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VOL. I, ISSUE V, JUNE 2010  Rs 60

Putting the zing back to exploring the world

Ever seen India’s

NIAGARA FALLS!

Race

with the dragon

By George!

It’s Clooney’s Paradise

Discover our

Top-Secret Hideaways A sneak peek at locations you will never find in any travel brochures


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CONTENTS

COVER

STORY

BATALIK BEAUTY AMIDST BATTLEFIELD Remembered as the hot spot of the Kargil war, and closed to civilians since then, Batalik will soon open up to public this summer. With beauty that's unmatched and pilgrimage that is sacred to many, the land has more to it than just reminiscences of the Indo-Pak war.

COMPASS

LOVELY LAVASA

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NEWS, LAUNCHES & DEALS

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SHORT TAKES 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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Modern day lifestyle seeped with pristine nature… Lavasa is the destination of tomorrow.

JUNE 2010 TRAVELX

TRAVEL DIARY

LAKE COMO — THE HEART OF ITALIAN ROMANCE

NATURE TRAIL

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THE NIAGARA FALLS OF INDIA Breathtaking… natural… picturesque splendour… Athirapally Falls in Kerala is a beautiful eco-escape. Also a favoured spot for many directors!

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ROYAL SPLENDOUR

No one can beat Nahargarh fort in terms of authenticity, rugged charms and pocketfriendly rates.


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64 FOCUS EYE TALK Nandu Manjeshwar walks through the freedom trail of Boston with his amazing shots

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WANDERLUST HAUNTING BEAUTY The haunted walk of York showcases the beauty of its history that allows ghost tales and scary legends to weave a web of magical exploration.

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VOL. I, ISSUE V, JUNE 2010  Rs 60

Putting the zing back to exploring the world

ITS TIME FOR COW RACE

70

Ever seen India’s

NIAGARA FALLS!

RIDE THE DRAGON

with the dragon

It’s Clooney’s Paradise

RECAPTURING BAYSIDE SAN FRANCISCO AT PIER 39

Discover our

Top-Secret Hideaways A sneak peek at locations you will never find in any travel brochures

Cover Photo: Gaurav Schimar

Cover Design: Jitendra Rawat

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.

JUNE 2010 TRAVELX

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

Race By George!

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Volume I No 5

Editor: K SRINIVASAN Managing Editor: TIRTHANKAR GHOSH Co-ordinating Editor: PRIYANKA SAXENA Reporters: Punit Mishra, Jasleen Kaur, Sreya Shandilya Special Correspondent - Mumbai: Roohi Ahmad (Mob. 09820295648) 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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TIMES FOOD AND WINE SHOW

Venue: Hotel Lalit Ashok, Bengaluru Date: June 11-13, 2010 Being hosted by Introductions Trade Shows, Times Food and Wine Show Bengaluru is aimed towards food, wine, alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages sector. Varied items will be displayed on a major podium including bakery and confectionery products, biological food products, condiments, fresh and preserved products, olive and other edible oils and many more. Visit www.thelalit.com for more details.

HYDERABAD JEWELLERY, PEARL & GEM FAIR

VENUE: Hyderabad International Convention Centre, Novotel, Hyderabad DATE: June 18-20, 2010 The third edition of the Hyderabad Jewellery, Pearl and Gem Fair is a perfect trading platform for launching and sourcing the newest jewellery collections from the worldwide jewellery industry. Celebrating its third anniversary, Hyderabad Jewellery, Pearl and Gem Fair 2010 will present a wide spectrum of merchandise including fine jewellery, diamonds, gemstones, pearls and similar other related products and services. For more details, visit www.jewelleryfair.in

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, Entertainment and food.

‘UNLEASH YOUR POTENTIONAL’ VENUE: Hotel Novotel, Mumbai DATE: June 18, 2010 Clark Inn Group of Hotels is coming up with a seminar — ‘Unleash Your Potential’ by Azim Jamal — The Corporate Sufi. ‘Unleash Your Potential’ will give corporate access to new ideas, tips and strategies that will help organisations build upon their team’s strengths to give a competitive edge. The seminar will be attended by MDs, CEOs, COO and Directors/Managers from the top corporate’s of India. Delegate participation fee is priced at Rs 12,500, inclusive of the registration fee, two tea breaks and lunch. The full-day seminar will start at 9am and will conclude at 5:30pm. To register, call at 022 65181660 or 09146090485.


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EU FILM FESTIVAL

THE GANGA DUSSEHRA FESTIVAL

VENUE: Varanasi in Uttar Pradesh, and other holy cities such as Haridwar and Rishikesh DATE: June 11, 2010 The Ganga Dussehra festival is celebrated to mark the time that the holy Ganges River descended to earth. A large number of pilgrims throng the holy river, to bathe in it and seek the blessings of God.

Hyderabad hues VENUE: Masters Collection Art Gallery, G-7, Malayalay Apts, 3, Woodburn Park Road, Kolkata DATE: Ongoing till June 19, 2010 An exclusive collection of artworks by eminent artists of Hyderabad will be displayed from 11am to 7pm. The participants include Ramesh Gorjala, Farhad Tamkanat, Sreekanth Kurva, Chippa Sudhakar and many others. For more details, contact at 033-30584060

SAO JOAO FEAST OF ST JOHN THE BAPTIST

CHAMPAKULAM MOOLAM BOAT RACE

VENUE: Pampa River at Champakulam DATE: June 26, 2010 The Champakulam Moolam Boat Race held in the Pampa River at Champakulam, not far from Alleppey in Kerala, is the oldest snake boat race of Kerala. It's also the first boat race of the season. A stunning procession is enacted prior to the race taking place. It features exotic water floats, boats decorated with colourful parasols, and performing artists.

JUNE 2010 TRAVELX

VENUE: North Goa, particularly Siolim DATE: June 24, annually Hosted by Goa Tourism Development Corporation, Sao Joao Feast of St John the Baptist is the most popular festival in Goa. Sao Joao (the fertility feast of Saint John the Baptist), involves the interesting feat of men jumping into overflowing village wells to retrieve bottles of local feni alcohol. There are also boat races, and plenty of singing and dancing to commemorate the occasion.

FESTIVAL AND EVENTS

VENUE (CHENNAI): South Indian Film Chamber Theater DATE: June 1-8, 2010 VENUE (NEW DELHI): Teen Murti Auditorium and Indian Habitat Centre, Stain Auditorium DATE: June 12-20, 2010 This year, the European Union is holding its 15th EU Film Festival in Goa, Mumbai, Chennai and New Delhi from April 24 to June 20, 2010. This year’s EU Film Festival showcases a package of 23 films. The EU Film Festival has already showcased the European cinema in Goa and Mumbai in the months of April and May and now, it is ready to entertain the people of Delhi and Chennai. For more details, visit www.delind.ec.europa.eu


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LETTERS

SUMMERTIME AND THE LIVIN’ IS EASY

D

oes everyone love a good summer?

Most do. There is lots of time on hand, tons of offers and the best part is that tourism departments and carriers are falling head over heels to woo you and me. So, do we follow our desires and listen like so many others have done to follow that once-famous question from Microsoft: Where do you want to go today? So where will it be now that the global recession is well and truly forgotten? There are the Spanish hotspots Malaga and Palma or Portugal’s Faro and Dalaman in Turkey. Or, will it be Tenerife and Ibiza or even Hong Kong and a spot of gambling at Macau? Here’s a bit of news. The truly recession-hit Americans have not decided on “staycations” and, according to the latest American Express Spending and Saving Tracker, more than half — actually 51 per cent of those surveyed were keen to take a vacation this summer. To top it all, these Americans planned to spend an average of $1,000 per person. Wherever you go, be passionate about travel. Find out innovative ways to reduce costs than not go at all. The important thing is finding experiences and activities for your loved ones. It’s your choice! From all of us at Travel X, here’s to a responsible and happy holiday! Tirthankar Ghosh tghosh@newsline.in

I am a regular reader of your magazine and every time I pick up the issue it seems I am on a wonderful journey myself as I go through the pages. This time also, the article “It’s chutti time” was an enjoyable read. Actually, during summer vacations, we normally go to Mussoorie, Nainital, Shimla… the popular destinations where the number of travellers increase each time we visit. But I must say it was a wonderful idea to introduce us to such amazing lesser known and less crowed locales. It was enriching to learn about such great destinations. I really love the glossy pictures and the well-written articles. Congratulations for the cover! It was truly delightful. Rishabh Nanda, Mumbai

It was refreshing to read the trek section —“Let loose the adventurous you” in the May issue of your magazine. Apart from being an enjoyable read, the piece was also very expressively done. I actually felt as if I was on the trek… on cool adventurous holiday! I must say the

writer has evocatively captured the spirit of all three treks - Garhwal, Zanskar and Singalila, and the photographs gave a fresh twist to the sights. After reading your article, I plan to undertake at least one of these treks during this summer with my friends. I also liked the fact boxes (getting there, where to stay, best time to go and essentials), 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. Yash Khurana, Noida

First of all, the month’s article “The journey to Tawang” made me want to pack my bags and head to the destination. The more I read about it, the more I wanted to visit it. “Coolest hang out” about the freeze bar in Delhi sounded like an interesting concept and I plan on going there next time I am in Delhi. The food articles on Bunt Cuisine and Lassi also made for an interesting read. I was happy to see cruise and FIFA 2010 deals coverage in your magazine. Am also glad to know that you have made book feature a regular column, although, I would have liked to read more than two book reviews. Maybe you could give information on the new book releases? Looking forward for more interesting stuff in store for us! Aradhna Banerjee, Kolkata

JUNE 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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Ontario Escapade An Ontario adventure ticks all the boxes, with national icons, urban excitement and amazing shopping. Experience cosmopolitan Toronto with its own unique multicultural cuisine or feel the spray of mighty Niagara Falls. Visit the vibrant nation’s capital of Ottawa or historic Kingston, two cities that showcase Canada’s rich heritage and natural beauty of the 1000 Islands.

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Himalayan escapade

Celebrations galore at Leh HEMIS GOMPA, or monastery, tucked deep inside a gorge, is just 45 km southeast of Leh, the capital city of Ladakh. Historical reference regarding monastery’s existence before the 11th Century, exists even today. It was during the powerful reign of Sengge Namgyal that this monastery was refurbished in 1672. It is the Mahayana Buddhist monastery. Guru Padmasambhava, from Nalanda University, spread Buddhist thoughts beyond trans-Himalayan region in the seventh Century and was considered second only to Buddha. Each year in the month of June/July, an impressive festival is held in Hemis gompa where thousands of tourists congregate to watch the colourful ensemble. This year, the Hemis festival is being held from July 21-22. In the past ten years, Indian tourists have become a regular feature of the event, which otherwise was dominated by mostly the locals and foreigners.

JUNE 2010 TRAVELX

DIDYOU

KNOW?

YOU CAN now easily access information regarding the Jet Privilege programme’s benefits and privileges and the latest news and special offers while you are onboard! All this has been made possible only through Jet Airways’ newly launched mobile site — m.jetairways.com. You can also check for the lowest fares available for a given sector and date through the mobile site. The search facility is available for both one-way and return journey across all Jet Airways and code share flights. Moreover, if you want to book a flight

IF YOU are looking for serenity and quiet for the summer vacations, head to The Chalets. A boutique mountain resort with the breathtaking views of Himalayas, next to the 18-hole Naldehra golf course, 22 km from Shimla in Himachal Pradesh, has come with some enticing packages this summer. You can avail two nights/three days packages, starting from Rs 13,990. Package include welcome drink on arrival, fruit basket in room on day one, buffet breakfast and dinner and tea/coffee maker in room. The package cost is inclusive of taxes. For more information and reservations, contact The Chalets Naldehra at 01772747715, 6940481, 2747562 (tele fax) or on cell at 98160-62007, 94180-62003.

Leisure holiday in Mussoorie

A PERFECT retreat for rejuvenating breaks and leisure holidays awaits you at Jaypee Residency Manor, Mussoorie. With its majestic view of the Himalayan ranges, the hotel is offering a plethora of packages, there is a call option on the mobile site which facilitates you to instantly connect to the call centre and book tickets through the secure Interactive Voice Response (IVR) payment gateway. Jet Privilege members can also check-in through the mobile site and earn 250 bonus JP Miles.


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Women’s day out @ Mist

including ‘standard leisure’ package comprising one night/two days stay for Rs 10, 999, while the ‘leisure executive’ package of two nights/ three days is available for Rs 19,999. There is also a special ‘Rejuvenation Spa Package’ of two nights/three days for Rs 24,999. Prices are subject to couple in the deluxe room plus five per cent tax. Packages also include complimentary breakfast for two, welcome drink on arrival, tea/coffee maker, 20 per cent discount in branded food and beverages and laundry.

MONDAY BLUES are common phenomena, especially when you think of the endless wait of another five days before you can let your hair down and enjoy. But not anymore! Now the ladies don’t have to wait for the weekend to have fun! This Wednesday, and every Wednesday to follow, come to Mist, The Park, New Delhi and enjoy 50 per cent off on food and beverages and 20 per cent off at Aura — the luxurious day gym, spa and saloon. Avail all this and more at the cost of just Rs 1,700 (including tax) for two.

Cheap airfares to woo Indian students

CATERING TO the growing student traffic from Tamil Nadu of those seeking accredited international courses in Malaysia, Malaysian Airlines has signed an MoU with Malaysian Study Centre (MSC), a division of AEC Business

School. As part of this collaboration, the students of MSC will be entitled to around 50 per cent discounted fare on the Malaysian Airlines. Additional concessions include excess baggage allowance of 30 kg and more. Students can easily contact local and all-India offices of Malaysian Airlines for direct assistance that will be open for ticketing for MSC students with travel being facilitated from Chennai gateway only.

Win free holidays on twitter/facebook

JUNE 2010 TRAVELX

The magic of Hong Kong A HOLIDAY in Hong Kong has never been so magical before! With seamless service and super connections from India to Hong Kong and beyond, travel with Cathay Pacific or with sister airline Dragonair and you can take advantage of the ‘Buy 2 Get 1 Free’ or ‘Buy 3 Get 1 Free’ Hong Kong Disneyland vacation offers, featuring an array of value-added benefits. Both offers include round trip Economy or Business class tickets to Hong Kong, hotel accommodation, park admission tickets, return airport/hotel transfers, “Stay and Play for two days” offer, Disney FASTPASS, park meal coupon (for guests of Hong Kong Disneyland Hotel only) and late check-out. For the ‘Buy 2 Get 1 Free’ offer, fares start from Rs 42,422 inclusive of taxes, while for the ‘Buy 3 Get 1 Free’ offer, fares start from Rs 37,912 inclusive of taxes. So hurry, offer is valid till July 7, 2010. For more details, visit www.cathaypacific.com and www.dragonair.com.

200 FREE weekend nights to be awarded in a 10-day destination dash with clues on facebook and twitter. The “passport to free weekends” contest by Starwood Hotels & Resorts running through a global social media scavenger hunt, will leverage the presence of Starwood Preferred Guest on facebook and twitter. The SPG members have to find clues leading them to the Starwood property that holds the daily free weekend prizes. The clues will drive members to a particular hotel in one of the nearly 100 countries where Starwood has a presence. The winning location will rotate each day. The first 10 winners will get their “passport” photo taken, which will then be posted on SPG’s facebook and twitter pages for winners to enjoy 15 minutes of fame. To know more, please visit spg.com/passport or to register for the SPG free weekends promotion, visit spg.com/freeweekends


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restaurant ‘Twilight’ serves a wide range of authentic Indian and oriental delicacies. Moreover, Royal Orchid Central Grazia is well connected to the business hubs in south and north Mumbai and is strategically located just 25 km from Chhatrapati Shivaji International Airport and 28 km from the domestic airport. So, next time you travel to Mumbai, do drop in at the Royal Orchid Central Grazia and enjoy a total Royal Orchid experience of hospitality.

