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VOL. I, ISSUE III, APRIL 2010  Rs 60

Putting the zing back to exploring the world

EUROPE

BACCARAT & TARTS IN

from a train window

Macau!

Psst! Game for a weekend trip... Paradise is a few hours from home


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CONTENTS

COVER

STORY

WEEKEND RETREATS In the humdrum of everyday life, we crave for a break. While planning a long vacation might be tough for most of us, getting away to a nearby place for a weekend is a better option, isn't it?

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COMPASS

MEET THE TIGER AT KANHA

NEWS, LAUNCHES & DEALS

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We bring you the latest from the travel world: special packages, restaurant and hotel openings along with some attractive deals from across the globe.

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Dotting a cross section of the incredible Indian wildlife, there are wonders at every turn in Kanha

APRIL 2010 TRAVELX

SHORT TAKES

TWIN CITIES

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DOUBLE DELIGHT! With an exhaustive list of 17 cities that he has worked in, Vella Ramasawmy humbly gives credit to India for a marked change in his personality.

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KING OF STREET FOOD Call them puchkas or golgappas or panipuri, but they will always remain the undisputed king of street food in India.


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54 FOCUS EYE TALK See the amazing repertoire of photographs clicked by Ashok and Novel Lavasa over their many trips together.

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WANDERLUST WANDERING THROUGH MACAU Dollops of good food and alcohol, a smattering of baccarat or roulette and plenty of shopping makes for a holiday in Macau.

DELIGHTFUL SHAAMI KEBAB 70

Editorial and Marketing Office: Newsline Publications Pvt Ltd., D-11(Basement) Nizamuddin (East), New Delhi 110 013. Phones: +91-11-41033381-82 Mumbai: Platina, 9th floor, C-Block, G-59, Next to Citibank, Bandra Kurla Complex, Bandra (East), Mumbai 400051, Tel.: +91 22 3953 0528 All information in TravelX is derived from sources we consider reliable. It is passed on to our readers without any responsibility on our part. Opinions/views expressed by third parties in abstract or in interviews are not necessarily shared by us. Material appearing in the magazine cannot be reproduced in whole or in part(s) without prior permission. The publisher assumes no responsibility for material lost or damaged in transit. The publisher reserves the right to refuse, withdraw or otherwise deal with all advertisements without explanation. All advertisements must comply with the Indian Advertisements Code. The publisher will not be liable for any loss caused by any delay in publication, error or failure of advertisement to appear. Owned and published by K Srinivasan 4C Pocket-IV, Mayur Vihar Phase-I, Delhi-91 and printed by him at Nutech Photolithographers, B-240, Okhla Industrial Area, Phase-I, New Delhi-110020.

APRIL 2010 TRAVELX

WHY IS YOUR AGENT IMPORTANT? 74

EUROPE ON EURAIL 34

Volume I No 3

Editor-in-Chief: K SRINIVASAN Managing Editor: TIRTHANKAR GHOSH Co-ordinating Editor: PRIYANKA SAXENA Reporters: Punit Mishra, Jasleen Kaur, Sreya Shandilya Special Correspondent - Mumbai: Roohi Ahmad (Mob. 9820295648) Design: Pradeep Jha, Ruchi Sinha, Jitendra Rawat, Shivnath Director: Ravi Sharma Director (Admin & Corporate Affairs): Rajiv Singh Senior Manager (Marketing): Varun Malhotra (Mob. 9650433099) Manager (Business Development): Pranav Khullar (Mob. 9650433088) Regional Sales Manager (South): Karthik K. V. (Mob. 9880209405) Asst. Manager (Corporate Affairs): Amit Sinha Subscription: Jaya Singh (Mob. 9650433044) Executive Director: Renu Mittal email: travelxletters@gmail.com, travelx@newsline.in


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FESTIVAL AND EVENTS

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TIME FOR MAKKI KI ROTI & SARSON KA SAAG!

With Baisakhi round the corner, hotels across the country, especially in the northern part of India, are introducing many special packages and food festivals to celebrate the occasion. It's time for some makki ki roti and sarson ka saag at hotels like Rennaisance Mumbai, Jaypee Vasant Continental and many more.

AERODROME INDIA 2010

VENUE: Bombay Exhibition Centre, Mumbai DATE: April 8-10, 2010 This fourth edition of Aerodrome India is all set to take off with an interactive platform for airport development, cargo and connectivity in addition to the airport equipment with the objective of providing a platform for enhancing airport business in place.

What's happening around the country this month? Choose from the hottest events and shows taking place in different parts of India in the world of music, art, cinema and food.

AROGYA VENUE: Science City, Kolkata DATE: April 9-12, 2010 Arogya will showcase the strengths and potential of Indian system of medicine and create awareness among individuals and professionals about ayurveda, yoga and naturopathy, Unani and homeopathy. This initiative is taking place with the combined effort of Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FICCI) and Department of AYUSH, Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, Government of India. There is also a great opportunity of interacting with practitioners, consumers and stakeholders.


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THE BLUE MUG — NATIONAL TOUR DELHI

SUMMER SHOPPING CARNIVAL

Victor Wooten's Music workshop and concert

VENUE: Tulip Star, Mumbai DATE: April 28, 2010 This high-end shopping carnival is aimed at the affluent women shoppers who can take their pick from western as well as Indian outfits, real and artificial jewellery, bags, footwear, lifestyle products, home furnishings, accessories and lots more. Timings are from 11 am to 8 pm

VENUE (Chennai): Sir Mutha Venkatasubba Rao Concert Hall DATE: April 4, 2010 VENUE (Bengaluru): Cathedral High School Auditorium DATE: April 5, 2010 VENUE (Kolkata): G D Birla Sabhaghar DATE: April 7, 2010 VENUE (Mumbai): Sri Shanmukhananda Chandrasekarendra Saraswathi Auditorium Date: April 8, 2010 Lifetime opportunity to meet well-known bass guitarist and a fivetime Grammy award winner, Victor Wooten during the four city workshop cum concert series, organised by Swarnabhoomi Academy of Music. Workshop will take place form 1 pm in all four cities; while concert will start at 7:30 pm. Tickets ranging from Rs 3,000 to 300 are available online at http://www.sam.org.in or at http://www.indianstage.in/events/victor-wooten.html

JAGJIT SINGH — LIVE IN CONCERT

Venue: Community Centre, Sadiq Nagar, Delhi Date: April 2-4, 2010 Bharat Soka Gakkai — the Indian chapter of the Soka Gakkai International (SGI), a lay Buddhist organisation working to promote peace, culture and education, is holding a three-day exhibition ‘Seeds of Change’ from April 2-4, between 11 am - 8 pm.

APRIL 2010 TRAVELX

VENUE: Palace Grounds, Bengaluru DATE: April 3, 2010 A perfect evening to celebrate music! The King of ghazals, Jagjit Singh will mesmerise you in his concert from 7-10 pm. Hurry! Tickets worth Rs 500, Rs 1,000, Rs 1,500 and Rs 2,500 are available online at www.ticketeasy.in

BUDDHIST INTERVENTION

FESTIVAL AND EVENTS

VENUE: Kamani Auditorium - 1, New Delhi DATE: April 3 - 4, 2010 'The Blue Mug' Hindi-English play directed by Atul Kumar and featuring Konkana Sen Sharma, Rajat Kapoor, Vinay Pathak, Ranvir Shorey, Sheeba Chadha and Munish Bhardwaj, is on its national tour and being staged in different cities. This time, it is in the capital. It is about exploring memory and doesn't draw any conclusions whatsoever. The duration of the play is 95 minutes. So, buy tickets now worth Rs 150, Rs 200, Rs 300 and Rs 500 at www.indianstage.in


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SPECIAL FOCUS

Hotel Information General Manager: Mr Akesh Bhatnagar The Golkonda Hyderabad Masab Tank, Hyderabad - 500 028 (Andhra Pradesh) India Telephone: 91-40-66110101 ; Fax: 91-40-66110102; Toll Free: 1800 425 0202 Email: info@thegolkondahotel.com Website: www.thegolkondahotel.com

INTRODUCTION

APRIL 2010 TRAVELX

Downtown Business Class 4 Star Deluxe Hotel situated at the foot of Banjara Hills with central connectivity to the business tourism and shopping district of Hyderabad. Distance from Rajiv Gandhi International Airport is 25 minutes and 25 Kilometers and from Hyderabad Railway station it is 3 Kilometers. The Golkonda Hyderabad is ‘First Hotel’ to the city from the new Rajiv Gandhi International airport at Shamshabad

FACILITIES AND SERVICES

The Golkonda Hyderabad, offers facilities and services ensuring each visit to our hotel is the most enjoyable experience which include, Complimentary Hi-speed Internet Connectivity, Travel Desk, Pastry Shop, Laundry & Dry cleaning, Souvenir

Shop, Currency Exchange, Safe Lockers, Business Center and Doctor on Call. Our Swimming Pool, Gym & Steam Room is ready for your workouts and we shall very soon present Executive Club Room and an outdoor swimming pool

FOOD AND BEVERAGE

We have “Mélange” an All Day Dining facility serving a variety of global cuisines. This is renowned for its ‘Night Owler’s Buffet'-the extended late night buffet “Zanzibar” leisure bar and cigar lounge serving Indian and International Spirits. “The Jewel of Nizam” a specialty restaurant, serving Hyderabadi and Indian Cuisine. “Upper Deck” a newly launched poolside Lounge Bar with live barbeque and choice of drinks

ACCOMMODATION

We are pleased to introduce our newly renovated Premium Rooms consisting of all the modern facilities including mini bars, wifi internet connectivity, ISD/STD with data port, International Direct Dial, shower cubicles, individually controlled air conditioning, color television, business desk, complimentary tea and coffee maker and 24 hours In Room Dining, two bottles of mineral bottled water, daily news paper etc. Total Inventory Premium Rooms Premium Suites Klub Rooms Klub Suites

: : : : :

141 Rooms 113 Rooms 10 Suites 13 Rooms 5 Rooms


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Premium Rooms: Refurbished, refreshed and revitalised, with luxuriously, modern, and life stylish design and complemented with generously appointed glass walled bathrooms with shower cubicles. The 260 sq feet premium room is the perfect place to relax and enjoy the superb impeccable service that is Golkonda's hallmark and way of life. Premium Suites: Take residence in one of our 10 superb premium suites, each tastefully designed and measuring total 505 sq feet, 380 sq feet consisting of bedroom, reception room plus 125 sq feet lavish bathroom, for comfort and convenience.

Our recently refurbished state-of-the-art conferencing and banqueting facilities can cater to groups ranging from 10 - 500 people in various setups and styles. We are pleased to introduce our conferencing facility as Mayfair, Zodiac, Ebony, Ivory Meadows (Lawns) and Board Room. Individual Banqueting and Conferencing details are as below HALL

AREA sft

CLASS ROOM

THEATRE

COCKTAIL

DINNER

MAYFAIR

2364

12

55

60

180

120

In formal 250Formal 80

ZODIAC

1293

8.5

45

50

100

50

In formal 120Formal 60

EBONY

828

11

25

25

60

35

Informal 70Formal 30

IVORY

864

11

25

25

60

35

In formal 70Formal 35

10 in BOARD ROOM

NIL

NIL

NIL

NIL

300

300

300

BOARD ROOM MEADOWS

3500

HEIGHT U ft SHAPE

APRIL 2010 TRAVELX

Klub Floor: This newly added facility will fulfill the needs of the exclusive business traveller creating a new dimension of mixing work with pleasure with the Klub Lounge. 13 klub rooms measure 304 sq feet, four klub two bay suites measuring 590 sq feet and also one klub three bay suite measuring 820 sq feet.

CONFERENCING AND BANQUETING FACILITIES


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LETTERS

UFF! CRICKET t’s just a thought. Ekla Cholo Rey. The haunting refrain from that song taunts me in this IPL season with cricket, cricket everywhere. Enough of hours glued to a TV, only to discover at the end of a day, that the team you fancied, has crashed out. No amount of cheerleaders can then pep you up. So, break free and go about your business — oops! Travel — alone. Venturing out of home to distant shores cannot be a regular affair, and when you do it alone, it becomes more of a mental workout than anything else. That is not the case when you travel with family or friends. When decisions have to be made like taking a cab or the Metro, there are always opposing views. But when it is just you, there is no quibbling over whether to rest your tired legs or not. Indeed, it is your decision. From the time you buy your ticket to planning everything to the last detail, it is your baby. You have got to figure out how any country/city works and what you are going to do there. Travelling alone isn’t as easy as it sounds, but it is definitely worth a try, although we are not great advocates of it. Happy reading and travelling! And yes, keep us informed….

I

Tirthankar Ghosh tghosh@newsline.in

It was refreshing to read the article “Return to Glory” in the February 2010 issue. Apart from being an enjoyable read, the piece was also very expressively done. I actually felt as if I was there. Probir Sen has evocatively captured the spirit of Bhopal, and the photographs give a fresh twist to the familiar sights. It in fact took me back to a time when I was in Bhopal and after reading your article, I plan to revisit the place soon! I also liked the factfile boxes (getting there, where to stay, where to eat and what to see), which I think is vital for any first-time traveller. I loved the story and look forward to more such articles in the coming issues. Vijay Sharma, Gurgaon

Hyderabad food has been a seduction in India for so many years now, but many people like me still can’t decide what to eat, when in Hyderabad. But I must say

that the article, “Deliciously Hyderabad” by Pushpesh Pant in the February 2010 issue has introduced gourmands to numerous delectable delicacies in the store of Hyderabad. I was all excited going through all the dishes mentioned in the article — be it Biryani or Dum Ka Murg, and detailed information about restaurants was truly amazing. I have preserved the issue, and on my next trip to Hyderabad, I am going to sample the food suggested in the article. I would like to suggest that food is an important part of travel and I am constantly looking for new experiences like this one. Kudos to you! Rahul Bajaj, Mumbai

I have always wanted to visit Cairo, and after reading the article “Mummy, it's Cairo” in the March 2010 issue, I am determined to turn my desire into a reality pretty soon! Also the fact file boxes — ‘Must See/Must Do’ and ‘Visa free transit tours’ were truly eyeopeners. I had fun going through the Egyptian cuisine details and photographs were truly complementary. Lastly, congratulations for a refreshing cover! Sunidhi Mirchandani, Ahmedabad

APRIL 2010 TRAVELX

A Budget Business Hotel

1/1 West Patel Nagar, Opp. Metro Pillar No 209, New Delhi - 110008 (INDIA) Phone : -91-11-45671444 (100 lines) Mobile : -91-9811056396 Fax : 91-11-45671414

24 Hours Reservation : +91- 9811056396

www.clarkhotels.com E-mail : reservations@clarkhotels.com, clarkhotels@gmail.com


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SHORT TAKES

LONDON BY EMIRATES

EMIRATES IS adding another double decker to its non-stop service to London come July. While the First class and Business class passengers can revel in the luxury that the A380 offers, what’s in it for the 427 Economy passengers? There are more than 1,000 channels of on-demand entertainment, including 200 movies from around the world, 100 TV channels, more than 500 audio channels and 100 video games. A personal satellite phone is fitted to each seat, which also carries a seat-back SMS and email service, along with seat-to-seat calling and a ‘My USB’ personal picture viewing facility. The only issue is that you’ll have to hop to Dubai first to get on board this beauty. But with nearly 200 flights a week from India, Emirates promises a seamless transfer to the big bird.

MILESTONES

GOODBYE GHULAM ONE COULDN’T have put it better: Ghulam Naqshband was a cultivated, dignified man, as the Sommelier India, a wine magazine wrote in a tribute to the Chairman of Le Passage to India and tourism industry doyen who passed away on March 5. Excerpts from their tribute, much the tribute of many like us who knew him for years: Although a bachelor, Ghulam kept a beautiful home and an excellent table. Born and brought up in Kasur in Pakistan, Naqshband has been a witness to the 1947 partition and decided to stay back in India even though his parents and two brothers were in Pakistan. “I was determined to stay in Delhi even though it meant living by myself. I chose to live life on my own terms. I don’t believe in a two-nation theory; I believe in one god and don’t adhere to religious demands. Today I am a contended human being,” he says wiping away every sign of remorse. He turned down every opportunity he got post partition to live with his family. “The social and political environment there did not suit my secularism. I found that people there formed their opinions based on the media. They took their newspapers’ biased reports seriously,” he says disappointedly. He joined the Embassy of Iraq and later went on to work with Saha and Rai travel agencies in Delhi. He founded the Alliance Francaise de Delhi in 1952 to promote the French language and culture. He was a genuine wine lover and started ‘The Wine Society’ in Delhi in 1991 with the support of the French Embassy. Originally called Table de France, it was the first wine club in the country. Goodbye Ghulam, we’ll miss you greatly.

CREATIVE HONOUR

APRIL 2010 TRAVELX

DID YOU KNOW? IS GOOGLE getting into the travel business through hotel bookings? According to a goggle blog (LatLong), searches on google maps may include hotels — on a purely limited basis — with rates. But the fine print is that a “limited number of advertisers” will be included in the searches. So what it means is that those who can afford to advertise are the ones who will come up in the searches. Does it make it comprehensive? Competitive or fair? Watch this space for the action.

