Page 1

Vol. 7

No. 6

32 Pages 68

March 2014


Fall in love in India, Get married in Amazing Thailand

Celebrate Your Wedding In Style In Kingdom Of Thailand In Bangkok, Hua Hin, Pattaya, Phuket, Krabi, Khao Lak, and Chiang Mai. Tourism Authority of Thailand New Delhi Office: B-9/1A (Ground Floor), Vasant Vihar, New Delhi-110057. Tel: 91-11-41663567-69, 46741111 | Fax: 91-11-41663570 E-mail: tatdel@tat.or.th Tourism Authority of Thailand Mumbai Office: 4th Floor, Free Press House, No. 215, Free Press Journal Marg, Nariman Point, Mumbai-400 021. Tel: 91-22-22042727-28 Fax: 91-22-22042729 | E-mail: tatmumbai@tat.or.th

www.tourismthailand.org

facebook.com/TourismAuthorityofThailandIndia Twitter.com/ThaiAmazesYou


through the pages VOL. 7. NO. 6. MARCH 2014

06 Odisha to Promote Tourism Through Road Shows 08 Tourism Fraternity Move to Goa for GITM 2014 12 'Kerala Blog Express' Starts on March 10 14 Plan Your Dream Wedding at the Gods own country

PAGES 22 - 23

ODISHA TRAVELLER

EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW P 26-27

ODISHA TRAVELLER

INTERVIEW P 26-27 Photo: .wallpaperswala.com

The Jewel of Odisha This time Asian Traveller is taking you to experience the fabulous beauty of Chilika Lake in Odisha, which has inspired poets and artists of all ages.

I

f you want to hide away from the tedious schedules of your life experiencing the pastoral beauty of Odisha, Chilika Lake is a place which offers you endless opportunities to cherish in your mind, relaxing yourself in the lap of the largest brackish water lake of Asia. The lake spreads over Puri, Khurda and Ganjam districts of Odisha on the east coast of India and runs through the borders of these districts and finally joins the Bay of Bengal, forming a huge lagoon. With about 70 km length and 15 km width,

Photo: en.wikipedia.org

54

Damcho Rinzin

Amlan Jyothy Saha

P 14-15

P 16-17

FOCUS P 26-27

10 QUESTIONS P 26-27

Abraham George

Sajan Joseph

P 18-19

P 20-21

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Chilika is a shallow lake which covers an area of around 1,100 sq km attracting tourists all over the world. Chilika is well connected by air, rail and roads. It is 100 km away from Biju Patnaik InternationalAirport, Bhubaneswar and 2 km from Balugaon Railway Station. River Daya, an arm of Mahanadi is the one which provides fresh water to this queen of natural beauty. Several streams and rivulets like Bhargavi, Kusumi, Nuna and Salia also feed the lake. The tranquil atmosphere of the lake with the blue expanse of water on one side and an evergreen range of hills on the other side makes a cruise in Chilika an ever memorable experience. India's biggest inland lake, Chilika is famous for its aquatic fauna and migratory birds. Come winter and Chilika aflutter with thousands of indigenous and migratory birds of many varieties from far and near. You can find here around 158 varieties of marine creatures including prawn, crab, mullet, perch, threadfin

and catfish. Crabs, oyster, coelenterates and gastropods also form a substantial population at the lake. In various depths of the lake, one can find Zooplankton. A wide variety of amphibians also inhabit the area. Like that you can also find different species of snakes such as estuarine sea snake, Asiatic file snake, beaked sea snake, javan wart snake, dog faced water snake and smooth water snakes. You can also sight Dolphins in the lake as Chilka is home to the only known population of Irrawaddy dolphins in India. Get excited with the sights of spotted deer, blackbuck, jackals, hyena, the jungle cat, fox, black-naped

hare, rats, squirrels, porcupines, bats, monkeys and the common mongoose in the surrounding hills and forest of the lake. A wonderful sight of buffalos grazing in the exposed areas of the forest is something delightful to your eyes. Chilika is also famous for its amazing bird inhabitants. There are as many as 151 species counted at the lake, including 93 migratory species. Some of the migratory birds are from Ladakh, Tibet, Mangolia, Mansarovar, the Caspian Sea, Siberia and North Asia. Shovellers, pintails, tufted pochards and bar-headed geese had added their names in the list of Chilka's migratory birds. During

Photo: odishatourism.gov.in

ASIAN TRAVELLER I FEBRUARY 2014

winter you can meet brahminy duck, garganey, red-crested pochards, common pochards, pelicans, widgeons, dabchicks, coots, and gadwalls etc. Inside the lake you can make a visit to Kalijai Island, Honeymoon Island, Breakfast Island, Birds Island, Nalabana (Island of Reeds), Parikud Island, etc. The Kalijai Island is a famous religious centre and the deity here is Goddess

Kaliji. Honeymoon Island is in Rambha Bay, which is only 5 km away from Rambha Jetty. The water around is very clear and is abundant with red and green macro algae. You can also see Limbless Lizards here which is one of the premium attractions of this island. Next, you can move on to the peer shaped Breakfast Island or Sankuda Island, located in Rambha Bay, which is famous for its collection of rare species of flora. Birds Island, situated in the southern sector of Chilika, is enclosed with herbs, shrubs, trees and creepers. This island is also blessed with numerous migratory birds along with rich algal communities and mangrove species. The

ASIAN TRAVELLER I FEBRUARY 2014

Photo: aidvolunteers.org

Photo: 3.bp.blogspot.com

Nalabana Island is one of the major bird watching centres inside the Chilka Lake where you can see migratory birds from Siberia and Iran taking asylum during the winter season. The best time to visit Chilika Lake is from October to June. Fishing and hunting is banned here and for making a visit to the

sanctuary, you will have to get prior permission from the Divisional Forest Officer. You can also have a trip to Narayani Temple, Nirmaljhara and Banpur. If you want to enjoy the beautiful Oriya art, visit Banpur, 42 km away from Chilika. The place is famous for its temples dedicated to Goddess Bhagabati and Daksha Prajapathi. Large numbers of Buddhist images related to the Vajrayan cult of Buddhism have been discovered from here.

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PAGES 24 - 25

PAGES 26 - 27

ASIAN TRAVELLER | MARCH 2014


Editor & Publisher : Chief Mentor : Group Vice President : Group Editor & CEO: Sr.Sub Editor : Editorial Team :

T

he country is witnessing an increase in number of promotional activities conducted by various foreign countries to woo Indian travellers to their respective countries. To further boost growing flow of tourists from India, many foreign countries including Malaysia, Thailand, Fiji, Portugal, Philippines, Switzerland and Germany are all set to market and promote their respective countries. Tourism Malaysia is promoting itself as an exotic destination and has set a target of attracting 8 lakh footfalls from the sub-continent in 2014. As part of the Visit Malaysia Year 2014 (VMY 2014), which aims to further increase tourist arrivals from India, Tourism Malaysia will be conducting its annual sales mission in the country from March 12 to 20, 2014 in Kochi, Bengaluru, Mumbai and Delhi respectively. Turismo de Portugal, the tourism authority of the Government of Portugal, has just concluded a three-city roadshow in the cities of Chennai, Mumbai and Bengaluru. Grupo Cinemate also participated in the roadshows to interact with the Tamil, Kannada and Bollywood industry officials to tap the Indian film industry. Similarly, Germany welcomed more Indian arrivals in 2013 despite the severe devaluation of the Indian rupee and economic downturn, with arrivals growing five per cent year-on-year to 628,544. In a recently organized German National Tourist Board’s (GNTB) India Pool roadshow, the officials stated that they expect the growth rate to be back in double digits and to have 1.5 million Indian visitor overnights by 2020. After experiencing a sluggish growth in Indian visitations last year, Switzerland Tourism is hoping to regain ground in 2014. The Tourism Board is expecting at least ten per cent growth in Indian overnight stays this year. Tourism Fiji has successfully completed its three-city Indian roadshow from 3-10 February 2014. With the increase in capacity by Fiji Airways on the Hong Kong-Nadi route as well as other airlines into Australia and New Zealand, Fiji expects the growth rate to be higher in 2014. Fiji’s focus continues to target the high-end Indian leisure and honeymoon travellers. Tourism Authority of Thailand’s (TAT) Mumbai Office has also organized its annual road show and witnessed participation of more than 30 key travel partners from Thailand. TAT promoted unexplored facets of Thai culture and heritage and unique experiences like Muay Thai, yacht excursions, limousine transfers and jet rides, high end hotels and exclusive dining, shopping and entertainment experiences to service the luxury-seekers. With more foreign countries entering the Indian market, it is expected that there are more bilateral cooperation happening in the industry, which will in turn help increase the flow of inbound travellers to the country.