Bandra gets the artistic touch

Royal Orchid debuts in Mumbai

JUNE 2010 TRAVELX

ROYAL ORCHID Hotels makes its entry into Mumbai with the launch of its property — Royal Orchid Central Grazia. With the fusion of present-day style, comfort and state-of-the-art facilities to provide premium accommodation to visitors, the hotel offers finest features like wi-fi access, a stylishly designed business centre, 24-hour coffee shop, conference hall, foreign exchange, round-the-clock concierge services, top-of-the-line

recreation and fitness facilities, a swimming pool and health club amongst others to cater to the business needs of every individual business traveller. All this and more can be experienced in the 67 elegantly decorated upscale modern and plush guestrooms in deluxe and superior category. Spectacular interiors and finest contemporary amenities await you at the hotel. Unwind and indulge at 24-hour coffee shop ‘ECHO’ — a host of global delicacies, exotic cocktails and coolers that are sure to elevate your spirit. The rooftop grills

ANOTHER ADDITION to the business and glamour capital of India — Mumbai, is the recently opened artistic hotel called Le Sutra. A 16-room property in Mumbai’s posh Bandra neighbourhood, Le Sutra is the first Indian art hotel. Fronted with a bright orange mural painted by the artist Vincent Fantauzzo and the movie director Baz Luhrmann, the hotel has recruited a roster of Indian artists and designers to outfit the interior. Each floor is intended to exemplify one of the three gunas, the ancient Indian attributes of being: erotic tamas, vibrant rajas and serene sattva. Rooms are adorned with wall-length paintings and original artwork ranging from a circular water feature based on ancient purification systems to a wooden chair carved in the shape of lotus petals. Here you will spot Bollywood stars’ mansions, a trendy dining scene and a new organic market. The first eight rooms are ready for reservations, while eight more are coming this summer. Standard room rates start at $250 (INR 11,850).


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ABOUT MELROSE: Melrose one of the early pioneers in the serviced accommodation concept in Bangalore, providing luxury accommodation, comfort packaged with style to the corporate traveler & has 4 more properties in Mumbai, Delhi, Hyderabad & Chennai under the brand name of "Melrose". All our properties are fully furnished serviced apartments and are suitable for short and long stays, giving you the convenience of a self catering kitchen. Each Melrose property comes with a fleet of friendly, helpful support staff. To handle room service, laundry, toiletry supplies and hundreds of other things that you would need help with. Even in the middle of the night, if the need arises. FACILITIES:

! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! !

One centralized Kitchen, with facilities to cater to multi cuisine preparations Conference Hall with capacity of 25 pax Complimentary Breakfast & Dinner will be served Office Drop & Pickup will be complimentary A/C Rooms 32" LCD TV with cable connectivity Locker facility Availability of snacks & Soft drinks on payment basis Front office with personnel round the clock also acts as a travel desk Fridge in common place at each floor 24 hours room service Availability of firstAid Kit Doctor on call 100 % Power backup Swimming Pool Gym Sauna

BANGALORE: Norris Road: #1, Norris Road, Richmond Town, Bangalore 560025 Ph: 080 41519413/23/33 Fax: 080 41519433 Cell: 9901767777 GURGAON: B17/2A, DLF Phase I, Near DT Mega Mall, Gurgaon 122001 Ph: 0124 4259813/23 Fax: 0124 4259824 Cell: 9818707234 MUMBAI: POWAI: Flat No 905, 9th floor, Kingston Bldg, Behind Crisil Building, Hiranandani Gardens, Powai. Cell: 9818707234 PUNE: Flat 202, Disha ExoticaRd 7B, Opp Lunkad Sky Lounge, Kalyaninagar, Pune-6, Cell: 9818707234 CHENNAI: 6 & 7, Ramagiri Extension,Velachery Taramani Link Road,Velachery, Chennai - 600042 Cell: 9901767777 HYDERABAD: Cell - 9901767777 www.melrosegroup.biz Email:melrose_apt@hotmail.com


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Sarovar at Chandigarh SAROVAR HOTELS & Resorts has forayed in Chandigarh with the launch of its economy brand hotel Hometel. Located in the heart of city’s industrial area, within 10 minutes from the railway station and airport, 114-room Hometel enjoys close proximity to the shopping and entertainment hubs. A combination of contemporary design with warm, bright hues and elegant interiors, the rooms here include essentials like a tea/coffee maker, private mini bar, electronic safe, LCD television and allow wireless internet connectivity.

Savour your taste buds at Flavours — the multi-cuisine restaurant and Chill — the vibrant lounge bar. Also on offer are a fully-equipped gymnasium and laundry services. Hometel also offers banquet and conferencing facility at Imperial Rooms — the lavish banquet space at the hotel and the largest banquet facility of its kind in the city. Here Imperial Ballroom has a capacity of 600 guests. Also available are smaller conference and meeting rooms as well as a modern boardroom, to cater to every requirement of the business traveller.

JUNE 2010 TRAVELX

Mumbai to get its Shangri-La SHANGRI-LA HOTELS and Resorts is all geared to open its doors in Mumbai in September. The hotel which is 13 km away from the airport will have 230 guest rooms initially and when fully operational, will have 483 guestrooms and 23 serviced apartments. The luxurious property, besides providing a variety of dining options for foodlovers, will also have a health club, a spa, a swimming pool, a business centre, a ballroom, conference and meeting room. The average room rate at the time of launch will be more than Rs 10,000 per night.

Emirates Airline has recently introduced 'Purchase your UAE visa online’, making travel to the Middle East even more accessible. The feature — an extension of the online flight booking process on www.emirates.com — can be accessed by valid Emirates ticket holders from 35 select countries. Only 30-day and 96-hour visit visas to Dubai, UAE are available through the new feature, subject to all pre-requisites being met. The pre-requisites are defined by Dubai Naturalisation and Residency Department (DNRD) as it takes the decision to grant the visa. For more details, www.dnrd.gov.ae. A 96-hour visa will cost US$ 44 while a 30-day visa will cost US$ 57. Service fees are applied separately. SpiceJet is all set to commence its international operations by July 2010 as it completes five years of operations in India. Starting July, the carrier will make its international debut connecting Colombo with one of its South India hubs followed by Dhaka from Kolkata, Kathmandu from Delhi and Male from Mumbai in the subsequent months. SpiceJet will fly daily to all the four destinations. Students and backpackers under the age of 26 can now take advantage of a promotional campaign by the Eurail Group GIE and ISIC (International Student Identity Card). A worldwide promotion is being launched that will allow ISIC card-holders two days of free travel with the purchase of any 15-day continuous Eurail Global Youth Pass, valid in second class. This endorsement offers excellent value for money and can be purchased till July 31, 2010. FlyDubai, a Dubai-based budget air carrier, will start its India operations with a flight service between Dubai and Lucknow from June 2. The


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"Coming Soon in Summer 2010"

Country Inn & Suites By Carlson Convent Road, Library Mussoorie 248179 Tel : 91 11 43221904 Email : reservations@cdmsindia.com Website : www.countryinns.com/india India Toll Free : 1800 1800 456

! 50 Rooms & Suites ! Mosaic : 24 Hours Coffee Shop ! Revive : Spa & Fitness Centre ! In House Guest Library ! Kids Play Zone ! Banquet & Conferencing

Country Inn & Suites By Carlson

Mussoorie


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"Coming Soon in Summer 2010"

Country Inn & Suites By Carlson Convent Road, Library Mussoorie 248179 Tel : 91 11 43221904 Email : reservations@cdmsindia.com Website : www.countryinns.com/india India Toll Free : 1800 1800 456

! 50 Rooms & Suites ! Mosaic : 24 Hours Coffee Shop ! Revive : Spa & Fitness Centre ! In House Guest Library ! Kids Play Zone ! Banquet & Conferencing

Country Inn & Suites By Carlson

Mussoorie


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Only for her...

JUNE 2010 TRAVELX

Understanding the needs of a lone lady traveller, pampering her in the luxurious environs and ensuring that her safety is not tampered with — welcome to the “Eliza” special programme by The Imperial, New Delhi. A LADY on the move, between 20 and 45, she comes to Delhi. She stays either for 1-2 nights or for long visit. She wants safety. She likes exploring the capital city as much as she loves indulging in the luxurious environs of the spa. A perfect stay experience! The bygone era of 16th century spelled unforgettable names like Queen Elizabeth, acknowledged as a charismatic performer and a dogged survivor. Celebrating the same strength and passion to explore the unknown of today’s women, The Imperial has introduced “ELIZA”, a special programme for single lady traveller. The lady guest under the programme gets enrolled for the

uniquely designed privileges coupled with unmatched Imperial experience, the moment she checks in. A distinct stay experience associated with comfort, convenience and care, prioritising her safety. For the safety of single lady traveller, rooms in the ‘single lady corridor’ are equipped with CCTV cameras and are provided with special in-room check-in facility. This single lady corridor with 12

rooms on the third floor is totally dedicated to women and each room has a separate room door camera installed as an additional security feature. For her safety, that floor is only serviced by female housekeeping staff and lady butlers are available for round-the-clock room service and all telephone calls go through a screening process before being connected to the room. Not only security, even to make her stay with The Imperial exemplary, the rooms are provided with manicure set, upholstery in the shades of pink, women’s magazines and special flower arrangements. Beginning from room amenities to bathroom accessories, the rooms have everything one can imagine of and provides an unmatched opulence with complete feminine touch. Eliza also offers a special airport pick-up facility wherein a lady staff assistance is provided to escort the guest. The price remains same in comparison to a similar category room at The Imperial. The difference lies in providing an array of tempting personalised services.


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GASTRONOMICDELIGHT red snapper sautéed in light garlic wine sauce) and Buddha’s Lobster Feast in spicy Dan Dan Sauce. Apart from a variety of soups and starters including Tom Yum Khung and Jack’s Seafood Soup and many more. Innovative new dishes in the main course like the Empress Fish Double wrapped in banana leaf, Lemongrass Fish Curry and Fried Spring Fish with five treasure vegetable in edible basket are likely to blow you away. All these new sea food additions can be savoured at any of the Yo China’s outlets in Delhi for a nominal price!

Chai ho jaye THERE’S GOOD news for tea-lovers! Even in this 44 degrees temperature, get ready to relish a hot cup of tea with snacks only at ‘flavoured tea festival’ hosted by Hotel Peninsula Grand in Andheri (East), Mumbai. You can drop in anytime in the month of June between 3.30 pm and 6.30 pm at ‘Careafe’, the 24-hour coffee shop at hotel and take your pick from a range comprising chamomile herbal infusion, Earl Grey green tea, classic Assam green tea, jasmine green tea, pure peppermint herbal infusions, green tea and lemon, royal tea, Earl Grey tea,

lemon and ginger fruit flavour and herbal infusion, original Darjeeling tea, green tea and mint, lemon flavoured tea , green tea, cardamom tea and an assortment of many more.

Fish mania at Yo! China IF YOU love seafood, the Fish O Mania menu at Yo! China will be a real treat for you. There are delicious delicacies like the King Prawn Singtu, long tailed red snapper in hot bean sauce (Whole

JUNE 2010 TRAVELX

Make weekend special at Oasis ENJOY YOUR weekend with scrumptious brunch at Oasis, the all-day diner at The Claridges, Surajkund, Delhi. The weekend brunch offers a wide selection of Indian, Italian and Chinese food from live counters, besides a range of soups, salads, cheese, appetizers and desserts. You can start with the exotic salad bar and move to the main course featuring a lavish spread like mutton stew, thin crust pizza, freshly tossed pastas, stir fries, red wine braised lamb, to name a few. Also on menu are live counters of eggs to order, pancakes and live dosa counters. The dessert includes chilled

cheese cake, pistachio crème, bitter chocolate cake and lots more. The food is accompanied by free flowing premium alcoholic and nonalcoholic beverages. And what’s most interesting is that you have the choice of making their own Bloody Mary with a range of over five home-infused vodkas like green chili and bell peppers, wasabi, smoked red chilies, ginger and jalapenos. For children, the kid’s corner promises an afternoon of fun and frolic with activities like face painting, magic show, tattoo making, bangle making, play stations etc. So, drop in anytime between 12 noon and 3 pm and make your weekend special.


Carpets & Rugs


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MILESTONES Bengaluru has the ‘Best Emerging Airport’ BENGALURU INTERNATIONAL Airport has been acknowledged with the title of the Best Emerging Airport — in the Indian sub continent by Emerging

Markets Airports Awards (EMAA) hosted by the acclaimed Airport Expo, Dubai. The award was presented by Peter Farmer, MD, 3DReid Architects to Marcel Hungerbuehler, CEO, BIAL. Bengaluru International Airport was declared the winner post the tabulation of the poll results from industry chiefs and leaders across the world airports.

Jet adjudged best international airline JET AIRWAYS has been adjudged the ‘Best International Airline’ at the Condé Nast Traveller India Awards. At a glittering ceremony in Mumbai, the airline was honoured with the prestigious award over several other leading international

JUNE 2010 TRAVELX

It’s raining accolades for Qatar Airways QATAR AIRWAYS has claimed yet further key international awards, winning three accolades at two glittering award ceremonies in Dubai. The carrier retained its Leading Business Class Airline in the Middle East title as voted by travel industry professionals in the prestigious World Travel Awards, an honour that the airline has now held for five consecutive years. The airline’s innovative exclusive Premium Terminal for First and Business Class passengers at Doha International Airport was named Leading Airport Lounge in the Middle East. At a separate ceremony organised by Business Traveller Middle East for travel industry professionals held at the Jumeirah Emirates Towers Hotel, Qatar

Airways took home the airline award for Best Economy Class in the Middle East for the second year running.

airlines. Condé Nast Traveller India Awards is a unique digital Readers’ India Travel Awards. People responded with 15 categories to vote for — including favourite cities, states, hotels, airports, airlines and more. This one-off readers’ India travel awards will act as a precursor for Condé Nast Traveller in India hosting its own Readers’ Travel Awards in 2011.

Yatra.com: ‘Best Domestic Tour Operator’ YATRA.COM HAS been awarded the second prize in the ‘Domestic Tour Operator’ category of the year 2008-2009 at the National Tourism Awards. This award has been conferred for its business excellence. The Ministry of Tourism, Government of India presents National Tourism Awards to various segments of the travel and tourism industry every year. These awards are presented to State Governments /

Union Territories, classified hotels, heritage hotels, approved travel agents, tour operators and tourist transport operators, individuals and other private organisations in recognition of their performances in their respective fields and also to encourage healthy competition with an endeavour to promote tourism.


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SPEED READER

DON’TMISS Shopping extravaganza in Singapore FROM LUXURY lovers to shopaholics, it is time to head to Singapore and indulge in some world-class luxury shopping at the premier Great Singapore Sale 2010. The eight weeks of shopping extravaganza is on-going till July 25, 2010, with a dizzying array of tempting offers across international brands, exciting events and up to 70 per cent savings on just about everything, everywhere! Whether it is high-end favourites from Dior, Karen Miller, Calvin Klein, Prada, Giorgio Armani, Louis Vuitton and Diane von Furstenberg to trendy budget-friendly options such as Topshop, Forever21 and Mango, shoppers will be spoilt for choice. Bag steal-deals from international favourites with new-concept stores such as Boucheron, Cartier, Chaumet, Harry Winston, IWC, Marc Jacobs and Vivienne

Tam, Cartier, Dior and Dolce and Gabbana across world-class shopping malls, including ION Orchard, 313@Orchard, Mandarin Gallery, Vivocity, Paragon, Marina Square, Suntec City Mall and Robinsons Centre point among the hotspots.

