Pak SC lifts ban on hunting Houbara bustard


Islamabad:

Pakistan’s supreme court on Friday lifted a ban on the hunting of the Houbara bustard, an endangered migratory bird, whose meat is prized by elite Arab sheikhs for its aphrodisiac value.

The ban on the Houbara bustard, about the size of a chicken, was imposed by former chief justice Jawwad S Khawaja on August 20 last year; who also ordered the cancellation of all exiting permits by government to Arab rules. The federal and provincial governments in October had challenged the ban, pleading that sustainable hunting should be allowed.

houbara bustard.jpg

The petitioners had pleaded to the SC that issuing permits for hunting of the endangered bird to Arab dignitaries was part of foreign policy

A five-member larger bench headed by chief justice Anwar Zaheer Jamali lifted the ban in a verdict on the review petitions, although the decision was not unanimous, with one dissenting note by justice Qazi Faez Isa, whoo opposed the bench’ order.

The petitioners had pleaded that issuing hunting permits to Arab dignitaries was part of foreign policy. The atorney general Salman Buttasked the SC to allow “sustainable hunting” of the bird. Pakistan enjoys good ties with elite Arabs who love hunting Houbara using falcons and travel to Balochistan every winter to kill the bustard. The bird is listed in the Convention on Migratory Species of Wild Animals and is declared as an endangered species.

Vegetarian delights in Korea


Vegetarian delights in Korea

Sandeep Narang

If you are a traveller packaged in a group tour, your travel agent will certainly fix up the dinners for you at an Indian restaurant. And there are plenty of them! Seoul ranks eighth in the top 25 global cities, so it does not come as a surprise that a quick search on TripAdvisor nets 106 Indian restau-rants with ubiquitous names –  Taj, Ganga, Om, Bombay Grill, New Delhi, Shanti …  with the Jyoti restaurant (www. jyotifood.com), near Sinchon station being ranked #12 of 12,969 listed restaurants.

If you are yearning for that Naan, or missing your post- meal papad, Seoul has it all. And it will all be below $25 per person (probably with a beer thrown in). Almost all Indian restaurants serve North Indian or Punjabi food. Most of them have multiple branches, so check out the one closest to your hotel. Chances are wherever you might be in Seoul, you will not be a few blocks away from Indian food. The Indian res taurants are run either by a Nepali, or a Pakistani capitalising on the brand name India. Some are run by Indians.

Here’s your daal-roti check area-wise in Seoul:

Gangnam: Ganga Gangnam (ganga.co.kr), Luna Asia, Durga

Itaewon: Agra Indian Dining Restaurant, Ashoka and Chakra (chakra.co.kr) — serves South Indian food too.

Jongno-gu: Durga (durga.co.kr) , Himalayan (hirnaloyanrest. corn) — yes, you have to walk up three floors, Taj Palace (tajpalace.co.kr), Om (omfood.kr)

aaa

Sinchon: Namaste (narnasterestaurant. co.kr), Manokamna, Amma

Other: Shanti (shanti , Taj (taj.co.kr) , Everest(everes corn)

Kimchi

Kimchi is Korea’s national dish. The Kimchi Field Museum in Seoul has documented 187 varieties of kimchi. Some kimchi facts googled:

  • During South Korea’s involvement in the Vietnam War, the government requested American help to ensure that South Korean troops, reportedly “desperate” for the food, could obtain it in the field; South Korean President Park Chung-hee told US President Lyndon B Johnson that kimchi was “vitally important to the morale of Korean troops.”
  • Kimchi was sent to space on board Soyuz TMA-12 with Yi So-yeon after a multi- million dollar research effort to kill the bacteria and lessen the odour without affecting taste.
  • South Koreans consume 40 pounds (18 kg) of kimchi per person annually, and many credit their industrious energy, and its impact on their nation’s rapid economic growth, in part to eating the dish.
  • Kimchi is made of various vegetables and contains a high concentration of dietary fibre while being low in calories. One serving also provides over 50 per cent of the daily recommended amount of Vitamin C and carotene.

bbb

  • Health magazine named kimchi in its list of top five World’s Healthiest Foods’ for being rich in vita mins, aiding digestion and even possibly reducing cancer growth.
  • A study conducted by the Seoul National University found that chicken infected with the H5N1 virus recovered after eating food containing bacteria found in kimchi.

We got Kimchi with every meal, and sometimes we did not even realise it was kimchi!

Jeoneun chaeshikjooeeja imnida (I’m a vegetarian)

Coming to Korea as a vegetarian is a little disconcerting, the concept is quite foreign to most Koreans. But, relax. Indian food is not a problem; there are plenty of vegetarian dishes in Indian restaurants: aloo gobi, dal bukhara, palak paneer sarnosa, mango lassi…. But if you are one of those who wouldn’t touch a diner that serves meat even with a barge pole, then you have a serious issue.