ASIAN TRAVELLER I FEBRUARY 2014 ASIAN TRAVELLER | MARCH 2014

Director-Finance : Sr. Manager-Operations : Sr. Manager-Marketing : Financial Advisor : Legal Advisor : GM-Tamil Nadu : Layout :

G. Biju Krishnan Rajashekharan Nair Santhosh Kumaar K Arya Aravind* Radhika Janardhanan R. Parameswaran, Smitha R K. Harikrishnan Krishna Nair Uma Maheswari S Jayachandran S Adv. G.S.Prakash P. Deenadayalu Prajin C G

Shikha Bhangadia

+91 9867505490

Jaya R, Jaya Prasad J S, Vidhu Krishna, Marshal Jose

R R Travells & Tours, Nehru Road, Vile Parle ( East), Mumbai - 400057, HP : 9867505490


NEWSLINE

Odisha to Promote Tourism Through Roadshows

Centre Promotes Feel India Campaign

W Photo: goindia.about.com

O

wing to promote tourism in the state, Odisha Tourism recently organised its fifth roadshow at Chennai. The road show was attended by a number of tour operators, travel agents, journalists, travel writers and airlines from Chennai. M R Patnaik IAS, Odisha Tourism Director

and U K Pati, Deputy Director of Department of Odisha Tourism were present at the function. Hoteliers from Odisha like Sand & Pebbels, Swosti Travels, Om Leisure, Toshali Group and Crown attended the B2B session. M R Patnaik made a presentation on the potentials of Odisha in which

he highlighted the tourism products, tourism policy of Odisha and also interacted with the tour operators and media persons. There was a question-answer session in which the questions and queries raised by the media persons were answered by the director.

Lavasa Boosts Tourism Plans mark of tourist arrivals and two million by 2020,” said Rajiv Duggal, Senior Vice President - Tourism & Hospitality, Lavasa Corporation Ltd.

I

n order to promote the tourism products and destinations in the domestic and international markets, Lavasa Corporation Ltd has decided to form Lavasa Tourism Board soon. To strengthen the Lavasa Tourism Board, the planned hill city will form a Tourism

6

Photo: www.lavasa.com

Advisory Committee, which will include travel, tourism and aviation industry experts and distinguished leaders from media and film fraternity as members. In 2013, 9.4 lakh tourists visited Lavasa, informed Duggal. “In 2014, we are expecting to cross one-million

Lavasa Corporation is also planning to launch a website exclusively to showcase tourism infrastructure of the city. This website will offer in-depth information about its tourism products and nearby city destinations. Destination Lavasa has huge potential for tourism. It offers hop on hop off tours, adventure camps, zip-line tours, corporate trainings, food and beverage outlets and branded hotels, said Bhupesh Kumar, Assistant Vice President - Tourism, Lavasa Corporation Ltd.

ith an aim to showcase the myriad shades of culture to the tourists, Incredible India, Ministry of Tourism and the India Tourism Development Corporation (ITDC) have jointly launched “Feel India” – a cultural extravaganza. The cultural programmes are being organized at the Amphitheatre, The Ashok every Thursday, Friday and Saturday from 6:30 pm to 7:30 pm. The event was formally launched by Parvez Dewan, Secretary, Ministry of Tourism, Government of India. The cultural programmes consist of a mix of classical, folk, fusion and contemporary dance and music. The effort is targeted to fill the much desired gap in the tourist offering of Delhi and enhance the tourist interest in India and its rich cultural traditions. ITDC has been promoting art and culture in the country by organizing cultural events at its different hotels located across India. ITDC hotels also exhibit Indian art and culture in their decor along with providing modern and luxurious amenities to the guests. Cultural performances organized by the Corporation are further aimed to promote artists and Indian art forms.

ASIAN TRAVELLER | MARCH 2014


NEWSLINE

Tourism Fraternity Move to Goa for GITM 2014

C

ome the month of April, it’s time for the travel industry players and professionals from every nook and corner of the world to hurry to ‘the destination’ – Goa - to participate in their dream gettogether organised by Goa Tourism. The platform for this posh meeting is none other than the much talked about Goa International Travel Mart (GITM), which would be held at the Dr Shyama Prasad Mukerjee Stadium at Taleigao from April 2 to 4, 2014. As usual, this year too the event is expected to attract hundreds of thousands of exhibitors and participants from across the world. The main aim of GITM 2014 is to serve as a platform for face-to-face networking among travel trade, hoteliers and other stakeholders from Goa with leading travel agents from India and abroad.

GITM will also reach out to state tourism boards, district tourism centres, trade associations/national travel organisations, airlines, travel agents and tour operators, hotels and resorts, adventure tour operators, spice plantations, casinos, etc. Over 125 international buyers from USA, UK, France, Germany, Austria, Hungary, Turkey, Italy, Czech Republic, Russia, Poland, Norway, Finland, Denmark, Sweden, Malaysia and Argentina; will take part in the GITM 2014. On the domestic front, over 150 buyers have confirmed their participation. GITM is supported by industry associations such as TTAG, TAAI, TAFI, ADTOI, ATTOI and IATO. GITM will also serve as a platform to promote various facets of Goa that reflect the multi-dimensional facets of the state. A special

Photo: www.dianatravels.com

Goa Pavilion will be created to showcase festivals and nightlife, beaches, heritage trails, UNESCO heritage sites, wild life, medical tourism, monsoon tourism, MICE, wedding destination, spice farms and adventure offerings. Elements like promotion and conservation of heritage, arts, crafts, endorsement of hinterland tourism, exhibiting the state’s rich culture and heritage will also be incorporated. Apart from travel industry professionals at GITM, there will be representation from

those who organise niche tours, leisure activities, MICE operators, event managers, prominent travel writers and columnists. Those who have registered for the event will receive benefits like pre-scheduled, guaranteed appointments, airfare, accommodation, ground transportation and FAM tours in association with Goa Tourism. Hotel visits for hosted buyers will also be arranged. Travel agents and tour operators on a non-hosted basis will also be invited to participate.

Maha Forms Diamond Alliance with Industry Stakeholders

T

he Maharashtra Tourism Development Corporation (MTDC) is shaking hands with industry stakeholders to jointly promote the destination. “This initiative will help to increase inbound tourism to Maharashtra. There is no distinction between government and private players and now it is a cohesive element,” said Sumit Mullick, Additional Chief Secretary and Chief Protocol Officer, Govt. of Maharashtra. MTDC has already signed 14 MoUs with Cox &

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Kings, Forvol International, Kuoni, Mercury Travels and Girikand Travels; Kamat Group of Hotels, J W Marriott, Tiger Trail Jungle Lodges, Meadows Hotels, The Oberoi Group and Absolute Hotel Services India, Orix, Sudarshan Cars and Treasure Tourism Corporation Ltd, as alliance partners. “We are in talks with Jet Airways as airline partner and expect them to come on board,” he informed. Elaborating on the MoU, Mullick said, “Alliance partners can book from the

MTDC website. In addition we will be coming up with publicity material, which will have logos of all the alliance partners. Further, for international and domestic roadshows of MTDC we will invite the alliance partners to be co-exhibitors/copartners. As we progress we will associate with more alliance partners who are established players in their respective field or those who have the potential to establish themselves.”

put a proposal for Rs 685

“During the state budget this year we will

coming up at Aarey Milk

crore (Rs 285 crore last year granted budget). The vast tourism offerings of Maharashtra includes 720 kms of coastline; 600 forts; scope for Wine Tourism, Beach Tourism, Adventure Tourism, wildlife Tourism; Sanjay Gandhi National Park; Elephanta Caves; Buddhist circuit, Konkan coast, Lonar Crater, Bollywood Tourism, International zoo (100 acres) Colony area,” he stated.

