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Posted on: Wednesday , Sep 30, 2009 At 13:04 PM

More Blogs On Oktatabyebye

I have been writing on this space regularly for more than a year now, and often lurk around in neighbourhood to check on other writers who blog on oktatabyebye. Here is a few that I see posted regularly.

1. Narayanvee writes about travelogues in the mountains. The long posts on the blog, called 'Mystic Mountains' has stories from places like Gangotri, Amarnath, Badrinath and Valley of Flowers. There seems to be lot more to come, all about mountains.

2. Deepak Amembal's blog, called Rambling Around, has stories from Maharashtra, especially near Mumbai

3. Partha writes about travel trends, mostly related to business of travel at 'India Travel Trends'

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Posted on: Wednesday , Sep 30, 2009 At 12:18 PM

Musing On Pilot Strike

A few weeks ago, Jet Airways pilots went on strike despite a court order preventing them from doing so. Many flights were canceled and passengers suffered, sometimes stranded in the airport. While Jet lost money as their planes remained underutilized, other airlines were probably happy to see their flights running full. Being one of the big airlines with low utilization, Air India would have derived maximum benefit.

All this is not unusual, considering that we are a country used to striking employees who do not stop until their demands are met. But what struck me hard was the way other airlines priced their last minute tickets.

We were on the way from Bangalore to Delhi, and our flight was delayed by a few hours(this was not Jet Airways flight). Since we had to be there in Delhi as early as we can, we decided to check for other flights available. There was a Kingfisher flight which departed soon, and we considered booking on it. But the price they quoted was exorbitant - more than twice the normal full fare between Bangalore and Delhi. At more than Rs.23,000 for a seat, this was the highest fare that I had ever heard of for economy ticket between any two locations in India.

What do you think about such an attitude? We did not take the Kingfisher flight, and thankfully our flight departed earlier than we thought it would. But there would be some helpless passengers who might have had no choice but to fly at these prices. Kingfisher might have made their money in a time of crisis. But would they get returning passengers? Would they be able to build trust with travellers? Would they benefit from such an act in the long run? I doubt it.

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Posted on: Sunday , Sep 27, 2009 At 21:47 PM

Cruising Along The Ganga

Travellers can now take a long cruise along the Ganga, starting from Varanasi and going all the way to Kolkata.

Starting this month, Pandaw River Cruises will begin offering cruises along the Ganga. The cruise starts at Varanasi and makes a 15-day voyage downstream. The first such cruise will be departing from Varanasi on 28th September. There are regular departures from Varanasi through the winter of 2009-10 and again in 2010-11.

Predictably, this is an expensive cruise with prices starting from USD5000. The cruise will pass through some major destinations like Sarnath, Patna, Nalanda and Plassey before arriving at Kolkata.

See for more details on the tour.

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Posted on: Sunday , Sep 27, 2009 At 11:23 AM

Tour Of Nilgiris On Bicycle

Ride A Cycle Foundation, a non profit group promoting sustainable transport, is organizing a 8-day cycling tour along the Nilgiri Mountains. 

'Tour of Nilgiris', or TFN as they usually call it, begins on 15th December and concludes on the 23rd. The participants begin from Bangalore, passing through Mysore, Hassan, Coorg, Wayanad and Ooty before returning. 

Registrations are already open, and more than 280 people have already registered. However, the organizers want to limit participation to 70 people. Selection may not be based on first come first served basis, so you can still register and try your luck.

To register and know more details on the tour, visit Tour of Nilgiris webpage -

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Posted on: Wednesday , Sep 23, 2009 At 15:09 PM

Mysore Dasara

Dasara is the biggest festival in Mysore and surrounding areas of South Karnataka, celebrated with great fanfare. This year's Dasara celebrations have begin in the city, and will go on till 28th of September.

Historically, Dasara festival had the patronage of the Kings of Mysore. Today, the Government of Karnataka continues the tradition of celebrating Dasara in a grand way.

The festival started with inauguration by Sri Sri Ravishankar on the morning of 19th September. Programs during the festival days include an exhibition of arts and crafts in a sprawling exhibition ground, sports events and cultural evenings. Particularly well known are the kusti competition - a form of wrestling. The Mysore Palace will be lit up with thousands of lights every evening during the festivities.

The program concludes with a grand procession lead by elephants and followed by various tableau. The last day is the most eventful of the festival days and attracts large number of tourists.

Visit the official website of Mysore Dasara ( for schedules and other details.