Temple Food

A highlight of my visit to Seoul was a dinner hosted by RI Director Sangkoo Yun and his gracious wife, Eun Sun a Buddhist temple meal at the Barn Gongyang. Korean temple food is a 1,700 years old tradition to a Buddhist monk, eating is more than enjoying good taste and nutrition; it is also a process of seeking the truth. The food is distinguished by the philosophy that all living things depend on each other for existence. Non-veg ingredients are prohibited, and also banned are pungent vegetables green onions, garlic and chives. Temple food is nature- friendly, healthy, simple and light, bringing out the natural flavour of the ingredients. The grand- daddy of temple food is Sanchon, a decades-old mainstay of Seoul’s tradition-focused Insadong neighbourhood — a must-do vegetarian gastro nomical experience.

Barn Gongyang is operated by the Jogye Order of Korean Buddhism. Located on the fifth floor of the landmark Templestay Information Centre across the Jogyesa Temple, the place offers the urban diner a superb chance to experience first class Buddhist temple food without having to trek to a temple on some distant mountainside. The decor is appropriately Zen, and if you’re lucky you may get to sit in the Korean-style floor sitting section. The food is 100 percent vegetarian. Prices: $20 —$40. Getting there: Exit 2, Jonggak Station, Line 1. Walk 70m to Jogyesa Temple. The Temple Stay Information Centre is across the street.

There are plenty of temple food spots in Seoul (you may even consider temple stay options for lodging).

Check out the website http://www.happycow.net for veg restaurant options in Seoul or Loving Hut (www.lovinghut.kr), the international chain of vegan restaurants opened by followers of Supreme Master Ching Hai. Oh Se Gae Hyang in Insadong; PLANT in Itaewon; So True in Gangnam-gu and Veggie Holic Bakery (wwwveggieholic.co.kr) are few more. The Store Sajik-dong in Jongno-gu serves only vegetarian and vegan Tibetan and Indian style curries and dosa and chai including soy milk options.

If this does not help there are plenty of fruits available or look at opening a Haldiram in Seoul— great business opportu nity there. And, of course come loaded with plenty of theplas, acchar khakara, bhujia, burfi — I will be looking out for you.

At the Seoul Promotion meeting the issue about avail ability of vegetarian Indian food at the venue, Kintex was discussed at large. The Korean Host Organising Committee has assured that there will be Indian food aplenty, not only for the 4,000 targeted Indian delegates, but also for delegates from other countries who might go in for Indian food.

(The writer is D 3250 PDG and Regional Convention Promotion Coordinator.)

Rangiloo Rajkot


Rajkot is the fourth largest city in the state of Gujarat. Rajkot was once the capital of the princely State of Saurashtra, before its merger in to the Bombay State on 1st of November, 1956. The sprawling city of Rajkot is located on the backs of River Aji and Nirari, and lies in the centre of Saurashtra. It is flourishing of industrial hub with wide streets and distinctly urban architecture. The typical Kathiawari hospitality greets people from all walks of life. Here complicated business deals are struck over cups of tea, jalebi-fafda and ice-cream. The city over the years has earned the title ‘Rangiloo Rajkot’ and the exuberance of the people more than live up to the name.

Today it is best known as the town where Mahatma Gandhi spent the early years of his life, when his father was the Diwan or Prime Minister to the Raja of Saurashtra.

Welcome to the land of fun, frolic and food!

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Places to visit…

Rajkumar College

This is one of the oldest colleges founded in India, by the princes and chiefs of Kathiawar for the education of the princely order. The RKC was opened to the public ini 1939 and is one of Rajkot’s most esteemed schools. A series of buildings in Indo-Gothic architecture, characterizez this 25 acre campus, exuding an old world charm.

RKC rajkot

Rajkumar College

Location: Dr. Radhakrishnan Road, Gavliwad.

Timing: Across the day, every day. Permission to be obtained from the Principal’s office for touring the campus.

For more Details: +91 281 2466064/248 1032

Rashtriya Shala

Rashtriya Shala was established in 1921 by the erstwhile ruler of Rajkot, Lakhaji Raj Thakore, in the presence of Mahatma Gandhi to serve as a national educational institution. From 1934 Khadi spinning and weaving were introduced here. Today this institution is involved in reviving Patola weaving techniques.

rashtriya shala rajkot

Rashtriya Shala

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Location: 3 km from Rajkot railway station.

Timings: 09:00 am to 12:00 noon.

