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Chairman of the Board : Viveck Goenka, Vice President & Head, B P D : Sandeep Khosla, General Manager : Biju Mathews, Chief Managers : Anthony Daniel, Y. S. Venkat Swamy, Managers : L. Francis Farias, A.K. Shukla, Dy. Manager : Vijay Kulkarni, Editorial: Chief of Bureau : Vyas Sivanand, Reporters : Amguth Raju, Amal Tewari, Design & Layout : N. Prasad Production & Circulation : M.E.A. Mujahid, Photographer : M. Vidya Sagar Rao, Support & Co-ordination : M. Narender, B. Naresh, IT Support : M. Hemant Kumar, R. Suman Kumar Copyright : The Indian Express Limited. All rights reserved. Reproduction in any manner, electronic or otherwise, in whole or in part, without prior written permission, is prohibited. Articles by contributors are solely the author’s views. They do not reflect the publication’s views.

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All correspondence should be sent to : The Indian Express Limited, Business Publications Division, 6-3-885/7/B, Ground Floor, V.V. Mansion, Somajiguda, Hyderabad-82 Tel: 23418672, 23418673/674, 679 to 680, 66631457 , Tele Fax : 23418675 / 681 E-mail : bpd.hyd@expressindia.com Website : www.expressindia.com March 2010


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MES SA GE MESSA SAGE Tourism India has crossed borders. Its essence has reached the remotest tourist in the world and today the country boasts of tourist traffic as never before. The potential of tourism in the country is immense and is now being exploited in the best suited manner. I am glad to note that this growth of tourism and the brand image that India has created for itself is being documented by Indian Express in the form of ‘Best of India’. The theme ‘A country forever…A story forever’ aptly covers the profoundness of tourism in the country and the way it has changed lives of millions, either by creating jobs or by enthralling tourists from around the globe. I wish all the success to Indian Express and their initiative..

Sujit Banerjee, Secretary, Ministry of Tourism, Government of India 4

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Biju Mathews General Manager Indian Express Ltd

A Country’s Story India as a country has a vibrant story to tell to the world. Its ambiguity, its essence, its flavour, its populace, its innocence, its entrepreneurship, its political touch…all make it a perfect story for every listener, avid or otherwise. India’s charm lies not in sophistication, but in earthy and natural straightforwardness. The world has been at awe for this humble nature of a country, which has a potential of becoming the next superpower in economic strength. Armed with a billion human resource, India’s story is worth telling with each among the billion being an experience in its own. Apart from that there is history, there is natural cure, and there is adventure, religion, cuisine, luxury…and of course nature at its best in abundance. In this issue of ‘Best of India’, we tell you the story of this magnificent country which has forever engraved its mark in the heart of trillions across the globe. We have featured the story of India according to tourism products along with the offering that each state has in store for an ardent tourist. We have also packaged stories on the hospitality industry, the aviation sector, and the technology invasion in travel as well as the health tourism aspect that the country has to offer. We tell you India’s Story…A Country Forever…A Story Forever. We hope that as before, this issue of ‘Best of India’ tickles the travel bug in you and lets you explore the country through its various stories.

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A Country forever...

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A Story forever... One of the largest industry sectors with the potential of being the biggest employer in India – the Tourism Industry, suffered major setbacks with the global economic slump and the terror attacks in Mumbai. But even in the aftermath of such drastic events, the tourism industry is back on its feet, going through a revival phase. The government is doing its best in enhancing tourism infrastructure across the nation, new hotel properties are springing up and foreign tourist arrivals are on the rise again – all indicative of a comeback of Indian Tourism and of India – A Country Forever … A Story Forever.

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ith Tourism being one of the foremost avenues to put India on the global map, it is heartening to see that the Travel and Tourism Competitiveness Report of 2009 from the World Economic Forum, has ranked India as 11th in the Asia Pacific region and 62nd overall, moving up three places on the list of the world’s most attractive destinations. It also ranked 14th best tourist destination for its natural resources and 24th for its cultural resources, owing to many World Heritage sites, rich flora and fauna, and strong creative industry. The Indian tourism industry ranked 5th in long-term growth and the report also expects it to become the second largest employer in the world by the year 2019. In the Country Brand Index survey conducted by FutureBrand, India has been ranked the ‘best country brand for value-for-money’. India also claimed the second place in the survey’s ‘best country brand for history’ category, as well as being featured among the top 5 in the ‘best country brand for authenticity and art & culture’, and the fourth ‘best new country for business.’ India also followed United Arab Emirates, China, and Vietnam in the list of countries that are likely to become major tourist destinations in the next five years. The Tourism Ministry has claimed that tourism in India has already started showing signs of early recovery from the impact of global economic meltdown and in December 2009 March 2010

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tourist arrivals grew substantially by 21 % registering a growth of over 8% over the arrivals in December 2007 which was actually a year of high growth. In spite of the global economic recession in 2008 and 2009, the Indian economy has continued to have good growth. India’s GDP in 2008-09 grew by 6.7%. During April-September, 2009 India’s GDP has seen a growth of 7%, whereas the global economy is estimated to have a negative growth in 2009. The quantum jump in Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) in the Hotel & Tourism sector in the years 2008 and 2009 is also indicative of the positive scenario. Most of the major international hotel chains including Starwood, Hilton, Carlson, etc. have either already come to India or are in the process of doing so. These factors, coupled with the recent

performance of in-bound tourism in India, are very encouraging for tourism in India. Indicating a turnaround, foreign tourist arrivals into the country grew by 21 percent in December 2009, over the corresponding month in 2008. However, it had fallen by three percent for the entire year of 2009 due to the meltdown, H1N1 scare and the Mumbai terror attacks. Foreign Tourist Arrivals 2009 Estimates of foreign tourist arrivals (FTAs) and foreign exchange earnings (FEEs) are important indicators of the tourism sector. FEEs in USD terms during the month of November 2009 were USD 1.2 billion as compared to USD 1 billion in November 2008.

FTAs during 2009 were 5.11 million with a growth rate of (-) 3.3% as compared to the FTAs of 5.28 million and growth rate of 4% during 2008.

Though the growth rate for 2009 is (-) 3.3%, it is better than UNWTO’s projected growth rate of (-) 6% to (-) 4% for the world.

FTAs during the Month of December 2009 were 6.46 lakh as compared to FTAs of 5.34 lakh in December 2008 and 5.97 lakh in December 2007.

The growth rate in FTAs in December 2009 over December 2008 works out to 21% which is highest positive growth registered in any month of 2009. Foreign Exchange Earnings 2009 FEEs in Rupee terms during 2009 were Rs.54960 crore as compared to Rs.50730 crore in 2008.

The growth rate in FEEs in Rupee terms during 2009 was 8.3% as compared to 2008, and 14.4% during 2008 as compared to 2007.

In spite of the negative growth rate of 3.3% in FTAs, FEEs in rupee terms observed a positive growth of about 8% during 2009.

FEEs during 2009 were USD 11.39 billion as compared to USD 11.75 billion during 2008.

The growth rate in FEEs in USD terms during 2009 was (-) 3% as compared to 2008, and 9.5% during 2008 as compared to 2007.

FEEs in Rupee terms during the month of December 2009 were Rs.7042 crore as compared to Rs.5083 crore in December 2008 and Rs.5079 crore in December 2007.

FEEs in USD terms during the month of December 2009 were USD 1510 million as compared to USD 1046 million in December 2008 and USD 1287 million in 2007.

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FTAs in January 2010 FTAs during the month of January 2010 were 4.91 lakh as compared to FTAs of 4.22 lakh during the month of January 2009 and 5.12 lakh in January 2008.

FEEs in January 2010

FEEs during the month of January 2010 were Rs.5593 crore as compared to Rs.4598 crore in January 2009 and Rs.5438 crore in January 2008.

There has been a growth of 16.4% in January 2010

The growth rate in FEEs in Rupee terms in January 2010

over January 2009 as compared to a negative growth of 17.6% registered in January 2009 over January 2008.

over January 2009 were 21.6% as compared to (-) 15.4% in January 2009 over January 2008.

To a large extent, the trend of substantial growth in

FEEs in USD terms during the month of January 2010

FTAs observed during December 2009 (21%) continued in January, 2010 also with a growth rate of 16.4%.

were USD 1215 million as compared to USD 941 million during the month of January 2009 and USD 1382 million in January 2008.

The growth rate in FEEs in USD terms in January 2010

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over January 2009 was 29.1% as compared to the growth of (-) 31.9% in January 2009 over January 2008. Government Initiatives Inspired by the popularity of the ‘Visit India’ campaign of 2009, the Tourism Ministry decided to extend the discounts and offers of the campaign till the end of the main tourist season – March 2010; and in the hopes to give a boost to inbound tourism, the Ministry of Tourism also recently introduced the ‘Visa on Arrival’ scheme for five countries namely Singapore, Finland, New Zealand, Luxemburg and Japan. The Ministry of Home Affairs had also introduced ‘Long Term Tourist Visa’ with multiple entries which will be valid for five years, for tourists from 18 countries. These countries are France, Germany, Luxembourg, Netherlands, Belgium, Finland, Spain, Switzerland, Norway, Iceland, New Zealand, Japan, South Korea, Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Mexico and Vietnam.

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Realising that the true potential of tourism lies in responsible practices on both the demand and supply sides of the tourism chain, the Ministry of Tourism has adopted the ‘sustainable tourism’ route and incorporated it into the innovative Rural Tourism Project, by strengthening skilled rural artisan communities in association with United Nations Development Programme. There are already 153 rural sites selected under this initiative and the results have been encouraging. Tourism is an important engine for economic growth and so the Tourism Ministry has launched the ‘Hunar Se Rojgar’ programme to create employable skills in hospitality sector under the Capacity Building Scheme. The programme started simultaneously across the country in Institutes of Hotel Management and Food craft institutes. The Skill Development Programmes started under ‘Hunar Se Rojgar’ will offer short but quality training courses covering Food & Beverage Service and Food Production. The programme has targeted the youth of weaker sections of societies who are interested in joining the hospitality industry and are in need to acquire skills facilitating employment.

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The security and safety of the tourists should be of paramount importance for the growth of tourism sector in the country, and the inflow of the domestic and foreign tourists could be ensured only when they are provided with a safe and secured environment. The matter regarding constitution of Tourist Police Organisation in States and Union Territories has been taken up from time to time. Accordingly, guidelines for raising the Tourist Security Organisation, comprising ex-servicemen for the safety and security of tourists have been formulated. The tourism ministry has finalised a code of conduct for ‘safe and honourable tourism’ to be adopted by major stakeholders like hotels, tour operators, cab drivers and other hospitality-linked services. The code is likely to be unveiled on March 8th to commemorate International Women’s Day.

pornography. The Ministry was keen that an action plan be drawn up to put the code in place as early as possible and conducted consultations with industry bodies like PATA and organisations like United Nations Office for Drugs and Crime and Equitable Tourism Option (EQUATIONS) on the issue.

Projects and Sanctioned Budgets Development of tourism is primarily undertaken by the State Governments/Union Territory Administrations and the Ministry of Tourism provides financial assistance for tourism projects based on the proposals received from them subject to availability of funds and priority. The Tourism Ministry had sanctioned numerous projects across the nation for enhancing the tourism infrastructure; many of them were sanctioned during the year 2009. Brief details on the projects and the financial support being received by the State/UT The code will entail adopting guidelines that will ensure Tourism Boards are given below: ethical business practices protecting women and children. This includes training of personnel, awareness drives, ethi- Andhra Pradesh – 21 projects sanctioned at a cost of cal marketing and business practices and regulation of us- Rs.12982.06 lakhs, with mega projects at Tirupati Heritage age of official equipment to prevent human trafficking and

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Circuit for Rs.4652.49 lakhs, Kadapa Heritage Circuit for Rs.3692.89 lakhs and the Charminar area in Hyderabad for Rs.994.75 lakhs. Assam – 9 projects sanctioned at a cost of Rs.3379.51 lakhs Arunachal Pradesh – 28 projects sanctioned at a cost of Rs.7956.54 lakhs Bihar – 15 projects sanctioned at a cost of Rs.4132.72, with mega projects for Buddhist tourism at Bodhgaya, Rajgir and Nalanda for Rs.1922.42 lakhs. Chandigarh – 9 projects sanctioned at a cost of Rs.1659.86 lakhs. Chattisgarh – 5 projects sanctioned at a cost of Rs.2407.91 lakhs, with mega projects at Jagdalpur, Tirathgarh, Chitrakote, Barsur, Dantewada and Tirathgarh for Rs.1133.82 lakhs. Dadar & Nagar Haveli – 3 projects sanctioned at a cost of Rs.24.88 lakhs. Delhi – 13 projects sanctioned at a cost of Rs.2863.10, with mega projects in tourism and hospitality to facilitate the 2010 Common Wealth Games. Daman & Diu – 1 project sanctioned at a cost of Rs.12.50 lakhs. Goa – 3 projects sanctioned at a cost of Rs.8624.82 lakhs, with mega projects of the Churches of Goa for the integrated development of infrastructure for heritage and hinterland Tourism, for Rs.4309.91 lakhs. Gujarat – 12 projects sanctioned at a cost of Rs.2710.24 lakhs, with mega projects at Dwarka and Nageshwar for Rs.798.90 lakhs. Haryana – 18 projects sanctioned at a cost of Rs.4755.76 lakhs, with mega projects at Panipat, Kurukshetra, Pinjore, Panchkula and Yamunanagar for Rs.3175.25 lakhs. Himachal Pradesh – 25 projects sanctioned at a cost of Rs.7608.88 lakhs, with mega projects at Paonta Sahib for Religious tourism, and at Kullu, Katrain and Manali for Eco and Adventure tourism. Jammu and Kashmir – 78 projects sanctioned at a cost of Rs.14170.80 lakhs, with mega projects at the Spiritual destinations of Leh and Ladakh. Jharkhand – 7 projects sanctioned at a cost of Rs.1130.47 lakhs. Karnataka – 17 projects sanctioned at a cost of Rs.9067.05 lakhs, with mega projects at the religious hub of Hampi for Rs.3283.58 lakhs.

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Kerala – 22 projects sanctioned at a cost of Rs.7393.83 lakhs, with mega projects at Trissur and Ernakulam Districts for the Muzuris Heritage and Culture Circuit. Lakshadweep – 1 project sanctioned at a cost of Rs.782.73 lakhs. Madhya Pradesh – 32 projects sanctioned at a cost of Rs.11332.88 lakhs, with mega projects at the Spiritual and Wellness Destination of Chitrakoot for Rs.2401.98 lakhs. Maharashtra – 8 projects sanctioned at a cost of Rs.5389.49 lakhs, with mega projects at Aurangabad and the Vidharbha Heritage Circuit for Rs.3732.19 lakhs. Manipur – 18 projects sanctioned at a cost of Rs.5488.18 lakhs. Meghalaya – 11 projects sanctioned at a cost of Rs.3341.32 lakhs. Mizoram – 12 projects sanctioned at a cost of Rs.2886.15 lakhs. Nagaland – 37 projects sanctioned at a cost of Rs.6087.36 lakhs. Orissa – 20 projects sanctioned at a cost of Rs.7446.35 lakhs, with mega projects at Bhubaneswar, Puri and Chilka for Rs.3022.80 lakhs. Puducherry – 12 projects sanctioned at a cost of Rs.1928.85 lakhs. Punjab – 5 projects sanctioned at a cost of Rs.2667.61 lakhs, with mega projects at Amritsar for Rs.1585.53 lakhs. Rajasthan – 15 projects sanctioned at a cost of Rs.8228.39, with mega projects at Ajmer and the Jodhpur, Bikaner, Jaisalmer Desert Circuit for Rs.1069.68 lakhs; projects of Infrastructure Development of Salgaon - Mount Abu, Keoldev Park - Bharatpur and Amer Palace - Jaipur for Rs.982 lakhs. Sikkim – 63 projects sanctioned at a cost of Rs.16344.53 lakhs for constructing 3 heliports and promoting village tourism, with mega projects at Gangtok for Rs.2390.70 lakhs. Tamil Nadu – 34 projects sanctioned at a cost of Rs.7792.99 lakhs, with mega projects at the Pilgramage Circuit of Madurai, Rameshwaram and Kanyakumari, and the religious destination of Mahabalipuram for Rs.1312.69 lakhs. Tripura – 20 projects sanctioned at a cost of Rs.2981.28 lakhs. Uttarakhand – 8 projects sanctioned at a cost of Rs.6549.76 lakhs, with mega projects at the religious cir-

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cuit of Haridwar and Rishikesh for Rs.4452.22 lakhs. For the Maha Kumbh Mela this year, the government has sanctioned infrastructure and town planning projects worth Rs 545.97 crore. Uttar Pradesh – 14 projects sanctioned at a cost of Rs.6713.18 lakhs, with mega projects for revitalisation of Taj at Agra for Rs.1525 lakhs and the spiritual destination of Varanasi for Rs.2202.30 lakhs. West Bengal – 24 projects sanctioned at a cost of Rs.8298.97 lakhs, with mega projects for Ganga Heritage River Cruise circuit for Rs.2042.35 lakhs.

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Hospitality The Indian hotel industry is adding over 90,000 more rooms across the country in the next five years to meet the growing demand in hospitality. The contribution of the hotel industry to the country’s GDP was 6.1%. Marriott International plans to open 18 hotels in India by the end of the year and expects to grow ten times over the next decade. Thailand-based hotel chain, Amari Hotels will foray into the Indian market sometime this year and will introduce its new limited service brand with an investment of USD 44.1 million. The Leela Palaces, Hotels and Resorts brand

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is eager to do business in the country’s destination markets and aims to offer distinctive properties by 2012. Aviation Signs of recovery for the aviation sector in India can be gauged from the increase in domestic travel in the last quarter. Airlines in India carried a record 44.9 lakh passengers in December 2009, a number that also helped airline companies maintain better yields and prevented them from selling seats below cost. Flying high on strong economic recovery, domestic air travel has made a comeback in 2009, with traffic registering an increase of 7.9% over the previous year. In 2008, air traffic fell by 5%, with 412 lakh domestic fliers taking to skies against 433 lakh in 2007. The increase to 445.1 lakh flyers in 2009 came on the strong revival in traffic since July, as the first six months were consistently witnessing a double digit percentage fall. Last December, saw a whopping 33% increase with 44.9 lakh people flying within India against 33.7 lakh in December 2008. AirAsia, the ‘world’s best low cost airline’ is extending its footprint in India with the launch of its direct flights to 6 new routes in the first quarter of 2010. The new services to key metro cities include Chennai, Bangalore, Hyderabad, Mumbai and New Delhi from Kuala Lumpur and from Penang to Chennai. AirAsia is the only airline which connects to the most points in India from Malaysia with a total of 148 flights weekly. This new development is subsequent to AirAsia’s huge success of Tiruchirappalli followed by Kolkata, Kochi and Thiruvananthapuram recording an average of 80% load factor on all four existing routes. These new services will not only complement AirAsia’s aggressive growth in India, but will also feed more traffic into the country. Medical Tourism According to the market research report “Booming Medical Tourism in India”, India offers a great potential in the medical tourism industry, and despite the economic slowdown, medical tourism in India is the fastest growing segment of the tourism industry. Factors such as low cost, scale and range of treatments provided in the country are the main attractions of India as a medical tourism destination. In addition to the existence of modern medicine, indigenous medical practitioners are providing their services across the country with more than 3,000 hospitals and March 2010

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726,000 registered practitioners catering to the needs of traditional Indian healthcare. A number of Indian hotels will tie up with professional organisations in a range of wellness fields such as Yoga, Ayurveda and Panchkarma to enter the wellness services market – a striking example, Ananda in the Himalayas. According to a report by RNCOS Industry Research Solutions, medical tourism will grow at a CAGR of over 27% for the period 2009 to 2012 to generate revenues worth USD 2.4 billion by 2012. The number of medical tourists is anticipated to grow at a CAGR of over 19% to reach 1.1 million by 2012. The report also states that India’s share in the global medical tourism industry will climb to around 2.4% by the end of 2012. Future Potential The World Travel and Tourism Council (WTTC) along with

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its strategic partner Oxford Economics conducted the Tourism Satellite Accounting (TSA) research in March 2009. In accordance with this latest released research, the future of Indian Tourism has some bright prospects:

The demand for travel and tourism in India is expected to grow by 8.2% between 2010 and 2019 and that will place India at the third position in the world.

India’s travel and tourism sector is expected to be the second largest employer in the world, employing over 40 million people by 2019.

Capital investment in India’s travel and tourism sector is expected to grow at 8.8% between 2010 and 2019.

The research report forecasts India to get capital investment worth USD 94.5 billion in the travel and tourism sector by 2019.

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Inciting Aural and Visual Senses

The roots of the Indian music can be traced back to the Vedic period, when the celestial creator of the universe, Brahma was said to have handed down music to the world through his son, sage Narada, to usher in an era of peace and solace among humanity.

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Music is one of the oldest forms of art, which has been reflecting the richness of Indian culture and tradition throughout ages. Right from the evolution of music, there have been many developmental phases in its path, which have redefined the creative enormity and infiniteness of the art. March 2010

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ew historical and cultural research has shown that Indian music has progressed through a very intri cate communication between different people practicing different traditions and cultures. The amalgamation of the musical styles of various races in the country displays the ethnic diversity of India, which is found nowhere in any other nation. The earliest form of music was used during the Vedic period as sacred hymns, which were chanted through a method called “Ek Swari Gaayana,” meaning singing with the help of one note. The single note hymns gradually developed to the “Gatha Gaayana” method of singing with double notes. Eventually, the Vedic chants of the single note, double notes, and such other systems gave way to the initiation of the seven note system called “Saptaswara”. Modern studies of the Vedic period reveal that music had been regarded as a highly privileged art form in every household, as it had been handed down to them by the Gods themselves. In this context, the glory of the Gupta period reverberates throughout the history of Indian music as one of the most important contributors to the development of Indian music. The music of India includes multiples varieties of religious, folk, popular, pop, and classical music. The oldest preserved examples of Indian music are the melodies of the Samaveda that are still sung in certain Vedic Œrauta sacrifices. India’s classical music tradition is heavily influenced by Hindu texts. It includes two distinct styles: Carnatic and Hindustani music. It is noted for the use of several Raga, melodic modes. It has a history spanning millennia and it was developed over several eras. It remains instrumental to the religious inspiration, cultural expression and pure entertainment. Purandaradasa is considered the “father of carnatic music” (Karnataka sangeeta pitamaha). He concluded his songs with a salutation to Lord Purandara Vittala and is believed to have composed as many as 475,000 songs in the Kannada language. The evolution of modern-day Indian music, or “Sangeet,” as it is popularly known in the country, has simplified the art form through various innovations. Indian music has essentially been known to be performed through three modes vocal music, instrumental music, and dance. All the three mediums of music are prevalent in the two prominent kinds of Indian classical music, namely the North Indian classical music or the Hindustani classical music, and the classical music of South India or the Carnatic music, as well as other folk music.

Hindustani Music The history of Hindustani classical music is said to have originated during the period of the Indus Valley Civilization, 20

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although the only evidential support to the claim are the recovery of the famous bronze dancing girl from that period and the customary worshipping of Rudra or Shiva, the God of dance, drama, and music.

Hindu deities. The prime components of Carnatic music follows the same pattern as any other Indian classical music, which are the Raga, implying the melody part, and the Tala, denoting the rhythmic part.

After the decline of the Indus Valley Civilization, came the stage of the Vedic music, in which sacrifices and prayers were made to the Gods through hymns and chants in musical style. Moreover, music was one of the key factors in the creation of two of the greatest of Indian epics, the Ramayana and the Mahabharata.

Musical instruments are an intrinsic part of Carnatic music, and have strengthened the foundation of this art form at the hands of immaculate musicians like T.R. Mahalingam, M. Chandrasekaran, and so on.

Music in India, from the transitional period to the modern age has witnessed tremendous development in style and methodology. Great musicians in the history of Indian music, such as Kalidasa, Tansen, Amir khusrou, etc. have contributed immensely to the progress of Indian music, the reputation of which is still being maintained in the modern era by musical stalwarts like Pandit Ravi Shankar, Bhimsen Gururaj Joshi, Pandit Jasraj, Prabha Atre, Sultan Khan, Zakeer Hussain, and so on.

Carnatic Music The south Indian form of Indian classical music is known as Carnatic music, and is a musical style performed with the company of several musical instruments, such as violin, veena, mridangam, etc. Carnatic music is prevalent in the south Indian states of Tamil Nadu, kerala, Andhra Pradesh and Karnataka. Carnatic music follows a pattern of mainly devotional themes, most of which are sung in the praise of

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Some of the proponents of Carnatic classical music have created waves in the international circuit through their immortal compositions and have been bestowed with several awards and commemorations, thus making them legends in the field. Some of these doyens of carnatic music include the names of M.S. Subbulakshmi, Madurai Mani Iyer, M.S. Balasubramanya Sarma, and so on.

Folk Music Bauls - The Bauls of Bengal were an order of musicians in 18th, 19th and early 20th century India who played a form of music using a khamak, ektara and dotara. The word Baul comes from Sanskrit batul meaning divinely inspired insanity. They are a group of mystic minstrels. They are thought to have been influenced greatly by the Hindu tantric sect of the Kartabhajas as well as by Sufi sects. Bauls travel in search of the internal ideal, Maner Manush. Bhangra - Bhangra is a lively form of music and dance that originated in the Punjab region to celebrate Vaisakhi the festival of the Sikhs. As many Bhangra lyrics reflect the long 21


and often tumultuous history of the Punjab, knowledge of Punjabi history offers important insights into the meaning of the music. While Bhangra began as a part of harvest festival celebrations, it eventually became a part of such diverse occasions as weddings and New Year celebrations. Moreover, during the last thirty years, Bhangra has enjoyed a surge in popularity worldwide, both in traditional form and as a fusion with genres such as hip-hop, house, and reggae, and in such forms it has become a pop sensation in the United Kingdom and North America. Rabbi Shergill is not a Bhangra artist, but is a Punjabi singer, and is a great example. Bhavageete - Bhavageete (literally “emotional song”) is a form of expressionist poetry and light music. It is a popular genre in the states of Maharashtra (marathi language) and Karnataka (kannada language). Some notable Bhavageete performers include Gajananrao Watawe, Jyotsna Bhole, Sudhir Phadake, Hridaynath Mangeshkar, Lata Mangeshkar, Asha Bhosale, Ghantasala, P. Kalinga Rao, Mysore Ananthaswamy, C. Aswath, Shimoga Subbanna, Archana Udupa, and Raju Ananthaswami. Dandiya - Dandiya is a form of dance-oriented folk music that has also been adapted for pop music. The present musical style is derived from the traditional musical accompaniment to the folk dance. It is practised in (mainly) the state of Gujrat. Lavani - Lavani comes from the word Lavanya which means beauty. This is one of the most popular forms of dance and

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music that is practiced all over Maharashtra. It has in fact become a necessary part of the Maharashtrian folk dance performances. Traditionally, the songs are sung by female artistes, but male artistes may occasionally sing Lavanis. The dance format associated with Lavani is known as Tamasha. Lavani is a combination of traditional song and dance, which particularly performed to the enchanting beats of ‘Dholak’, a drum like instrument. Dance performed by attractive women wearing nine-yard saris. They are sung in a quick tempo. The verve, the enthusiasm, the rhythm and above all the very beat of India finds an expressive declaration amidst the folk music of India, which has somewhat, redefined the term “bliss”. Lavani originated in the arid region of Maharashtra and Madhya Pradesh. Qawwali - Qawwali is a Sufi form of devotional music based on the principles of classical music. It is performed with one or two or many lead singers, several chorus singers, harmonium, tabla, and dholak. Rabindra Sangeet - Rabindranath Tagore was a towering figure in Indian music. Writing in Bengali, he created a library of over 2,000 songs now known by Bengalis as ‘rabindra sangeet’ whose form is primarily influenced by Hindustani classical, sub-classicals, Karnatic, western, bauls, bhatiyali and different folk songs of India. Many singers in West Bengal and Bangladesh base their entire careers on the singing of Tagore musical masterpieces. The national anthem of India and national song of Bangladesh are Rabindra Sangeets.

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Rajasthani - Rajasthan has a very diverse cultural collection of musician castes, including Langas, Sapera, Bhopa, Jogi and Manganiyar (the ones who ask/beg). Rajasthan Diary quotes it as a soulful, full-throated music with Harmonious diversity. The haunting melody of Rajasthan evokes from a variety of delightfully primitive looking instruments. The stringed variety includes the Sarangi, Rawanhattha, Kamayacha, Morsing and Ektara. Percussion instruments come in all shapes and sizes from the huge Nagaras and Dhols to the tiny Damrus. The Daf and Chang are a big favourite of Holi (the festival of colours) revellers. Flutes and bagpipers come in local flavours such as Shehnai, Poongi, Algoza, Tarpi, Been and Bankia. The essence of Rajasthani music is derived from the creative symphony of string instruments, percussion instruments and wind instruments accompanied by melodious renditions of folk singers. It enjoys a respectable presence in Bollywood music as well. Ganasangeet - Ganasangeet is generally sung in chorus carrying some social message. The songs are usually about Freedom, community strength, patriotism. Due to the British occupation in India, a lot of protest songs about antiimperialism/pro-socialism have been written in India.

Popular music The biggest form of Indian popular music is songs from Indian films; it makes up 72% of the music sales in India. The film industry of India supported music by according reverence to classical music while utilizing the western orchestration to support Indian melodies. Music composers like Naushad, C. Ramchandra, Salil Chowdhary, S.D. Burman and Ilaiyaraaja employed the principles of harmony while retaining classical and folk flavour. Reputed names in the domain of Indian classical music like Pt. Ravi Shankar, Ustad Zakir Hussain, Ustad Vilayat Khan, Ustad Ali Akbar Khan and Pt. Ramnarayan have also composed music for films. Independent pop acts such as Asha Bhosle, Alisha Chinai, Shaan, Madhushree, Shreya Ghoshal, Nihira Joshi, Kavita Krishnamurthy, Sonu Nigam, Sukhwinder Singh, Kunal Ganjawala, Sunidhi Chauhan, Alka Yagnik and rock bands like Indus Creed, Indian Ocean, and Euphoria exist and have gained mass appeal with the advent of cable music television. Since 1991 Music of India witnessed the musical phenomenon of a different kind of Ethno-Electronic music genre introduced by Grammy/Oscar winning musician A.R.Rahman. He became the most famous musician of all times in the history of Indian recorded music, selling around 250-350 million albums world wide. March 2010

Arts and Handicrafts India had always been known as the land that portrayed cultural and traditional vibrancy through its conventional arts and crafts. The 35 states and union territories sprawled across the country have their own distinct cultural and traditional identities, and are displayed through various forms of art prevalent there. Every region in India has its own style and pattern of art, which is known as folk art. Other than folk art, there is yet another form of traditional art practiced by several tribes or rural population, which is classified as tribal art. The folk and tribal arts of India are very ethnic and simple, and yet colourful and vibrant enough to speak volumes about the country’s rich heritage. Folk art in India apparently has a great potential in the international market because of its traditional aesthetic sensibility and authenticity. The rural folk paintings of India bear distinctive colourful designs, which are treated with religious and mystical motifs. Some of the most famous folk paintings of India are the Madhubani paintings of Bihar, Patachitra paintings from the state of Orissa, the Nirmal paintings of Andhra Pradesh, and other such folk art forms. Folk art is however not restricted only to paintings, but also stretches to other art forms such as pottery, home decorations, ornaments, cloths-making, and so on. In fact, the potteries of some of the regions of India are quite popular among foreign tourists because of their ethnic and traditional beauty.

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Paintings India’s heritage of painting dates back to the primitive era when man used to live in caves and rock shelters. Painting was initially started so that they could converse with each other by drawing graphics or images. Gradually it took the shape of art, which is evident from the caves in Hoshangabad, Mirazapur and Bimbekta.

Murals The traditional Mural paintings are found in the Ajanta caves in modern Maharashtra. The inspiration behind this style of painting is the compassionate Buddha. Jataka tales pertaining to Buddhist mythology forms the theme of these paintings. Anonymous artists painted them collectively in gracefully and with sensitive colours. The paintings found in the Indus Valley may have had extensive mural painting, for the painting on the pottery found here projects vigorous realism.

Manuscripts With the coming of the 11th century, one saw the degeneration of the murals to the size of a palm leaf strip. One saw the birth of Manuscript paintings here. Bengal and Bihar introduced the manuscript telling Buddhist stories. Manuscript paintings diversified their theme by using symbolism. Symbolism was the spirit of the Indian miniaturists’ visual expressions and affiliation with nature. Symbolism beyond the primary function of lines and pigments caught their interest.

Handicrafts India’s rich cultural heritage and centuries of evolutionary tradition is manifested by the huge variety of handicrafts made all over the country. Handicrafts are a mirror of the cultural identity of the ethnic people who make it. Through the ages, handicrafts made in India like the Kashmiri woollen carpets, Zari embroidered fabrics, terracotta and ceramic products, silk fabrics etc. have maintained their exclusiveness. In the ancient times, these handicrafts were exported to far off countries of Europe, Africa, West Asia and Far East via the ‘silk route’. The entire wealth of timeless Indian handicrafts has survived through the ages. These crafts carry the magnetic appeal of the Indian culture that promises exclusivity, beauty, dignity and style.

