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Posted on: Saturday , Oct 31, 2009 At 22:19 PM

Arrival Of Migratory Birds


With the onset of winter, migratory birds have slowly started to arrive here in South India. Many species of migratory birds arrive in the Indian plains from colder regions and stay from November to Februray.




I have been looking out for birds in the last few days and have started seeing the first trickle of birds. Grey wagtails are often seen near small roads. Brown shrikes have started appearing. It should be a matter of a couple of weeks before more birds start coming in.


If birds interest you, don't miss to make regular visits to nearest waterbody or a forest area. It is a pleasure to watch these little avians go by their daily routines.

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Posted on: Friday , Oct 30, 2009 At 19:47 PM

Active Tourism


A decade ago, travelling meant going to a new place, seeing the sights and coming back with memories. Few people ventured beyond well known sights and fewer people went looking for a deeper experience. Except in rare occasions when people trekked in interior Himalayas, no one really thought much about better experiences during their travels.


With the flourishing Indian economy in the last decade, people had more time and money to invest on travel. A few people started venturing beyond the well known. Taking the road less travelled became acceptable and many travellers learnt the pleasures of spending more time and getting up close with their destination. More and more people started looking at the quality aspect of the journey and the learnings that comes with travelling.


In the last few years, I have seen people with interest in wildlife trying to improve their knowledge of bird species and understand their behaviour. Adventure and activity seekers are going beyond just treks and looking at options such as rock climbing and cycling. Those who visit monuments are keen to understand the context of history in which those edifices were built.


This change in trend has also created a new generation of travel companies. They do things beyond just booking your tickets and accommodation, they take you through an experience. Such companies do thorough research and invest in knowledge that they share among people who travel with them.


Muddy Boots, a company that specializes in active vacations conducts cycling tours in the western ghats. Some professional photographers such as Kalyan Varma conduct photography tours in national parks. Similarly, TravelWise, a company I have founded with a partner works on intensively researched weekend trails from Banagalore spread across various fields like nature and heritage.


Do you prefer to do such active travelling? Have you ever gone on an active journey either by yourself or through any organization that conducts such tours? Do share your experiences in the comments and let us know who conducted your tours.

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Posted on: Tuesday , Oct 27, 2009 At 11:46 AM

Boat Service In Thekkady Will Restart In November


The tourist boat service in Thekkady's Periyar lake was stopped after the tragic incident in which a boat sunk and more than 40 people drowned. Investigations later found flaws in the boat that was used and blamed Kerala Tourism department for the incident.


Boating in the lake was a prized attraction of Thekkady. Subsequent to suspension of boating in the lake, tourists stayed away from the reserve.


The government is now performing safety checks in all locations where boating facility is available. The checks are expected to complete in next 10 days and boating facility in Periyar is expected to being in the first week of November.


Read the complete story at http://www.travelbizmonitor.com/boating-facility-at-thekkady-lake-at-periyar-wildlife-sanctuary-to-resume-next-month-8629

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Posted on: Tuesday , Oct 27, 2009 At 11:30 AM

Less Known Destination: Chamarajnagar


Surfing through the web, I found an article on MysoreNEXT, an online magazine from Mysore City. It mentioned about the tourism potential of Chamarajanagar district being underutilized (read http://www.mysorenext.com/ShowArticle.aspx?ID=1686&SECTION=1 )




For those who do not know, Chamarajanagar is a small district in the souther edge of Karnataka with one of the highest forest covers in the state. Within its boundaries are three protected forest areas, which includes parts of Bandipur National Park. Shivanasamudra, a waterfall that probably discharges maximum amount of water in Karnataka is located within the district and is popular with daytrippers from Bangalore and Mysore.


However, most people still don't know where is Chamarajanagar and what are its attractions. It is a great place to trek through its deep jungles in winter months. Forest department once started a tourism program called 'Mystery Trails', in which they designed trekking routes around Chamarajanagar. But the plan failed due to lack of publicity.


Chamarajanagar also has one of the richest tradition of performing arts. It is home to some indigenous arts like Goravana Kunitha and several other type of folk dances. Much can be done by establishing tourist centers and providing sufficient publicity.

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Posted on: Thursday , Oct 22, 2009 At 17:52 PM

Winter In The Himalayas I - Zanskar


It is a popular belief that the upper Himalayas are largely inaccessibly and buried in snow during winters. While it is a fact that most of the higher regions are indeed buried in snow, you can still visit a few exciting locations if you are an adventurous person. 'India Explored' will feature some such places in a series called 'Winter in the Himalayas'. The first in the series will cover 'Chadar Trek' in Zanskar.