Air Arabia will now offer five weekly flights between the carrier’s hub in Sharjah, UAE and Goa, India. The two additional flights will greatly enhance the level of convenience for travellers from the UAE to one of India’s most popular holiday destinations. Air Arabia is currently the only LCC in the region to offer direct flights to Goa. The two additional flights will operate on Monday and Friday every week starting June 1, 2010, until October 30, 2010, between Dabolim International Airport in Goa and Air Arabia’s hub in Sharjah. In order to offer more convenient itinerary options, the flights will depart from Sharjah at 2225 hrs and arrive in Goa at 0305 hrs the following day. The return flights will depart from Goa on Tuesday and Saturday at 0345 hrs and arrive in Sharjah at 0525 hrs the same day. Air Arabia currently offers flights to Goa on Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday.

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LUXURY QUOTIENT

My Dior, the smallest, the lightest

INSEPARABLE YET independent, Dior phone and My Dior are the first HauteCouture mobile phones for women, and also the first to work in tandem. While Dior phone relaxes in the bottom of a Lady Dior, My Dior clips to the handle and lives its own life. Each partner in this elegant duo, unprecedented in the world of mobile phones, plays its role to perfection. My Dior is the smallest mobile phone in the world — and also the lightest. Measuring 70mm x 2.7mm x 10mm, the phone is a marvel of miniaturisation. It weighs 25 grams, lighter than a tube of Dior lipstick, and just as instinctive to use. Though it is technically cutting edge, My Dior has deliberately chosen simplicity. It places and receives calls, stores the 10 most recent numbers, displays the time and opens the address book — the essentials. My Dior also has a taste for independence. Connected to Dior phone via Bluetooth, it can range as far as 15 meters away. Its removable ring can also be attached to a handbag: with just one click, it is free and ready to talk.

THE PHONE COMES IN THREE MODELS

Dior Full Diamond Version:

INR 1,300,000

INR 260,000

K Dior Boutique Emporio, Nelson Mandela Marg, New Delhi K Johnson’s Watch Co, A-12, South Extension, Part-I, New Delhi K Watches of Switzerland, 231, Link Corner Building, Shop No.2, Linking Road, Bandra (W), Mumbai-400050 K The Helvetica, Chennai Spencer Plaza, No 7, Dr Radha Krishnan Salai, Chennai

K Dior Boutique Emporio, Nelson Mandela Marg, New Delhi K Johnson’s Watch Co, A-12, South Extension, Part-I, New Delhi K Watches of Switzerland, 231, Link Corner Building, Shop No.2, Linking Road, Bandra (W), Mumbai-400050 K The Helvetica, Chennai Spencer Plaza, No 7, Dr Radha Krishnan Salai, Chennai

AVAILABILITY:

JUNE 2010 TRAVELX

Dior Phone Sapphire Crystal Version:

AVAILABILITY:

Dior Phone Nacre Version:

INR 480,000 AVAILABILITY:

K Johnson’s Watch Co, A-12, South Extension, Part-I, New Delhi - 110049 K Watches of Switzerland, 231, Link Corner Building, Shop No.2, Linking Road, Bandra(W), Mumbai-400050 K The Helvetica, Chennai Spencer Plaza, No 7, Dr Radha Krishnan Salai, Chennai

„ Each model comes in an exceptionally complete package, with a USB hub to simultaneously charge Dior phone and My Dior, two USB cables, a stereo headset with remote control and a charger with specific adapters to place calls anywhere in the world: Europe, UK, United States, Asia or Australia.


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A MILLION MOMENTS. ONE WORLD.

DISCOVER A WHOLE NEW WORLD T H A T ' S T R U LY R E W A R D I N G

Asia's ultimate destination is now open! Welcome to Resorts World TM Sentosa, the one-stop holiday haven that's on everyone's list of must-see destinations this year. Be a part of this exciting new world today!

Contact your local Resorts World Sentosa representative office or visit www.rwsentosa.com for more information. a Genting company Shrek TM & © 2010 DreamWorks Animation L.L.C. Battlestar GalacticaTM Universal Studios & © USA Cable Entertainment LLC. All rights reserved. Universal Studios Singapore® & © Universal Studios. Universal Studios, the Universal globe logo and all Universal indiciaTM & © Universal Studios. All rights reserved. © Resorts World at Sentosa Pte Ltd 2010. All rights reserved.


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Beauty beyond the battlefield


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Batalik. Just the name sets off a chain reaction that ends in an explosion of fond memories in my soul. But to put things in perspective, allow me to take you on a journey down the alley of years gone by. The land, which will soon open up to public, has more to it than just reminiscences of the Indo-Pak war.

HIGH ROAD ALONG THE SEMI-FROZEN INDUS LEADING TO BATALIK

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28 GAURAV SCHIMAR

T

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he strategic importance of Batalik can be understood by anyone who has seen Bollywood thrillers like Lakshya that were inspired by the Kargil war. Because of the extreme winters in Kashmir, it was mutually accepted by both the Indian and Pakistan armies that forward posts would be abandoned during these cold months and reoccupied in the spring. But in a bid to capture Kashmir in the spring of 1999, Pakistan reoccupied not only their own, but also the Indian forward posts, far ahead of schedule. Just in the nick of time, acting on a tip from a local Batalik shepherd, Indian forces set up an ambush to thwart the advancing Pakistan troops. India launched its biggest air strike since the 1971 war to support its ground troops. It is said that had it not been for the prowess of the Indian Air Force and the swiftness of the ground troops, the geo-political maps of the region would have had to undergo substantial changes. Though the Kargil war ended on a victorious note for India, like all wars, it had its long-term effects. The Batalik sector, like so many others in Kashmir, was now even more fiercely guarded and closed to the rest of the world. But fortunately, the scene is changing as the peace process between the two countries is underway. The news that Batalik, along with a few other sectors, is being opened for Indian and foreign tourists this summer (MayJune 2010), for the first time since partition is enough to make any travel buff break into an impromptu jig. Many tourists travelling along the LehKargil-Srinagar route every year feel they have seen it all. Don’t mistake me. It’s not that the scenery on this route is not stunning. But during my travels I have learned that, to see the exotic, one must leave behind the familiar. So last winter, after spending a cosy night at Khalsi, camped out on the banks of the frozen

The annual pilgrimage to the monastery of Lamayuru is not an ordinary one. Pilgrims have to go through the arduous drill of touching the ground with their forehead at every step BRAND NEW OPERATION VIJAY GALLERY AT BIAMAH


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CHORTENS DOT THE LOCALES OF LIDO VILLAGE

YOUNG BOYS OF DHOMKAR HAPPY TO BE CLICKED

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Indus, I left early morning in a sturdy Maruti 800 to discover where the river, which is said to have given birth to the greatest civilization on earth, would lead me. By the way, I acquired new respect for this tiny little (now out of production) car, as it navigated all sorts of terrain in that weather, with the ease of a mountain goat. Just a few minutes into the journey and I had to step on the brakes to come to a squealing halt, as I passed by a procession of a dozen men, women and children on their annual pilgrimage to the monastery of Lamayuru. The pilgrimage was not ordinary. It was one of those affairs where for every step taken by the pilgrim, he has to go through the arduous drill of touching the ground with the forehead. But what was extraordinary was the fact that this was Ladakh in the peak of winters when even breathing gets a tad too difficult. And here were these, dozen brave men, women and


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30 GETTING THERE:

C The best way to approach Batalik sector is to drive along the LehKargil Highway (NH1D) and take the right turn from Khalsi. The journey from Leh will take about eight hours in summers and could take around 14 hours in winters. C The other, though much longer route is from Srinagar, again on NH1D via Sonmarg, Drass, Kargil and turning northwards from Namik La. C The nearest airports are at Leh (160km) and at Srinagar (300km).

WHERE TO STAY There are plenty of homestays and guesthouses to stay in till in Batalik region. C Ladakh Eco Trips (Mob: 9419815906, email: ladakhecotrips@gmail.com) takes care of all travel requirements, including stay, transportation and treks in the region.

JUNE 2010 TRAVELX

BEST TIME TO GO C Summer is the time when all the passes are open and one can travel comfortably in the region. C Winter is the time when the views are at their stunning best. Indus is mostly frozen and provides for those interesting photo ops. But beware. The passes are mostly snowbound and the roads are covered with snow, so take experienced and sturdy drivers with you.

children performing acrobatics right in the middle of the road. What’s more, the pilgrimage was going to reach its destination covering 60 odd kilometres, in ten days! I finally understood the wisdom of the words ‘faith can move mountains’. Next was Dhomkar, with its stony mountains that house immaculately preserved marine fossils, testimony to the fact that the region was once under the sea. Travelling west, i.e. towards Pakistan, the road along the coiling Indus, was in parts a steep upward climb. Other sections of the road however gave me the same feeling that one gets when you’re falling off a cliff — you know the one where your heart does a crazy dance, a flip-flop and then stops? Partially frozen at most places and completely frozen at many, this great river was my only constant companion throughout the journey. At the slightest opportunity, I would stop to soak in the views and interact with the locals. The Ladakhis are ever smiling despite their harsh circumstances and subzero temperatures. The frequent sight of flags fluttering atop snow-covered chortens with snowbound peaks in the background, cheered me on. Motorable bridges and at times pedestrian ones, adorned with bright and colourful prayer flags gleaming against the pristine snow, allowed me to cross over and capture the soul of the region in my lens, from every conceivable angle. But the most interesting was a bucket suspended with a pulley on a rope, over a semi-frozen stretch of the river, which I had a hard time navigating with my fully frozen fingers. A mosque at Inamdoh announced my arrival into a Muslim-dominated area.

ESSENTIALS C Though the region is open for tourists from this summer, you may still have to take inner line permits, which are easily available at DC’s office at Leh. C Though the region is peaceful, the army presence is still intact. Do not wander where you may find yourself in trouble. Take experienced guide with you to avoid any untoward situation. C Do not forget to pick up a bottle or so of Apricot oil from the region, which grows in abundance in the region. It is a good antidote for joint-aches and for general massage purposes in winters.

A CHORTEN AT SKIRBUCHAN


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Just short of Batalik town, is a trek across Indus that takes you to Darchik, one of the biggest villages in Ladakh that boasts of 100 per cent Brokpa population.

(PHOTOS BY GAURAV SCHIMAR)

PILGRIMS MAKING THE ARDUOUS JOURNEY FROM BATALIK TO LAMAYURU

JUNE 2010 TRAVELX

Everything seemed tranquil, despite the loud rumble of the chain-fitted tyres of army trucks that passed me by. I stopped at the recently inaugurated Op Vijay Gallery at Biamah, which presents the history of the Kargil War. The Brokpadominated village Dha was the last point accessible to conventional tourists. But on the wings of a prayer and armed with special permissions, I crossed over into virgin (well almost!) terrain. Just short of Batalik town is a trek across Indus that takes you to Darchik, one of the biggest villages in Ladakh that boasts of 100 per cent Brokpa population. Incidentally, the Brokpa people are believed to be the purest Aryans in the world. I was invited for a cuppa by the headman of this village and was within no time, surrounded by many animated Brokpas who were as thrilled to see me, as I was to see them. Though Batalik was just a few kilometres down the road now, the curiosity to learn more about these unusual and fantastic people made me camp up for the night at Darchik. Next day, I finally left the Indus where it left India to continue its journey into Pakistan, at Batalik town. This was the last Indian army base and Pakistani posts were clearly visible, looming over their Indian counterparts. Many areas of the Indian base still bore the scars of heavy enemy artillery gunfire. But that was in the past and the only shooting that was going to take place now, was from my camera. I offered homage at the war memorial and was greeted by a young army officer who was happy to see a civilian travelling in otherwise forbidden territory. I immediately started bombarding him with the zillion queries I had in my mind about the land, its men and the fauna. There was much to document, many new friends to make, wildlife to be captured on the lens, treks to be undertaken and stories to be heard and written... Just in case you are wondering — you’ve read just one!


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WANDERLUST

My tryst with a

ghost JUNE 2010 TRAVELX

How many of us do actually believe in ghosts? While we all may have a spooky tale to narrate, thanks to the Scooby Doo episodes we watched as kids or the Halloween parties that we attended, ghost, in reality, is something that we Would not like to come face-to-face with, right? Well, not me! I went all the way to Yorkshire in search of a ghost!


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RUPALI DEAN

I

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t's no secret that I am quite interested to know more about ghosts and it was this hidden curiosity of mine that took me to Yorkshire, England, famed as the most-haunted region in the world, in search of the paranormal. With a wealth of bloody history here, it comes as no surprise that souls of the dead wander the streets. Full of history, these haunted places are one of the most honest and interesting locations a traveller can venture to. I understand that some people are squeamish amongst the dead; but there are few places that encompass such a wealth of local history as these

haunted places do, and so, off I was to Yorkshire, in search of a ghost! Journeys that kickstart on a good note, often ends on a high note too. And as I sat having a glass of champagne along with my “Fillet of Garoupa” on my Emirates flight to Manchester, (benefit of being upgraded), I too had a similar feel, good intuition about my trip ahead. Indeed a perfect start to the ghost town! It was an hour’s train journey from Manchester to York. The city of York boasts more than its fair share of things that go bump in the night. In fact, in 2006 the International Ghost Research Foundation declared York as ‘Europe’s most haunted city'. Exiting the York train station, I stood facing a huge


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34 fortress like wall that seemed to run forever to either side. I walked right along the wall until reaching an entrance called Mickelgate Bar. This spot is famed as “The Headless Earl Ghost Spot", as my English friend Helen informed me. The story goes that Thomas Percy, Earl of Northumberland, was executed for treason in York: as a staunch Catholic he had plotted against the Protestant Elizabeth I. He was beheaded in 1572, and his head stuck on a large spike on Mickelgate Bar as a warning to anyone else with similar ideas. There it remained for many years until eventually recovered and buried in the churchyard of Holy Trinity Church in Goodramgate. The body of the Earl has been seen on many a night staggering between the graves, searching for his mislaid head. Thankfully, I did not spot it that night. Out here I climbed up and walked along the wide and thick walls towards York Minster and the city centre. These walls, I guess, would be about 15 feet or more thick and about 30 feet high. It is easy to see how they would keep the undesirables out or in — depending on what one perceives. After checking in at The Park Inn Hotel and a quick shower later, I curled in my bed for a surprisingly good sleep in a ghost city. A visit to York is incomplete if you don’t walk on the many walls that exist in the city and since I didn’t wanted to be the one with an “incomplete” visit, off I went the next morning on a guided tour of the haunted city. We started with the walls, of course, and as we passed by a church in the shadow of the Minster my guide told another interesting ghost story. One morning, in 1953, apprentice plumber Harry Martindale was installing a new central heating system in the cellars of the Treasurer’s House in the shadow of the Minster. Suddenly, he heard the distant sound of a horn, which gradually became louder. Soon, a great carthorse emerged through the brick wall, ridden by a dishevelled Roman soldier. He was followed by several more soldiers, dressed in green tunics and plumed helmets. It looked as YORK IN SPRINGTIME

JUNE 2010 TRAVELX

YORKSHIRE PASS The Yorkshire Pass is the first regional sightseeing pass in the UK Once purchased, the pass offers you a choice of over 70 visitor attractions across the region, plus lots of restaurant, shopping and evening entertainment offers, including ghost walks and tickets. You can buy a 1, 2, 3 or 6-day pass, making it a superb addition to your leisure break. To buy a pass: Tel: 01904550099 E-mail: info@yorkshirepass.com or visit www.yorkshirepass.com. One day pass costs 28 GBP, two days pass 38 GBP, three days 44 GBP and six days 68 GBP (child prices apply as well). MINSTER WITH SIGNPOSTS


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35 though they were walking on their knees — their lower legs and feet were nowhere to be seen. Then the ghostly crew moved into a recently excavated area, and it became clear that they were walking on an old Roman road, the Via Decumana, which had been buried 15 inches below the surface. When a bewildered Harry scrambled upstairs to safety, the Treasurer’s House curator reportedly said to him, “You’ve seen the Roman soldiers, haven’t you?" The ghosts had been seen on several previous occasions. Later that evening, I tried out the ghost tour, which turned out to be a lot of fun,

harbour was “Magpie Café", where we had to wait almost half an hour to get a place. The history of this building dates back to 1750 when it was originally a merchant’s house and became a cafe in 1939. In between, a member of the Scoresby whaling family is known to have owned it and it was also used as shipping and pilot’s office. Rumours have it that a ghost called Albert frequents it. Well, ghost or no ghost, I enjoyed the best “Fish and chips” ever and moved back to York for the night. The next day, we drove through the Yorkshire Dales to the market village Skipton, which has a big street market and

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CLIFFORD'S TOWER

mostly because of our guide, who obviously had acting capabilities and had the cape and the voice that was just perfect for the scary ghost stories. A traditional ‘Fish and chips’ lunch was high on my agenda, and so we set off to Whitby the next day. This beautiful town is governed by the cliff-top ruins of a beautiful 13th century Abbey and 199 steps (one of the locations in the famed book Dracula). Bang opposite the Abbey is West Cliff that has a statue of Captain James Cook, who sailed from the town, and a whalebone arch, commemorating the once-large whaling industry. Located right on the edge of the


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36 MUST VISIT/MUST DO HAUNTED A real-haunted house, over 700 years old, in the centre of York. Countless visitors have felt the icy touch of invisible fingers and heard eerie screeching from the attic. Located at 35 Stonegate, entry ticket is priced at: Adults 9 GBP, children 6 GBP. Tel: 0808 208 9666 Timings: Friday-Saturday: 10:30am to 7:30pm Sunday-Thursday: 10:30am to 5:30pm

YES MINSTER! You can’t come to York and not visit the Minster, the largest Gothic cathedral in Northern Europe. Take a free guide tour and climb the tower for amazing views. Do not forget to enjoy morning coffee followed by a light lunch or afternoon tea at St William’s college. The cathedral is open daily for services from 7am. Sightseeing can best be enjoyed during April to October from 9am to the last entry at 5:30pm (Sunday from 12 noon — last entry 3:45pm).