For more details: +91 281 2466076

Mayur Patola Art

Rajkot has quickly developed a Patola-weaving industry. This skill comes from Patan, and is a torturous process that involves dyeing each thread before it is woven. However, in Patan both the warp and weft threads are dyed (double ikat ), whereas in Rajkot only the weft is dyed (single ikat ), so the product is more affordable. You can visit workshops that are located in people’s houses in the Sarvoday Society area, including Mayur Patola Art , behind Virani High School.
Address: Sarvoday Society

Telephone: +91 281 2464519

Opening hours: 10am-6pm

Watson Museum

The Watson Museum is named after Colonel John Watson, a political agent (administrator) in the 1880s who gathered many historical artefacts and documents from around Saurashtra. It’s a jumbled attic of a collection, featuring 3rd-century inscriptions, delicate ivory work, and taxidermy exhibits put together by someone with a bizarre sense of humor.

watson museum

Rajkumar College

Address: Jubilee Gardens

Prices: Indian/foreigner: 5/50

Opening hours: 9am-12.45pm & 3-6pm Thu-Tue, closed 2nd & 4th Sat of the month

Kaba Gandhi No Delo

This is the house where Gandhi lived from the age of six (while his father was diwan of Rajkot), and it contains lots of interesting information on his life. It now holds a permanent exhibition of Gandhian items called Gandhi Smriti. The house offers a pictorial tour of the Mahatma’s life with captions in both Hindi and Gujarati. The Mahatma’s passion for the handloom is preserved in the form of a small weaving school.

kaba gandhi no delo rajkot

Rajkumar College

Address: Kadiya Nav Line, Street No. 8, Sri Lakhajraj Road, Lohana Para.

 

Opening hours: 09:00 am to 12:00 pm and 03:00 pm to 06:00 pm.

Bangdi Bazaar

The market in the old part of the city is a maze of narrow alleyways, lanes and dead ends. Shop fronts and foot paths display an array of embroidered fabrics, beadwork, bandhanis and readymade material.

Location: Kanak Road in the Old City.

Lang Library

It is an institution over a hundred years old which commemorates the memory of Col. Lang. Originally stared as Vidya Gun Prakash in 1856, it came to be finally housed in the present building in 1893.

Temptations

RESTAURANT

Hugely popular with families, Mexican, Italian, falafel, baked potatoes, parathas (thick flat bread with stuffings such as vegetables or paneer) and South Indian are served in a clean, brightly decorated, well air-conditioned cafe.
Address: Kasturba Rd

Lord’s Banquet

RESTAURANT

Location: Rajkot , India

Address: Kasturba Rd

Telephone: +91 281 2444486

Opening hours

12.30-3.30pm & 7.30-11.30pm

Patel Ice Cream

Home made type/unpasteurized ice cream: Especially seasonal flavours like ginger, Sitafal (Custard Apple), Mango

Address: Sadar Bajar, Race Course

Chouki Dhani, Rajkot

RESTAURANT/HOTEL

chouki dhani rajkot

Rajkumar College

Address: Near All India Radio Tower, Jamnagar Road, Rajkot. Gujarat. India
Mobile: 91-99789 55595
Phone: 91-281-6544664 / 6543664
Website: www.ChoukiDhani.com

Heritage Khirasara palace

RESTAURANT/HOTEL

khirasara palace.jpg

Khirsara Palace

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Address: Kalawad Road, Near Metoda G.I.D.C.Khirsara, Kalawad Road, Khirasra, Rajkot, Gujarat 360021, India

Cell: +91 99130 77077
Tel: +91 2827 234444
Web: www.khirasarapalace.in

Places to see around Rajkot…

Virpur: Located here is the Jalaram Bapa temple, a popular pilgrimage sire and the former residence of the saint and social reformer. He dedicated his life to selfless service. During his late teens Bapa and his wife established a sadavrat, offering food to people at all hours. Nobody returned hungry from their doorstep.

Khambhalida Caves: At Khambhalida there are three caves, the central one called ‘chaitya’ has a worn-out stupa. The entrance of the ‘chaitya’ is flanked by two large sculptures of the Bodhisattvas – Padmapani on the right and Vajrapani on the left. The caves date back to the 4th-5th century AD and are carved out from the local limestone rock.

Gujarat Trip: Somnath & Diu


Somnath

Temple of Somnath

SIGHTS / RELIGIOUS

Location: Somnath , India

Opening hours: 6am-9pm

It’s said that Somraj (the moon god) first built a temple here, made of gold; this was rebuilt by Ravana in silver, by Krishna in wood and by Bhimdev in stone. The current serene, symmetrical structure was built to traditional designs on the original coastal site: it’s painted a creamy colour and boasts a little fine sculpture. The large, black Shiva lingam at its heart is one of the 12 most sacred Shiva shrines, known as jyoti linga.

somnath.jpg

Somnath Temple

A description of the temple by Al-Biruni, an Arab traveller, was so glowing that it prompted a visit in 1024 by a most unwelcome tourist – the legendary looter Mahmud of Ghazni from Afghanistan. At that time, the temple was so wealthy that it had 300 musicians, 500 dancing girls and even 300 barbers. Mahmud of Ghazni took the town and temple after a two-day battle in which it’s said 70,000 Hindu defenders died. Having stripped the temple of its fabulous wealth, Mahmud destroyed it. So began a pattern of Muslim destruction and Hindu rebuilding that continued for centuries. The temple was again razed in 1297, 1394 and finally in 1706 by Aurangzeb, the notorious Mughal ruler. After that, the temple wasn’t rebuilt until 1950.