WHEN YOU are Creative Travel, you ought to be creative! Well the Kohli's take the dictum rather seriously. The agency has bagged two National Tourism Awards — Best Inbound Tour Operator and Best Operator in India for MICE (Meetings, Incentives, Conventions and Exhibitions). The award was presented by Vice President Hamid Ansari, along with Tourism Minister Kumari Shelja and her college Sultan Ahmed to Rajeev Kohli.


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A VIEW OF THE FALAKNUMA PALACE IN 1880

FIR

(FIRST INFORMATION REPORT)

FALAKNUMA PALACE AFTER RENOVATION

TAKE YOUR pick — a heavenly abode, star of heaven or mirror in the sky — as the legendary Faluknuma Palace in Hyderabad is variously described. Soon, very soon (hopefully by May 2010), Taj Hotels will open the doors to a magical new experience: this magnificent palace is being converted into a 60-room hotel, which will preserve its inherent history. The Taj Falaknuma Palace, one of the

the architecture. In fact, it is the star sign of the Prime Minister. The Nizam’s original suite, the 101 Dining Room and the original Mughal, Rajasthani and Japanese gardens created by the Nizam will, for example, all be retained. As the Taj release says, “The grandeur is in the details.” Details like the priceless collections of Belgian Osler chandeliers, paintings, statues, English

A NIZAM’S LIFE SPEED-READER In the meanwhile, you can experience

APRIL 2010 TRAVELX

K The Indian Jungles with Taj Safaris for just Rs 11,000 per person per night and the offer is valid until June 30, 2010. Hurry! K You can also pick from seven luxurious Taj hotels in Kerala for a memorable vacation in God's Own Country. Offer includes breakfast, lunch or dinner, inter-hotel transfers and taxes; itineraries start from Rs 25,000 per couple!

most remarkable sights of Hyderabad, will be re-opened as a luxury palace hotel. Built in 1,884 and situated on a 200 ft high hillock, is a rare blend of Italian and Tudor architecture. Falaknuma Palace is one of the 35 palaces which the King Nizam of Hyderabad owned. But this is not the one he had built. It was built by Nawab Vikarul-Umra, the then Prime Minister of Hyderabad. The Nizam VI in 1898 used the palace as a royal guest house as it had a commanding view of the entire city (Indeed it’s a magnificent view of the city from the hilltop). And legend has it that he remarked that it is like heaven! Promptly the generous PM said it was ‘built for you’ and gifted it to the sixth Nizam of Hyderabad, Mehboob Ali Khan. The palace is laid out in the shape of a scorpion with two strings spread out as wings on the north. It is mistakenly believed that it was the Nizam’s zodiac sign that is reflected in the scorpion in

furniture, stained glass windows, leather upholstered rosewood chairs, gold and crystal tables and ivory figurines. Details like the Italian white marble fountain at the entrance, and the library with its walnut-carved Windsor Castle roof replica and houses one of the finest collections of the Quran in India. Since it was built, The Taj Falaknuma Palace has had many masters, from Sir Vicar-Ul-Umra, to Nizam Mahboob Ali Pasha to Mir Osman Ali Khan Bahadur. In its heyday, it was positively the last word in eastern opulence and luxury, and it has played host to lavish dinners, house parties, hunt breakfasts and visiting European royalty. By carefully restoring it to retain its old-world grandeur and refurbishing it with modern luxuries, Taj hopes to, once again, give today’s travellers a taste of yesteryear’s royal living. For reservations call +91 22 6601 1825 or mail at reservations@tajhotels.com (PHOTOS BY DEEN DAYAL / BRITISH LIBRARY)


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FAQs WHICH IS India’s most luxurious and expensive train service yet? A: Prices start at $800 for the most basic deluxe cabin and rise up to $2,500 a night for the presidential suite — which occupies an entire carriage and includes two cabins with double beds and a toilet with a bathtub. Its maiden journey from Kolkata to New Delhi made every effort to ensure passengers get to see the country glide past the window with a minimum of inconvenience. The specially built new train accommodates just 84 passengers, has suites with private bathrooms and plasma televisions, two restaurants serving Indian and Western food, a bar, card tables and an observation lounge. Even the suspension has been designed to ensure a smooth ride and the 23 carriages have all been fitted with air conditioning and carpet throughout. The Maharajas’ Express will travel throughout India, whereas the other services are restricted to individual states. Its first journey was a week-long trip from Kolkata to New Delhi, via stops including Varanasi and Taj Mahal in Agra, but another itinerary will take it to Mumbai. The venture is a public-private partnership between the state-run Indian railways and Cox & Kings.

DON’T MISS

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ROMANCING THE MERLION

KEEPING THE soaring mercury levels in India in mind, Mercury Travels has come out with a 4 nights / 5 days special ‘Romance Package’ starting at Rs 60,275 per person. Valid till May 31, 2010, the itinerary is inclusive of return Economy airfare, visa, Mercedes E-class airport transfers, five star accommodation, daily breakfast and Singapore’s most exciting and breathtaking activities that are sure to leave sweet memories for a lifetime! For details, log on to www.mercurytravels.co.in

TOO HOT TO HANDLE

SUMMER TIME means chutti time! If you are in two minds about taking a break this summer, seal the deal with Mahindra Homestays ‘MUST GO’ offers! Book your holiday with Mahindra Homestays for Rs 14,000 and above and take home an Italian inspired 31 pieces Art D’Inox Dinner collection (worth Rs 19,999). For those looking for shorter stays, worth Rs 10,000, can flaunt the Foce or Giordano watches (worth Rs 7,500) absolutely free! This is what we ideally call — double bonanza!

MADURAI @ RS 19, 999 APRIL 2010 TRAVELX

TAKE A three-day journey through the ancient city of Madurai. Visit the beautiful temples and relish the authentic Chettinad cuisine for just Rs 19,999/person (Being offered by Heritance Tours). The package includes domestic travel, airport transfers, luxury villa suite, fruit basket, breakfast, Madurai city tour, VIP access to sites and temples, entrance fees to all sites mentioned in the itinerary, all hotel taxes and service charges. For bookings, contact 0452-2385455.


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TRAILER KL BY WESTSIDE WESTSIDE STORY! It is the ultimate Big Apple masterpiece. For generations, viewers have enjoyed the magic of Leonard Bernstein's music in this timeless Broadway blockbuster and the sheer chutzpah of the battle between the Jets and the Sharks — two street side gangs in New York. Now in its 50th anniversary world tour, the musical event will run from May 12 to 24 at Istana Budaya (the Palace of Culture in KL) in its only South-East Asian stop. The staging of West Side Story - The Original Broadway Musical will feature its trademark riveting choreography, set to a gritty soul-stirring storyline and critically-acclaimed soundtrack including songs like 'Something's Coming', 'Maria', 'America', 'Somewhere', 'Tonight', 'Jet Song', 'I Feel Pretty', 'One Hand, One Heart', and 'Cool'. So if you are in KL in May, don't miss the opportunity. Tickets are priced at RM190, RM290, RM390, RM490 and RM590. One Malaysian Ringgit is equivalent to Rs 13.80

SOUTHERN SPLENDOUR

Adel El Masry, Director of Egyptian Tourism Office in India, shares some facts and information on Egypt Egypt is more than just Pharaohs… Well, of course, Egypt is the land of Pharaohs, but there is a lot more that attracts tourist like the red sea, diving, honeymoon destination, golf, spa, wellness, cultural heritage and its unique civilisation. Is it a holiday spot for couples? It's a honeymoon paradise.

IF YOU have always dreamt of chugging through parts of India in one of those magnificent luxury trains that we see and hear about so often, well, your dream just came true! Golden Chariot, the flagship luxury train of Karnataka, has introduced its economy version titled 'Silver Chariot'. Priced at Rs 22,000 per person for the whole trip, the itinerary is inclusive of all meals, accommodation, transport, guides

DON’T MISS and entrance fees. The Silver Chariot trip will start on Fridays and has two parts. The first part will take travellers to Mysore, Srirangapatna, Coorg, Hassan and Bhadra. If there are sufficient passengers, the trip will extend to Hampi, Badami and Pattadakal. All accommodation will be provided at KSTDC's re-branded and renovated hotels. The first trip of Silver Chariot will depart on April 2, 2010. Bookings for this package can be done at www.karnatakaholidays.net

APRIL 2010 TRAVELX

QUICKIE

One dish not to miss? Faksi (Different vegetables with a stuffing) and Egyptian Grills and Oomali (Egyptian dessert) Egypt and Bollywood Yes, you definitely will be seeing a lot more of Egypt (in Bollywod)! We are working very closely with TV channels, film makers, encouraging shooting of not just films but also serials in Egypt. Plans for Indian tourists? K To organise a lot of fam trips with tour operators and to make them a part of our joint campaigns K To organise cultural events like Egyptian Night and Egyptian Cultural Week to let people know more about Egypt. Also, we have already executed a media plan in India (with airlines, magazines, outdoors, cinema, TV, radio). K To work out attractive offers with airlines like Egyptair to boost travel to Egypt. We are also working with many other airlines such as Emirates, Oman Air, Kuwait Airlines, and Qatar Airlines, to promote Egypt.


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IT'S TIME FOR HOLY GRAIL

IT AIN'T OVER AT Et AL

MOROCCAN THEME, pulsating music, great food and stellar cocktails — a place with an easy attitude and a good vibe, Et Al — World Kitchen and Lounge opened its first outlet in West Delhi. A complete party place where you can sit, chill and relax as your taste buds get treated to some lip-smacking variety of cuisines on menu, including Hungarian, Greek, Italian, Russian as well as Indian. So this weekend, let your party rock at Et Al!

AU BON PAIN, the Boston-based bakery café chain, has now opened its flagship café in Bengaluru, which will serve a “build-it yourself” range and assortment of breakfast and lunch items such as sandwiches, harvest rice bowls, soups, salads, bread & bakery items, confectionaries, and hot and cold beverages. With over 250 cafes across the world, Au Bon Pain is an international Bakery café chain defined by top quality flavourful, distinctive and nutritional foods, quick and easy service, reasonable prices, and high hospitality in a comfortable café environment. Keeping in mind the cultural and local taste and preferences, the menu in India will also include a whole range of vegetarian dishes.

APRIL 2010 TRAVELX

GASTRONOMIC DELIGHTS THANKS TO the scorching weather, all we wish to eat is food that is light on the digestive system and not the fried pakoras that gave us a pot belly in winters. It's time for some cold soups, fresh salads, steamed food and grilled starters. Featuring seasonal ingredients which are both refreshing and cooling, the summer menu at Brown Sahib (Select CityWalk, Saket) now features seasonal favourites with Bengali and AngloIndian delicacies like Moricher Jhol, Doi Chingri, Prawn Chiney Kebab, Alabaster Chicken, and Roasted Vegetable Brochettes to name a few. Even the desserts are delightful creations, which will help alleviate the effects of the summer heat. Whether you choose to have the Baked Rasogolla or the Fresh Mango Cheesecake, we promise that you will be spoilt for choice with the cool and light sweetmeats on offer, which, mind you, are all baked in-house.

BEAT THE HEAT


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A TRYST WITH FINE ART

AGRA’S RISHTA with art goes a long way. Bamboo sarees, leather juttis, or lip-smacking peetha (I am not even mentioning Taj here), it houses the best, and strengthening this bond further, the city has recently opened its first Art Gallery at the ITC Mughal. The Gallery owners, Sanchit Joshan and Anu Joshan, are keen-art lovers and collectors and popular residents of Agra who are determined to bring the best of Indian art to their city.

UP ON ITS FEET, AGAIN

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PUTTING THE past behind, The Oberoi, Mumbai will re-open its property on April 24, 2010, following extensive restoration and renovation. The hotel has been completely transformed to offer fresh contemporary interiors, new facilities and the latest technology. All guestrooms and suites have been renovated, including bathrooms. New dining options include Ziya, an Indian restaurant under the direction of the Michelin starred Chef Vineet Bhatia; a new all day dining restaurant; a new bar and a completely redesigned lounge. For further details, please call +91 11 2389 0606 or write to reservations@oberoigroup.com or visit www.oberoihotels.com

APRIL 2010 TRAVELX


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Putting the zing back to exploring the world Get your copy today. Call +91-9650433044 or email: jaya@newsline.in India’s best known travel & Tourism monthly Magazine.


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COVER STORY

APRIL 2010 TRAVELX

The not-so-long


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and winding road

APRIL 2010 TRAVELX

In the cacophony of everyday life, as fatigue becomes our companion and stress our soul mate, the need to let go, sit back and breathe in the fresh air is an urge that many of us follow in order to retain our sanity. Pristine beaches, dirt free sea shores, untracked hills, architectural marvels that have their own tales to narrate, ruins that haven't been much talked about and expanses that will give you just the right feel and air to share, await you, to come and soak in their freshness, a weekend‌ With one such long weekend lined up in April, we bring you some getaways, not far from your city (Delhi, Mumbai, Chennai, Kolkata and Bengaluru) and accessible by road, to take that much-needed break.


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Getaway from Kolkata

Revisit Anglo-Indian lifestyle at Mccluskie

A WINTER MORNING

EVENING AT HESALONG

MALLAR SARKAR

HOW TO REACH

BY ROAD: Tourist bus services are available from Kolkata to Ranchi costing about Rs 1,200. Kolkata is about 400km from Ranchi and tourist pre-paid taxi charges about Rs 7,500 from Kolkata to Ranchi. Ranchi to Mccluskie is 65km by road

WHERE TO STAY

One can check into the following guest houses: HIGHLAND GUESTHOUSE 033-22485829 ROSHNI COTTAGE 033- 24645031 GANGULY GUESTHOUSE 0651-2560027 SANTINIKETAN 0652-2583125

USEFUL TIPS

APRIL 2010 TRAVELX

C Best season to visit is September to March C Local people are the best guides and are ready to take you to the nearby spots for a nominal price

he ground-level platform of a station doesn’t indicate the place to be a popular touristdestination, but Mccluskie today is the ideal getaway from the humdrum of everyday life. A place with an elevation of 475m on the Chotanagpur plateau of Bihar, Mccluskie, established by British, Scottish and Portuguese mainly as colonisation society, today plays host to a flow of Anglo-Indian culture mixed with rural life. When Ernest Timothy Mccluskie got 10,000 acres land on lease from local ruler Ratu Maharaja in the year of 1932, the place was a kingdom of dangerous wild animals. The dream of Ernest Timothy realised when approx 300 Anglo-Indian families decided to settle down here for their better nest on earth. Most of them bought more wild land and built church, club, post office, school, farm-house and their own Anglican cottage with flowerdecorated garden. It was purported to be a pastoral and domesticated homeland, with lush cultivation and healthy livestock. Noel Gordon, who is now 62 years old, came to Mccluskieganj (as it is called today) when his Anglo-Indian father stumbled onto the town in 1946 and decided to move here after he retired from a jute mill in Kolkata. Gordon explains how Mccluskieganj became a popular tourist attraction in last few years with now just 20 Anglo-

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GHAGRI WATER FALL

Indian families living there. The town, today has many old abandoned bungalows, most of which are being renovated for lodging purpose for the visitors. Mccluskieganj is the ideal place to observe past-glory of Anglo-Indian lifestyle blended with rural life. Kanka, Hesalong, Lapra, Mohulia are the nearby villages of Mccluskie where one can enjoy the flavour of original tribal life. A tourist can walk around these villages to meet the local people who fondly narrate tales of Mccluskie’s untouched natural beauty and colonial culture. To visit any one of the Anglo-Indian families present there, now may be a wonderful experience. A local guide can help an interested tourist to lead to dense forest of Palamou range hill for observing wildlife, visiting sunset point and back to Mccluskie. A car can be hired to visit Degadigi (10km), where river Chatti flows in extreme solitude. Duli (six km), is a unique place as here stands a church, a temple and a mosque, side by side in the same compound, constructed by an NRI. Betla Reserve Forest is 170km from Ranchi and 26km from Daltanganj and is the ideal place to spend two more days, where a visitor can see 35 species of mammals, 130 species of birds and definitely fall in love with nature. From Netarhat, Magnolia point (nine km), Koel view (2.5km), Lodh-fall (55km) and Ghagria water fall (six km) are some of the other places that can be seen. (PHOTOS BY MALLAR SARKAR)


Carpets & Rugs


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THE BEACHES AT GOKARNA INVITE TRAVELLERS FROM ACROSS THE GLOBE

Getaway from Bengaluru

Bewitching beaches and cloistered coves of Gokarna

APRIL 2010 TRAVELX

AKBER AYUB range shafts of sunlight shot across the valley as the early sun peeped over the hills. Red laterite walls of the cottages belonging to the Om Beach Resort glowed like over-ripe plums. Behind them, the morning sun gilded the tops of soaring casuarinas and eucalyptus. Like geometric designs on a fabric, long yellow strips of sunlight created shifting patterns on the lush green lawns.