ASIAN TRAVELLER | MARCH 2014


KERALA TRAVELLER

‘Kerala Blog Express’ Starts on March 10

Photo: keralablogexpress.com

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n a keenly fought online contest, 25 of the world’s top travel bloggers from a dozen countries have been selected for a trip on board the ‘Kerala Blog Express’ being organised the state tourism department. The winners of the online voting were announced by Kerala Tourism Minister A P Anil Kumar at a news conference in the state capital on February 26. The ‘Kerala Blog Express’, a luxury bus carrying the winners of the competition, will be flagged off by Anil Kumar from Thiruvananthapuram on March 10. The bus will travel along the length of Kerala from Thiruvananthapuram to Kasargod in a road trip lasting two weeks. There are four winners each from the United States and India, followed by three each from Brazil and the Philippines and two each from Germany, Spain and Indonesia. The remaining five are from Denmark, Mexico,

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Poland, Italy and Portugal. Anil Kumar said it is one of the biggest tourism promotions to be undertaken by the state with the help of social media and hoped that the first-of-its-kind event will go a long way in boosting tourist arrivals in the state in the future. The selected bloggers are all internationally renowned with a reputation of swaying travellers’ choice of destination through accounts of their journeys around the world. During the two weeks on the ‘Kerala Blog Express’, the participants will be writing on their experiences of ‘God’s Own Country’, reaching an audience of millions of people. “Social media is changing the way people make travel decisions, it has a tremendous influence on the tourism sector,” said Tourism Secretary Suman Billa. “With Kerala Blog Express we hope to leverage this power and promote our state globally.” Many of the bloggers

such as Inma Gregorio (Spain), Nelson Carvalheiro (Germany), Oscar Augusto (Brazil) and Gael Hilton (Philippines) enjoy a worldwide following and have been featured on international travel magazines like the National Geographic Magazine and Lonely Planet. The luxury bus, branded specially for the campaign, will take the participants from Thiruvananthapuram to Kovalam before going to Varkala. The bus will also travel to the Great Backwaters of Kerala in Alappuzha and in Kumarakom, where the visitors are expected to get a first-hand experience of village life. The Responsible Tourism project of Kerala Tourism in Kumarakom had recently won the United Nations World Tourism Organization Ulysses Prize for Innovation and Excellence. The bloggers will also visit Kerala Kalamandalam where they will be introduced to the

classic art forms of the state. Other destinations on their itinerary include Thekkady, Bekal fort, Fort Kochi and Mattancherry. They will also be introduced to the millennia-old traditional medicine of Ayurveda. The bus will be equipped with cutting edge connectivity solutions throughout the journey to help them write and post about their experiences in real time. The winners were chosen from over 600 entries from 80 countries. Netizens and fans of the contesting bloggers were given a chance to vote for their favourites on the www.keralablogexpress.com website. Since the launch of the competition last month, the website has had more than 200,000 visitors from about 150 countries such as the United States, the United Kingdom, New Zealand, Brazil, Malaysia, Denmark and France.

ASIAN TRAVELLER | MARCH 2014


KERALA TRAVELLER

Plan Your Dream Wedding in the God’s Own Country

Photo: weddings.getit.in

M

arriages are made in Heaven! And, which is the best place to have a rocking dream wedding other than the God’s Own Country? Kerala Tourism is all set to come up with an attractive

package to make the state a wedding destination. Kerala Tourism is planning to launch a dedicated microsite within the main website - keralatourism.org - to promote MICE & Wedding Tourism.

A P Anilkumar, Minister for Tourism, Government of Kerala, said,” Besides picturesque backdrops, there are several options for post-conference tours and activities in the state.” Alleppey, in particular, and

the house boats have emerged as a hotspot for meetings, conferences, and weddings in the last few years, the Minister said. “No other destination offers such diverse and inspiring settings for Weddings and at the same time honeymoon,” he added. Speaking about government support, the Minister said that Luxury Tax (LT) has been reduced from 20 per cent to 10 per cent for convention centres and auditoriums; and during off season months the LT on hotels has been reduced from 12.5 per cent to five per cent. Suman Billa, Secretary Tourism, Government of Kerala said,” Kerala is a boutique travel destination and many diverse experiences can be rolled into one trip because of the small geographical size. ”

Kerala State Tourism Awards 2012-13 Announced in Kottayam won the Best 5-star Hotel; Udaya Samudra Leisure Beach Hotel in Kovalam was named the Best 4-star Hotel; Marari Beach Resort in Alappuzha the Best 3-star Hotel and Coconut Lagoon in Kumarakom the Best Heritage Hotel.

M

inister for Tourism A P Anil Kumar has announced the State Tourism Awards for 2012-13. A total of 23 awards have been announced in three separate categories. The winners were chosen by a high level committee chaired by the Tourism Secretary from a preliminary list prepared by a panel of experts constituted by the

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The award for the Best Ayurveda Centre went to the Somatheeram tourism department. Ayurveda Beach Resort in Kochi-based Lotus Kovalam and the award Destination Pvt Ltd has been for the best Homestay to named the Best Inbound Tour ThiruvananthapuramOperator for 2012-13 and Riya based Graceful Homestay. Holidays Pvt Ltd, also based Alappuzha Rainbow in Kochi, the Best Outbound Cruise was named the Best Tour Operator. Houseboat Operator. Vivanta by Taj – Malabar won the award for the Best 5-star Deluxe Hotel; Kumarakom Lake Resort

The Best Hotel Manager award went to P Subramanian of Alappuzha Marari Beach. Dr K C Krishnakumar,

Chief Sub-Editor at Mathrubhumi (Yathra, Kozhikode) won the award for the Best Tourism Reporting and B Muralikrishnan, Mathrubhumi Chief News Photographer and Kochibased Ajosh Parakkan won for the Best Tourism Photography. The ‘Naalumanikkattu’ project initiated by the Kottayam M E B Residents Association and the Tropical Institute of Ecological Sciences has been named the Most Innovative Project in the Tourism Sector. Trivandrum-based Somatheeram Ayurveda Group won the award for the Best Use of IT in Tourism Sector.

ASIAN TRAVELLER | MARCH 2014


EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW

Damcho Rinzin, Marketing and Promotion Division, Tourism Council of Bhutan, is cool, handsome and enthusiastic. The love for his country is very evident in his words, deeds and even the attire. When he says Bhutan is all about making people happy, he says it with a smile, straight from the heart, which will make anyone happy. In an exclusive interview to Asian Traveller, he talks about the mystic side of Bhutan, its culture and tourism activities. Excerpts Damcho Rinzin The Marketing and Promotion Division, Government of Bhutan

What is your Unique Selling

our country a preferable

offer local homestays and

Bhutan has to say. This kind

Point (USP) as far Tourism

destination.

local farmhouse stays. As

of tourism system is what

far as Indian tourists are

we want to promote, which

concerned, we actually

is truly based on experience

recommend them to use the

and interpretation.

in Bhutan is concerned? Our USP is the idea of promoting happiness. Our government is looking after the welfare of the people and this idea of mysticism

Tell us about the facilities provided by the government of Bhutan for the international tourists? For the International

service of local tour operators and professional guys, as they can take advantage

Where do you place India in your tourism map? India is actually in the

tourists except from India

of the myriad of services

and Bangladesh, we charge

in Bhutan. By availing the

$200 or $250 per person per

services of a local guy, the

the myths surrounding

night including the stay,

people will get a chance to

Bhutan, which is being

food, local transport etc.

know the exact story and

What is the contribution

secluded in the Himalayan

In order to give tourists

history of Bhutan, which

of Tourism industry to the

foothills. This makes

a local experience, we

each building and village in

entire state Gross Domestic

of happiness is one of our USP. Another factor is the curiosity of the people about

14

number one position. Lots of Indians are coming to visit Bhutan every year.

