Cheer the Indian Cricket team in Sri Lanka this September


Source: Cheer the Indian Cricket team in Sri Lanka this September

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Dream set to Sail from Singapore – Dream Cruises !


Genting Dream – Cruise from Singapore
~ 05 Nights Cruise from Singapore to Surabaya – North Bali – Singapore
~ 05 Nights from Singapore to Port Klang – Penang – Phuket – Singapore
~ 02 Nights from Singapore – High Sea – Singaopre

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Source: Dream set to Sail from Singapore – Dream Cruises !

 

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.

IN THE PINK OF THINGS – JAIPUR


Jaipur’s forts, palaces, colors and hospitality will make you feel like the royals that lived here centuries ago

Across the rocky plains encircled by desert hills, with bastion and fortified walls spiraling over their contours, lies the capital of Rajasthan. I rolled the window down as we drove through early morning rush hour at Bapu Bazaar. Vendors prepared their fresh supply of fruits, vegetables and bright orange marigolds for sale, children crowded together in cycle-rickshaws headed for school, and there was an extraordinary chaos in the air, as every possible mode of transport, from luxury cars to scooters, rickshaws, horse-drawn carts and camels, all found their place on the same road. The morning sun reflected on the stunning 18th century architecture of pink sand-stone, turning into a soft shade of honeycomb with a pinkish hue.

In stark contrast, our car soon wheeled into a royal landscape which was home to a fairytale princess, the fabulous Rambagh Palace that is now a luxury hotel. The imposing exterior was reminiscent of the regal style of the buildings in the city. We were greeted to a rose petal welcome and led to our suite by an attentive turbaned butler.

The palace interiors were no less impressive, with long, white-marbled verandahs that wound around the courtyards. As the third wife of HH Maharaja Sawai Man Singh II, this was Rajmata Gayatri Devi’s first home after marriage. Sipping tea on the manicured lawns, you get a sense of the kind of grandeur that she wrote so fondly of, what with all the elephant polo matches, lavish meals and the Rolls-Royces. The palace’s resident peacocks complete the picture.

The sights and sounds of Jaipur, like its people, are vibrant and exuberant. It is a world of Bandhani And Leheriyan Saris, Mojari Chappals, Puppet dolls and Daal Baati Churma and Makkai Muthiya meal that we had been anticipating since we left. But first, a brief history lesson: just outside the city, accessible by car – or better yet, by elephant – is the spectacular Amber Fort. Built four centuries ago by Raja Maan Singh I, Amber Fort is renowned as an architectural marvel with stunning artistic elements and stonework, which used the practical approach of the ancient Indian study of vaastu.

Listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, Amber Fort gets approximately 5000 visitors a day, most of whom seemed to be waiting for an elephant ride up to the Fort.

“Padharo Mare Desh!” yelled out short, pot-bellied turbaned tour guide Gyaan Singh, in his uncanny American accent. We cheated the serpentine queues to enter the Fort, thanks to his wasta (influence) and soon we were taking in enough history to fill an encyclopaedic volume. He walked us through the Suraj Pol, Jalebi Chowk (an Arabic word referring to a place for soldiers to gather), Ganesh Pol, Sila Devi Temple, the stately courtyards, and numerous other places of unimaginable intrigue all amongst this immaculately planned palatial fort of red sandstone and marble masonry, lattice-screens and mirror work walls.

After taking in all that history, we made our way to some retail therapy in the bustling markets of the city. Jaipur is famous for its textiles, block prints being made by local artisans, silver and of course the spectacular Jaipur gems.

The next morning, we bid farewell to the city and our not-so-humble abode and headed for the undulating Aravalli hills to pink sandstone and limestone-walled resort, reflecting Rajasthan’s famed architectural history. The Tree Of Life Resort and Spa offers a quiet tranquillity – it is an ideal place to unwind and rest. It inspired my very urban children to go off on a ‘nature walk’, so that is something. They reported back with an interesting list – “a real carrot garden, four monarch butterflies, three big squirrels and a large German Shepherd…..that belongs to the lady in the next villa.”

Up here in the Aravalli hills, under the clear blue skies, with no cellphones, no computers or schedules to uphold, you get a chance to be pensive and contemplative. Perhaps, that is my version of being Royal in Rajasthan.

Courtesy by K.T.