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I sipped from a tall glass of watermelon juice seated on a rattan chair inside a peaked alcove. Birdcalls echoed across the valley and fled towards the blue slice of Arabian Sea visible in the distance. A soft breeze blew over the landscape like a sigh while I savoured deep lungfuls of the morning air. Surrounded by undulating hills but affording a grand view of the Arabian Sea with a verdant valley at its feet, the Om Beach Resort is ideally located to offer serenity and peace, perched as it is on a

hillside, but not too close to the beach. Pristine beaches, secluded coves and a laid-back ambience form the motif of Gokarna, the temple town, 475km from Bengaluru. The shacks strewn along the fringes of the secluded Paradise and Om beaches, a regular haunt of budget travellers, create a distinctive ambience here — reminiscent of the lazy beach life of neighbouring Goa. Travellers on a shoestring budget from all across Europe can be seen lazing on hammocks or sitting


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HOW TO REACH

BY ROAD: Gokarna is well-connected by government and private roadways which operate daily luxury and ordinary buses from Bengaluru, Mangalore, Mysore and Hassan. Overnight direct buses take 12 hours, leaving Bengaluru Kempegowda bus stand at 9 pm

WHERE TO STAY

OM BEACH RESORT: You can settle yourself comfortably at Om Beach Resort which boasts of four large cottages, a restaurant block and lots more. For more details, contact at 91-80-51122815 or log on to kairaliresort@vsnl.com / junglelodges@vsnl.com / www.kairali.com HOTEL GOKARNA INTERNATIONAL: This is a budget hotel, close to the beach and the temples. For more information, contact at 91-8065653333 / 91-80-65653333 / 40580888

USEFUL TIPS

C The best time to visit is from late August to January C Avoid the slippery rocks on Om beach — the scene of some accidents C Pack sunscreen, mosquito coils or crème C Travel light if you plan to trek C Fairly good cotton outfits for both men and women are available at reasonable prices C Visit the Mahabaleshvara Temple, but be wary of over zealous pundits

LOCAL FISHERMEN AT WORK ON THE BEACH IN GOKARNA

around the cafeteria with jugs of beer, munching on sandwiches and seafood. And with no electricity on some of these beaches and the accommodation in the shacks being very basic, tourists can be seen lying on the beaches at night with beers and various kinds of smokes and then dozing off under the stars to the soothing cadence of the waves. For beach buffs and adventure sport lovers, Gokarna offers ample choice. Most of the resorts and hotels provide surfing, parasailing, snorkelling, sight seeing cruises, kayaking, water scooter rides and paragliding. Beach bar-be-ques, organised by resorts, on the exclusive paradise beach, accessible only through sea or trekking through wooded hills, promises unforgettable moments. Mountain biking in the surrounding Sahayadri hills and rappelling on the nearby cliffs, arranged under the supervision of experienced guides, are quite popular with visitors too. Sight seeing tours to nearby tourist destinations, especially to beaches like Kudle and Half Moon, sporting endless rows of coconut palms along the blue sea and a visit to the temples, are other activities that a traveller can indulge in. A celebrated Shaivaite pilgrimage centre, hoary temples dot the narrow streets of Gokarna and tourists can be seen

browsing through brass and copper idols and souvenirs in wayside stalls. Perhaps it is the aura of spirituality pervading the narrow, winding streets strewn with temples or the secluded beaches and coves and the prospect of spending endless hours gazing indolently at the shimmering sea from beach front shacks or perhaps a combination of all these that attracts tourists to Gokarna. While the surrounding hills and the wooded valleys draw trekkers and nature lovers, a stroll along the many beaches especially at dawn and dusk offers an opportunity to watch the local fishermen at work. Literally translated to mean ‘cow’s ear’, the town is formed by the ear-shaped confluence of two rivers, the Gangavali and the Agnashini. Five beaches, each less than a 30-minute walk from each other, all separated by hills, sure make for a picturesque setting. Gokarna also hosts rave beach parties in the peak season when DJs from Goa descend here. Before long you realise that the spirituality of the east meeting with the beach culture of the west has created a unique ambience here that hovers over the town like mist on a wintry day and that, you perceive is the leitmotif of this quaint little coastal town. (PHOTOS BY AKBER AYUB)

APRIL 2010 TRAVELX

FOR BEACH BUFFS AND ADVENTURE SPORT LOVERS, GOKARNA OFFERS AMPLE CHOICE


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HOW TO REACH

Getaway from Delhi

Witness the rich heritage of Gwalior

BY ROAD: Gwalior is wellconnected by state owned and private buses from in and around all the important towns of Madhya Pradesh and neighbouring areas. Overnight A/C tourist buses are available from Delhi (321km), Indore (486km), Agra (118km) and Jaipur (350km)

WHERE TO STAY

HOTEL TANSEN RESIDENCY, GWALIOR: Run by Madhya Pradesh Tourism Department, Hotel Tansen Residency is mid-priced hotel. Contact at 91-0751-2340370. HOTEL LANDMARK: With 42 centrally air-conditioned Super Deluxe rooms, the hotel has lots to offer for your comfort. For more details, log on to www.hotellandmarkgwalior.com or contact at 91-0751-4011271, 72, 73

USEFUL TIPS

C The best time to visit is from October to mid-March

THE CHAUSAT YONI MANDIR AT MITAOLI

MURAD ALI BAIG etting to Gwalior by road from Delhi can now be quite quick. With an early start, it takes just three-and-a-half hours to Agra and a further two hours to Gwalior. But there is much more to Gwalior than just a visit to its massive fortress. While crossing the formerly dacoit infested dry ravines of the Chambal Valley, you immediately realise that you are entering another land, far from the squalor of the northern plains, as the azure blue waters of the Chambal invite you. There is a lot to see at Gwalior but there are also many very interesting historic places in the surrounding areas. Just 35km away are a cluster of very ancient Naga temple ruins at Padhavali where some are dated to the 3rd and 4th centuries AD. Though one enters the temple complex through more recent fortifications, one is soon faced with an almost surreal setting of tumbled structures and twisted trees that look like a scene from Kipling’s Jungle Book. These early sculptures, showing snakes and the sun god Surya give way to later idols of Shiv and Vishnu and further on of goddess Kali, showing the evolution of Hindu

APRIL 2010 TRAVELX

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deities over the centuries. More temples of the same period are at Bateshwar nearby that are still being excavated. Just two km away is one of India’s most amazing temples at Mitaoli on a hill about a 100 feet above the surrounding plains. This 11th century Ekottaso Mahadeva Mandir is built like a huge 200-foot wide chariot wheel with the main central shrine as the hub of a giant wheel that contains 64 smaller inward facing shrines on the surrounding circular courtyard. When it was fully in use, the effect must have been magical. One can imagine the energy radiating to the centre from the 64 Shivalingas, lit by the flickering flames of the surrounding shrines. It is also called the Chausat Yoni Mandir. Getting to this fascinating area is quite easy. You drive on the road from Gwalior towards Bundi, but after 20km, turn left at Malanpur on a black topped motorable local road. After another 10km you will reach Padhavali on the left and Mitaoli on the right a bit further ahead. The road goes ahead and somewhere after about 25km eventually connects to the Gwalior-Agra national highway, some 10km before Morena. There are some other amazing temples near Morena, 35km from Gwalior

on the road towards Agra. A right turn as one enters Morena from Gwalior on the road to Ambah gets you to Sihonia after 14km. Here is the amazing Kakan Math temple that is alleged to have been built by Kakanvati, consort of the Kachhwaha ruler around 1,000 AD. In its day, the towering 100-foot high sandstone temple would have been a rival for the great temples of Khajuraho. It appears to have been desecrated with the result that most of the intricately carved panels have disappeared and the stark skeleton of tall pillars, beams and brackets climb forlornly into the sky. The structure also clearly shows the prefab nature of mediaeval temple science where the gaps between the pillars and beams were filled with prefabricated stone slabs to make a very solid looking structure. About 4 km away is a huge colossus of Hanuman and a big Jain sculpture called Chainath. And for those with a bit more time there are many interesting excursions to places like Datia 69 km from Gwalior on the way to Jhansi and Orcha. There are many hotels for all budgets at Gwalior and all these places are just an hour or two away. Get a map and you can easily mark the towns and find the easiest routes to get there. (PHOTOS BY MURAD ALI BAIG)


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Getaway from Chennai

Mahabalipuram — Beaches and bas-relief

THE ARJUNA’S PENANCE IS ONE OF THE MOST FAMOUS STONE CARVINGS AT MAHABALIPURAM

APRIL 2010 TRAVELX

AKBER AYUB t is difficult to put your finger on what symbolises Mahabalipuram — miles of virgin beaches or rock-cut bas-relief images in striking details. There are no two ways about one aspect though — both posses a distinctive character. Mahabalipuram, or Mamallapuram in local parlance, exudes a rare character that is truly unique. Perhaps it has to do with the sheer antiquity of the place. It

I

was a seaport during the time of Periplus in 1st century AD, and Chinese travellers used this port town during the reign of the Pallava kings from the third to the ninth century. 60km south of Chennai, the drive along the east coast highway to Mahabalipuram is a treat. The road is excellent, smooth and straight, and you’ll find the air sanguine as you drive along the Coromandel Coast facing the Bay of Bengal. A paved pathway from the Sterling

Holiday Resort, where I’d checked-in, leads to the broad sands of the beach and here once again, the duality of Mahabalipuram strikes you almost immediately. Smack in the middle of the beach, almost on the edge of the sea, rears up the famed shore temple like a sphinx. One of the oldest temples in South India, it is said to have been built by the Pallava King Rajasimha in the 7th century AD. Constructed in the Dravidian style, the twin pyramidal spires of the temple, covered in tiers of


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HOW TO REACH

BY ROAD: Mahabalipuram is well connected by road from Pondicherry, Kanchipuram, Chengalpattu and Chennai. From Chennai, taxis can also be hired (most of these taxis are privately operated) for a reasonable fare

WHERE TO STAY

GOLDEN SUN HOTEL AND BEACH RESORT: The hotel provides comfy accommodation in 60 air-conditioned double bed rooms including cottages. For details, contact at 044-27442245 / 27442246 / 27442946 or log on to www.hotelgoldensun.com / bookings@hotelgoldensun.com. GRT TEMPLE BAY: Located 65km away from the city of Chennai, Tamil Nadu, GRT Temple Bay is a luxurious beach resort. For more details, contact at 044-27443636 or log on to www.grthotels.com / crs@grthotels.com

USEFUL TIPS

intricate carvings, stands tall, silhouetted against the blue sky. The outer wall is made up of rows of bulls carved out of rocks. Maintained by the archaeological survey of India, the temple complex is surrounded by a landscaped garden and floodlit at night offering a splendid view after sunset.

Diametrically opposite the shore temple about half-a-kilometre inland is an impressive series of sculptured basreliefs of celestial beings, sages and apsaras carved on two large boulders with a narrow fissure in between and interspersed with carvings of animals like elephants, lions, tigers and boar —

APRIL 2010 TRAVELX

THE FAMOUS SEASHORE TEMPLE

C The best time to visit is October to March. Monsoon is best avoided C Small eateries in town offer delectable South Indian fare as well as fairly good seafood. For fine dining, the up market resorts and hotels are a better option C Shop for decorative conch shells, trinkets, and stone handicrafts, but bargain for everything. Look for exotic shell necklaces

THE FIVE RATHAS TEMPLE IS A POPULAR SIGHT IN MAHABALIPURAM


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BESIDES TEMPLES, IT ALSO HAS SOME BEAUTIFUL VIRGIN BEACHES

chariots created out of freestanding monoliths, again, covered in bas-relief, and considered the earliest monuments of their kind in India. Mahabalipuram is a small town and most of these sites fall within a radius of a few kilometres; so getting around is easy. Then there are the beaches — all virgin and unspoilt. Miles of broad sunkissed sands, no noisy holiday crowd, and no seaside bars and eateries. Abrupt undersea trenches close to the beach makes swimming a rather dangerous proposition though. But most resorts here arrange sea trips — in a catamaran. If you’re a good swimmer you could go for

a swim in the sea too, duly tethered to the catamaran. An after-dinner stroll on the beach under a star-lit sky or gazing at the stars sprawled on beach-benches can be a singular experience. Equally unique would be yoga and meditation sessions on the sands arranged at dawn by resorts. Accompanied by the sonorous cadence of the breaking waves, you’ll find the dulcet dawn adding an extra depth to your activities. Meditation beside the shore temple and yoga on the beach — perfect combination you’ll agree, symbolising yet again the dual essence of Mahabalipuram. (PHOTOS BY ASHOK KUMAR AND AKBER AYUB)

APRIL 2010 TRAVELX

all depicting scenes from epic stories. This huge rock canvas is called Arjuna’s penance. Close by, a round mammoth boulder rests precariously on a sloping rock base. A little away to the south near the lighthouse is another boulder carrying an unfinished representation of an epic scene. A temple perched atop a boulder here and a pavilion hewn out of solid rock; both showcase elaborately worked roofs with finials, rows of pilasters and decorative gables. Elsewhere in the town are caves cut into boulders with intricately carved pillars and sculptured panels adorning the walls of large chambers. Then there are the five

FOR FAMILY, HONEYMOONERS OR A LONER, MAHABALIPURAM IS AN IDEAL GETAWAY


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Getaway from Mumbai

NANI DAMAN — A RIVER-FACING FORT

Experience the grandeur of India’s past at Daman SUNIL VAIDYANATHAN ndia’s colonial associations may have been camouflaged by 63 years of independence, but links with the former masters of her destiny have not been erased completely. To experience the faded grandeur of India’s past, especially its association with the Portuguese, who preceded the arrival of the English (by almost a century), one only has to visit their former enclaves along India’s west coast. The most famous among these are Goa and the union territories of Daman, Diu and Nagar Haveli. Those who want to escape the madness of Mumbai and experience the charms of a quiet weekend away from the humdrum of the city should head for Daman. Just about 200 km from Mumbai, little seems to

to the east in search of spices and Christians! While occidental influences initiated an era of cultural exchange, pageantry and intemperance were its most visible by-products. Some of these traits still linger; every second shop in Nani Daman is a liquor store or bar. Cheap liquor is Daman’s biggest attraction, especially as it is on the periphery of Gujarat, where a mixture of Gandhianism and idiosyncrasy has led to total prohibition. The ever-proliferating hotels have also become a virtual eye sore. Weekends see the arrival of tipplers who descend on the bars and beaches of Daman in hordes. Crossing the river to the other side provides one with an entirely different perspective. Moti Daman, which was once the administrative headquarters of the Portuguese, is much quieter and

APRIL 2010 TRAVELX

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have changed here. Idyllic Portuguesestyled villages support a vibrant community of Christians who have zealously managed to preserve traces of their ancestry. Daman is divided into two unequal halves by the Daman Ganga River. Nani Daman (the smaller township on the mainland) is connected to Moti Daman by a bridge; however, making the crossing on a riverboat has its own romance. Nani Daman, which is comparatively smaller than Moti Daman, is dominated by its river-facing fort that encompasses a church dedicated to Our Lady of the Sea. The bastions of this fort offer a panoramic view of the surrounding countryside and the ramparts of Moti Daman across the river. The Portuguese conquistadors sailed

CROSSING THE DAMAN GANGA RIVER PROVIDES AN ENTIRELY DIFFERENT PERSPECTIVE ABOUT THE REGION


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FUN-PACKED MIRASOL WATER PARK IN DAMAN

HOW TO REACH

BY ROAD: Long distance buses from Mumbai to Ahmedabad pass through Vapi (12km from Daman). Buses and no metre taxis regularly ply between Vapi Station and Daman.

WHERE TO STAY

HOTEL ROYAL GARDEN: For details, contact at 0260-2243777, 2243999 or log on to www.damanresorts.com. HOTEL SAI KRIPA IMPERIAL: Pocketfriendly. For more information, contact at 0260-2261491, 6454493 or log on to www.hotelsaikripaimperial.com.

USEFUL TIPS

C Best time to visit is October and May. C Choose between typical Gujarati vegetarian thalis or non-vegetarian coastal cuisine. However, everything from Chinese to South Indian is also available.