ASIAN TRAVELLER | MARCH 2014


EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW Product (GDP)? I think the tourism industry in Bhutan contributes around 6-7 per cent of the entire GDP. Do you think that there are any international connectivity problems faced by Bhutan? No, at present we don’t face such problems. From this May onwards, Druckair has scheduled new flights from Mumbai to Paro in Bhutan. This is 10th in the international sector. Six including this are from India; among the four, one is from Kathmandu, Nepal; one from Dhaka, Bangladesh; one

Apart from India, which all are the other countries who are boosting tourism in Bhutan? After India, our second

Bhutan? Infrastructure is all demand based. Since tourism is a very attractive business for people, they naturally

market is US. Then there is

build hotels and go for

Japan. Of course, China and

transportation businesses.

Thailand are the emerging

A large number of tour

ones. Lots of people come

operators are interested in

from China and Japan.

taking up such projects and

Can you please tell us about

they come forward willingly

the connectivity of places within Bhutan? Our international airport is at Western Bhutan. We have domestic airports - one

to develop a destination. From what can be seen around, I think infrastructure facilities are coming up in the country.

each in Central Bhutan,

What type of tourism are

Eastern Bhutan and Southern

you promoting?

Bhutan. But, we don’t have one in Northern Bhutan

The main attraction of

the tourists are given an opportunity to mingle with local people. Then we have adventurous tourism - like trekking and rafting. We actually aim to combine this culture with our nature. Wellness tourism also has a market here. People come in search of Bhutan to get themselves relaxed. Can you explain the scope of adventure tourism in Bhutan? Bhutan is a premier destination for adventure sports. Set amongst the majestic Himalayas, our kingdom is a perfect location for all manner of

Bhutan is our culture and

exciting activities including

festivals. They are very

hiking, trekking, kayaking,

from Bangkok and one from

because of the snow there.

Singapore. So, Bhutan is well

Tell us about the

colourful, attractive and

mountain biking, rafting and

connected.

infrastructure facilities in

family oriented. Here,

fishing.

ASIAN TRAVELLER | MARCH 2014

15


FACE TO FACE

West Bengal (WB) tourism is leaving no stone unturned to increase visitor footfall to the state. Amlan Jyoti Saha, Executive Assistant Director, Department of Tourism, West Bengal sheds light on the State Tourism Board’s plans to develop and improve infrastructure in the state. Excerpts from an exclusive interview Amlan Jyoti Saha Executive Assistant Director, Dept of Tourism, W Bengal

What is your Unique Selling Point (USP) as far as Tourism in West Bengal is concerned? We have multiple USPs. Our state itself is a USP with its wide geographical varieties as well as cultural diversities. West Bengal is blessed with several beautiful destinations like Darjeeling located at the Lesser Himalayas, Sundarbans, the largest single block mangrove forest in the down south, and the like. The state has a huge area of Gangetic Plains, which are the cultural destinations that we promote.

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There are many heritage buildings along with temples, churches, mosques etc. We are a state with lots of resources. What is the contribution of Tourism industry to the entire state Gross Domestic Product (GDP)? Looking at the entire GDP, each sector has contributed almost 17-20 per cent. As far as the budgetary provision is concerned, in the financial year 2013-14, a fund of Rs 135 crore were allocated and for 201415, we are trying to make it an allocation of Rs 150 crore.

What is your comment about the insufficient infrastructure facilities in West Bengal? Is this affecting the tourism industry? While we brand Bengal, it is a must to improve amenities here. Definitely it will affect the flow of tourists to the state. I admit that there is lack of infrastructure facilities here. But, our new government has taken up charge and there are several new initiatives that have been taken up by them. One is that we are focussing on the development of roads

and for this we have set up a convergence committee of transport department. We are looking for all the possibilities for developing infrastructure. The tourism department itself has been entrusted to contribute to a substantial portion for the development of the infrastructure from the state budgetary plans. So, in the years to come, you can find more development as far as infrastructure is concerned. What all facilities are you offering to the investors who are interested in spending

ASIAN TRAVELLER | MARCH 2014


FACE TO FACE money on infrastructure? Last year, we organised road shows in all the five major Indian cities. Basically it was on the investment potentialities. As the government of India have formed so many policies under the Public Private Partnership (PPP) mode, we have already had so many areas earmarked for the development of infrastructure as well as potential destinations. We are trying to do what is applicable under the PPP model and as well as following the incentive policies. We can see that there is a single window system already been established, which is yet to be accepted immediately as the government is working on it to make it more simplified as well as tourism-friendly. There are three things which we focus, the single window system, incentive policies and PPP mode, which is

ASIAN TRAVELLER | MARCH 2014

acceptable as far the guidelines of the Government of India, is concerned.

The strength is that a new government has come to power with new initiatives. Since the spirit is there, you can see lot of energy drive. Natural resourcefulness is also the strength of West Bengal. The weakness may be the thing that we are one of the most densely populated states. Multiple political structures are there. But in spite of all the demerits we are very optimistic.

that framework they bring policies. Now we have a new government formed and they already have prioritised new areas to make West Bengal more vibrant, electronically sound and e-friendly. There are lot of missions which have to be taken into account. But entirely if you think over, under the new economic policy, what the central government has accepted in the early nineties is what which all the state governments have been following. West Bengal cannot isolate them from that. Our last government had also tried to introduce many development policies.

Do you think that there are lot of potentials here which is not yet unveiled by the government authorities?

Do the state tourism department get ample support from the central tourism ministry in policy making?

To be very honest political parties in power have their own ideologies as well as their own priorities. Within

We are keeping close contact with the Centre and we are trying to comply with the guidance given by the central

What are the strengths and weakness of West Bengal Tourism?

ministry. Since we have a very good federal structure, our state government make their own policies. The prioritisation depends upon the governance that is how to run or how to balance it. As the Assistant Director of Tourism, what is your ambition or vision to develop tourism in West Bengal? For the last couple of years, we have been trying to promote tourism to the best extend possible. We have already participated in international events at Berlin and London. We have also organised many road shows. Still, there is a long vision and a long way to go. We need to have a very good branding, because as far as the global market is concerned, it is basically focussing on experiential tourism. So, the government must look into these factors.

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INTERVIEW

Abraham George, Chairman & Managing Director of Intersight Group of Companies is the new president of the Kerala Travel Mart (KTM) for 2013-15. He talks in detail about the changes needed in the tourism sector and the initiatives needed to be taken care of by the state government. Excerpts... Abraham George President of the Kerala Travel Mart (KTM)

As the president of Kerala Travel Mart (KTM), what is your opinion on the status of tourism in Kerala? I think this may be the right time to bring lots of changes in the tourism industry in Kerala. We have to bring up new ideas and techniques to tackle

18

the huge competition, which we are facing in the national and international level. KTM is a forum for this purpose. Coordinating with the Kerala tourism industry, we are planning to bring new ways to develop tourism industry in the state by conducting various interactions and discussions

with industry stalwarts.

must also come up with

What type of changes you want to bring up in Kerala?

new products and ways in

For the last 25 years, we are following a conventional system. You can see various nations, states, entrepreneurs etc coming up with new products and new techniques. We

order to withstand the huge competition which we are facing now. It is said that the tourism experience in Kerala has reached up to a saturation point. What is your opinion?