3 cubs’ death exposes foresters’ callousness


The train accident that claimed three Asiatic lion cubs near Pipavav ( Gujarat, India ) on Wednesday night has raised serious questions about the forests department’s seriousness in ensuring the safety of these endangered wild cats, many of which have strayed from their original home in Gir ( Sasan, Gujarat, India ).

Three lion cubs were crushed to death near Rampara (Gujarat, India) railway crossing about a kilometer from Pipavav.

After a series of incidents last year in which lions were killed under trains in this particular area, the forest department had deployed trackers along the five km railway stretch between Baraftana junction and Pipavav railway station (both places are in Gujarat, India).

However, sources conformed to TOI that around 53 trackers were relieved by the department on March 31.

Forest officials, however, denied relieving them. “We have not relieved any tracker as they are casual laborers and we call them whenever we need them”, M.R. Gurjar, deputy conservator of forests, (social forestry), Amreli division, told TOI.

Interestingly, as soon as the news about the lion cubs’ death spread, all the trackers who were relieved were called to join work immediately.

“We were finding it difficult to handle the wild cats that come to the tracks. This required round the clock duty but surprisingly we were told not to come after March 31”, said a tracker, requesting anonymity.

There are around 60 to 70 lions along the costal parts of Rajula and Jafrabad Taluka (in Gujarat, India) of Amreli District.

Courtesy – Time of India

Song of the Wilde – The Bandipur Tiger Reserve


SONG OF THE WILD

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We sat down for a romantic dinner at a candlelit table for two, on the periphery of the Bandipur Tiger Reserve in south India and the air resonated with mystery and menace. We heard an owl hoot, the electrifying alarm call of a deer ripped across the jungle and then the low growl of a tiger resonated in the depths. It was a chilling moment, but laden with ineffable beauty.

The king of the jungle was probably on the prowl in the forest beyond The Serai Bandipur, a plush jungle resort in Karnataka, around 226 km from Bangalore. As we sipped a drink and pondered on the surreal nature of our tryst, we exulted that the Royal Bengal Tiger was roaring back, having been written off by doomsday prophets as being on the brink of extinction.

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A handsome total of 2226 tigers have clawed back into the big cat census of 2014 as opposed to 1706 in 2010, and the southern Indian state of Karnataka has the highest number in the country. Indeed, Karnataka was the first state in India to set up a commando force to fight poachers and, today, the Bandipur Tiger Reserve supports the highest density of tigers in the country.

The low roars had died down soon after in that star-span-gled night as we savoured a gourmet repast laid out for us at The Serai, where luxury in the wild is the byword. Not surprisingly, the 990 sq km Bandipur Tiger reserve is no stranger to the luxury, these forests, though the 18th and 19 centuries, like to pulverise a tiger or two over an idle weekend.

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Built artfully across 19 acres (and enclosed by solar fencing), the resort has 17 acres of private wilderness around it. As we turned in for the night in our capacious suite, we could imagine the majestic cat scoping the jungle for a meal; transfixing a terrified fawn in his tawny eyed gaze; sizing up on a muscled Sambar and could almost hear the nervous titters of Langurs, high up in a gnarled old tree…

Nestling in the foothills of the Nilgiris, Bandipur that day was awash in shades of green where dawn crept in on silent feet, painting the vast lushness in pastel shades. Langurs swung from tree to tree to welcome the new dawn, birds trilled and the Giant Malabar Squirrel scampered up the sturdy trunk of a tree. The rare while bellied black woodpecker peeked out of a hole in a tree like an inquisitive old aunt; the greater racket-tailed drongo called, displaying his ability to mimic the calls of a number of birds while a crested serpent eagle sat prey. Spotted deer pranced as our jeep purred past and handsome stags locked velvety antlers in a display of brawn.

As the sun rose in the sky, it glanced off the axle-wood trees and glided the forest, turning it into a wonderland. Knotted old growth trees leant towards stands of dead bamboo as though to breathe life into their old, lifeless comrades; red pathways sliced the dense forest and suddenly, a herd of elephants – aunts, matriarch and baby, chomping their way through the jungle. As jeep stopped in quiet homage of the huge beasts, another group suddenly emerged from the other side, backlit by the climbing sun. Low sounds emanated from the herd as they communicated with their brethren on the other side of the divide.

Then a couple of them lumbered across the safari trail, even as our driver reversed the jeep to let them pass unhindered. But one gentle giant hesitated for a heart-stopping moment as though considering mock charge and then plodded away, having decided that we were not invaders. The most stirring moment was yet to happen: the herd trumpeted as they crashed through the jungle, sending shock waves through a silent landscape.