IN JAIN TEMPLE, THE MURAL PAINTINGS ARE ENTHRALLING

cleaner than its less significant twin. The first sight that meets the eye is the massive fort walls that encompass an area of almost 30,000 sq m. The fort is surrounded by a moat, which also serves as a canal that connects the Daman Ganga River to the sea. Beyond the massive gates that were once protected by a battery of cannons, is a tiny garden that ironically serves as a monument to martyred Portuguese soldiers. As you walk along Moti Daman’s wide avenues a series of spectacular buildings loom above the worn out cobblestones. Among the administrative buildings, the Secretariat and the Lieutenant Governor’s residence stand out for their architectural finesse. Although some religious structures from the old priory like the Dominican Monastery are in ruins, the restored churches of Moti Daman are well worth the visit. The intricately carved altars and ceilings are a visual feast for the

artistically inclined. Today, this historical township serves as one of the reminders of India’s transition from being a puppet of colonial excesses, to an independent Republic. However, history should be preserved and therein lies the challenge! Heritage structures are a link with the past and the history of the Portuguese dominion is engraved in every brick and stone of the many monuments spread over Daman. Nationalistic sentiments and unplanned infrastructure threaten these few discernible dictionaries of India’s historical realities. Heritage also comprises preservations of traditions and lifestyles. The traditional settlers of Daman have resisted the onslaught of modernity and materialism heroically; however, this former Portuguese enclave, once conquered, might still have to submit to the demands of an emergent nation that wants to delete a few of its historical facts. (PHOTOS BY SUNIL VAIDYANATHAN)

APRIL 2010 TRAVELX

STRIKING CHURCH OF OUR LADY OF THE SEA


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MILES & MORE

APRIL 2010 TRAVELX

A PANORAMIC VIEW OF BASEL, SWITZERLAND

A slice of

Europe

6

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cities


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PREETI VERMA LAL

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APRIL 2010 TRAVELX

Many lover boys have serenaded their leading ladies aboard... It’s racy, exhilarating, pricey and a unique way to see Europe. EURAIL, as they say, is truly a traveller’s delight!

ix days. Six cities. Four countries. 2,045km, cutting through the belly of Europe. One Eurail Global Pass. And memories to last a lifetime. My itinerary looked so hasty that I wondered where to squeeze in a long breath, a lazy meal, a languorous walk and a dreamy sleep. And wherein without the comfort of a limousine could I pack my Cossack boots, my tweeds, my hat, my mules and that tonne of sunscreen to fend off the cruel sun? Trains are eternally stingy about luggage space and I wondered whether my colossal black bag

with a wool pompom would have to reluctantly make way for the more staid, small blue strolley that fitted perfect with the ‘travel light’ instruction staring out of the itinerary. Forgive me, if this sounds snooty, but I never travel by train — crowded platforms, countless humans lugging half their world in steel trunks and the harried chug of the iron wheels make me flinch. But when an enticement called Eurail fell my way, I was tempted to shed all acquired hauteur. Trust me, on that plane to Amsterdam, I stacked in a lot of humility but perhaps what I needed more was an umbrella, for the city of tulips was drenched with rain and the train was still a few tracks away.


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36 I had no painted clogs either in which I could hoof through the cobbled streets to meet the Dutch who has forever enamoured me with his chiaroscuro — Harmensz van Rijn Rembrandt, the painter with gimlet eyes and a widow’s pate hidden with a curly mop. Or, to chew into those scrumptious flat, round Gouda cheese infused with goodness of cumin seeds, herbs and garlic. Quaff Heineken in a litre-tall glass or get brewed in the Brew U stimulator in the Heineken Museum. Much before the long, silver

train with a large snout chugged into the station; Amsterdam was getting under my skin. So were the raindrops. I had no umbrella, no clogs, all that waited for me by the marina was a canal cruise. I hopped in, scrubbed the rain off my brown skin and stuck my nose against the glass window for a panoramic view of the city. History was being piped in a guttural voice through a recorded CD — the history of the canals that stretch nearly 100km, the 1,500 bridges, 1,550

monuments that flank the canals that once served as a moat. I was distracted by the painted houseboats that lay languorously anchored, but it was the house of Anne Frank at 263 Prinsengracht Street that tugged at my heart-strings — for it was here that Frank hid with her family for two years before being betrayed and caught by the Gestapo on August 4, 1944. I wanted to amble up the steep stairs of Frank’s wood panelled house and sleep over in a house boat with lace curtains and geraniums, but the raucous whistle of

THE OLD CITY OF BASEL WHICH SITS BY THE RIVER RHINE SHIMMERS AT NIGHT

APRIL 2010 TRAVELX

EURAIL PASS

KEEP YOUR CAMERAS CHARGED FOREVER — EACH CORNER, EACH MONUMENT IN EUROPE LOOKS PICTURE PERFECT

C EURAIL GLOBAL PASS (valid in 21 countries; price starting at $499 for a 15-day pass) C EURAIL SELECT PASS (valid in 3, 4 or 5 adjoining countries; price starting at $315) C EURAIL REGIONAL PASS (valid in 2 countries) C EURAIL ONE COUNTRY PASS (valid in one country or a group of countries in the case of Benelux and Scandinavia) *Remember, you need to validate your Pass before the first journey. In some countries, reservations are essential (additional charges for reservation). *You can book online at www.eurailgroup.com


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BEST EURAIL ROUTES

C EUROPE'S GREATEST HITS: London to Athens in 30 days C THE GREAT YODEL: Frankfurt round-trip in 14 days C PAINTING YOUR MASTERPIECE: Amsterdam to Paris in 9 days C CANALS, CROISSANTS & CHUNNELS: London round-trip in 7 days C MOVABLE FEAST: Rome to Barcelona in 12 days C LAND OF THE MIDNIGHT SUN: Oslo to Copenhagen in 14 days C EASTWARD BOUND: Berlin to Bucharest in 15 days

THE EURAIL GLOBAL PASS CAN TAKE YOU THROUGH 21 COUNTRIES

FRANKFURT CENTRAL STATION, THE BUSIEST IN GERMANY, WAS INAUGURATED ON AUGUST 18, 1888

the train interrupted all my want-tos in Amsterdam. The 2,045 journey with the Eurail Pass was ready to chug. In the squeaky clean train with chintz upholstery, it was skewed semantics that had me befuddled first. Slumped in the chair after a long flight and a hop around Amsterdam, what I needed was slumber, not a lesson in semantics. Certainly not one about water. “You want gas water or silent water?” A train attendant in uncreased black suit was ready to take orders. Gas? Silent? Perhaps he read incredulity in my eyes and repeated,

“Ma’am, what would you prefer? Gas or Silent water?” Had it not been for his politeness, I would have guffawed at the joke, but he seemed so absolutely earnest about the name that I could barely mumble a question. A timid “no, thank you,” was the moment’s safest option. The mystery would have had to wait till I walked into the pantry laden with the whiff of biscotti and coffee. On the shelf was a blue bottle with still water; I ordered one. “You like silent water?” The man in black smiled. On that first leg of the train journey, semantics were changing

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Amsterdam has many canals that stretch up to nearly 100km with 1,500 bridges and 1,550 monuments flanking it. A canal cruise is an exhilarating way of seeing Amsterdam.


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AMSTERDAM: Tulips; canal cruise; the house of Anne Frank; Heineken Museum UTRECHT: The Dom Church & Tower; walk along the canals; The Academy Building; ‘Statue of Liberty’ MUNICH: BMW welt; Van Gogh Museum; Marienplatz square, Town Hall and the dancing clock; St Peter’s Church; English Garden. Munich is known for its beer FRANKFURT: The frankfurters, of course; the house of Oskar Schindler; writer Gothe’s mansion; a bird's eye view of the city from The Main Tower; Museum of Modern Art; The Romerberg LUXEMBOURG: Corniche, often called Europe’s most beautiful balcony; shopping street; the statues of Charlotte, Grand Duchess of Luxembourg, and Grand Duke William II of Orange Nassau; the Golden Lady BASEL: The wooden Troy horse; Munster Cathedral; cruise on River Rhine (LEFT BELOW) CORNICHE (LUXEMBOURG), OFTEN CONSIDERED EUROPE'S MOST BEAUTIFUL BALCONY; (RIGHT) A GOLDEN STATUE OF VIRGIN MARY NEAR THE MUNICH TOWN HALL

— gas for sparkling and silent for still water! But I forgot all about the silence of water as the train whistled to a stop in Utrecht, the second largest Dutch city that began life in 47AD when the Romans built a castellum close to what is today the 112-metre high Dom Square. Dotted with wharves and cellars along the canals, Utrecht thrives on its reputation as an art city and flaunts the grit of the granite maiden holding a torch, a posture that has earned the sculpture the sobriquet “our own Statue of Liberty”. Sipping coffee in

a café, I heard the chatter about the world famous Rietveld Schroder house in Utrecht with its typical red, blue and yellow hues that was touted by UNESCO as “singular icon in Western architectural history and a masterpiece of human creative power.” Caught in the colours, I spared no thoughts for the train, until Ingeborg Behari, a Dutch guide with silver mane and married to a Bihari man — herded us to the lavishly painted Maliebaan Station with ornate chandeliers. Was it time to head to Munich? I wondered. “No”, Behari

whispered amidst the hullabaloo of the locomotives. “How about a ride of a lifetime?” she teased. She sure had no ticket to god’s neighbourhood, but the virtual train ride in a menacingly dark tunnel nearly took my breath away. No more missed heart beats in the Railway Museum, for the ICE (Inter City Express) was to take me to Munich. “Wake up, we are in Munchen,” Clarissa Mattos of Eurail broke my reverie. I was dreaming of the BMWs lined tidily in the BMW welt and of a (Continued on page 40)

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(BOTTOM LEFT) STATUE OF A LITTLE GIRL ON A HORSE IN MUNICH; (BOTTOM RIGHT) A CITY SQUARE IN AMSTERDAM


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Galaxy Hotel positioned in the city of malls in India, Gurgaon, is a premier lifestyle hotel for the corporate clientele. Situated close to the International and Domestic Airports, The Galaxy is setting new standards of excellence for business hotels in the city.

GALAXY HOTEL Redefining hospitality in India

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Jacuzzis in all suites and spa rooms add to the innumerable assets of hotel. The suites are also equipped with remote control curtains. The Business Centre operates 24 hours a day, offering a full range of secretarial services and facilities. It boasts of an inner space for meetings with 6 convention rooms. There are five board rooms with three independent conference areas. The hotel tenders you a fine dinning experience with its three exclusive and topnotch restaurants. The stylish yet simple sophistication of the Monk, the oriental restaurant, is personified by its name, whereby simplicity is in attendance in the presentation, ambience, and food with modern and contemporary influences. Axis is an all day dining restaurant with a unique feature of live kitchens. A stylish urban wine bar with glamorous interiors Terroir features a diverse selection of steaks and grills complimented by a well paired wine menu. A sanatorium of sensory gratification, the Spa Soul lets you go in for absolute indulgence. Howzatt — India’s first cricket themed pub-brewery — a fresh concept of gourmet beer & cricketainment begins for Indian audience as this unique pub themed on cricket with an in-house micro brewery brews four styles of beer.

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he four storey property encompasses three separate entrances, one for the rooms, one for the shopping arcade and one for the elevator to take you to the banqueting spaces on the second floor. The rooftop comprises a world class Spa. Three restaurants, The Monk, The Axis and Terroir await you on the second floor The hotel has a total of 80 rooms, including 9 suites. These are categorized as deluxe rooms, standard rooms, executive suites and suites along with 500 sq ft of exotic Spa rooms. The rooms are spacious, airy and light with diffused lighting to proffer a tranquil effect. A standard feature in all the rooms is a 42 inch plasma screen with two of them in each executive room. All rooms are equipped with a Wi-Fi free internet access and a DVD Player for which there's a DVD Library wherein guests can choose their favourite movie for viewing. There are also provisions of in room fax machines, safes that can accommodate a laptop while providing recharge, multi-line telephones with voice mail, data and fax capabilities The spa rooms have the luxury of water body roofs with different colours that restrict the requirement of artificial lights owing to the ample amount of sunlight gracing the room.


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tango with the mechanical elves that dance at the stroke of 12 in the Neogothic Town Hall. But Munich was sleeping and in the glimmer of the neon lights I was longing for the sedulously painted sunflowers in the van Gogh Museum, the typical Bavarian Weisswurst breakfast and a walk around Marienplatz, the city’s most famous square. Instead, I found myself sipping rasam in Prinz Myshkin, a hip restaurant where not only is the food dishy, but where the menu card is as stunning as the owner with glinting eyes. I forego the beer and the meat platter — being a vegetarian and a teetotaller seemed sacrilegious in the German heartland. Before I could see Munich to my heart’s content, it was time for another train journey — 417km to Frankfurt where Goethe and Oscar Schindler waited. Three days on the train and I had already picked the art of manoeuvring through the sea of travellers in black parkas, grey tweeds carrying big, small, swish, tattered bags… The flickering clocks on platforms no

longer looked threatening. In three days, I had also learnt the trick of edging, jostling, elbowing, hastening past people and hopping into the train that are punctual to a fault. And yes, the art of squeezing my blue suitcase in the miserly luggage space. In Frankfurt, it was Goethe that I met first. In the house of the moneyed writer, extravagant was the way to be — upholstery was shipped from New York, porcelain from China (remember then 1 gram of porcelain was traded for 1 gram of gold), the stairs were mahogany and the cake moulds copper. In the garden was a cherubic angel and on the walls, paintings depicting a happy family. Perhaps nothing conveys the lavish lifestyle of Goethe more than the stone well — yes, a well; for his was one of the only seven households in Frankfurt to boast a well. Think

that! In stark contrast was the modest house of Oskar Schindler where the man who saved hundreds of Jews from Nazi concentration camps lived nearly penniless. Frankfurt was Schindler’s last home and on a grey plaque you can still find traces of absolute benevolence in his eyes. But what’s Frankfurt without the eponymous frankfurters, the smoked beef and pork sausage that was originally made in the city whose real name is Frankfurt am Main? I saw so much of the frankfurters in the squat little town that it could have easily fed a hungry nation. Four days, four cities — the miles on the map were getting shorter each day, I still had two days, two cities and 658km left on the itinerary: Frankfurt to Luxembourg


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296km; Luxembourg to Basel 362km, though I knew the Eurail Pass could take me to 21 countries. In Luxembourg, the world’s 20th smallest country with the world’s highest per capita and largest per capita alcohol consumption, I stopped by Corniche, often touted as Europe’s most beautiful balcony and ogled at the dropdead gorgeous Duke William II of Orange Nassau and his steed. I rested on the footsteps of the Golden Lady at Gelle Fra Memorial but when rain thundered down, I hurried to the beatific angels who stand as door knobs in the 400-year old Cathedral of Blessed Virgin. Hundreds of orange candles etched with Ave Maria were flickering by the altar,

their iridescence lending glow to the beautifully painted glass windows. Day 6 and Basel (Switzerland) was merely a night and a train journey away. My nose against the train window, I snooped through castles and bridges, yellow mustard flowers swaying in the gentle breeze, picture-perfect villages with stone roofs, cattle happily munching on grass as if they were lollies, rivers meandering into nowhere and ultrakitschy cities with colossal billboards, beyond them mountains getting taller with every mile. Basel’s shimmering old city and the gigantic wooden Troy horse almost passed off like a blur. The Rhine, they say, is Basel’s best-kept secret. They

also say that to truly understand the spirit of Basel you should have taken a plunge in the Rhine. That thought was intimidating and I had an option — Rodin and his famous Burghers of Calais sculpture. When the sun dipped in the sun, six days were over. Six cities. Six days… Sore feet. A wobbly knee. The drone of a chugging train. A thousand vignettes. The beige Eurail Pass. And forever unforgettable the oompah beat of the open-air beer halls. Whoever said travel is about the journey and not just the destination, bet must have had a Eurail Pass tucked in his backpack. (PHOTOS BY PREETI VERMA LAL)

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A BIRD'S EYE VIEW OF THE CITY OF FRANKFURT FROM THE MAIN TOWER


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THE TRUE JUNGLE AMBIENCE AT KANHA PAVES THE WAY FOR THE ANIMALS TO MAKE THEIR APPEARANCE

S Urmila Majumdar aking bleary-eyed to a gentle knock, I opened the door to let in a smiling Munna holding a hot cup of bed tea. It was early morning, dark and cold. No matter what time of year, it is always cold at dawn. After a hurried morning tea and ablutions later, with the bag of packed breakfast clutched in our cold fingers we hopped on to the waiting gypsy. Down the hill on which Baghira Log Huts stand and on the road where a queue of gypsies was beginning to form, waiting to enter one of the best national parks and tiger reserves of the country, Kanha in Madhya

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SHOOT!

Face to face with Mr 1411 The forests of Kanha are lovely, dark and deep. There are wonders at every turn and the king makes his dramatic entrance in front of mortals like you and me only if he feels like it‌ so wait, and watch!


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USEFUL TIPS K Most hotels can be booked online. Fees to enter the forest and payment for vehicles are paid in cash. Credit cards are generally not acceptable in shops around the park K Mobile connection fluctuates within the national park, but is near perfect at Khatia K Internet connections are available on a limited basis K Early mornings are cold, even in summer, so woollen clothes are needed K Carrying water to the forest is necessary K A hat comes in handy after mid-morning K Late afternoons and evenings can turn dusty; covering cameras when not in use, faces and hair is helpful K For non-digital camera users, keeping extra rolls of film and battery is a must

These are the only vehicles allowed inside the jungle. We were in Kanha National Park, which has a total area of 1,945 sq km of core (940 sq km) and buffer (1,005 sq km) zones and is spread over the districts of Mandla and Balaghat in Madhya Pradesh. It was amongst the declared tiger reserves in early 1970s under Project Tiger, instituted by the then Prime Minister, Indira Gandhi. The number of tigers has dropped over the past seven years and stands at around 90 today. "Cheetals to the left," said Madan Choubey, the guide and a friend after

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Pradesh. We waited near the tiny kiosk from the top of which a red moving scroll declares the rules of the forests. A group of guides, tourists and gypsy drivers huddled to fill in entry forms and hand over fees to forest authorities. The excited hum of tourists could be heard over and above the birds of which there are over 200 species in Kanha. Close by, a black-faced langur (monkey) watched the antics of men with fascination. The moment arrived. The barrier lifted and the gypsies began to move amid banging of car doors as guides climb into each vehicle. One cannot enter the forest without them. The hills in the east were coming to life. The gypsies crawled at the authorised speed limit of 20km per hour.