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Posted on: Wednesday , Sep 23, 2009 At 14:56 PM

Destination Of The Month: Shimla

Starting this month, 'India Explored' will feature two travel destinations within India as destination of the month. The feature will give you an overview of the destination and why this is the best time to visit the chosen destination. The article will also provide you with links to all the information you need such as places to see, things to do, where to stay, etc. This month's destination is Shimla.

Visiting Shimla

The monsoons have more or less ended in India. The last bout of rains left this mountain town 10 days ago. The weather is now pleasant, sky is blue and the hills look beautiful. Before the winter begins in the plain, escape the last days of the heat in this hill station town.

Things to do and places to see

The most popular place for visitors in Shimla is the mall road, where you can walk from end to end without seeing a car. Shop or eat in the pleasant weather or see some cultural programs at the ridge. Other places include the erstwhile British headquarters of Vice-Regal Lodge, Christ Church, Scandal point and Sankat Mochan Temple. Read more.

You can also walk along the reserve forest near Vice-Regal Lodge. Read more.

Also visit nearby places such as Chail, Naldehra, Narkanda, Kufri and Tattapani. Read more

Places to Stay

Some popular hotels in Shimla are listed below. See complete list here.

Images of Shimla

See pictures from Shimla

More Information

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Posted on: Tuesday , Sep 22, 2009 At 16:52 PM

The Last Days Of Monsoon And Coming Of The Winter

It is the time of the year when the monsoon starts receding, making way for the pleasant winter days. Coming six months are the best time to travel in the plains of North India and see its splendors, without worrying about the scorching heat of summer.

What are your winter travel plans?

If you are in north, you can visit the forts of Rajasthan and see how the royalty lived before the days of independence. You can see its beautiful deserts that are known for camel safaris and golden sunsets. It is also the right time to be in UP and MP, home to some popular tourist destinations like Varanasi, Agra, Khajuraho and Orchha.

In the south, plains of Tamil Nadu, beaches of Kerala and Goa tend to have the best weather in winter. Also worth visiting are the heritage sites in Karnataka - Hampi and Badami.

In a few weeks, it starts snowing in high passes in the Himalayas, effectively blocking road access to places deep in the mountains. Though the weather can be harsh, you can enjoy skiing in the valleys of Gulmarg and Auli.

For wildlife enthusiasts, it is a great season to see migratory birds that come to the plains for breeding. It may not be the best of times to see larger game in our national parks, but the foggy forest landscapes bathed in golden rays of morning sun look the most beautiful in winters.

It is a task requiring endurance, but I have decided to head to the mountains this winter and go trekking on a frozen river. Watch this space for my experiences, which I shall write about on my return in January. Where are you planning to go this winter?

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Posted on: Tuesday , Sep 22, 2009 At 13:21 PM

Rail News - Faster Trains And Festival Specials

The Indian Railways is at launching a few new superfast non-stop trains that will cut down long distance travel time. The Railway Minister had planned 14 such trains in the last budget, of which two of them have become operational this month. The trains are named as Duranto Express. Currently Duranto Express Trains run on Kolkata-Chennai and Kolkata-Delhi routes.


The railways have been announcing new trains to clear rush of passengers during Diwali. Unfortunately, the list of these new trains are not available in a single place anywhere on Indian Railways website. Here is a list of trains based on regions.









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Posted on: Tuesday , Sep 22, 2009 At 12:41 PM

Waiting At Delhi Airport

I was on my way back from Delhi to Bangalore, and had a chance to go through the new terminus at Delhi's domestic airport. The swanky terminal looks impressive to begin with, but it did not seem as good as the first impression made me believe.

The biggest complaint I had was about lack of space near the gates. 16 gates are tightly squeezed next to a narrow passage that offers very little space for departing passengers. During peak hour departures, it will be crowded with people, barely leaving any free space. There are just a handful of chairs that can seat only a small 5% of the people who wait to board.

There are other problems too. The passenger lounge can barely accommodate everyone in the hall. This too would be short of space in the years to come as the traffic grows.

Having spent thousands of crores on a new terminal, it baffles me why the architects have not addressed something so basic. I sincerely hope this is a temporary arrangement before the construction work is complete. But if this is how it is meant to be for a long time, it won't just be an annoyance, but a problem in scaling the airport further.