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TRADITIONAL DISCIPLINE The long span of Indian history covering thousands of years and enumerating several civilizations has been a constant reminder of the country’s rich multicultural extravaganza and world-renowned heritage. The people and their lifestyles, their dance forms and musical styles, art & handicrafts, and such other elements go on to reflect the varied hues of Indian culture and heritage, which truly epitomises the nationality of the country. This section attempts at showcasing all those elements, which act as a window to the culture and heritage of India.

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T

he culture of India has been shaped by its long his tory, unique geography demographics and the ab sorption of customs, traditions and ideas from some of its neighbours as well as by preserving its ancient heritages, which were formed during the Indus Valley Civilization and evolved further during the Vedic age, the south Indian Iron Age, rise and decline of Buddhism, Golden age, Muslim conquests and European colonization. India’s diversity is visible in its people, religions, climate, languages, customs, and traditions which differ from place to place within the country, but nevertheless posses a commonality. The culture of India is an amalgamation of diverse sub-cultures spread all over the country and traditions that are millennia old. It is the home for well-known religious gurus and yogic preceptors. Its colourful religious festivals, age old art forms in music, dance, architecture, distinct geographic attributes and co-existence of ancient and modern cultures attract tourists from all over the world. India is the birth place of Dharmic religions such as Hinduism, Buddhism, Jainism and Sikhism. Dharmic religions, also known as Indian religions, are a major form of world religions next to the Abrahamic ones. Today, Hinduism and Buddhism are the world’s third and fourth-largest religions respectively, with around 1.4 billion followers altogether. India is one of the most religiously diverse nations in the world, with some of the most deeply religious societies and cultures. Religion still plays a central and definitive role in the life of most of its people. The religion of more than 80.4% of the people is Hinduism. Islam is practiced by around 13.4% of all Indians. Sikhism, Jainism and especially Buddhism are influential not only in India but across the world. Christianity, Zoroastrianism, Judaism and the Bahá’í Faith are also influential but their numbers are smaller. Despite the strong role of religion in Indian life, atheism and agnostics also have visible influence along with a self-ascribed tolerance to other people. According to Eugene M. Makar, the traditional Indian culture is defined by relatively strict social hierarchy. He also mentions that from an early age, children are reminded of their roles and places in society. This is reinforced by the fact that many believe gods and spirits have integral and functional role in determining their life. Several differences such as religion divide culture. However, far more powerful division is the traditional Hindu bifurcation into non-polluting and polluting occupations. Strict social taboos have governed these groups for thousands of years. In recent years, particularly in cities, some of these lines have blurred and sometimes even disappeared. Nuclear family is becoming central to Indian culture. Important family relations extend to as far as gotra, the mainly patrilinear lineage or clan 28

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assigned to a Hindu at birth. In rural areas it is common that three or four generations of the family live under the same roof. The Patriarch often resolves family issues. Among developing countries, India has low levels of occupational and geographic mobility. People choose same occupations as their parents and rarely move geographically in the society. During the nationalist movement, pretentious behaviour was something to be avoided. Egalitarian behaviour and social service were promoted while nonessential spending was disliked and spending money for ‘showing off’ was deemed a vice. This image continues in politics with many politicians wearing simple looking / traditionally rural clothes.

History India boasts of an ancient, deep-rooted and diverse culture, which stretches back to 5000 years. In ancient times, India was known as ‘Bharata Varsha’, the country of the legendary king of Puranic times called Bharat, and was supposed to be a part of the island continent called ‘Jambu Dvipa’. Geologically speaking, India formed part of the Gondwana land and was attached to Antarctica and Australia, before it was liberated from the Antarctica complex about 135 million years ago and started drifting towards the north and finally joining South Asia about 45 million years ago. India’s history and culture is dynamic, spanning back to the beginning of human civilization. It begins with a mysterious culture along the Indus River and in farming communities in the southern lands of India. The history of India is punctuated by constant integration of migrating people with the diverse cultures that surround India. Available evi-

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dence suggests that the use of iron, copper and other metals was widely prevalent in the Indian sub-continent at a fairly early period, which is indicative of the progress that this part of the world had made. By the end of the fourth millennium BC, India had emerged as a region of highly developed civilization. The History of India begins with the birth of the Indus Valley Civilization, more precisely known as Harappan Civilization. It flourished around 2,500 BC, in the western part of South Asia, what today is Pakistan and Western India. The Indus Valley was home to the largest of the four ancient urban civilizations of Egypt, Mesopotamia, India and China. Nothing was known about this civilization till 1920s when the Archaeological Department of India carried out excavations in the Indus valley wherein the ruins of the two old cities, viz. Mohenjodaro and Harappa were unearthed. The ruins of buildings and other things like household articles, weapons of war, gold and silver ornaments, seals, toys, pottery wares, etc., show that some four to five thousand years ago a highly developed Civilization flourished in this region. The Indus valley civilization was basically an urban civilization and the people lived in well-planned and well-built towns, which were also the centers for trade. The ruins of Mohenjodaro and Harappa show that these were magnificent merchant cities-well planned, scientifically laid, and well looked after. They had wide roads and a well-developed drainage system. The houses were made of baked bricks and had two or more storeys.

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For a period that has come to be so strongly associated with the Islamic influence and rule in India, Medieval Indian history went for almost three whole centuries under the so-called indigenous rulers, that included the Chalukyas, the Pallavas, the Pandyas, the Rashtrakutas, the Muslims rulers and finally the Mughal Empire. The most important dynasty to emerge in the middle of the 9th century was that of the Cholas. In ancient times, people from all over the world were keen to come to India. The Aryans came from Central Europe and settled down in India. The Persians followed by the Iranians and Parsis immigrated to India. Then came the Moghuls and they too settled down permanently in India. Chengis Khan, the Mongolian, invaded and looted India many times. Alexander the Great too, came to conquer India but went back after a battle with Porus. He-en Tsang from China came in pursuit of knowledge and to visit the ancient Indian universities of Nalanda and Takshila. Columbus wanted to come to India, but instead landed on the shores of America. Vasco da Gama from Portugal came to trade his country’s goods in return for Indian species. The French came and established their colonies in India. Lastly, the British came and ruled over India for nearly 200 years. After the battle of Plassey in 1757, the British achieved political power in India. And their supremacy was established during the tenure of Lord Dalhousie, who became the Governor- General in 1848. He annexed Punjab, Peshawar and the Pathan tribes in the north-west of India. And by 1856, the British conquest and its authority were firmly established. And while the British power gained its heights during the middle of the 19th century, the discontent of the local rulers, the peasantry, the intellectuals, common masses as also of the soldiers who became unemployed due to the disbanding of the armies of various states that were annexed by the British, became widespread. This soon broke out into a revolt which assumed the dimensions of the 1857 Mutiny. Consequent to the failure of the Revolt of 1857 rebellion, one also saw the end of the East India Company’s rule in India and many important changes took place in the British Government’s policy towards India which sought to strengthen the British rule through winning over the Indian princes, the chiefs and the landlords. Queen Victoria’s Proclamation of November 1, 1858 declared that thereafter India would be governed by and in the name of the British Monarch through a Secretary of State. In August 1942, Gandhiji started the ‘Quit India Movement’ and decided to launch a mass civil disobedience movement ‘Do or Die’ call to force the British to leave India. The movement was followed, nonetheless, by large-scale violence directed at railway stations, telegraph offices, gov30

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ernment buildings, and other emblems and institutions of colonial rule. There were widespread acts of sabotage, and the government held Gandhi responsible for these acts of violence, suggesting that they were a deliberate act of Congress policy. However, all the prominent leaders were arrested, the Congress was banned and the police and army were brought out to suppress the movement. India became free at the stroke of midnight, on August 14, 1947. Jawaharlal Nehru became the first Prime Minster of free India and continued his term till 1964. Giving voice to the sentiments of the nation, Prime Minister, Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru said, “Long years ago we made a tryst with destiny, and now the time comes when we will redeem our pledge, not wholly or in full measure, but very substantially. At the stroke of the midnight hour, when the world sleeps, India will awake to life and freedom. A moment comes, which comes but rarely in history, when we step out from the old to the new, when an age ends and when the soul of a nation, long suppressed, finds utterance.... We end today a period of ill fortune, and India discovers herself again.”

Cuisines Food is an important part of Indian culture, playing a role in everyday life as well as in festivals. Indian cuisine varies from region to region, reflecting the varied demographics of the ethnically diverse subcontinent. Generally, Indian cuisine can be split into five categories: North, South, East,West Indian and North-eastern India. Despite this diversity, some unifying threads emerge. Varied uses of spices are an integral part of food preparation, and are used to enhance the flavor of a dish and create unique flavors and aromas. Cuisine across India has also been influenced by various cultural groups that entered India throughout history, such as the Persians, Mughals, and European colonists. Though the tandoor originated in Central Asia, Indian tandoori dishes, such as chicken tikka made with Indian ingredients, enjoy widespread popularity. Indian cuisine is one of the most popular cuisines across the globe. Historically, Indian spices and herbs were one of the most sought after trade commodities. The spice trade between India and Europe led to the rise and dominance of Arab traders to such an extent, that European explorers such as Vasco da Gama and Christopher Columbus, set out to find new trade routes with India leading to the Age of Discovery. The popularity of curry, which originated in India, across Asia has often led to the dish being labeled as the “pan-Asian” dish.

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Values and Beliefs The Indian culture varies like its vast geography. People speak in different languages, dress differently, follow different religions, eat different food but are of the same temperament. So whether it is a joyous occasion or a moment of grief, people participate whole-heartedly, feeling the happiness or pain. A festival or a celebration is never constrained to a family or a home. The whole community or neighbourhood is involved in bringing liveliness to an occasion. Likewise, an Indian wedding is a celebration of union, not only of the bride and groom, but also of two families, maybe cultures or religion too! Similarly, in times of sorrow, neighbours and friends play an important part in easing out the grief. The global image of India is that of an upcoming and progressive nation. True, India has leaped many boundaries in all sectors- commerce, technology and development etc in

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the recent past, yet she has not neglected her other creative genius. Wondering what it is? Well, it the alternative science that has been continuously practiced in India since times immemorial. Ayurveda, is a distinct form of medicine made purely of herbs and natural weeds, that can cure any ailment of the world. Ayurveda has also been mentioned in the Ancient Indian epics like Ramayana. Even today, when the western concept of medicine has reached its zenith, there are people looking for alternative methods of treatment for its multifarious qualities.

Ethnicity With a population of more than 1,027 million as accounted by the March 1, 2001 population census, India is a colourful canvas portraying a unique assimilation of ethnic groups displaying varied cultures and religions. In fact, this uniqueness in the ethnicity of the country is the factor that makes it different from other nations. Moreover, the vastness of

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India’s nationalism, accounting to a plethora of cultural extravaganza, religions, etc. is the reason that the country is seen more as a seat for a major world civilization than a mere nation-state. Since ancient times, the spiritual land of India has displayed varied hues of culture, religion, race, language, and so on. This variety in race, culture, religion, etc. accounts for the existence of different ethnic groups who, although, live within the sanctums of one single nation, profess different social habits and characteristics. Regional territories in India play an important role in differentiating these ethnic groups, with their own social and cultural identities. The religions that are prevalent in the country are Hinduism, Christianity, Islam, Sikhism, Buddhism, and Jainism, with the freedom for citizens to practice any religion they want to. With the governance of 35 different states and union territories in the country, there has originated a sense of regionalism amongst the various parts, with different states

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displaying different cultures, which although eventually fuse through a common bond to showcase a national cultural identity. The Constitution of India has recognised 22 different languages that are prevalent in the country, out of which, Hindi is the official language and is spoken in most of the urban cities of India. Other than these 22 languages, there are hundreds of dialects that add to the multilingual nature of the country.

Festivals India is a land of festivals and fairs. Virtually celebrating each day of the year, there are more festivals celebrated in India than anywhere else in the world. Each festival pertains to different occasions, some welcome the seasons of the year, the harvest, the rains, or the full moon. Others celebrate religious occasions, the birthdays of divine beings and saints, or the advent of the New Year. A number of these festivals are common to most parts of India. However, they

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may be called by different names in various parts of the country or may be celebrated in a different fashion. Some of the festivals celebrated all over India are mentioned below. However, this section is still under enhancement. There are many other important festivals celebrated by various communities in India: India, being a multi-cultural and multi-religious society, celebrates holidays and festivals of various religions. The three national holidays in India, the Independence Day, the Republic Day and the Gandhi Jayanti, are celebrated with zeal and enthusiasm across India. In addition, many states and regions have local festivals depending on prevalent religious and linguistic demographics. Popular religious festivals include the Hindu festivals of Navratri Diwali, Ganesh Chaturthi, Durga puja, Holi, Rakshabandhan and Dussehra. Several harvest festivals, such as Sankranthi, Pongal and Onam,”Nuakhai” are also fairly popular. Certain festivals in India are celebrated by multiple religions. Notable examples include Diwali which celebrated by Hindus, Sikhs and Jains and Budd Purnima which is celebrated by Buddhists and Hindus. Islamic festivals, such Eid ul-Fitr, Eid al-Adha and Ramadan, are celebrated by Muslims across India. Adding colors to the culture of India, the Dree Festival is one of the tribal festivals of India celebrated by the Apatanis of the Ziro valley of Arunachal Pradesh, which is the easternmost state of this country.

Namaste Namaste, Namaskar or Namaskara is a common spoken greeting or salutation in the Indian subcontinent. Namaskar is considered a slightly more formal version than namaste but both express deep respect. It is commonly used in India and Nepal by Hindus, Jains and Buddhists, and many continue to use this outside the Indian subcontinent. In Indian and Nepali culture, the word is spoken at the beginning of written or verbal communication. However, the same hands folded gesture is made usually wordlessly upon departure. In yoga, namaste is said to mean “The light in me honors the light in you,” as spoken by both the yoga instructor and yoga students. Taken literally, it means “I bow to you”. The word is derived from Sanskrit (namas): to bow, obeisance, reverential salutation, and respect and (te): “to you”. When spoken to another person, it is commonly accompanied by a slight bow made with hands pressed together, palms touching and fingers pointed upwards, in front of the chest. The gesture can also be performed wordlessly or calling on another God eg: “Jai shri Krishna” and carry the same meaning.

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WHEN INDIA DANCES Dance in India covers a wide range of dance and dance theatre forms, from the ancient classical or temple dance to folk and modern styles. There are hundreds of Indian folk dances such as Bhangra, Garba and special dances observed in regional festivals. India offers a number of classical Indian dance forms, each of which can be traced to different parts of the country. The presentation of Indian dance styles in film, Bollywood, has exposed the range of dance in India to a global audience.

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Classical Dance Each form represents the culture and ethos of a particular region or a group of people. The criteria for being considered as classical is the style’s adherence to the guidelines laid down in Natyashastra by the sage Bharata Muni, which explains the Indian art of acting. Acting or natya is a broad concept which encompasses both drama and dance. Indian classical dance is a misnomer, as actually dance refers to natya, the sacred Hindu musical theatre styles. Its theory can be traced back to the Natya Shastra of Bharata Muni (400 BC). Dances performed inside the sanctum of the temple according to the rituals were called Agama Nartanam. Natya Shastra classifies this type of dance form as margi, or the soul-liberating dance, unlike the desi (purely entertaining) forms. Dances performed in royal courts to the accompaniment of classical music were called Carnatakam. This was an intellectual art form. Darbari Aattam form of dance appealed more to the commoners and it educated them about their religion, culture and social life. These dances were performed outside the temple precincts in the courtyards. Both Carnatakam and Darbari Aattam in particular were predominantly desi forms. For lack of any better equivalents in the European culture, the British colonial authorities called any performing art forms found in India as “Indian dance”. Even though the art of Natya includes nritta, or dance proper, Natya has never been limited to dancing and includes singing, abhinaya (mime acting). These features are common to all the Indian classical styles. In the margi form Nritta is composed of karanas, while the desi nritta consists mainly of adavus. The term “classical” (Sanscr. “Shastriya”) was introduced by Sangeet Natak Akademi to denote the Natya Shastra-based performing art styles. A very important feature of Indian classical dances is the use of the mudra or hand gestures by the artists as a shorthand sign language to narrate a story and to demonstrate certain concepts such as objects, weather, nature and emotion. Many classical dances include facial expressions as an integral part of the dance form.

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The Sangeet Natak Akademi currently confers classical status on eight “dance” forms, which include Bharatanatyam Tamil Classical Dance, Odissi - Oriya Classical dance, Kuchipudi - Telugu Classical dance, Manipuri - Manipuri Classical Dance, Mohiniaattam - Malayali Classical Dance, Sattriya - Assamese Classical Dance, Kathakali Malayali Classical Dance and Kathak - Hindi Classical Dance.

Bharatnatyam Bharatanatyam is a classical Indian dance form originating in Tamil Nadu, India. One of the oldest of the classical dance forms in India, it is also known as the fifth Veda. Bharatanatyam is usually accompanied by the classical music. It has its inspirations from the sculptures of the ancient temple of Chidambaram. Bharatanatyam, as the name depicts is the combination of: BHA- Bhava (Expression), RA- Raga (Music) and TATala (Rhythm). Bharatanatyam is a traditional dance-form known for its grace, purity, tenderness, and sculpturesque poses. Today, it is one of the most popular and widely performed dance styles and is practiced by many dancers all over the world. In ancient times Bhartanatyam was performed as dasiattam by mandir (Hindu temple) Devadasis. Many of the ancient sculptures in Hindu temples are based on Bharata Natyam dance postures karanas. In Kali Yuga, the center of most arts in India is Bhakti (devotion) and therefore, Bharata Natyam as a dance form and carnatic music set to it are deeply grounded in Bhakti. Bharata Natyam has three distinct elements to it: Nritta (rhythmic dance movements), Natya (mime, or dance with a dramatic aspect), and Nritya (combination of Nritta and Natya). The Tamil country especially Tanjore, has always been the seat and centre of learning and culture. It was the famous quartet of Chinnayya, Ponniah, Sivanandam and Vadivelu of the Tanjore Court during the Marathi King Saraboji’s time (1798- 1824) which made a rich contribution to music and Bharatanatyam and also completed the process of re-editing the

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Bharathanatyam programme into its present shape with its various forms like the Alarippu, Jathiswaram, Sabdham, Varnam, Tillana etc.

Odissi

Essentially, Bharatanatyam is considered to be a fire-dance — the mystic manifestation of the metaphysical element of fire in the human body. Bharatanatyam proper is a solo dance, with two aspects, lasya, the graceful feminine lines and movements, and tandava Ananda Thandavam (Tamil) (the dance of Shiva), masculine aspect, which is identical to the Yin and Yang in the Chinese culture.

Odissi is one of the classical dance forms of India. It originates from the state of Orissa, in eastern India. It is the oldest surviving dance form of India on the basis of archaeological evidences. The classic treatise of Indian dance, Natya Shastra, refers to it as Odra-Magadhi. First century BCE bas-reliefs in the hills of Udaygiri (near Bhubaneshwar) testify to its antiquity. It was suppressed under the British raj but has been reconstructed since India gained independence.

Spiritually, Bharatanatyam is the manifestation of the ancient idea of the celebration of the eternal universe through the celebration of the beauty of the material body. Some Bharatanatyam techniques can be traced back to the Kaisiki style

It is particularly distinguished from other classical Indian dance forms by the importance it places upon the tribhangi (literally: three parts break), the independent movement of head, chest and pelvis, and upon the basic square stance known as chauka. Odissi can be traced back to its origin as secular dance. Later it got attached with the temple culture of Odisha. Starting with the rituals of Jagannath temple in Puri it was regularly performed in Shaivite, Vaishnavite and Sakta temple in Odisha. An inscription is found where it was also engraved that a Devadasi Karpursri’s attachment to Buddhist monastery, where she was performing along with her mother and grand mother. Thus it proves that Odissi first originated as a court dance. Later it performed in all religious places of Jaina as well as Buddhist monasteries. Odissi, was initially performed in the temples as a religious offering by the ‘Maharis’ who dedicated their lives in the services of God. It has the closer resemblance with sculptures of the Indian Temples.

Kuchipudi Kuchipudi is a Classical Indian dance form from Andhra Pradesh. Kuchipudi is the name of a village in the Divi Taluka of Krishna district that borders the Bay of Bengal and with resident Brahmins practising this traditional dance form, it acquired the present name. The performance usually begins with some stage rites, after which each

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of the character comes on to the stage and introduces him/ herself with a daru (a small composition of both song and dance) to introduce the identity, set the mood, of the character in the drama. The drama then begins. The dance is accompanied by song which is typically Carnatic music. The singer is accompanied by mridangam (a classical South Indian percussion instrument), violin, flute and the tambura (a drone instrument with strings which are plucked). Ornaments worn by the artists are generally made of a light weight wood called Boorugu. The movements in Kuchipudi are quicksilver and scintillating, rounded and fleet-footed. Performed to classical Carnatic music, it shares many common elements with Bharatanatyam. In its solo exposition Kuchipudi numbers include ‘jatiswaram’ and ‘tillana’ whereas in nritya it has several lyrical compositions reflecting the desire of a devotee to merge with God - symbolically the union of the soul with the super soul.

Mohiniyattam comes from the words “Mohini” meaning a woman who enchants onlookers and “aattam” meaning graceful and sensuous body movements. The word “Mohiniyattam” literally means “dance of the enchantress”. T h e r e are two stories of the Lord Vishnu disguised as a Mohini. In one, he appears as Mohini to lure the asuras (demons) away from the amrita (nectar of immortality) obtained during the churning of the palazhi or Ocean of Milk. In the second story Vishnu appears as Mohini to save Lord Shiva

Manipuri Manipuri dance is one of the major Indian classical dance forms. It originates from Manipur, a state in north-eastern India on the border with Myanmar (also known as Burma). In Manipur, surrounded by mountains and geographically isolated at the meeting point of the orient and mainland India, the form developed its own specific aesthetics, values, conventions and ethics. The cult of Radha and Krishna, particularly the raslila, is central to its themes but the dances, unusually, incorporate the characteristic cymbals (kartal or manjira) and double-headed drum (pung or Manipuri mridang) of sankirtan into the visual performance. Manipuri dancers do not wear ankle bells to accentuate the beats tapped out by the feet, in contrast with other Indian dance forms, and the dancers’ feet never strike the ground hard. Movements of the body and feet and facial expressions in Manipuri dance are subtle and aim at devotion and grace.

Mohiniyattam Mohiniyattam, also spelled Mohiniattam is a traditional South Indian dance from Kerala, one of the eight Indian classical dance forms. It is a very graceful dance meant to be performed as a solo recital by women. The term 40

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from the demon Bhasmasura. The name Mohiniyattam may have been coined after Lord Vishnu, and the main theme of the dance is love and devotion to God, with usually Vishnu or Krishna being the hero. Devadasis used to perform this in temples. But it also has elements of Koothu and Kottiyattom in it. Mohiniyattam is a drama in dance and verse.

alistic and other purposes for which it was originally created circa 500 years ago. The core of Sattriya Nritya has usually been mythological stories. This was an artistic way of presenting mythological teachings to the people in an accessible, immediate, and enjoyable manner.

Sattriya

Kathakali is a highly stylized classical Indian dance-drama noted for its attractive make-up of characters, their elaborate costumes, detailed gestures and well-defined body movements presented in tune with the anchor playback music and complementary percussion. It originated in the country’s present day state of Kerala during the 17th century AD and has been updated over the years with improved looks, refined gestures and added themes besides more ornate singing and precise drumming. Kathakali originated from a precursor dance-drama form called Ramanattam and owes it share of techniques also to Krishnanattam. The word “attam” means enactment. In short, these two forerunning forms to Kathakali dealt with presentation of the stories of Hindu gods Rama and Krishna.

Sattriya, or Sattriya Nritya, is one among eight principal classical Indian dance traditions. Whereas some of the other traditions have been revived in the recent past, Sattriya has remained a living tradition since its creation by the Assamese Vaishnav saint Srimanta Sankardeva, in 15th century Assam. Sankardeva created Sattriya Nritya as an accompaniment to the Ankiya Naat (a form of Assamese one-act plays devised by him), which were usually performed in the sattras, as Assam’s monasteries are called. As the tradition developed and grew within the sattras, the dance form came to be called Sattriya Nritya. Today, although Sattriya Nritya has emerged from within the confines of the sattras to a much wider recognition, the sattras continue to use the dance form for ritu-

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Kathakali

Kathak The name Kathak is derived from the Sanskrit word katha meaning story, and katthaka in Sanskrit means s/ he who tells a story, or to do with stories. This dance form

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traces its origins to the nomadic bards of ancient northern India, known as Kathaks, or storytellers. These bards, performing in village squares and temple courtyards, mostly specialized in recounting mythological and moral tales from the scriptures, and embellished their recitals with hand gestures and facial expressions. It was quintessential theatre, using instrumental and vocal music along with stylized gestures, to enliven the stories. Its form today contains traces of temple and ritual dances, and the influence of the bhakti movement. Kathak also possesses a particular performance style of expressional pieces called bhaav bataanaa (lit. ‘to show bhaav or ‘feeling’). It is a mode where abhinaya dominates, and arose in the Mughal court. It is more suited to the mehfil or the darbar environment, because of the proximity of the performer to the audience, who can more easily see the nuances of the dancer’s facial expression. From the 16th century onwards it absorbed certain features of Persian dance and Central Asian dance which were imported by the royal courts of the Mughal era.

Folk Dances in India Each region of the country has a unique culture, which is also prominently visible in its various art forms. Almost all the regions of the country have their specific folk music and dance, which proves to be a wonderful way of expression of their community and its traditions. Though these folk dances are not as complex as the classical dance forms, they are very beautiful, because of the essence of rawness in them. Be it the Bihu of Assam, Dol-Cholom of Manipur, Hikal of Himachal Pradesh or Chhau of Bihar, each of the Indian folk dance forms comes across as a reflection of the deep sited beliefs and traditions of a particular culture. The folk dances of any community are performed on almost every special occasion and festival, to express elation and joy. These dances are also considered to be auspicious by many of the tribal communities in the country. Many folk dances are dedicated to the presiding deity of the specific community. The most interesting part of a folk dance is the attire required for its performance. Every folk dance has its own specific costume and jewelry, which differs from dance to dance. They are, in general, very bright and colorful, with traditional jewelries that give a folk touch to the performance. These dances are not only the exclusive art of a particular community, but also an asset of India’s cultural heritage.

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A Country Forever...

An Adventure Story Forever India Offers a wide range of adventure sports for tourists. Trekking and Skiing in the Himalayas, White Water Rafting on the Ganges and Beas, Camel and Jeep safaris in the deserts of Rajasthan, Paragliding in Himachal, Watersports in Goa and Scuba Diving in Lakshadweep and Andaman are just some of the options available to the adventure seeking tourists.

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ight from the perennial challenge of the Himalayas for mountaineers…Coniferous forests and flower meadows welcome the trekker….to the rapids of snow-fed rivers are ideal for white water rafting, options are galore. Options for the ardent adventure seeker include Water Sports, Water Skiing, Angling, Trekking, Rock Climbing, Mountaineering, Paragliding, Parasailing, Hang Gliding, Skydiving, Ballooning, Jeep Safaris, Camel Safaris, Elephant Safari, Skiing, Heli Skiing, Biking, Bungee Jumping, Moto Sports, Bike Safaris, Car Rallies, etc. The country has plentiful of adventure tourism destinations. Some of the popular destinations that are brim with adventure enthusiasts throughout the year such as LehLadakh, Zanskar Valley, Kargil and Suru valley, Manali and Kullu valley, Lahual and Spiti valley, Dharamshala and Kangra valley, Chamba valley, Kinnaur and Sangla valley, Rishikesh, Garhwal and Kumaon valley, Darjeeling. Even some wildlife sanctuaries and national parks such as Jim Corbett National Park, Gir National Park, Ranthambore National Park, Kaziranga National Park which are popular among the tourists for wildlife safaris and nature walks. It is not only India’s vast geographical diversity that provides a huge scope for the adventure tourist but also that it is relatively unforayed into and comparatively inexpensive too. Those who want to fancy the wild and see mothernature in its original form, to see man and nature surviving in each other’s arms is rediscovering one’s own self. The intrigue of age-old monasteries and temples, the Himalayan peaks and slopes, with its dense tropical forests providing diverse fauna and flora and the 3000km of long -long coastline promises the most exciting of sports and 44

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Top 5 in Adventure Tourism adventure imaginable. The best part is that these facilities exist all year through and in different places with affordable prices. Summer has the spotlight on the mountains in the northern most states with its breath taking, views, winter has the country’s coastline to explore and in between the shoulder period is covered with a variety of other sports. Season is not the restriction. Adventure tourism India has increased in recent years due to the efforts taken by the Indian government and the Ministry of Tourism. The scope for adventure tourism in India is endless because the country has a rich diversity in terms of climate and topography. For this growth to continue, efforts must be taken by the government of India so that India ranks alongside international destinations for adventure tourism.

♦ River rafting and kayaking in Himalayas ♦ Mountain climbing in Himalayas ♦ Rock climbing in Madhya Pradesh ♦ Skiing in Gulmarg or Auli ♦ Paragliding in Maharashtra

Water Sports The Himalayas offer you some of the toughest and most exciting river runs in the world. River sports in the rapids are the most popular, throughout the summers and can really get your adrenaline pumping. The innumerable fresh water streams and lakes in Jammu and Kashmir, Himachal Pradesh and Uttar Pradesh are ideal for angling and trout fishing. The coastal regions provide excellent opportunities for water sports like water skiing, wind surfing, yachting, snorkelling and scuba diving. Trekking India is the ultimate destination for a trekking holiday, offering everything from short and easy excursions to the long challenges of the snowy peaks, invoking visions of the spectacular Himalayas, the lush meadows, green woodland and fragrant orchards. The captivating landscape, with an incomparable diversity of flora and fauna: India is regarded as the 'trekkers' paradise' and, indeed, is a refreshing treat to the trekkers. Aero Sports In India some of the major aero sports that adventure lovers would love to indulge in include, Ballooning, Para Gliding and Hang Gliding. Even amateurs can indulge in these sports, with a proper orientation. There are many government sports institutes and sports clubs in India. March 2010

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CLIMB Even at 8,848 meters, Mount Everest dwarfs at the capability of human innovation...particularly its inquisitiveness. The urge to explore more never ends and India throws enough options for people thirsty to drive the adrenaline

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A Country Forever...

A Desert Story forever India offers immense climatic diversity and topographical varieties. Deserts form the backdrop of many a legend in India, and in the present times, are touted as destinations of tourist interest.

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he Thar or Great Indian Desert is an arid region (800 km) long and (400 km) wide, in North West of India and East of Pakistan, between the Indus and Sutlej river valleys on the west and the Aravali Range on the east. Largely a desolate region of shifting sand dunes, broken rocks, and scrub vegetation, it receives an annual average rainfall of less than 25 cm. The sparsely populated region has a pastoral economy. Through the extension of canals fed with Sutlej and Beas waters, irrigation has reclaimed some land for agriculture along the northern and western edges. Nothing can prepare the visitor for the sheer magic and brilliance of the desert cities of Rajasthan. The camel rides on the sand dunes are an unforgettable experience as are the sunsets. These places boast of some very fine reminders of the glorious past - palaces, forts, temples and other elegant monuments of architectural and historical value and unforgettable treat for any visitor. Explore the enigmatic desert of Rajasthan that will mystify your mind with its beauty and vastness. The gateway to the great Indian Thar desert through Jodhpur will take enchant you with a vast waste dotted with shifting sand dunes and sparse hamlets with cenotaphs called ‘Chattris’. At Jaisalmer in the heart of the desert the majestic golden fort is a memorable sight as is the camel ride at nearby Sam. Equally enchanting are the forts at Bikaner and Madwa, which drifts your mind to the medieval times. The Festival Once a year during winters in Jaisalmer, the sands around Jaisalmer come alive with the brilliant colors, music and laughter of the Desert Festival. Dressed in brilliantly hued costumes, the people of the desert dance and sing haunting ballads of valor, romance and tragedy. The fair has snake 48

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Top 4 in Desert Tourism Rajasthan Jodhpur Bikaner Barmer Gujarat Bhuj

charmers, puppeteers, acrobats and folk performers. Camels, of course, play a stellar role in this festival, where the rich and colorful folk culture of Rajasthan is on show. The festival closes with an enchanting sound and light show amidst the sand dunes on a moonlit night. The Jaisalmer fort provides an ethereal backdrop to the annual desert festival. Sponsored by the Rajasthan State Tourism Corporation, this festival is a joyful celebration of the traditional performing arts and creative crafts of Rajasthan. Celebrations A few days before the spring full moon according to the Hindu calendar, musicians, dancers and performers from all over Rajasthan start moving in colorful camel caravans towards the golden town of Jaisalmer, which dons a festive look. The otherwise barren landscape is splashed with vibrant colors marking the opening of the Desert Festival. The 12th century fort of Jaisalmer, built in yellow sandstone, provides a fairytale background. Over the years, the desert dwellers in their solitude have woven a fascinating tapestry with threads of music and rhythm and the Desert Festival is a celebration of their heritage. It is a chance of a lifetime to see the folk art forms against the landscape that has nurtured them for hundreds of years. With the arrival of the artists, a delightful series of programs begins in and around Jaisalmer. There is music everywhere and at every given hour. Through the winding lanes of the fortified town to the sand dunes and even the rivers of abandoned villages, the music casts a potent spell. Beginning at sunrise, it reaches its zenith under the umbrella of the star-studded sky. Though it is mainly a festival of the performing arts, there are several other events that give a glimpse of the desert culture. Through the day, visitors can come face to face with the desert craftsmen. Exquisitely embroidered skirts, hand-woven shawls, rugs, carvings on wood and stone, camel decorations, embroidered leather bags, ethnic silver jewelry and terracotta are brought in from all over the desert. These skillfully achieved crafts are objects d'art for the handicraft buff.