THE FRONT LOOK OF THE DEVONSHIRE ARMS

BE TRANSPORTED Breathe into the fresh air at Whitby, ride the North Yorkshire Moors steam railway from Pickering into the North York Moors National Park. Hire a bike at York railway station and cycle along the Selby cycle track, hop on the Yorkshire coast liner bus for a day at Castle Howard, whatever takes your fancy, its choice galore!

A FREE RIDE Visit the national railway museum, the largest railway museum in the world. Admission is free to this spectacular attraction featuring Stephenson’s rocket, the only Japanese bullet train outside Japan, a virtual tunnel trip, historical royal carriages and daily events.

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SHOPPING AT YORK Browse around the designer shops at the Petergate, Stonegate and the Swinegate Quarter; shop for souvenirs in the narrow cobbled streets of the shambles; explore York’s antique centres or simply hop on a bus to York Designer outlet, 10 minutes away from the city centre.

NATIONAL RAILWAY MUSEUM IS ANOTHER POPULAR TOURIST SPOT

is also the home of Skipton Castle, a smaller medieval castle. The castle was incredible, built nearly 900 years ego. Tired, I headed towards the Devonshire Arms. Bolton Abbey, a handsome ruin of a 12th century priory and the property of the Duke of Devonshire since the 1750s, dominates this part of the Wharfe and is beautifully situated at a bend in the river. It’s a beautiful hotel with an elegant restaurant where we had lunch. Dinner was at “Burlington", a Michelin star restaurant at the hotel where I found culinary paradise in what seemed like enchanted realms where one magical morsel after another was placed before me! Legend has it that the grounds here are haunted by the restless ghost of

Brother Peter, an Augustinian monk, who died mysteriously shortly before the Abbey was destroyed on the orders of Henry the Eighth in 1539. It is known that only a few days before the Abbey was destroyed, the grizzly remains of his body washed up near the strip in the torrid waters of the river Wharfe. I lay a little nervous in my big four poster bed at night in my spacious room, but soon I fell asleep, without any ghost disturbance. A good night’s sleep and a yummy Yorkshire breakfast later I caught a train to Leeds onto Manchester, it was time to get back home. I’d say this accounted to quite a few ghost areas across the region (and still no ghosts, unfortunately). (PHOTOS BY RUPALI DEAN)


Head Office; New Delhi YMCA Jai Singh Road, New Delhi-110001 Tel.: 011-43644044 Mob.: 9313697411 Fax: 23746032 Website: www.newdelhiymca.org

YMCA

YMCA Campsite cum Programme Centre (A Division of New Delhi YMCA) Kohinur, Mehragaon (P.O), Sattal-Nainital (Dt.), Uttarakhand YMCA Campsite Pokhartal Ph.: 0091-5942-247288 Almora (Dt.), Uttarakhand e-mail: ymcasattal@gmail.com


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NATURE TRAIL

Charms of a

cascade A VIEW OF THE ATHIRAPALLY FALLS FROM A ROOM OF THE RAIN FOREST HOTEL


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BRINDA GANESAN ored with the humdrum of everyday tussle, I make a conscious effort of visiting my neighbouring state at least twice a year. My passion for greenery, eternal waterways, and seductive lasses can be termed strong contributing factors and has in fact turned me green-eyed (though you can’t see green in my eyes). I am from a waterstarved place (Chennai) and it is my neighbouring state where monsoon seldom fails. And as soon as I got a favourable note that the downpour has stopped and now is a good time to see India’s Niagara Falls, like an excited kid, I just packed my bags and caught the train to Chalakudy, in the Thrissur District. At the station, we hopped into a cab and some 45 minutes drive later, the chauffer stopped just 200m short of the resort to give us a ‘formal view’ of the

B

falls. Athirapally Falls, which is not as popular as the other facets of Kerala, was a gurgling, growling cascade of water flowing in full vigour for as long as our eyes could travel. The view was breathtaking and I was glad to have listened to my agent! Moving on, our vehicle passed through a gate which looked like an entrance to a private villa. Aptly named ‘Rain Forest’ the resort is perched on a slope (amidst thick foliage) which overlooks the waterfalls. Hence all the rooms offer a fabulous view of the falls. After lunch, surfeit with masala (vegetarians will have tough time here) and stuffed with coconut we set out for the usual round-up. Our guide, Baiju, a naturalist, wildelifer, hunter, birdwatcher, and angler all rolled into one shepherd us. His loquacity regaled us. Athirapally is a hamlet in the Sholiyar forest range and even a typical jeep ride looks like a safari. After going on for just about two km, we

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There are some places in this world which never tire you, even on your umpteenth visit. For me, the green, fresh and scintillating environs of Kerala is one such place and my each visit introduces me to a new facet of the state. This time, as arranged by my tour operator, it was time to see the “Niagara Falls of India".


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WHERE TO STAY: Rain Forest is the only hotel in the area which offers luxury amidst nature, offering breathtaking view of the falls. You don’t need a spa here as Mother Nature acts as your therapist here.

HOW TO REACH: Kochi (55km) is the nearest airport and Chalakudy (30km) is the rail-head.

WHAT ELSE TO DO IN ATHIRAPALLY:

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 Visit a beautiful aquarium at the bus stand  Visit the tribal village  Find a way through the jungle (subject to permission from the forest dept)  Camp (overnight) in the thick of the Sholaiyar forests

PEOPLE ENJOYING THE SPRAY OF WATER FROM THE ATHIRAPALLY FALLS

stopped at the Charpah Falls, which can otherwise be referred to as the wayside shower. Since it is alongside the road, during monsoons, passer-bys are assured of feeling the spray. Again, after steering five km, we reached Vazhachal. Well strictly speaking, these cannot be called waterfalls. It is a large slope dotted with rocks and water leaps and rushes over them thus creating a cascade effect. The crags are in the form of a semi-circle. The prospect of water flowing out smoothly from a 270 degree semi-circle is scintillating. Vazhachal takes a voluminous shape at Athirapally. With the abundant flora and fauna and herbal plantation maintained by the forest department, Vazhachal is a


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botanist’s treasure trove. Next Baiju was all set to arrange a rendezvous with denizens of forest (for us). The entire area is replete with streams, brooks and thickets and thus it comes as a little surprise that this region is a haven for wild animals. He suddenly brought the jeep to a halt, “I smell an elephant," he avered, but the luck was not on our side and we were unable to spot one. However, his frequent stops made us see some other animals like the sambar as deer, jungle cat and rabbit. Locals have seen leopards and tigers also, if Baiju’s fascinating tales were to be believed. Baiju himself can be christened as ‘Jr Tarzan’. He has caught so many snakes, including cobra, python and viper. Even the villagers are snake-catchers.

“Are they (locals) not afraid of them?" I asked, unable to contain the curiosity within me. He laughed and said, “Only the reptiles are scared. If they catch a snake it becomes their dinner. Even I have binged on a python. It was so tasty. Never in my life have I had such a meal," he smacked his lips and I was assured that he indeed must have enjoyed the feast. It started to drizzle and we made our way back to the resort where the beautifully stacked Jungle Books in the library kept me engaged for long. We woke up the next morning to the symphony of birds being orchestrated by Mother Nature. Crouching on my bed, I viewed the falls at a distance where it appeared like gallons and gallons of milk

pouring out from the heaven. The grassed hills at the background were misty, adding an ethereal quality to the entire scene. In Kerala, you cannot predict when the heavens will break. Baiju calls me from reception for a closer view of the falls. We wait for sometime to see whether there will be a cloudburst. But the heavens were kind to us and we set out to see the ‘Niagara Falls’, up close and personal! The river is eponymous with the name of the district, Athirapally. Emerging from the high altitudes of Anamalai range (in Tamil Nadu), the river meanders through forests and hills in Kerala and enters Sholiyar range at Athirapally. It is at this point that it tumbles into a deep gorge of 30m and takes its own course. The fury and beauty of the cascade can be best

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BEHNE DE... Bollywood, since always, has been the eyes and ears of the local junta. At a time when many of us could not have even dreamt of going to Switzerland, the Yash Raj Films ensured that we got to at least see most of the picturesque beauty on the big screen. And the trend has not stopped since then. London’s Traffalgar Square and New York’s Brooklyn Bridge are some joints that have repeatedly been featured in many movies, and today, even people who have not been to the destinations, know them. While director’s fascination with the West continues to exist, some veteran directors never cease to showcase the undiscovered beauty of India, a popular example of which is Mani Ratnam. Who would have thought that India has its own version of the Niagara Falls? Mani Ratnam not only discovered it but also showcased it to the world. After capturing it in Jiya jale from Dil Se, Barso re from Guru, the Athirapally Falls of Kerala is now in news again for is majestic showcase in the upcoming movie Raavan. Important parts of Abhishek Bachchan and Aishwarya Rai Bachchan starrer Raavan has been shot here. Aishwarya in an interview said, “In Athirapally if I close my eyes, I swear I can hear the rain, the waterfall.. I can feel the mist and hear the heartbeat of the forest. We shot amidst snakes, rabbits and leeches in cold water and near the Athirapally waterfalls. I was dragged, pulled, pushed, tied, blindfolded and dunked in water. I will never forget the experience."

AIMING FOR A GOOD CATCH

ENJOY LUXURY AMIDST NATURE

A VIEW FROM THE HOTEL ROOM

watched during the monsoon season when it attains a phenomenal width and hurtles down on the waiting rocks. (The width of the falls is around 100m which makes it look like Niagara). After getting the ticket from the counter we traversed a rocky path to reach the top of the falls. We went along the barricaded ridge to have a lateral view of the falls. From the

precipitous height, the tapestry of the water looked like God’s mane. It fumed and foamed — gurgled and growled, before settling calmly after hitting the plains. Even though I was seeing it for the first time, there was a sense of familiarity to the entire scene. Here again Baiju came to my aid and reminded me of Kamal Hassan’s blockbuster movie Punnagai Mannan. Just before our visit, some sequences of Raavan (starring Abhishek Bachchan and Aishwarya Rai) were shot here. Once an unknown jungle, it is now a haunt of movie moghuls. On the other side is the vast river and people bathe at safe spots. There is another cobbled pathway descending to the foot of the falls. It offers a sky to earth view of the cascade. With the help of some rubbernecks (like me) and Baiju I slightly moved forward into the surging water and stood on a rock. From the bottom, the line and the cliff looked almost like Titanic. As I was deep in my thoughts, held almost speechless by this growling beauty, a cool spray splashed on my hot face, cooling my nerves and bringing me back to reality. Walking along the river bank can be thrilling but possible only during the summer season when the flow will be in low ebb. Since we had to walk through wooded tract to reach the bottom, we saw a lot of avifauna, simians, multi-hued winged insects and other arboreal creatures. It was almost 5 in the evening, we still hadn’t had our lunch, and didn’t even realise it — such is the effect of Athirapally falls, memories of which still have a very special place in my “Kerala holiday” closet! (PHOTOS BY BRINDA GANESAN)


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ESCAPADE

Wannabe king?

SAUMAVA MITRA

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s the bus from Behror rattled on towards Jaipur, panic settled in. The impromptu trip from Delhi with my British friend had come too suddenly and we had found ourselves without a place to stay in the pink city. The festival of Gangaur meant that Jaipur was overrun by tourists who had filled all the haveli accommodations and guesthouses. My friend, whose first trip it was, put her foot down for a more authentic experience than the lobbies of five-star hotels. We faced the prospect of hunting around for

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THE COURTYARD AT THE NAHARGARH FORT

It was paucity of space and my friend’s persistence that landed us at the Nahargarh Fort, and for many years to come, I shall thank my stars for the turn of events as I will never forget the experience of having a fort, all to myself.


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QUICK FACTS AN OVERVIEW OF THE NAHARGARH FORT Q

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Nahargarh fort lies 6km north of Jaipur, just below the Jaigarh Fort. It was built by Maharaja Jai Sawai Singh in 1734. It offers the picturesque view of the city of Jaipur. Madhavendra Bhawan, corridors, zenana deorhi are the major attractions of the fort. The fort is open for tourist. viewing from 10am till 4.30pm. Entry Fee: Adult: Rs 15 for Indians, Rs 20 for foreigners, extra charges for cameras and videos.

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hotels in the 40 degree Celsius sun in mid-afternoon. We decided to start early by calling ahead from the bus. After a few futile calls to different hotels, we hit upon the game of calling the least likely of them all. The guidebook had little more than a footnote on Nahargarh fort. "Book fairly in advance because there is only one room in the fort which is let out," it forebodingly warned. It seemed the voice of an angel which confirmed that the sole room at Nahargarh for overnight travellers was ours for the taking. It seemed a bit too good to be true. Having no option, we decided to give it a try, especially because it was very cheap.

