbh Mela, the once in twelve year event that witnesses the largest gathering of people in one place on earth, is back in 2010. The venue is Hardwar, said to be one of the holiest places in earth.

Besides the pilgrims who come to be blessed by bathing in the river, the event attracts large number of travellers and photographers who come to witness the event. The mela begins on the 14th Junuary 2010 and goes on for more than 3 months.

More details on Kumbh Mela, its religious significance and the associated rituals can be seen on the govermnet website - The government machinery sets to work months in advance for accommodating more than ten million people who visit the mela site during this period.

If you intend to visit, see for the auspicious dates for bathing.

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Posted on: Tuesday , Nov 10, 2009 At 10:09 AM

India Tourism Wins World Tourism Awards

India Tourism's Incredible India campaign has won "World's Leading Destination Marketing Campaign" award in recently announced World Tourism Awards. The 'Incredible India' campaign from Ministry of Tourism has been one of the most successful campaigns that has won many awards. You can see a collection of their campaigns on Incredible India Youtube channel -

The other awards won by Indian organizations are as below.

  1. India won Asia's Leading Destination award
  2. Trident Gurgaon was awarded "Asia's leading hotel"
  3. Taj Lake Palace in Udaipur was awarded "Asia's leading resort"
  4. The Oberoi Wildflower Hall in Shimla was awarded "Asia's Leading Spa Resort"
  5. Darbar mahal suite in Jaipur's The Raj Palace was awarded "Asia'a Leading Suite"
  6. Orange County Coorg won "Asia's leading theme resort"
  7. Incredible India was awarded "Asia's leading tourist board"
  8. Orange Country Resorts won "Asia's Responsible Tourism Award"

See the complete list of awards at

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Posted on: Tuesday , Nov 10, 2009 At 09:34 AM

Weather Updates - Snow In Manali, Rains In Tn

With Manali receiving the season's first snow fall, the mountains around Manali now have a thin spread of snow. Though the snow melted away in Manali town, weather reports expect continued precipitation, which means that there is a good chance of snowing everyday.

It has also been raining in Shimla, though it is too early to expect snow in these parts. Shimla had a poor monsoon this year and the current rains are expected to ease water shortage in the hill station and surrounding areas. Temperature in Shimla has dipped below 10oC.

Down south, it has been raining heavily in Tamil Nadnu. Incessant rains have caused considerable damage in the state and has resulted in many deaths. It is best to avoid TN coast and the Nilgiris till the rains subside.

Related news:

  • November rain cheers Shimla -
  • Snow in Manali -
  • Rains in TN -'Toll-in-TN-rains-mounts-to-39

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Posted on: Monday , Nov 09, 2009 At 13:13 PM

No Birds In Bharatpur

Unlike every year, Keoladeo National Park in Bharatpur may not be teeming with birds this winter. Thanks to the poor monsoons, the marshes in the sanctuary are dry and the birds are forced to go to wetlands in other areas.

The number of birds that have arrived so far this year is very small. Last year was a good winter when the park was full with birds, but the earlier years have seen similar situations when the birds had deserted the national park.

The Park is fed with water through an artificial reservoir, which forms wetlands that are ideal for the migratory birds. However, water level dips during the years when the monsoons are poor, forcing the birds to take off to other wetlands nearby.


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Posted on: Monday , Nov 09, 2009 At 12:27 PM

Airfares Go Up

With a hike in fuel prices, airlines are increasing the fule charges on every ticket. Jet, Kingfisher and Go Air have added an additional fuel surcharge of Rs.100 to 200 starting this week. SpiceJet is also planning a similar hike. Other airlines have not yet announced any decisions.

The additional fuel surcharge on routes that are less than 1000km is fixed at Rs.100. For longer routes, the additional surcharge is fixed at Rs.200. 

In another news related to airlines, Jet Airways has won two awards at the Abacus-TAFI awards, including the award for 'Best domestic airline in India'.

More information.

  • Jet, Kingfisher and GoAir hike prices -
  • SpiceJet may follow -
  • Jet Airways wins awards -

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Posted on: Thursday , Nov 05, 2009 At 12:29 PM

Safari In Kashmir

Slowly and surely, Kashmir is opening back again to tourists just as tourists are becoming open to the idea of visiting Kashmir. Last one year has seen an increase in tourist inflow to an extent that Kashmir needed more rooms accommodate them all during peak season. As peace returns in the valley, more and more places that were unsafe to access are now opening up to visitors.

Kashmir's Dachigam National Park seems to be one such place. AFP reports ( that the park was re-opened for safari in June and it has remained violence free so far. The sanctuary is home to some rare Himalayas wildlife such as musk deer and red deer.

The park is another destination to add to your list if you are heading towards Jammu and Kashmir. See more about Dachigam National Park on oktatabyebye, and get all the information you need.

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Posted on: Thursday , Nov 05, 2009 At 10:28 AM

Festivals And Events - November 2009

Here is a list of events, fairs and festivals in November 2009. If you have a festival near your area in current or next month that you would like to see listed, please leave a comment.

Sonepur Mela. Asia's largest cattle fair in Sonepur goes on for 30 days during the entire month of November. Read more about the fair in Bihar Tourism website - Also see more about Sonepur -

Bundi Utsav. The Bundi festival in Rajasthan's Bundi town starts today and goes on for 3 days. Read more from Rajasthan Tourism website -

Majuli Festival. Majuli Festival, held from 21st to 24th November is a major cultural festival in Assam. Read more about the festival and the location on Assam Tourism website -'festival.htm

IFFI Goa. The annual International Film Festival of India is held in Panjim and nearby cities from 23rd November to 3rd December. See IFFI website for more details -

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