Chadar Trek - Introduction


Zanskar River runs through steep inaccessible valles in the trans Himalayas, flowing through rugged Zanskar region and merging with Indus in a village called Nemo. When the passes are buried in the winter snow, the only way locals get in and out of the valley is buy walking on the frozen Zanskar River. One of the most adventurous treks in Ladakh region is doing this walk over the frozen river surface. The sheet of ice is called Chadar, and hence the name Chadar Trek. 


The condition of chadar can vary every day depending on the weather conditions. Sometimes the chadar can be broken in places, forcing the trekkers to climb over steep slopes. Sometimes when there is no option, one may have to walk in the freezing waters of the river. Naturally, this trek requires good endurance and stamina.


The Trek


oktatabyebye user Pradeep Chamaria writes about the experiences of the trek:


The surface of the river was changing with every ten to twelve steps we took. At some point, it would be flat, transparent ice, and just a few metres ahead, frozen froth with ripples in it! The ripples on the surface made walking very difficult as it was difficult to get a firm foothold on these. By the middle of the day’s trek, the number of times I slipped had come down to a minimal. Now I was slipping only when I would try to stop or look around to make a frame for my camera.


Read his full travelogue of Chadar Trek.


Manish, another oktatabyebye user also has his story to share about his experiences from last winter. He says:


Along the frozen and semi frozen river surface, this changes from hour to hour. It climbs high at times above broken ice, and at times you have no choice, you have to get wet feet. At times it seems impossible and you will not believe what the human body can do, or how thin a ledge of ice will support you. You will watch the porters do the impossible. And then we follow them.


Read his travelogue


Chadar Images.


Manish has a whole lot of images on Chadar Trek, which gives you a clear perspective of how the trek is. Naturally, it is not for someone who can't endure those harsh weathers. Picture below by Manish. You can see the original image uploaded by Manish here, and his Chadar Trek album here.




Also see a video uploaded by Manish here.


Information


If you intend to go on chadar trek this year, Manish is planning to organize the trek again this year. You can get in touch with him through his profile page.

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Posted on: Thursday , Oct 22, 2009 At 13:35 PM

Destination Of The Month: Pushkar


The 'India Explored' destination of the month for October is Pushkar. The village of Pushkar in Rajasthan is known for its annual fair, which attracts large crowds of tourists and photographers. The Pushkar fair this year is scheduled from 30th October to 2nd November.

Visiting Pushkar

With the transition to winter from summer, Pushkar will have the best possible weather during the fair. The summer heat will be gone but it won't be so cold that you shiver through the night. Mornings will be at their beautiful best as the sun lights up the desert in a golden glow, and a gentle mist brings out a mystic feeling in the air.

Pushkar Fair

The Pushkar fair is an annual gathering of locals for buying and selling camels. The large open ground in the desert at the edge of Pushkar town will be full of local men and their camel during the four days of the festival. The dust kicked up by the camel fill the air. The fair is a good time to be in Pushkar to see a sea of camel waiting to change hands, turbanated men looking out for selling or buying camel or Rajasthani women dressed in bright red saris. There will also be some entertainment like camel and horse races.

Things to do and places to see

Pushkar is known for its holy lake, on the bank of which Brahma is said to have meditated. Also well known is the Brahma temple next to the lake. Today, with a large number of regular inflow of tourists, Pushkar has also become a place to shop for traditional Rajasthani arts and craft material. Read more.

See more information on Pushkar fair.

While you are there, you can also visit the well know Darga of sufi saint Khwaja Moinuddin Chishti in nearby Ajmer.

Places to stay

Some popular places for staying in Pushkar are listed below.
Most hotels tend to get full much in advance during the fair. Make sure you book before you go. Prices also shoot up considerably during the days of the fair.

Images of Pushkar



See more pictures of Pushkar.

More information

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Posted on: Tuesday , Oct 20, 2009 At 12:22 PM

Luxury Trains Galore


The concept of luxurious train journeys in India must have begun with Palace on Wheels, which took well heeled travellers in a train across Rajasthan, Agra and Delhi. It was a successful project that resulted in many such trains being launched in other parts of the country.

Last two years saw a series of such new launches, which included 'Golden Chariot' in Karnataka and such projects in Mahashtra and Punjab. These trains saw a mixed degree of success.

Now it seems like a time to launch more luxury train journeys. Two such new projects are in the making, one promoted by government of Punjab and another one launched with the help of Cox and Kings.