Nahargarh fort, along with Jaigarh and Amer fort, is one of the three forts dotting the countryside around Jaipur. Overlooking the city from its high perch on a hill right next to the city, it is the closest fort to the city. Once at Sindhi Camp, where the bus dropped us off in Jaipur, auto-driver Alam agreed to drive us up to our lodgings on the hill and wait for us to come down to the city for 200 rupees. Not knowing what to expect, we carried food and other basic sustenance along with us. What we found however was more than a pleasant surprise. For just a 1,000 rupees we had the run of an ornate dining hall with a restaurant and bar at the site of the fort itself. The price did not include breakfast but meals are fairly cheap and edible at the restaurant. We had a reasonably clean traditional Rajasthani bathroom with modern appointments. The best part of it all was that after closing time, we were to have the place all to ourselves. But then there was the bedroom, that deserves a paragraph, just by itself. Both our bathroom and bedroom gave us mild vertigo. Divided into two parts, the en suite that could easily sleep four people was built into one of the old watch towers of the fort. Stretched out on the bed after the long bus journey, the ornate windows gave us a view of the entire city down

below, waiting to be explored by us, with its intricate alleyways of intriguing names like Jahuri Bazaar or Papadwale ki gali. With the lights of night-time Jaipur stretching out over the horizon, it looked like Kipling’s India, close yet far, dark but luminous. At night, it was like going to sleep on a bed of jewels. But I am getting ahead of the story. Coming back to the bed, it wouldn’t be an exaggeration to say that the bed was fit for kings but the dusty bedding wasn’t. Without the frequent footfall of tourists during the off-season summer months, the bed resembled the arid plains of the desert state. For all the excitement we felt at the view, we also had scratchy backs. When we opened the panes, the gust that hit us told the story. No vacuum cleaner was a match for the all the winds of Rajasthan carrying its sandy soil to this bed. For the same reason, one thing you cannot complain at Nahargarh is about the lack of air-conditioning in the room. Even at high summer, cool natural air swept the apartment through the night making the flimsy electric fan seem like the blades of a helicopter caught in a tornado. The best part about staying at Nahargarh is that it comes with unexpected freebies. Not all of them are welcome. For most tourists, this fort is just a stop during the customary sightseeing trip around

One thing you cannot complain at Nahargarh is about the lack of air-conditioning in the room. Even at high summer, cool natural air sweeps the apartment making the flimsy fan seem like the blades of a helicopter.


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GETTING THERE: Nahargarh fort forms as an impressive northern backdrop of Jaipur. For this reason, to explore the tranquility of the fort, one has to first reach the pink city, as commonly known. Falling under the Golden Triangle of India, Jaipur is well-connected by air, rail and road. THE INTERIOR OF THE FORT IS A TASTE OF LUXURY

Jaipur. For those in the know or in the mood, this can extend to a dinner at the most romantically placed restaurant in the royal city. The Padao restaurant is unmatched for its vantage point of a glorious sunset over the hills of Jaipur. However, if you stay at the fort, this same spot can turn into your very own private promenade. After tourists have departed and the restaurant has shut shop, the kindness of the hotel staff (always dependent on extraneous factors) may allow you to sit for long hours looking over the jewel box that is Jaipur at night with its lights. For once, the sky with its diamonds was no match for the gold that lay at our feet. Nahargarh also comes with its own resident ghost. The late his majesty Nahar Singh is well known around these parts for having claimed fame by stopping work of the building of the fort till it was named after him. His more recent exploits include throwing the watchmen guarding the peripheral walls over the side. Thinking back to the un-railed windows of the bedroom, I did not look forward to a royal visitation at all. I may have secretly wished for some visit though. Next morning, perched on my throne (what else can you call a WC

with a view like that) I froze seeing a face looking unblinkingly at me through the small window. Not till it said something to me in a language which as far as I could tell was Simian, did I dare to get up and shut the window. The monkeys were everywhere. When not chased away by the staff, they were most friendly. They want to eat breakfast with you, bathe and possibly join you later for a sun-downer.

The hardest part about staying in Nahargarh fort is its 15km distance from the city. Getting to and from the city means an auto-ride each time. If you happen to crave better company than monkeys and dead kings, the city of Jaipur awaits you. The hardest part about staying in Nahargarh fort is its 15km distance from the revels of the city. Getting to and from the city means an autoride each time and unless you work out a system with a cell-phone owning friendly MONKEY ENJOYING THE WALK ON THE ROOF OF THE FORT

BY AIR K Jaipur Airport is located near Sanganer at a distance of 13km from the city of Jaipur. K Many domestic airlines connect the city to all the major cities of India. K Flights from Delhi and Mumbai run on a regular basis. K A number of airlines like Air India, Jet Airways, Kingfisher, SpiceJet, GoAir and Indigo operate flights to Jaipur on regular basis. K The airport has been granted the status of an international airport and connects to the foreign cities like Sharjah and Muscat. K Taxis are available at the airport for transfer to the city. BY RAIL K Jaipur Railway Station is a central main station of Rajasthan. K The vast rail track of Indian Railways connects Jaipur with all major cities of India. K There are numerous trains which run on a regular basis to and from Jaipur. K Shatabdi, Intercity Express, Pink City Express and Chetak Express shuttle between Jaipur and Delhi.

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BY ROAD K Excellent road network serves people to enjoy a comfortable journey to and from Jaipur. K Regular bus services from nearby cities make connectivity to Jaipur affordable. K Deluxe buses, AC coaches and government buses are also available. K One can easily reach Nahargarh fort from Jaipur by taking bus / auto or hiring taxi.


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A VIEW OF THE JAIPUR CITY FROM THE FORT ABOVE

No refurbished palace hotels that is so easy to come across and so hard to afford, can beat Nahargarh for its authenticity and rugged charm.

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driver, it can be quite hard to find conveyance. The obsequious but lackadaisical hotel-staff (a facet of government-managed

tourist places all over India) are not much help in this regard either. There is a staircase going down into the city which is an option — not the least because it leads straight into the biggest wholesale market for Rajasthani bangles — but for most people (or for a confirmed smoker like me) climbing up them is not. The best option is to have your own car. However, let transportation not be a deterrent in your plans of staying at this wondrous fort. If you are planning to get away from the crowd for a quiet, relaxed weekend

in the pink city without paying the rates for fort-resorts (which offer the seclusion but sometimes not the character), Nahargarh’s single room accommodation is a bargain deal. No refurbished palace hotels that is so easy to come across in Rajasthan and so hard to afford, can beat Nahargarh for its authenticity and rugged charm. And just like a low-frills airline, it gets you to the same place far cheaper. Not the best for creature comforts, Nahargarh is still an above the ordinary place to sleep in Jaipur. Quite literally.


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MONUMENTAL FOUNTAIN ON LAKE COMO, VISIBLE FROM A LONG DISTANCE

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So, this is where

Clooney hides!


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PAVEMENT CAFES AT PIAZZA CAVOUR

ANITA RAO KASHI know, I know! I can almost see the dropped jaws and raised eyebrows, but someone famous once said: “Everyone is allowed a few weaknesses,” or something like that, so there it is, my particular brand. Make no mistake — I did the other stuff too. But Lake Como held serious fascination because of Clooney, who is known to own Villa Oleandra on the lake. And if rumours are to be believed, then it is the same stunning beautiful edifice that was featured in Ocean’s 12 as the Night Fox’s lair. In my defence though, Clooney fixation notwithstanding, Lake Como, located in Lombardy, is a charming and great mix of the ancient and the new. On the morning I reached Lake Como, the weather was perfect. A weak sun twinkled from amidst hazy clouds,

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providing just the right amount of brightness, while a cool breeze blew in from the lake. There was just that tiny bit of nip in the air, which makes being outdoor a pleasant activity. I had taken an early morning train from Milan, about an hour’s ride, and stepped out of the station to a magnificent view of the lake. It was a dramatic sight: blue waters ringed by tall green mountains on which were perched houses of all sizes and hues. The lake front was lined with a sturdy grill balustrade beside which ran a pathway shaded by lovely trees. I went straight to the grill and leaned against it, taking in my first fill of the entire scene. In front of me, the lake stretched out like a narrow band, and I saw boats of various sizes criss-crossing the lake. I recalled reading from my guide book that Lake Como was nearly 150sq km and over 400m deep in places, and at least 200m below sea level at its deepest.

SHADED PATHWAY ALONG THE WATERFRONT IS VERY POPULAR WITH TOURISTS

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Others go to Italy to see the fabulous ruins of Rome, St Peter’s Cathedral and the Pieta in the Vatican. Me? I went to see George Clooney’s lakeside villa on Lake Como!


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A VIEW OF SOME OF THE MANSIONS THAT HUG THE HILLS FACING LAKE COMO

It was so vast that its farthest banks stretched into Switzerland. Along its banks, the lake supported more than a dozen towns and villages, including Bellagio, inspiration for the famous Las Vegas behemoth. Also, this was the playground of the rich and famous. Apart from Clooney, the likes of Madonna, Gianni Versace, Ronaldinho, Mathew Bellamy and Sylvester Stallone too had their abodes here. I could see why: the epithet breathtaking sat rather comfortably on this place. After soaking up the sight of the lake for some time, I reluctantly pulled away from the grill, intending to see what the rest of the main town had to offer. I walked down the waterfront for a bit and then turned off near the main square, Piazza Cavour, into the centre of town. Serviced by a network of tiny lanes, most of them cobblestoned, and flanked by tall stone buildings, the town of Como is quite ancient. The city walls and watchtowers are solid and still intact, and make a formidable statement. Like all Italian towns, the Duomo or simply the Cathedral, is the centre to the town, usually buzzing with activity, yet not disturbing the tranquil

environs. An imposing Renaissance style structure, it boasted of ornate frescos and beautiful paintings inside. However, I was more interested in an etching of the zodiac signs on the outer wall and I spied it after some searching. The town hall and sundry buildings that lay adjacent to the Duomo made for an impressive complex of stone buildings. In the large courtyard in front of the Duomo, a series of cafes with al fresco seating under bright, colourful awnings were busy catering to tourists, and lovely aromas of coffee, cakes, biscotti and savouries filled the air. I couldn’t resist the temptation and settled down in one of the cafes for my mid-morning shot of caffeine. A chirpy Italian lady took my order, amused with my attempt at Italian, but too good natured to laugh outright, and brought my coffee pronto, which I sipped gratefully. That done, I wandered the narrow streets some more, marvelling at some of the delightful and unusual sights: a tiny covered overhead bridge that connected two buildings across a street; a little fountain springing up from the ground where three streets met; a beautiful round clock, anchored with ornate iron work to the corner of a building; tubs of bright flowers spilling out from window sills and balconies‌. Everything seemed so picture-postcard. An hour later, my wanderings brought me back to Piazza Cavour, where a tiny restaurant beckoned. I feasted on lovely prosciutto, gnocchi and spinach ravioli, and turned down a portion of pizza with great reluctance for want of space! Full from a fabulous lunch, I strolled across from the restaurant to the lakefront where the ferry office was located. A Euros 6.40 ticket bought me a two-hour ride across the lake, and I settled in the outdoor portion of the boat. Only a handful of people joined me on the boat and I was glad that I had it almost to myself. The boat gently


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LANDING DOCK AT TORNO

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AN ANCIENT WATCHTOWER

skimmed the smooth surface of the water, and a swift, cool breeze blew in. As we coasted along, I got a chance to look more closely at some of the magnificent villas that lined the shores. Elegant and sprawling structures rose from the sides of the mountains and lay amid beautiful gardens. I had heard that the villas were very expensive and I could only begin to imagine the occupants and their lifestyles. One such mansion belonged to Clooney, a rather

A PANORAMIC VIEW OF LAKE COMO AND THE HILLS SURROUNDING IT

squat structure at the edge of the lake with steps going down to the water, my guide pointed out. “Photography problem," he said cryptically, as I gleefully prepared to expend at least one memory card. I heeded the warning though: I had no intention of spending any time trying to explain myself to the local Polizia. I also realised that would be the closest I would ever get to Clooney! The boat, which also served as a

passenger ferry for locals, stopped at many of the little villages / towns with such musical names as Cernobbio, Torno, Argegno and Lenno. Each had a charming landing dock and pretty habitations behind it, and each tried in its own way to be distinct from the other: an elaborate grill work here, stately arrival building there‌ my camera shutter whirred in super quick mode. I could have cruised on the lake for many hours, but my time was up and as I


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53 QUICK FACTS

WHERE: Lake Como (Lago di Como in Italian) is located in Italy’s Lombardy province, on the Italian-Swiss border, and draws it name from the town of Como, which is at the southern end of the lake.

HOW TO REACH

C Milan, about 60km away, is the nearest airport to Como. Many international carriers fly to Milan from Indian metros, but usually there is a minimum of one transit stop involved. C From Milan’s Stazione Centrale (Central Station), there are frequent trains to Como. Fares are about Euros 3.50 each way.

WHERE TO STAY Como as well as the other towns and villages offer excellent accommodation in almost all price bands. C For a luxurious stay at Como, places include HOTEL PALACE http://www.palacehotel.it/ HOTEL METROPOLE SUISSE http://www.hotelmetropolesuisse.com BEST WESTERN HOTEL CONTINENTAL C For spectacular views, Lake Como Vistas near Bellagio is an ideal option.

WHERE TO EAT Visitors are spoilt for choice since there are restaurants and eateries everywhere in this tiny town, and cater to all kinds of dining. But eat local cuisine in places where the locals eat.

MUST SEE/MUST DO Boat trip on the lake, funicular trip, walk along waterfront, bike across town, eat a gelato, visit Villa Carlotta — one of the few villas open to public since it has been converted into a museum.

its way up, almost vertically, to Brunate village, a few hundred metres above Como. The trip took all of seven minutes, but the journey could have well been into another dimension. As the train rose, the scenery became even more breathtaking, providing a panoramic view of the town and the lake. At the top, I got off and stood gazing for long at the fabulous scene in front of me before wandering around the quaint little village full of old world charm. Narrow

roads snaked up and down, with cottages perched on either side, some rather precariously. There were flowers everywhere and tiny fountains gurgled at street corners. It was so idyllic and perfect, it reminded me of sets in Hollywood’s Universal Studios — only this was for real. I lingered as long as I possibly could and took the funicular back down, accompanied by a gaggle of excited school kids on excursion. Back on the waterfront, I made one

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stepped on to terra firma again, my guide called out a cheerful “Ciao,” the ubiquitous greeting in Italian that signifies hi, bye and everything in between, and used throughout the day. He also pointed a short distance away on the shore and said “Funicolare”. Intrigued, I walked along to where he had pointed and discovered a funicular train station with a cable car running up and down. I bought a return ticket for about Euros 4 and the tiny train groaned


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LANDING PORT OF CERNOBBIO, A TINY TOWN ON LAKE COMO

last stop — at Tempio Voltiano, an imposing structure surrounded by acres of green lawns, and a tribute to Volta, a local scientist who invented the battery. It houses an exhibition about him, but was closed when I went, and I had to content myself with only the outside view, before I walked back to the main station for my return trip to Milan. Even though it was late evening, there was enough light, thanks to summers. That Clooney had eluded me, niggled, but, everything else about the trip made up for it many times over. In the evening light, the lake looked even more beautiful, if that’s possible at all, and I stood at the waterfront at the exact same spot I had in the morning, trying to memorise every detail of the picture in front of me. That last scene is still etched in my mind, fresh as ever. Wordsworth had Daffodils in mind when he penned, “In vacant or in pensive mood/They flash upon that inward eye/Which is the bliss of solitude/And then my heart with pleasure fills,” but they seemed to fit in nicely for my experience. A SWAN ON LAKE COMO NEAR THE FERRY STATION IN COMO TOWN

(PHOTOS BY ANITA RAO KASHI)


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Welcome to TravelX TravelX, the new landmark in the travel publication industry is the latest offering from Newsline Publications whose magazine on aviation - Cruising Heights has been an integral part of the Indian aviation scene for many years now. TravelX is an international travel publication focusing on providing top of the line travel information to the consumer as well as veterans in the travel and tourism industry. The magazine gives information on national, international destinations along with hotel reviews, restaurant / bar updates, profiles, personal history, specialists sharing their experiences with us and many more interesting write ups. The publication offers a perfect mix of travel, lifestyle and food information. Our readers love the business of travel or are indeed bon vivant travellers who love the concept of exploration and adventure. Our writers are the specialist in the business and are well aware of the ups and downs of the travel world. So, the magazine is professionally written in a style and manner for everybody to understand. Published twelve times a year, TravelX, reports in depth on all facets of the travel and tourism. With such a balanced mix of editorial, we ensure that we reach out to a large number of audiences.