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DESERT SHOPPING Be it Jaisalmer, Jodhpur, or Jaipur, Rajasthan offers some of the most exquisite memorabilia available. Once on a shopping spree, this place enthralls every one to the core. Keep an eye on your budget and a friendly hand on your wallet lest the pickpocket makes merry...after all it’s busy raining tourists. March 2010

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A Country Forever...

An Eco-friendly Story Forever Fundamentally, eco-tourism means making as little environmental impact as possible and helping to sustain the indigenous populace, thereby encouraging the preservation of wildlife and habitats when visiting a place. This is responsible form of tourism and tourism development, which encourages going back to natural products in every aspect of life. It is also the key to sustainable ecological development.

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he International Eco-tourism Society defines ecotourism as “responsible travel to natural areas that conserves the environment and improves the wellbeing of local people.� Eco-tourism is more than a catch phrase for nature loving travel and recreation. Eco-tourism is consecrated for preserving and sustaining the diversity of the world’s natural and cultural environments. It accommodates and entertains visitors in a way that is minimally intrusive or destructive to the environment and sustains & supports the native cultures in the locations it is operating in. Responsibility of both travellers and service providers is the genuine meaning for eco-tourism.

Natural resource management can be utilized as a specialized tool for the development of eco-tourism. There are several places throughout the world where the amount of natural resources are abundant. But, with human encroachment and habitats these resources are depleting. 52

Eco-tourism also endeavours to encourage and support the diversity of local economies for which the tourism-related income is important. With support from tourists, local services and producers can compete with larger, foreign companies and local families can support themselves. Besides all these, the revenue produced from tourism helps and encourages governments to fund conservation projects and training programs. Eco-tourism focuses on local cultures, wilderness adventures, volunteering, personal growth and learning new ways to live on our vulnerable planet. It is typically defined as travel to destinations where the flora, fauna, and cultural heritage are the primary attractions. Responsible Eco-tourMarch 2010


Top 6 in Eco Tourism ♦ Tourindia Backwaters and Jungle tourism, Kerala ism includes programs that minimize the adverse effects of traditional tourism on the natural environment, and enhance the cultural integrity of local people. Therefore, in addition to evaluating environmental and cultural factors, initiatives by hospitality providers to promote recycling, energy efficiency, water reuse, and the creation of economic opportunities for local communities are an integral part of Eco-tourism.

♦ Jungle Lodges and Resorts, Karnataka

Historical, biological and cultural conservation, preservation, sustainable development etc. are some of the fields closely related to Eco-Tourism. Many professionals have been involved in formulating and developing eco-tourism policies. They come from the fields of Geographic Information Systems, Wildlife Management, Wildlife Photography, Marine Biology and Oceanography, National and State Park Management, Environmental Sciences, Women in Development, Historians and Archaeologists, etc.

♦ The Himalayan Trout House - Tirthan, Himachal Pradesh

♦ The Camp RapidFire Rishikesh, Uttaranchal ♦ The Camp BodhiSatva Rajgarh, Himachal Pradesh

♦ The Camp Purple – Mukteshwar

Natural resource management can be utilized as a specialized tool for the development of eco-tourism. There are several places throughout the world where the amount of natural resources are abundant. But, with human encroachment and habitats these resources are depleting. Without knowing the proper utilization of certain resources they are destroyed and floral and faunal species are becoming extinct. Ecotourism programmes can be introduced for the conservation of these resources. Several plans and proper management programmes can be introduced so that these resources remain untouched. Several organizations, NGO's, scientists are working on this field. Natural resources of hill areas like Kurseong in West Bengal are plenty in number with various flora and fauna, but tourism for business purpose poised the situation. Researcher from Jadavpur University presently working in this area for the develeopment of eco-tourism which can be utilized as a tool for natural resource management. In South-East Asia government and Non-Government Organisations are working together with academics and industry operators to spread the economic benefits of tourism into the kampungs and villages of the region. A recently formed alliance, the South-East Asian Tourism Organisation - SEATO is bringing together these diverse players to allay resource management concerns.

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Mangrove forest, Sunderbans National Park, West bengal

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GREEN SOL ACE Eco-Toursim is responsible travel to fragile, pristine, and usually protected areas that strives to be low impact and (often) small scale. It purports to educate the traveler; provide funds for conservation; directly benefit the economic development and political empowerment of local communities; and foster respect for different cultures and for human rights. Eco tourism is held important by those who participate in it so that future generations may experience aspects of the environment relatively untouched by human intervention.

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A Country Forever...

A Heritage Story Forever India is among one of the rare and unique countries in the world which stands for its ancient cultures and traditions, which range through a span of centuries. It is clearly evident from the remains of the ancient monuments and traces in the different parts of India.

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he Indian monuments are the living examples which take us back to thousands of years and help in ex ploring the history of India. These monuments in India offer a great help to study and know more about the ancient civilizations of India. The ancient Indian monuments have a rare and unique architecture, which tells about the story of ancient India. These monuments across India are considered to be the real treasure of India, which is being preserved with great importance. Among the Indian monuments, Taj Mahal is considered to be one of the Seven Wonders of the World. The monuments in India mark the presence of some great forces and influences such as Mughal dynasty, Rajputana Empire, the Dravidian era and even Colonial Europeans. The ancient monuments of north India are mainly the results of the foreign invasions, and after the downfall of the ancient empires, the forts, the palaces and other monuments become isolated. But many of these monuments are preserved and are the trade mark of the northern parts of India. Many of these monuments are opened for the public for viewing. But some monuments are restricted for the tourists due to some security reasons. Majority of the north Indian monuments mark the presence of the Mughal Dynasty, Rajputana Empire and more.

♦Qutub Minar, New Delhi ♦Red Fort, Delhi ♦India Gate, New Delhi ♦Taj Mahal, Agra ♦Hawa Mahal, Jaipur 56

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The monuments of South India are entirely different with respect to style and architecture, when compared with the north Indian monuments. It comprises mainly of the Dravidian architecture and style, which is its hallmark. There are a large number of historic and ancient monuments in south Indian states such as Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka, Tamil Nadu and Kerala; of these Tamil Nadu is well known for its ancient temples, which are of unique style and are dated back to thousands of years. Similarly Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka and Kerala also have its own share of ancient monuments and remains in the form of forts, palaces, churches, temples and mosques.

♦Mysore Palace, Mysore ♦Gol Gumbaz, Bijapur ♦Charminar, Hyderabad In Gujarat, Goa, Maharasthara and Madhya Pradesh, we can come across a variety of ancient and heritage monuments, which vary in its architecture and structural designs. These historical monuments and places attracts a lot of visitors to these states and the Government has taken the job of preserving many of these ancient monuments and forts in West India. The states of West India have a lot to offer for the heritage lovers. The monuments of West India comprises of some of the famous monuments in India. The monuments in the states of west India consists of forts, palaces, caves, ancient Temples, Churches and other cultural monuments. Some of these monuments still maintain their ancient glory, while some others are in complete ruins. Some of the major destinations for heritage monuments are Aurangabad, Ajanta, Ellora, Khajuraho etc.

♦Ajanta and Ellora Caves

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Overview of the courtyard of the Jama Masjid Mosque, Delhi

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OLD GLORY History does not know to write, it jus reverts back to what was written. Today, with a changed digital world of demands and less of supply, India still adjusts its weight to fit into a developing nation’s miniature size wallet. There is saving but not much to spend. Travel is taboo. Generations of glory...a small change is still in court.

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A Country Forever...

A Beach Story forever India offers a wide range - from tropical beaches with silver/ golden sand to coral beaches of Lakshadweep. States like Kerala and Goa have exploited the potential of beaches to the fullest. However, there are a lot many unexploited beaches in the states of Andhra Pradesh, Gujarat, Maharashtra, Tamil Nadu and Karnataka. These states have very high potential to be developed as future destinations for prospective tourists.

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long its 7000 km of coastline, India boasts of a num ber of beautiful beaches. The tranquil environment with abundant greenery around is just perfect to relax and refresh the drained mind and body. Lakshadweep Beaches Situated 250 miles off the south-west coast of India in the Arabian Sea, Lakshadweep islands highlight some of the most exotic beaches of the country. And of the 36 coral islands, only six are open to the visitors. All this inhabiting landscape unfurls the thrill of adventure water-sports and the infinite treasure of marine world. Where Agatti and Kadamat are famous for glass bottomed boat rides, Minicoy jazzes with the local boat-race-Jahadhoni. Besides, the adventure of scuba-diving, snorkeling, wind-surfing and angling are also available in Bangaram, Kavaratti and Kalpeni beach Beaches in Goa Call it the land of cruises or the paradise to romantic couples, Goa is popular for its numerous Beaches. A walk on the sandy beach of Colva, Baga, Anjuna, Dona Paula etal, provides an everlasting impression in the mind of the visitors. Enthusiast also finds the vast landscape as an ideal place for scuba-divers, wind-surfers and sun-bathers. Karnataka Beaches The fascinating palm-growth, the slanting coconut groves bordering the 320 kms long coastline features the number of beaches in Karnataka. The most popular Karwar, Malpe, Maravanthe, Bhatkal and Murudeshwar offers some promising water-sports and fabulous attraction of the rolling hills, silver-sand beach and above all, the calm aura.

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Top 5 in Beach Tourism ♦ Ganapatipule Beach, Ratnagiri ♦ Tarkarli Beach, Malvan, Maharashtra ♦ Karwar Beach, Karnataka ♦ Cherai Beach, Ernakulam district ♦ Arambol Beach, Goa

Andra Pradesh Beaches Besides the magnificent attraction in Andra Pradesh, a look into its mesmerizing beaches goes beyond imagination. Of the eleven beaches in the state, tourist attraction lies in the recreational activities on the bank of Bheemunipatnam, Ramakrishna, Manginapudi, Mypad and Rishikonda. Andaman and Nicobar Island The beaches of Andaman and Nicobar Island are best known for its ultimate geographic location and exquisite marine lives. Some picturesque sea-beaches like Radhanagar beach, vijaynagar beach , Harminder Bay beach, Karmatang beach and Ramnagar beach looks alike the heaven on earth. This coastline are exclusive for eco-friendly tourist who can check out the lively spots of water Monitar Lizards, Megapode, Crocodiles, Reticulate Python etc. Beaches in Maharashtra A beach tourism in Maharashtra, India, takes beach-lovers into the swirling current of fun and enjoyment. The state’s charming destination like the Marine Drive, Ganpatipule Beach, Janjira Beach, Juhu beach and Chowpatty beach features the various beach activities like building sand-castle, screaming with volley-ball, beach-waking, relishing exotic sea-side cuisines etc. Besides other nearby attraction like the impregnable forts, parks and fabulous locales are some additional punch to the visitors. Tamil Nadu Beaches The soothing sunshines, the mirror like sea and the golden sand- Tamil Nadu Beaches has it all. This southernmost state in India boast of the second longest beach in the world, the Marina Beach. Highly looked at by the sun-bath lovers, the exotic locations like the Covelong, Elliots, Kanyakumari, Rameshwaram and Mahabalipuram are gaining immense popularity in the Big -Screen fantasy. A visit to the cited beaches offers a golden chance to plunge into the blue sea and comfort the body and soul with the salubrious environment, here.

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Havelock Beach, Port Blair, Andaman Islands

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BLUES OF Y ORE There is of course a sea to conquer. It has always been a wonder, the extent of water’s influence on life has been immaculate and for more reasons than one, it is and will be immaculate.

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A Country Forever...

A Health Story Forever Medical tourism is a growing sector in India. India’s medical tourism sector is expected to experience an annual growth rate of 30%, making it a Rs. 9,500-crore industry by 2015. Estimates of the value of medical tourism to India go as high as $2 billion a year by 2012.

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edical tourism, promoted by traditional systems of medicine like Ayurveda and Siddha are widely popular, and draws increasing numbers of tourists. A combination of many factors has led to the increase in popularity of medical tourism: high costs of healthcare in industrialised nations, ease and affordability of international travel, improving technology and standards of care. However, rampant recent growth in this sector has made the government apprehensive. The government is now considering introduction of a grading system which would grade hospitals and clinics, thus helping tourists in selecting one for their treatments. Advantages for medical tourists include reduced costs, the availability of latest medical technologies and a growing compliance on international quality standards, as well as the fact that foreigners are less likely to face a language barrier in India. The Indian government is taking steps to address infrastructure issues that hinder the country’s growth in medical tourism.

India is quickly becoming a hub for medical tourists seeking quality healthcare at an affordable cost. Nearly 4,50,000 foreigners sought medical treatment in India last year with Singapore not too far behind and Thailand in the lead with over a million medical tourists. 64

Most estimates claim treatment costs in India start at around a tenth of the price of comparable treatment in America or Britain. Other than Ayurveda, the most popular treatments sought in India by medical tourists are alternative medicine, bone-marrow transplant, cardiac bypass, eye surgery and hip replacement. India is known in particular for heart surgery, hip resurfacing and other areas of advanced medicine. Ministry of Tourism India (MoT) is planning to extend its Market Development Assistance (MDA) scheme to cover Joint Commission International (JCI) and National Accreditation Board of Hospitals (NABH) certified hospitals. A policy announcement of this effect is likely soon. March 2010


Hospitals groups like The Global Hospitals Group, MIOT Hospitals, Fortis Healthcare, Apollo hospitals, Max Hospitals, Dharamshila Cancer Hospital and Research Centre have increased their presence in international market for medical tourism. The south Indian city of Chennai has been declared India’s Health Capital, as it nets in 45% of health tourists from abroad and 30-40% of domestic health tourists. India is quickly becoming a hub for medical tourists seeking quality healthcare at an affordable cost. Nearly 4,50,000 foreigners sought medical treatment in India last year with Singapore not too far behind and Thailand in the lead with over a million medical tourists. As the Indian healthcare delivery system strives to match international standards the Indian healthcare industry will be able to tap into a substantial portion of the medical tourism market. Already 13 Indian hospitals have been accredited by the Joint Commission International (JCI). Accreditation and compliance with quality expectations are important since they provide tourists with confidence that the services are meeting international standards. Reduced costs, access to the latest medical technology, growing compliance to international quality standards and ease of communication all work towards India’s advantage. It is not uncommon to see citizens of other nations seek high quality medical care in the US over the past several decades; however in recent times the pattern seems to be reversing. As healthcare costs in the US are rising, price sensitivity is soaring and people are looking at medical value travel as a viable alternative option. In the past the growth potential of the medical travel industry in India has been hindered by capacity and infrastructure constraints but that situation is now changing with strong economic progress in India as well as in other developing nations. With more and more hospitals receiving JCI accreditations outside the US, concerns on safety and quality of care are becoming less of an issue for those choosing to travel for medical treatment at an affordable cost. The combined cost of travel and treatment in India is still a fraction of the amount spent on just medical treatment alone in many western countries.

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In order to attract foreign patients many Indian hospitals are promoting their international quality of healthcare delivery by turning to international accreditation agencies to standardize their protocols and obtain the required approvals on safety and quality of care. 65


A Country Forever...

A RELIGIOUS STOR Y FORE VER ORY OREVER Religious Tourism in India has evolved a lot over the years, developing in to a multi crore business. This increase has given a lift to the country’s economy as well as the economy of the important regions of different religious significance.

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ndia is a diverse country with a very diverse society con sisting of many different religions, cultures and belief. Some important religions are : Hinduism, Islam, Christianity, Sikhism and Buddhism. India is one of the two parts of the world which can take credit for founding three major religions : Hinduism, Sikhism and Buddhism. India is richly endowed with ancient temples and religious festivals. Religions originating in India have a vibrant culture and spiritual philosophy. Together, they present a viable, alternative way of life as compared to the materialism and confrontation prevalent in the West. There is a revival of religious attitudes not only in India but the world over. The second and third generations of the Indian diaspora are actively seeking out their roots in religion. The religions of Indian origin are also proving to be an attraction to many persons of non-Indian origin because these religions advocate a pacifist and inclusive approach to life. This is evident from the posts that can be read on the numerous blog sites devoted to religion. And there can be no better way to introduce these aspirants to Indian religions than to entice them to come to India and undertake and experience religious tourism themselves. Within its distinct segment, religious tourism in India offers a variety to attract different kinds of tourists. In time, it has the potential to become a commercially viable endeavour. To begin with, there are pilgrimages to several world-renowned temples and shrines, such as Tirupati, Vaishno Devi and Sabarimala. For those seeking more enduring pilgrim66

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Top 5 in Religious Tourism ages, there are the Char Dhams (four holy sites) at the four corners of the country and the twelve Jyotirlingas scattered across the land. But traveling to temples and seeking the blessings of the gods is only one aspect of religious tourism and an aspect that may not interest many. Foreigners to India are fascinated by the gaiety and pomp that marks religious festivals. These can also be made nodal points for promoting religious tourism in India. Some fairs like the Kumbh at Haridwar and Pushkar camel fair already draw significant tourists, but much more can be done.

♦ Thirupathi temple, Andhra Pradesh. ♦ Akshar Dham, Gandhi Nagar, Gujarat. ♦ Amarnath Temple, Pahalgam, Jammu & Kashmir. ♦ Somnath Temple, Gujarat. ♦ Vaishnodevi Temple, Jammu, Jammu & Kashmir.

Durga Puja in Kolkata is a spectacle beyond compare. Myriad statues of Kali with her blood soaked tongue and garland of skulls in every nook and corner of the city will enthuse those not accustomed to such crowds. The Rama Lila in the hinterland of Uttar Pradesh is another experience that cannot be had anywhere in the world. The one at Ramnagar goes back two centuries without a break and can be showcased as a historical and social event as well. Religion and culture are closely connected and people often visit cultural heritages associated with their religions, for example, the Mogao Caves, Porala Palace, Leshan Giant Buddha, Mount Taishan, the Mountain Resort in Chendge City and its Outlying Temples, Temple and Cemetery of Confucius, the Kong family mansion, and the Ancient Building Complex in the Wudang Mountains. Visiting religious sites or going on pilgrimages is the oldest tradition in many religions and with some of the sites being given UNESCO recognition, these trips are becoming more inviting and popular. Foreigners like to travel in groups to India too. They visit sites connected with the Buddha, like Kushinagan, Sarnah, Bodhgaya, Rajgir, Sanchic. These visitors are from all over the world, for instance, Japan, China, Thailand, Sri Lanka, Nepal, and Bhutan.

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MANTR A In Indian culture, there has always been faith...a life that has a mantra; a Sanskrit slokam that gives new meaning to the very trajectory of rise and upswing. There are suspicions, but the trajectory still shows signs of a rainbow.

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A Country Forever...

A Wild Story Forever India offers a wide range of tropical beaches with silver/ golden sand to coral beaches of Lakshadweep. States like Kerala and Goa have exploited the potential of beaches to the fullest. However, there are a lot many unexploited beaches in the states of Andhra Pradesh, Gujarat, Maharashtra, Tamil Nadu and Karnataka. These states have very high potential to be developed as future destinations for prospective tourists.

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he Indian Wildlife has been varied as well as rich in nature. Indian approx 4% covered by the forests with 90 national parks and 482 wildlife sanctuaries. Due to distinct climatic conditions and varied geographical features, India is the second largest country in the world which is blessed with distinctive flora and fauna. India has an endless array of 350 species of mammals, 1200 species of birds, and various species of reptiles, amphibians and plants. India is a home of the numerous mammals like Asian Elephants, Asiatic Lion, Bengal Tiger, Sloth Bear, Indian Rhinoceros and Leopard that is associated with deities. Other Indian mammals like Wild Asian Water buffalo, Nilgai, Gaur and several species of the antelopes and deer. The dog family members like Indian Wolf, Golden jackal, Bengal Fox and Dhole or Wild Dogs which are vastly distributed over the place. Stripped Hyena, Macaques, Mongoose and Langurs are also find here in vast number. Indian Wildlife has the ‘Wow’ factor as it is having varied biodiversity that attracts the tourists and the visitors from all over the globe. Some of the famous National parks in India are Jim Corbett National Park (Uttaranchal), Bandhavgarh National Park and Kanha National Park in Madhya Pradesh, Gir National Park in Sasangir (Gujarat), Ranthambore National Park in Sawai Madhopur which is having around 585 bird species. The Jim Corbett was the first National Park of the country which was established in the foothills of Himalayas. Wildlife Tourism Activities in India are: Jungle Safari: Jungle safari is one of the best option which provides abundant scope to travelers to explore and experience the virgin world of wild animals. Jungle safari will provide you excellent opportunities to view these un70

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Top 5 in Wildlife Tourism ♦ Bharatpur Wildlife Sanctuary in Rajasthan ♦ Jim Corbett National Park ♦ Gir National Park in Gujarat ♦ Periyar National Park in Kerela ♦ Manas National Park ♦ Kaziranga National Park ♦ Kanha National Park

tamed animals from a closest point. In a Jungle safari, you can even stays amid the nature’s lap while enjoying the serene beauty of the jungles. Some of the wildlife sanctuaries which are famous for thrilling jungle safari are Jim Corbett National Park, Sunderban National Park and etc. Elephant Safari: Elephant safari is another major attraction of the wildlife tourism activity in India. Elephants acts as the ideal vehicles to traverse through long grasses and marshlands of the vast jungles available in India where jeeps can’t reach. The best elephant safari wildlife parks in India are Kaziranga National Park, Manas Tiger Reserve to view especially One-horned Rhinoceros and the Royal Bengal Tigers respectively. Even Periyar National Park is a great site for elephants safari as elephants are abundant here. Tiger Safari: In the year 1973, the then Indian government has launched the Project Tiger to safeguard and increase the population of the Indian Tigers in the various wildlife sanctuaries of India. Indian government has created some special habitat to conserve Tigers. Tiger safari in their habitat will give you ample of opportunities to behold the beauty of these magnificent big cats. Some of the most popular national parks in India which are ideal for Tiger safari are Bandhavgarh National Park, Ranthambore National Park, Panna National Park etc. Bird Watching: Indian sky is filled with various colorful birds among which some are residential and some are migratory birds. Bird watching is also a significant part of wildlife tourism in India. India has all total of 1200 species of birds which resides in various bird sanctuaries namely the Bharatpur Bird Sanctuary, Ranganathittu Bird Sanctuary and the Vembanad Bird Sanctuary. These sanctuaries are ideal destinations for the ornithologists and bird watchers. Here, you can spend some leisurely hours listening to chirping of birds Wildlife Photography: Indian wildlife sanctuaries are delight for the wildlife photographers. Every Indian national park and wildlife sanctuaries has something or other to offer these photographers. Wildlife photography is an art in itself and to perform this you must have the quest for innovative exploration of these wild animals in their natural habitat. Even a novice can indulge himself in wildife imaging. Some of the best wildlife photography zones in India from where you can capture the memories are Gir National Park, the famous Wild Ass Sanctuary in Gujurat etc.

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WINGS ON WILDERNESS Did you ever know that you are my hero, And everything I would like to be... I can fly higher then an eagle, 'cause you are the Wind beneath my wings. Fly, Fly, Fly away... You let me Fly so high ...

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A Country Forever...

A Hilly Story Forever The misty, mystical and serene hill stations in India are a perfect holiday option and are found in most parts of the country. Most of the hill stations or resorts of India are situated at heights ranging from 600 m above the sea level to 3500 m above the sea level.

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ndia is the perfect tourist destination when it comes to natural beauty. India is a country that breathes unity in diversity in healthy balance at all levels; climate is no exception and the hill stations of India have been the cause of several pleasant climatic conditions around the country. The picturesque Hill Stations in India are among the best hill stations in world. Hill stations like Srinagar, gulmarg and sonmarg in Jammu and Kashmir Shimla and Manali in Himachal Pradesh, Mussoorie, Nainital and Kausani in Uttarakhand , Darjeeling, Gangtok and Kalimpong in East of India and Munnar and kodaikanal in South of India are among the most beautiful hill stations of India. These hill stations are popular with both Indian and foreign tourists and offer a relaxing and wholesome break from the heat and dust of the cities. To make these hill stations a luxury trip for tourists, there are various hotels and resorts to cater to lodging requirements.

The British Raj, and in particular the British Indian Army, founded perhaps 50 of the 80-odd hill stations in the Indian subcontinent; the remainder were built by various Indian rulers over the centuries as places of leisure or even as permanent capitals. 74

Indian Hill Resorts offers world-class accommodation facilities to the travelers at reasonable rates and invite them to enjoy a relaxing holiday in the hill stations of India. These hill stations act as travel guides to the world of peace and serenity. Here one can walk across the fields of wild flowers and see the blooming apple orchards, witness the rushing streams cascade down the mountainside, and watch the serenity of the snow-capped Himalayas. Go mountaineering, camping, trekking and paragliding in these hill stations of India and have a holiday of a lifetime.

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Top Hill Stations of the Country

The British must be given credit for developing most of India’s hill stations. They did to escape the blistering heat of the long Indian summer. Towering and as if blessing this land is the world’s youngest and largest East to West mountain chain, known as the Himalayas. Stretching some 2560 Kilometers in an arc across the top of the Indian subcontinent. The British Raj, and in particular the British Indian Army, founded perhaps 50 of the 80-odd hill stations in the Indian subcontinent; the remainder were built by various Indian rulers over the centuries as places of leisure or even as permanent capitals.

♦ Gangtok ♦ Darjeeling ♦ Dehradun ♦ Auli ♦ Kasauli ♦ Leh and Ladakh ♦ Mount Abu ♦ Munnar ♦ Kodaikanal ♦ Dalhousie ♦ Kullu ♦ Lonavala ♦ Manali ♦ Coorg ♦ Mussoorie ♦ Nainital ♦ Ooty ♦ Shimla

Several hill stations served as summer capitals of Indian provinces, princely states, or, in the case of Simla, of British India itself. Since Indian Independence, the role of these hill stations as summer capitals has largely ended, but many hill stations remain popular summer resorts. The picturesque Hill stations are popular providing a relaxing and salubrious retreat from the heat and dust of the plains. Not only they offer relief from the heat and dust of the plains, their beautiful green surroundings, solitude, salubrious weather and spectacular views makes them ideal holiday spots offering quick relief from the hustle and bustle of city life. India has seven principal mountain ranges and the most important amongst them are the Himalayas. Most are well connected by rail and road and offer some beautiful retreats to stay in. Though most of these hill stations have now been exploited commercially, the intrinsic charm of these destinations still pull tourists from around the world as well as from within the country.

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The British must be given credit for developing most of India’s hill stations. They did to escape the blistering heat of the long Indian summer.

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HIGH High up onto the altitude is when you realise the miniscule identity of life....and the you feel the cold, the supreme feeling of being majestic...and then it dawns upon a sensible mind...its just another day of life in heights.

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A Country Forever...

A Royal Story Forever India possesses some of the most fascinating forts and palaces, a true royal retreat. The grandeur and sweep of Indian forts and palaces takes one by surprise. It is not just a romantic longing for a royal experience; it is also the search for the truly authentic Indian experience that bring thousands of heritage lovers to India. These forts and palaces are the largest illustrations and legacy of the princely states of India. India is a rich country of varied culture and history written in golden words. It is a country which has innumerable forts, palaces, havelis and other monuments which till date very well showcases the erstwhile legacy and grandeur of the princely states ruled by the mighty rulers. These magnificent forts and palaces are the fine example of architectural marvel of the earlier craftsman. At the very first sight you will be mesmerized by their awesome beauty they have. If you peep into these majestic and sprawling forts and palaces of India, you will find yourself amidst of the royal ambiance of the bygone era. Today most of these forts and palaces are converted into the heritage hotels, so that you can experience the princely lifestyle The architectural grandeur and magnificence of these forts and palaces makes the visitors feel the ebb and flow of the Indian history. Today, most of these forts and palaces have been converted into hotels. Your arrival at these palacehotels is like an historical event, full of pomp and grandeur. Some of the famous forts are located in Indian states of Delhi, Rajasthan, Uttar Pradesh, Andhra Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, Maharastra, Karnataka and Tamilnadu. It is said that Rajasthan houses the largest number of forts in the world. Built by the legendary kings of this desert land, these forts today are a great tourist attractions. Thousands of years of a fairly turbulent history have left their mark on India, and perhaps the most prominent reminders of the country’s past are the many forts and palaces which lie scattered across India. Moated and turreted, thickly walled and exquisitely decorated with mirror and marble, pietra dura and paint, these citadels have fulfilled functions ranging from the purely practical to the unabashedly ornamental. They have been, like Jaipur’s Amer Fort or the Gwalior Fort, bastions meant to keep out invaders; or 78

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Top 5 Royal Retreats ♦ Umaid Bhawan Palace, they have been, like the City Palace of Jaipur, the Red Fort of Delhi or the Mysore Palace, a no-holds-barred display of the wealth and grandeur of those who ruled. And best of all, they still stand- proud and imposing, forts and palaces which figure right up there at the top of any tourist itinerary. The Indian state of Rajasthan is famous for historic havelis, forts and palaces. Some of these are:

Jodhpur

♦ Amer Fort (Amber Fort), Jaipur

♦ Jaivilas Palace, Gwalior ♦ Lake Palace, Udaipur ♦ Neemrana Fort-Palace, Alwar

♦ Amber Palace (Amber Fort). Former royal residence, Jaipur.

♦ Castle Mandawa, Mandawa (Jhunjhuni district in Shekhavati). Former residence of the thakurs (landed noble) of Mandawa, today a hotel.

♦ City Palace, Jaipur. Seat of the Maharaja of Jaipur. Now a museum.

♦ City Palace, Udaipur. Seat of the Maharana of Udaipur. Now a museum.

♦ Deogarh Mahal, Deogarh Madaria. Former residence of the rawat (landed noble) of Deogarh, today a hotel.

♦ Devigarh, Delwara, now a heritage hotel. ♦ Fort Delwara. Former royal residence located 30 km north east of Udaipur. Now the Devi Garh Fort Palace hotel.

♦ Golbagh Palace, Bharatpur. Former royal residence, today a hotel.

♦ Hawa Mahal (Palace of Winds),Jaipur. Former royal residence. Now a museum.

♦ Khimsar Fort, Khimsar (Nagour District). Located 145 kilometres from Udaipur. Former residence of the thakurs (landed noble) of Khimsar, today a hotel.

♦ ag Niwas (Lake Palace), Udaipur. Former royal pleasure palace, now a hotel.

♦ Jai Mahal, Jaipur. Former royal residence, today a hotel. ♦ Jaisalmer Fort, Jaisalmer. Seat of the Maharaja of Jaisalmer.

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Jaswant Thada (Royal Cenotaph) , Jodhpur

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BE KING Folklore of heroism and romance resound from the formidable monuments that majestically stand to tell the tale of a bygone era. The magic of vibrant Rajasthan its rich heritage, colourful culture, exciting desert safaris, shining sand-dunes, amazing variety lush forests and varied wildlife - makes it a destination nonpareil.

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A Country Forever...

A Chugging Story Forever It began with Palace on Wheels which makes you experience all the luxuries worthy of the affluent Indian maharajas of yore. Exuberance and extravagance are the key words. This royal journey by palace on wheels is a first-hand experience of the lavish lifestyles of the Indian kings. Now there are more. But there are other options too.

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f you have some time to spare, take a slow toy train up to the hill resort of Shimla, Ooty (Udhagamandalam), Darjeeling or Matheran. There is nothing to match the experience of chugging up the hills, past little hamlets and terraced fields, making your way through tunnels and over breathtaking bridges. Its leisurely pace offers you a panoramic view of changing vistas. The invigorating air and the delights of scenic hill resort provide a welcome respite from the hustle and bustle of the city. As for the luxury trains there is the Palace on Wheels in Rajasthan. It allows one to witness history unfolding itself gracefully at Rajasthan. The Palace on Wheels tours makes you experience all the luxuries worthy of the affluent Indian maharajas of yore. The dĂŠcor, food and hospitality speak of sheer luxury and opulence. The other option is, Deccan Odyssey, a joint venture between the Indian Railways and the Government of Maharashtra represented by the Maharashtra Tourism Development Corporation (MTDC). The train showcases the tourism assets of Maharashtra, the grandeur of Konkan coast, the art, culture, the heritage of Maharashtra as well as local arts, crafts and cuisine of the state during the journey. It takes 80 passengers on a tour of the Konkan region, including Goa, and northwestern Maharashtra. It will halt at Ratnagiri, Sindhudurg, Goa, Pune, Aurangabad, (for Ajanta and Ellora) and Nashik. On the itinerary will be visits to forts, other historical places, museums, beaches and boat rides in the backwaters.