There were no encores after that, but it was a cameo of the world in all its raw innocence. And as drove back to the Serai, a graceful leopard draped in a tree just outside the property, a gorgeous beauty that combined raw menace and grace.

Later, we savoured breakfast at the resort, revelling in the scenic beauty of South African style lodge, which cleverly combines rustic chic with luxury. We spent the rest of the day under the thatched umbrella set up on the terrace of our residence suite, gazing at the Nilgiris blueing in the distance and heaving ourselves up only to go on a nature walk with the resident naturalist in the private wilderness of property. This is a not-to-be-missed activity for the formidable Kuttappan’s air of a fearsome bandit, complete with a rakish bandana and scarred face, is deceptive.

To embark on a nature walk with him is to experience the smaller pleasures of the jungle: points out the pug marks of a visiting tiger who might have loitered past at night; presents a non-venomous wolf snake to you as a mark of respect and affection; and lifts up from the forest floor a pair of deer antlers, velvety in the dying sun, with the tender care that one would accord a newborn baby!

kuttappan-resident naturalistwoodpecker

Kuttappan is a legend in these parts, a tribal who taught himself to read and write, despite a childhood spent in the forest eating birds and robbing wild dog kills for his family, which they would roast on a crackling fire and eat.

Later, as our vehicle trundled through the forest, we were resigned to the fact that we might not see the striped feline. But to out amazement, he made a guest appearance. He sat in a clearing in the distance, gazing back at us with disdain. We eyed each other for a while before he seemed to tire of our pesky presence. He rose and strode off into the thicket, his swishing tail waving goodbye.

Courtesy by K.T.

Taking wings to save wildlife


Shah left studies to learn animal, bird rescue in SA

About a year ago, if a person in Kalipat Village, Rajkot, Gujarat, saw a snake he would kill it immediately. But thanks to the efforts of 22-year old Divyaraj Shah from the village, now nobody even harms the snake or any other wildlife.

Now, if they see a snake, villagers call Shah who rescues it and releases it in the wild.

“On an average, I rescue 10 snakes every month from Kalipat Village ( Rajkot, Gujarat ) alone,” says Divyaraj who has dedicated his life for protection of wildlife.

In fact, Shah left his studies mid-way while pursuing graduation from St. Xavier’s College in Ahmedabad in 2010-11. He went to South Africa to learn about wildlife and their rescue and rehabilitation processes. He stayed there for 10 months in the outskirts of Pretoria and learnt to deal with birds, wild animals and how to release them in the wild.

“I went to South Africa because I wanted to work for wildlife conversation. It is important to learn scientific methods to rescue and rehabilitation of wildlife. There is a huge difference in dealing with domestic birds and wild birds. It is difficult for rescued birds to adjust again in the wild,” says Shah.

He also advocated rescue of the birds in captivity.

A local charitable trust in city rescue wild birds and hand over them to Shah for rehabilitation. The birds which are being rehabilitated include Barn Owl, Shikra, Black Kite, Black Shouldered Kite, Short toed Snake Eagle, spotted owlet, egrets and ducks.

“In Gujarat, rescue efforts are commendable but there is a lack of knowledge about what to do with the rescued birds. A week ago, a barn owl was rescued near city. A volunteer who rescued it gave anti-rabbis injection and wild bird died immediately,” Shah said describing the lack of awareness among wildlife volunteers.

Shah even found a solution to rat menace in Kalipat ( Rajkot, Gujarat ). He gave villagers cages to catch the rats, which are then fed to the rescued snakes by Shah. “Since I give snakes their natural food, they survive in captivity and then I release them in wild,” the wildlife enthusiast said.

“Villagers and farmers are happy as the problem of rats has been reduced significantly,” he added.

Shah has successfully released over 300 birds in the wild. Now, he plans to set up an ICU for birds at his eight acre farm on outskirts of the city.

Courtesy – Times of India

Family Holidays – Kids Please


Five destinations guaranteed to put a smile on children’s faces…

1)      Orlando, Florida

orlandoThere are many reasons Orlando remains a top destination for families: the sun usually shines, there are hotels to suit all tastes, but above all, it’s home to two of the best theme parks in the world. Walt Disney World, Florida, is where you will find the Magic Kingdom, Animal Kingdom, Epcot and the Hollywood Studios, plus the brilliant water parks at Blizzard Beach and Typhoon Lagoon. Trust us, even if you don’t consider yourself a Disney fan, resistance to the charms of the House of Mouse is futile – one ride on the superb Soarin’, Splash Mountain or The Tower of Terror and we guarantee you will be hooked and singing it’s a Small World for ever more.