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(RIGHT) THE TIGRESS WITH HER CUBS IN THE WILDERNESS OF KANHA; (BELOW) THE BENGAL TIGER

two dozen visits. The guides of Kanha are the best and Madan Choubey, along with several others like KK, Pratap and Phagan Marawi, lead the band. A group of spotted deer were barely visible through the December mist as a pair of spotted owlets peered uncertainly from their hollow in the ancient tree on the roadside. We were on the Kanha main road that lay like a sandy snake between towering Saal, Saaj Jamun and Mahua trees. Bamboo thickets rose tall and curved to form an avenue that stretched ahead. The

GETTING THERE ukki and Kisli, the two entry points

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to Kanha National Park are at a distance of around 40 km. There is no direct way of getting to Kisli or Mukki by plane or train. These points can be reached only by road. However, the plane and train does take the traveller to Nagpur, Jabalpur or Raipur from where one must travel by road to get to Kanha. BY PLANE: Air India and Kingfisher have flights from Delhi to Jabalpur which is the nearest airport to Khatia gate 165km away. The Air India flight is via Gwalior and takes 2 hours and 40 minutes. The Kingfisher Red flight is direct, takes 1 hour and 40 minutes. Fares vary. There are no direct flights to Jabalpur from Mumbai, Chennai or Kolkata.

road to the right went to Sandhukhol. We took the left for Salghat. The gypsy stopped with a squeak, in the grassland on our left stood a gaur. Often called the Indian bison, the bovid gaur is a big and dark animal with extraordinary muscle power; prim in white socks, hair really, that run up to their calves. Its orange yellow horns curve over a powerful head that browses and grazes when it is not returning the stares of people on gypsies. They move in large herds and are docile. However, this one was old and a loner and could be temperamental. We moved on. Beauty of a winter morning in Kanha verges on the spiritual, but our thoughts were on the prime predator at the apex of the food chain, the

Nagpur (260km from Kanha) is better connected. Indigo, Air India, Jetlite, Kingfisher connects Delhi, Mumbai and Kolkata to Nagpur. BY TRAIN: Important railway stations near Kanha are Jabalpur (169km), Raipur (265km), Nagpur (260km). All three cities are well connected by railways with major cities of the country. For details, log on to www.indianrail.gov.in and online ticket booking facilities are available on www.irctc.co.in For the adventurous traveller, a narrow gauge train service connects Jabalpur to Nainpur; and a second train plies between Nainpur and Balaghat via Chiraidongri 30km from Kanha National Park. It has all the old world charm of the toy train with a toilet, and runs through tigerland.

Summer months of April, May and part of June are often said to be the best for tiger sighting royal Bengal tiger. At a time when these magnificent big cats in the wild are facing extinction, sighting a tiger borders on the miracle. We kept our eyes peeled, wishing the tiger to appear round the bend as we chugged up the steep track of Salghat. He was not there. Down the hill past Bhapsa Bahara; a white necked stork rose at the sound of our gypsy. We watched its large wings glimmer in the first light of the sun. Morning had come to Kanha in all its glory. We stopped to check for alarm calls

Khajuraho

Satna Jabalpur

Bhopal Mandla

KANHA NATIONAL PARK

BY ROAD: By and large the road to Kanha from Jabalpur (169km) is fairly good. Taxis and buses ply regularly. Taxis take about four and half hours. Taxis operate between Nagpur (260km) and Raipur (265km) and may be obtained from taxi stands near the railway stations.


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The beauty of a winter morning in Kanha verges on the spiritual, but our thoughts were on the prime predator at the apex of the food chain — the royal Bengal tiger

DANCING AT THE MARHAI, THE AHIRS WEAR RED JACKETS TOO

COLOURFUL SCARVES AT THE MARHAI

When to go anha National Park remains open between October and June 30. It remains closed for the monsoons; although some of the lodges and hotels outside the park remain open. Summer months of April, May and part of June are often said to be the best for tiger sighting although I have seen tigers irrespective of the season. Summers can be extremely hot and adequate protection is required. The approach of rains has a beauty of its own. Rains in the forest are quite special. Winters in Kanha can be very cold but are by and large comfortable except the early mornings when the cold turns biting. Tiger sightings do take place in winter.

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at the crossroad. It was perfectly still except for the call of birds and rustle of late dew dropping on the forest floor. We forgot everything and listened to what can best be described as the sound of silence. It calmed our anxiety to meet the tiger and we began to marvel at the wonder called the forest. It was 7:30am when we reached the meadow, better known as Kanha Maidan. Surrounded by the hills of Kanha, Kisli and Mukki ranges, the maidan is the heart of Kanha. The undulating maidan spreads like a sea and as we moved we saw groups of cheetals, langurs and some peacocks in the vast grassland. The grass is knee high and if a tiger was hiding inside, we could not see it. Neither could Madan Choubey. However, he did see one of the animals found only in Kanha, the hard-ground barasingha. From a mere 66 in the early 1970s, the barasingha has made a remarkable comeback. Today, there are over 600 barasinghas here. They are slightly smaller than the sambar and have a total of 12 tines that give them their name,

bara singha meaning 12 horns. We stared at the tines sticking above the grass like a pair of curved branches. Then the barasingha decided to get up and we saw his beautiful form. He walked unhurriedly, crossed the road before our gypsy, then for reasons quite unknown began to gallop, or should I say dance! We watched it disappear behind a cluster of trees. It was pure joy. The rising sun had warmed us and we shed some of the thicker outer layers while proceeding to the centre point called Kanha Village. Once there used to be a village that has been relocated. Today, Kanha is known for its animals and forest guards in camps few and far between. At Kanha Village we stretched our legs, had breakfast and even tea available at the counter within an oversized concrete building, out of place amidst the Saal trees. Daily news concerning tigers is received at the village from mahawats on elephants tracking tigers since the crack of dawn. For those who missed the tiger on the road and are desperate to see one, tiger shows are organised by the forest department. Tokens for the show are issued at the village. Having missed him this morning, we decided to go for the show. While we waited, we looked up the newly built museum close by. It was entertaining, but somehow, the old museum block, a little away, still remains more fascinating for me. "Our number has come up,� Madan informed us as we climbed back on the gypsy. The show has had its controversies, but some of the best photographs I have managed


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MORNING IN ALL ITS GLORY

to take of the tiger have been from the elephant back. We got off the gypsy and were on Nirmila, the elephant with Dhannu, the mahawat heading for deep forest not far from the maidan. It was a male tiger half immersed in a waterhole. This could have been a picture, but this was real and more so when the tiger decided to have a drink, get out of the water and find a place to rest in a nearby thicket. It was more than we had bargained for. But for all that, we remained dissatisfied. We still longed to see the tiger on the road and decided to return for the evening round. For a second time that day, we returned disappointed and wondered if the only tigers to be seen are those at the show. “Would you like to see the Marhai at Khatia?” Kailash Pal, a dear friend and the driver of our gypsy, asked sensing our low spirits. The Marhai is the local fair that comes to Khatia every two years. We hopped back on and were off to Khatia. The fair ground on a field by the road was crowded. Tribals, mostly Baigas from near and far villages flocked to the Marhai. We joined them and lost our sorrow amidst colourful scarves hanging from rickety stalls selling millions of trifles, in the beats of tribal drums and dances of Ahirs in their black jackets studded with white shells. The setting sun made the happy faces of Baiga women, children and saffron-robed sadhus look ethereal. The next few days passed by without any change of luck. Of course, we spotted a sloth bear with her cub off Manhar Nullah Road on our last evening, a rare sight for sloth

THE EVENING SKY IN KANHA

bears are difficult to find, but we still yearned for the tiger on the road. It was our final park round of this season. Our guide was Gangaram and driver was Kailash. We headed straight for the maidan. It had a deserted look and our hopes sunk to an all time low. We stood gazing at the maidan from a rise a little away from the crossing of Schaller Hide and Manhar Nullah. Minutes passed. We knew it was a game of patience and sat still, pretending not to be waiting for the tiger or an alarm call. A couple of gypsies stopped to exchange information; the faces of the visitors told there story: no luck; then they moved on. It was 5:20pm. We waited and felt sleepy. Suddenly, from the distance to our right a cheetal called in alarm. In a flash, the gypsy started and we were rushing towards Bison Road. Once on Bison Road we stopped to check for more calls. The

WHERE TO STAY anha National Park has three entry

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points: Kisli, Mukki and Sarhai. There are no places to stay around Sarhai yet. There are two places to stay within the Park, close to Kisli gate. These are Baghira Log Huts The Madhya Pradesh Tourism Development Corporation unit’s location within the National Park makes it a must stay for the true jungle lover. One may catch a glimpse of various species from the windows of the rooms and restaurant; a lucky few have even seen a tiger from the patio. There are four AC Deluxe Rooms at Rs 4,590 for two, 12 AC rooms at Rs 3,890 for two and 24 dormitory beds at Rs 690 per bed. Tariffs include all meals. Online booking facilities are available at www.mptourism.com FOREST REST HOUSE:There are seven double bedded rooms and is close to Baghira Log Huts. Reservation may be made only for three nights by contacting the conservator and field director at 07642 250760. Outside the national park is the village of Khatia which has a large number of lodges and motels with tariffs ranging from budget to high end. Some of these are Mowgli Resort, Kipling Camp (kipling@nivalink.co.in), White Chalet Resort (wildchalet@nivalink.co.in), Krishna Jungle Resort and more.


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NAKTI GHATI ANICUT IS ONE OF THE MOST BEAUTIFUL SPOTS

cheetal called again. The engine was cut and we sat like statues. The slightest sound could cause the tiger to change directions. Another alarm call was followed by a double call. We scanned every inch of the forest to our right, to see the black and yellow stripes. Then the harsh langur alarm call sounded through the forest. The tiger was definitely on the move. Our hearts beat wildly. As though to calm us, a deep roar echoed through the forest. It was the tiger. Although we had not seen it yet, the fact that we had heard it changed everything. “Palbhaiya, could you move ahead a

little,� Gangaram instructed. The gypsy moved. The sun was on the treetops, preparing to go down. The forest was awash with a brilliant light and as we looked into the trees and all the green that had turned a magical gold, there was a movement. Then we saw it; roaring and gliding forward; the grandest of all animals that ever walked the earth. We looked in wonder and amazement as

he crossed Umerpani Road, for this was a huge male tiger. He stopped to mark the trees to define his territory before moving on, roaring along the way. Then the king of the forest moved into dense forest and up the hill to disappear from sight. And even now, as I write about the magical experience, the forest and all that are in it are tugging at my heart strings and I know the time has come for another visit to that remarkable queen of the wilderness. (PHOTOS BY S URMILA MAJUMDAR)

PLEASE REMEMBER he forest does not belong to man, but to the animals. Every

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visit by humans is an intrusion into their territory and a disturbance of their pattern of life. It is important that we remember this and conduct ourselves accordingly. This means K Not talking in loud voices, preferably not talking at all K Not wearing bright clothes K Not throwing any kind of rubbish, especially plastic bags and wrappers K Not calling out to the animals, feeding them or annoying them in any way K Not using flash lights during photography K Not getting off the vehicle except when specified by the guides K Most important of all, respecting the forest, its plants, animals and insects as deeply as we respect religious sites K Apart from the above, use of car horns are strictly prohibited within the park K Playing music whether in a car or mobile is also prohibited


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Baccarat and

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A LADY ATTENDANT AT A MULTI-STATION — BACCARAT (A CARD GAME) TABLE AT THE MACAU CASINO

How do you define a place that’s a melting pot of hundred different strands? You walk on the streets and it’s Chinese to the last tee, you look around, and the over the top hotels and casinos remind you of Las Vegas (don’t be surprised if you are asked dime a dozen: aren’t we better than Vegas?), but as you stroll and absorb the kaleidoscope of colours, you will see bits of Goa and the distinct mark of Portuguese architecture. But what’s the definition really? For want of anything better, it’s got to be — colour, pleasure and leisure.


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tarts in Macau!

A CLASSIC SIGNATURE DESSERT OF ANY PORTUGUESE RESTAURANT, EGG TARTS EVOLVED FROM ‘PASTEL DE NATA’, A TRADITIONAL PORTUGUESE CUSTARD PASTRY

CHAANDNIE CHOWDHARY

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you can get into Macau. You don’t need a visa to get to Hong Kong, gateway to Macau. HK is brilliantly connected from India (see box) — you have direct flights and you can connect through the other two great gateways of South East Asia — Bangkok and Singapore (or even Kuala Lumpur for that matter with dirt cheap flights from the South) directly to Macau International Airport built in 1995. But I took the catamaran from the HK Ferry,

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onetime Portuguese trading town and now a Chinese SAR (Special Administrative Region), why is Macau so compellingly attractive? Without a doubt, it’s the rush of blood that gambling can cause. Till the other day, it was only outpost for blue blooded gamblers across the length and breadth of

Asia (No one goes to Pyongyang (North Korea) to play baccarat — Singapore has just opened up and aren’t we all bored stiff of playing again and again at the Yak and Yeti in Kathmandu), but Macau has added the thrill back into the gambling game. But that isn't what Macau is all about. There is a certain mystique about the place that inexplicable. It's romantic, heady and infectious. There is a certain joie de vivre here. That apart, it is the ease with which


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DID YOU KNOW?

C There are about 20,000 Catholic Churches in Macau named after known saints that are home to both Portuguese and Chinese priests and this was how Macau got its Christian influence, even when it was colonised by the Portuguese. Even though it might not be possible to see all 20,000 of them, a visit to St Augustine’s Church (known for its elaborate Easter Sunday processions), St Dominic’s Church (17th century church famous for the yearly Macau International Music Festival). St Paul’s Church is a must for any traveller. C Portugal’s greatest contribution to China is its custard tarts. The Chinese have egg tarts and you have Portuguese custard tarts. And the difference between the two is getting blurred by the day. It’s differently called Jagra de ovos (Portuguese egg tart) or pasteis de nata. The best known tarts are available at Lord Stow (http://www.lordstow.com/), an Englishman from Illford Essex who created his own unique blend that’s now franchised across the region. C There were 4,390 gaming tables in Macau at the middle of the year and there are six major casino operators in the region. At the moment, the entry-age limit for casinos is 18 years but it is likely to go up to 21 years. Slot machines number stand at about 13,500. Macau’s gambling market is considered to be one of the most potential markets worldwide, because the former Portuguese colony is the only place in China where casinos are legal. Gambling in Macau has been legal since the 1850s. According to Wikipedia: Macau has become known worldwide as the “Monte Carlo of the Orient”. With all the casinos built in the territory including a few number of new ones (some of them are Las Vegas giant companies) opening up soon, Macau is now also known as the Las Vegas of the East. Gambling in Macau plays an important role in the economy of the city. Generally, gambling in Macau can be divided into three different categories: casino games, horse racing and greyhound racing. There is also sports betting but a number of lotteries. At the present time, Macau does not license online gaming operations. For details, please visit www.worldcasinodirectory.com/macau

COLOANE GOLF COURSE IS ONE OF THE MOST BEAUTIFUL CHAMPIONSHIP GOLF COURSES IN ASIA USED FOR MACAU OPEN

which is how nine out of 10 visitors get into Macau. Several fleets of high-speed vessels serve the 40-mile route between Hong Kong and Macau. And if you are part of the swish set then there is chopper terminals that will whirl you into Macau before you can say Jack Robinson. Different people go for different reasons to Macau, or it can be a mélange of choices, as was the case with me. You can do a gastronomic odyssey (most people who do this throw in the unbeatable Hong Kong dim sums as well into the trip), it can be history (a look at the bygone Macau, Portuguese influence and the romantic history of Triads (as the local gangs are known), it can be gambling (the shop floor can overwhelm you and the choices, well, you’ll need several days to absorb it. Such is the scale and range) or it can be the good life-great entertainment and plenty of eye candy! Those who are passionate about history, Macau’s Old Town is a place worth visiting. The narrow alleys with people roaming around in traditional costume takes you back in time, giving a virtual experience of the days gone by. The Historic Centre showcases 25 sights, most of which can be covered by foot via Avenida de Almeida Ribeiro, Macau’s commercial centre, a transportation hub, and a major thoroughfare. One of the most famous buildings here is the Chinese Cultural Club, which was awarded the honourable mention by UNESCO for Culture Heritage Conservation, and which is now a Heritage Exhibition of a Traditional Pawnshop Business, Pastry Gallery, a l gift shop with Chinese folk art and handicrafts, mementos and souvenirs,

Different people go for different reasons to Macau. It can be a gastronomic odyssey, it can be history, it can be gambling, or it can be the good life-great entertainment and plenty of eye candy! Jin Yong Library, a Cultural Exhibition Hall and a fine teahouse on the top floor. Moving down the Almeida Ribeiro Avenue, the narrow streetscape open up to the Senado Square, which is not only the historic centre of Macau, but also a UNESCO World Heritage Site. With its widely photographed fountain in its centre, one of Macau’s major landmarks, this, one can safely say, is the heart of Macau. Considering that one’s spoilt for choices’ what’s the best itinerary for a Macau holiday? If you are a gastronome, then it’s best to focus on the food. Pick a copy of the Hong Kong and Macau Michelin Guide and you’ll find over a dozen Macau eateries making the grade. For an area the size of Outer Delhi, the number of ‘star’ outlets in Macau is astounding. And, mind you, it’s eclectic and not simply the traditional fare. Of course you have Chinese and Macanese food, but you can get a choice of international cuisines including French, Italian, Spanish, Thai, Japanese and Malaysian as well. And dim sums? Well,