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COMPASS

In love with MAKE A SPLASH WITH WATERSPORTS AT LAKESHORE IN LAVASA


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Lavasa

Most satellite cities in India today are the hub of unplumbed chaos, with little attention given to their environs and planning. In the zeal to decongest them, many man-made towns are coming up. Graphed along the same lines, LAVASA is western India's first planned eco-city, situated just 50km from Pune.


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LAVASA IS ALSO A HUB FOR ADVENTURE SPORTS

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SUNIL VAIDYANATHAN/ SHAYONI MITRA estern India is famous for its industrialisation; accompanied by unplumbed chaos! Most cities have thus remained shamefully unplanned as a consequence of having to cater to capitalistic avarice and the needs of an ever-burgeoning population. An attempt to decongest the satellite cities around Mumbai led to a remarkable development in urban planning. Lavasa, sited along the banks of an artificial lake, pro-

W

vides ample proof that development need not alter ecological balance. Just a threehour drive from Mumbai and only an hour away from Pune, this new self-contained township boasts of all the functional amenities of a metro city. Set amidst almost 25,000 acres of natural landscape, Lavasa is embraced by seven hills that girdle its 60km lakefront. Almost one-fourth the size of Mumbai and just about as big as Paris (100 sq km), this environmentally sensitive city is planned on the principles of new urbanism, where the idea is to allow people to 'live, work, learn and play in harmony with nature'.

The township will eventually include four town centres. While work on the entire township will be completed only by 2021, 'Dasve' the first town centre that is already fairly functional, will be fully habitable by 2011. It offers, among other things, a choice of elegant housing, a country club and resorts, educational and medical facilities set to international standards, edutainment parks for kids and even adventure sports and spas. The religious people can find solace in one of the many places of worship in and around the township. Led by a committed team of experts that include world-renowned environmen-


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59 talists, the vision of Lavasa is to provide affordable community living to both the urban middle class and a niche clientele. Its master plan has been conceptualised by the internationally renowned design consultant HOK, USA and is based on the transect model. This hill city evolves from a densely populated town centre, which gets sparser as the elevation increases; thus maintaining the equilibrium between an artificial environment that eventually blends itself with natural surroundings without disturbing the innate character of the place. Some of the big names already present here are Apollo Hospital, Times of India Group (which will soon be setting up a training centre), Union Bank, Ecole Hotelier, RPG International and Tommy Hilfiger. With a 365-day economy, Lavasa is set to provide a hundred thousand employment opportunities. A complete eco-city, Lavasa promises minimum greenhouse emissions, generation of energy through renewable sources, recycling sewage for irrigating its vast tracts of greenery and composting waste, thus entirely doing away with the outdated concept of landfill sites. The settlements themselves are designed to be pedestrian-friendly and encourage the use of public transport. Environmental initiatives include hydro-seeding and bio-mimicry. Technology will play a quintessential role in the future and all Lavasa townships will be e-cities with an emphasis being laid on e-governance. Planned as an eco-settlement that can support a permanent population of around 0.3 million, it is estimated that at least five times this number will visit the site as tourists every year. Keeping this in mind, accommodation is being developed to cater to various budgets and there are a plethora of options to choose from. Facilities like rental housing and starter homes are being offered alongside self-owned GoanMediterranean style villas and lakeside apartments, which are equipped with all possible amenities. While the up-market hotels and serviced apartments are of international calibre, the budget traveller can opt for mid-range hotels and dormitories. Food-lovers will have a variety of cuisine to

THE LUXURIOUS DASVINO TOWN AND COUNTRY CLUB

A PANORAMIC VIEW OF TOWN CENTRE AT DASVE

choose from, ranging from Oriental to Continental, traditional Indian, Mexican and Italian and promises to tantalise the senses alongside Indian and western fast food. For the tourist who wishes to flee from the banausic existence of the city, Lavasa provides the perfect respite. Sited along the slopes of the mystic Western Ghats, it is

the perfect setting for a weekend getaway. While the township offers a variety of indoor entertainment, which includes cinemas, markets, theme parks and wellness centres, the more adventurous lot can opt for other exciting diversions such as golf, boating, and similar other outdoor sports. The golf courses here are built to meet the international standards and could rival

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60 GETTING THERE To get to Lavasa, one has to reach Pune first. Regarded as the gateway to Lavasa (just 50km away), Pune is easily accessible by air and rail. C Pune airport is located about 10km away from the city, in the Lohagaon area. Taxi charge from airport to city is only Rs 200. Flights from Bengaluru, Chennai, New Delhi, Hyderabad and Kolkata are being served by SpiceJet, while Indigo connects Ahmedabad to Pune and Jet Airways connects Mumbai. With low fare airlines operating regular flights to Pune, price-conscious traveller finds it the best available option. Fares vary from Rs 1,930 to Rs 3,679 per passenger. These fares, however, are subject to availability and are likely to fluctuate. C A large number of express and superfast trains ply between Pune and the other major cities of the country. Moreover, trains like Shatabdi Express, Deccan Queen, Indrayani Express, etc, ply regularly between Pune and Mumbai. For more details, visit www.indianrail.gov.in. C The Mumbai-Pune Express Highway offers a safe and fast access between Mumbai and Pune. Pune is 163km from Mumbai. Pune is also well connected with Goa, Ahmedabad, Nagpur, Shirdi, Bengaluru, Indore, Hyderabad and Aurangabad through road. C From Pune, one has to proceed to Lavasa by road. One can hire taxi or bus. MSRTC (Maharashtra State Road Transport Corporation) also provides bus services from Pune bus depot to Lavasa. For more details, visit www.msrtc.gov.in

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WHERE TO STAY There is a huge selection of tourist accommodation in Lavasa, which can provide you a comfortable stay according to your budget. So, you can settle yourself at FORTUNE SELECT DASVE, Patharshat, Paluka Mulshi, Lavasa, Pune - 412 107, Tel: 91-20-30994444, Fax: 91-20-30994445 e-mail: lavasa@fortunehotels.in WATERFRONT SHAW APARTMENT HOTEL, (Lavasa Corporation) At Village-Dasve, Post Pathershet, Taluka-Mulshi, Lavasa, Pune. Tel.: 020 6654 1414 e-mail: info@waterfrontshaw.com

even the better-known venues. In the monsoon months, the real magic of Lavasa becomes apparent. The many natural streams that have been channelised to feed the artificial dam come alive. The paths along these rivulets make ideal trekking trails. This is also the ideal time to explore the flora and fauna of the township. Lavasa is sited along the magnificent Western Ghats, which is one of the most significant bio-diversity zones in India. The Western Ghats form a catchment area for numerous rivers that form the drainage system, which accounts for 40 per cent of India's watershed. The area is one of the world's ten 'greatest biodiversity hotspots' and has over 5,000 species of flowering plants, 139 mammal species, 508 avian species and 179 amphibian species. At least 325 globally threatened species are found in the Western Ghats. Of the many economically important plant species here, bamboo stands out for its numerous uses. Lavasa Valley is home to at least six species of bamboo. This gave Lavasa the motivation to come up with a bamboo workshop, which would utilise natural resources to generate a self-sustainable economy in the region. Lavasa Bamboocrafts Limited has already commenced operations at Mugaon in Lavasa. The workshop aims at promoting the use of bamboo in all its uses and will house over 65 workers. Lavasa is also home to a spectrum of medicinal and aromatic plants such as Kumbha, Kuda, Chitrak, Waras, Ranjai and Sawar. The fauna of this planned township has not been threatened by its tailormade surroundings. It is home to a variety of rare birds like the Tickell's flower-

In the monsoon months, the real magic of Lavasa becomes apparent. The many natural streams that have been channelised to feed the artificial dam come alive. The paths along these rivulets make ideal trekking trails. pecker — one of the smallest birds in India —and the Osprey — a migratory bird from Europe. The Malabar Whistling Thrush, Lavasa's star singer, has earned the epithet of the 'Whistling Schoolboy'! Other than these rare birds, Lavasa's ecosystem supports two rare butterflies, the fascinating Blue Mormon and the Oak Leaf. The latter with wings closed, closely resembles a dry leaf with dark veins and is a spectacular example of camouflage. Lavasa is also home to the Karvi flower (Blue Bloom), which blooms only once in seven years. Occasionally, you might be able to spot a small herd of deer that assemble around the artificial waterholes and streams. This makes for a delightful visual treat! The weather here is pleasant and Lavasa enjoys a year-round cool breeze, with temperatures ranging from 6°c to 35°c. Although Lavasa is still in its infantile stage, if the pace of development sustains, this might very well be the answer to India's urban space crunch.


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TEE OFF

61 SHARMILA GHOSE rom Kandy, the road to the highlands started its steady ascent up the hillside like a tight ribbon wound round and round. The air became brisk with the rising altitude and the appearance of eucalyptus and fir heralded the arrival of cooler climes. My guide informed me that we were in the fabled Sri Lankan tea country. Lush tea-clad slopes rushed up and slid away as the van sped past. My eyes never still, swung left, right and left again, drinking in the beauty of thousand upon thousand of acres of velvety green carpet stretching into the distant horizon. White-washed buildings of tea estates, resembling cute, little Lego structures, randomly dotted the rolling hills. And as the late afternoon mist started crowning the summit, we took the final upward turn towards our destination — Nuwara Eliya. Situated 2,000m above the sea level, the ‘City of Lights’, as it is often called, nestles at the base of the majestic Pidurutalagala, the highest mountain in the country. Way back in 1818 Nuwara Eliya is said to have been discovered by a hunting party led by Dr John Davy. Since

F Footloose in Sri Lanka’s

‘Little England’ It offers succour to the locals from the heat and humidity, it offers a plethora of activities for the international travellers, such as, golfing, horse riding, boating, hiking, and for an idle onlooker, it offers breathtaking beauty of its lush green tea plantations. Nuwara Eliya is all this and more.

A TRAIN CHUGGING AMIDST THE VERDANT GREENS OF NUWARA ELIYA

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THE NUWARA ELIYA GOLF COURSE OFFERS AN ENDURING GOLFING EXPERIENCE

then, the little hamlet gradually flourished into a quaint little English town becoming the favourite haunt of British-settlers, especially the planters. The cool weather was ideal for experimenting with the cultivation of fruits, vegetables and flowers from back home. For the colonists it became ‘an escape from the heat and a cure for homesickness’. Much of the British character and traditions are preserved in ‘Little England’ even today. Victorian era lamp-posts border the promenade on Grand Hotel Road. Meandering lanes are lined with Tudor-style mansions, many of which now serve as tourist accommodations. Old red-roofed bungalows bordered with neat hedges and rose gardens bear testimony to prolonged British presence. In the outskirts is the oldest racecourse in the country. The town remains the haven where most locals escape for reprieve from the intense heat of the lowlands. Quiet and laid back, the town explodes to life during Sinhalese New Year and other festivals when Colombo’s rich and famous head for the hills to be ‘cool’ in all sense. Accommodation in Nuwara Eliya suits all budgets and preferences. From pocket friendly ‘digs’ to pucca British hotels, the town has them all. The place I chose to stay at was Grand Hotel, the erstwhile mansion house of Sir Edward Barnes, Governor of Ceylon. This stately building, over a century and a half old, is now a 4star hotel with an impressive Edwardian façade and exquisitely manicured gardens. Completing a grand tour of the Grand Hotel, I eagerly waited for the best part of the stay — the legendary buffet whipped up by the hotel’s expert chefs. The boom of a gong announced that

dinner was served. Choice of soups, an assortment of breads, appetizing salads had to be tasted and repeated. Dish after dish of continental and Sri Lankan cuisine, decorated and served with loving care, beckoned the gourmet as well as the gourmand. The experience comprised not just eating a well-cooked meal but having an intense love affair with each dish, savour-

Accommodation in Nuwara Eliya suits all budgets and preferences. From pocket friendly ‘digs’ to pucca British hotels, the town has them all.

TEA PLANTATION

ing the spices and sauces that took a fiftyplus kitchen staff over four hours to cook! And wait, I haven’t talked of the desserts yet. The gateaux, soufflés, fruit sorbets, cakes, sweet pastries and so much more meant sinful indulgence but were definitely, definitely to die for. Ignoring the cheese and biscuits with stoic self-control, I staggered outside for gulps of fresh, mountain air before turning in for a long and cosy night. Next morning, huge breakfast over, I set off to explore ‘Nurailiya’ as it is colloquially pronounced. Local flavours were what I prescribed for myself that day. I strolled up to the bustling city centre, wandered down calm, leafy lanes, shopped at Cargill’s — Lanka’s oldest supermarket, peeked into the Tudor-style brick post office — visited the flora-rich Hakgala Botanical Gardens,

WOMEN CAREFULLY PLUCKING TWO YOUNG LEAVES AND A BUD FROM A TEA BUSH


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63 GETTING THERE:

BY ROAD From Colombo, there are two main routes to Nuwara Eliya — via Kandy and via Hatton. Both roads are narrow and bumpy but I found the Kandy Road better maintained. Both have incredible views. From Colombo via Kandy, the journey takes about five hours. To hire transport from Colombo, many car rentals are listed online (www.malkey.lk, www.kingsrentacar.com). There is a regular bus service from Nuwara Eliya to Kandy and Colombo.

(ABOVE) TEA CENTRE; (BELOW) SITTING AREA AT THE GRAND HOTEL

USEFUL TIPS:

C While travelling during the monsoons, be careful about landslides. C Entry fee into public places are different for foreigners and locals. Check before you purchase your ticket. C The golf course is 18 holes-Par 70 (Ladies: 72). Club house dress code is smart casual. C Remember to carry an umbrella for sudden showers and a torch during the evenings. C Winter months mean strawberries and cream time.