Universal’s Islands of Adventure (www.universalorlando.com), meanwhile, is home to The Wizarding World of Harry Potter – a mind-blowing recreation of Hogwarts and Hogsmeade, complete with rides, talking portraits and shops selling wands. Universal also has roller coasters such as The Incredible Hulk and a whole section dedicated to Dr. Seuss, which will appear to younger children and those who remember The Cat in the Hat books first time around. Just over an hour’s drive away is Daytona, with its glorious sandy beach, ideal for surfing, and the Nascar racetrack, where you can take a spin inside a real stock car. A holiday in Orlando is exhilarating, but exhausting and requires lots of advance planning.

2)      Rome, Italy

romeKids fans of Horrible Histories? Then take them to Rome, where at the Colosseum, one of the best preserved Roman Amphitheatres in the world, they can run around and imagine what life must have been like for the gladiators and animals that fought here nearly 2000 years ago. You can even enrol them at Gladiator school for the afternoon while you go off to explore the designer shops along the Via Condotti. They will marvel at the apparent traffic chaos by the impressive Vittorio Emanuele II monument where you can see foolhardy tourists riding Segways (our advice is not to try this); at the Trevi Fountain they can throw a short walk to the magnificent Pantheon, built in AD126. Rome is, of course, also a fantiastic place to introduce your children to the wonders of authentic Italian gastronomy where you opt for a pizza in Piazza Navona, pasta in Trastevere or gelati (ice cream) on the banks of the Tiber River, Rome offers a feast for all the senses.

 

 

 

 

3)      Sydney, Australia

australiaAs the Duke and Dutchess of Cambridge discovered on their recent trip to Sydney, this Australian city has heaps to offer – and while Prince George is perhaps a little too young to enjoy it right now, for children aged two and up, it is an absolute paradise of wildlife, history and, of course, all those fantastic beaches, including Bondi, which has a children’s pool and playground. At the excellent Featherdale Wildlife Park (www.featherdale.com.au) they (and you) can cuddle up to Koalas, hand-feed kangaroos, see dingoes or check out the crocs and snakes. No child will be able to resist the Tyrannosayrs exhibition at the Australian Museum (www.australianmuseum.net.au), a homage to the most feared of all the dinosaurs. Much-loved Luna Park has lots of rides and a giant Ferris Wheel, while children aged 10 and up (and their brave parents) will jump at the chance to climb the Harbour Bridge (www.bridgeclim.com). Sydney is a very easy city to get around and children will also enjoy a ferry ride over to Manly Bay, particularly if it is a bit choppy. If you have a few days to spare, combine a trip to Sydney with a visit to Uluru (Ayers Rock) or Queensland for the Great Barrier Reef and you will have a holiday to remember.

4)      Kerala, India

keralaIf you want to introduce your children to the fabulousness of India, vibrant, colourful Kerala, with its breathtaking landscapes, glorious beaches, distinct cuisine and amazing wildlife, is the perfect place to do it. Once firmly on the hippie tourist trail, it has evolved to become the hottest destination in India and it is easy to explore. Your children will see wild elephants and jungles, and magnificent natural wonders including the beautiful Athirapally Falls and the Chalakudy River; banana, rubber and tapioca crops; and at Periyar National Park they can look for real-life animals straight out of The Jungle Book, including, if they are very lucky, tigers. (Our advice is not to make any promises, just in case the big cats are feeling a little shy when you visit.)

5)      Stockholm, Sweden

stockholmStockholm is known for being cool city for adults. But it’s also officially one of the most child-friendly cities in the world, with a whole island, Djurgarden, dedicated to families. At Skansen open-air museum you will find traditional Swedish homes, experience life in the 19th century, and at its open-air zoo you can see native wildlife including adorable Swedish brown bears. For fans of Vikings and Disney’s Frozen there is the Vasa, a museum housing the only preserved 17th-century ship in world. There is lots of creative play to be held at Junibacken, dedicated to children’s character Pipi Longstocking and Emil. You may even persuade your kids to visit the brilliant Abba Museum (www.abbathemuseum.com), which has lots of interactive exhibits. Visit Stockholm in the summer, when it’s the midnight sun and there is a non-stop calendar of festivals to experience. Your children will enjoy the novelty of nights that never get dark as well as medieval performances, hot-air balloon races and fireworks against the bright sky. And you will also love exploring Nordiska Kompaniet, or NK, quite simply one of the most stylish luxury department stores in the world.