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Top 3 Luxery Trains ♦Palace on Wheels ♦Deccan Odyssey ♦The Fairy Queen

Also try ‘The Fairy Queen’. A two-saloon train makes a short journey from Delhi to Alwar. The Fairy Queen, which finds mention in the “Guinness Book of World Records”, is the oldest running steam locomotive in the world. For an idyllic weekend trip between Delhi and Alwar, the Fairy Queen comes to the rescue of those bored with the same old blaze ways of travelling around the place. The Fairy Queen with the privileged ones aboard reaches the picturesque town of Alwar in Rajasthan the same day, from where the guests will be taken to Sariska Tiger Reserve for an overnight stay. Other options Shimla - The toy train journey from Kalka to Shimla is entertaining with 107 tunnels and lofty arched bridges. The dazzling view and the stops at the picturesque stations along the way - Dharmpore, Taksal, Gamma and Solan all add up to an exhilarating experience. Ooty (Udhagamandalam) - The Nilgiri Mountain Railway starts from the town of Mettupalayam and thus begins a journey full of twists and turns as this narrow gauge train ascends 46 km, on its way to the hill resort at Ooty. At a maximum speed of 33 km per hour this ‘toy train’ treks across plains, plantations and forest clad hills. The 16 tunnels and tall bridges on the way along with the breathtaking view make this toy train journey to Ooty an extraordinary experience! Darjeeling - The most famous of the little trains, is the one linking the town of New Jalpaiguri the plains to the lovely hill station of Darjeeling. With a 2 ft gauge, the Darjeeling Hill Railway is indeed a ‘toy train’ being the narrowest of the regular narrow gauges. The tiny century-old engine is connoisseur’s delight. The 86 km Darjeeling line has no tunnels, thus allowing the traveller an uninterrupted view of the breathtaking scenery of the Himalaya. The 7 1/ 2 hour ride is a journey especially for rail buffs. Matheran - The 77 year old line, connecting Neral (on main line of Central Railway) to Matheran , is the main way to reach the tiny hill resort, close to Mumbai. As the little train wheezes up into the clear mountain air one can view the scenic vista of hills and plains below. The lack of vehicular traffic at Matheran makes it an unusual and peaceful retreat.

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A Country Forever...

A MICE Story Forever Amidst the countless ways that India can capture world attention as a tourist paradise, there also exists a dynamic business opportunity as a splendid venue for international conferences and conventions of no less than global standards.

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ndia is undoubtedly a unique Conference Destination as it offers cultural and heritage sites, the exotic and mystical, excellent facilities of beach and adventure holidays which can be combined as pre and post conference tours. Enchanting India’s image as a conference destination is also projected through the chains of Hotels, providing international standards in facilities and services. Exclusive business hotels and exotic resorts, with meeting rooms of distinction, spacious convention facilities, modern business centres and a wide range of conference facilities.

A large number of Convention Centres are available in India with a seating capacity of up to 1700 persons. The important conference centres in the country are at New Delhi, Mumbai, Agra, Bangalore, Chennai, Cochin, Goa, Hyderabad, Jaipur & Kolkata. 84

India is in a continual process of upgrading its MICE (Meetings, Incentives, Conferences & Exhibitions) facilities. There are multiple plans on the anvil for more world-class convention centers, airports that contest with the best in the world and efforts to team the famous Indian hospitality with customisation as per a visitor’s requirement. You could also offer the credit to the world class incentive programs, her ability to heal spiritually, her unmatched offering as a health destination or continually improved infrastructure facilities that over 3 million foreign tourists thronged her this year generating over US $30 billion as revenue, even as most other preferred hotspots marked a decline in their tourism graphs. The inbound MICE (meetings, incentives, conventions and events) segment is growing at 15 to 20% annually. It is estimated that the total national and international MICE meetings market all over the world is in excess of $270 billion. According to industry estimates, the Indian in-bound MICE market in first seven months in 2004 was $20 million, which is 40% more than the same period last year. India ranks 27th in the Global Meetings market. March 2010


Top 5 MICE Venues The Infrastructure - India provides an impressive combination of accommodation and other conference support facilities to hold a successful Conference. To mention a few; Vigyan Bhawan in New Delhi, Centre Point, Renaissance Hotel and Convention Center in Mumbai, the BM Birla Science and Technology Centre in Jaipur, the Jaypee Hotels & International Convention Centre, Agra and the Cochin Convention Centre, Kochi etc together with facilities in the business hotels and resorts at various centers in the country. India is going the global way and MICE is fast becoming a major part of its travel and promotional budgets. In the Indian context, incentives is at present the largest component of MICE but in a maturing market, it’s only a matter of time before the entire gamut of MICE activities are undertaken by the Indian corporate world.

♦ Hyderabad International Convention Centre ♦ MLR Convention Centre, Bangalore ♦ World Convention Centre, Delhi ♦ Vigyan Bhawan, Delhi ♦ Amby Valley City, Mumbai-Pune Highway

With the expansion in the network of airlines operation on the domestic routes, better tourist surface transport systems including the Indian Railways, new centers of information technology, many new convention centres, hotels and meeting facilities, India is now an important MICE destination. The Indian sub-continent is emerging as one of the finest Incentive destinations in the world owing to the diverse culture and geography. From the icy Himalayas to the tropical islands and from citadels in the desert to verdant jungles it is a world in itself. With the emergence of exciting new destinations every year one has unparalleled choices for the incentive operator here. The incentive programmes are a combination of old world charm and tradition interlaced with modern cosmopolitan sophistication. Today, there are distinct travel divisions within tour companies and airlines that exclusively target MICE movement. Destinations have also begun to market MICE products to specialised agencies and the corporate world at large. The business of MICE holds enormous potential for any country. It is estimated that a person travelling to a country for a conference or convention spends anywhere four to eight times more than a normal leisure traveller. They spend more on food, more on business centre services.

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On the Buddhist Trail

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B

uddhism in India began with the life of Siddhartha Gautama (ca. 563-483 B.C.), a prince from the small Shakya Kingdom located in the foothills of the Himalayas in Nepal. Brought up in luxury, the prince abandoned his home and wandered forth as a religious beggar, searching for the meaning of existence. The stories of his search presuppose the Jain tradition, as Gautama was for a time a practitioner of intense austerity, at one point almost starving himself to death. He decided, however, that self-torture weakened his mind while failing to advance him to enlightenment and therefore turned to a milder style of renunciation and concentrated on advanced meditation techniques. Eventually, under a tree in the forests of Gaya (in modern Bihar), he resolved to stir no farther until he had solved the mystery of existence. Breaking through the final barriers, he achieved the knowledge that he later expressed as the Four Noble Truths: all of life is suffering; the cause of suffering is desire; the end of desire leads to the end of suffering; and the means to end desire is a path of discipline and meditation. Gautama was now the Buddha, or the awakened one, and he spent the remainder of his life traveling about northeast India converting large numbers of disciples. At the age of eighty, the Buddha achieved his final passing away (parinirvana) and died, leaving a thriving monastic order and a dedicated lay community to continue his work. By the third century B.C., the still-young religion based on the Buddha’s teachings was being spread throughout South Asia through the agency of the Mauryan Empire. By the seventh century A.D, having spread throughout East Asia and Southeast Asia, Buddhism probably had the largest religious following in the world.

Map of Buddhism The most important places of pilgrimage in Buddhism are located in the Gangetic plains of Northern India and Southern Nepal, in the area between New Delhi and Rajgir. This is the area where Gautama Buddha lived and taught, and the main sites connected to his life are now important places of pilgrimage for both Buddhists and Hindus. However, many countries that are or were predominantly Buddhist have shrines and places which can be visited as a pilgrimage.

Four main pilgrimage sites Gautama Buddha is said to have identified four sites most worthy of pilgrimage for his followers, saying that they would produce a feeling of spiritual urgency. These are:

Lumbini: the birth place (in Nepal) March 2010

Prince Siddhartha was born in a lovely garden called Lumbini. The main things to see in Lumbini today are the Asokan pillar with its inscription mentioning that “here the Buddha was born”, the nearby ruins that are presently undergoing restoration and the modern temples. Lumbini is just a few kilometres inside Nepal but getting there requires all the formalities of crossing an international border.

Bodh Gaya: the place of Enlightenment (in the current Mahabodhi Temple) This small town, known at the Buddha’s time as Uruvela, is the place where all Buddhas, past and future, did and will become enlightened; it is the centre of the Buddhist universe, the Navel of the Earth. In the middle of the town is the Mahabodhi Temple with the Bodhi Tree behind it and the surrounding shrines marking the Buddha’s seven weeks in Bodh Gaya. Sit in the gardens or walk through the town and you will see pilgrims from Thailand and Tibet, Bhutan and Burma, Singapore, Sri Lanka and a dozen other nations. Go to the great tank just south of the Temple and admire the hundreds of pink water lilies in bloom. Stroll through the museum and look at the sculptures and other antiquities or rise before dawn and watch the lamas in the Tibetan temple doing their puja.

Sarnath: the place of his first teaching (formally Isipathana) Just 13 kilometres from Varanasi is Isipathana, now called Sarnath, the deer park where the Buddha first proclaimed the Dhamma to the world. He taught two discourses here, the Dhammacakkhapavathana Sutta and the profound Anattalakhana Sutta. Both discourses are in the booklet Three Cardinal Discourses of the Buddha, Wheel No 17. Set in well maintained gardens Sarnath’s ruins are a pleasant place to stroll amongst or meditate in. The main things to see are Asoka’s pillar, the ruins of the Mulagandhakuti and the huge Dharmek Stupa. Further to the east is the modern Mulagandhakuti Vihara with its beautiful wall paintings and behind it the Deer Park. The Sarnath Museum houses some of the greatest treasures of Indian Buddhist art and should not be missed. Asoka’s lion capital and the beautiful Teaching Buddha are amongst the most beautiful sculptures ever made.

Kusinara: the place of his death ((Parinirvana, now Kusinagar, India) In his eightieth year the Buddha and a group of monks arrived in this small place. Ananda described it as ‘a wattle

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and daub town’. Exhausted and sick the Buddha was unable to go on and he laid down to rest between two sal trees. His final hours and the events that filled it are movingly described in the last part of the Mahaparinibbana Sutta which you will find in the Long Discourses. The Nirvana Temple and stupa later built over the site of the parinivana as well as the ruins of several monasteries are set in attractive and well maintained gardens. The tall slender trees on the right of the path as you enter are sal trees. In the later commentarial tradition, four other sites are also raised to a special status because Buddha had performed a certain miracle there. These four places, partly through the inclusion in this list of commentarial origin, became important Buddhist pilgrimage sites in ancient India, as the Attha-mahathanani (Pali for ‘The Eight Great Places’). It is important to note, however, that some of these events do not occur in the Tipitaka and are thus purely commentarial. The last four are places where a certain miraculous event is reported to have occurred: Sravasti: Place of the Twin Miracle, showing his supernatural abilities in performance of miracles. Sravasti is also the place where Buddha spent the largest amount of time, being a major city in ancient India. While in Rajgir the wealthy businessman Anathapindika first met the Buddha and invited him to come to Savatthi. The Buddha said he would be happy to come but asked that suitable accommodation be provided. When Anathapindika returned to Savatthi he purchased a park near the town and built a large monastery on in. Called Jetavana, this park became the Buddha’s favourite resort and he spent every rainy season of the last 20 years of his life except one there. Rajgir: Place of the subduing of Nalagiri, the angry elephant, through friendliness. Rajgir was another major city of ancient India. Its rugged peaks and sheer crags, dry forests and silent ruins evoke memories of the Buddha at almost every turn. During the Buddha’s time Rajgir, then known as Rajagaha, was the capital of Magadha and the largest city in north India. Spread out over a fairly wide area you will find the cool and shady Bamboo Grove, Devadatta’s Cave at Makdum Kund, the Sattapanna Cave where the First Council was held,

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Jivaka’s Mango Grove, Ajatasattu’s stupa, the Pipphili Cave where Maha Kassapa liked to stay and the Boar’s Grotto where Sariputta was enlightened, to name but a few. Sankasia: Place of the descending to earth from Tusita heaven (after a stay of 3 months teaching his mother, the Abhidhamma). According to legend the Buddha went up to the Tusita Heaven, spent three months there teaching the Abhidhamma to his mother and then descended back to earth at the village of Sankassya. The story was very popular in ancient times and is often depicted in Buddhist art. However, neither this legend nor even Sankassa itself are mentioned in the Tipikaka. Nonetheless from a very early period the place apparently had a special significance for Buddhists. This is suggested by the fact that King Asoka erected one of his pillars here. It is unlikely that the legend about the Buddha’s visit to the Tusita Heaven had developed at such an early time. Vaishali: Place of receiving an offering of honey from a monkey. Vaishali was the capital of the Vajjian Republic of ancient India. Vaishali was one of the Buddha’s favourite resorts and he visited it on several occasions. It was here that he had his famous encounter with the prostitute Ambapali, the incident is recounted in the Mahaparinibbana Sutta in The Long Discourses. Another discourse he delivered here is the long but interesting Mahasihanada Sutta from The Middle Length Discourses. According to the Mahayana tradition the famous Vimalakirtinedesa Sutra was preached here too. About a hundred years after the Buddha’s Parinirvana the city was the venue for the Second Council where hundreds of monks from all over northern India met together to sell settle a dispute about Vinaya rules and to chant the suttas together. The main things to see today are the famous lion pillar, the museum, the large Kharauna Lake, the Japanese temple and the stupa built over the Vijjians’ one eighth share of the Buddha’s ashes. Some other pilgrimage places in India and Nepal connected to the life of Gautama Buddha are: Pataliputta, Nalanda, Vikramshila, Gaya, Kapilavastu, Kosambi, Amaravati, Nagarjuna Konda, Sanchi, Varanasi, Kesariya, Devadaha, Pava and Mathura. Most of these places are located in the Gangetic plain.

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States The Prime Stakeholders of Indian Tourism 28 States and 7 Union Territories‌completing India as a nation, these 35 distinct but synergised entities have built India into one among the most preferred destinations of the world. Diverse in every nugget of their existence, these states and union territories have given the perfect variety to awe any kind of tourist. In the following pages, we present most of states and Union Territories which have played a vital role in shaping Indian tourism and showcasing it to the world in a picture postcard way by not only giving a picturesque view but also stirring a desire for anyone who sees it‌& to further explore the country.

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A Desert Walk in Jaisalmer 92

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Jaisalmer Fort

Amber Palace, Jaipur

Rajasthan Udaipur Palace

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Sariska Palace Hotel

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ocated on the northwest borders of India, Rajasthan stretches out in to the Thar Desert. Rajasthan, liter ally translated as the land of kings & princes, is the ultimate confluence of history, chivalry, romance, rugged natural beauty, art & crafts and colour. Today, years after the last bugle was sounded, and after the warring kingdoms of erstwhile Rajputana, sheathed their swords, the desert appears romantic, its arts, the expression of a brave yet sensitive race, its architecture the embodiment of strength and grace. It is as if, in celebration of life itself. Jaipur Widely known as the ‘Pink City’, Jaipur is colour washed pink to welcome Prince Albert, the consort of Queen Victoria of England who visited India in 1883 A.D. The city was founded in 1727 A.D by one of the greatest ruler Jai Singh II. Jaipur is surrounded by hills on three sides, crowned by formidable forts and majestic palaces, mansions and gardens. Jaipur is the only city in the world, which is sub-divided in to nine rectangular sectors symbolizing nine divisions of universe. Jaipur is the first planned city designed in accordance with ‘Shilpa Shastra’- epochal treatise of Hindu architecture. Hawa Mahal - The ornamental facade of this “Palace of Winds” is a prominent landmark in Jaipur. Their five-storey structures of sandstone plastered pink encrusted with fine trelliswork and elaborate balconies. The palace has 953 niches and windows. Built in 1799 by Pratap Singh, the Mahal was a royal grandstand for the palace women. City Palace - A delightful blend of Mughal and traditional Rajasthani architecture, the City Palace sprawls over oneseventh of the area in the walled city. It houses the Chandra

Mahal, Shri Govind Dev Temple and the City Palace Museum. Albert Hall - Situated in the middle of the Ram Niwas garden, as a centre attraction was the exquisitely built structure of Albert Hall, which was designed by sir Swinton Jacob, a British architect who designed many palaces in Rajasthan. Combining the elements of English and north Indian architecture known as the pride of the New Jaipur opened in 1887 AD, it is a very well maintained and impressive building displaying a rich collection of Art- de- fact like paintings, carpet, ivory, stone and metal sculptures and colourful crystal works etc. Jaisalmer The city has an interesting legend associated with it, according to which, lord Krishna- the head of Yadav clan foretold Arjuna that a remote descendent of the Yadav clan would build his kingdom atop the Trikuta Hill. His prophecy was fulfilled in 1156 AD. When Rawal Jaisal, a Bhatti Rajput abandoned his fort at Lodurva and founded a new capital Jaisalmer, perched on the Trikuta Hill. Bhatti Rajputs of Jaisalmer were feudal chiefs who lived off the forced levy on the caravans laden with precious silks and spices that crossed the territory en-route to Delhi or Sindh. Golden Fort with 99 bastions - Known as Sonar Quila or the Golden fort, rising from the sand, the mega structure merges with the golden hues of the desert ambience and the setting suns in its most colourful shades gives it a fairy tale look. The bastions envelop a whole township that consists of palace complex of various security sources and the Havelis of rich merchants.

The Khimsar Fort Hotel illuminated at twilight, Khimsar

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Gyan Bhandar - A library founded in 1500 A.D. by Acharya Maharaj Jin Bhadra Suri. This small underground vault houses priceless ancient illustrated manuscripts, some dating from the 11th century. Other exhibits include astrological charts and the Jain version of the Shroud of Turin: the Shroud of Gindhasuri, a Jain hermit and holy man who died in Ajmer. In a small locked cabinet are the images of Parasnath made of ivory and various precious stones including emerald and crystal. There are plans to shift the library outside the present location within the Jain temple so it can be visited.

The Sheesh Mahal (Hall of Mirrors), Amber Palace, Amber (near Jaipur)

Pushkar 11 kms from Ajmer, along the picturesque Pushkar Lake, lays the tranquil town of Pushkar with deep religious significance. ‘Nag Pahar’ or Snake Mountain forms a natural boundary between Ajmer and Pushkar. The main Attraction is Pushkar Lake; with 52 Ghats and an array of temples along the banks, it is an important pilgrimage centre. No pilgrimage is considered complete without a dip in the holy Pushkar Lake. Pushkar has as many as 400 temples and 52 ghats and the only temple in the country that is dedicated to Brahma is to be found here. Pushkar Lake - The pious Pushkar Lake is believed to having been created by the falling of the lotus from the hand of Lord Brahma. It is considered to be as old as creation itself. The lake is considered as one of the most sacred spots, and believed that one dip in the waters of lake on Kartika Poornima occasion is equivalent to performing yagnas for several hundred years. Brahma Temple - This is the only existing temple dedicated to lord Brahma and was constructed in the 14th century, standing on a high plinth with marble steps leading up to it. A beautiful carved silver turtle sits on the floor facing the sanctorum or Garbha Griha. Camel Safari - There are quite a few people in Pushkar who operate horse or camel safaris. Camel safaris are a splendid way of taking in the sights and experiencing the rugged beauty of the desert. The camels may look aloof, but they are known as the lifeline for the desert people. Balloon Safari - Balloon Safaris provide this unmatched opportunity of flying over forts and castles, craggy mountains, sandy stretches and green plains. You also fly over towns and villages; even spot a herd of deer at times. There’s no rush, no urgency, no whirring of engines. It’s peaceful, serene and incredibly beautiful. Actually speaking, there is nothing on earth that can match the magic of floating on air, the sense of being at one with the sky.

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View from Dona Paula

Chapel of St Catherine, Old Goa

Goa Backwaters in Goa

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Cross at Old Goa

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he magnificent scenic beauty and the architectural splendours of its temples, churches and old houses have made Goa a firm favourite with travellers around the world. But then, Goa is much more than just beaches and sea. It has a soul which goes deep into unique history, rich culture and some of the prettiest natural scenery that India has to offer. Much of the real Goa is in its interiors, both inside its buildings and in the hinterland away from the coastal area. Legends from Hindu mythology credit Lord Parshuram, an incarnation of Lord Vishnu with the creation of Goa. Over the centuries various dynasties have ruled Goa. Rashtrakutas, Kadambas, Silaharas, Chalukyas, Bahamani Muslims and most famously the Portuguese have been rulers of Goa. Goa was liberated by the Indian Army from Portuguese colonisation on December 19, 1961 and became a Union Territory along with the enclaves of Daman and Diu. On May 30, 1987 Goa was conferred statehood and became the 25th state of the Indian Republic. Having been the meeting point of races, religions and cultures of East and West over the centuries, Goa has a multi-hued and distinctive lifestyle quite different from the rest of India. Hindu and Catholic communities make up almost the entire population with minority representation of Muslims and other religions. All the communities have mutual respect towards one another and their secular outlook has given Goa a long and unbroken tradition of religious harmony. The warm and tolerant nature of the Goans allows them to celebrate and enjoy the festivals of various religions such as Ganesh Chaturthi, Diwali, Christmas, Easter and Eid with equal enthusiasm. The state of Maharashtra borders Goa on the north, the state of Karnataka on the south and east. The

vast expanse of the Arabian Sea on the west forms the magnificent coastline for which Goa is justly famous. Nature and Culture Terekhol (Tiracol), Mandovi, Zuari, Chapora, Sal and Talpona are the main rivers which weave their way throughout the state forming the inland waterways adding beauty and romance to the land besides being used to transport Goa’s main export commodity of Iron and Manganese ore to Mormugao Harbour. Along the way to the coast, these waterways form estuaries, creeks and bays breaking the sandy, palm-fringed coastline, behind which are the fishing villages among the coconut groves. Panaji (Panjim) is the state capital located on the banks of the Mandovi River and Vasco, Margao, Mapusa and Ponda are the other major towns. Goa is serviced by an international/national airport located at Dabolim near Vasco. An intra-state and inter-state bus network also plays an important role in getting locals and visitors alike in and around Goa. The vast green expanse of the Sahyadri mountain range ensures that Goa has an abundance of water. The sea and rivers abound in seafood - prawns, mackerels, sardines, crabs and lobsters are the most popular with the locals and the visitors. Along with English which is widely spoken all over Goa, Konkani and Marathi are the state languages. The national language Hindi is also well understood in most areas around the state. Goan cuisine is a blend of different influences that the local people had to endure during the centuries. The staple food in Goa is fish and rice, both among the Hindus and the Catholics. Unlike the Christian food the Hindu Goan food is not strongly influenced by the Portuguese cuisine.

Shantadurga Temple, Kavlem Village, Ponda

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Vagator Beach

Goa’s equitable climate and rich vegetation support an abundance of birds. This large and diverse population can survive because of its varied habitat that ranges from open forests to shrubs, tracks and dense forests which are ideal for breeding. Visitors will probably notice a few about town and in temple grounds. On the other hand, a keen birdwatcher will find much to get excited about and a trip to one of the nearby sanctuaries or along a river early in the morning will be particularly rewarding. Goa is a bird watcher’s paradise and keen bird-watchers will be in seventh heaven, and even those who have previously had little interest in birds will wonder at the richness of the birdlife. Common varieties of birds to be seen in Goa include four different species of eagles, as well as other birds of prey such as kites, buzzards, kestrels and ospreys. There are five types of pigeons, six types of doves, five varieties of cuckoos, six of kingfishers and another six of woodpeckers. Ancestral Goa Dedicated to the preservation of art, culture and the environment, and also to preserve Goa’s past and its rich traditions, the magnificent project named “Ancestral Goa” was the result of a lot of meticulous research, planning and hard work. It opened to the public in April 1995. Ancestral Goa is a miniature Goan Village as it would have existed 100 years ago. It is located on a nine acre verdant hillock at Loutulim in South Goa, about 10 kms from Margao. Graceful swans charm the entrance to the reception. Elephants carrying flowered pillars with multi-hued and decorated beams deck the entryway. A spacious room redolent of the Goan - Portuguese aura replete with a palanquin, sepia-toned photographs, domed lamps and a designed marble floor feeds one the anticipation of a moment when a whole treasure in the book of history will unfold. The traditional ‘aarti’ is performed as part of the greeted welcome by a sari-clad Goan girl. An incarnation of Lord Vishnu, Parashuram shot the legendary arrow into the bosom of the Indian Ocean resulting in the emotive paradise known as Goa. The visitor is treated to a sight of Parashuram at the entrance itself, all ready with the proverbial bow & arrow. One step out of the highceiling entrance, sporting a “punkah” and one moves into a landscape spread over a gently rolling hill where lateral steps lead to “Demo” (the caretaker of the landlord’s property). The Ancestral Goa project was the brainchild of Goan artist, Maendra J. Alvares; who has used his family’s ancestral property to keep Goa’s culture alive and is a place worth visiting as any visitor can get a glimpse of Goa in its original grandeur and authentic form. This place also gives visitors a

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glance of a sight other than beaches, churches and temples which Goa is famous for, and imparts a culture based education about the roots and heritage of Goa. Ancestral Goa is included as one of the sight seeing spots by Goa Tourism Development Corporation’s buses in their cultural tour package.

Tower of church of St. Augustine, Old Goa

The Santa Lucia The Santa Lucia is Goa Tourism’s houseboat that will give holidays that perfect touch; the boat journeys through some of the most beautiful waterways of Goa. One can soak in the spectacular sunset where the gently flowing river kisses the mighty Arabian Sea. You can do a spot of fishing and what’s more your catch will be served to you cooked according to your specifications. You can charter the Santa Lucia for an entire day in the ‘Exclusively Yours’ package where you sail out in the morning and return the next morning. Corporate houses can give their potential business partners or clients a business meeting venue that they will never forget with the office hours ‘Corporate Cruise’. The ‘Overnight Symphony’ would be the perfect finish to a wonderful holiday where you begin with a sunset and end with the sunrise and birdsong; and for those who have time constraints, the morning till evening ‘Mid-day Delights’ or the 4-hour ‘Leisure Cruise’ package.

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Coconuts plams fringe the golden sands at Kovalam beach

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Coconut trees by the Backwaters

Sunset at backwater s of Alappuzha

Kerala Bible tower of Shrine Basilica of Our Lady of Dolours with back ground of Thrissur

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elcome to Kerala, God’s Own Country. With the Arabian Sea on the west, the Western Ghats towering 500 - 2700m on the east and Kerala is networked by forty-four rivers. Kerala is a very easy place to simply sit back and enjoy. The name Kerala means “land of coconuts” and the palms shade nearly the entire state from the tropical sun; many call the beach at Kovalam the best in India, tranquil stretches of emerald backwaters, lush green hill stations and exotic wildlife, ayurvedic health resorts, enchanting art forms, magical festivals, historic and cultural monuments, an exotic cuisine… all of which offers a unique experience. Classical art forms, colourful festivals, unique cuisine are some of the cultural marvels that await travellers. Ayurveda, the ancient Indian system of medicine and Panchakarma, the rejuvenation therapy in Ayurveda have also helped Kerala to gain a pan-global reputation as a top of the line destination. It is a land much acclaimed for the contemporary nature of its cultural ethos, and much appreciated for the soothing, rejuvenating paradise that it is. Kovalam Beach Kovalam is an internationally renowned beach with three adjacent crescent beaches. It has been a favourite haunt of tourists, especially Europeans, since the 1930s. A massive rocky promontory on the beach has created a beautiful bay of calm waters ideal for sea bathing. Varkala Varkala, a calm and quiet hamlet, lies on the outskirts of Thiruvananthapuram district. It has several places of tourist interests like a beautiful beach, a 2000-year-old Vishnu

Temple and the ashramam- Sivagiri Mutt a little distance from the beach. At the serene Varkala beach is a quiet sea resort rich in mineral water springs. A dip in the holy waters at this beach is believed to purge the body of impurities and the soul of all sins; hence the name ‘Papanasam beach’. A two thousand year old shrine the Janardhanaswamy Temple stands on the cliffs overlooking the beach, a short distance away. Alappuzha Referred to as the Venice of the East, Alappuzha has always enjoyed an important place in the maritime history of Kerala. Today, it is famous for its boat races, backwater holidays, beaches, marine products and coir industry. Alappuzha beach is a popular picnic spot. The pier, which extends into the sea here, is over 137 years old. Entertainment facilities at the Vijaya Beach Park add to the attraction of the beach. There is also an old lighthouse nearby which is greatly fascinating to visitors. Kumarakom The village of Kumarakom is a cluster of little islands on the Vembanad Lake, and is part of the Kuttanad region. The bird sanctuary here, which is spread across 14 acres is a favourite haunt of migratory birds and an ornithologist’s paradise. Egrets, darters, herons, teals, waterfowls, cuckoo, wild duck and migratory birds like the Siberian Stork visit here in flocks and are a fascinate the visitors. The best way to watch the birds of the Kumarakom Sanctuary is a boat trip round the islands. Munnar Munnar, one of the most popular hill stations in India is

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situated at the confluence of three mountain streams Mudrapuzha, Nallathanni and Kundala. Located at 1600 m above sea level, this was once the summer resort of the erstwhile British Government in South India. Sprawling tea plantations, picture book towns, winding lanes, trekking and holiday facilities make Munnar a unique experience.

Sri Adi Samkara Bagavad Padha Keerthi Stamba, Ernakulam

Periyar Wildlife Sanctuary The pride of Kerala and a testimony to nature’s splendour and human innovation, the Periyar Wildlife Sanctuary is situated on the banks of the Periyar Lake - an artificial lake, at Thekkady. Here the high ranges of the Western Ghats are clothed in dense evergreen, moist deciduous forests and savannah grasslands. Below this thick green canopy roam herds of elephants, sambars, tigers, gaurs, lion tailed macaques and Nilgiri langurs. Kochi The eventful history of this city began when a major flood in AD 1341 threw open the estuary at Kochi, which was till then a landlocked region, turning it into one of the finest natural harbours in the world. Kochi thus became a haven for seafaring visitors from all over the world and became the first European township in India when the Portuguese settled here in the 15th century. A few interesting sites included in the tour are the Chinese fishing nets along the Vasco Da Gama Square, Santa Cruz Basilica, St.Francis Church, VOC Gate, Bastion Bungalow etc. Apart from these architectural splendours, an array of restaurants serving fresh seafood is also popular among tourists. Fort Kochi is also home to one of India’s oldest churches the St.Francis Church. This was a Roman Catholic Church during the Portuguese rule from 1503 to 1663, then a Dutch Reformist Church from 1664 to 1804, and Anglican Church from 1804 to 1947. Today it is governed by the Church of South India (CSI). Another important fact about the church is that Vasco Da Gama, who died in 1524, was buried here before his mortal remains were returned to Portugal 14 years later. Each and every structure, street, door, window and brick in Fort Kochi has several stories to tell. Bekal Bekal is a beautiful town poised at the Northern extreme of Kerala State.16 km south of the town on the National Highway, is the largest and best preserved fort in the whole of Kerala, bordered by a splendid beach. Shaped like a giant keyhole, the historic Bekal Fort offers a superb view of the Arabian Sea from its tall observation towers, which were occupied by huge cannons, couple of centuries ago.

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Shimla Train

Sutlej river , Kinnaur

Himachal Pradesh Sangla Valley

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Shimla from far

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imachal Pradesh is a “mountain state” and a delight for visitors, particularly during the summer season when people flock to this tiny hill station to escape the scorching heat of the plains. It came into being in its present form with the partition of the Punjab into Punjab and Haryana in 1966. The winding roads and high passes link its high mountains and valleys are the high points of a visit to this state. While the picturesque valleys of Kullu and Kangra are a blend of colours, in marked contrast the stark and barren terrain of Lahaul and Spiti have a stunning moonscape like beauty. When the British came, they defeated Gorkhas and entered into treaties with some Rajas and annexed the kingdoms of the others. The situation largely remained the same untill 1947. After Independence, 30 princely states of the area were united and Himachal Pradesh was formed on 15th April, 1948. On 1st November, 1966, certain areas belonging to Punjab were included in Himachal Pradesh. On 25th January, 1971, Himachal Pradesh was made a full-fledged State. Blessed with some of the most spectacular and beautiful landscapes anywhere, it is a travellers paradise with lofty snow peaks, deep gorges, lush green valleys, fast flowing rivers, enchanting mountain lakes, flower bedecked meadows, beautiful temples and monasteries steeped in time; relaxing, sightseeing, trekking, mountaineering, fishing, para-gliding, skiing, ice skating and golf, Himachal has it all. Shimla The British Empire may have ceased to exit, but its echo lingers on in Shimla. As the Summer Capital of the British in India, Shimla was the country’s focus for the better part of every year and now, is the state capital of Himachal Pradesh.