WHERE TO STAY:

C Galway Forest Lodge — Fares starting from $77 C The Hill Club — Fares starting from $75 C Jetwing St Andrews — Fares starting from $83 C Tea Factory Hotel — Fares starting from $102 C Grand Hotel — Fares starting from $106 (Choose golf course side or garden side rooms) There are also many boutique hotels in the Ceylon Tea Trails. For more information log onto: www.tourslanka.com/sri_lanka_hotels/ boutique_hotels/tea_trails

The Tea Cup, St Clair, The Pedro Tea Estate and many other plantations offer weary travellers refreshing cups of complimentary tea. choice of tea leaves, I chose to sample Orange Pekoe. A smiling hostess reverently placed a full tea service before me comprising a tea cosy-clad teapot, a delicate wide-rimmed china cup, a silver tea strainer, a sugar pot and a small jug of milk. After exactly three minutes, the leaf was perfectly steeped and ready for pouring. As the aroma from the steaming liquid amber wafted to my nostrils, the waiting-to-be-nibbled, warm and delicious brownies I had ordered with the tea remained forgotten. Fulfilled, I made my way to the sales counter where the array spoilt me for choice! Starting from the loose-leaf and unblended teas, Orange Pekoe leaf and the famous silver tip, there were many varieties of fruit flavoured teas like apple, blackcurrant, lemon, mango and strawberry. Infusion teas such as chamomile, peppermint, ginseng, ginger, mint competed for attention. A sudden, soft shower moistened the air and suddenly it was a CLASSIC English morning! As I gazed at the childish play of the sun and the clouds, now dappling now darkening, time came to a complete standstill. Sadly, my watch did not. With a long last look, I bid farewell to the Queen of the Lankan Hills. “Toodle pip ol’ girl” as Bertie Wooster would say. (PHOTOS BY SHARMILA GHOSE / SRI LANKA TOURISM BOARD)

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drove up Single Tree Hill for a panorama of the entire town, dashed around in a brightly painted tuk tuk and did just about everything typical of a wide-eyed, brochure-toting tourist. And yes, I also paid homage at the temple of Sita (the only temple dedicated to her) built on the mythological spot called Sita Eliya, where she was supposedly held captive by demon-king Ravana. A must-do on my list was a visit to the legendary 119-year-old golf course. For a guest fee, anybody who can waggle a club is warmly invited to play a round at the picturesque yet very challenging course. In fact, as we entered the town, the scenic sixth hole greeted us in silent welcome, followed us part of the way, then veered off to the left and disappeared out of sight. To all golfers it is a never-to-be-forgotten view. Tight fairways, huge bunkers and natural water hazards test the skills of even the most adept golfer. There is yet another reason for keeping the ball plum on the fairway and out of deep rough or bushes. It is a leopard country! The watering hole for golfers not fauna is the Players’ Bar. The walls are adorned with hunting trophies and pictures of stern, handlebar moustachioed sahibs who patronised the club in their heydays. Slickly polished wooden counters and gleaming brass foot rails reflect the colonial elegance and charm of yesteryears. To me it seemed more like a petrified moment from the Victorian era. An integral part of a Nuwara Eliya holiday is a trip to one of the numerous tea estates scattered in the region. The Tea Cup, St Clair, The Pedro Tea Estate and many other plantations offer weary travellers refreshing cups of complimentary tea

BY RAIL Train services are available but terminate at Nanu Oya — 20km from Nuwara Eliya. These are not really recommended and they are too slow and tedious. Air taxis fly from Colombo and Kandy. (www.srilanka.com/travel/traveldeta)

in their tearooms. On my last day at this magical hill town, I stopped at the Labookellie Tea Centre which is apparently visited by about 700-800 international and local travellers every week. A traditionally attired lady guide gave me a crash course on tea making. Step one, she explained, was carefully picking two young leaves and a bud from a tea bush. Women are said to be the best pickers since their shapely fingers are ideal for delicate handling of the plant. Hundreds of baskets of freshly picked leaves are then withered, rolled, fermented, dried, graded and finally packed. The last remaining step was ‘tasting’, and I hastened to the tearoom to complete my education. The ritual involved drinking of tea is a legacy bequeathed by the British. Offered a


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EYE TALK

THE BOSTON STATE HOUSE

An engineer by education and a management professional, Nandu Manjeshwar has interests in many outdoor activities — mountaineering, trekking in high altitude mountains slopes, rowing and sailing. What prompted you to take up photography as a serious hobby? It all started way back in 1960 during a visit to Jim Corbett National Park to watch big cats. My guide, a mahavat, and I saw a beautiful tigress with her two cups prancing behind her. In that excitement, of seeing the big cat, in such a close range I forgot all about taking a picture! It was then I decided to take photography seriously. Your favourite photographers? Though I do not have any particular favourite, I do like Ashok Dilwali for Himalayan landscapes, Bedi brothers for wildlife and Raghu Rai for people and places. Amongst internationals, I admire Ansel Adams whose black and white pictures are worth possessing.

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Any favourite travel destination for taking pictures? I prefer to explore places that are off the beaten track, though I do like Bath and Edinburgh in the UK, Samburu Park in Kenya and, Cape Town and Kruger National Park in South Africa. Your camera and preferred lenses? I have been using Nikon cameras for the past 30 years. It is a blessing that digital cameras have come otherwise I used to carry four camera bodies plus several lenses. Now I use D90 with four lenses ranging from macro to 500mm telephoto. OLD STATE HOUSE

FANEUIL HALL


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REPLICA OF LIBERTY CLIPPER FOR TOURISTS

For the cause of

liberty

B

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INSIDE THE QUINCY MARKET

oston! Why Boston to watch the Independence Day celebrations? This is a question which is often asked as few people are aware of Boston’s link with American independence. In fact, denizens here claim that Boston is the cradle of liberty. The banner of revolt, against British rule, was first raised here. Some even go to the extent in pinpointing that Old North Church where Paul Revere hung lanterns to warn British troop movement is the place where “our nation began”. There is no need to browse through voluminous history books to learn about the revolution that led to American independence. Follow the red line, red bricks laid on the walkway or brass plaques along the Freedom Trail route and you would be able to trace the independence tale. You can either trace this trail yourself or else, join the Freedom Trail walk conducted by knowledgeable guides appropriately clad in period dress from Boston Common, America’s oldest public park. Start at Massachusetts State House, an impressive gold-domed building whose corner stone was laid by Samuel Adams and Paul Revere in 1795. Walk down the slope to Park Street Church, though an important landmark but built only after


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GUIDES DRESSED UP IN PERIOD DRESSES

STATUE OF SAMUEL ADAMS NEAR FANEUIL HALL

OLD NORTH CHURCH


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ARCHITECTS OF DECLARATION OF INDEPENDENCE

FIREWORKS DOT THE SKY ON JULY 4 — AMERICAN INDEPENDENCE DAY

boarded the ship Dartmouth and threw the bags into the sea, making Boston Harbour a “tea-pot”. Next halt is at Faneuil Hall, built by a French Huguenot in 1742, as a marketplace. His story too is similar to Puritans who came from England to settle in the New World. Apart from being a major trading centre in the State, it became a centre for many socially relevant movements — freedom, anti-slavery, women’s rights and so on. Today, it is a hip place

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the independence. Follow the red line marker and you will soon find the Old Corner Book Store and little ahead is the massacre site, close to the Old South Meeting House acclaimed as the shrine of the American Revolution. In this simple brick church, citizens met time and again to demand their rights from British officials. The passage of Tea Act aroused people’s dissent against the “bainfull weed” and later, 100 men, disguised as Mohawk Indians,

for shopping, dining and entertainment, especially street performances by wellknown artists. Around the Faneuil Hall, there are plenty of watering holes and restaurants offering cuisines ranging from Indian curry to Indonesian satay to fish and chips and steaks. Its location is such that you arrive here during lunch time to get recharged to walk towards Old North Church and beyond to Bunker Hill. Walk to Old North Church is through old quarters of Boston and the buildings here provide interesting architectural variations. Built in 1723, Christ Church is known as Old North. If you are tired by now take a cab to Bunker Hill and Charlestown Nay Yard. You need not retrace your steps back; instead, take the water shuttle right up to India wharf. Better still, take a ride, rather sail, on Liberty Clipper, to soak in the beauty of Boston’s wharf and experience the sailors’ life during Revolutionary War. On July 4 go to City Centre near Faneuil Hall to watch fireworks. It is magnificent, indeed! You will understand the passion with which Americans celebrate Independence Day after you have walked the Freedom Trail and absorbed in the history leading up to July 4. Boston, undoubtedly, is the place to be on this day, where it all began.


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What’s in a

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COW RACE OR PACU JAWI IS ONE OF MINANGKABAU TRADITIONS. IT HAS BEEN ESTABLISHED SINCE PAGARUYUNG KINGDOM FELL TO PADERI HORDE. IT USUALLY TAKES PLACE BEFORE THE PLANTED SEASON BEGINS AND IT’S LOCATED IN THE TANAH DATAR REGENCY, WEST SUMATERA.

I

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t’s a cliché to say that a great picture is equal to a thousand words, but sometimes one has to make do with clichés for want of a better description. The only exception would, perhaps, be to say that this visual is easily more than a 1000 words: it is stunning, enchanting and quite simply mesmerising. And, mind you, it is not an air brushed masterpiece by a professional, but the work of a rank amateur who loves taking pictures and has provided us with a visual treat. The pictures, the stories and the travel writing are all an initiative of Asenta (Asean Tourism Association) and South East Asia.org, the unitary website of the nations of the region. And it’s interactive: To attract People’s Choice votes for their pictures and stories, participants are encouraged to promote their entries to friends via Facebook and on their blogs using downloadable participation badges linking back to SoutheastAsia.org. Now is there an idea here for Incredible India? The celebrated campaign promotes India, but why not give people a chance? From Bhuj to Bhundelkhand, from Khandawa to Kharagpur, from Manipur to Metupalliam, this country is full of incandescent colours, brilliant and magical sights and a potful of smells. Only a magical freeze frame can package it. Viva www.SoutheastAsia.org! Thank you for the stories, the essays and, well, the pictures.


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communities all over Hong Kong celebrate the Dragon Boat Festival with their own races. Popular locations for visitors to view the proceedings include Mui Wo and Tai O on Lantau Island, Cheung Chau Island, Stanley, Aberdeen, Sai Kung and Discovery Bay. Celebrants eat glutinous rice dumplings and often give each other glutinous rice dumplings wrapped in bamboo leaves as gifts. There are many different types of Hong Kong-style rice dumplings. Some people like to use expensive ingredients such as abalone and dried scallops. These are highly recommended for visitors to sample while they are in Hong Kong.

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he Dragon Boat Festival (also known as Tuen Ng Festival) is very popular in Hong Kong. This colourful festival commemorates an event that took place over 2,000 years ago, when Qu Yuan, a muchrevered local official and poet, threw himself into the Milo River and drowned to protest against government inefficiencies. The story goes that fishermen paddled their boats out to rescue him but failed. They tried to scare away the nearby fish from eating him by beating drums and splashing the water with their paddles, as well as throwing rice dumplings into the river to feed the fish. On the fifth day of the fifth month, local


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FOODICTION

AKBER AYUB he impeccably created ambience of Pier 39 capturing the trenchant spirit of bayside San Francisco takes a little getting used to initially, but the soft strains of saxophone streaming out of discreet speakers, the subtle aromas of Mexican, Spanish and Italian food wafting over the soft hum of conversation, the striking neon lights over bar counters and the pier side replicas are all designed to help you adapt fast to the rhythm and flow of the festive shopping and the foodie ambience of the San Francisco bayside. California was once colonised by the Spanish and later the Mexicans. And the gold rush of the 19th century drew large

T

Recapturing

bayside San Francisco As you enter Pier 39, the fine dining restaurant of a business boutique hotel in Bengaluru, subtle aromas of Mexican, Spanish and Italian food waft over, tantalising your taste buds, and you know instantly that something extraordinary is in store for you.

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THE DINING AT PIER 39 RECREATES THE PLUSH MAGIC OF SAN FRANCISCO


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ULTE TAWE KE PARATHE

influx of people and an economic boom that propelled San Francisco from a hamlet of tents to a world-renowned boomtown. Today the state is known as the land of wines and foods. Little wonder Srikant, an IT engineer from Bengaluru, was inspired to end his lucrative career of 15 years in California and set up the SFO hotels here last year and then dream up the spanking new inhouse restaurant he called Pier 39 that not only captures a vibrant slice of this golden state but also showcases its culinary offerings. Presumably it’s the closest to the original this side of the globe. Pier 39 is a fine dining restaurant perched on the top floor of SFO, a business boutique hotel located in the pulsing suburb of Jayanagar near Aurobindo Circle in Bengaluru. Furnished wood and rustic detailing sets the stage with walkways, balustrades, pillars, panelled ceilings et al vying with lamp post lights, street side facades and neon-lit bar counters, all created to capture the vibrant Californian bayside atmosphere. Softly cushioned wooden chairs and tables polished to a shimmer carry gleaming cutlery complete with discreet candles and the rest of the paraphernalia integral to fine dining.

If a profusion of wood and multi-hued neon lights create the ambience, a rich spread of non-vegetarian Indian and Mexican cuisine complemented by choice Italian and Spanish fare provide the substance. What stands out in the culinary experience is the distinct but subtle flavours and aromas of choice spices, herbs and other exotic ingredients that create a bouquet of piquant tangs and interesting textures. The Indian nonvegetarian fare especially carries that subtly refined character while the international cuisine conveys a restrained yet piquant quality. Be it starters like the Bhatti ka Murg or Lasooni Chicken Tikka or main course delicacies like Ran-eMurgan and Shan-e-Khan, they all carry the same signature quality. The last mentioned especially, has tender succulent chunks of chicken imbued with the aromas of mildly fragrant spices and stuffed with nuts and seasonings. While butter Naan is almost blemishless, it’d be a sin to miss the Ulte Tawe Ke Parantha — made of flour, saffron, eggs and cream. Dum Pukth Murg or Bawarchi Hundi would go well with either. The Dum Biryanis are above reproach too, carrying the right blend of aromas and flavours. Sure enough, Executive Chef Masaroor Khan comes with prime exposure to authentic Lucknawi cooking apart from fairly long stints at J P Grand, Delhi and Solitaire Hotel, Bengaluru. However, if the mood is Mexican, the Sous-Chef doles out starters like Quesadilla, Nachos and Tacos, though you get the impression that the Nachos could be better. Main course includes favourites like Fajitas and Burritos. For dessert there’s the delicious Mud Pie — among other sinful fare.

A rich spread of non-vegetarian Indian and Mexican cuisine complemented by choice Italian and Spanish fare provide the substance at Pier 39.

Paneer Ke Tohfe INGREDIENTS ◆ Paneer - 400 gm ◆ Potato boiled - 1 ◆ Peanuts, roasted and ground roughly50 gm ◆ Red chilli paste - 2 tsp ◆ Cumin seeds - ½ tsp ◆ Bishop’s weeds (Ajwain) - ¼ tsp ◆ Coriander fresh, chopped - ½ bundle ◆ Green chillies, chopped - 3-4 Nos. ◆ Cumin seed powder - ½ tsp ◆ Corn flour - 100 gm ◆ Refined flour - 50 gm ◆ Chat masala - one pinch ◆ Salt to taste ◆ Oil, refined, for frying METHOD Cut the paneer into square-shaped slices. Peel the boiled potato and grate. Add 1 tsp red chilli paste, salt, chopped coriander, cumin seed powder, roasted and ground peanuts and mix well. Make sandwiches by spreading the mix evenly between the paneer slices and close the edges. For the batter: Mix corn flour, refined flour, ajwain, cumin seeds, salt and the remaining red chilli paste in a bowl. Add water and mix well to dipping consistency. Heat oil in a karhai. Dip the sandwiches carefully in the batter and deep fry till golden brown. Cut corner-to-corner to make triangles. Sprinkle chat masala and serve with green chutney and cucumber salad.

(PHOTOS BY AKBER AYUB)

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AN ASSORTED PLATTER DISHED OUT BY THE CHEF AT PIER 39


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EXOTIC EXCESS

THE ESTATE VILLA

RACHANA BHATTACHARYA

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THE SERAI LOBBY

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Serenity redefined Heard the latest? Café Coffee Day is diversifying into the hospitality sector. As part of group’s desire to broaden the relaxed lifestyle experience for its customers, they’ve launched their first luxury Resort Spa — The Serai, in Chikmaglur.

e swish in through the gates and curve past lush greenery onto the cobbled porch of The Serai. As you walk into the open lobby with its rosewood beamed ceilings, a clean gentle breeze comes forward to greet you. No fuss, no ostentation, just understated luxury and solace. Nothing looks out of place — everything belongs. All the timber used here comes from dead trees gathered over the years from resort’s own estates. Occasional chairs and sofas upholstered in rich coffee shades of burnt velvet and damask look out onto a ‘vanishing-edge’ swimming pool that seems to cascade over a golden Jaisalmer stone waterway with fountains laid along a central spine of water aligned to the low grey rooftops of personal villas, flanked by palm trees that serves to unify the entire resort. Corporate social responsibility measures are a given here. Waste water from the resort is filtered and recycled to irrigate vegetation around the resort and rainwater harvesting system increases soil moisture levels, improves ground water and enhances the water table through artificial recharge. This spectacular resort spa sits on a picturesque 70-acre coffee plantation in India’s coffee-growing heartland — Chikmaglur in Karnataka. There are 28 designer single-floor estate villas that take your breath away with amenities like private pools, scenic views, spa and gym facilities and a world cuisine restaurant backed by impeccable service. Set a discreet distance away at the far end of the central axis of the resort, The Residence is an exclusive retreat that occupies its own private area at the end of the central axis of the resort; comprising a master bedroom, a second


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AN OVERVIEW OF THE SERAI DURING DAY AS WELL AS NIGHT

local fare — feather-light idiappams, green paeretu dosa with fiery applam chutney, spongy ‘kadabu’ rice balls, kadale curry simmered in coconut milk and wash it all down with incredible freshly-squeezed orange and grape juice. A second helping of Coorgi pork and akki roti with Maladstyle mutton curry leave one groaning with pleasure. The Serai offers party/conference facilities for small and large groups, with a capacity seating of up to 200 as well. There’s plenty for those who prefer the active life. There’s a fitness centre with a treadmill, dumbbells and a cycle. Children have their own outdoor playhouse with slides and swings nearby. You could checkout the delightfully quirky fashion wear at Rathi’s Boutique or enjoy a game of

OMA SPA

Walk in to the Oma Spa, and give yourself up to the pleasures of the tactile arts. Wrap yourself in rich, healing botanicals and mud that draw out toxins as music washes over you.