ASIAN TRAVELLER | MARCH 2014


INTERVIEW I don’t agree with it. The products in Kerala are unique. For example, nowhere in the world we can have the backwater experience like that we see in Kerala. The problem is based on how we create experiential products and how we present it in front of the global market. For the last 25 years, we were the leading ones in the global market. But recently investors from India and international level had made their footprint in the tourism market with the same tactics. As a result of such a wave, we are now pushed back. It is not because that our products are of low quality but it is because more competitors have entered the field. We should search for new ways to compete with them and get out of this crisis situation. Earlier, a traveller to India had only limited choices but now there are many. Supply has increased but we had not created our demand. So, we have to find out new marketing techniques. It is more affordable for a family to travel and stay in Sri Lanka, Malaysia or Singapore than choosing Kerala as their travel destination. Do you agree with this statement? No, I don’t agree. We have far better products in affordable prices. People are highlighting exceptional cases only. This opinion may be based on two or three properties. We can’t make an assumption with this. Any destination in Kerala consists of 50 to

ASIAN TRAVELLER | MARCH 2014

100 properties. There are medium properties also. The thing is that, Kerala tourism industry must be ready to counter the barriers and should try to come forward. Awareness should be created among the tourists. Development is not only based on good architecture and infrastructure but also based on ample marketing techniques. The whole infrastructure of Kerala can’t be changed in order to promote tourism. So, we should be able to market with what we have. Figures show that we have tourism based income of Rs 21,000 crore. Why the government of Kerala is still refusing to announce tourism as an industry? This is a demand which has been raised since years. I believe that this will be considered soon. Harthals and strikes are becoming a major threat to the tourism industry in Kerala. What steps have been taken by the KTM society and Kerala government to tackle the situation? In my opinion, this situation is because of less coordination from the side of the industry, which had worsened the situation. There should be an industrial friendship within the society, which can help avoid such issues. For example, last year, we had a strike for two consecutive days. On behalf of KTM, we tried a lot to make an exception for tourism industry and I think all the trade unions also agreed

with this point. At that time all the leaders asked us to implement this in the low level and to coordinate with the locals. They asked us to create a relationship with the locals and to convince them the importance of tourism. But it didn’t work well. Usually harthals, though announced by the leaders, are implemented by the locals. It is the need of the industry to make the people convinced. This time KTM has decided to take up this issue and I have discussed this in our regional meetings also. Our infrastructure, especially our roads, is seen to be in a very pathetic condition. Why the KTM society is not forcing the government to take necessary steps to improve the facilities? KTM society cannot be directly involved in this issue. To improve infrastructure and road facilities of a particular place, the involvement of the local leaders and MLA is very essential. Only they can take the initiative. KTM society can express their opinion only. It is the local leaders and industry partners, who should take the initiative to improve the facilities. We should change the attitude of blaming the government and the prevailing systems. It is the need of the industry, so they should take the initiative. KTM is ready to coordinate all these. But we need the support from every part. The society alone can’t do anything. Tell us something about

KTM 2014? What are your plans and objectives? We have decided to conduct KTM 2014 in a far better way than the early seven ones. We are prepared for the 2014 event. We have a vibrant committee for the same. The KTH 2014 will be most successful event. There is a talk that the houseboat association is going to boycott this years’ KTM. Why? Can you explain? The problem is that we can’t exhibit houseboats completely in KTM. There are facilities to exhibit maximum two or three houseboats. We discussed this issue in the regional meeting organised at Alappuzha with the houseboat association representatives. But, I think, they are not able to agree with the point of exhibiting selected houseboats in KTM. Discussions are going on and the report will be submitted soon. Experiencing a real houseboat is something very different. Do KTM have any plan to give the participants a houseboat experience? There is a suggestion to reserve a day exclusively for houseboats. The very next day after KTM, we are planning to arrange a stay in houseboats to have the real experience of what it is. This will help to showcase the houseboats in a very different way. We are trying to arrange a tour to houseboats for the participants in KTM.

19


10 QUESTIONS

Sajan Joseph is man of wisdom. He is articulate when he talks about the recent trends in tourism industry, the importance of architecture in developing properties, the need for better infrastructure, new tourism initiatives – the topics never end. He is the face of Breakout, an institution which manages and markets independently owned resorts across Kerala. Sajan Joseph, Cofounder & CEO, Breakout Management Services Pvt Ltd, opens up about his ideas, concepts and vision through 10 Questions. Sajan Joseph Co-founder & CEO, Breakout Management Services Pvt Ltd

Tell us about the Unique Selling Point (USP) of your property? We manage and market only boutique hotels which have the unique character in terms of architecture, services, interior decor and ambience. One of the hotels that we have selected is Mountain Club in Munnar, which is a very unique and typical construction. It is the best and finest luxury resort in the evergreen mountains of Munnar. The exterior walls of the resort are made from pure stone and the typical Kerala roof

20

tiles provide a rustic look to the hotel.

sector. How do you contribute to that?

We provide only cottages, like honeymoon cottages and two bed room cottages. The two bedroom cottages here are apt for those who are travelling with family and friends. We have a host of other facilities as well. We have fire place, spa, coffee shops etc. The property is spread over five and half acres and has a lake view swimming pool which attracts everyone.

As far as architecture is concerned, we can’t bring changes to the exterior every now and then, but we keep updating our interiors every three or four years in terms of the decor, the furniture or the layout. We keep in times with the new trends.

Architecture has lots of importance in the hospitality

How do you keep a track on the new trends in architecture? One thing we do is that we go through various magazines, which covers lots of boutique

hotels. We also make use of the internet. Also, we go through the websites of some specialised boutique hotels to track the new trends. Why Munnar and Thekkady? Obviously everyone knows that Munnar and Thekkady are the two most popular tourist destinations. That’s why we are concentrating on these two places. But, now we are expanding ourselves to other destinations like Wayanad. We are in search of independently owned managements who are

ASIAN TRAVELLER | MARCH 2014


10 QUESTIONS INTERVIEW willing to work with us. In Kerala, we have lot of water stretches, but water sports activities are not tapped at all. Do you think that there is a need to boost these activities as a way to promote water tourism? Of course, water sport activities especially lot of diving activities like scuba diving should be promoted. Apart from the houseboats, I haven’t seen any new products promoting water tourism in Kerala. We need to have programmes which are community oriented and which would bring the kind of tourists who want to experience the typical things available in the place rather than just sticking on to houseboats. Recently, Kerala tourism has won the responsible tourism award from UNWTO, which is a great achievement. So, we should be more responsible now. Water bodies can really get the attention and recognition of the world.

ASIAN TRAVELLER | MARCH 2014

What may be hindrances in promoting water tourism in Kerala and how can we tackle it? One area of concern for the water sports is too much of usage of the mechanised stuff which leads to pollution. But you can do one thing by earmarking certain places exclusively for tourism and naming it as Special Tourism Zone. Only that area will be utilised for tourism activities and the other areas can be preserved. By this way you can preserve the balance of the nature also. When is your backwater project launching? We are in talks with a couple of people. It’s a partnership project. So, we strongly believe that both parties should have same set of goals. We are looking for people, with whom we can associate for a long term. Now, we are very choosy in selecting hotels with whom we

are going to associate. What all steps you can suggest to promote tourism in Kerala? We have to develop infrastructure facilities, especially the roads. A tourist travelling to Munnar and Wayanad expects wellmaintained roads. Steps have been taken by the government to improve facilities but I don’t think it is enough. A push is needed. Another thing is that, we have a great share of mountains and valleys in Kerala, but we don’t have ropeways. We can bring that also. Other thing is that, we can arrange controlled safaris to jungles. States like Rajasthan used to arrange jeep safaris into the jungles. If the government plans to incorporate such new initiatives, it would change the face of tourism industry in Kerala. In Kerala, the hoteliers, both private and government, are good in marketing. But, when

we look upon infrastructure and quality of service, they are not up to the mark. Once in a year, the hoteliers should be given training to improve themselves in services they provide. Where would you like to place yourself five years down the line? I am a happy-go-lucky guy. I cannot really say that where I will be, five years ahead. Definitely, I might be having few hotels. I am more interested in sharing and educating people with whatever experience I have gained over the years. Especially I want to motivate the younger generation, which is something I would really love to do. Would you like to share us about your future plans? As I have already stated, I love to impart the knowledge I gained to the younger generation. I do indent to start a finishing school to train people.