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A CELESTIAL GLOBE AS USED BY PIONEERING PORTUGUESE SEAMEN CAN BE SEEN IN THE MIDDLE OF THE FOUNTAIN AT THE SENADO SQUARE, ONE OF MACAU’S MAJOR LANDMARKS

SOUND OF THE CENTURY - MUSEUM, A PLACE OF PILGRIMAGE FOR PHONOGRAPH COLLECTORS AND AFICIONADOS

THE SENADO SQUARE CELEBRATES MACAU’S ARCHITECTURAL HISTORY

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THE TALLEST BRONZE STATUE OF KUN LAM, BUDDHIST GODDESS OF MERCY


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SPORTY BRAVE HEARTS LINE UP TO CONQUER THE THRILLS OF MACAU’S HIGHEST SUMMIT AT THE MACAU TOWER, AT 338 M, THE 10TH TALLEST TOWER IN THE WORLD

MACANESE CUISINE IS A COMBINATION OF PORTUGUESE, INDIAN, MALAY AND CHINESE CUISINES

GETTING THERE

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MACAU INTERNATIONAL AIRPORT Tourists can use the Macau International Airport for travelling to several destinations in the region on direct flights or catch connecting flights to different ports of Asia, Europe or America. The airport is located on Taipa Island and is 15 minutes away from the Macau Ferry Terminal, 20 minutes from the Barrier Gate and only 10 minutes away from the COTAI Frontier Post. It operates 24 hours a day. For detailed information on flight schedules, please dial (853) 2886 1111 or visit http://www.macau-airport.com HONG KONG FERRY Another popular and commonly used way of getting to Macau is on a ferry from Hong Kong. Hong Kong has two major terminals for Macau-bound travellers: Shun Tak Centre located at Hong Kong Island and China Ferry Terminal located on the Tsim Sha Tsui, Kowloon. Tourists can find quite a number of jetfoils, catamarans and ferries available, run by TurboJET (http://www.turbojet.com.hk),

the Cotai Strip CotaiJet (http://www.cotaijet.com.mo) and First Ferry (http://www.nwff.com.hk). GETTING TO HONG KONG C From India, one can take flights from Delhi, Mumbai, Chennai, Bengaluru, Hyderabad, Kolkata, Pune and Goa to Hong Kong. C Air India, Kingfisher, Jet Airways and Cathay Pacific fly direct from Delhi and Mumbai to Hong Kong C Malaysian Airlines and Thai Airways provide one stop connections from Delhi and Mumbai to Hong Kong C Cathay Pacific and Dragon air fly direct from Bengaluru to Hong Kong C Jet Airways, Air India, Thai Airways and Kingfisher offer one-stop connections from Kolkata, Hyderabad and Chennai to Hong Kong C From South India, AirAsia currently connects Kochi, Hyderabad, Chennai, Trivandrum and Tiruchirappalli to Kuala Lumpur, from where, a plethora of connecting options are available to Hong Kong

you can buy them by the dozens, but the general inference is the neighbouring Hong Kong has the best dim sums in the world. Though, I didn’t taste it on my trip. The best part, though, about the Macau gastronomic odyssey is the sheer range: street food to middle of the road eateries and the high-end Michelin restaurants. And add to it the fizz are spiffy street side cafes — a typical European element — and Chinese style tea houses plus dime a dozen coffee bars and you have the full picture. For most visitors, it’s a dash of tourism, dollops of good food and alcohol, a smattering of baccarat or roulette and plenty of shopping that makes for a Macau holiday. And if you have a fetish for walking (or should it be strolling), you will love the Portuguese section of town with its cobbled pavements and colonial buildings. And those who want a more exotic, new age experience, well stroll along the LVS (Las Vegas Strip,) as it is better known the glitzy world of casinos. Well, I didn’t experience it, but it’s a must for the itinerant visitor, keen for a slice of the sheer experience of the Las Vegas Boulevard. For the record, here a few of the big ones — Grand Casino Lisboa, Wynn Macau, Sands Casino, Babylon Casino, MGM, Crown Macau and Emperor Palace.


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MUST SEE/ MUST DO

BUNGY JUMPING AT THE MACAU TOWER

One of the tallest towers in the world (338m) , Macau Tower prides itself for being the location of the (current) world’s highest bungy jump (at 233m) Skywalk X , 100m mast climb and skyjump for MOP$388 (around P 2,400). This is the only tower on earth that allows this kind of activity to take place within its premises. The revolving 360° café on the tower’s 60th floor, just below the top observation deck, offers a heavenly dining experience. The 180° lounge and grill on the towers 59th floor, just above the main observation deck, is a great place for a café style meal or simply for a romantic cocktail. The Macau Tower also houses shops of international brands, some ultra modern cinemas playing the latest international movies and slot machines.

CHILL OUT AT THE FISHERMAN’S WHARF

Just across the road from Sands Casino in the outer harbour, built on concrete stilts, is Macau’s largest tourist development — Fisherman’s wharf — the theme park area. One of the highlights of the park is the explosion of vibrant flames of a man-made, 40m-high pyrotechnic volcano in the centre of the theme park and the accompanying jet ski stunts. It boasts of more than 150 shops and restaurants, various family rides, a slots hall, a boutique hotel and a casino. The complex is open 24 hours a day / 7 days a week and entrance is free.

If you are interested in wine, there is a Wine Museum at Rua Luis Gonzaga Gomes which houses 1,115 types of wine starting with “Martle” produced in 1815, is the earliest one. Among the newly brewed wine, about 50 varieties of them are offered for tasting.

ENTERTAINMENT AT THE VENETIAN

The three bridges, connecting Macau peninsula to Taipa and Cotai, the Macau — Taipa Bridge, the Friendship Bridge (longest one) and Sai Van Bridge gives you an amazing view of scientific wonder and finery. Friendship Bridge leads directly to Macau International Airport located on the Island of Taipa. The Sai Van Bridge is the first cable-stayed bridge in Macau. The double deck bridge has six lanes in the upper deck and two in the lower, to be used in the event of strong typhoons when the other two bridges connecting Taipa and Macau Peninsula, namely Ponte Governador Nobre de Carvalho and Ponte de Amizade, are closed.

The Venetian on the Cotai strip is surrounded by a man-made lagoon-like lake, on which gondola rides are offered halfway round the huge complex. During the summer, the various plazas are also inhabited by assorted period performers, who help keep the ice-cream eating crowds entertained. Foremost of these is Cirque du Soleil’s Zaia — there’s not a bad seat in the house as this aerial ballet takes place above the audience’s heads! The largest gambling floor in the world with the four themed gaming area of its casino, the place has already been host to the Black Eyed Peas and a tennis match between Roger Federer and Pete Sampras. (PHOTOS BY MGTO, INDIA)

MACAU SPECIAL FARE: @ Rs.20,000* per person Departure city's Bangalore, Chennai, Delhi, Hyderabad, Mumbai

Cost Inclusive Of: ! ! ! !

Air ticket Accomodation in 5 star hotel Half-day oriental city tour of Macau Hong Kong - Macau - Hong Kong by ferry

ADD ON PACKAGE : 3 Days stay in Disneyland @10,000/- per person 3 Days stay in Hong Kong @10,000/- per person 5 Days stay in China ( Shangai & Beijing) @20,000/- per person*

Feel free to contact us @ 09632694971/09632694972/09632694973 Info@trawelmart.com/www.trawelmart.com

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VINTAGE SAVOURING AT THE WINE MUSEUM

BRIDGES OF MACAU, ESPECIALLY AT NIGHT


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EYE TALK

Ashok Lavasa is the Joint Secretary, Ministry of Home Affairs, Government of India and his wife Novel Lavasa organises motivational adventure camps for women. They are compulsive travellers and avid photographers with many exhibitions to their credit.

When did you decide to take up photography as a serious hobby? We have been into photography since college days. Motivated by friends, we have been encouraged since last 5-6 years to share the beautiful side of life we see and capture with the world.

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What prompted you to take up this diversion in the first places? Our travelling and wandering will and also our interest in the spirit of human beings, culture, history and the desire to preserve it in a form such that it can be recollected and shared. Your favourite photography story? While returning from a trek to Churdhar, we were caught in the rain without proper protective gear. We walked past hundreds of rhodendron bushes in full bloom, paying no heed to getting wet at a height of 10,000 ft. Trying to shelter the camera from the rain; we clicked away, and therefore, have a very dear collection of rain soaked flowers along with the memory of being left with no dry clothing for the night as even the clothes in our rucksacks were soaked! Your favourite photographers? Raghu Rai and Ashok Dilwali.

(ABOVE) CHANDRA TAL, SITUATED MORE THAN 14,000 FT ABOVE MSL, IN SPITI VALLEY, IS THE SOURCE OF RIVER CHANDRA WHICH BECOMES RIVER CHANDRABHAGA AND LATER CHENAB IN KASHMIR; (RIGHT) LEARNING TO BE A CHOMU. THE SCHOOL WHERE FEMALE LAMAS ARE GROOMED — ZANGLA, PADAM VALLEY; (EXTREME RIGHT) CHOMU LANDSCAPE — ZANGLA PADAM VALLEY

Any favourite travel destination for taking pictures? We love travelling to remote and relatively lesser known places. Taking pictures is a by-product. Your camera and preferred lenses? We use pocket cameras mostly while trekking and also Canon and Sony, both

digital and SLR. Your favourite travel story? Travelling to Amarnath was an enriching experience. We are not religious people, basically seekers of truth. But our journey to Amarnath reinforced our faith in humanity and the human spirit and changed our life.


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(ABOVE) ARUM (ERISAEMA COSTATUM) — ENROUTE HAR KI DOON AT 10,000 FT ABOVE SEA LEVEL; (LEFT) PANGONG TSO AT LUKUNG, WHICH IS THE HEAD OF THE 130 KM LONG BRACKISH WATER LAKE IN LADHAK


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A WEATHER BEATEN TREE, LAKSHADWEEP

YATRIS ON THEIR WAY TO AMARNATH

FISHING BOATS AND FLAGS AT SOMNATH


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SUNRISE AT EMBUDU IN THE MALDIVES

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VISITATION

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12/8/2010

INSIDE THE MOUNT MARY CHURCH — VIEW FROM THE ALTAR


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How about an

Easter egg?

One thing which is most appreciated about India is the cosmopolitan feel that prevails in our cities. the mantra of “live and let live” reigns, as was reaffirmed after knowing that the Easter weekend is indeed a special occasion in Mumbai.

ROOHI AHMAD

E

season for reconciliation of oneself with the God. It is the exercise of confessing all mistakes done by an individual during the previous year. Though believers confess in front of God all through the year but Easter marks the celebration of the confession, which is an important part of the holy month of Lent. Talking about Mumbai, many of

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aster celebrations is nothing new in India and has been existing from the pre-independence era. The weekend witnesses great display of India’s sovereignty and religious energy. Exchanging of Easter eggs and partaking in the special

church services mark the Easter festivities. Christians, from all over India, and especially in Mumbai, Goa and the north-eastern states, celebrate Easter with elaborate arrangements. There are special prayers and rituals organised in the churches for Easter. Celebrations in India commence with the Holy month of Lenten and end with the Easter Sunday. It is the


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ORATORY OF OUR LADY OF FATIMA, ACROSS THE MOUNT MARY CHURCH

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you would be surprised to know that Easter is celebrated ornately with special prayers and rituals in Mumbai. The last week of the Lent season is called the Holy Week. All the churches make special arrangements for Easter during the last month of Lenten but there are services throughout the month. Christians observe fasting as per their choices, comprising abstaining from eating non-vegetarian food, alcohol or sometimes choosing a particular day for fasting and following it for the whole month. The abstinence is not only in terms of food and alcohol but this entire drill is aimed at teaching people to live and behave in the way Christ had asked them to. People from any community can attend these special Easter services, rituals and

prayers. While talking about Easter celebrations in Mumbai, one has to mention The Mount Mary Church at Bandra that organises week long reconciliation services to mark the last week of Lent and the beginning of the Easter celebrations. The priests fix a time, for morning as well as evening confession services. Devotees turn out in large numbers to perform the confession services. What is unique about the Church is the different shaped candles that are offered to Mother Mary. There is a unique tradition associated with the more than 100 year old Mount Mary Church at Bandra. Apart from being famous for the Bandra fair that takes place every year immediately after Mother Mary’s birthday on September 8,

devotees visit the church to ask for favours from Mother Mary in a distinctive manner. The stalls near the church display wax candles of various shapes, sizes and colours to correspond with each and every wish, which the devotees from various communities might ask for. They are offered in the church for the fulfilment of wishes or as thanksgiving. There is no clarity with regard to the exact time of the origin of this tradition but it is said that it is as old as the church itself. These candles are offered throughout the year. One of the stall owners, Sebastian Rego, confirmed that devotees return to thank Mother Mary for fulfilling their wishes. Almost all the stall owners have been selling these candles near the church since

The candles are placed near the feet of Mother Mary’s statue but they are not lit inside the church and are collected for recycling. Plain candles are lit in the Oratory of Our Lady of Fatima, located across the Mount Mary Church.


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VIEW OF THE MOUNT MARY CHURCH FROM THE ORATORY AND INSIDE, THE STATUE OF MOTHER MARY

they were young. They are into this business since three generations. More than Christians, people from other communities offer these candles as part of their offerings to get their wishes fulfilled.

The Thursday before the Good Friday, is called the Holy Thursday, which is marked by the mandate to love one another. As a sign of this mandate, 12 small children are chosen by the priests of the Mount Mary

CANDLES FOR EVERY WISH

The candles are shaped as different parts of the human body like nose, eyes, kidney, liver, legs, arms, stomach, etc. to be offered by the ailing devotees. Each of these candles symbolise the ailment of the particular organ or part of the human body. There are candles in the shapes of cars, buses, auto rickshaws and trains for those who are in the transportation business or for those who regularly use these means for travelling. There are candles as ships for those in the shipping business, aeroplanes for pilots, books for excellence in academics or for scoring well in the exams, houses for acquiring property, replica of a child for childless couples, of a couple for marriage and of a family-complete with husband, wife and two childrenfor the well being of the family. There are candles in the shape of bottles that are offered so that a person will stop drinking.

(PHOTOS BY ROOHI AHMAD)

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Church to perform a special ritual under which, the feet of these children are washed. This is part of the liturgical service and takes place at 7pm on Holy Thursday. On Friday, the day when Jesus Christ was crucified, the church service takes place at 3pm and consists of the veneration of the Cross, the singing of the passion and communion service. The Saturday before Easter is known as the Easter Vigil. On Saturday night at 11 pm, a one hour service is called the night vigil, where the blessing of the new fire and lighting of the candle is performed. This goes into Easter Sunday, through the midnight mass celebrating the Resurrection of Jesus Christ. On Sunday morning, there are three services of one hour each, starting at 6.30 in the morning, for those who could not attend the midnight mass. People prefer buying variety of well-decorated Easter eggs to give to the children rather than following the tradition of decorating them at home. On Holy Thursday, people make hot cross buns, which are a special recipe. On Easter Sunday, people remain in their homes and prepare elaborate lunches as there are visitors expected throughout the day. Sumptuous lunches and dinner parties are hosted and organised all over Mumbai to mark the celebrations of Easter. People from all communities participate in the Easter festivities with great enthusiasm and fanfare.