Today, it has well developed facilities, easy accessibility and numerous attractions making it one of India’s most popular hill destinations. Situated in the lower ranges of the Himalayan Mountains, it is surrounded by pine deodar, oak and rhododendron forests. Towards the north lie the snow-covered high-ranges, while the valleys breathe whispering streams and swaying fields. Within the town are host of splendid colonial edifices, quaint cottages and charming walks. Shimla offers a variety of shopping, sport and entertainment activities. The Mall - All visitors to Shimla inevitably walk down the Mall, the main promenade that runs along the top of the ridge - a busy shopping area with old colonial buildings, souvenir shops and restaurants. At the top end of the Mall is Scandal Point, a large open square with a view of the town - a favourite rendezvous for visitors and the local people. Overlooking it is the elegant Christ Church with its fine stained glass windows. The labyrinth of Shimla’s bazaars, spill over the edge of the Mall. Summer Hill - The quiet and lovely suburb of Summer Hill has secluded, shady walks and charming views. It was here that Gandhiji stayed on his visits to Shimla, in the elegant Gergorian mansion that belonged to Rajkumari Amrit Kaur. Summer Hill is located on the Shimla - Kalka railway line. Dalhousie In western Himachal Pradesh, the hill station of Dalhousie is full of old world charm and holds lingering echos of the Raj era. It covers an area of 14 sq. km. and is built on five hills - Kathlog, Patreyn, Tehra, Bakrota and Balun. It is named after the British governor General of the 19th century, Lord Dalhousie. The town’s average height is 2036 m, and is sur-

Town hall ridge side in Shimla

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Chamba Valley rounded by varied vegetation - pines, deodars, oaks and flowering rhododendron. Dalhousie has charming colonial architecture, including some beautiful churches. Its location presents panoramic views of the plains and like a long silver line, the river Ravi twists and turns below Dalhousie. The spectacular snow-covered Dhauladhar mountains are also visible form this enchanting town. Dharamshala The High snow clad Dhauladhar ranges form a magnificent backdrop to the hill resort of Dharamsala. This is the principal township of Kangra district and overlooks wide spread of the plains. With dense pine and deodar forests, numerous streams, cool healthy air, attractive surroundings and the nearby snowline, Dharamsala has everything for a perfect holiday. It is full of life and yet peaceful. The headquarters of His Holiness the Dalai Lama are at upper Dharamsala. Covering a wide area in the form of twin settlement, lower Dharamsala is a busy commercial centre. While upper Dharamsala with the suburbs of Mcleodganj and Forsytheganj, retains a British flavor and colonial lifestyle. The charming church of St. John in the wilderness is situated here and this is the final resting place of Lord Elgin, a British Viceroy of India during the 19th century. There is also a large Tibetan community who has made this place their home. Numerous ancient temples like Jwalamukhi, Brijeshwari and Chamunda lie on the plains below Dharamsala. Jwalamukhi Temple - The famous temple of Jwalamukhi is 30 kms from Kangra and 56 kms from Dharamshala. Dedicated to the “GODDESS OF LIGHT�, the temple is one of the March 2010

most popular Hindu temples in northern India. There is no idol of any kind the flame is considered as a manifestation of the goddess. An eternally burning and shining blue flame emanates from the rock sanctum and is fed by the priests with the offerings of devotees. The golden tower (dome) of the temple was a gift from the Emperor Akbar. Two important fairs are held here during the Navratras in earlier April and mid October. Hotel accommodation, Dharamshala, rest houses and HPTDC hotels with modern facilities are available for visitors to the shrine. Manali One day, Varvasvata, the seventh incarnation of Manu found a tiny fish in his bathing water. The fish told him to look after it with devotion as one day it would do him a great service. The seventh Manu cared for the fish till the day it grew so huge that he released it into the sea. Before departing, the fish warned Manu of an impending deluge when the entire world would be submerged and bade him to build a sea worthy ark. When the flood came, Varvasvata and seven sages were towed to safety by Matsya, the fish which is regarded as first avatar of Lord Vishnu. As the water subsided the seventh Manu’s ark came to the rest on a hill side and the place was named Manali (2050 m) after him. As the flood slowly dried, here arose a place of breathtaking natural beauty which was only appropriate at Manali that life began again. Today this legendary cradle of all human kind is a prime holiday destination. There are high mountains surrounded by snow and deep boulder strewn gorges. There are thick forests full of cool breeze and bird songs.

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Suru valley near Pamikar, Ladakh

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Shanti Stupa, Leh - Ladakh

Boating in Dal Lake, Srinagar

Jammu & Kashmir Misty Ladakh

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he State of Jammu and Kashmir is the northern most state of India comprising three distinct Climatic re gions viz. Arctic cold desert areas of Ladakh, temperate Kashmir valley and sub-tropical region of Jammu. There is a sharp rise of altitude from 1,000 feet to 28,250 feet above the sea level within State’s four degree of latitude. The climate varies from tropical in Jammu plains to semiarctic cold in Ladakh with Kashmir and Jammu mountainous tracts having temprate climatic conditions. The annual rainfall also varies from region to region with 92.6 mm in Leh, 650.5 mm in Srinagar and 1115.9 mm in Jammu. A large part of the State forms part of the Himalayan Mountains. The State is geologically constituted of rocks varying from the oldest period of the earth’s history to the youngest present day river and lake deposits. Kashmir abounds in rich flora. The Valley, which has been described as the ‘Paradise on Earth,’ is full of many hues of flora and fauna. The most magnificent of the Kashmir trees is the Chinar found throughout the valley. It grows to giant size and girth. The tree presents itself in various enchanting colours through the cycle of the seasons among which its autumnal look is breath-taking. Mountain ranges in the Valley have dense deodar, pine and fir. Walnut, willow, almond and cider also add to the rich flora of Kashmir. The dense forests of Kashmir are a delight to the sportlovers and adventures for whom there are Ibex, Snow Leopard, Musk deer, wolf, Markhor, Red bear, Black bear and Leopard. The birds include ducks, goose, partridge, chakor, pheasant, wagtails, herons, water pigeons, warblers, and doves.

Jammu Set against the backdrop of the snow-capped Pir Panjal range, Jammu marks the transition between the Himalayas in the north and the dusty plains of the Punjab in the south, bridging these two extremities by a series of scrub covered hills, forested mountain ranges and deep river valleys. The southernmost unit of the state of Jammu & Kashmir, Jammu region is traversed by the Shivalik hills and quenched by the rivers Ravi, Tawi and Chenab. Kashmir Initially, the valley of Kashmir used to be vast Lake, with a mythological name Satt-e-Sar, which in course of time got drained by deepening of the Baramulla - Khadiniyar gorge. The valley is distinctively marked by breath-taking lakes, fresh water streams, luscious fruits, magnificent forests, mighty mountains and lush meadows which make it a paradise on Earth. The mountain-downs or “margs” are numerous on the tops of the hill ranges prominent being Gulmarg, Sonamarg, Yousmarg etc. Srinagar - Srinagar is a unique city with breathtaking physical environment, lakes, mughal gardens, springs, golf course, hills & mountains, cycling tracks, trekking opportunities, angling, water sports, indoor sports, world class hotels and an international conference centre, restaurants, traditional and continental foods. Besides, it is endowed with spiritual places, exquisite arts and crafts and rich heritage. Neolithic age ruins (Burzhama site) & Buddhist era ruins (Harwan) are an archaeologist’s delight.

Vaishno devi shrine route, Katra

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Gulmarg - Gulmarg was first established as a ski resort by the British who had set up the Ski Club of India here in 1927. Skiing at Gulmarg had become very popular during the pre-independence years. The resort used to host two major skiing events, one each during Christmas and Easter. In 1938-39, about 500 skiers are said to have participated in Christmas and Easter ski races. Gulmarg’s atmosphere was identified with European ski resorts of the 1940’s and 50’s - the ‘Alps of good old days’.

Zanskar valley, Ladakh

Ladakh Situated at the western edge of the Tibetan plateau, Ladakh is bound by the mighty Karokaram mountain range in the north and the Great Himalayas in the South. Landscape of Ladakh has been modified and sculpted into the spectacular shape by the wind and the erosion over the centuries. Its altitude ranges from 9000 to 25000 feet and is traversed by other mountain chains, the Ladakh range and Zanaskar range. It is rightly called “the broken moonland” and “land of endless discovery”. Today a high-altitude desert, shelter ed from the rainbearing clouds of the Indian monsoon by the barrier of the Great Himalaya, Ladakh was once covered by an extensive lake system, the vestiges of which still exist on its southeast plateaus of Rupshu and Chushul, in the drainage basins or lakes of Tso-moriri, Tso-kar and Pangong-tso. But the main source of water is winter snowfall. Dras, Zanskar and the Suru Valley on the Himalaya’s northern flanks receive heavy snow in winter, this feeds the glaciers from which melt water, carried down by streams, irrigates the fields in summer. For the rest of the region, the snow on the peaks is virtually the only source of water. As the crops grow, the villagers pray not for rain, but for sun to melt the glaciers and liberate their water. Leh Leh town offers a number of sightseeing options for the visitors. A historic town that served as the royal capital of the Old Kingdom, it is dominated by the nine-storey palace built by King Singge Namgyal in the grand tradition of Tibetan architecture, it is said to have inspired the famous Potala in Lhasa which was built about half a century later Sightseeing of the historic monuments and major Buddhist gompas (monasteries) are the main attractions of Ladakh. The Indus Valley, particularly from Upshidown to Khalatse, whichis the region’s historic heartland, is dotted with all the major sites connected. The important sistes of Leh include: Stock Palace, Shep Palace Monsatery. Other famous monasteries include: Thiksey, Hemis, Chemday, Takthok, Spituk, Likhir, Alchi, Lamayuru.

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Rathyatra, Puri

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Sculpture of lion at Peace Pagoda at Dhauli

Cave complex of Udayagiri, Bhubaneswar

Orissa Sun Temple

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Rajarani Temple

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ne of the few States in India which is still largely undiscovered by tourists, Orissa offers a multidi mensional experience to the visitors. Endowed with a rich cultural heritage of old world charms and bestowed liberally with the bounties of nature, Orissa is a kaleidoscope of past splendor and present vibrancy. A fascinating state with unspoiled beaches, sprawling lakes, luxuriant forests, teeming wildlife, superb monuments, exotic handicrafts, traditional tribes, colorful fairs and festivals, scintillating music & dances and cuisine, it is a land of unforgettable memories. Traditionally known as the land of Lord Jagannath, Orissa has innumerable temples. One can find the chronological development of temple architecture starting from 6th century A. D. to the 13th century A. D. and beyond even to the modern times. The Temple City of Bhubaneswar, the magnificent Sun Temple of Konark and Jagannath Temple of Puri constitute the Golden Triangle of Orissa. The 13th century monument at Konark is not only a World Heritage Site, but also an embodiment of the most sublime sculpture found nowhere else in the world. Orissa has a 480 km long coastline. Stretching from the north, bordering West Bengal, down to the south touching Andhra Pradesh, it abounds in beautiful and unspoiled beaches like Chandipur, Talasari, Konark (Chandrabhaga), Ramchandi, Puri, Gopalpur and Pati Sonapur to name a few. Chilika, the largest brackish Water Lake in Asia, with an area of more than 1100 sq.kms is home to millions of resident and migratory birds that descend every winter. The calm emerald lake transforms into a flurry of activities as the winged visitors from as far as Siberia flock in hordes to the tranquil water of the Chilika. The cavorting Dolphins are the resident sentinels, eager as ever to treat the weary eyes. Orissa is a treasure trove of nature. More than 37% of the land mass is covered with thick and dense forests. There are two National Parks (Similipal and Bhitarkanika) and more than twenty Sanctuaries. Similipal is the home of the Royal Bengal tiger and a host of other wildlife. Bhitarkanika, one of the two Mangrove Forests of India, is rich in crocodile population and migratory birds. Down the creeks at Gahirmatha, millions of the endangered Olive Ridley Turtles nest twice a year. Nandankanan on the outskirts of Bhubaneswar is a biological park where the white tiger is bred. It is also here that Gharials (Indian crocodile) were bred in captivity for the first time. The very captivating sight of the 22 kms long Satakosia Gorge at Tikarapada is awe-inspiring. There are a plethora of fairs and festivals that are celebrated with pomp and gaiety in Orissa. Rath Yatra of Puri is perhaps the grandest festival of Orissa that attracts a large number of pilgrims and tourists. But festivals like

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Dhanuyatra of Bargarh, Chadak Mela of Chandaneswar, Durga Puja of Cuttack and Laxmi Puja of Dhenkanal are unique in show and celebration. The tourist festivals such as Konark Dance Festival, Shreekshetra Utsav, Ekamra- The Temple Festival and Toshali National Crafts Mela are added attractions for the tourist. The graceful Odissi dance is a dance form native to Orissa which is mentioned in scriptures and depicted in sculptures. There is also a plethora of folk and tribal dance and music, prominent among which are Sambalpuri, Ghomra, Ranapa, Koya, Gadaba and Chhou. Orissa’s handicrafts like the Silver Filigree of Cuttack, Applique work of Pipili, Pata painting of Raghurajpur, Stone sculputres of Puri, Textiles of Sambalpur and a lot more are manifestations of creative diversity exemplified by her perseverant people. The rock-cut caves of Khandagiri & Udayagiri throw light on the magnificent past of Orissa. The Buddhist heritage seen in the Ratnagiri-Lalitgiri-Udayagiri-Dhauli region stands testimony to the once flourishing Buddhist Universities and monasteries in this part of eastern India. There are 62 tribes in Orissa. The tribals mostly inhabit the hilly regions of Orissa. The Socio-cultural life of Orissa has been greatly shaped and influenced by the long continuing tribal traditions. Their lifestyles and socio-cultural ethos are manifested through colourful display of dance and music, which is unique and spectacular even to this day. The Bonda, Koya, Padaja and Santhal are some communities that still retain their old lifestyle despite the onslaught of modern times. Oriya cuisine is rich and varied and relies heavily on local ingredients. The flavors are usually subtle and delicately

spiced, quite unlike the fiery curries typically associated with Indian cuisine. Fish and other seafood such as crab and shrimp are very popular. For the peace loving Oriya, hospitality is religion and any guest cannot bid adieu without having sampled the home-cooked delicacies.

The Temples The temple culture is the most predominant feature that first strikes the visitor in Orissa. The Orissan temple architecture holds an appeal that is magnetic and stupefying in its extravagance and mobility. The dizzying heights of the heavily sculpted towers are as much reason for wonder as the exquisitely wrought base-relief within their numerous halls. Orissa’s Golden Triangle of Bhubaneswar-Puri-Konark alone gives the visitor a remarkable vision of the clear line of development linking the major temples. The finger of creativity delineates an amorphous linkage amongst the Orissan temples but the beauty of each is uniquely pulsating. From the Parsurameswar Temple at Bhubaneswar to the Sun Temple at Konark, Shree Jagannath Temple Puri, Lingaraj Temple at Bhubaneswar, the temple architecture spans a period from the 7th to the 13th century A. D. The indigenous core of the Kalinga School of architecture rests on the two essential structures – the deula or the conical convex spire ending in a lotus-shaped form and the jagmohan or the porch structure. Numerous halls of offering, dance, bathing platform and other smaller shrines are found within the compound of the temple.

The Beaches The long coastal belt of Orissa offers some of the finest beaches in the world. It is not surprising that they are becoming a regular haunt for avid beach lovers and sea wor-

Sun Temple, Puri

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shippers. Puri Beach- For centuries Puri beach has been the venue of countless pilgrims taking the traditional purification dip. Yet for decades now, both Indian and Foreign beach-lovers have made it their special haunt. The crashing surf on one of India’s finest beaches is a glorious sight. Homely accommodation and eating joints are major plus points for all visitors. Chandipur Beach- The swaying casuarina trees and the shimmering waters of this sea-side resort have made Chandipur a favorite haunt. The uniqueness of Chandipur is that twice a day its waters recede from the shore a good 5 km away, giving water revelers the ultimate pleasure of walking into its shallow depths with joyful abandon. Gopalpur-on-Sea – One of the most pristine beaches of Orissa, this small beach is a splendid retreat for sea-worshipers. Once a humming seaport, Gopalpur offers its visitors a slice of serenity. The pleasures of the blue beach and blue bay backwater are a beach-lover’s paradise. Chandrabhaga Beach- Only 32 km from Puri on Marine Drive, one could find a sprawling beach at Chandrabhaga. With a long stretch of clean sands – cool blue sea making rapids in rolling waves- the beach is one of the best on India’s coast. At a strolling distance, one finds the famous architectural marvel of the Sun Temple, Konark which is a world heritage monument. Talasari Beach- At a distance of 88 km from Balasore, 4 km from Chandaneswar and 8 km from Digha (in West Bengal) is the tranquil beach at Talasari. One could behold with awe the glistening glory of the Bay of Bengal spread like a

bejeweled carpet as far as the eyes could reach. The shimmering surface, the myriad twinkles all around and the carpet of red crabs give this calm beach a unique beauty of its own. Pati-Sonapur Beach- 20 km from Berhampur, 35 km from Gopalpur-on-Sea and 4 km off the NH-5 that connects Kolkata with Chennai, the virgin beach at Pati-Sonapur is one of the most exquisite on the eastern coast. Right on the confluence of river Bahuda and Bay of Bengal, the scenic beauty of the area is simply enchanting Ramchandi- On the confluence of river Kushabhadra with the Bay of Bengal, Ramchandi is a place of uncommon scenery. The eco-camps established here provide an ideal commune with Mother Nature.

Wildlife One of the greatest benefits of Orissa’s vast expanse of unspoiled, natural landscape has been its ability to offer a protected yet natural habitat to the State’s incredible Wildlife. Apart from the Nandankanan Zoo and Sanctuary, and Similipal and Bhitarkanika National Parks there are a dozen sanctuaries which are home to a wide variety of fauna and flora. Some of the most important experience and experiments of wildlife conservation are taking place in these natural habitats, giving the tourist an excellent opportunity to enjoy nature’s bounty, Nandankanan- At a short distance from the capital city, Bhubaneswar, Nandankanan Zoo lies in the splendid environs of the Chandaka forest along the rippling waters of the Kanjia Lake. It also contains a botanical garden. Famed for its white tiger population, Nandankanan has become a

banks of the Daya river from atop Dhauli hills, the presumed venue of the Kalinga war

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family favorite. The Zoo enjoys an excellent reputation internationally for successfully breeding black panthers, gharial crocodiles and white tigers in captivity.

A Sculpture at a temple in Bhubaneswar

Similipal Tiger Reserve- Mayurbhanj District is the home of one of the most important National Parks in the country. Spread over an area of 2, 750 sq. km. the park is one success story in India’s tiger conservation campaign. Leopards, Elephants, Mugger Crocodiles and numerous other reptiles abound here. Over 231 species of birds inhabit the forest and waterways in the park. Bhitarkanika National Park- Located in the second largest mangrove forest of the country, it has been conserving the estuarine crocodile since 1975. Located slightly further away is the coastal area of Gahirmatha, where the giant Olive Ridley Sea Turtles, voyaging annually from as far away as South America. come to nest by millions. Special arrangements have been made to ensure that this annual ritual continues unabated by converting this region into a National Park in 1998. The mangroves support a large variety of birdlife like storks, egrets, white ibis, six species of kingfishers, and migratory ducks from Siberia and Hungary.

Fairs & Festivals Orissa observes a large number of festivals mostly associated with harvesting seasons, religion and temples. Orissa is a confluence of the Aryan, Dravidian and aboriginal cultures. Thus celebrations bring forth a grand collage of different rites, rituals and traditions. There is no better salve for people’s spiritual yearning in its popular form than a fair or festival held virtually every month in different parts of Orissa. Most of these are held on a full moon or no-moon days which confirms the common belief that planets and stars are forces influencing human life. The following lists the festivals calendar in Orissa. January- Makar Mela, Tribal Fair, Dhanu Yatra, Toshali National Crafts Mela, Ekamra-The Temple City Festival (Kalinga Utsav, Rajarani Music Festival, Shreekshetra Utsav) February- March- Maha Shivaratri, Maghasaptami March- April- Ashokastami, Tara Tarini Mela April- May- Chaitra Parba, Mahavishuva Sankrati May-June – Sitala Sasti June- July – Rath Yatra August – September - Shree Ganesh Puja September – October - Dussehra, Laxmipuja October – November – Baliyatra December – Konark Festival, Toshali National Crafts Mela

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Hatigumpha Inscription of King Kharavel, Udaygiri

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Orissa Snapshots

This state is silent‌ and Buddhism influence pervades. But in all its patience, it has shown the value of ‘solitude sometimes transpires to gold’. Orissa has been an example of being a state which has proved to come out with exemplary results both in terms of foreign as well as domestic tourism. A feat not many other states can match.

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Sunrise at Vivekananda memorial, the huge statue of Tamil poet Thiruvalluvar, Kanyakumari

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Clouds at Pillar Rocks, Kodaikanal

Meenakshi Amman Temple Tower

Tamil Nadu Shore Temple, Mahabalipuram

Darbar Hall, Thanjavur March 2010

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Kamarajar Salai and Marina Beach

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amil Nadu is the land of the Tamils and it has a history that dates back to several thousand years. It is a land where traditions and culture blend and continue to live in harmony. The state abounds in monuments and temples that are ancient and each has its own story of religious, artistic and cultural accomplishment and specialty waiting to be heard. Karnataka and Andhra Pradesh bound Tamil Nadu in the north and Kerala in the west. The waters of the Bay of Bengal and the Indian Ocean lap the coastal eastern and southern boundaries respectively. The Point Calimere and Mudumalai wildlife sanctuaries define the eastern and western tips of the state while on the northern extreme is Pulicat Lake and the southernmost tip is Cape Camorin or Kanniyakumari - the Land’s End of India. With an area of 130,058 sq km and population over 55 million, Tamil Nadu is the 11th largest state in India. The Union Territory of Pondicherry is a small enclave in the district of South Arcot. Traditionally, the land of Tamils has been divided into 5 major physiographic divisions - the Kurinji or mountainous region, the Mullai or forest region, the Palai or arid region, the Marudham or the fertile plains and the Neidhal or coastal region. The history of the Tamils presents an exciting pageant of a powerful civilization whose origin dates back to ancient times. It is clear that the Tamils, who belong to the Dravidian race, were the first major occupants of the country and settled in the north-western part of India long before the coming of the Indo-Aryans. Excavations have revealed that the features of the people of the Indus Valley Civilization bore a strong resemblance to this race. However, with the advent of the Aryans, the Dravidians were pushed back into the deep south where they ultimately settled. Chennai Chennai, the capital city of Tamil Nadu is the fourth largest metropolis in India. Located on a 17 km stretch of the Coramandel coast, the city is trisected by the waterways of Cooum and Adyar and the Buckingham Canal. With a population of 6 million people, Chennai is a vibrant city ever growing, expanding and changing every year. Popularly regarded as the “Gateway to the South�, Chennai presents a culture that is distinctly different from that of northern India. Music, dance and all other art forms of the South are cherished and nurtured in this city, which, though industrialized, continues to be traditional and conventional in many ways. Chennai is a gracious city that has a clear skyline, long sandy beaches, parks, historic landmarks and tourist infra-

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structure facilities which make it a convenient entry point or base to start your tour of Tamil Nadu and South India. As far as religion is concerned, history has certainly left its mark on this city, which is believed to have been the place of St. Thomas, in the outskirt of the city. There are a number of churches in Chennai that are connected with the life and times of this apostle. There are also several ancient temples around Chennai, and, within the city itself are two magnificent temples - a temple in Triplicane and another in Mylapore.

Kodaikanal

Fort St. George - Fort St. George occupies a place of pride and prominence in Chennai. The British East India Company under the direct supervision of Francis Day and Andrew Cogon built it in 1640 AD. This bastion achieved name from St. George, the patron saint of England. The fort houses St. Mary’s Church and fort museum. St. Mary’s Church the oldest Anglican Church in India built in 1680 and the tombstones in its courtyard are the oldest British tombstones in India. This ancient prayer house solemnized the marriages of Robert Clive and Governor Elinu-Yale, who later founded the Yale University in the States. The Fort Museum is the repository of rare exhibits of weapons, uniforms, coins, costumes, medals and some other artifacts dating back to the British period. The flagstaff at Fort St. George is still the tallest in India. South of the Fort is the War Memorial, a graceful monument built in 1939 in memory of the warriors who sacrificed their lives during the First World War. San Thome Cathedral Basilica - San Thome at the southern end of Marina derives its name from St Thomas, the apostle of Christ who is believed to have come to Madras sometime during 52 AD. He was killed on St Thomas Mount just outside the city in 78 AD and was interned in San Thome beach where a church was later built. Several years later, another church was built further inland and his mortal remains were transferred from the old church to the new one. In 1606 the church was rebuilt as a cathedral and in 1896 it was made a basilica. The beautiful stained glass window at the basilica portrays the story of St Thomas and the central hall has 14 wooden plaques depicting scenes from the last days of Christ. In the cathedral is a 3ft. high statue of Virgin Mary, which is believed to have been brought from Portugal in 1543. Marina - Marina Beach, the pride of Chennai, is the second largest beach in the world and has a wide sandy foreshore. Situated on the beach, the Anna and MGR samadhis, which are the memorials of the most popular former Chief Ministers of the State attract good crowd everyday. An aquarium

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17th century wood carving in a temple chariot at Madurai

is also located on the Marina Beach. Some of the most beautiful buildings in Chennai such as the University of Madras, Senate-House, Chepauk Palace, Presidency College, P.W.D office and Ice House are located on the beach drive. Madurai Known as the Athens of the East, Madurai, the second largest city in Tamil Nadu is situated on the banks of the river Vaigai. An ancient city, more than 2,500 years old, Madurai is believed to having been built by the Pandyan King Kulasekara in the 6th century BC. The city is said to have got its name from the drops of nectar (Mathuram) that fell from Shiva’s locks when he came to bless its people for constructing a temple for him. Originally named Madhurapuri or the ‘land of nectar’, the name later got modified to Madurai. From such legendary beginnings, the actual history of Madurai emerges sometime during the 3rd century BC when it was the prosperous Pandyas’ then capital which had trading contacts with Greece and Rome. Meenakshi Temple - Located at the heart of the city, the Meenakshi- Sundareswarar temple has long been the focus of both Indian and international tourist attraction as well as one of the most important places of Hindu pilgrimage. For the people of Madurai, the temple is the very centre of their cultural and religious life. While the major festivals of Tamil Nadu are celebrated here with gaiety that equals the rest of the state, the most important moment in Madurai is the Chittirai festival that is held in April/May, when the celestial marriage of Meenakshi and Sundareswarar is celebrated, drawing a huge crowd of people from all over the state. Coimbatore The third largest city of the state, Coimbatore, the headquarters of a district of the same name, is one of the most industrialised cities in Tamil Nadu. Known as the textile capital of South India or the Manchester of the South, the city is situated on the banks of the river Noyyal. Coimbatore existed even prior to the 2nd century AD as a small tribal village capital called Kongunad until it was brought under Chola control in the 2nd or 3rd century AD by Karikalan, the first of the early Cholas. Among its other great rulers were the Rashtrakutas, Chalukyas, Pandyas, Hoysalas and the Vijayanagara kings. When Kongunad fell to the British along with the rest of the state, its name was changed to Coimbatore and it is by this name that it is known today, except in Tamil, in which it is called Kovai. Located in the shadow of the Western ghats, Coimbatore enjoys a very pleasant climate the year round, aided by the

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fresh breeze that flows in through the 25 kms long Palakkad gap. The rich black soil of the region has contributed to Coimbatore’s flourishing agriculture industry and, it is in fact that successful growth of cotton growing that served as a foundation for the establishment of its famous textile industry. The first textile mills came up as far back as 1888 but there are now over a hundred mills. The result has been a strong economy and a reputation as one of the greatest industrial cities in South India. Bhavani - The Sangameshwarar temple at Bhavani is situated at the confluence of the rivers Bhavani and the Cauvery. This place is called as “Tiruveni of South India�. It is an important pilgrim centre. Lord Sangameshwarer with His consort Vedanayaki is the presiding deity. It is said that during the East India Company regime the then Collector of Coimbatore and Salem Districts, William Garrow, who had his headquarters at Bhavani, worshipped the Goddess Vedanayaki. One night the Goddess directed him in his dream to vacate his bungalow immediately. The moment he vacated, the entire bungalow collapsed. In reverence of this miracle, he presented to the temple an ivory cradle which is still in the temple with his signature. Kanchipuram Ancient Kanchipuram, the city of thousand temples, is one of the seven most sacred pilgrim centres for the Hindus. There now remain about 126 temples in Kanchi and a few more in its outskirts. The city was the capital of the Early Cholas as far back as the 2nd century BC and a Pallava capital between the 6th and 8th centuries. Given its illustrious past, it is not surprising that Kanchi

was a major seat of Tamil learning as well as an important place of pilgrimage for Buddhists, Jains and Hindus. Today, apart from its temples, this small town is also known for its thriving handloom industry. The silk weavers of Kanchi settled more than 400 years ago and have given it an enviable reputation as the producer of the best silk sarees in the country. Woven from pure mulberry silk, the sarees in dazzling colours are embellished with fine gold thread (zari) and are available in every imaginable design and variety, which can make the job of selection quite challenging. Temple festivals are held throughout the year and apart from the temple car (ratha) festivals, which are held in January, April and May, there are other days when the idols in the temples are taken out in procession on their respective vahanas or vehicles. Ekambareswarar Temple - Originally built by the Pallavas, the Cholas later reconstructed this large Siva temple. Here, Lord Siva is worshipped as Earth or Prithvi, which is one of the five elements. The dimensions of this temple are reflected in its 20 - acre spread and its tall south gopuram which soars to a height of 58.5m. T Varadaraja Temple - Dedicated to Lord Vishnu, this temple was built by the Vijaynagar kings and the presiding deity is Devarajaswamy. The 100-pillared hall of this temple proves the mastery of the sculptors of Vijayanagara in fine artists. Among the best pieces are the severed halves of a large chain carved out of a single stone and the figures of the God of Love and his consort astride a swan and a parrot respectively.

Kailasanatha temple, Kanchipuram

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Kanyakumari At the southernmost end of Tamil Nadu, lies the land end of India or the point where the three seas meet, enchanting Kanniyakumari or Cape Comorin is one of the most popular tourist spots in the state and indeed, in the country. Part of the fascination is of course due to the fact that it is the very tip of the Indian peninsula and the confluence of the Bay of Bengal, the Arabian Sea and the Indian Ocean. The other part is that the nature is so spectacular at Kanyakumari that several other Indian beaches pale by comparison. Kanniyakumar is at its best during Chitra Pournami (full moon day in April).

Ooty

Kodaikanal The forested slopes of the majestic hills of the Western Ghats vie with the magnificent beaches of the Coromandel Coast. Located 120 kms away from Madurai, Kodaikkanal is a beautiful hill station and is at an altitude of 2133 m on the southern tip of the upper Palani hills in the Western Ghats. Kodaikkanal has a bracing climate where temperature does not vary much from summer to winter. Fruits like plums and plantains grow abundantly on the wooded slopes apart from a wide variety of flowers, among which is the famous Kurinji flower, which blooms once in twelve years. Ooty Called the ‘Queen of Hill Stations’ picturesque, the green Udhagamandalam, better known as Ooty is the most popular hill station in the South. Located in the Western ghats at a height of 2240m, Udhagamandalam is the headquarters of the Nilgiris district where the two ghats meet. Nature has been generous with this region, which is by far the most beautiful in the state. Apart from coffee and tea plantations, trees like conifers, eucalyptus, pine and wattle dot the hillside in Udhagamandalam and its environs. Summer temperature is rarely higher than 25°c with a minimum of 10°c and winters are distinctly cooler with a high of 21°c and a low 5°c. Curiously enough, this slice of paradise remained unknown to the great southern dynasties and it took the British to discover it in the early 1800s. They were, however, not the first inhabitants of this land as a tribe called Todas had been living there long before the British came, claiming that the Nilgiris had been their home since time immemorial. Mudumalai Wildlife Sanctuary - 67 kms from Ooty, the most prominent of the wildlife sanctuaries in the state, as well as one of the most important in the southern region, the thickly forested Mudumalai borders the Bandipur National Park in Karnataka and the Wyanad Sanctuary in Kerala. Apart from the wide range of animal and bird life, the rich fauna of this sanctuary has made Mudumalai very popular with wildlife enthusiasts. 128

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“Infrastructure Development holds the key to Tamil Nadu’s growth in the Tourism sector” In the year 2009, Tamil Nadu tourism has shown high growth rate, globally in a consistent manner. Dr C Mohandas, Director of Tourism & MD, Tamil Nadu Tourism D evelopment Corporation (TTDC) sheds light on the recent activities of TTDC and its marketing strategies. Please elaborate on your marketing strategies considering the recent spate of attacks within the country as well as the recession. The state has played a vital role in increasing the national average. We have not been not been affected by these by the recession. In the field of marketing strategies

♦ Tamil Nadu Tourism has launched a series of International and Domestic print campaigns by releasing advertisement in various International In-flight magazines and other leading Travel Magazines. Printing of folders, books and hi-feel media products have been produced for the tourists.

♦ Events like Mamallapuram Dance Festival and publicity campaign with innovative efforts are launched to promote the tourist wealth of Tamil Nadu.

♦ Tamil Nadu Tourism regularly participates in International Travel Marts highlighting the rich tourism potential of our state.

♦ Tamil Nadu Tourism has embarked upon a programme called “Virunthinar Potruthum! Virunthinar Potruthum!!” for inculcating a high degree of sophistication and practice for Tourism Friendly Culture among stakeholders. Tourist Friendly Autos were also introduced. Please elucidate on the strengths of Tamil Nadu as a tourism destination? Infrastructure Development holds the key to Tamil Nadu’s growth in the Tourism sector. Identification and development of Tourist destinations and circuits will continue to remain the central plank of the Tourism Development strategy in the state. Tamil Nadu Tourism has identified mega destinations and major circuits of tourism importance and already sanctioned projects for Tharangampadi, Mamallapuram, Holli Hills, Sripuram-Ariyur area, Amirithi March 2010

Forests – Balamathi Hills, Courtrallam and Tiruchendur. The Department’s support to such infrastructure projects takes two forms; financial assistance from the Ministry of Tourism, Government of India and financial sanctions from the Government of Tamil Nadu. Tamil Nadu Tourism has been focusing in areas like identifying and tapping new tourism potential; providing infrastructure and basic amenities; Regulating tourists according to the carrying capacity; Attracting more tourists utilizing all media vehicles; Providing new tourism products to ensure memorable experience, etc. Please elaborate on the branding strategy of Tamil Nadu (Enchanting Tamil Nadu). The branding strategy of Tamil Nadu (Enchanting Tamil Nadu) by way of advertisement and publicity has increased the arrival of tourists to Tamil Nadu during the past three years. Tourism makes a significant contribution to India’s foreign exchange earnings, which grew from US$ 6.17 billions (Rs.27944 crores) in 2004 to US$ 11.96 billions (Rs.44360 crores) in 2007. Tamil Nadu has also kept pace with the national average attracting 7,80,37, 607 domestic tourists and 23, 69, 050 foreign tourists in 2009. The branding has worked well for the state and increase in tourist traffic is expected to continue. Tourism budget for 2009 was Rs.56.9472 crores and it has helped immensely in the marketing efforts of the tourism department. Please elucidate on the tourism destinations identified to be marketed this year across the globe. To develop the tourism wonders, Tamil Nadu Tourism has been initiating identification of the places for the sustained development.