21


KARNATAKA TRAVELLER

Reach upto the Skies

Waft in the silence of Chikmagalur and discover unaccoustomed pleasures. Take a tour with Asian Traveller to this pristine and exotic location The air is cool and the

visiting it. Legend says that

daughter.

surroundings will let you

Chikmagalur was given as

listen to the sounds deep

dowry with the younger

within. Chikmagalur, the

daughter of Rukmangada,

sleepy little town, is place

the legendary chief of

during summer. There are

you have been searching for

Sakrepatna. Hence the name

a couple of ways one can

all your life. Chikmagalur

“Chikmagala Uru,” which

reach the town. It is just 170

enjoys a salubrious climate

means younger daughter’s

km away from Mangalore

and is situated at the foot

land. Chikmagalur takes

airport, which is the nearest

of the Mullayangari hills,

its name from this earlier

airport. The better connected

in Karnataka. It is good

version. Another part of the

Bengaluru airport is 250 km

to know a little about the history of a place before

22

The town itself is at an elevation of 1040 m, which makes it a cool place even

town called Hiremangala was away. Reaching by train is given as dowry with the elder not very convenient as only

around. It has options for trekkers, travel enthusiasts, pilgrims and nature researchers. The district, which shot into the news in 1978 when Indira Gandhi accepted the invitation to contest the Lok Sabha by election from there and won handsomely, is known for its coffee plantations as well. The town is at the foot of the Mullayagiri mountain,

one passenger train connects

1930 m high, which is the

Chikmagalur with Shimoga.

highest range in Karnataka. If

The most comfortable

one wants to go up, the foot

arrangement would be to

of the mountain is about 16

hire a tourist taxi from either

km from Chikmagalur town.

Mangalore or Bengaluru, as

The road up the mountain is

this will also keep you away

very narrow and goes only

from the poor local transport

half way up, after which one

in the town. It is better to plan

has to go by foot. Trekkers

a holiday of at least five days

will enjoy every bit of it.

in Chikmagalur, since there

There is a Shiva Temple

are many places to see in and

near the top and, inside the


KARNATAKA TRAVELLER compound of the temple is a

waterfalls that you can visit

hillock, the top of which is the

are the Kallathigiri Falls,

highest point in Karnataka.

the Hebbe Falls and the

On a clear day, it is said that the Arabian Sea is visible from the top of Mullayagiri. A trip up the Kemmangudi

Hanumana Gundi Falls. When you go to Chikmagalur, also make it

hill will be an experience

a point to visit Kudremukh,

you will never forget. This

which is about 100 km from

was the summer resort of

Chikmagalur. Plan a trip in

Krishnaraja Wodeyar, a king

advance so that you would

belonging to the Wodeyar dynasty. It scales about 1400 metres, which is a treat to the eyes. Since it was the summer resort of the king you can

be able to spend a full day there. A chain of hills form breathtaking valleys and from there you can view

see that it was well planned

the Arabian Sea. Near the

and has gardens. The resort

Kudremukh National Park

is surrounded by forests with

are the Kadambi Falls.

beautiful streams. It is sure that the adventure seeker in you will love the place. Chikmagalur is also

For the religious travellers, Chikmagalur has a lot to offer. The famous Sringeri temple is less that 100 km

temple is that pilgrims can

m. There is a reservoir in the

avail of the free boarding and

vicinity on the Tungabhadra

lodging offered by the temple

river. The forests in this

known for its waterfalls. The

from Chikmagalur. Apart

Manikyadhara Falls, with its

from the Sringeri Mutt it

falling water that look like

houses the Vidyashankara

pearls, is nature’s beauty at

temple, which is very

its best. The Falls is situated

famous. Another famous

in the Baba Budan Giri hills,

place for pilgrims is the

not be disappointed. The

which are named after Baba

Annapoorneshwari temple at

Bhadra Wildlife sanctuary

Budan, a Muslim saint. Other

Horanadu. A feature of this

is spread over nearly 500 sq

management. Wildlife lovers will also

region are home to unique bird species.

Get away from the busy routine and go to Chikmagalur. You will love it!!!


ODISHA TRAVELLER

The Jewel of Odisha This time Asian Traveller is taking you to experience the fabulous beauty of Chilika Lake in Odisha, which has inspired poets and artists of all ages.

I

f you want to hide away from the tedious schedules of your life experiencing the pastoral beauty of Odisha, Chilika Lake is a place which offers you endless opportunities to cherish in your mind, relaxing yourself in the lap of the largest brackish water lake of Asia. The lake spreads over Puri, Khurda and Ganjam districts of Odisha on the east coast of India and runs through the borders of these districts and finally joins the Bay of Bengal, forming a huge lagoon. With about 70 km length and 15 km width,

Photo: en.wikipedia.org

24 54

Chilika is a shallow lake which covers an area of around 1,100 sq km attracting tourists all over the world. Chilika is well connected by air, rail and roads. It is 100 km away from Biju Patnaik InternationalAirport, Bhubaneswar and 2 km from Balugaon Railway Station. River Daya, an arm of Mahanadi is the one which provides fresh water to this queen of natural beauty. Several streams and rivulets like Bhargavi, Kusumi, Nuna and Salia also feed the lake. The tranquil atmosphere of the lake with the blue expanse of water on one side and an evergreen range of hills on the other side makes a cruise in Chilika an ever memorable experience. India's biggest inland lake, Chilika is famous for its aquatic fauna and migratory birds. Come winter and Chilika aflutter with thousands of indigenous and migratory birds of many varieties from far and near. You can find here around 158 varieties of marine creatures including prawn, crab, mullet, perch, threadfin

and catfish. Crabs, oyster, coelenterates and gastropods also form a substantial population at the lake. In various depths of the lake, one can find Zooplankton. A wide variety of amphibians also inhabit the area. Like that you can also find different species of snakes such as estuarine sea snake, Asiatic file snake, beaked sea snake, javan wart snake, dog faced water snake and smooth water snakes. You can also sight Dolphins in the lake as Chilka is home to the only known population of Irrawaddy dolphins in India. Get excited with the sights of spotted deer, blackbuck, jackals, hyena, the jungle cat, fox, black-naped

hare, rats, squirrels, porcupines, bats, monkeys and the common mongoose in the surrounding hills and forest of the lake. A wonderful sight of buffalos grazing in the exposed areas of the forest is something delightful to your eyes. Chilika is also famous for its amazing bird inhabitants. There are as many as 151 species counted at the lake, including 93 migratory species. Some of the migratory birds are from Ladakh, Tibet, Mangolia, Mansarovar, the Caspian Sea, Siberia and North Asia. Shovellers, pintails, tufted pochards and bar-headed geese had added their names in the list of Chilka's migratory birds. During

Photo: odishatourism.gov.in

ASIAN TRAVELLER I FEBRUARY 2014 ASIAN TRAVELLER | MARCH 2014


ODISHA TRAVELLER

Photo: .wallpaperswala.com

winter you can meet brahminy duck, garganey, red-crested pochards, common pochards, pelicans, widgeons, dabchicks, coots, and gadwalls etc. Inside the lake you can make a visit to Kalijai Island, Honeymoon Island, Breakfast Island, Birds Island, Nalabana (Island of Reeds), Parikud Island, etc. The Kalijai Island is a famous religious centre and the deity here is Goddess