Cameras, mobile phones and bags must be left at the cloakroom before entering. Colourful dioramas of the Shiva story line the north side of the temple garden, though it’s hard to see them through the hazy glass. A one-hour sound-and-light show highlights the temple nightly at 7.45pm.

Prabhas Patan Museum

SIGHTS / MUSEUMS & GALLERIES

Location: Somnath , India

Prices: Indian/foreigner 5/50

Opening hours: 10.30am-5.30pm Thu-Tue, closed 2nd & 4th Sat of the month

This museum, 300m north of the Somnath temple, is laid out in courtyard-centred rooms and contains remains of the previous temples, some intricately carved, though many are very weathered.

Diu

Diu is different. This tiny island linked by a bridge to Gujarat’s southern coast is infused with Portuguese history; its major architectural landmarks include three churches and a seafront fort; the streets of the main town are remarkably clean and quiet once you get off the tourist-packed waterfront strip; and alcohol is legal here. If you’ve been spending time immersed in the intensity of Gujarati cities, or just really need a beer, Diu offers a refreshing break.

Despite its draw as a seaside destination, Diu is not a great choice for a beach-centric vacation. Most of its sandy strips are littered with trash, and the throngs of families make them better for people-watching than sun-worshipping. Add in the random drunk-guy factor and any fantasies you have of a tropical paradise will surely be dashed. Diu, however, is one of the safest places in India to ride a scooter, with minimum traffic and excellent roads, and zipping along the coast with the wind in your hair is a joy.

Like Daman and Goa, Diu was a Portuguese colony until taken over by India in 1961. With Daman, it is still governed from Delhi as part of the Union Territory of Daman & Diu and is not part of Gujarat. It includes Diu Island, about 11km by 3km, separated from the mainland by a narrow channel, and two tiny mainland enclaves. One of these, housing the village of Ghoghla, is the entry point to Diu from Una.

Diu town sits at the east end of the island. The northern side of the island, facing Gujarat, is tidal marsh and salt pans, while the southern coast alternates between limestone cliffs, rocky coves and sandy beaches.

The island’s main industries are fishing, tourism, alcohol and salt. Kalpana Distillery at Malala produces rum from sugar cane.

One custom of the Portuguese still very much respected by local businesses is that of the siesta, meaning you shouldn’t count on much being open in mid-afternoon.

Diu Fort

SIGHTS / MILITARY

Location: Diu , India

Opening hours: 8am-6pm

diu-fort.jpg

Diu Fort

Built in 1535, with additions made in 1541, this massive, well-preserved Portuguese fort with its double moat (one tidal) must once have been impregnable, but sea erosion and neglect are leading to a slow collapse. Cannonballs litter the place, and the ramparts have a superb array of cannons. The lighthouse, which you can climb, is Diu’s highest point, with a beam that reaches 32km. There are several small chapels, one holding engraved tombstone fragments.Part of the fort also serves as the island’s jail.

St Paul’s Church

A wedding cake of a church, founded by Jesuits in 1600 and then rebuilt in 1807. Its neoclassical facade is the most elaborate of any…

Diu Museum

A spooky, evocative collection of old Catholic saint statues inside St, Thomas’ Church.

St Thomas’ Church

A simple church that now houses a museum.

O’Coqueiro

Here, the dedicated Kailash Pandey has developed a soul-infused garden restaurant celebrating freshness and quality. The menu offers…

Vanakbara

SIGHTS / NEIGHBOURHOODS & VILLAGES

Vanakbara information

Location: Diu , India

At the extreme west of the island, Vanakbara is a fascinating little fishing village and the highlight of the island. It’s great to wander around the port, packed with colourful fishing boats and bustling activity – best around 7am to 8am when the fishing fleet returns and sells off its catch.

Beaches

SIGHTS / BEACHES, ISLANDS & WATERFRONTS

Location: Diu , India

Nagoa Beach , on the south coast of the island 7km west of Diu town, is long, palm-fringed and safe for swimming – but trash-strewn and very busy, and often with drunk men: foreign women receive a lot of unwanted attention. Two kilometres further west begins the sandy, 2.5km sweep of Gomptimata Beach . This is often empty, except on busy weekends, but it gets big waves – you need to be a strong swimmer here. Within walking distance of Diu town are the rocky Jallandhar Beach , on the town’s southern shore; the longer, sandier Chakratirth Beach , west of Jallandhar; and pretty Sunset Point Beach , a small, gentle curve beyond Chakratirth that’s popular for swimming and relatively hassle-free. Sunset Point itself is a small headland at the south end of the beach, topped by the INS Khukhri Memorial , commemorating an Indian Navy frigate sunk off Diu during the 1971 India–Pakistan War. Unfortunately the region around Sunset Point is also a dumping ground, and any early-morning excursion will reveal that the tidal zone here is a popular toilet venue.