The Punjab Government promoted train will go through Delhi, Agra and Amritsar besides a few more places in Punjab. The Cox and Kings promoted train will be the first pan-India luxury train that will go through Mumbai, Aurangabad, Udaipur, Sawai Madhopur, Agra and Delhi.

See more info on the new trains below.
  • http://economictimes.indiatimes.com/news/news-by-industry/transportation/railways/Luxury-tourism-to-run-on-private-wheels-2-trains-already-on-track/articleshow/5140039.cms
  • http://www.travelbizmonitor.com/centre-sanctions-luxury-train-incredible-india--punjab-luxury-train-to-promote-tourism-in-punjab-8571

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Posted on: Sunday , Oct 18, 2009 At 10:04 AM

Ksrtc Facilitates Sms Booking For Bus Tickets


KSRTC, Karnataka's government owned transport company that runs a large fleet of buses has announced a facility of booking bus tickets via SMS. This is probably the first time that a bus company in India is offering bookings by SMS. KSRTC was also one of the first state owned transport companies that launched web based ticket reservations.


If you would like to book via sms, SMS 'KSRTC' to 56767. You will have to download a mobile application which permits ticket bookings through any GPRS enabled phones. It works like a typical e-ticket which will be sent to your email address.


Read more about KSRTC mobile booking facilities at http://www.expressbuzz.com/edition/story.aspx?Title=KSRTC+tickets+now+an+SMS+away&artid=8ws7eJvLgm8=&SectionID=Qz/kHVp9tEs=&MainSectionID=w44iAeuGCu8=&SectionName=UOaHCPTTmuP3XGzZRCAUTQ==&SEO=Karnataka%20State%20Road%20Transport%20Corporation

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Posted on: Wednesday , Oct 14, 2009 At 16:20 PM

Manali - Leh Highway To Close On October 31st


The Border Roads Organization (BRO) has announced that the Manali-Leh highway will be closed for vehicles from October 31st. BRO will stop maintenance work from this date, and will not be able to perform any rescue operations if vehicles get stuck on the highway.


The road closes every winter since the weather turns bad and the area gets buried under snow. After staying closed for about 7-8 months, BRO re-opens the road by clearing the snow in June-July. Leh and other parts of Ladakh will remain inaccessible by road till the date of re-opening.


Although BRO stops managing the road from November, the road has been seeing intermittent snow fall and blockades since September this year.


Related News: http://www.hindustantimes.com/Manali-Leh-highway-closed-from-Oct-31/H1-Article1-465056.aspx

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Posted on: Tuesday , Oct 13, 2009 At 16:44 PM

Kaziranga Opens Early


Thanks to below average monsoons in the North East, Kaziranga National Park has opened for tourist three weeks ahead of schedule. Instead of initially planned date of November 1st, the park has been made accessible from 10th October.


Currently, only jeep safaris in select areas will be open for tourists, since the roads in many sections are yet to be rebuilt after monsoons. Elephant safaris are yet to begin, since the tracks used for safari are still not repaired.


In another related news, Kaziranga is suffering from poaching incidences in recent past. A tiger and a rhino were found dead in the park last week. Authorities foiled another attempt at poaching and poachers were forced to retract after 30 minutes of shootout.


Related News:

  • Kaziranga Opens Early - http://www.telegraphindia.com/1091011/jsp/northeast/story'11600002.jsp
  • Rhino and tiger found dead - http://www.assamtribune.com/scripts/details.asp?id=oct0809/at04
  • Shootout in Kaziranga - http://www.ptinews.com/news/321337'Shootout-in-Kaziranga-National-Park

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Posted on: Tuesday , Oct 13, 2009 At 16:26 PM

50 Best Places To Eat In The World


UK's leading newspaper The Guardian has published a list of 50 best things to eat in the world, and where to eat them. The list, unlike such lists compiled by many travel magazines and newspapers, doesn't just focus on upmarket eating places and specialized dishes, but also has some down to earth locations.


Featured among the 50 are three restaurants from India, with two of them in Delhi and one in Mumbai.


The restaurants featured from Delhi are Karims (www.karimhoteldelhi.com) and Sagar Ratna (http://www.sagarratna.in/). Ther later is a chain of South Indian Restaurants spread across NCR. I have eaten in the Sagar Ratna at CP a few times and have found them to be good. Featured from Mumbai are the Kebabs from Bade Miya (Tulloch Road, Apollo Bunder).


Have you been to Curry Karims in Delhi or Bade Miya in Mumbai? If yes, let us know how did you find the food there and what did you find special about the place.