♦ UNESCO declared monuments – Mamallapurem, living Chola Temples at Thanjavur, Gangaikonda Chozhapuram and Darasuram as well as Nilgiris Mountain Rail.

♦ Major destinations like Chennai, Kancheepuram, Madurai, Rameshwaram, Thoothukudi, Coimbatore, Tiruchirappalli and Kanniyakumari

♦ Hill stations like Ooty, Kodaikanal and Yercaud 129


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Tamil Nadu Snapshots

The lure of Tamil Nadu does not lie in words, but in experience. Be it Madurai meenakshi, the marina, the food or the culture...there is an intriguing factor to the state which never allows one to detach. Tamil Nadu is probably history in a new world.

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Hyderabad’s Charminar

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Nagarjuna Sagar Dam

Araku Vally

Andhra Pradesh Golkonda Fort

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Birla Mandir, Hyderabad

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ndhra Pradesh, known as the “Rice Granary of In dia” is the favourable tourist state in India, which has a coastline of 1000 kms with eight of its 23 districts having direct access to the sea. Located in South India, Andhra Pradesh is bounded by Tamil Nadu in the south, Maharashtra in the North and North-West, Madhya Pradesh in the North-East, Karnataka in the West, and by the Bay of Bengal in the East. The medieval city of Hyderabad is its capital. The main languages that are spoken in Andhra are Telugu, English, Urdu, and Hindi. It uniquely combines history, beaches and mountains into a great travel destination. The state of Andhra Pradesh is recognized variously-for its legendary dynasties; for its most

rets and modern high - rise buildings; a natural and sophisticated blend of old and new, an old ‘Nawabi’ culture with a new pro-active approach and hospitality. The teeming bazaars of the old city, in the midst of which stands the 400-year-old Charminar, the modern shopping complexes and ultra-modern malls in the newer areas of the city add to the charm of Hyderabad. Charminar Charminar is as much the signature of Hyderabad as Taj Mahal is of Agra or Eiffel Tower is of Paris. Mohammed Quli Qutb Shah, the founder of Hyderabad, built Charminar in 1591 at the centre of the original city layout. It is believed to have been built as a charm to ward off a deadly epidemic raging at that time. Four graceful minarets soar to a height of 48.7m. Charminar has 45 prayer spaces and a mosque in it. Golconda Fort Golconda is one of the famous forts of India. The name originates from the Telugu words “Golla Konda” meaning “Shepherd’s Hill”. The origins of the fort can be traced back to the Yadava dynasty of Deogiri, and the Kakatiyas of Warangal. Golconda was originally a mud fort, which passed to the Bahmani dynasty and later to the Qutb Shahis, who held it from 1518 to 1687 A.D. The first three Qutb Shahi kings rebuilt Golconda, over a span of 62 years. The fort is famous for its acoustics, palaces, factories, ingenious water supply system and the famous Fateh Rahben gun, one of the cannons used in the last siege of Golconda by Aurangzeb, to whom the fort ultimately fell.

revered temple, Tirupati; for its beautiful language, Telugu; for its lacquer toys and beautiful weaves; rich literature and the vibrant Kuchipudi. The Places to see in Andhra Pradesh are Sri Venkateswara temple at Tirupati, Charminar, Salar Jung Museum, Golconda Fort in Hyderabad and Buddhist viharas at Nagarjunasagar. Andhra Pradesh had been an important seat of rich Buddhist heritage. Andhra Pradesh has also the largest IT Park and largest Film City in Asia.

Hyderabad With its confluence of cultures and traditions, the city is often described as a link between the north and the south, and a meeting place of the east and the west. The city is nearly 400 years old and is noted for its natural beauty, mosques and minarets, bazaars and bridges, hills and lakes. The name itself brings up visions of a vibrant city of mina134

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Nehru Zoological Park Spanning 300 lush green acres, the Nehru Zoological Park is a must for nature lovers. The biggest Zoo in India, it has over 250 species of animals and birds, most of which are kept in conditions as close to their natural habitats as possible. This is the first zoo to create enclosures with moats for animals. The Lion Safari Park, Natural History Museum and Children’s Train are the added attractions. APTDC runs its “Pongali” restaurant and an ice-cream parlour here. Qutb Shahi Tombs The tombs of the legendary Qutb Shahi kings lie to the north of Golconda, about a kilometre away from Banjara Darwaza of the Golconda Fort. Planned and built by the Qutb Shahis themselves, these tombs are said to be the oldest historical monuments in Hyderabad. They form a large group and stand on a raised platform. The tombs are built in Persian, Pathan and Hindu architectural styles using grey granite, with stucco ornamentation, the only one of its kind in the world where an entire dynasty has been buried at one place. Ramoji Film City A dream world created for the celluloid on a sprawling 1000 acres, with every imaginable set and location, Ramoji Film City on the outskirts of Hyderabad offers facilities to produce any kind of movie. Apart from sets, there are hotels where artistes and technicians can stay. Visitors too can go round in conducted tours. Salar Jung Museum This museum houses one of the biggest one-man collections of antiques and artifacts in the world by Mir Yousuf Ali Khan Salar Jung III. The objects d’art include Persian carpets, Moghal miniatures, Chinese porcelain, Japanese lacquer ware, famous sculptures including the Veiled Rebecca and Marguerite and Mephistopheles, a superb collection of jade, daggers belonging to Queen Noor Jahan and the Emperors Jahangir and Shah Jahan, Aurangzeb’s sword and many other fabulous items. APTDC has a “Pongali” snack bar here.

Visakhapatnam Visakhapatnam, popularly known as Vizag, is a booming industrial city on the east coast of India. The port city with the biggest shipbuilding yard in India is also the headquarters of the Eastern Naval Command. The beautiful city with its twin town Waltair forms a harMarch 2010

The Famous Temple at Tirupati 135


monious blend of majestic hills, valleys and golden beaches along the Bay of Bengal coastline.

Waterfall at Vizag

Bheemili or Bhimulipatanam Bheemunipatnam popularly known as ‘Bheemli’ is located at a distance of 24 Kilometers North east of Visakhapatnam. Once a Dutch settlement, the 17th century ruins of a fort and cemetery built by the Dutch are seen here. Borra Caves The million year-old limestone Borra Caves, are situated at about 56 miles north of Vizag. The caves, at a height of 1400 mts above sea level and occupying an area of 2 square kilometres are filled with fascinating stalagmite and stalactite formations of calcium deposits. Rishikonda beach and Resort Located 13 kms from Visakhapatnam on the Visakhapatnam- Bheemunipatnam beach road, is Rishikonda, a thickly covered hill. The lovely beach here with golden sands is the best beach in Vizag. It is ideal for water skiing, wind surfing and swimming. Sankaram Buddhist Excavations The village of Sankaram near Anakapalli, 38 km from Visakhapatnam is known for its 3BC - 4BC Buddhist constructions situated on two small hillocks. These constructions are believed to be made during Mahayana period. The hills, Bojjanakonda and Lingalakonda has a monastery, numerous rock- cut stupas and sanctuaries cut into the sides of the hill with Buddha images and Viharas (shelters) for the monks. Aruku Valley The Aruku valley, situated 30km north from Borra caves is home to a number of tribal communities. It is a beautiful valley with pleasant climate, lush greenery, waterfalls and streams. The tribal wear colourful dresses and their songs and dances are spectacular. There are Cottages and Resorts for tourists.

Tirupati Tirupati, the holy city is located in the southeastern part of Andhra Pradesh, in Chittoor district. Known as the abode of the ‘Kaliyuga’ deity Lord Venkateswara popularly known as Balaji, Tirupati is famous for the Venkateswara temple in the sacred Tirumala hills at an elevation of 860m. One of the most important pilgrimage centers in India, the temple draws millions of pilgrims and is believed to be the busiest pilgrimage centre in the world. Lord Venkateswara Temple Nestled among high Eastern Ghats, Tirumala can be reached 136

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only after covering the range of hills. The presiding deity Lord Venkateswara is also referred to as Lord of the Seven Hills. Patronized by Pallavas, Pandyas, Cholas, Vijayanagar kings and later by the king of Mysore, the temple finds a mention in the Sastras and Puranas.

from Tirupati and 140 km from Bangalore. The journey to Horsley Hills is as beautiful as the destination - a dense growth of Eucalyptus, Jacaranda, Mohogony, Gulmohar, natural sandal wood and many other exotic trees will never once leave your side.

Thrust Destinations

APTDC has partnered with Freak Outs, a Bangalore based adventure sports club to bring you a host of activities like Zorbing, Running Bungee, Rappelling, Rock Climbing, Trekking, Burma Bridge, Horizontal Ladder, Earth Quake, and Burma Loops. Ample nature trails and view points are there too, for those opting for a more relaxed holiday. APTDC would also arrange ‘Art of Living’ classes for mediation, Dyhana and Yoga classes at Horsley Hills.

Pattiseema 120 kms from Eluru, Patti-seema is a village in Polavaram mandal of West Godavari district of Andhra Pradesh. It is located on the bank of the River Godavari and is famous for Sri Veerabhadra Swamy Temple. Tourists and devotees throng to the beautiful Sri Veerabhadra Swamy Temple, which is picturesquely located on a hill known as Devakuta Parvatha in the middle of the Godavari River. Dindi Dindi located in the West Godavari district of Andhra Pradesh is an undiscovered haven for nature lovers. Set in lush Godavari delta with dense coconut groves as far as the eye can see, Dindi showcases coastal Andhra nature at its best. Dindi Coconut Country Resort is the latest jewel crown of Andhra Pradesh Tourism and has been created with tourist pleasure in mind. Horsley Hills One of the most beautiful Hill Stations of Andhra Pradesh, Horsley Hills is located at an altitude of 4,100 ft is 144 km

Tourism Award – This year, Andhra Pradesh Tourism bagged the National Tourism Awards for the year 200809, in the category Most Innovative Adventure Activity, for the adventure destination of Horsley Hills. Ananthagiri Hill Resort For those on the lookout to enjoy a majestic view coupled with a stay in exotic cottages, look no further than this hillstation a few kms away from Borra and Araku. The Haritha Valley Resort boasts of 16 elegantly-furnished cottages with its breath-taking view from every balcony and 3 luxury suites. A well equipped conference hall and banquet hall with a seating capacity of 75 members each will please those corporate houses who would like to combine business with pleasure.

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Andhra Pradesh Snapshots

The state of Andhra Pradesh has always been one of the most proactive in terms of attaining the crème-de-la-crème in different sectors…thanks to its vibrant political nature. Even in tourism, the state has been able to capture a lot, in terms of paper budget, but the fruitfulness of these monetary gains is still to be realized. The state still lives…it is still vibrant…guess it will carry on for few more decades. March 2010

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Andhra Pradesh Snapshots

In all its variety, the state of Andhra Pradesh is a delight. Be it the coastal region of Vizag or the religious aroma of Chittoor through Tirupathi or the historic signature of Warangal, the multi-faceted past of the state always throws a certain penchant for exploration to the ardent traveler. The magic of Andhra Pradesh thus never ends.

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Har Ki Pauri, near the sacred Ghat of Haridwar 142

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Nainital

Ram Ganga, Thal

Uttarakhand

Water Rafting in Ganga River from Devprayag to Rishikesh

Fishing Mahsheer ram Ganga river, Corbett Elderly ofwoman with on prayer Tiger beadsReserve in Ladakh March 2010

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ttaranchal is a small newly formed state of India, and is the true experience to the first meeting with the Himalayas. Blessed with magnificent glaciers, majestic snow-clad mountains, gigantic and majestic peaks, valley of flowers, skiing slopes and dense forests travel to Uttaranchal is a dream come true.

The Corbett National Park and the Rajaji wildlife park famous for its Tigers and wildlife is another reason to visit the state. No part of the state lacks in the natural splendour that Mother Nature has bestowed on the state and travel to Uttaranchal certainly leaves behind the most beautiful memories.

Uttaranchal is undoubtedly India’s most beautiful canvas. The main attraction to this place is the un-spoilt and unexploited beauty and the serene calmness of Uttaranchal. The green valleys and the snow-clad peaks with wonderful panoramic view till the eyes can reach, is mesmerizing and spell binding as well. Uttaranchal has a wonderful cultural and traditional heritage that has been followed for centuries. The people of Uttaranchal are warm and smiling and trying to live through the harsh climatic conditions. The cuisine is essentially north Indian very much similar to the rest of the Northern parts of the India. Items made of wool are easily available here.

Dehradun Dehradun, the city, headquarters of the district is visited by a large number of tourist every year, many of them enroute to Mussoorie. The climate of the city is temperate. Even during summer, it is not so warm at Dehradun as in the district south of it. The Forest Research Institute, which is world famous for its research work in forestry and is the only institution of its kind in Asia, is situated here. Besides, headquarters of the important establishment like the Oil and Natural Commission; Survey of India etc., the Military Academy are also located here. The Gurudwara built by Guru Ram Raj during the reign of Aurangzeb in the Dhamanwala locality of the town is a religious place of eminence.

A pious destination for the religious with the four most sacred and revered Hindu sites Badrinath, Kedarnath, Gangotri and Yamunotri (collectively known as the Char Dham Yatra) nestled in the mighty mountains; a challenging destination for the adventure seekers with sports that are offered like River Rafting, mountaineering, skiing and trekking; and a picturesque destination for the nature lovers with breathtaking panoramic view of Himalayas, and the lovely valley of flowers. Most of the famous hill stations other than the Capital of the state Dehradun, like Mussorie and Nainital are situated in Uttaranchal.

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Badrinath – Kedarnath The temples of Shiva and Vishnu at Kedarnath and Badrinath have been the destination of pilgrims for centuries. Once reached after tortuous treks but easily accessible today by road. At Uttarkashi at a height of over 3000 metres the snow melts to form the sacred rivers of Ganga and Yamuna in a deep recess of the mountains. The route to the two sources begins at Rishikesh and passes ancient temples and Valleys along the way. The Shrines are open from 1st week

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of May up to Diwali day. Badrinath is one of the four Dhams; a devout Hindu has to visit in his lifetime to attain salvation. One of Hinduism’s holiest sites, it was founded by Sri Shankaracharya, in the ninth century. The temple, also known as Badri Narayan, is dedicated to Vishnu, who is said to have done penance in the mythical Brindavan that once covered the mountains of Uttarakhand.

Spotted Deer at Jim Corbett

Known as “Tapobhumi”, a land of meditation and penance, and “Bhubaikunth”, heaven on earth, it is surrounded on either side, by two mountain ranges known as Nar and Narayan, with the Neelkanth peak, providing a spectacular backdrop. Facing the Badrinath temple is a hot water spring, known as “Tapt Kund”. Other famous springs, here, are the Narad Kund and the Surya Kund. Badrinath is presided over by a Namboothiri Brahman from Kerala, the Rawal, who also acts as the head priest for Kedarnath. Haridwar Haridwar, on the right bank of River Ganga at the feet of Shivalik ranges, an ancient pilgrim city is one of the holiest places for Hindus. Haridwar is at the point where the river Ganga spreads over the northern plain. It lies at the base of the Shivalik Hills where the Ganga passes through its last gorge and begins a 2000 km journey across the plains. One of the four venues for the Kumbh Mela, a festival held once in twelve years, it is among the seven sacred cities of India. A holy dip at Har-Ki-Pauri is a must for every devotee. Situated at the confluence of the rivers, Chandrabhaga and Ganga, Rishikesh has long been a spiritual centre. Haridwar has very rich ancient religious and cultural heritage. In the ancient scriptures of India, this place is well known by the name of Mayapur. Rishikesh Legend has it that the sage Raibhya Rishi did severe penance and, as a reward, God appeared to him in the form of Rishikesh. Rishikesh also represents the site where Lord Vishnu vanquished the demon Madhu. The place is known as the Tapo Bhumi or the place for meditation of the Gods. Tapovan, on the other bank of the Ganges, houses a temple to Lakshmana. It is believed that Lakshmana, the younger brother of Lord Rama, carried out penances here. The Neelkanth Mahadev temple is believed to be the site where Lord Shiva had drunk the venom that came out during the churning of the ocean. In the 1960s, the place came into limelight as the place where the pop group Beatles met their guru, Maharishi Mahesh Yogi. Rishikesh is one of the most popular pilgrim centres and gateway to the Himalayan shrines of Badrinath, Kedarnath, Gangotri, & Yamunotri. The Yoga centres of Rishikesh have enhanced the significance of the place. March 2010

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Ashram at Rishikesh

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Corbett National Park The great naturalist-writer Jim Corbett needs little introduction. His writings have fascinated generations of wildlife enthusiasts and he still commands no less appeal nowadays. The areas in and around the present day Corbett National Park were the stage for his exciting adventures in wilderness. Most of his man-eater hunting expeditions also took place in the same areas. Jim Corbett lived in Kaladhungi, where his house has been made into a Museum dedicated to his life and times. Corbett National Park has captured the imagination of many with its diverse wildlife and breathtaking landscapes. The natural uniqueness of the area was recognised long ago and so in 1936 Corbett attained the distinction as the first national park to be established in mainland Asia. Nainital Nainital is a glittering jewel in the Himalyan necklace, blessed with scenic natural splendour and varied natural resources. Dotted with lakes, Nainital has earned the epithet of ‘Lake District’ of India. The most prominent of the lakes is Naini Lake ringed by hills. Nainital has a varied topography. Some of the important places in the district are Nainital, Haldwani, Kaladhungi, Ramnagar, Bhowali, Ramgarh, Mukteshwar, Bhimtal, Sattal and Naukuchiatal. Nainital’s unending expense of scenic beauty is nothing short of a romance with awe-inspiring and pristine Mother Nature. Naini Lake - This attribute lake is said to be one of the emerald green eyes of Shiva’s wife, Sati (naina is Sanskrit for eye). When Sati’s father failed to invite Shiva to a family sacrifice, she burnt herself to death in protest. Shiva gathered the charred remains in his arms and proceeded to engage in a cosmic dance, which threatened to destroy the world. To terminate the dance, Vishnu chopped up the body into pieces, and the remains were scattered across India. The modern Naina Devi Temple at the northern end of the lake is built over the precise spot where the eye is believed to have fallen.

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East gateway Buddha stupa at Sanchi

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Chitrakoot falls, Jabalpur

Kandariya Mahadev Temple, Khajuraho

Madhya Pradesh Statue at Bandhavgarh

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Hindu Temple and kund near Narmada river, Amarkantak

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adhya Pradesh is called the “heart of India” not only because of its location in the centre of the country, but has been home to the cultural heritage of Hindhuism, Buddhism, Jainism and Islam. Innumerable monuments, exquisitely carved temples, stupas, forts and palaces are dotted all over the State. The natural beauty of Madhya Pradesh is equally varied. Consisting largely of a plateau, the State has everything - spectacular mountain ranges, meandering rivers and miles and miles of dense forests offering a unique and exciting panorama of wildlife in sylvan surroundings. Madhya Pradesh occupies perhaps the oldest part of the subcontinent - called the Gondwana - the home of the Gonds. Close to Bhopal at Bhimbetka are the prehistoric caves that preserve some fascinating paintings dating back to paleolithic times. Experts have concluded that these are at least as old as the specimen at Pyrnees. This was perhaps one of the earliest dwellings of human beings. In fact, the excavations here have revealed a cultural sequence right from the late Stone Age to the early historical period. Madhya Pradesh is the richest state in the country in respect of painted rock-shelters, the majority of which have been found in the districts of Sehore, Bhopal, Raisen, Hoshangabad and Sagar. During the ascendancy of the Guptas, the whole region came under the domain of the imperial Guptas and subsequently formed a part of Harshavardhan’s empire. With the decline in imperial power, the province was broken up into small principalities contending forever to establish their

supremacy over one another. Chandelas were one such dynasty claiming descent from the moon, who carved out a strong prosperous kingdom for themselves after the decline of the great empire. There was a short spell of inspired construction activity under the Chandela in the 10th to 11th centuries. They are the ones who have left behind the cluster of matchless temples at Khajuraho, now a World Heritage Site. Madhya Pradesh is well endowed with a rich gamut of picturesque and relatively undisturbed landscapes, forests, wildlife and cultural diversity. The State has the largest forest area (94,669 sq km) in the country of which more than 10,000 sq km is under Protected Areas, under National Parks and Sanctuaries. It is also home to several rare, endangered and threatened species. More than 80 percent of tourism in Madhya Pradesh is centred on nature and wildlife. It is in this context that “Ecotourism” has gained its bearing in Madhya Pradesh. Ecotourism or ecologically sustainable tourism has been defined as responsible tourism to natural areas that conserves the environment and improves the well being of local communities. Ecotourism also had potential to play an important role in creating environmental as well as cultural awareness amongst all the stakeholders- local communities, tourists, government and the private sector. Bandhavgarh This is a small National Park; compact, yet full of game. The density of the Tiger population at Bandhavgarh is the highest known in India.

Fields at Dindori near Narmada river , Amarkantak

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This is also White Tiger country. These have been found in the old state of Rewa for many years. The last known was captured by Maharajah Martand Singh in 1951. This White Tiger, Mohan, is now stuffed and on display in the palace of the Maharajahs of Rewa.

Tiger at Bandhavgarh National Park

Prior to becoming a National park, the forest around Bandhavgarh had long been maintained as a Shikargah, or game preserve, of the Maharajahs of Rewa. Hunting was carried out by the Maharajahs and their guests - otherwise the wildlife was relatively well-protected. Bhopal The picturesque city of Bhopal, the capital of Madhya Pradesh, is set around a lake and is famous for its archaeological wealth. It is situated on the site of the 11th century city Bhojapal, named after Raja Bhoj. The founder of the existing city was, however, an Afghan soldier, Dost Mohammed. Bhopal today presents a multi-faceted profile - the old city with its teeming market places and fine old palaces and mosques and equally impressive, the new city with it’s verdant, exquisitely laid out parks and gardens, broad avenues and streamlined modern edifices. Shaukat Mahal and Sadar Manzil - Situated at the entrance to the Chowk area in the heart of the walled city, Shaukat Mahal is an architectural curiosity. Its mixture of styles in Occidental idioms sets it apart from the predominantly Islamic architecture of the area. It was designed by a Frenchman, said to be a descendent of an offshoot of the Bourbon Kings of France. Post Renaissance and Gothic styles are combined to charming effect here. Nearby is the elegant once-opulent Sadar Manzil, Hall of Public Audience, of the former rulers of Bhopal. Taj-ul-Masajid - This is one of the largest mosques in Asia, built by Nawab Shahjehan Begum around a courtyard with a large tank in the centre and with an imposing double storeyed gate-way with 4 recessed archways and 9 imposing cusped multifoiled openings in the main prayer hall. The Quibla wall in the prayer hall is carved with 11 recessed arches, while the mimber is made of black basalt. Sanchi The history of Sanchi goes back as early as 3rd century B.C. when Buddhism was at its peak during the reign of the Emperor Ashoka. Sanchi has the singular distinction of having specimens of almost all kinds of Buddhist architectural forms, Stupas, Chaityas, Temples and Monastries and the finest examples of Buddhist creative art and sculpture in the country. The architectural pieces and sculptures displayed here include the Ashoka pillar and images of Buddha and Kushan.

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Gwalior fort

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Sanchi is known for its Stupas, monasteries, temples and pillars dating from the 3rd century B.C. to the 12th century A.D. The most famous of these monuments, the Sanchi Stupa 1, was originally built by the Mauryan Emperor Ashoka, the then governor of Ujjayini, whose wife Devi was the daughter of a merchant from adjacent Vidisha. Their son Mahindra and daughter Sanghamitra were born in Ujjayini and sent to Sri Lanka, where they converted the King, the Queen and their people to Buddhism. Khajurao In the temple architecture of India, the Khajuraho complex remains unique. One thousand years ago, under the generous and artistic patronage of the Chandela Rajput kings of Central India, 85 temples, magnificent in form and richly carved, came up on one site, near the village of Khajuraho. The amazingly short span of 100 years, from 950 AD 1050 AD, saw the completion of all the temples, in an inspired burst of creativity. Today, of the original 85, only 22 have survived the ravages of time; these remain as a collective paean to life, to joy and to creativity; to the ultimate fusion of man with his creator. Omkareshwar Omkareshwar, the sacred island, shaped like the holiest of all Hindu symbols, ‘Om’, has drawn to it hundreds of generations of pilgrims. Here, at the confluence of the rivers Narmada and Kaveri, the devout gather to kneel before the Jyotirlinga (one of the twelve throughout India) at the temple of Shri Omkar Mandhata. And here, as in so many of Madhya Pradesh’s sacred shrines, the works of Nature complement those of man to provide a setting awe-inspiring in its magnificence. Maheshwar Maheshwar was a glorious city at the dawn of Indian civilization when it was Mahishmati, capital of king Kartivarjun. This temple town on the banks of the river Narmada finds mention in the epics of Ramayana and Mahabharata. It was revived to its ancient position of importance by the Holkar queen Rani Ahilyabai of Indore. Maheshwar’s temples and mighty fort-complex stand in quiet beauty, mirrored in the river below.

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Wandoor: driftwood ; Port Blair

Chirya Tapu, Andaman island

Andaman & Nicobar Islands Wandoor Beach,Port Blair

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Cellular Jail now museum, Port Blair

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n Archipelago of 572 islands adrift in the Bay of Bengal, the union territory of Andaman & Nicobar Islands stretches over an area of more than 700 sq. kms. Port Blair and its surroundings offer sightseeing possibilities that interest all. There is history, nature and beauty that will fascinate you.

Coral Island, Andaman

If you love the sight of wispy coconut palms swaying in the breeze… the feel of soft white sand under your bare feet… the flash of birds vivid against the blue sky … the games of the green shadows in the forest… the infinite variety of under water marine life… you enjoy it all when you are in Andamans & Nicobar Islands, also known as Emerald Islands for the breath taking colour of the sea. Neil Island This beautiful island with lush green forest and sandy beaches is the vegetable bowl of Andamans. Connected by boat from Port Blair four days a week, it provides an ideal holiday for eco-friendly tourists. Hawabill (pls check) Nest guesthouse of the Directorate of Tourism is situated here (Tel: 82630). One can feel the sincerity and serenity of village life here. Beautiful beaches at Laxmanpur, Bharatpur, Sitapur and the bridge formation on the seashore (Howra bridge) are the attractions. Long Island Connected by boat four times a week from Phoenix Bay Jetty, this island offers an excellent sandy beach at Lalaji Bay, unpolluted environment and evergreen forests. Dolphin convoys frequent the sea around the island. Lalaji bay, 6 kms. away from the boat jetty, is accessible by 15 minutes journey in dinghies or trekking through the forest. Directorate of Tourism offers island camping during season. Diglipur Situated in North Andaman Island, Diglipur provides a rare experience for eco-friendly tourists. It is famous for its oranges, rice and marine life. Saddle Peak, 732 metres; the highest point in the islands is nearby. Kalpong, the only river of Andaman flows from here. The first hydroelectric project of the islands is coming upon this river. One who comes by road from Port Blair has to take a boat from Mayabunder to Kalighat and from there journey by road to Diglipur (25 kms.), and from there to Kalipur (18 kms.) for viewing, Kalipur and Lamiya bay beaches. Directorate of Tourism provides comfortable accommodation at Turtle Resort, Kalipur. The Water Sports Centre is near by. Those who want to go for trekking to Saddle Peak can collect trekking equipments on hire from Turtle Resort and start trekking from Kalipur. Ram Nagar beach (15 kms. away from Kalighat) is famous for Turtle nesting during December - February season. One

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who comes by boat from Port Blair will reach Aerial bay jetty, which is very near to places like Diglipur and Kalipur. Cellular Jail Cellular Jail, located at Port Blair, stood mute witness to the tortures meted out to the freedom fighters, who were incarcerated in this Jail. The jail, completed in the year 1906 acquired the name, ‘cellular’ because it is entirely made up of individual cells for the solitary confinement of the prisoners. It originally was a seven pronged, puce-coloured building with central tower acting as its fulcrum and a massive structure comprising honeycomb like corridors. The building was subsequently damaged and presently three out of the seven prongs are intact. The Jail, now a place of pilgrimage for all freedom loving people, has been declared a National Memorial. The penal settlement established in Andamans by the British after the First War of Independence in 1857 was the beginning of the agonising story of freedom fighters in the massive and awful jails at Viper Island followed by the Cellular Jail. The patriots who raised their voice against the British Raj were sent to this Jail, where many perished. Netaji Subash Chandra Bose hoisted the tri-colour flag to proclaim Independence on 30th December 1943 at a place near this Jail. Ross Island Ross Island, the erstwhile capital of Port Blair during the British regime, is a tiny island standing as guard to Port Blair

harbour. The island presently houses the ruins of old buildings like the Ballroom, Chief Commissioner’s House, Govt. House, Church, Hospital, Bakery, Press, Swimming Pool and Troop Barracks, all in dilapidated condition, reminiscent of the old British regime. Ever since Dr. James Pattison Walker arrived in Port Blair aboard the East India Company’s steam frigate ‘Senuramis’ on 10th March 1858, this island remained under British occupation till 1942. From 1942 to 1945, the island was under the occupation of Japanese. However, the allies reoccupied the island in 1945 and later abandoned it. During British occupation, this island was the seat of power of the Britishers. It was developed into a self-equipped township with all facilities required for a civilized colony. Dr. Walker, Chairman of the Andaman Committee, established the infamous and the dreaded Penal Settlement with 200 convicts. The Britishers even persuaded the indigenous people to come and live in some huts at Ross Island and even established an Andaman Home for them in 1863. Later on the services of these Andamanese were used to catch the escaping convicts from Ross Island.The island with historical background and preserved ruins is spread along an area of 0.6 sq. kms. With the ruins and also with the historical background, the Island has gained a lot of popularity among the tourists. Viper Island The tiny, serene, beautiful island of Viper witnessed the untold sufferings the freedom fighters had to undergo.

Phoenix Bay Jetty , Port Blair

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Sunrise in Andaman island

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Dangerous convicts found guilty of violating the rules of the Penal Settlement, were put in fetters and were forced to work with their fetters on in this island. Freedom fighters like Nanigopal and Nandlal Pulindas, who had resorted to hunger strike at the Cellular Jail, were imprisoned at Viper Island. The jail at Viper, where prisoners deported from the mainland were confined, was built by the British under the supervision of Major Fort. Work on the prison was started in 1867. Owing to the working conditions, the jail earned the notorious name Viper Chain Gang Jail. The island derives its name from the vessel ‘Viper’ in which Lt. Archibald Blair came to the islands in 1768 with the purpose of establishing a Penal Settlement. The vessel, it is believed, met with an accident and its wreckage was abandoned near the island. Gallows built on top of a hillock, visible to all prisoners in the island, signified death. Sher Ali, the Pathan, guilty of assassinating Lord Mayo, was condemned to death and hanged at Viper Island. Corbyn’s Cove Tourism Complex One of the most picturesque sea-beaches, it is ideal for sea bathing and sun-basking. The Waves Restaurant, The Peerless Resort nearby and the Hornbill Nest Guest House at a stone’s throw, provide a kaleidoscopic view of the blue waterfront. Chidiya Tapu Chidiya Tapu is the southern most tip of South Andaman. The lush green mangroves, forest cover with numerous chirping birds and the Sylvan Sands and Munda pahar beaches make it an ideal picnic site. The forest guesthouse situated on top of a hillock provides a fabulous view of isolated islands, submerged corals and the breath-taking sunset. Conducted tours are available from Andaman Teal House, Port Blair. Mount Harriet The summer headquarters of the Chief Commissioner during British Raj, this place is an ideal for a nice and fascinating over view of the outer islands and the sea. It is the highest peak in the South Andamans (365 metres high). One can trek upto Madhuban through a nature trail and can find rare endemic birds, animals and butterflies. Conducted tours to Mt. Harriet are available from Andaman Teal House.

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Evergreen vally at Cherrapunjee near Shillong, Meghalaya

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Loktak lake near Imphal, Manipur

Jaintia Hills, Meghalaya

North East India Saugetsar lake, Tawang, Arunachal Pradesh

One Horned Rhinoceros, Kaziranga National Park, Assam March 2010

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Gangalake, Itanagar, Arunachal Pradesh

Arunachal Pradesh Arunachal Pradesh, one of the most sparsely populated states of India, covers an area of 83743 sq. Kms. This region acquired an independent political status in January 20, 1972, when it was declared as Union Territory under the name of Arunachal Pradesh. The state of Arunachal Pradesh Bill was passed by the Parliament in 1986 and with effect from February 20, 1987 Arunachal Pradesh became the 24th state of Indian Union. Arunachal Pradesh is bordered by China in the north, Bhutan in the west, Myanmar (Burma) in the east and shares its boundaries to the south with Assam and Nagaland. Arunachal finds mention in the literature of Kalika Purana and Mahabharata. This place is supposed to be the Prabhu Mountains of the Puranas. It was here that the sage Parashuram washed away his sins, sage Vyasa meditated, king Bhismaka founded his kingdom and lord Krishna married his consort Rukmini. Out of about a thousand species of orchids in India, over 500 are found in Arunachal alone. These are colourful, spectacular and some bear exotic names such as Sita-Pushpa and Draupadi-Pushpa believed to have been worn by Sita and Draupadi. Flora and Fauna Out of about a thousand species of orchids in India, over 500 are found in Arunachal alone. These are colourful, spectacular and some bear exotic names such as Sita-Pushpa and Draupadi-Pushpa believed to have been worn by Sita and Draupadi. Some of the orchids are rare and classified as endangered. Arunachal Pradesh Forest Development Corporation has established an Orchid Research and Development Station at Tipi in West Kameng district for propagation and conservation of these species. In addition to Orchidarium at Tipi, two orchid conservation sanctuaries have been established at Sessa and Dirang respectively. The wildlife is equally rich and varied. Elephants and Tigers abound, especially in the grassy foothills and leopard and jungle cats are quite common. The white gibbon is found in Tirap and Lohit district and red pandas and musk in the higher ranges. The ‘Mithun’ (Bos Forntails) exists both in wild and semi domesticated form. Traditionally, the Mithun has been a unit of wealth and is allowed to move freely in the jungle till it is either used for food on festive occasions, marriage or for barter. Birds found in the state are the great Indian Hornbill, Wood Duck, Green Pigeon etc.