The best beach is Ghoghla Beach , north of Diu. A long stretch of sand, it’s got less trash and fewer people than the others, along with gentle waves and some decent restaurants behind it.

Padhaaro Mhaare Des…


…or ‘welcome to our city’ exemplifies the spirit of Jodhpur — a canvas of Rajasthani culture

Ever thought the colour used by locals to paint their homes — in a bid to ward off insects —would become synonymous with the city? In the past, Jodhpur suffered from a major termite problem —so the residents started adding copper sulphate to their whitewashes, which lent the city its pristine blue-indigo hue. The Blue City is really blue!

Modem Jodhpur stretches well beyond the city walls, but it’s within the walled city that you find the Rajasthan of your imagination – the hustle-bustle, the colours, and the larger-than-life Mehrangarh Fort At the base of the mighty fort is a jumble of blue cubes that stretches out to the 10 km-long, 16th-century city wall. Inside are vibrant, entangled and bustling medieval streets — all of which never seem to lead where you want them to… The shops sell everything from vintage home decor items and temple decorations to colourful clothes and accessories. The colourful rickshaws here are super slim since they have to squeeze through the narrow streets. They make for a great travel option.

RAJPUTANA SPLENDOUR

The colossal and grand Mehrangarh Fort, which rises 400 sq ft above the city, looks nothing less than a page out of a fairy tale. The imprint of Jodhpur’s erstwhile royal family, built by Maharaja Jaswant Singh in the 17th century, it is the defining feature of this otherwise low-rise landscape. If you aren’t visiting Jodhpur in winter, make sure you reach the fort early to skip the midday sun. You don’t need a ticket to enter the fort; only the muse um section requires one. Packed with history, Mehran- garh Fort houses one of the best- kept collections of regal parapherna lia in the country. What you see is a mag nificent collection of silver elephant how dahs, gilded palanquins, carved ivory, weapons inlaid with gold and jewels, rare pieces of textile, and some of the world’s finest miniature paintings. You’ll be amazed to see elaborate cradles of infant princes and the extensive zenana (where maharanis lived) with dainty filigree win dows. Make sure to hire a guide to take you through the palatial labyrinth, great hall ways and long corridors and hear fascinating stories about the heroism of the leg endary Rajput warriors of Marwar. You can also consider spending the afternoon in its small cafe, sipping chilled beer or wine, lounge under shady trees reading a book or simply enjoy the spectacular views of the city. There are some curio shops too; you can take back valuable merchandise like a Jodhpuri earring or a maharaja pen as memento. For adventur seekers, there’s the flying fox zip- 1 line tour, which runs below the fort.

jashwath thada jodhpur

When in Jodhpur, a visit to Umaid Bhavan is a must. If your budget doesn’t permit you to stay there, go for dinner or drinks at its scenic restuarant where the verandah of fers a lavish view of the palace gardens. Indulge in some Rajasthani delicacies (ker sangri and laal maas) generously spread on silver platters. Visitors aren’t admitted dur ing all seasons, so call in advance to make a reservation. Again, casual visitors are not allowed inside the palace as the current royal bearer Gaj Singh II still lives in the premises. But you can certainly visit the museum by paying a nominal entry free. Pictures of artistic palace interiors, a collection of antique clocks and the maharaja’s vintage cars are eye-catching.

ALL THINGS ETHNIC

You’ll find steps leading to the marketplace all around the Ghanta Ghar. The area somehow creates an aura that is hard to resist. Though loud, dusty and a tad dirty, the bylanes sell wares, spices, metal bangles, Jodhpun jootis, Rajasthani turbans, and loads of mithais and snacky items you can munch on during a shopping spree. The city is popularly known for its antique fur niture emporiums. There are a few near Ghanta Ghar too. If you love investing in retro, unique home decor pieces and fur nishings in Indian prints, it’s impossible to leave empty-handed. From coloured-glass lanterns and vintage posters to jaali-work wooden frames and quirky painted metal trunks, you’ll find them all. As a souvenhi you can pick a signature Jodhpuri re versible block-print quilt that is known to have a cooling effect in summer and acts as an insulator against the cold in the harsh winter cold.

village market jodhpur.jpg

Village market, Jodhpur

FESTIVAL ALERT!

Lose yourself to the sacred sounds and dance performances by the best artiste line-up from across the globe at Mehrangarh Fort that is lit by the sparkling incandescence of a thousand candles.