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Posted on: Friday , Sep 11, 2009 At 15:52 PM

Rohtang Pass Closed For Tourists On Tuesdays

Due to road widening works from Manali to Rohtang, Rohtang Pass will not be accessible for tourists on Tuesdays. Tourist traffic bound for the pass will be stopped at Kothi, 30km from Manali. The closure will be between 9am and 6pm, and will be in place till the road widening work is completed.

Since the road remains open till 9am, those travelling to Lahaul region and further to Ladakh, who normally leave early in the day may not be affected. Emergency vehicles and public transport buses from HRTC will be allowed to use the road even during the hours of closure.

If you are planning to visit Rohtang in near future, ensure that you the road to pass is open. Some early snow falls last week had temporarily shut down access to the pass.

Related stories:

1. Rohtang Pass closed for tourists every Tuesday -

2. Snow fall in Rohtang -'Leh'highway'reopened'282'people'rescued

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Posted on: Friday , Sep 11, 2009 At 15:29 PM

Deodars Of Himachal

Driving past the deciduous jungles with stout looking trees beyond Solan towards Chail, a traveller is pleasantly surprised on entering the periphery of Chail. Here, a reluctant greenery of the lower slopes suddenly burst into dense and dark-green terrain, as the deodar trees rise high and spread all along the slopes.

The superb greenery continues along the hills for most of the way towards Shimla as one drives through Kufri and Mashobra. Beyond Mashobra, the slopes get steeper but the unrelenting greenery only gets thicker, forming one of the densest deodar forests that you can see anywhere in India.

The town of Shimla too has its share of deodars. As you move from west to east along the Mall Road, the urban structures slowly make way to Deodars. There are many places in Shimla where you can walk in silence among Deodars.

Naturally, green cover is always a victim of growing pressures of tourism and development. The Government of Himachal is now trying to plant more deodars within Shimla, and running an afforestation drive across Himachal. I hope they succeed in making Shimla greener.

Read more on planting deodar saplings in Shimla at

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Posted on: Friday , Sep 11, 2009 At 14:56 PM

Where Do The Tourists Go?

The ministry of tourism has recently released statistics on states that attract maximum number of tourists. The surprise entry in the list comes right on top. The state that sees highest number of tourists is not Rajasthan, UP or Kerala that are known for some popular destinations. It happens to be Andhra Pradesh, thanks to a large number of people who visit the Balaji Temple at Tirupati. Subsequent positions are taken by UP and Tamil Nadu.

Looking at the number of tourists who visit these places, bulk of the domestic tourists seem to go to the top three states. While the top three states get tourists in the order of a 100 million every year, Rajasthan at number four receives just 28 million tourists.

See the complete list of top ten states at

When it comes to foreign tourists, the most favoured destinations were Delhi, Maharashtra, Tamil Nadu and Uttar Pradesh.

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Posted on: Friday , Sep 04, 2009 At 11:23 AM

Festivals And Events - September 2009

This September is going to be packed with celebrations! Onam was celebrated on the 2nd of this month in Kerala, and there is Dasara to look forward to. For people from Bengal, it is a frenzy of celebrations of Durga Puja at the end of the month. Listed here are the fairs and festivals for this month.

Dasara or Navaratri. Dasara or Navaratri is celebrated from 19th to 28th September. Although Dasara is celebrated in many parts of the country, it is a grand state sponsored function in Mysore, that culminates with a procession of elephants on the 10th day. See for details. It is also a popular festival in Coorg. Navaratri is celebrated with many public functions and dance programs in the state of Gujarat.

Kullu Dasara. Unlike in rest of the country, Dasara in Kullu begins when it concludes in other places. It begins on 28th September and goes on for 10 days. See more details at

Durga Puja. The most celebrated festival of Bengal begins on 25th September and concludes on 28th September. Kolkata is the best place to see the celebrations.

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Posted on: Friday , Sep 04, 2009 At 10:52 AM

India Explored Crosses 100k Page Views

It has been about a year and half since I begun "India Explored" on oktatabyebye. Although it was a slow beginning, I posted here regularly, featuring a mix of travel news, interesting things for travellers and a few personal stories. We now have a little more than 100 posts from 2009 alone, and 128 posts from 2008, together getting closer to 250 mark.

I hope you have enjoyed the journey so far and will be with me in the coming days. I will be making attempts to add new features and more variety in the coming days, and will look forward to making constant improvement here. Your feedback would be of a lot help in this journey; it would be great if you can spare a moment to scribble your thoughts about how "India Explored" can be made better.

Thank you for being with me so far. I will look forward to your continued patronage.

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

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