QUICK FACTS C One can reach Chikmaglur via Mangalore (170km) and Bengaluru (250km) both. C There are daily early morning trains from Bengaluru (on the Hubli line), to Kadur (40km) and Birur (50km) — the closest railway stations — that return around 5.30pm. C There are 28 designer single-floor estate villas. C Its restaurants include The Bluesky Lounge & Bar and the Odyssey Restaurant. C From Chikmaglur, one can go for historical tours, adventure tours, jungle safaris, coffee plantation tour and more.

billiards, chess, carom, table tennis, air hockey or football if you wish. The library has a fine collection of bestsellers and rare coffee table books plus internet and wi-fi facilities. This is the first instance in the business world of a lateral diversification into the hospitality sector by a coffee-cafe chain. A P Nanaiah (President, Coffee Day Resorts) confirms that coffee entrepreneur V G Siddhartha has earmarked around Rs 200 crore and plans to develop five luxury leisure properties in South India by 2010. As stress in the city takes silent quantum leaps and personal space becomes a thing of the past, more and more people from all walks of life will make a conscious choice and seek ways to unwind. Spas, pubs and increasingly short getaways at places like The Serai truly help you relax, rejuvenate and equip you to take on the world. (PHOTOS BY THE SERAI)

JUNE 2010 TRAVELX

bedroom, living and dining room. Meals can be served in the private dining room and bar-be-que evenings can be arranged beside the private pool to entertain family and friends. Or, indulge in private moments and solitude. The two estate terraces are elevated two-tiered villas with panoramic views of the coffee plantations, the surrounding forests and the paddy fields, which border one part of the estate. Below, alongside the sitting room, a private pool with a personal day bed beckons, urging you to forget the world. Soak in the peace of your surroundings and dispel the stress and rigours of city life. Exhausted? Walk in to the Oma Spa, and give yourself up to the pleasures of the tactile arts. Succumb to exotic oils and herbs, healing hot stone therapies and time-tested coffee or tamarind scrubs as they exfoliate, detoxify, reduce cellulite and rebalance your wellness system. Wrap yourself in rich, healing botanicals and mud that draw out toxins as music washes over you. Yield to Malika Ghaib’s finelyhoned massage techniques that melt your bones and aching muscles and work at both the physical and psychological levels to invigorate, alleviate mental stress, soothe the soul and extend serenity. Even better, enjoy an unforgettable romantic rendezvous with your companion by asking for a joint spa treatment. In the evenings, The Bluesky Lounge & Bar spills out onto the terrace where the starlit sky stretches out forever as guests savour the finest liquors, wines and cocktails mixed just right, alongside lipsmacking starters. The Mangalore Chilli Prawns are awesome and a must try! The Odyssey Restaurant dishes out some excellent Continental, Thai and Chinese, Mughlai and Punjabi surprises in the everchanging menu. I choose to sample the


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REJUVE

Health farm in the

backwoods

A A SAIT

rom behind the wheel of my car, as it rolled leisurely on the narrow ribbon of a road snaking through rural Palakkad, I was enjoying effulgent nature early in the morning, heeding the advice of the resort manager Arun at the Kairali Ayurvedic Health Resort and Spa. Surrounded by bountiful nature, the spa is a study in aesthetics:

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lush green lawns, knots of foliage, gnarled old trees and sinuous pathways winding around bucolic cottages reflecting vintage Kerala architecture. Exposed brick walls, tiles on sloping roofs and arches and struts and cornices all made of mud-red bricks combining to create pleasing facades. No two cottages were alike, yet all complimented each other and melded well into the surrounding green. Overhead, tall leafy trees and shady palms formed an almost unbroken canopy

COTTAGES ALONG THE WATER STREAM AT THE RESORT

If a colour could seduce you, this one should: The vividly brilliant green essayed myriad hues emerald, jade, olive, parrot, sea green, verdure, you name it... the Kairali Ayurvedic Health Resort and Spa has it! through which sunrays peeked in playfully. A sinuous water body snaked through the sloping terrain, water gurgling over stone weirs and adding to the soothing sounds of whispering trees and dulcet birdcalls. The leitmotif of the spa, of course, is Ayurveda — the 5,000-year-old science of health and well being and Kerala’s avowed offering to seekers of good health. Conferred with the 2005 Spa Asia Crystal Award for the best Ayurvedic centre and


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GETTING THERE Distance from Bengaluru - 415 km From Bengaluru, take the NH-7 to Salem, switch to NH-47 and head for Palakkad. When you hit the outskirts, at the Chandranagar bypass, turn left and head for Kadamkode junction. Here, turn left again and follow Kairali signposts for about 12 km till you come upon the ornate gates of the spa. Check www.kairali.com for more details.

(PHOTOS BY A A SAIT)

THE TWIN-SHARING AND DOUBLE BED ACCOMMODATION AT THE COTTAGES AND THE LOUNGE AREA AT THE RESORT

JUNE 2010 TRAVELX

been recently nominated for the World Travel Awards 2010, the spa attracts both domestic and international guests who arrive for treatment, detoxification and rejuvenation through a living experience described as ‘return to nature’. Under the watchful eyes of two Ayurvedic doctors, trained masseurs and therapists deal out an array of massages and treatments. Most of the oils and potions are prepared in-house in their own facilities at Palakkad and elsewhere. And the Green Leaf government certification ensures authenticity in everything they do. And that includes food — and the toiletries too. Kairali serves organic fruits and vegetables cultivated mostly in their own yards. While guests undergoing specific treatments are served according to a strict menu, others on R&R get a more flexible diet, but geared towards health rather than culinary pleasures alone. The vegetarian food therefore pleases the palate while also being wholesome. And the well-appointed restaurant has soothing interiors and floor-to-ceiling glass windows that let you savour the outdoors — manicured lawns under shady trees. Creature comforts are well assured inside the thoughtfully done up cottages that are also vastu compliant and so generate positive vibes. While exposed bricks and roof tiles create the pervading rustic theme; adequate beds, fairly good seating arrangements and decent baths ensure a comfortable stay. Even though lush foliage and the green canopy ensure that the ambient temperature in the resort is generally a few degrees lower than the surroundings, all the rooms are provided with A/Cs, making a concession as it were for the hot and sultry Kerala summers. The cottages, in an assortment of shapes, sizes and designs, are classified as deluxe villa, classic, royal and maharaja suites. Elsewhere on the sprawling 10-acre property are the swimming pool, tennis and badminton courts, a gym, library and a pool room. Gazebos sporting wrought iron chairs, park benches and hammocks, an artificial waterfall and fountains create interesting focal points. The attached herbal garden is ideal for an early morning stroll, and the small natural waterfall, just beyond, is a delightful spot to spend a lazy afternoon, surrounded as it is by luxuriant foliage with birdcalls echoing across the cascade and the stream beyond. And then of course, there is the Ayurvedic centre, following the same overriding pastoral theme of red-oxide flooring, brick walls and tiled roofs. The facilities are professional without being ostentatious, and the same goes for the services. Most of the packages on offer run from a week to four weeks, but guests sometimes stay on for months. A yoga and meditation centre with qualified facilitators ensures that mind and soul are not ignored — to attain that ‘perfect balance’ along with a rejuvenated body.


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BOOKS

Mussoorie Historiography TRAVANCORE

The Footprints of Destiny Autobiography by H.H. Uthradom Tirunal Marthanda Varma Published by: Konark Published Pvt Ltd. Pp: 263; Price: Rs 2,000

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MUSSOORIE MEDLEY: Tales of Yesteryear By Ganesh Saili Published by: Niyogi Books Pp: 208; Price: Rs 695

SURESH KOHLI

JUNE 2010 TRAVELX

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n a nutshell, this lovely, welldesigned, eminently readable, illustrated book tells the story of the founding and coming to being of “the Queen of Hills” before it came to be “ravaged by developers”; the “Edinburgh of the East… where the British had turned the world they found into a world they wished it to be” that is now shedding tears at its near-total “slumfication”. First the builders, and then “the land developers trickled in… to change the face and nature of the hill station.” But what has miraculously survived the onslaught is the twintownship of Landour that “spreads over some 1,070 acres with just 78 houses” and 300 shops that make it self-sufficient in terms of daily needs. The origin of Mansuri or Mussoorie dates back to the 1820s together with other northern hill stations like Nainital, Almora and Ranikhet. But it had the

n the book ‘The Footprints of Destiny’, Uthradom Tirunal Marthanda Varma, the last ruler of Travancore, gives many glimpses of life as it was then in the first-ever autobiography of a former ruler from the erstwhile princely state. The autobiography, which chronicles all the major events in India and in Kerala since the birth of the surviving former ruler, throws rare insights into Kerala’s engagement with the rest of the country — and the 20th century world at large — during the British Raj and post independence. The book is divided into 11 chapters that covers Travancore and its heritage, the Vishnu temples and its rituals, birth and childhood of the Uthradom Tirunal Marthanda Varma, the life of his parents, Travancore’s military tradition, the royal weddings and the power shift to democracy. The short texts are accompanied by rare pictures from the royal archives and blurbs to highlight important events. It also carries a very interesting foreword by former president A P J Abdul Kalam. Compiled by Uma Maheshwari, whose forefathers migrated to Thiruvananthapuram centuries ago to serve the temple of Padmanabhaswami, says, “Humility was the hallmark of the erstwhile Travancore royalty.”

advantage of “being on an outside spur of the lesser (Garhwal) Himalayas, instead of being buried and lost behind fold upon fold of mountains, as the other hill stations like Shimla, Dalhousie and Darjeeling.” Sadly, its proximity (a mere six hour drive from Delhi) heralded its unbecoming, because the millions who converge onto it during summer turn “the place into a crowded rabbit-warren”. “The arrival of the first English visitors pre-dates the birth of… Mussoorie to 1807, when the GovernorGeneral of India authorised the Survey of India to explore and map the upper reaches of the Ganga.” According to Saili, before the “East India Company established a Convalescent Depot for the British soldiers in Landour” in 1827, there had just been a single house in Mussoorie that was occupied by the Assistant Collector of the Doon valley, which by the middle of the 20th century became “a place where you can let your hair down without inviting social censure.” An


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escape where the royalty feasted and some of the finest English and American authors found solitary refuge. What helped Ganesh Saili put together this unusual book of personal exploration and literal excavations? According to him, with 40 photo studios Mussoorie has “the largest congregation of photowallas in any hill resort in the world.” Another startling revelation is: “One of Mussoorie’s most celebrated and distinguished citizen was Colonel Sir George Everest… responsible for the Survey of India and had the world’s highest peak, Mount Everest, named after him.” Mussoorie also has the distinction of having “the ‘first church raised amidst the eternal shows of Upper India’.” “The bold, bad, good old days make today’s Mussoorie look like a pale imitation,” observes Saili who first visited the place in 1978, and “found a whiff of the era still lingering in the air.” Mussoorie also, perhaps, has the largest number of schools, the most famous being Woodstock — founded over 100 years ago and Vincent Hill being the

“most unconventional.” Two wellillustrated sections deal with those mini-or-big celebrities (including writers, thinkers, intellectuals, soldiers) — both dead and living who came visiting but never went back and; local newspapers. But if Mussoorie went to the dogs, Landour survived not because of land sharks but “because there was no space to build, its habitants being writer Ruskin Bond, actor Victor Banerjee, and among other rich and famous property owners: Pronnoy and Radhika Roy. “Remember when you are 7,000 ft high in the sky, enveloped by the ambrosial air of the Himalayas, in God’s own land, with cakes and ale, there is not much else one can ask for… And so Landour remains like an island of calm in a sea of troubles where you can still hear the wind whispering in the deodars.” The description couldn’t have been more apt. And for those who wish to take a walk down history lanes there is ‘From the Archives’ and ‘Mussoorie Memoirs’ complete with telling black and white pictures.

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CHANGING TRACKS

Reinventing the spirit of Indian railways By V Nilakant and S Ramnarayan Published by: Harper Collins Pp: 221; Price: Rs 399 rom being the world’s second largest railway network to going bankrupt, well, almost, the journey of Indian railways has come a long way. From a cash surplus, before dividend, of Rs 1,071 crore in 2000, it achieved an estimated Rs 25,000 crore in 2008. Alongside came a dynamic and differential tariff policy, and technical changes that led to an enhanced carrying capacity. Wondering how this remarkable change came about? Read Changing Tracks and your perception about the existence and functioning of the Indian railways will undergo a drastic change.

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TAKE IT FROM ME Anwar Atalla, Director — Marketing, Jordan Tourism Board — gives you 10 reasons to visit the land of majestic ruins, mysterious sights and marvellous cuisine.

JORDAN — A UNIQUE DESTINATION: From the haunting, primeval starkness of Wadi Rum, to the teeming centre of urban Amman; from the majestic ruins of bygone civilizations to the timeless splendour of the Dead Sea, Jordan offers breathtaking and mysterious sights, high standard accommodations, exquisite cuisine and countless activities.

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CITY OF CONTRASTS: Amman, the capital of Jordan, has ultra-modern buildings, hotels, restaurants, art galleries and boutiques rubbing shoulders with traditional coffee shops and tiny artisans’ workshops.

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PETRA — THE NATIONAL TREASURE: This is one of Jordan’s most prized national treasures. Admired for its refined culture, massive architecture and ingenious complex of dams and water channels, Petra is a UNESCO world heritage site. THE DEAD SEA EXPERIENCE: The lowest point on earth, 410m below sea level, the leading attraction at the Dead Sea is the unusually warm mineral-rich waters, which has attracted visitors since ancient times.

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THE RED SEA RESORT OF AQABA: This is ideal for divers and water-sport enthusiasts. The temperate climate and gentle water currents have created a perfect environment for the growth of corals and a teeming plethora of marine life.

BETHANY BEYOND THE JORDAN: This is the site where Jesus was baptised by John — the Baptist. The site, now been identified on the east bank of the Jordan River, is being systematically surveyed, excavated, restored and prepared to receive pilgrims and visitors

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WADI RUM: The Valley of the Moon is a maze of monolithic rockscapes rising up from the desert floor to the height of 1,750m, creating a natural challenge for serious mountaineers.

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JUNE 2010 TRAVELX

MADABA: The City of Mosaics is best known for its spectacular Byzantine and Umayyad mosaics, Madaba is home to the famous sixth century Mosaic Map of Jerusalem

JORDAN

FOR ALL SEASONS & 10 REASONS and the Holy Land. With two million pieces of vividly coloured local stone, it depicts hills and valleys, villages and towns as far as the Nile Delta. JERASH — A ROME AWAY FROM ROME: Conquered by General Pompey in 63BC, Jerash came under Roman rule and was one of the ten great Roman cities in the Decapolis League. The Jerash Festival, held in July every year, transforms the ancient city into one of the world’s liveliest and most spectacular cultural events.

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JORDANIAN HOSPITALITY: Food is a very important aspect in the Jordanian culture. It is commonly used by Jordonians to express their hospitality and generosity.

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