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TWIN CITIES

Globetrotter finds his

feet in India

His parents call him a fugitive and he smiles while enlisting the name of over 17 cities across the globe that he has worked in. Well, if we ever needed to ascertain that it’s the era of globalisation, the interview did it for us. PRIYANKA SAXENA et’s see if we can figure this one out. Born in Mauritius, studied in Australia, and worked in London, Germany, South Africa, Geneva, Tokyo, Muscat, Qatar, San Francisco, China, Bali, Singapore, Korea and Thailand… has now finally planted his feet in India… Well, Vella Ramasawmy, General Manager, The Leela Kempinski Gurgaon, Delhi (NCR), calls himself an “international product” and we couldn’t agree more! Sent to India with a mission to make success of the property, the man has not looked back since. “Even before I came here, I was sure this property will be a hit and occupancy figures today have confirmed my belief,” says a satisfied Ramasawmy, as he sits proud in his office located inside The Leela Kempinski Gurgaon. The company wanted him to go to Tanzania but he wasn’t too keen. “The political instability in Thailand was delaying the project and I didn’t want to go to Africa. It was then that I happened to look at the Leela Gurgaon website and I was immediately attracted towards this project. Gurgaon is a highly developing region and I wanted to be here,” he says. With such an exhaustive list of cities that he has worked in, it was a tough choice to

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THAILAND IS WHERE VELLA RAMASAWMY WAS WORKING LAST


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I happened to look at the Leela Gurgaon website and I was immediately attracted towards this project. Gurgaon is a highly developing region and I wanted to be here. select the cities for doing a ‘twin cities’ with him. Although his parents live in Australia and that’s what he calls home (he is single), Ramasawmy hasn’t lived there in last 15 years. So, we decided to stick to Thailand, which was where he was working last. He was posted in India (Goa) in 2003 as the General Manager of Park Hyatt, Goa for three years and was keen on coming back to India. “I love India. I learned a lot of values in Goa and I have also worked with many Indians during my long stint with hospitality industry. I am very comfortable in this country,” says Ramasawmy, who today is somewhat sad seeing the dwindling values amongst the Indians. “The culture is getting reduced, as the thinking of Indian people is becoming too western. They would have to learn to maintain a balance or else they will loose the values that India prides itself in,” he says. He also feels that people in India are becoming more materialistic and want new things at an unreasonable growth rate. “When I was in Goa, people used to invite me to their place even if

VELLA'S VIEWPOINT Favourite restaurant in Bangkok Prime restaurant (a steakhouse) in the Millennium Hilton Bangkok Favourite restaurant in Delhi The China Kitchen at the Hyatt. I like Chinese food and I simply love the food here India in your words India is a friendly, warm and offers peaceful living. I feel very comfortable in this country. One incredible experience Everything about being in India has been an incredible experience. I have become a better businessman here, a better human being and a better leader. When I will go back to Australia, I will be a nicer person. the house was not grand. The idea was to show hospitality. But now I see, people invite guests to their house to flaunt their assets.” Nevertheless, he is quite happy in India and feels that for any foreign national, it is easy to blend in India as “people understand the language and are

VELLA RAMASAWMY AT THE PRESIDENTIAL SUITE IN LEELA KEMPINSKI, GURGAON

(PHOTOS BY LEELA KENPINSKI, GURGAON)

THE GM ENJOYING HIS MORNING TEA AT THE MULTI-CUISINE RESTAURANT ‘SPECTRA’ AT LEELA, GURGAON

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friendly in nature, making one feel completely at home.” So, what is the one thing that misses most about Thailand, while in India, “I miss good fruits, good shopping, nice beaches and natural parks of Thailand,” says the GM. He feels that from the entertainment point of view, outing is easier and more fun in Thailand. “Over the weekends, I could just sit in my car and hit Pattaya in 45 minutes and then enjoy my weekend on the beaches in Pattaya. In India, distances are challenging,” he says. And what is it that he loves in India, besides the obvious? “It will have to be fashion.” Well, that’s a new one! “From saress to churidars, jeans, skirts, there is a lot of diversity in India. I will have to say it’s a very fashionable country. Also, I love the food and old buildings (architecture) in India.” He made a particular mention of the Parliament house and the Chanakyapuri area in Delhi. If he could bring one thing from Thailand to India and also vice versa, what would that be? “I would bring beaches from Thailand to India and take intelligent people (bright minds) from India abroad.” Humbly giving credit to India for a mark change in his personality, Ramasawmy feels that it is the people and values in India that have made him a better human being today. “This country has taught me to look at life differently. I have become a better businessman here and a better leader with great values and sound decision making powers. This country has taught me kindness.” Well, we truly hope that he will continue to imbibe the good from India.


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EXOTIC EXCESS

Alila unravels

its ‘surprise’ in Goa

FAMILY TERRACE ROOMS OFFER GUESTS A WONDERFUL OPPORTUNITY TO EITHER IDLY LOUNGE ON THE TERRACE OR ENJOY A ROMANTIC EVENING WITH THEIR PARTNER

There is no dearth of properties in Goa, but each has its own distinct offering catering to a unique clientele. Joining the bandwagon, Alila Diwa, the new landmark in South Goa, remains true to its name. It has a “surprise” lined up at every step for its Guests.

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PAMELLA D'MELLO eaning ‘surprise’ in Sanskrit, Alila Diwa hotel, the new boutique resort in South Goa is a short drive from Goa’s Dabolim Airport. As you arrive at the property, the first impression is quite unassuming. Until you hit the canopy, and the picture before you is of a grand old Goan red tiled house, complete with characteristic sloping roof and overhangs (only this one is

M

humongous), an airy sweep of light and welcoming cool shade. The reception lobby’s high ceiling reminds you of a large cathedral. No opulence here, the decor is minimalist. Copper metal pillars soar to the red tiled roof pitched high above in a distinctive style that has the grandeur of space. Alila’s designers have not cluttered that space either. Copper wall lamps are all the adornment the walls have, so you are left with a feeling that the space is all yours. A single reception desk deals with your

needs, while the waiting lot can lounge on deep wooden wicker chairs that have come from Bali, but look very similar to Goa’s unique planter’s chairs. A cool welcoming fruit cocktail refreshes you, the staff, anticipating your need even before you make a request. And that’s one plus with the Alila Diwa’s service. With 114 rooms, this boutique hotel is offering quality individualised service. The spaces are designed for a quiet, tranquil, serene and personal getaway experience.


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67 A banquet hall, and its small green courtyard, that can cater to 300 people, is just off the lobby, suitably tucked away from the hotel’s main areas. Inside, the large lobby opens into two interior courtyards. Into one is cocooned the resort’s quirky restaurant and live kitchen — Spice Studio, which is an experience in itself. Here you can opt for creating your own meal for yourself and your family, or can let Chef Linda rustle up any of her Indian coastal specialities. If one opts for the former, and relish adventure and a true feel of Goan village life, it could well start with a trip to the local village fish market to pick up provisions. Head back to the chef’s table, where you get free cooking lessons into creating some of the region’s specialities. And you can surprise your family! For those not so inclined, there is the ultra chic, ultra modern Vivo — Alila Diwa’s dining experience restaurant with a 24-hour live kitchen. Here you can indulge in Thai, Asian, continental and Indian cuisine, in a relaxed and stylish space. The restaurant’s 199 covers are spaced apart — inside the high wood ceiling dining room, and you can choose from a variety of

seating options. Outdoor tables place you under mango trees, with a spectacular view that Alila’s main area offers. Open to the sky, this expanse, overlooking the verdant greens of paddy fields, orchards, sand dunes and the Arabian Sea in the distance, is Alila Diwa’s Natural Garden of Eden. The resorts’ designers have cleverly used this natural landscape at the property’s border to situate all its main areas — the stunning black wall tiled and open Edge Bar that seamlessly opens its cocktail lounge area on one side and the pool lounge area on the other. Alila’s pool has got to be the most dramatic one has seen. The 35 metre long infinity pool drops water off the edge and looks out onto rice fields. Almost sinful indulgence here! The rooms are meant to be a luxury

experience, and clearly designed as such. Even its cosy wooden loft rooms have a walk in bath, exquisite bedding, all the hiend gadgetry, and private balcony overlooking the various shades of green — lawn green, field green, tree green. Eight family rooms come with beds for kids and a private terrace. There are a total of 114 rooms and suites at the property. Children can have more fun at the activity centre that has all the stuff to keep them entertained, including computers, and two rooms full of toys, when they are not in the kid’s pool. A 60-seater theatre nearby shows movies twice a day, with a green room for live performers at special shows. A comfortable library space offers to spend some quiet behind a book time with a glass of iced tea in hand. (PHOTOS BY ALILA DIWA, GOA)

A) EXPERIENCE A BLISSFUL BATH; B) LOFT ROOM, DESIGNED FOR MODERN LIVING; C) INFINITY-EDGE SWIMMING POOL; D) SPICE STUDIO; E) THE EDGE BAR; F) VIVO - LIVE KITCHEN RESTAURANT A

F

ROOMS & SUITES The Terrace Family Terrace Loft Diwa Suite Alila Suite Total

69 16 21 6 2 114

B

FOOD & BEVERAGE C Spice Studio — A coastal speciality restaurant with local flavours of the region and the neighbouring coastline

E C

C VIVO — live kitchen restaurant C The Edge Bar and Lounge

SPA & WELLNESS Spa Alila offers a selection of organic traditional wholesome healing therapies. In-room treatments are also available.

C Alila Living Boutique with Library C Family entertainment zone with mini theatre, kids activity centre and day care centre

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OTHER FACILITIES

D


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LIQUIDICTION

Feeling blue?

Move to purple! Though a multi-cuisine restaurant might not sound all that inviting for the connoisseurs of good food, but Purple Rain, like its unique name, does not disappoint one bit! Let your guard down and simply soak in the ambience‌

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The bar with chameleon theme keeps on changing colour


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Done up in different shades of pink and purple, dining at Purple Rain is exotic

S ARORA f you are feeling blue and want to pep your evening, purple is the way to go! Purple Rain, opened in the heart of Mumbai at Sobo Central in Tardeo is a newly opened kitchen and lounge (much required in this part of the city!) that bathes in shades of pink and purple interspersed with white. Lending a mystic touch to the décor, there are zones clearly demarcated for people with different tastes. You have a restaurant section, a lounge section and coffee-table section besides of course their very well-known live bar! As you enter, the patterned waterfall that evokes rain, frames you, and then all you see is purple! Though gone a little overboard with the colour, Payal Chopra, the designer of the restaurant (ex-wife of

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The three chefs behind a wide gamut of dishes on menu

The patterned waterfall framing the entrance evokes rain

The purple theme is carried through not just in the design but also in the waiter’s uniforms. Cheese Dariole, Jamaican Jerk Chicken, Andhra steamed buns, baklava and more. The Jamaican jerk chicken (Rs 375) was awesome, while the four-grain Vegetable Risotta is highly recommended for its nutritional value (only if I could ignore the large doses of cheese!). The Andhra steamed buns (Rs 350) reminded me of the buns at Chinese restaurants or probably steamed dumplings of dough wrapped around shredded lamb. Not one of my favourites but I enjoyed the troflati shells — an evolved and healthier version of the Mumbai Pani Puri. For main course, try the Portobello Dahi Ke Kebab (Rs 600), a vegetarian dish with Mushrooms stuffed with appropriately flavoured, creamy cheese in a gently spiced Tomato broth, served with delicious Parantha squares. Jugalbandi at its best! Decent ambience, full points for presentation and about 8/10 for food, the chefs sure have something to pat their back for! The chefs are also apparently more than happy to customise dishes for you and their personal touch is evident in the food. If you aren’t looking for a wild night out, and want to just unwind and lounge with friends or family, Purple Rain is sure worth a try! Total spent on food and drinks: About Rs 1,700 / head. (PHOTOS BY S ARORA)

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Aditya Chopra) has managed to lend the space a quirky touch by first texturing the walls and then washing them down in LED lights. The result, nevertheless, is inviting, and the theme of purple is carried through not just in the design but also in the waiter’s uniforms, and even in the cocktail straws! The white washed pillars with mirrors, and the rustic look and charm of the ceiling with exposed pipes is kind of interesting but then you have the king of all quirkiness — the bar with a chameleon theme that keeps changing colour! The bartenders are friendly and the cocktails nasty! Innovation at its best, you have spicy vodka with guava and a bell pepper and lime martini! In mocktails, there was a kokum with basil margarita which totally bowled me over! Good presentations and neverheard-of combinations, the drinks are totally a must-try, even though you might end up paying about 600700 bucks for one of the exotic cocktails (just about Rs 300 for the regulars). For food, they like to call it a jugalbandi menu, and rightly so! Don’t expect anything that is authentic here. Instead, expect (which is not really a bad thing) an international cuisine with a desi tadka! The three chefs behind Blue Foods’ Purple Rain are Max Orlati, the former head chef of Olive; Sanjay Malkani, a veteran chef who has dazzled diners at The Oberoi and The Orchid; and Bill Marchetti, who ran two celebrated restaurants in Australia. A superb combination, the food (most of it) isn’t disappointing. Highlights of the menu: Caribbean Prawn Tarts, Chicken Flautas, four-grain Vegetable Risotto, Corn and


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WANDERING GOURMAND PUSHPESH PANT

For the love of

Shaami

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Kebab


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It is not as popular as its other cousins galouti and kakori, but Shaami Kebab, made of minced meat, spices and a dash of dal, is a connoisseur’s delight. t was in the city of Bhopal that a We have had many a memorable meal food and fight loving friend in that city of grace and great taste in challenged us to tell him where Deccan that has monuments and manners, could he sample the best shaami not to forget cuisine second to none. The kebab. We hemmed and hawed but city of Chaar Minar has not one, two or the moment of truth could not be three, but more than postponed. Shafiq mian was not satisfied half a dozen signature with polite replies like, 'This city has great delicacies. Nowhere kebab and at your table we have tasted the do they make better finest'. He was quick with, 'Forget home Biryani and the fare, you have travelled widely. Tell me khubani ka meetha honestly where have you tasted the best leaves you shaami in public domain?' We were sitting breathless. in the lap of the lofty minarets of the Bheghar ke majestic Tazul Masjid and the relentless Bigan are prodding triggered a chain of memoirs matchless recalling myriad delectable morsels we and the had savoured elsewhere, other times. luqmi Delhi Purana Bhopal has a shaami, very makes you different from the 'melt in the mouth' yearn for galouti like shaami served in Awadh. Be it more. Jameel, Hakim or Medina, their patties But are much more robust in the best RohillaLucknow Afghan tradition. Not only there is more bite in the shaami, but it is also shaped, shaami? how shall I put it, not so delicately and is I think much more strongly spiced. The chillies Chaar Bhopal register their presence without any Minar's modesty. One can feel the mint tickling claims are the plate and the Bhopali kebab, prepared not stronger with kachcha keema, which is steamed than Talaiya first before frying, is certainly interesting Bhopal's. but cannot be given the top ranking. Neither Hotels like Jahannuma and Nurusubah Medina nor do their best to make it elegant, but like Shaadaab or Soorma Bhopali, the jailor of British Paradise or Parvez times, this 'son of the soil' stubbornly turn out a half way refuses the change. Much to our decent shaami. Our regret we had to disappoint our gourmet friends Hyderabad friend. After gazing for a while on Javed and Raoof tried the reflections in the pool of water their best to convert us he broke his silence, 'Is it to their conception of a Hyderabad then that scores over us?' great shaami but we insisted that the vote must come from the heart prompted by the unequivocal palate.

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We wrapped that evening with some outstanding korma and ishtoo but the quest for the best shaami continued. Old Delhi wala keep fresh the memory of famous kebabiya like Maseeta and Ghummi, who practiced their craft on the step of the magnificent Jama Masjid in the days gone by. Alas, they left behind no worthy successors and a good shaami in public domain in the Capital is extinct. Committing culinary sacrilege, the Delhi bawarchi, more often than not, deep fries the patties and, horror of horrors; 'taste enhancing' sprinkler aromatic spice mixture is showered on top. You can try it at Karims, Jawahar or their clones but the shaami that sent the great Urdu poet Ghalib into raptures is gone. The secret of a great shaami is the right mix of the mince and the daal. Then comes the tricky question of spicing. All the flavours and aromas must be contributed by the ingredients that are boiled and grounded together. No add-ons afterwards. Grinding itself bears no shortcuts. To shake prefect patties just the right balance between a present smooth texture and the pate that is required for a galouti must be maintained. The final hurdle is the shallow frying. Actually the sikai of a shaami is the shallowest of shallow frying — a delicate operation that just imparts a crisp outer layer to the kebab. Believe you us, such a shaami does not require any embellishments. To cut a long story short, we have, dear readers, found the best shaami in the land. A small eatery in that city of Nawabs, Lucknow called Sakhawat dishes out the best shaami in the land. Hidden in the Gymkhana compound, the gentleman who presides over the Tawa and Handi here believes that quality is more important than quantity. Only a limited number is on offer everyday and the principle of 'first come, first served' is strictly adhered to. Our advice is that at the earliest opportunity make a bee line for Lucknow and let nothing distract you. Not the much hyped galouti, kakori or nimish or balai ki gilouri. The visit to Roomi Darwaza and Bara Imam Bara and chikankari showrooms too can wait. Reach early and have your fill. Such is the stuff, memories are made off.


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COMFORT FOOD

M uthful

of happiness

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Call them panipuri, puchkas, chaat or simply golgappas; slurp them at posh eateries or at a road side joint — these ubiquitous paani ke batashe, along with their tastes and namesake variations, continue to rule the street in various parts of the country!