World Sacred Spirit Festival (Feb 26-27, 2016); Flamenco & Gypsy Festival (Mar 18-20, 2016)

MUST-EAT

Your trip would be incomplete if you leave Jodhpur without biting into the fiery mirchi vadas (king-size green chili stuffed with spicy potato filling, dipped in gram flour batter and fried), kachoris and makhaniya lass!. The busy area around the Clock Tower market has a number of street stalls offering freshly-fried versions of the eatables. Try Janta Sweet Home at Na! Sarak, a favourite among the locals.

 

05 hand-picked vacation destinations that are worth a visit in Gujarat


  1. The north west desert ( rann of Kutch )

The white sands portrayed in the tourism of ‘Khushbu Gujarat Ki’ are well within travel reach. This place is an ideal for winter travel as daytimes are less hot while night are really entrancing.

IMG_7152

White Rann of Kuch

Special attraction: there is a place in the Banni Grasslands which is adjoining the Rann of Kutch where according to locals one can see floating lights move around the air. Locals call the phenomenon ‘cheer batti’ or ghost lights which can be seen 2 to 10 feet off ground. Scientists believe the lights are scientific photo emission by oxidation of Phosphine and Disphosphane gases however local legends can be fun to hear over a full moon for adrenaline seeking travelers.

  1. Gir Forest and Girnar
IMG_3693

Cubs been fed my Lioness at Gir Lion National Park, Sasan Gir 

This region between Junagadh and Amreli district are known for its diverse wildlife. It is home to the Asiatic Lion and the Girnar Mountain. This place can be of great adventure for people who find solace in the wild.

Special attraction: the place is the world’s second home to Lions outside Africa. One can also get a chance to mingle with the local ‘siddi’ population whose ancestry can be traced back to African tribes. The mountain Girnar is also a host to ‘Naga Babas’ or naked saints and witnessing them is considered a good omen. It is also a known fact that the formation of this mountain is older than the Himalayan Range.

  1. The deep forests of Dang
Saputara Picnic

Saputara, only Hill Station of Gujarat in Dang Forest Region

Popular among travelers as Saptuara forest; this place is a good winter retreat. The place has a lot to offer for tourists ranging from treks and hiking to a whole unexplored wildlife.

Special attractions: there are a lots of hotels that offer stay in three houses which can be of interest. There might also be a few waterfalls to visit in this area. Taking a good day’s hike in the forests can be of great adventure.

  1. Dwarka & Somnath
SONY DSC

Somnath Temple overlooking Somnath Beach 

These places are of high religious importance. Each of them has a unique spiritual experience to offer.

Special attraction: dwarka is home to ‘bet dwarka’ which is like the lost city of Atlantis and is submerged in water. Somnath is one of the ‘Jyotirlings’ which lord Shiva himself has established which makes it a very significant destination for religious and spiritual people alike. Somnath also has a beach.

  1. Diu & Daman
diufort14052012-an_62-1

Diu 

Contrary to popular befief, Diu & Daman are far away from each other. However both of them offer a good winter gateway with coastal climate and beaches.

Special Attraction: it wouldn’t be wrong to mention it is one of special attractions for anyone wanting to unwind a bit. Daman is soon to be host to onshore gaming complexes (casinos) and it has recently been host to Sunburn Music Festival. Diu is known for its Diu Fort and the Naida Caves.

When the travel bug bites all these places can be on the list for the various special attractions they have to offer. Tourists not wanting to travel far off lands can find proximity in all of these places. After all; all of them have ‘Khushboo Gujarat ni’ in common.

Fairmount Jaipur Package Vaild from 7 to 15 Nov.

#Dubai Sightseeings – Important updates


IMPORTANT UPDATES:

Miracle Garden shall be open until the end of May 2015

Dolphinarium is closed from 15 June until 16 July

Burj Khalifa Prime Hours: 17h30 – 18h30 Hrs

At the Top, Burj Khalifa during Ramadan

10h00 – 01h00, Prime hours will be limited to 17h30 – 19h00 inclusive

Note on Ramadan

===============

This year, we are expecting  Holy month of fasting “Ramadan” to be from 17 June to  17 July (approximate dates, / actual dates to be announced closer to the date only, as this will depend on moon sighting).  During this month, eating, drinking, smoking etc in public areas during day time i.e from sunrise till sunset,  will not be allowed .