Assam Assam is a state of breath taking scenic beauty, rarest flora and fauna, lofty green hills, vast rolling plain, mighty waterways and a land of fairs and festivals. 162

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The ancient name of Assam was Pragjyotishpur. However, during the time of the Ahom conquest, Pragjyotishpur was known as Kamrup. In ancient Sanskrit literature, both the names Pragjyotishpur and Kamrup were used as a designation for ancient Assam. In 1228, the Ahoms, Shan tribe from North Thailand entered and defeated the Kamrup ruler and established a kingdom, which came to be known as Assam with its capital at Sivasagar (Sibsagar). Most probably, the modern name Assam comes from Ahoms, the dynasty that ruled from the 13th to early 19th Century. The ancient name Kamrup, is today confined to only a district of Assam.

Neermahal palace in Rudrasagar lake near Agartala, Tripura

Kaziranga National Park In the heart of Assam, located on the banks of the mighty Brahamputra River, this park is one of the last areas in eastern India undisturbed by a human presence. It is inhabited by the world’s largest population of one-horned rhinoceroses, as well as many mammals, including tigers, elephants, panthers and bears, and thousands of birds. With Open country covered mostly with elephant grass, Kaziranga gives visitors a chance to see the fauna at fairly close quarters. The park is famous for Indian one horned rhinoceros, which can reach a height of over two metres and weigh more than two tonnes. The area was declared a game reserve in 1908 to save the one-horned rhino. The total number of rhinoceros in the park totals more than a thousand which is 70 percent of the total population of this species in the country.

Manipur Manipur literally meaning “A jeweled land” nestle deep within a lush green corner of North East India. It seems much like an exquisite work of art executed by superb hands of Nature and is indeed a state of exquisite natural beauty and splendors, the beauty of which once inspired Mrs. St. Clair Grimwood described it as “ A Pretty Place more beautiful than many show places of the world” Late Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru paid a fitting tribute by describing it as “Jewel of India”. Surrounded by blue hills with an oval shaped valley at the centre, rich in art and tradition and surcharged with nature’s pristine glory. Manipur lies on a melting pot of culture. It is birth place of Polo. This is the place where Rajashree Bhagyachandra created the famous Ras Lila, the classical dance of Manipur, out of his enchanting dream by the grace of Lord Krishna. Flora and Fauna The wet forests, the temperate forest and the pine forests occur between 900-2700 metres above sea level and they together sustain a host of rare and endemic plant and ani-

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Catholic cathedral, Kohima, Nagaland

mal life. There are around 500 varieties of orchids which grow in Manipur of which 472 have so far been identified. Hoolock gibbon, Slow loris, Clouded leopard, Mrs. Hume’s Barebacked pheasant, Blyth’s Tragopan, Hornbills etc. form only a part of the natural heritage of Manipur. However, the most unique is the “Sangai”, the dancing deer. The floating mass of vegetation on the Loktak Lake sustains small herds of this endemic deer which is the most threatened species in the world.

Meghalaya Tucked away in the hills of eastern sub-Himalayas is Meghalaya, one of the most beautiful state in the country. Nature has blessed her with abundant rainfall, sun-shine, virgin forests, high plateaus, tumbling waterfalls, crystal clear rivers, meandering streamlets and above all with sturdy, intelligent and hospitable people. The State of Meghalaya is situated on the north east of India. It extends for about 300 kilometres in length and about 100 kilometres in breadth. It is bounded on the north by Goalpara, Kamrup and Nowgong districts, on the east by Karbi Anglong and North Cachar Hills districts, all of Assam, and on the south and west by Bangladesh. Mawphlang Sacred Forest One of the most remarkable features of the Khasi Hills is the sacred forests, which have been preserved by traditional religious sanction, since the ancient days. One of the most famous sacred forests is the Mawphlang Sacred Forest, about 25 kilometres from Shillong. The sacred grove has an amazing life form of plants, flowering trees, orchids and butterflies- an ideal destination for nature lovers.

Mizoram Mizoram is located in the northeastern part of India. It is bound by Assam and Manipur in the north, Myanmar in the east and south and Tripura and Bangladesh in the west. The Tropic of Cancer passes through the middle of Mizoram and therefore the climate of this area is neither very cold in winter nor very hot in summer. The average winter temperature ranges between 11 and 21 degree Celsius. The summer temperature ranges between 20 and 30 degree Celsius. Murlen National Park The Murlen National Park is one of the best National Parks of Mizoram. It is situated about 245 km east of Aizawl. This park lies close to the Indo-Myanmar and is significant because of its proximity to the Chin Hills. It covers an area of approximately 100 sq. km.

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Mosmai falls, Cherrapunji, Meghalaya

The Tropical, Semi evergreeen and Sub montane Forests of Murlen are home to a rich variety of Flora and Fauna. About 15 species of mammals, 150 species of birds, 35 species of Medicinal plants, 2 species of bamboos & 4 species of orchids so far have been recorded in this Park.

Nagaland Nagaland is bound by Arunachal Pradesh and parts of Assam in the North; Manipur in the South; Myanmar (Burma) on the East and Assam in the West. 16 major tribes along with other sub-tribes inhabit the State. Each of the sixteen odd tribes and sub-tribes have their own languages, customs and traditions and they can easily be distinguished by their colourful dresses, ornaments and beads that they wear. The traditional ceremonial attire of each tribe is very colourful and attractive. Every year, the Department of Tourism, Government of Nagaland organizes The Hornbill Festival of Nagaland in Kohima during first week of December. Almost all tribes of Nagaland dressed in their traditional and colourful attire including spears and daos etc. participate in this festival. On sale at the festival ground are handloom and handicrafts items, flowers and plants, ornaments, beads, jewellery etc.

Tripura Tripura is a tiny state in the North-East of the country. It has extensive international border with Bangladesh and, in fact, 85% of its perimeter is international border with rest being common boundary with Assam and Mizoram to the east. There is a common belief that the name of the state has originated from the presiding deity ‘TRIPURA SUNDARI’. Another theory is that the name of the state was originally ‘TUIPRA’ – meaning a land adjoining water. Once upon a time Tripura extended upto the Bay of Bengal when its ruler held from Garo Hill to Arakan. Sepahijala Wildlife Sanctuary This Sanctuary lies to the west of Tripura and it is about 35 km from Agartala. It covers an area of about 18.53 sq. km and is famous for birds and primates. There are around 150 species of birds and five species of primates. The crabeating mongoose last sighted 72 years ago has since been discovered again in this sanctuary. The spectacled monkey is another attraction in the sanctuary. Trishna Wildlife Sanctuary About 100 km from Agartala and 18 km away from the sub-divisional town of Belonia, this sanctuary covers an area of 197.7 sq. km. Wild animals found here are the capped langur, hoolock gibbon, deer, golden langur and many other animals and reptiles. The Indian bison (Gaur) is the main attraction in this sanctuary. March 2010

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Rashtrapati Bhavan

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Humayun's Tomb

Jantar Mantar

New Delhi Jama Masjid, Old Delhi

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Bahai Lotus Temple, New Delhi

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ew Delhi, the capital and the third largest city of India is a fusion of the ancient and the modern. Standing along the West End of Gangetic Plain, the capital city, Delhi, unwinds a picture rich with culture, architecture and human diversity, deep in history, monuments, museums, galleries, gardens and exotic shows. Comprising of two contrasting yet harmonious parts, the Old Delhi and New Delhi, the city is a travel hub of Northern India.

Akshardham Temple A mega temple complex, one of the biggest and most intricate places of worship ever constructed, is drawing hordes of visitors and seems set to become a major tourist attraction. It is widely being heralded as one of the greatest monuments India has ever produced. Swaminarayan Akshardham reflects the essence and magnitude of India’s ancient architecture, traditions and timeless spirituality.

Delhi blends an historic past and a vibrant present. Delhi has some of the finest museums in the country. Legend has it that the Pandavas, the august heroes of the epic Mahabharata, originally founded Delhi, then called Indraprastha, around 1200 B.C. Present day Delhi is built around the ruins of seven ancient cities.

The main monument, depicting ancient Indian “vastu shastra” and architecture, is a marvel in pink sandstone and white marble that is 141 feet high, 316 feet wide and 370 feet long with 234 ornate pillars, over 20,000 sculptures and statues of deities, eleven 72-foot-high huge domes (mandapams) and decorative arches. And like a necklace, a double-storied parikrama of red sandstone encircles the monuments with over 155 small domes and 1,160 pillars. The whole monument rises on the shoulders of 148 huge elephants with 11-feet tall panchdhatu statue of Swaminarayan presiding over the structure.

Delhi- the commercial hub has many tourist attractions to offer. Visit vibrant shopping complex of Connaught Place, Delhi Haat for handicraft goods and delicious food bonanza. Pay a visit to Red Fort and Qutub Minar to view the excellence of Mughal architecture. Delhi - a canvas that reflects the complexities, contradictions, beauty and dynamism of a city where the past coexist with the present. Many dynasties ruled from here and the city is rich in the architecture of its monuments. Diverse cultural elements absorbed into the daily life of city have enriched its character. Exploring the city can be a fascinating and rewarding experience.

The other attractions of the complex are three exhibition halls spaced around two huge ponds, where one is a venue for light-and-sound show. The three halls are “Sahajanand Darshan”, “Neelkanth Darsdhan” and “Sanskruti Vihar”. “Sahajanand Darshan” is where life of Swaminarayan is displayed through robotic shows, while “Neelkanth Darsdhan” has a huge I-Max theatre screening movie based on the life of the Lord. Another amazing presentation is “Sanskruti Vihar” with 12-minute boat ride experience of India’s glorious heritage.

Quila-I-Kuhna Masjid, Sher Shah, Purana Qila, 1538 A.D

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Qutb Minar

Azad Hind Gram Azad Hind Gram Tourist Complex at Tikri Kalan is a project developed by Delhi Tourism to honour Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose and to create quality leisure space and wayside amenities for the citizens. Located within two kilometres of the Delhi Haryana border on NH-10, the architecture of the project is inspired by the language of North Indian architecture and the traditions of Indian craftsmanship. The elaborate mosaic domes surrounding the museum and the memorial are the focus of the complex which offers the facilities of extensive plazas, an amphitheatre, tourist information centre, souvenir and garden shop, food kiosks, a restaurant, public toilets, drinking water, public telephone and convention facilities. Bahai Temple East of Nehru place, this temple is built in the shape of a lotus flower and is the last of seven Major Bahai’s temples built around the world. Completed in1986 it is set among the lust landscaped gardens. The structure is made up of pure white marble; the architect Furiburz Sabha chose the lotus as the symbol common to Hinduism, Buddhism, Jainism and Islam. Adherents of any faith are free to visit the temple and pray or meditate. Around the blooming petals there are nine pools of water, which light up, in natural light. It looks spectacular at dusk when it is flood lit. Dilli Haat “Haat” is a market place, and the delightful Dilli Haat and Craft Bazaar , situated in the heart of Delhi, offers a single point glimpse of the traditional weekly market in villages, complete with crafts, food and cultural activities. In doing so, it becomes a microcosm of the rural experience for an urban audience. Imaginative landscaping and traditional architectural styles combine to create a charming ambience across the six acre area of 65 stalls, where craftsmen, NGOs and artisans come and go on a rotational basis. No visit to Dilli Haat is quite like any other visit – each time there are new artefacts to see and purchase, new cultural performances to watch, and new gastronomic delights to savour – the food court is the venue for many a regional food festival, serving up a range of ethnic cuisines, hygienically prepared. Garden of Five Senses The Garden of Five Senses is not just a park; it is a space with a variety of activities, inviting public interaction and exploration. The project, developed by Delhi Tourism Transportation Development Corporation, was conceptualized to answer to the city’s need for leisure space for the public,

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Red Fort

for people to socialize and unwind. Such spaces add atmosphere and life to a city and cater to all sections of the society. The twenty-acre site, located at Said-Ul-Azaib village, close to the Mehrauli heritage area in New Delhi, is spectacular area in New Delhi, is spectacular. The Garden was inaugurated in February 2003. Majestic rocks stand silhouetted against the sky, others lie strewn upon the ground in a casual yet alluring display of nature’s sculptural genius. It was the ideal ground on which to realize the concept of a public leisure space that would awaken a sensory response and thereby a sensitivity to the environment. India Gate At the centre of New Delhi stands the 42 m high India Gate, an “Arc-de-Triomphe” like archway in the middle of a crossroad. Almost similar to its French counterpart, it commemorates the 70,000 Indian soldiers who lost their lives fighting for the British Army during the World War I. The memorial bears the names of more than 13,516 British and Indian soldiers killed in the Northwestern Frontier in the Afghan war of 1919. During nightfall, India Gate is dramatically floodlit while the fountains nearby make a lovely display with coloured lights. India Gate stands at one end of Rajpath, and the area surrounding it is generally referred to as ‘India Gate’. Surrounding the imposing structure is a large expanse of lush green lawns, which is a popular picnic spot. One can see hoards of people moving about the brightly lit area and on the lawns on summer evenings. Jama Masjid This great mosque of Old Delhi is the largest in India, with a courtyard capable of holding 25,000 devotees. It was begun in 1644 and ended up being the final architectural extravagance of Shah Jahan, the Mughal emperor who built the Taj Mahal and the Red Fort. The highly decorative mosque has three great gates, four towers and two 40 m-high minarets constructed of strips of red sandstone and white marble. Travellers can hire robes at the northern gate. This may be the only time you get to dress like a local without feeling like an outsider, so make the most of it. Old Fort One does not have to go far to see the old fort or Purana Quila standing stoically amidst wild greenery. Built on the site of the most ancient of the numerous cities of Delhi, Indraprastha, Purana Quila is roughly rectangular in shape having a circuit of nearly two kilometres. The thick ramparts crowned by merlons have three gateways provided with bastions on either side. It was surrounded by a wide moat, connected to river Yamuna, which used to

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flow on the east of the fort. The northern gate way, called the Talaqui darwaza or the forbidden gateway, combines the typically Isalmic pointed arch with Hindu Chhatris and brackets; whereas the southern gateway called the Humayun Darwaza also had a similar plan.

Sher Mandal Library, Purana Qila, 1538 A.D.

The massive gateway and walls of Purana Quila were built by Humayun who laid his new capital Dinpanah in 1534 A.D. Sher Shah who defeated Humayun in1540 A.D. built a few buildings in the complex. Purana Quila is the venue for the spectacular sound and light show held every evening Qutub Minar Qutab Minar is a soaring, 73 m-high tower of victory, built in 1193 by Qutab-ud-din Aibak immediately after the defeat of Delhi’s last Hindu kingdom. The tower has five distinct storeys, each marked by a projecting balcony and tapers from a 15 m diameter at the base to just 2.5 m at the top. The first three storeys are made of red sandstone; the fourth and fifth storeys are of marble and sandstone. At the foot of the tower is the Quwwat-ul-Islam Mosque, the first mosque to be built in India. The magnificent tower is not only one of the finest monuments in India, but also in the world. Qutab-ud-din Aibak, the first Muslim ruler of Delhi, commenced the construction of the Qutab Minar in 1200 AD, but could only finish the basement. His successor, Iltutmush, added three more storeys, and in 1368, Firoz Shah Tughlak constructed the fifth and the last storey. Red Fort The red sandstone walls of the massive Red Fort (Lal Qila) rise 33-m above the clamour of Old Delhi as a reminder of the magnificent power and pomp of the Mughal emperors. The walls, built in 1638, were designed to keep out invaders, now they mainly keep out the noise and confusion of the city. The main gate, Lahore Gate, is one of the emotional and symbolic focal points of the modern Indian nation and attracts a major crowd each Independence Day. The vaulted arcade of Chatta Chowk, a bazaar selling tourist trinkets, leads into the huge fort compound. Inside is a veritable treasure trove of buildings, including the Drum House, the Hall of Public Audiences, the white marble Hall of Private Audiences, the Pearl Mosque, Royal Baths and Palace of Colour.

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Madan Mohan temple in Brindavan

Sandalwood statues of Buddha in Horinji Japanese temple, Sarnath

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A Buddhist monk walks in the ruins of Sarnath March 2010

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“I had been to other countries - in Europe, Asia and the Middle East - but none of them had provided even half as much variety, or so much to see and experience and remember, as this one State in northern India. You can travel from one end of Australia to the other, but everywhere on that vast continent you will find that people dress in the same way, eat the same kind of food, listen to the same music. This colourless uniformity is apparent in many other countries of the world, both East and West. But Uttar Pradesh is a world in itself.�- Ruskin Bond.

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ttar Pradesh is the rainbow land where the multihued Indian Culture has blossomed from times im memorial. Blessed with a variety of geographical topographies and many cultural diversities, Uttar Pradesh, has been the hub of activity of historical and religious heroes like - Rama, Krishna, Buddha, Mahavira, Ashoka, Harsha, Akbar and Mahatma Gandhi. Rich and tranquil expanses of meadows, perennial rivers, dense forests and fertile soil of Uttar Pradesh have contributed numerous golden chapters to the annals of Indian History. Dotted with various holy shrines and pilgrimage places, full of joyous festivals, it plays an important role in the politics, education, culture, industry, agriculture and tourism of India. Garlanded by the Ganga and Yamuna, the two pious rivers of Indian mythology, Uttar Pradesh is surrounded by Bihar in the East, Madhya Pradesh in the South, Rajasthan, Delhi, Himachal Pradesh and Haryana in the west and Uttaranchal in the north and Nepal touch the northern borders of Uttar Pradesh, it assumes strategic importance for Indian defence.

Lucknow Lucknow, the capital of Uttar Pradesh, extends along the banks of the River Gomti. The creator of Lucknow as it is today was Nawab Asaf ud Daula. The city became known as a centre for Urdu poetry and courtly diction, and reached its zenith during the reign of Wajid Ali Shah who was a connoisseur of music and poetry. It was during his reign that the British appropriated Awadh. Today, the city is dotted with remnants of its rich historic past. Hussainabad Imambara - Near the Rumi Darwaza, this structure houses the tombs of Muhammad Ali Shah, its builder, and of his mother. Built between 1837 and 1842, it is also called the Chhota Imambara. It is approached through a fine garden. The Imambara has a white dome and numerous turrets and minarets. The walls of the mausoleum are decorated with verses in Arabic. Chandeliers, gilded mirrors, colorful stucco, the King’s throne and ornate tazia or replicas of the tombs at Karbala adorn the interior. Asafi Imambara - Also known as the Bara Imambara, it was built by Nawab Asaf-ud-Daula in 1784 and is one of the architectural highlights of the era. The central hall is said to be the largest vaulted chamber in the world. Except for the galleries in the interior, there is no woodwork used in the structure. A staircase from outside leads to a series of labyrinths which visitors are advised to visit only with authorized guides. Within the compound of the Imambara is a grand Asafi mosque.

People driving on road near old house at Kanpur

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Shah Najaf Imambara - This white-domed structure derives its name from the town of Najaf, about 200 km south of Baghdad where the saint Hazrat Ali is buries. It is situated on the right bank of the Gomti; in this mausoleum are buried the remains of Ghazi-ud-din Haider and his wives, including Mubarak Mahal, his European wife. The entrance leads to a beautiful garden. The silver tomb of Ghazi-uddin Haider lies in the centre of the building and is flanked by the more imposing silver and gold tomb of Mubarak Mahal on one side, and another tomb on the other.

Buland Darwaza, Fatehpur Sikri, Agra

Agra A pleasant town with comparatively slow pace, Agra is known for its superb inlay work on marble by craftsmen supposedly the descendants of those who worked under the Mughals on the Taj. The city is also famous for its carpets, gold thread embroidery and leather shoes. Agra was once the capital of the Mughal Empire and even today it seems to linger in the past. Not surprising, for the Mughal emperors with their passion for building, endowed the city with some of the finest structures in the world. It is very easy to slip away here through the centuries into the grandeur and intrigues of the Mughal court. Agra is an old city and it is said that its name was derived from Agrabana, a forest that finds mention in the epic Mahabharata. In more recent times Agra came into prominence when Sikandar Lodhi made it his capital city in 1501. The Lodi rule was to end very soon and Agra passed into the possession of the Mughals. It was during the time of the third emperor Akbar that Agra came into its own. He embarked on the construction of the massive Agra Fort in 1565, though he was diverted into building a new capital at Fatehpur Sikri not far away. Taj Mahal - Taj Mahal is sheer poetry in marble; majesty and magnificence, unrivalled. The Taj Mahal is the one and only one of its kind across the world - the monumental labour of love of a great ruler for his beloved queen - the ultimate realisation of Emperor Shah Jehan’s dream. From 1631 A.D., it took 22 years in the making. An estimated 20,000 people worked to complete the enchanting mausoleum, on the banks of the Yamuna. For a breathtaking beautiful view of the Taj Mahal, see it by moonlight. The Agra Fort - The great Mughal Emperor Akbar commissioned the construction of the Agra Fort in 1565, A.D. although additions were made till the time of his grandson Shah Jehan. The forbidding exteriors of this fort hide an inner paradise. There are a number of exquisite buildings like Moti Masjid - a white marble mosque akin to a perfect pearl; Diwan-I- Am, Diwan-I-Khaas, Musamman Burj - where Shah Jehan died in 1666 A.D.

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Fateh Pur Sikri Fatehpur Sikri is built in red sandstone, and is a beautiful blend of Hindu and Islamic architectural elements. The sandstone is richly ornamented with carving and fretwork. Fatehpur Sikri was abandoned 14 years after its creation. A shortage of water is believed to be the reason. Today it is a ghost city, its architecture is in a perfect state of preservation, and wandering through the palaces it is easy to imagine that this was once a royal residence and a dynamic cultural centre. Varanasi Varanasi is one of the oldest living cities in the world. Many names have been given to Varanasi, though its recently revived official appellation is mentioned in the Mahabharata and in the Jataka tales of Buddhism. It probably derives from the two rivers that flank the city, the Varana to the north and the Asi to the south. Many still use the anglicized forms of Banaras or Benares, while pilgrims refer to it Kashi, first used three thousand years ago to describe the kingdom and the city outside which the Buddha preached his first sermon; the “City of Light” is also called Kashika, “the shining one”, referring to the light of Shiva. Another epithet, Avimukta, meaning “Never Forsaken”, refers to the city that Shiva never deserted, or that one should never leave. Further alternatives include Anandavana, the “forest of bliss”, and Rudravasa, the place where Shiva (Rudra) resides. The land around Varanasi is also held sacred since Shiva is believed to have lived here. There are thousands of temples at Varanasi dedicated to different gods and goddesses, particularly to the deities of good fortune and prosperity-and to the sun and the planets. The most important are those that honor the diverse manifestations and attributes of Shiva. The major shrine at Varanasi is the Vishvanatha Temple, devoted to Shiva, the Lord of the Universe. The Kashi Vishwanath Temple - Also known as the Golden Temple, it is dedicated to Lord Shiva, the presiding deity of the city. Varanasi is said to be the point at which the first jyotirlinga, the fiery pillar of light by which Shiva manifested his supremacy over other gods, broke through the earth’s crust and flared towards the heavens. More than the Ghats and even the Ganga, the Shivalinga installed in the temple remains the devotional focus of Varanasi. Entry restricted for foreigners.

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The Howrah Bridge

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Victoria Momorial

Lone Tree at Sundarbans

West Bengal Vidyasagar Setu

Ramakrishna Temple, Belur math, calcutta

Elderly woman with prayer beads in Ladakh March 2010

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West Bengal was created as a constituent state of the Indian union on 15th August 1947 as the result of partition of the undivided British Indian province of Bengal into West Bengal. West Bengal covers the bottleneck of India in the east, stretching from Himalayas in the north to the Bay of Bengal in the south. It is bounded on the north by Sikkim and Bhutan, on the east by Assam and Bangladesh; on the south by the Bay of Bengal and on the west by Orissa, Bihar and Nepal. It has therefore, three international frontiers-to the north, east and west. West Bengal is rich in flora and fauna and has a diverse ecosystem because of its varying terrain from the high altitudes to the sea level plains. Protected forests cover 4% of the state area. There are 15 Wildlife Sanctuaries, 5 National Parks and 2 Tiger Reserves. The Sunderban, in south Bengal, is home to the famous Tiger Project - a conservatory effort to save the Bengal tigers from extinction. It is an UNESCO world heritage site. Another similar project exists in Buxa in north Bengal. Wildlife includes the Indian one horned rhinoceros, Indian elephants, deer, bison, leopards, gaur, crocodiles and others. The state is also rich in bird life. Migratory birds come to the state during the winter months. Kolkata The City of Kolkata was founded 300 years ago out of 3 villages namely Sutanati, Gobindapur and Kolikata. The city

was once the capital of British India, the capital of undivided Bengal and now is the capital of West Bengal since Independence. Kolkata, on the east bank of river Hooghly, retains the aura of days long gone, weaving the past and the present, the intense and the fun loving into a charming fabric. Home to four Nobel laureates - Ronald Ross, Rabindranath Tagore, Mother Teresa and Amartya Sen, Kolkata is the nerve centre of intellect and human values, where many modern movements began in art, cinema and theatre, science and industry. India’s quest for freedom began here. Kolkata is the gateway to Eastern India; a city with a rich heritage, bustling streets and bewildering variety of facets. From October to March, Kolkata wears a radiant look. Sunshine, mild winter, lights, colours, fairs, festivals, galas and excursions, the mood is infectious and spirit sweeping. Victoria Memorial - This is one of India’s most beautiful monuments built between 1906 and 1921 on the lines of white marble. It stands on the southern side of the maidan (ground) near Jawaharlal Nehru Road. All monuments of this memorial were designed in Italian Renaissance-Mughal style and build of white marble from Rajasthan. The memorial was the inspiration of Lord Curzon, who in 1901, felt that his lately departed Queen Empress, required a suitable monument to her memory. It took 20 years to build at a cost

Victoria Memorial

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of 10 million rupees. The Prince of Wales formally inaugurated it in 1921. Set in beautiful garden grounds, the Victoria Memorial houses a large bronze statue of the Queen Empress Topped with a moving angel this memorial faces the Kolkata Maidan. The statues of Motherhood, Prudence, Learning, Art, Justice, Architecture and Charity are brought from Italy. Howrah Bridge - It is considered to be an engineering marvel, which took six years to construct in the 1940s. Over 2,590 metric tonnes of high tensile steel make up this unique cantilever bridge that joins the main Railway Station (for Kolkata) and the industrial city of Howrah with the city of Kolkata. Supported by two piers, each nearly 90 meters in height above the road level, the bridge has a span of almost 500 meters (no pillars in the middle). It was opened in 1943 and today it is one of the busiest bridges in the world. It is the third largest bridge in the world, has around 2 million people crossing over it daily. Visible from many places in Kolkata, the bridge is called ‘Rabindra Setu’. Santiniketan - Santiniketan was founded by Maharshi Debendranath Tagore, the father of Rabindranath Tagore. In 1901 Rabindranath Tagore started an experimental place of learning with a ‘class room’ under the trees, and a group of five pupils. This classroom that he started later became the ‘Vishva Bharati University in 1921. This university attracts pupil from all over the world and aspires to be a spiritual meeting ground in a serene environment. It has the faculties in all major disciplines like humanities, agriculture, cottage industries, Indian Music and Drama, performing arts, Philosophy, Sanskrit and art. An interesting feature of this university is that the sculptures, paintings, murals and frescoes are found around the campus. It has the paintings of Rabindranath and Nandalal Bose and sculptures of Ramkinkar. Darjeeling Darjeeling is one of the most magnificent hill resorts in the world. This heavenly retreat is bathed in hues of every shade. The flaming red rhododendrons, the sparkling white magnolias, the miles of undulating hillsides covered with emerald green tea bushes, the exotic forests of silver fir - all under the blanket of a brilliant azure sky dappled with specks of clouds, compellingly confounds Darjeeling as the Queen Of Hill Stations. Tiger Hill - Situated at an altitude of 2590 metres (8482 ft.) and 13 kms from the town, this spot has earned international fame for the magnificent view of the sunrise over “Kanchenjunga” and the great Eastern Himalayan Mountains. Even Mount Everest, the world’s highest peak, is visible from here. Batasia Loop - About 5 kms from Darjeeling, this Railway

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Goddess Durga’s immersion 181


Human pyramid during Janmashtami in Mumbai

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Ajanta Caves

Three headed God Shiva , Elephanta Caves

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People shopping for Diwali Festival at Dadar March 2010

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ocated in the northern center of peninsular India, Maharashtra is surrounded by the Arabian sea in the west, Gujarat and Madhya Pradesh on the north, Madhya Pradesh in the east and Karnataka and Andhra Pradesh on the south. Mumbai is the capital of Maharashtra, which derives its name from the Goddess Mumba Devi.

Boats waiting at murud janjira fort, alibagh

Standing as silent sentinels to history are the 350-odd forts of Maharashtra. Beaten by the sea waves, lashed at by the torrential Deccan rains, and scorched in the blazing sun, these monuments of history still stand; the last lingering memories of Maharashtra’s martial times. Nowhere in the country would you encounter such a profusion of forts. Sited on an island, as at Murud-Janjira or guarding the seas as at Bassein, or among the Sahyadri hills, as at Raigad; most of the forts in Maharashtra whether up in the hills or near the seas are associated with Shivaji —the great Maratha warrior. Moreover, these forts were treated as mini-cities, such as Panhala, which is now a hill station. Ajanta and Ellora Ajanta and Ellora are the pride of Maharashtra. The rockcut caves of both these sites are world famous and illustrate the degree of skill and artistry that Indian craftsmen had achieved several hundred years ago. Ajanta dates from 100 B.C. while Ellora is younger by some 600 years. The village of Ajanta is in the Sahyadri hills, about 99 kms. From Aurangabad; a few miles away in a mammoth horseshoeformed rock, are 30 caves overlooking a gorge, ‘each forming a room in the hill and some with inner rooms. Al these have been carved out of solid rock with little more than a hammer and chisel and the faith and inspiration of Buddhism. Here, for the Buddhist monks, the artisans excavated Chaityas (chapels) for prayer and Viharas (monasteries) where they lived and taught. Many of the caves have the most exquisite detailed carvings on the walls, pillars and entrances as well as magnificent wall paintings. Elephanta Caves 9 nautical miles across the sea from the Gateway of India lay Elephanta, also known as ‘Gharapuri’. Visit this green island for the wonders of the 7th century, the painstakingly hewn rock-cut cave temple, dedicated to Shiva. The Maheshamurti panel in which Shiva is shown as a creator, protector and destroyer, is a sight that should be enjoyed at least once in a lifetime. Regular excursions to Elephanta start every day from the Gateway of India. Ganapatipule Ganapatipule is one of the most spectacular beaches along the Konkan Coast – an idyllic getaway that attracts peaceseekers, beach lovers, and pilgrims alike.

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The temple of Swayambhu (self-originated) Ganesh is much frequented by thousands every year. The God is considered to be the Paschim Dwardevta (Western Sentinel God of India), and those who visit Ganapatipule, make it a point to pay their respects to this great deity.