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GUNJAN GOELA he humble Golgappa is the undisputed king of great street food in India. This savoury snack comprises a simple crunchy shell, made out of sooji or atta, which can tickle many a taste buds when dipped in a variety of jaljeera (or golgappa paani). Though the puris vary in shapes and sizes (round and oval), they are made to fit the size of a mouth. Never mind the occasional over-stretching of the jaws, the effort is worth it! The crisp fried puri is stuffed with a mixture of saunth, small channas and boiled chopped potatoes. It is finally filled with spicy, tangy paani (paani in English means water). One would think that the water would be the simplest and quickest element to make. Actually it the toughest part of the golgappas. It’s the paani that makes or breaks the entire experience of having the golgappas. The paani is made from whole dried mango or amchur, although there are variations when powdered amchur or tamarind is used. A fine paste of mint and coriander leaves, green chilles and ginger is also often used to enhance the taste of paani. The key ingredients to this mixture are hing (asafoetida), peepli (long pepperfrom which the word pepper originated), nausadar and black salt. All these ingredients, when used in correct proportions by a master hand, gives a perfect blend and taste to the paani. Though not every chaatwallah today uses these ingredients, certain shops in walled city area of Delhi continue the legacy of the traditional recipes. Actually these ingredients are effective in helping us digest the food. The golgappas of Delhi became panipuri in Mumbai, puchka in Kolkata, gupchup in Orissa and just chaat in Chennai. In olden times, or even today, in some parts of Old Delhi, golgappas are still called paani ke batashe. In Mumbai and Kolkata, the paani is made usually from tamarind, with very little spices. The golgappas are made from

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C Must try — Dariba in Old Delhi, Shiv Chowk in Muzzafarnagar, Begum Bridge in Meerut, Birhana Road in Kanpur, Aminabad in Lucknow, Civil Lines in Allahabad

TRY IT OUT! C While the quintessential golgappa rules the street food, the Gen Y can fill it up with Vodka / Wine shot and get high on a golgappa C Non-vegetarians can chop a piece of seekh kebab and fill it up in a golgappa with a dash of mint chutney C Those with a taste for world cuisine can fill the golgappa with a spoonful of thick Thai curry. The result, be assured, would be outstanding meal, because no one can eat just one! This fast food, which was once only available at road-side vendors, is now sitting proudly at the menu cards of elitist Indian hotels across the world. While many claim to make the best golgappas, here are a few unsung heroes in my list who are worth mentioning. Dariba in Old Delhi, Shiv Chowk in Muzzafarnagar, Begum Bridge in Meerut, Birhana Road in Kanpur, Aminabad in Lucknow, Civil Lines in Allahabad and a few other nooks of small towns have given me the most memorable panipuri experiences. (PHOTOS BY GUNJAN GOELA)

C This snack is very pocket-friendly and has admirers in every age group. It’s faster than any fast food — can be served in less than five seconds.

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C The golgappas of Delhi became panipuri in Mumbai, puchka in Kolkata, gupchup in Orissa and just chaat in Chennai

wheat or whole wheat flour and in case saunth is being used, it is usually very thin and very mild. The same golgappas are served differently from Delhi. As I savour batashe in my mind, I walk down the memory lanes of Dariba outside Dharmpura, where a particular vendor — Ram Asre would select some small batashe from his chabba for me. The paani was kept in an earthen pot called matka and the tokra in which his golgappas were kept was called chabba. There were no plates for service. Fresh leaves folded in a cone joined with a small stick at the end would be the service plate to nestle our batashas. Just the memory of them still brings water to my mouth. The vendors outside Shriram Hariram in Dariba, Kinari Bazar, Katra Neel, and Chandru Chaat from Model Town and Vaishno Chaat Bhandar in Kamla Nagar definitely have a common thread that makes Delhi a favourite with chaat lovers. They all make golgappas to give an eye, arm and heart for! Joining the bandwagon of globalisation, the puris are now available in packages across all stores in India. All one has to do is to make the paani at home! Well, cousins in US no longer crave for chatpati chaat. It’s a delectable appetizer that leaves no room for the


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TRAVEL GUIDE

Why is your agent

important?

APRIL 2010 TRAVELX

We often hear — why should I go to a travel agent when I can get all my bookings done through the internet? Well, you may have all the information and booking facilities available at the mere click of a button, but involving a human intervention, when planning a holiday, has its own advantages.


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PRIYANKA SAXENA n this era of net bookings where computer is your trusted friend, internet your medium and credit card your payment mode, there lies little scope for a travel agent. While all of this may get you a good holiday, the personal touch, which your travel agent could have added to this, is missing. We might do all the research, get all the info and make our own plan, but the man sitting in that little office, who calls himself an “agent” is definitely better informed. And why not? After all, that’s his job! So what do you do? Blindly trust our agent and go on a ride whose ticket he has formed for you? Nah! You strike a balance, and later, a deal! Think of your agent as an ‘information sifter’. Become an educated consumer by reading guidebooks, travel magazines and

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A CONSUMER SHOULD C Think of his agent as an 'information sifter' C Read guidebooks, travel magazines and surf through travel websites C Should share his researched knowledge with the agent C Let an agent use his knowledge and expertise to strike a deal

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AN AGENT CAN C Help you plan a complicated itinerary, i.e., travelling to multiple places C Offer you a customised itinerary in case you are looking for something specific C Offer you a payment model that will enable you to pay as per convenience C Help you in case you loose your passport/tickets or other documents during the trip

surfing travel websites. Present your findings to your travel agent, and then let he / she use his / her knowledge and experience, to help you sift through the information, and to locate options that are best suited to your budget and taste. Many times, especially if they are certified Destination Specialists, travel professionals can make invaluable recommendations based on their own personal experiences. No matter what the field, the importance and affect of a “service” cannot be denied. Whether you confess or not, it feels nice to plan your holiday with a person and not a computer screen. One does not have to enter identification details and other formalities every time one speaks to a travel agent. You have a query? Pick up the phone and speak to your agent. By talking and discussing your travel plans, there are numerous suggestions / recommendations that you can get, which is not the case when you go for a computer booking. Your machine may be able to give you suggestions, but it certainly wouldn’t advice you on a destination within your given budget. While getting bookings done through an agent (Thomak Cook, Cox n Kings, etc), a personalised relationship manager is assigned for your trip, who right from scratch, will take care of all your additional needs starting from vegetarian meals to seat preference to room choice. He’ll make things happen. A travel agent can form a personalised itinerary for its customer, have bookings done in hotels well in advance, assist in choosing one’s fellow travellers in case of a joint tour, and more. Many a times, due to some unforeseen circumstances, or simply for the fun of it, we wish to extend our holiday, but are often unable to do so because bookings done through net usually cannot be changed or altered. On extended stays and overseas holidays, which are a little more complex and require more details, a travel

company with experience would add value and guarantee continuance of all the facets of your holiday like accommodation, specialised meals, transfers, sightseeing, entrance into museums, parks, etc. This is mainly because its focus is leisure travel and therefore is able to provide value added service. Also, in case of any misfortunate incident wherein you end up loosing your ticket or worse still, your passport, you know you have someone back home, who not only has a copy of all your documents but who can also get you out of trouble. Isn’t that a big assurance when one is on a holiday? Ask yourself, how many time have we not banged our computers in frustration due to one or the other technical snag? No such issues ever arise with a travel agent. One doesn’t encounter excuses like “No downtime!” and no irritating ‘page not available’ errors. A travel agent is available as per request and convenience and any query can be settled with just a phone call. Net bookings may be doing well, but when it comes to sharing your credit card details over a web page, there are many who show reluctance. The chances of cyber crimes, resulting in misuse of your money, are high in case of net bookings. In such a situation, an agent is your safe bet. Also, you can work out your payment plan with your agent, who many a times, gives you an extended period, or instalment facility, to pay for your vacation. Additionally, many online sites may not include payments of some items that are sure to pop up during your holiday such as daily resort fees, out of state car fees, or other taxes and fees that you will be required to pay at the airport or hotel. These unexpected costs will not only upset the budget of your holiday but may also end up spoiling your mood and plans for the days ahead. With an agent, you can move well planned and know about all your expenses before hand. There are no ugly surprises on the way. Lastly, and most importantly, the entire idea of going on a holiday is to distress oneself and have a good time. Having an agent plan and execute things for you, within your budget, is a luxury that we all deserve in our vacation. Also, travel agents have quicker access to the deals that many travel sites offer and can save you a ton of time researching if you provide a few basics like travel preferences, departure cities, etc. So save yourself the hassle, and let your agent take over. (With contributions from Cox n Kings and Thomas Cook)


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SPECIAL FOCUS

WelcomHeritage Fernhills Palace Ooty - Where the magic and mystique of the Nilgiris have been encapsulated COMPILED BY - SAIBALI BATSYAS

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Situated at about 6000 feet above sea level, WelcomHeritage Fernhills Palace appears to float towards the clouds, with the early morning sun burning off the dew. Considered a landmark in Ooty, it is among the most important addresses in the beautiful hill station of Ootacamund. The architecture of the Palace follows the traditional style of the other buildings in Ooty, dating back to the time of its founder, John Sullivan. As the years passed and its owner changed, Fernhills too changed its name and its usage. At one time it was Ooty’s famous Club Hotel Moonisami’and some say that even today, in the midst of a still night, you can hear the Ballroom echo with the laughter of ladies, the excitement of bets won or

lost, the piano's tinkling notes and the soft glide of dancing feet. Located on the sprawling estate owned by the Mysore royal family, this splendid WelcomHeritage property has undergone considerable refurbishment and offers 19 suites — Every suite is an elaborate setting designed in teak wood paneling, comprising of a large lounge with bay windows, bedroom, dressing room and a luxuriant bathroom with private Jacuzzi. Victorian furniture and its colonial furnishings still exude the same charm as it once did while the interiors are an attractive blend of gothic, regency and neo-classical renaissance. The well-maintained lawns and flower beds at WelcomHeritage Fernhills Palace, sport many rare varieties of flora and fauna, including varieties of coniferous and other trees, known to have been brought to Ooty by British settlers.

The restaurant has been designed to pamper the palate with a delightful fusion of western and Anglo Indian cuisine. In addition to the typical Anglo Indian cuisine, there are also highly secret recipes from the royal kitchen of the Wadiyar family. WelcomHeritage Fernhills Palace can just be the right place to mix business with pleasure. The hotel offers the best conference venues ideal for refreshing the mind amidst the green hills With all this and more, this may be just the right place for all to take a break!! backpack. For reservations and further information, please contact: WelcomHeritage: 011- 46035500, holidays@welcomheritagehotels.com


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J U S T

BOOKS

Delhi under siege

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GLIMPSES OF KERALA CULTURE By Princess Aswathi Thirunal Gouri Lakshmi Bayi Published by: Konark Publishers Pp: 169; Rs 1,000 shwathi Thirunal, a member of the Travancore Royal Family, has many published poems, articles and books to her credit. Her eighth publication — Glimpses of Kerala Culture, organised in three sections, talks about the Dravidian or Non-Vedic stream of Kerala culture in its first part, Vedic or Aryan stream of culture in the second and the third part is a synthesis of the two. With an interesting foreword by Shashi Tharoor, the book is a must read for people who wish to know more about the traditions, art and culture of Kerala.

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DELHI NOIR Edited by Hirsh Sawhney Published by: HarperCollins India Pp: 292; Rs 399

SURESH KOHLI he most striking feature about the two books under the scanner is that most contributors, generally still in their 20s and 30s, can hardly claim to be Delhites. Honourable exceptions apart, many of them are recent migrants from relatively quieter, smaller places; many more came, saw and then moved away to greener pastures without any claim to having roamed or explored the metropolis; still others have relied on heard and unheard comments and stories from their parents and uncles, or through a short stay with a tourist visa. And there are some who are barely out of schools and colleges and seeking a foothold in the forever burgeoning city. But this does not mean the writings are not interesting or vibrant, except they seem more localised whether in terms of space or experience which is more observed than lived, more myopic than nasal, more livid than vivid. Most essays in Trickster City (peppered with superlatives from Ashis Nandy, Arundhati Roy, Krishna Sobti, Rana Dasgupta) hardly touch the surface of the city and deal with individual experiences, both at home and in the neighbourhood. Heeding Roy’s advice, I

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put ear to the book in order to “hear people breathing”, tried to “touch it” to “feel their fragile, but furious pulse”. But I found nothing that would rejuvenate my sagging spirits as I flipped from page to page. Sample the following from Arish Qureshi’s ‘The Slaughterhouse’: “By noon, all the work is done and the cleaning begins. Using rakes, we collect everything that has been discarded, and dump it all in wheelbarrows. These are then taken to the big garbage dump behind Idgah. I have never seen such a quantum of garbage as I have seen in this garbage dump… No one walking into our shop after 1 pm can imagine how dirty the place was in the morning. By afternoon, the place doesn’t look like a shop but a swanky showroom.” Would a slaughterhouse anywhere else in the country look, breathe, smell any different? Would the fragile and furious pulse of the slaughtered hen be any different in another such place? In his introduction to Delhi Noir, Hirish Sawhney writes, “Thankfully, there are writers who are willing to see Delhi as it is, and this anthology contains stories by 14 of them. Delhi Noir’s contributors are diverse: They are Christians, Hindus, Muslims, Sikhs, Punjabis, Biharis, Bengalis, and Keralites; men and women;

BIRYANI By Pratibha Karan Published by: Random House Pp: 200; Rs 799 former IAS officer in the Indian government, and a vegetarian, Pratibha Karan's passion and knowledge about food can be seen seeping through the pages of her latest book Biryani. The book Biryani has 100 different biryani recipes from all across India, some very famous ones as well as many lesser known ones, but no less delicious. Pratibha Karan also provides suggestions and advice on which rice to use and also how to cook it for the perfect biryani. The author also includes a chapter on relishes and raitas that could be served with the biryanis.

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TRICKSTER CITY: Writings from the Belly of the Metropolis: Translated from Hindi by Shveta Sarda Published by: Penguin Viking India Pp: 324; Rs 499

gay and straight. Many reside in the capital; but others have addresses in Uttarakhand or the US What they have in common”, looking at the much acclaimed unity in diversity, secularism, socialism, democracy bits, “is the inclination to write delectable literature that doesn’t shy away from the city’s uncomfortable underside.” Unlike the contributions in Trickster City, which mostly centre on lived personalised accounts, observations and experiences, Delhi Noir deals with fictionalised accounts and that is perhaps why, scores in terms of the narrative technique. Uday Prakash’s ‘The Walls of Delhi’ — the only translated work in the volume (from Hindi by Jason Grunebawn) — not only brings vividly alive street culture but also the question of ethnicity and authenticity of a locale otherwise only the residents are familiar with. Uday effortlessly weaves aspects of vivacity into his narrative style which is casual sounding but the reader seldom misses the ironic tone and temper — and the characteristic wit. “…every night at midnight, when all of Delhi is asleep, I put on some black clothes, sneak out of the

house, and spend the rest of the night scraping out the walls of Delhi. Treasures beyond anyone’s wildest dreams are hidden in the countless hollows in Delhi’s countless walls. I’m sure it’s there. My only regret is that I’ve wasted the last decades of my life before starting out with my pick and trowel. So, if you read this story, go and buy a little pickaxe and get yourself to Delhi right away. It’s not far at all, and it’s the only way left to make it big. The other ways you read about in the papers and see on TV are rumours and lies, nothing more.” Many narratives in Trickster City lack this insightful gaze at Delhi’s underbelly. In her translator’s note, Shevta Sarda emphasises the documentation style of narratives depicting the developmental scenes in various neighbourhoods. All the narratives have been skilfully translated, and read well, while the narrators have all been associated with various Cybermohalla labs set up by Ankur Society and Sarai-CSDS. They have also been previously published in “the Sarai Readers.”

SpecialPackageof @8500/-f or 2nights/3days MAPIpercouple APRIL 2010 TRAVELX


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TAKE IT FROM ME Tae shik kim, director, korea tourism organisation gives you 10 reasons to visit the land of ancient palaces, heritage sites, exciting nightlife and much more.

SOUTH KOREA

FOR ALL SEASONS & 10 REASONS

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SOUTH KOREA IS A BEAUTIFUL COUNTRY with a perfect blend of the traditional and the contemporary. From skiing to glitzy nightlife, ancient palaces, spa baths and cultural festivities, it has it all! JEJU ISLAND, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, is known for its natural beauty, which is simply rejuvenating, making it an ideal destination for Indian honeymooners. KOREA TRAIN EXPRESS, which is the super fast train connecting the key cities of Seoul and Busan, travels at a speed of 310 km/hour, and can take you from one corner of South Korea to another within a matter of hours. WORLD-CLASS AMUSEMENT PARKS in South Korea are ranked amongst the world's top 10. Everland, Lotte World and Seoul Land, offer thrilling rides, botanical gardens, zoo, shopping centres, restaurants, ice skating rings — these parks are a one-stop shop for entertainment in all forms. GYEONGJU (the Ancient Capital of Korea) is home to the UNESCO World Cultural Heritage sites of Bulguksa Temple, Seokguram Grotto and Gyeongju Historic Area. It has long been regarded as one of the most famous attractions in Korea.

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EXPLORE THE MOUNTAINS OF SOUTH KOREA, as they cover almost 70 per cent of the Korean peninsula. Mountain climbing, trekking, biking, paragliding and other such adventure activities are favourite pursuits here. ENJOY A REFRESHING HOT SPRING BATH in Korea. The mineral-rich water of hot spring is wellknown for containing curative properties against various ailments and is also good for getting a glowing skin. TEMPLE STAY PROGRAMME offers the opportunity to experience the serene Buddhist lifestyle through activities such as the Dharma ceremony in the morning, walking medication in the temple premises, calligraphy practice, traditional Buddhist meal and so on.

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EXCITING NIGHTLIFE can be experienced in South Korea 24x7. Tourists can sightsee during the daytime and can spend the night shopping, clubbing and dining out. The country buzzes with activity at night.

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DELICACIES, SUCH AS KIMCHI, which is a popular fermented side-dish made from vegetables and usually eaten with rice, is a must try in Korea. One can also savour Bibimbap (rice with vegetables, meat and egg), Jajangmyeon (black soybean noodles), rice cakes and a huge variety of sea food.


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