Kaliji. Honeymoon Island is in Rambha Bay, which is only 5 km away from Rambha Jetty. The water around is very clear and is abundant with red and green macro algae. You can also see Limbless Lizards here which is one of the premium attractions of this island. Next, you can move on to the peer shaped Breakfast Island or Sankuda Island, located in Rambha Bay, which is famous for its collection of rare species of flora. Birds Island, situated in the southern sector of Chilika, is enclosed with herbs, shrubs, trees and creepers. This island is also blessed with numerous migratory birds along with rich algal communities and mangrove species. The

ASIAN I FEBRUARY ASIAN TRAVELLER TRAVELLER | MARCH 2014 2014

Photo: aidvolunteers.org

Photo: 3.bp.blogspot.com

Nalabana Island is one of the major bird watching centres inside the Chilka Lake where you can see migratory birds from Siberia and Iran taking asylum during the winter season. The best time to visit Chilika Lake is from October to June. Fishing and hunting is banned here and for making a visit to the

sanctuary, you will have to get prior permission from the Divisional Forest Officer. You can also have a trip to Narayani Temple, Nirmaljhara and Banpur. If you want to enjoy the beautiful Oriya art, visit Banpur, 42 km away from Chilika. The place is famous for its temples dedicated to Goddess Bhagabati and Daksha Prajapathi. Large numbers of Buddhist images related to the Vajrayan cult of Buddhism have been discovered from here.

54 25


GUJARAT TRAVELLER

Wildlife at Its Best

Asian Traveller explores the tourist attractions in and around Gir that make it the best destination for nature lovers

F

ive days of hard work

the last remaining home

and a perfect yet

of the Asiatic Lions. As per

adventurous weekend

the latest 2010 census, there

getaway is everyone’s

are around 411 lions out of

aspiration. In a mood to

which there are 97 males, 162

smack the intoxicating

females and 152 cubs.

mixture of hunting creatures,

The Gir Forest National

feel evergreen flora and

Park is a forest and wildlife

fauna strolling through the

sanctuary in Gujarat, India.

densed forests among rugged

Established in 1965, Gir

hills with densely forested

National Park (also known as

valleys, wondering where

Sasan – Gir) is spread over a

one can go in India apart

rambling 545 sq mi. Of that,

from Africa (the most sought

a mere 258 sq km make up

after Safari destination). Yes,

the National Park itself. It

if you wish to enjoy and

is about 65 km from the

have such a rare experience,

historic town of Junagadh,

head to Gir National Park,

and 40 km from Veraval.

Good rail connectivity from

December to March. If you

Ahmedabad and Rajkot and

can bear the heat and want

only one and a half hour

to enjoy maximum viewing

drive from Gir, Junagadh is

then March to May are good

the most common approach

as you can spot the king of

to the park. Alternatively,

jungle comng out in groups

one can even opt for about

to quench the thirst. Once

seven hours’ bus journey to

you are inside the park, the

Sasan Gir from Ahmedabad

first thing you can do is hire

as it drops right next to the

a jeep hiring first. You can

Singh Sadan Guest House

also book the jeeps online.

and reception center, the place where the entry permits to the park are issued. You can visit this place

26

While you are on Jeep Safari, you can spot the Lions in their natural habitat, when they are on the prowl. Watching the Lions from

from mid-October till June

open-roof jeep is altogether a

but the best time is from

wonderful experience.

ASIAN TRAVELLER | MARCH 2014


GUJARAT TRAVELLER each permit. Maintained by the Depending on the duration of your stay in Gir, you can plan

government of Gujarat, this park is home to wide variety of flora and fauna. More than 500 plant species are found as per the latest survey. The count

your safaris

includes about

accordingly as the main

38 species of

aim is to sight as many

mammals,

lions and other wildlife

37

as possible. Currently three safaris are there in a

the park is also home to four

day starting at 6:30 am in the morning and the second at

vulture, pelicans and lastly

watchers, this park is a must

painted storks and hard-to-

visit as it is home to more

find birds like uncommon

kinds of birds than any other

Asiatic wild ass, hyenas, Gir

species of

park in Gujarat. Over 300

foxes, pygmy woodpecker,

insects.

species of birds can be seen

brown fish owl and black

Along with the

in this park out of which the

buck can be seen throughout

Asiatic Lions,

likes of Paradise flycatcher,

the year.

reptiles and

3:00 pm. The best safari to go

more than

on is undoubtedly the first

2,000

one of the morning. There are eight safari routes inside the park, which are randomly assigned by a computer for

other wild cats. For bird

species of

9:00 am and the final one at

famous

crested serpent eagle, king

AVIATION

India’s Domestic Air Traffic Increases 4% The International Air

According to IATA,

Transport Association

globally, capacity rose 4.8

(IATA) announced that

per cent and load factor

it has recorded a 5.2 per

averaged 79.5 per cent, up 0.4

cent increase in passenger demand for 2013 as compared to 2012. Indian domestic traffic rose 4.0 per cent last year, compared to a 2.1 per cent decline in 2012. The demand environment has been challenging in view of the weakening economy, high inflation and slowing manufacturing and resource

percentage points over 2012. This was slightly slower than the demand in the international markets, which rose at 5.4 per cent wherein the strongest overall growth (domestic and international combined) was recorded by carriers in the Middle East (11.4 per cent), followed by Asia-Pacific (7.1 per cent),

The international

in 2013 compared to 2012,

passenger demand grew

up from 4.0 per cent in 2012

by 5.4 per cent in 2013 as

versus 2011. Capacity rose

compared to 2012 with all regions reporting growth

4.6 per cent and load factor climbed 0.4 percentage

Latin America (6.3 per cent)

while capacity rose 4.9 per

and Africa (5.2 per cent). The

cent, boosting load factor

slowest growth was in the

to 79.3 per cent, up 0.4

load factor was 74.6 per cent,

developed markets of North

percentage points over 2012.

gains, with the strongest

up 1.7 percentage points

America (2.3 per cent) and

Domestic air travel demand

growth occurring in China

compared to 2012.

Europe (3.8 per cent).

rose grew by 4.9 per cent

and Russia.

industries. Capacity climbed 3.5 per cent in 2013, and

ASIAN TRAVELLER | MARCH 2014

points to 79.9 per cent. All markets recorded positive

27


TAMILNADU TRAVELLER

Be One with Nature With a rich bio-diversity and unspoilt natural beauty, Meghamalai beckons you to have a refreshing experience in the lap of nature. Dr S Bakthavatchalam writes

E

ndowed with

mist mysteriously wraps

has a number of attractions

far. One of the rarest fruit bats

spectacular scenery,

everything in it. The drive to

like Manalar, Venniyar and

of the world, Salim Ali's Fruit

hills, waterfalls,

Meghamalai is breath-taking

Iravangalaru Dams, Echo

Bat, which is named after

valleys and lakes, the scenic

and winds around about

Points, Meghamalai estate

Indian

town of Meghamalai is

eighteen hairpin bends. As

and Maharajamettu.

much of a respite from the

you drive past the stretches

din and bustle of the city

of tea and coffee estates

of Tamil Nadu.The hills of

and pepper, cardamom

Meghamalai in Theni beckon

and cinnamonplantations,

the avid traveller with a host

you can see Meghamalai

of attractions ranging from

welcoming you with its

the clichĂŠd to the never-

extensive forests, profusion

before.Get geared to be taken

of wild flowers, misty moors

on a mesmerising journey.

and luxuriant grasslands.