Misty landscape with waterfall, Malshej ghat

Aside from its clean beach and clear waters, Ganapatipule is rich in flora, including mangroves and coconut palms. Here, you can leave the hectic world behind as you laze around on golden sands or explore the many trails that lead from the beach. Mahabaleshwar Soaring peaks, breathtaking valleys, lush flora, cool, crisp mountain air - this is Mahabaleshwar, Maharashtra’s most popular hill station, and once the summer capital of the Bombay Presidency during the British Raj. Mahabaleshwar means ‘God of Great Power’ in Sanskrit. Indeed, the place is great and bountiful, rewarding the visitor with a mix of old-world charm, natural beauty and modernity. Mahabaleshwar is known for its numerous sightseeing points, each providing a unique perspective of the majestic hill range. En route to Babington Point is Dhom dam, which is a good place to take a break. Or one could visit Old Mahabaleshwar and the famous Panchganga Mandir, which is said to contain the springs of five rivers: Koyna, Venna, Savitri, Gayatri and the sacred Krishna River. There’s also the Mahabaleshwar Mandir, revered for its Swayambhu Lingam. Pench National Park The Pench National Park and Tiger Reserve extends over an area of 257 sq. km. in the lower southern reaches of the Satpura hill ranges, along the northern boundary of Nagpur District. It was declared a National Park by the Government of Maharashtra in 1975 and received the official status of “Tiger Reserve of India” in February 1999. Mumbai Pulsating, Alive, On the Move, Vibrant, Fun — this is Mumbai or as it is still frequently referred to — Bombay. The most modern city in India, it captures the spirit of the changing pace set by liberalization and modernisation. Once a cluster of seven islands, Mumbai was presented to King Charles II in 1661 as part of the dowry, when he married Princess Catherine de Braganza of Portugal. Nashik Proximity to many holy temples and sites including the famous pilgrimage centre of Shirdi and a long tryst with India’s sacred past, has made Nashik a confluence for the spiritually enlightened. Mythology has it that Rama, the king of Ayodhya, made Nashik his temporary abode during the 14 years of his exile. March 2010

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Stone Chariot Garuda, Vithala Temple, Hampi 186

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Mahamasthakabisheka of Lord Bahubali at Sravanabelagola

Mysore Palace, Mysore

Karnataka Karwar

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Musical hall, Vitthal Temple, Hampi

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ituated in the southern part of India, the state of Karnataka spreads over the Deccan Plateau. At 300 B.C., it had formed the southern tip of the Mauryan Empire. Its boundaries enlarged or receded swaying to the drum beats of history & today it accounts for a sixteenth area of India & has a population of about 45 million. Its language is Kannada & its people are known as kannadigas. The three distinct regions are a narrow coastal area along Arabian Sea; high hills, the Western Ghats; & sprawling plains towards the east. Karnataka popularly known for Carnatic Music through out the World has given much more to the World than Carnatic Music, a unique form of Classical Music patronized by many across the continents. Karnataka with all its richness in culture and traditional grandeur is also one of the fastest growing states in terms of industries and facilities. Karnataka is also known as the Capital of Agarbathi (Incense Sticks), Arecanut, Silk, Coffee and Sandal Wood. All this is apart from the fact that it has been the culture centre for hundreds of years and its testimony stands spread across the state pulling millions of tourists from all parts of the world to Karnataka. Karnataka was known as Karunadu (elevated land) in ancient times. It is also believed that the name Karnataka has come from “Kari-nadu” meaning the land of black soil say

the scholars & some others hold that Karunadu also means beautiful country; either way the land is celebrated as beautiful throughout its ancient literature. Bangalore Today Bangalore, the capital of Karnataka ranks as one of the fastest growing cities in Asia. Its pleasant climate, friendly people, and its highly educated population have made this the Silicon Valley of India with almost all Computer related multinationals setting up their India head office at Bangalore. Jawaharlal Nehru, India’s first Prime Minister termed this as “India’s city of the future”. Bangalore is the “Garden City of India” with its many gardens and boulevards. Its pleasant climate and laid-back charm attracted many senior citizens and thus later on came to be called at “the retired man’s paradise”. And of course what is Bangalore without all its Pubs. It is now also called the Pub City with over 200 Pubs all over the town. Cubbon Park - Lieutenant General Sir Mark Cubbon laid out this beautiful park in 1864. Over 250 acres of this green park is just right for long walks and hosts a children’s amusement park, a doll museum and a toy train for children. Children’s parties can be arranged with cartoons characters etc. in the park. The Vijayranga Theater complex screens children’s films and stage plays.

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Lalbagh Gardens - Bangalore’s other sprawling park is in the South of the city. HyderAli laid out the Lalbagh Gardens in the year 1760. It covers an area of 240 acres. The Glass House, inspired by the Crystal Palace in London is a favourite spot in Lalbagh which hosts the famous Flower show during the month of August.

Jog Falls

Bangalore Palace - The Bangalore Palace was built in the year 1887 by the Wodeyar dynasty. It is built similar to medieval castles in Normandy and England. Its interiors boast of elegant woodcarvings and Tudor -style architecture. Coorg Coorg is situated on the Western Ghats of Karnataka in South India. For the adventurous at heart, it is an absolute treat. There are trekking, golfing and angling (Mahaseer too!) options available. Religious trips abound on Hindu and Buddhist circuits. Family getaways can be easily arranged. You can also relax your body and mind with special Ayurvedic massages. Coorg is also as trendy and happening as its close neighbour Bangalore. But the predominant entity here is nature at its best. Coorg is like the dreamland of the philosopher. If you’re the type who likes to mingle with nature, romance in the mountains, feel the tingle of the cool and gentle breeze, watch leaves flutter in dance-like movements and hear sounds of birds fill the air - then Coorg is just the place for you. Hampi Hampi, the seat of the famed Vijayanagara Empire was the capital of the largest empire in post-mogul India, covering several states. The empire reigned supreme under Krishnadevaraya, the Emperor. The Vijayanagara Empire stretched over at least three states - Karnataka, Maharashtra, and Andhra Pradesh. The destruction of Vijayanagar by marauding Moghul invaders was sudden, shocking and absolute. They reduced the city to ruins amid scenes of savage massacre and horrors beggaring description. Although in ruins today, this capital city once boasted riches known far beyond the shores of India. The ruins of Hampi lie scattered in about 26 sq. km area, amidst giant boulders and vegetation. Protected by the tempestuous river Tungabhadra in the north and rocky granite ridges on the other three sides, the ruins silently narrate the story of grandeur and fabulous wealth. The splendid remains of palaces and gateways of the broken city tell a tale of man of infinite talent and power of creativity together with his capacity for senseless destruction.

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Indian Hospitality Post Recession and Security Threats The Hospitality Industry of India used to boast of some of the world’s highest ARRs, a distinction that was quickly lost in the wake of the recession and security threats. Occupancy rates had declined radically and a genuine slump was witnessed throughout most of last year. But the period of December 2009 onwards has been progressive and the hotels are seeing an optimistic recovery from the situation. Tourism inflow has mushroomed, foreign tourist arrivals have surged and occupancy rates are improving again. The Hospitality Challenge is gaining grounds for success.

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he tourism industry is back on its feet after suffer ing heavy setbacks towards the end of 2008. With the advent of the new tourist season in October of 2009, the tourism industry has been witnessing positive growth. CRISIL has reported that in the 2009 fiscal, the hotel industry had a market size of over Rs.17500 crore; also the figure of nearly five million foreign tourists that visit India is projected to get doubled by the end of year 2010. The late 90’s onwards had been a time of global markets rushing into India to utilise the fast emerging business opportunities, which in turn benefited the hotels industry with steeply increasing room rates and occupancy levels. The rapid growth achieved over the last decade by the hospitality industry in India comes second only in comparison to the world’s biggest economy – China. But things started to slow down in the times of the global economic recession; foreign tourist markets were already drying up and then the Mumbai terror attacks just added to the predicament, almost bringing tourism to a standstill. One year after the catastrophe, things are on the move again. According to the tourism ministry, five million foreign tourists visited India in 2009 – slightly less than from 2008,

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but grown in number in the month of December 2009. The tourism demand is estimated to double to ten million by the end of 2010 and will also have to accommodate three hundred million domestic travellers. No doubt that the shortage in tourists brought the hotel business down, but the fact remains that hotels in India have a shortage of more than a hundred thousand rooms, which was the real factor for high room rates across the country. India is fast becoming a destination of choice for hotel chains looking for growth. Data from the World Travel and Tourism Council India, suggests that India ranks eighteenth in business travel and will move up to among the top five in this decade. This shortage in hotel rooms causes a demandsupply disparity that directly affects the hotel figures. The disparity may bring in better occupancy levels but contradictorily will also cause the room

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rates to increase every year, and the heightened prices will only reduce the cost-effectiveness of India as a tourism destination; the shortage in hotel rooms needed to be dealt with in order to create better market competition. There is good news still; the Indian Hotel Industry is in the process of adding about 60,000 quality rooms throughout the country in different stages of planning and development which should be ready by 2012. International Hotel Brands are looking into India in a big way and are establishing or expanding their footprint in the country. Industry giants like Marriott, Starwood, Accor and Hyatt are bringing up numerous properties, both in luxury and budget segments. The Government has approved 300 hotel projects, nearly half of which are in the luxury range. The hotels industry had been given a tremendous boost by the US$ 23 billion information

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technology industry with more and more IT professionals moving to Indian metro cities. The growth of the hospitality sector will be further augmented with tourist traffic for sporting events like the Field Hockey World Cup, the Commonwealth Games, the Indian Premier League and the Cricket World Cup in 2011. Industry setbacks had dried up hotel occupancies and forced hotels to being down their room rates. From October of 2008, when the recession had set in, through September of 2009, the room rates of hotels across the country decreased by about thirty percent. But after witnessing this steep fall in average room rates of hotels for almost a year, the hospitality sector bounced back with a twenty percent year-on-year growth in the third quarter of the 2009 fiscal; the three months to December 2009 have seen an encouraging uptrend in room rates. Before the global economic downturn, room rates for some hotels had crossed Rs.10,000 even crossing Rs.13,000 in cities like Bangalore. For October through December of 2009, the average room rates across the metropolitan cities of Mumbai, Delhi, Bangalore, Chennai, Hyderabad, Kolkata and Goa, were around Rs.8000, which was a forty percent increment in rates from the three preceding months. December of 2009 especially had seen a rapid increase in foreign tourist arrivals, thus giving the hotel sector the necessary boost.

ing months. Both domestic travellers as well as foreign tourists could push up occupancy rates to about sixty to seventy percent across major cities in the first half of the year 2010. With occupancy rates increasing again, the average room rates won’t be far behind and will eventually shoot up, possibly up to the high rates from two years ago. In the Indian capital New Delhi, room rates increased quarter-on-quarter by nearly fifty percent in the period upto December 2009, as a result of shortage of rooms in comparison to a rise in foreign tourists visiting the region. Industry experts believe that New Delhi has a shortage of up to 8,000 rooms and as a result some hotels are seeing occupancies of close to eighty five percent. Similarly room rates in the commercial capital of Mumbai saw a growth of around thirty percent. Bangalore, which was notorious for having the highest room rates due to shortage of available rooms, has just seen a two percent growth in room rates during the December 2009 quarter with some tourist inflow. Taj Hotels Resorts and Palaces chain of hotels, had reported a growth of thirty percent in room rates for the December quarter of 2009. Though the quarterly period had seen an increase in room rates, the chain of

With the Indian economy now gaining momentum again, hotels are likely to do good business in the com-

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hotels wants to rather focus on increasing occupancy levels, which for the December 2009 quarter were already at seventy percent. The Leela Palaces Hotels and Resorts, have only managed to recover around seven to eight percent of the dropped average room rates from the last one year. To maintain growth of a particular industry, the infrastructure that supports it should also be strengthened. To ensure growth of tourism, the hospitality sector needs to be strengthened. The Government’s policies and tax structures must be attractive enough to encourage investments in the hotel sector. The hospitality industry is requesting the government for a single-window clearance system to speed up implementation of new projects and is also asking for infrastructure status which will enable new hotels to get one hundred percent tax exemption on profits for ten years. March 2010

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STRIKING GOLD! Since its incorporation in the year 1995, Agri Gold has been on a path of industrial progression through implementing new concepts, developing partnerships and preparing formulae for success. The Company had created a new concept of Corporate Cultivation that incorporated farming on extensive lands, livestock development and value added products, and also delves in the Power sector. Its latest foray has been into the Tourism sector, with the establishment of its Buddhism theme park – Haailand at Vijayawada, which on one side offers fun and entertainment, and on the other rest and relaxation.

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gri Gold Group originated with focus on integrated corporate farming and gradually developed into an agricultural-industrial group, expanding into various industrial sectors. “The Agri Gold Group has developed core competencies in Agri Business, Power, Infrastructure and now also in Tourism,” shares V.R. Rao Avvas – Chairman Agri Gold. Under their infrastructure banner, currently there are 39 ongoing projects across Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka and Tamil Nadu. In the Power sector the Company conducts Power generation through Biomass with 5 units generating 38.5 MW of power. These Biomass facilities are established in Kurnool, Chitoor, Prakasam and West Godavari districts. The Group’s recent foray into Tourism sector was initi-

ated with work on Haailand Resort and Theme Park commencing in the year 2006. Avvas elaborates, “The resort and theme park is centred on the theme of Buddhism and this project is being implemented with an investment of Rs.150 crore. Creating the theme park centred on Buddhism required professional architecture and design, and so the task was given to and carried out by the Sanderson Group from Australia.” This Buddhist theme park is being brought up on an area of 42 acres and will be a multitheme, multi-facility expanse. Haailand Haailand, named with the Telugu word ‘Haai’ meaning pleasure, will also provide to its visitors, physical and spiritual happiness in the ambience of the Buddhist theme; a place where one can be assured to get enchanted by the magical spells of probably the most wonderful amusement destination in South India; a place where one can rediscover the happiest moments of their life with family and friends; and a place that provides so much of a good time with a simple one-time entry fee. Buddhist Theme “Buddhism has been an integral part of the history of this

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region, a region that gave birth to major successors of Acharya Nagarjuna and with as many as 142 Buddhist excavations carried out in the area around Vijayawada, the Buddhist theme for the park’s ambience was the most appropriate concept that pays respect and homage to this historical influence,” states Avvas. Haailand is touted to be the first park in India to be created around a Buddhist theme and has taken architectural inspiration from nations like China, Japan, Indonesia and Thailand. The themed concept of Haailand is very evident as one approaches the park - the grand entrance of the park is mesmerising, with a floating Buddha statue placed there to welcome and at the same time summon the visitors inside. The floating Buddha is an integral part of the Sun Plaza,

situated just inside the entrance, which has water fountains and fog and mist for that mysterious outlook. Agri Gold group believes that the auspicious welcome of the Floating Buddha will bring in positive energies and happiness all around their park. Avvas adds, “Agri Gold will also be conducting Buddhist tourism circuit tour packages, which will be organised from Haailand to destinations around Vijayawada, the most important of which is Amravathi where the Dalai Lama had conducted the Kalachakra.” This will be a first time concept in India and the tours will incorporate special devotional prayers as a part of the Buddhist heritage. V.R. Rao Avvas – Chairman Agri Gold

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Facilities Haailand the Buddhist theme park will feature more than 38 imported rides. These rides will consist of world class entertainment equipment including joy n thrill rides, roller coasters, arcades and water park slides. The water park has been designed in a unique concept, keeping in mind the traditional views of the people, and features water slides separately for men, women and children. In addition to the water slides, the park also has a wave pool and an area for rain dance where revellers can dance to the latest hit music. In the area called the Japanese Zone, one can have some fun floating down the Lazy River, a streaming water body that encircles that area. The entertainment factor is high with a full size arcade offering video games and interactive sports for the children, along with various amusement park rides

from 8pm to 12am. For rest and relaxation, the resort is also offering a hi tech Club house, a 3-star resort with 60 cottages and 9 boat houses located around a private sand island,” shares Avvas.

that include indoor roller coasters.

Vijayawada and Guntur on National Highway 5, and has good air and rail connectivity, with Vijayawada being the hub of commercial and trade activities.

“Each feature of the park resembles a Buddhist centre from around the world,” says Avvas. The wave pool is adorned with structures resembling ancient temples of Thailand; the water slides are all designed in the shape of pagodas; the conference and banquet areas are constructed in traditional East Asian style of architecture; and all walls are decorated with murals depicting Buddhism from all over the world, the most attractive example of which is just after the entrance a mural depicting the Buddha sitting with his disciples under the tree of enlightenment, the Bodh Tree. The conferences and banquets section is spread over a 16,000 sq ft space and has provisions for indoor banquets and lawns spanning 1.5 and 2 acres each that are available for weddings, functions, festivals, private parties and MICE tourism. “We are also planning on organising themed weddings and will offer a wide range of packages to choose from,” says Avvas. A small amphitheatre has also been made to stage plays, shows and movies. “In addition, there is also a 60,000 sq ft shopping and retail area which will be holding a Night Bazaar everyday

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Also promoting Health Tourism, Haailand will feature a multi speciality Wellness Centre named Ayur Sukha. This facility will offer Ayurveda and Panchkarma at the Ayurvedic Vaidyalaya, Yoga and Meditation at the Yogaalaya, traditional herbal Beauty Therapies at the Devanaagari Spa, fully equipped gym at Fitness Solutions, and also Physiotherapy. A massive area is available for parking of vehicles and in addition to that, air conditioned dormitories will be provided for the drivers of tourist buses, taxis and private cars too. Haailand is strategically located mid-way between

Avvas also expresses, “Safety and security of visiting tourists will be one of the key aspects of Haailand with 150 security guards including women, CCTV cameras installed across the park, RFID Trackers for locating people and modern medical and fire fighting equipment.” Gastronomies The biggest feature of the resort is going to be the food court and for good reason too, people will be hungry after all the fun and frolicking at the water park and amusement rides. This food court is an enormous structure situated bang in the middle of the resort and acts as a focal point to the other entertainment activities surrounding it all around. The dome shaped building will be housing the shopping area on the ground floor, while the dining area will be located on the first. A balcony runs around the entire dome, from where one can have panoramic views of the entire theme park and decide which area to have fun at next. Avvas elaborates, “This centrally located food court will

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feature menus encompassing 8 different cuisines and will also have around three Quick Serve Restaurants – planning to bring in international fast food chains.” In addition to the food court, Haailand will also offer an authentic Chettinad Cuisine restaurant, which will have separate seating areas for vegetarian and non vegetarian customers. The Food and Beverage options stretch out till the Sunken Bar that will showcase some fifty seats immersed in water around the bar that will serve drinks and barbeque sizzlers. Visitors will also have the convenience of picking up snacks and drinks from the numerous vending machines spread across the park area. Justifying the massiveness of the food court, is the Central Kitchen of Haailand, where all the food will be prepared. “This kitchen will be a mega-facility spread over 12,000 sq ft and will cater more than ten thousand people, incorporating the latest modern standards and equipment,” states Avvas. Moving Forward The marketing strategies put in place for promoting this tourism endeavour included creating tie-ups with agencies in Australia, UK and the Middle East on a global scale and forming associations with travel and tour operators and hotels in the domestic tourism circuit. To better promote itself, the resort will look into cultural diversities. “Haailand will organise and celebrate all national and regional festivals to tap into and attract both the multi-cultural and local population of Vijayawada and Guntur” said Avvas. Culture and entertainment has been made main focus in the tourist destinations being developed by the Agri Gold group. In the current phase of development, after Vijayawada, the exclusive tourist attractions will be established at Vishakapatnam, Hyderabad and Bangalore. The next tourism project on the cards from Agri Gold is the Paradise Beach Resort located at Yarada in Vishakhapatnam. This resort will implement an Indian Heritage theme on the beaches of the Bay of Bengal with ethnic surroundings. The ambience will be created incorporating traditional Telugu village settings with a huge temple complex in the vicinity. This resort too shall have the Ayur Sukha Health Village. Carrying on with its environment friendly concepts, Agri Gold has installed systems that incorporate using LED lighting to illuminate the park, and so are working towards attaining a Green Gold Certification.

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Tech Booster Technology in travel and tourism has helped change the way this industry is functioning. The fragmented travel industry has become more integrated. 2009 was a year of changes in the global and Indian travel economy. There was a pressing need to deal with the cascade effect of the recession and then a series of highs and lows. In such recessionary times, technology certainly was the saviour for the travel Industry. by Amal Tewari

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ndia has made tremendous advances in the develop ment and deployment of technology, and continues to explore its potential in the travel and tourism sector. The travel and tourism industry is founded on information, service and reliability, so technological impacts are greater within this industry than in many others. Technology interventions can help reduce transaction and distribution costs significantly, thus benefiting businesses and customers alike. “The way technology has changed banking experience for a customer through online banking and ATM, similarly it is changing the customer’s buying experience of travel products to be seamless and most convenient,” says Yogesh Rathi – Founder CEO of Etours CRS. The internet nowadays offers unlimited possibilities to connect every link in the tourism supply chain, while ecommerce presents an immense opportunity for improving India’s relative position in the international travel market. Managing Director of Travelport GDS in Asia Pacific – Simon Nowroz says, “Online travel solutions are clearly the boom area for the Indian travel market, and we can expect booking solutions through new technologies such as mCommerce to be of increased importance and convenience to travellers in the future.” Galileo recently became the first GDS in India to implement mobile phone payment solution called the mSmart service which allows for booking services for flight/rail/ bus tickets, hotel rooms and holiday packages bookings on the go. In the past year, people have seen the rise of numerous digital applications that have changed the way they communicate. Companies are inturn presented with new and fresher ways of communicating with their customers in a more visual manner that allows realtime feedback; mankind has become so overwhelmed with technology these days. “Social networking sites such as Facebook and Twitter have assisted Asia’s travel players to enhance the communication and delivery of travel products and services. For instance, Twitter was used by both Ctrip and Zuji to communicate promotional deals to their ‘followers’; ClearTrip and Yatra in India does it through Facebook,” elabo-

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rates Nikhil Dhodapkar – Managing Director of Abacus India. Moreover, new digital tools like Google Goggles that allows search by sight – point the camera at a subject and Google will figure out what it is – when used in the travel industry context, there is a great potential for this new application to be used together with other social media tools to create mobile brochures for destination marketers. “Indeed, more consumers are already stepping into the online sphere, competition is getting stiffer and the game plans of online businesses will have to change to embrace more complex and dynamic marketing tools to get the attention of potential customers,” adds Dhodapkar. Yet the latest Abacus Asia Travel Sentiment Survey showed that a majority of the agencies (72%) are currently not utilising any social media tools. The main reason cited by this group was that the agencies are either unsure or not ready to adopt new media tools. Those who do are using social media forums, such as Facebook and Twitter to engage their online customers. Meanwhile, mobile technology is widely tipped to be the next big platform to take businesses to a new generation of product and service delivery. Mobile penetration in Asia may have reached a level that surpassed any other region in the world, yet the usage of mobile phones by companies in their communications with customers is still by far under par. Apart from sporadic use of this tool where airlines are increasingly using it for check-ins, there still remains a huge potential to be tapped by the travel industry. Rescue Act “Without a doubt, travel players have transformed their businesses to be more nimble, more innovative, and more relevant to the world as a result of the economic recession. Technology - such as Abacus’ suite of agency solutions, Abacus PowerSuite and Abacus PowerConnect - has played a major role in this by enabling the industry to increase its productivity and lower operating costs by automating labour intensive processes,” shares Dhodapkar. Abacus PowerSuite reduces frontline operations from 13 to 6 steps, helping each agent work 50 per cent faster. This means agency managers can deploy employees to higher value, revenuegenerating activities such as spending more time getting to know and better service their clients. Moreover, as customers increasingly turn to the Internet when planning for travels and making reservations, travel agen199


cies are equally discovering the power of creating a virtual presence. Dhodapkar adds, “Abacus has and will continue to bring these businesses online more effectively and at a lower cost.” Finally, cultivating customer loyalty also helped the travel industry survive the economic recession. Using the right customer relationship management tools allowed travel agencies to build and strengthen customer relationships where customised promotions and thoughtful reminders can be communicated to specific customer groups. Technology tools have not only helped in lowering transaction and distribution costs, but also in increasing operational efficiency and diversifying product offerings. Rathi states, “The need during the recession was how one optimises the cost of operation and market acquisition so the enterprise remains viable; technology has contributed in doing so. Through technology, reach to markets has become very cost effective and through process automation the cost of manpower has been optimised.” Open Travel Alliances are increasingly exploring non-airline services, such as hotel bookings, car and bus rentals, and holiday packages to boost revenues. CRM has also been readily introduced to proactively engage customers and make them aware of special offers. Meanwhile, web agents have enabled suppliers to gain a broader reach with a wider range of audiences. “Airlines are also tying up with global distribution systems, to offer better customer service, competitive rates to travellers and to make their products and services available outside of India. With a base of over 380 million subscribers, the use of the mobile phone as another channel for travel distribution will completely change the dynamics of the industry in the near future,” suggests Nowroz.

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Full Support In 2010, the focus areas of Travelport GDS are alternate booking solutions via new technologies like mCommerce; and taking the travel agents online. They also aim to create dynamic travel packages so that an agent can offer an endto-end travel solution to the customer, which includes not only hotels and transport, but also other integral facets like transfers and insurance. “Travelport works towards creating relevant technology solutions for the Indian market on the basis of current requirements and customer demands for service. We pride ourselves on our provision of innovative value-added services that generate increased revenues in the travel sector,” says Nowroz. The recent introduction of the ITQ Financials product will also encourage operational efficiency in travel agencies. The user-friendly online back-office travel accounting software integrates with the Galileo GDS to make booking and accounting a seamless process. EtoursCRS has been in forefront of technology initiative in Indian Travel market. It has been the first and still only entity offering Non Air CRS platform in India. “The latest offering from Etours is Software as service to small hotels to mange their inventory and reservation system. EtoursCRS is also working on mobile platform which will help travel agents to book all Indian hotels through mobile interface seamlessly,” says Rathi. Abacus India is continuously investing in developing and enhancing its solutions and services to help to propel the industry further. “This year, we are focusing on offering solutions to help our customers to tap on the economy recovery. In the pipeline, we will be launching further enhancements to our online solutions. We are looking at and will be launching in due course more solutions that will enable travel agents across Asia sharpen their competitive edge, to be more productive and efficient,” states Dhodapkar.

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Limitless Skies Aviation sectors all over the world had suffered setbacks in 2008-2009 due to global recession, fuel prices and load factor, with hopes of seeing a revival in 2011. But the presence of a strong domestic market helped most Indian industry sectors including aviation, survive the recession. Figures from recent months suggest the Indian economy is heading in the right direction, as the domestic airline industry, which was sluggish only a few months back, appears to be in its recovery mode.

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ne of the fastest growing aviation industries in the world, the Indian aviation sector, which com prises private airline companies accounting for more than 75 percent, has been witnessing a compound annual growth rate of 18 percent. The industry currently has 454 airports, including 16 international ones, and was hoping to see revival by 2011 after the recession and slump in tourism. But now, revival doesn’t seem as distant after the final quarter of 2009 raised industry hopes by recording growth in passenger numbers. There was a drop of 30 per cent in passenger load factor leading to losses in many top airlines in the world including British Airways; the last quarter of 2009 has again raised some hopes of revival in the country. The increase in air traffic movement towards the end of 2009, especially in the month of December, increased industry revenues by over USD 20 million. Signs of recovery for the aviation sector in India can be gauged from the increase in domestic travel in the last quarter. Airlines in India carried a record 44.9 lakh passengers in December 2009, a number that also helped airline companies maintain better yields and prevented them from selling seats below cost. Flying high on strong economic recovery, domestic air travel has made a comeback in 2009, with traffic registering an increase of 7.9% over the previous year. In 2008, air traffic fell by 5%, with 412 lakh domestic fliers taking to skies against 433 lakh in 2007. The increase to 445.1 lakh flyers in 2009 came on the strong revival in traffic since July, as the first six months were consistently witnessing a double digit percentage fall. December 2009 saw a whopping 33% increase with 44.9 lakh people flying within India as compared to 33.7 lakh in December 2008. Developments The Hyderabad International Airport, managed by a public-private joint venture consisting of the GMR Group, Malaysia Airports Holdings Berhad and both the State Government of Andhra Pradesh and Airports Authority of India (AAI), has been ranked amongst the world’s top five in the annual Airport Service Quality (ASQ) passenger survey along with airports at Seoul, Singapore, Hong Kong and Beijing. The second US-India Aviation Partnership Summit was held in USA from December 07 –09, 2009 where the Joint Aviation Steering Committee Working Group Meeting was also held. On the sidelines of the Summit, the delegation also discussed trade opportunities with the Federal Aviation Administration, transportation security administration and the US Trade and Development Agency. In addition to creating global standards international airports in Delhi and Mumbai, the Airports Authority of India (AAI) is also developing the airports in Kolkata and Chennai March 2010

with an investment of USD 427.5 million and USD 384.7 million respectively. The AAI is also looking at upgrading and modernising 35 non-metro airports; while the government is looking at building infrastructure in terms of air traffic control (ATC) and CNS systems. Safety and surveillance is another huge area being worked upon. The government has also merged national carriers Air India and Indian Airlines into a single entity, the National Aviation Company Ltd (NACIL). The government is also planning to make Delhi a regional hub to connect south-east Asia with Europe by capitalising on the capital’s strategic midpoint location, according to ministry sources. Future Progress According to the report by Investment Commission of India (ICI), the future for Indian aviation up to the year 2020 has been estimated to create investment opportunities in excess of USD 100 billion, with USD 80 billion in new aircrafts and around USD 30 billion in the development of airport infrastructure. The state of Punjab will become the first state in the country to set up a Maintenance, Repair and Overhaul (MRO) hub at Ropar, 45 km from Chandigarh, for the civil aviation sector at a cost of USD 6.4 million. Similarly, prominent aircraft manufacturer Boeing is planning on setting up a Maintenance Repair Overhaul (MRO) facility in New Delhi at a proposed investment of USD 100 million. North India will also receive it’s first private sector ‘greenfield’ international airport; named Aerotropolis, this airport is slated to be come up near the industrial hub of Ludhiana in Punjab state, and will be built with an investment of over USD 3 billion covering an area of 3000 acres by Messrs Bengal Aerotropolis which also partnered Changi International Airport of Singapore. Celebi Holding, one of the largest business conglomerates from Turkey, has further cemented its foothold in Indian aviation industry after bagging contracts for Delhi International Airport Private Ltd. and Mumbai International Airport Private Ltd. The company aims to invest USD 100 million in the Indian aviation sector by 2010 end. Celebi Holding is also looking at expanding its operations in other parts of the country. The company is the largest Turkish investor in aviation sector in India so far and has plans for winning business in the new airports coming up in India. The country’s first SEZ dedicated to the Aerospace sector at Hattaragi, 37 km from Belgaum, in Karnataka has also been inaugurated. The SEZ is spread over 300 acres of land and is being brought up with an investment of USD 32 million in. An Aerospace and Precision Engineering Special Economic Zone with a proposed investment of USD 641

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All Is Well India with its vast potential in traditional system of healings - Ayurveda, Yoga, Unani and Siddha, has been well known for its ‘Wellness Tourism’ and this tourism sector is now becoming a USP for India. The tourism ministry attaches great importance towards development and promotion of wellness tourism, and India, which was traditionally considered a cultural destination for several decades, has now emerged as an important destination for wellness holidays for discerning international travellers.

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aining immense recognition as a preferred medical tourism destination, the volume of foreign patient arrivals at Indian hospitals is growing at a healthy pace of almost 40 percent every year; and medical tourism is indeed the next billion dollar opportunity after IT outsourcing for India to benefit from its fast expanding private healthcare infrastructure. Indian doctors and professionals are world renowned for their skills and the country has abundance of all the inputs like talented young manpower, local high quality manufacturing base for pharmaceuticals, technology hardware and software that makes the Indian costs for high end surgical procedures so affordable. According to the report done by Ernst & Young for FICCI (Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry), the spa and wellness industry in India is estimated to be Rs.11,000 crore with a growth rate of about 30 percent,. The total number of spas in the country is over 2,000, of which 70 per cent of spas are run by local brands that have generated annual revenues of around USD 380 million. In the next four years, 700 new spas, both home-grown and international brands will open in India to meet the growing demand, for which nearly 3 lakh therapists will be required in the Indian spa industry by 2012. Destination and Hotel spas are another growing category where spas can contribute up to 15 percent of hotel’s revenue and in some cases surpasses the food and beverages to become the second fastest income generator in the hotel after rooms. March 2010

At present, India has around twenty to twenty five major spa centres that are destination and hotel spas; most of them are spread in the southern states such as Kerala, Karnataka and Tamil Nadu where these spas also give a characteristic tie with medical tourism as part of the recuperative holiday. Today, spa penetration is a mere five to ten percent. In fact, there is very little development in the four and five-star segment without a spa, because of the higher profit of almost 50 per cent for hotel with a spa centre. Though the tourist inflow all over the country had been down by almost 20 percent, which impacted the wellness industry also, the spa enthusiast and those who have incorporated wellness as an integral part of their lifestyle, did not really compromise though they did reduce the amount of time spent at their choice of wellness destination. “The silver lining is that Ananda is a Wellness destination and the brand equity that Ananda enjoys in the international market; there is a very strong dedicated list of repeat guests who come to Ananda at all costs. For them it is a pilgrimage because they do realise the benefits that Ananda offers,” shares Anupam Dasgupta – General Manager of Ananda in the Himalayas at Rishikesh. “An interesting trend this year has also been the rise in the number of Indian guests. And while it is a heartening trend to see more and more Indians looking at Wellness and visiting a Destination spa, we are hoping that it will be an ongoing trend,” adds Dasgupta. There are multiple choices in Wellness that have boosted the prospects of the hospitality sector tremendously. People from all across the globe see the benefits and come all the way to India to experience these benefits. Ayurveda for instance has thrown open the doors for wellness tourism, especially down in the Southern states of the nation. “The wellness segment has opened up a plethora of possibilities and is a very niche, that can only grow hereon,” opines Dasgupta. Developments In order to promote the Wellness Tourism in the Overseas Market, Ministry of Tourism has revised the guidelines of Marketing Development Assistance (MDA) to include the Wellness Tourism Service Providers and Facilitators in its purview. Under the revised guidelines the eligible Wellness Tourism Service Providers - representative of the Wellness Centres accredited by the State Governments and Facilitators (Travel Agents/Tour Operators approved by Ministry of Tourism) are qualified for financial assistance under MDA Scheme for participation in approved Wellness Tourism Fairs/ Wellness Conferences and allied Road shows abroad. A new set of guidelines for accreditation of wellness centres is being finalised by AYUSH in partnership with National Accreditation Board for Hospitals (NABH).

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Best of India 2010  

A clourful portrayal of India as never seen before in print

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