For the complete list and the addresses of the restaurants, see http://www.guardian.co.uk/lifeandstyle/2009/sep/13/best-foods-in-the-world 

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Posted on: Monday , Oct 12, 2009 At 12:21 PM

Award For Taj Mahal Hotel In Mumbai


Nearly a year after the unfortunate firings in the Taj Mahal Hotel in Mumbai, the hotel has something to cheer about. The Taj Mahal Palace & Tower has been awarded by Business Traveller Asia Pacific Magazine as the best business hotel in Mumbai. The other two hotels in Mumbai that followed the Taj are Grand Hyatt and The Oberoi.


The best three hotels in New Delhi were shared by the same three hotels but in different order - The Oberio, Taj Mahal and Hyatt Regency.


There were various other award categories for airlines and hotels across Asis Pacific, but none of the Indian carriers or hotels have managed to grab a position among them.


See the complete list at http://asia.businesstraveller.com/asia-pacific/awards



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Posted on: Monday , Oct 12, 2009 At 11:28 AM

National Geographic 50 Places Of A Lifetime


The National Geographic Traveler has featured a list of destinations titled as '50 places of a lifetime' in their current issue. The list intends to, according to NG Traveler, "showcase those treasured destinations that every curious traveler should visit in a lifetime"


This is the second such list, following a list of cities for travelers to see, compiled in 1999 by the magazine staff. The old list has now gone online with plenty of information on each of those destinations.


Among the Indian Cities featured in the list are, predictably, Delhi and Mumbai. Another not so popular destination from India that has gone into the list is Fatepur Sikri under the category 'Paradise Found'.


See the earlier list of cities from 1999 that has now gone online at http://travel.nationalgeographic.com/places/places-of-a-lifetime.html  See an interactive map of the current list at http://traveler.nationalgeographic.com/2009/10/map/pol-interactive

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Posted on: Thursday , Oct 08, 2009 At 11:42 AM

Isro Wants To Put People In Space, Tourists Too!


ISRO is seeking a spaceship from Russia to conduct manned missions in outer space. Curiously, news reports indicate that ISRO also intends to take tourists to the space. Space tourism is still a concept in nascent stages, though a few companies do offer space tours to anyone interested.


The proposal from ISRO was revealed by Roskosmos, with which ISRO is trying to source spaceships. It would be interesting to know what ISRO's has to say about this news. ISRO has not given any press releases on the matter yet, and most of the Indian media is silent about it. It would also be interesting to see who in India would take the initial tours, if ISRO is to get on with such tours.


See http://www.ptinews.com/news/313249'ISRO-seeks-Russian-spaceship-for-manned-flight for more details.

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Posted on: Monday , Oct 05, 2009 At 12:40 PM

Travellers Update On Flood In Andhra And Karnataka


You might be aware that parts of Andhra Pradesh and Northern Karnataka are suffering from floods for the past few days. The situation is getting better at the moment, but metorological department has warned that the rains could continue for next 24 hour duration. Some of the popular tourist places in the affected regions include Badami, Hampi and Bijapur. You may not face problems in these towns but the roads to these places could be blocked in places.

South and South Central Railways have cencelled many trains and rerouted a few more due to floods. Listed below are the links to complete list of route changes announced.


Southern Railways

  • http://www.southernrailway.gov.in/press/index.php?id=989&evnt=DETAILS
  • http://www.southernrailway.gov.in/press/index.php?id=988&evnt=DETAILS
South Central Railways

  • http://scrailway.gov.in/web/Press'Release/cancelled'trains163.htm
  • http://scrailway.gov.in/web/Press'Release/cancelled'trains162.htm
  • http://scrailway.gov.in/web/Press'Release/cancelled'trains.htm

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Posted on: Monday , Oct 05, 2009 At 12:20 PM

Festivals And Events - October 2009


As usual, here is a post to begin the month, with a list of festival events for October 2009.


Diwali. Celebrated all over India, the biggest festival in the country falls between 15th and 19th October, with daily festivities varying in each part of the country. However, one can see lamps lighting up the front of the houses and crackers being bursted continuously wherever you go.


Rajgir Dance Festival. Held in Rajgir, Bihar from October 24th to 26th. This is a colourful festival of classical and folk dances, organized by Government of Bihar. See more about Rajgir at Bihar Tourism Website - http://bstdc.bih.nic.in/Rajgir.htm


Pushkar Camel Fair. Held in Pushkar, Rajasthan from 25th October to 2nd November. The most popular festival in Rajasthan is a fair meant for buying and selling camels. It attracts large number of tourists from all over the world. See http://www.rajasthantourism.gov.in/Attractions/Fairs-Festivals/PushkarFair.aspx for more details.


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