Courtesy by G.N.

Wander bugs ready with summer bags


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The early bird catches the worm. The worms here are the best deals. The early birds are those bit by wanderlust and in a rush to book well in advance for their summer holidays.

Summer is still a few months away. But demand is soaring and travel providers are wooing potential customers with their best deals, hoping to do big business.

Booking figures for the months of April, May and June, as obtained from leading tour operators, clearly indicate a surge of 10-15%, with most people opting for international destinations.

Europe is a favorite this year too, though new locations have made it to the itinerary. Turkey and Egypt are much sought after, as are South Africa and Australia. “Domestic bookings start happening only after March”, said Kawaljit Singh Narula, assistant vice – president, LPTI India.

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“Europe’s rich culture and warm hospitality make it a popular destination. More travelers are seeking destination. More travelers are seeking to explore it and we’ve received substantial queries this season. We’ve also got good response for our packages to the US, Southeast Asia and Australia,” and Vishal Suri, deputy chief operating officer, tour operating, Kuoni India.

For those who’ve booked themselves on a long Europe tour with Le Passage to India, the perk includes a Mercedes pick up to and from the airport. Then there are heavy discounts and free cruises by SOTC which are being lapped up by holiday makers.

Considering that family’s holiday twice a year, child friend’s vacations are the order of the day.

Theme parks, animal farms and children’s park are part of the itinerary. Among the popular destinations are Universal Studios in Singapore, Lego Land in Malaysia and the Butterfly Farm in Penang. The Ostrich Farm in South Africa and Pinnewala Elephant Orphanage in Australia are equally sought after as they’re considered extremely child friendly.

Another niche package is for the youth. “We’ve brought in a new concept with a focus on young travelers ages 18-35. This is a completely new range of holidays and the highlights are affordability, night life and adventure activities,” said Neelu Singh, COO, ezeego.com.

Summer drinks

Thomas Cook (India) Ltd has launched its signature youth-centric travel product range ‘Rock-on Holidays’. The itinerary includes components like bike tours and pub crawls in Spain, scuba diving at Ko Samet, elephant trekking and rafting in Bali, mountain biking, paragliding and Alpine trekking in Switzerland, horse trails in South Africa and a local village experience in Laos. “Youth is a real strong, segment, poised to grow at an exponential rate of 25-30%,” said Madhav Pai, director, Leisure Travels (Outbound), Thomas Cook (India) Ltd.

Courtesy: – Times of India.

Drying Gir(Guajrat, India) reservoirs brimming with birds


The receding water in the Kamleshwar dam(Sasan Gir, Gujarat, India) brought some good news for visitors and the officials at Gir National Park. The low levels of water are inviting large flocks of winged visitors. These migratory birds are returning to the dams in the national park after a decade, said the officials.

5597705107_0444685d1d_zSources in Gir said, “ This year because of the drought in the district, there is hardly two or three feet of water at the edges of the Kamleshwar Dam reservoir, and about four to five feet of water in the centre. This is attracting large number of birds from nearby water bodies. Pelicans, lesser flamingoes and cranes along with other migratory birds have started flocking to the dam site.”

Visitors to the forest along the Kamleshwar dam route will get to see these winged visitors and large number of crocodiles which are now coming out of the water as the water is very low”.

Sandeep Kumar, the deputy conservator of forests, Gir, says for the past two days, there have been good sightings of birds at the Kamleshwar dam. These birds sighting are for the first time in a decade. “I have been told by the staff that these birds have come to the Kamleshwar dam after a long time. There have been sightings of pelicans, lesser flamingoes among other. Demoiselle cranes are not usually seen in Gir, but this time because of the less water, availability of food had attracted the birds. This may be good news but what is worrying is that the receding water will force officials to resort to alternate methods of providing drinking water for the lions”.

 

Crocodile at Kamleshwar Dam, Sasan Gir, Gujarat, India

Crocodile at Kamleshwar Dam, Sasan Gir, Gujarat, India

Samshad Alam, a researcher working in Gir for the past six years says, “I had not seen these birds here thus far, so it came as a surprise when saw them in large numbers. The dams have now caused of the shallow waters. These waders, pelicans, and flamingoes need just nearly two feet of water which, at present, is suitable for these birds.

Courtesy: – Times of India.

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