There won’t be any entertainment during Desert safari or onboard dhow/night clubs may remain closed and parties with loud music / dancing etc will not be allowed. Hotels may serve alcohol in their outlets after sunset only. In general, hotels will have 1 main restaurant open for breakfast & lunch. Standalone restaurants (which are outside hotels/ or in shopping malls) will remain closed during day time and will open after sunset only

PHOTOGENIC PARADISE SANTORINI


The Greek isle of Santorini has survived through its past history and natural disasters to retain its title as the most photogenic paradise.

photogenic paradiseview of oia village

It starts out as a holiday from hell. Greece is in the throes of stormy weather in the beginning of summer – our ferry is cancelled and we have to settle for expensive air tickets. As we land on the island, the sky is a smouldering grey and the first drizzle depresses us; we were looking for islands in the sun…instead, we wrap ourselves in fleece and caps as we head out.

According to Greek mythology, Santorini was a handful of dirt that the sea god Triton gave to the Argonauts. Another tale says that the god Zeus hurled the core of the island at his enemies – the Titans – and the imprint of his fingers can be still seen on four inlets of the island. Called Kallisti, “The Loveliest,” when it was first settled, this crescent shaped photogenic island locally called Thira, is famous for its dramatic setting.

oia village streetchurch with blue dome

Rimmed by striated red and grey volcanic cliffs and lined with a chain of vertiginous villages, with white sugar cube houses that drip down the edges like frosting on a cake, it is probably the most photogenic in the Aegean. Three thousand years ago, Santorini changed forever when a volcano exploded with such force that the centre collapsed into the ocean and a tsunami wipe out the entire Minoan civilization. Plumes of lava ripped through the skies in a mammoth explosion. Legend has it that the lost city of Atlantis was inspired by his volcanic eruption.

a cafe in city of firahouses in fira

BLUE AND WHITE LAND: We choose to stay at Oia, a pretty village in the northern most part of the island, in a traditional cave hotel that is chiseled into the soft volcanic rock where one villa’s roof is the next villa’s balcony. The owner is generous and upgrades us to an apartment, as we have arrived during off-season just after Greek Easter, when the islands are slowly being readied for the summer. This is when hotels are painted, woodwork is polished and plants are tended to. This jumble of cave houses called hyposkafa was built for fishermen and sailors. These were nestled in the cliff rocks, and one could see only their arched entrance, so that the inhabitants could hide from pirates. Above these cave houses are Venetian mansions built for the wealthy sea captions, called kapetanea. It’s a world where white and blue are the predominant hues.

doors to heavenBoutiques

Locals say that the Turks who settled on the island were banned from using the national colours of Greece, and to defy them, they painted the houses in the colours of the national flag! Oia is also an artist’s hub, with colourful shops lining the main street paved in marble, selling jewellery, paintings and carvings as well as distinctive doors painted with scenes from the village.

From Oia, we walk down to the small fishing village of Amoudi Bay lined with seafood in small eateries, giving us the chance to snorkel and swim in the clear waters.

As the sun comes out, changing the complexion of our vacation for the better, we gaze enviously at the luxurious villas with their infinity pools spilling over the sides of the cliffs. Rows and rows of white balconies with blue swimming pools and umbrellas hug the sides of the cliffs.

Precipitous paths wrap their way around this maze. We spend our days walking through the vertical world, watching adroit waiters lugging breakfast on their shoulders nonchalantly, shops displaying colourful watercolours, blue domes of churches framed with sprays of bright pink bougainvillea, offering a striking contrast to the white and blue colour scheme of the entire island. I get lost often, walking through the labyrinth of streets that were meant to thwart pirates long ago.

Almost every street seems to end in a whitewashed church. Santorini has just eight thousand inhabitants, but more than three hundred churches with their signature blue domes and pretty bell towers, most of them built by grateful seamen, for having been saved from fierce storms.

ISLAND RETREAT: we take a trip to Fira, the capital of the island, accessed by more than 500 steps from the port. If Oia is tranquil, Fira is robust and full of life.

Fira is where the big cruise ships come and dock and the presence of big spenders have resulted in a lot of gaudy stores. We walk through the cobbled lanes paved with volcanic stone, ‘Gold Street’ filled with shops selling expensive gold jewellery and rest our tired traveller’s feet at cafes with panoramic views of the volcano.

There are liveried donkeys that ferry tourists who choose that over a cable car from the harbour at the foot of the cliff. I see a time warp of wizened old women basking in the sun and Greek orthodox priests with long beards, alongside camera-toting Japanese tourists who fill up their memory cards recklessly.

Santorini is a hedonist’s paradise, with infinity pools and black beaches to bask on – but scratch below the surface and you will find the scars of its turbulent past; hoteliers build properties teetering on the edge of the volcanic crater, and farmers till the hard soil and plant vines in spite of the lack of rain.

I realised how fragile the island and its romantic hotels are when I take a trip to the volcano, walking up a grey ash path, with the whiff of sulphur and the hiss of steam signifying that it still has life.

I follow it up with a swim in Palei Kameni, a hot sulphur spring where you feel like you are drowning in a pool of sewage, but it works wonders for your skin.