Getting to Meghamalai is

Popularly called High Wavys

a thrilling experience as

Mountains, Meghamalai is

the roads snake through

located on the slopes of the

the spice plantations and

Western Ghatsclose to the

series of hills.All through

Periyar Tiger Reserve, about

the 24-kilometre drive from

43 kms off Chinnamanoor,

Theni to Meghamalai, where

on the Madurai - Kumili

silence reigns supreme at

Interstate Highway. Covered

1500 metre above sea level,

Spread over an area of about 6000 acres, Meghamalai is home to many unique varieties of wildlife. Wild Gaurs,elephants, tiger, leopard, Nilgiritahr and langur, gaur, spotted deer, barking deer, sambar, wild boar, porcupine, lion-tailed macaque, pea fowls, barking deer, Indian gaurs, jungle fowl and Malabar giant squirrelare commonly sighted across the forest terrain. Meghamalai is also host to a wide variety of

ornithologist Salim Ali, is

birds, mammals, reptiles and

only found in this mountain

in lush vegetation and

butterflies.Over 100 species of

range. High Wavysis a

the forests and the mountains

surrounded by undulating

birds have been identified so

view point that will afford a

often disappear as the

hilly terrain, Meghamalai


TAMILNADU TRAVELLER awestruck at the number of

surreal. Try and capture some

lakes you see on the way to

of the scenes in the camera.

Manalar. From Manalar dam, one can view the deep Cumbum Valley and the villages of Theni district. What awaits you at Maharajamettu is something extraordinary. It’ll be a scene which probably you can expect sitting by the window of a flight or probably in the highest peak of the makes the whole scene rather

view of the entire mountain range of Varusanadu Hills. The rolling hills, the cool mountain and the breath-taking scenery here is ideal for trekking and long mountain walks. Standing at an average elevation of 1650 metre, Vellimalai, which is the heart of Meghamalai, has emerald green mountains with vegetation covered peaks smiling at visitors in warm reception. An abode of river Vaigai, Vellimalai has a breath-taking beauty. The tea and coffee estates, houses of plantation workers and an artificial lake, add to the natural charm of the place. It’s not enough to go to

ASIAN TRAVELLER | MARCH 2014

your eyelids. The congregation of clouds, water and green covered hills of Iravangalar will be the perfect finish that you could ask for.Heavenly would be a word too clichéd to describe the beauty of Iravangalar. Some of the options before (or after) visiting Meghamalai are Suruli falls near Cumbam, KumbakkaraiandSothuparai falls in Periyakulam, which are less than a couple of

Himalayas. The mist

wonderful

Or, lock them forever behind

hours’ drive from Theni.

Meghamalai Statement about the ownership and other particulars about

and just drive to

ASIAN TRAVELLER

the top of the mountain peak. There are a variety of sights and sounds that are worth indulging in. The beautiful 190 feet high Meghamalai waterfalls is special as it embodies a twin-waterfall that flows throughout the year.Frequent visits by elephants, spotted deer, gaur and other wild animals at dawn and dusk are a feast to the eyes.ChinnaSuruli, also known as Cloudland Falls originates in Meghamalai. There are around 6 dams in and around Meghamalai itself.The entire stretch from High Wavys to Manalar (lower and upper), another spot which is worth a visit,is scenic. You will just get

Forum IV (See Rule 6)

1. 2. 3.

Place of Publication : Thiruvananthapuram Periodicity of Publication : Monthly Printers Name : G Biju Krishnan Whether Citizen of India : Yes (If foreigner, state the country of origin) Address : TC – 27/1915, MBRRA – 70 Mathrubhoomi Road Thiruvananthapuram - 695001 Kerala State, South India 4. Publisher’s Name: G Biju Krishnan Whether Citizen of India: Yes Address : TC – 27/1915, MBRRA – 70 Mathrubhoomi Road Thiruvananthapuram - 695001 Kerala State, South India 5. Editor’s Name : G Biju Krishnan Whether Citizen of India : Yes Address : TC – 27/1915, MBRRA – 70 Mathrubhoomi Road Thiruvananthapuram - 695001 Kerala State, South India 6. Owner’s Name and Address : G Biju Krishnan Address : TC – 27/1915, MBRRA – 70 Mathrubhoomi Road Thiruvananthapuram - 695001 Kerala State, South India 7. Name and address of individuals who own the newspaper and shareholders holding more than one per cent of the total capital as given below : G Biju Krishnan TC – 27/1915, MBRRA – 70 Mathrubhoomi Road Thiruvananthapuram - 695001 Kerala State, South India I, Biju Krishnan, hereby declare that the particulars given above are true to the best of my knowledge and belief. Sd/Thiruvananthapuram G Biju Krishnan Date 01.03.2014 Printer and Publisher

29


CHEF OF THE MONTH

A Passionate Chef

A

connoisseur in Mediterranean cuisine, Chef Varghese Thoppil has done his hotel and culinary schooling from Chennai. He stepped into the industry by working as a hotel operational trainee with Taj group of hotels after which he worked with the same group in Cochin and Chennai. Then he moved to international cruising industry in US and Europe where he refined his international culinary knowledge. A native of Kerala, Varghese has headed many signature restaurants like the Sabatini and Tratoria,

Formentore, Le Bistro and Kefi. Now he is the Executive chef of Dreams, Cochin. A passionate in oriental fine dining and Indian cuisine, Varghese is also a master in Western, Italian and Mediterranean cuisine. His delightful table d’hôte menu has been executed for a list of international dignitaries, heads of state and celebrities. He had got several opportunities to work with top chefs around the world. Chef Varghese has a decade’s culinary background and is privileged to do large varieties of different food festivals at the Wyndham Dream Group. Chef Varghese Thoppil Executive Chef, Dreams Cochin

Roulade of Snapper, prosciutto wraps tiger prawns Cheese tortellini, Pepper Coulis INGREDIENTS Olive oil Fresh cream Refined flour Tiger prawn Snapper fillet Salt Red capsicum Yellow capsicum

Method

For tortellini pasta, mix refined flour, eggs, olive oil in a mixing bowl or a dough kneading machine to make tight dough. Thinly sheet the dough. Cut the sheeted dough into roundels with a cutter of six cm diameter. For the tortellini, stuff sautee fine chopped onion and celery. When cool add Philadelphia and feta cheese and mix it well. Place the mixture in the

30

50Ml 50Gms 500Kg 2No 1No 5Gm 5Gm 20Gm

center of the sheeted dough, fold into half and then into a cornet. Seal it tight and blanch the pasta for till its Al Dante. For the pasta sauce, take pan and add olive oil, Chopped onion, thyme sauté, flambé with white wine, reduce the mixture and add fresh cream. To the sauce add the cooked tortellini and adjust the seasoning. For vegetable ratatouille, cut zucchini yellow and

Celery

5Gm

Tomato paste

Leeks

5Gm

Prosciutto

5No 5Gm

Philadelphia cheese

10Gm

Lemon juice

Feta cheese

10Gm

Garlic

30Gm

20Gm

Cottage cheese

5Gm

Haricot beans

3No

White wine

20Ml

Egg

15No

Zucchini green

10Gm

Oregano

3Gm

Yellow zucchini

10Gm

Thyme

3Gm

Onions

15Gm

Seasoning powder

5Gm

green, pimentos, onions and tomato into small dice. In a sauce pan add olive oil, sautee onions and add the tomato paste. Cook the tomato paste for 2 min and add the rest of the vegetables. Season the mixture with dried oregano, white pepper and salt. For roulade of snapper and bacon wrapped prawns, clean the snapper and the tiger prawns. Marinate both

with olive oil, chopped garlic, lemon juice, salt and pepper. Roll the snapper fillet, tight it using a skewer and gill it on a flat griddle. Wrap the prosciutto strip on the prawn and grill it on the same griddle. For the base of prawn - sautee julienne of pimento, celery and leek. For puree yellow pimento - cook the puree in pan, then season with salt and white pepper.

ASIAN TRAVELLER | MARCH 2014


ASIAN TRAVELLER MARCH EDITION  

ASIAN TRAVELLER MARCH EDITION

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