ANCIENT WONDERS: long ago, Santorini was home to one of the most advanced civilizations of the world. I find the ghosts of the past everywhere. I see them in the gorgeous wall paintings in the Museum of Prehistoric Thera in the capital. Some of the oldest vineyards are still found on Santorini’s surprisingly fertile soil. For a time warp experience, I visit the southern tip of the island, where the Bronze Age archaeological site, Akrotiri, exists with the ruins of ancient settlements with mosaics and frescoes preserved perfectly for centuries under layers of pumice. Imagine a Minoan city, with well-planned streets and squares and three-storey houses, buried by a volcanic eruption. Artefacts, furniture and vivid frescoes that decorated the houses of its sophisticated wealthy sea merchants that were unearthed show that its must have been a very sophisticated civilization.

Come sunset, I head to the end of the village, for the famed Santorini ritual of watching the sun inching towards of purple horizon, casting vivid shadows of purple and orange on the whitewashed facades. I look forward to dinners at open air restaurants on the precipice that arrange their tables and chairs on the edge of the cliff and give the phrase ‘meal with a view’ a completely new dimension!

cooled lava rock souvenirspainted doors n windows in oia

With more than 300 days of sunshine and rich volcanic soil, Santorini is quite the foodie paradise – on every table in the island are fava beans grown on the island and made into a puree with capers and other flavouring. We feast on local specialties like baby squids batter fried and tomato fritters made with the island’s aromatic cherry tomatoes.

My Santorini sojourn is all about those Eureka moments; catching sight of a gorgeous seascape painted on old doors and windows of an art gallery, a black cat napping on a blinding white parapet, a little secret courtyard aflame with geraniums, a blue door that seems to lead nowhere, the constant soundtrack of pealing church bells and finally, the rosy hues of the setting sun against the dramatic cliffs heralding the curtain call to yet another day in paradise.

Courtesy by K.T.

Khajuraho – Madhya Pradesh


The temples of Khajuraho are India’s unique gift to the world. They are an ode to love in stone and are a testimony to the extraordinary breadth of vision of the Chandela Rajputs under whose the temples were conceived and constructed. The Khajuraho temples were built in a 100 years, from 950-1050 AD. of the 85 original temples, 22 have survived till today to constitute one of the world’s great artistic wonders. Architecturally the temples are a highly imaginative recreation of the rising peaks of the Himalayas, abode of the gods and are divided into three geographical divisions that group the temples as western eastern and southern.

khajuraho

Must Watch

The Western Group: This is the main group and is the must see if you have less time. The temples are built on large platforms and have tall shikharas under which is situated the garbha graham for the main deity. The largest and the most typical of the Khajuraho temples, is the Kandariya Mahadeva temple which soars 21 m high. Dedicated to Shiva, the deity is a marble shiva lingam. The temple is exquisitely carved and almost 900 sculptures on the platform.

The other important temples are the Chaunsath Yogini is the only granite temple and the earliest surviving shrine of the group ( 900 AD ), it is dedicated to Kali. The Chitragupta temple is dedicated to the Sun god, Surya. The image of the deity is five feet high, and driving a hourse drawn chariot. The Vishwanath temple is a Brahma Shrinewith a three headed image and a Nandi bull facing the Shrine.

The best preserved temple is the Lakshman temple which houses the trinity of Brahma, Vishnu and Shiva with Lakshmi, Vishnu’s Consort.

The finely carved sanctum has a three-headed idol of Vishnu’s incarnations, Narasimha and Varaha. 

Easter Group –

The Parsvanath Temple is the largest Jain Temple and exquisite in detail. The sculptures on the northern outer wall are particularly noteworthy. This Ghantai Jain Temple has a frieze which depicts the 16 dreams of Mahavira’s mother, and a Jain goddess on a winged Garuda. The Adinath temple dedicated to the Jain saint has detailed carvings of Yakshis. The three hindu temples of the group are the Brahma, containing a four faced lingam, the Vamana, which is adorned on its outer walls with carving of apsaras in a variety of sensuous attitudes; and the Javari, which a richly carved gateway and exterior sculptures.

Southern group –

Duladeo Temple: Dedicated to Shiva the apsara and ornamented figures are the temple’s most striking features..

Chaturbhuj Temple –

This temple has a massive, intricately carved image of Vishnu in the sanctum.

How to reach –

~ Regular sevies link Khajuraho with Delhi and Varanasi

~ Khajuraho is connected by regular buses with Satna, Harpalpur, Jhansi and Mahoba.

~ Khajuraho has its own railway station linking it to Delhi, Jhansi ( 172 kms ), Harpalpur ( 94 km ) and Mahoba ( 64 km ), Satna ( 117 km ) which is on the Mumbai – Allahabad line of the central Railway is a convenient rail link for those coming from Mumbai, Kolkata and Varanasi.

« Older entries

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 3,613 other followers

%d bloggers like this: