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Recongnised by Department of Tourism Government of Goa

"IndiaDon't Think Twice!

 

Monthly Tourism Newsletter from India

January 2007

Airlines Update

Hotels News

Good News - India

Good News - International

Festivals & Marts

Nature Does Matter

Permanent Feature - GOA Contest
Special Feature

MESSAGE FROM THE EDITOR

New Year Greetings from lovely Goa!

The New Year brings glad tidings for India’s aviation industry, which is growing at a rapid pace, thanks to an unprecedented air travel demand being unleashed by air transport deregulation, emergence of new operators, lower fares and a large untapped market. Civil aviation and tourism are booming in a synergistic fashion, providing the much-needed thrust to air charter services and heli-tourism in India. Similarly medical tourism in India is also showing a robust growth.  The Year 2007 promises to be a very significant year for tourism in India.

Happy reading & See you in India!

 

     Back to Tourism Newsletter

 

AIRLINES UPDATE

JET AIRWAYS TO START DIRECT FLIGHTS TO BANGKOK FROM DELHI & KOLKATA FROM JAN'2007: As part of its international plans, Jet Airways has announced the launch of direct flights from Delhi and Kolkata to Bangkok effective January 23, 2007. This will be the 50th destination on the airline’s network. The carrier will operate these flights with a brand new Boeing 737-800 aircraft, which will be inducted into the airline fleet next month, taking the fleet size to 59.

Jet Airways takes the next step in check in: Jet Airways has added a customer oriented solution of "check-in while walk-in", a roving check-in agent at Mumbai to enable passengers to be checked-in by the agent with the help of a hand held interface device and a hip printer. This new initiative will supplement the kiosks as well as the existing check-in counters of Jet Airways. The Roving Agent is like a check-in counter on the move helping Jet Airways to improve customer service by processing passengers even before they reach the check-in counters, effectively bypassing long queues. Using this solution, the mobile agent can quickly access and verify the travel reservation details of the passenger, complete check-in functions and generate a boarding pass, either Club Premiere or Economy, and book them on their choice of seats. This facility will be introduced at the Metro airports first.

PARAMOUNT AIRWAYS ADDS NEW DESTINATIONS: With the addition of a fifth Embraer aircraft this month, south-India based Paramount Airways will add Vishakhapatnam, Thiruvananthapuram and Tirupati to its network. The new routes will also be added to the existing destinations.

MDLR AIRLINES – A NEW STAR ON INDIAN AVIATION HORIZON: India’s first regional operator having full service airline, giving convenient and direct connectivity with metros, is all set to start its maiden flight on 1 Feb. Serving pure vegetarian cuisine aboard, it would serve an array of Indian, Continental, Lebanese and European meals. MDLR Airlines is having a fleet of Avro RJ, powered by 4 high bypass jet engines with low noise and emission levels. Large under floor holdings provide excellent volume for checked in baggage and additional cargo. To begin with, it will operate from Delhi to Chandigarh, Ranchi & Kolkata.

Surya Airlines to start operations in August: Surya Airlines, a part of Universal Empire Group, is expected to start operations in August this year. The board of directors of the airline will meet this month to draft their future course of action. The airline will operate in the North-East region with a focus to address connectivity issues of that region.

KINGFISHER JOINS HANDS WITH DISH TV TO OFFER LIVE TV FEED IN INDIAN SKIES: Kingfisher Airlines and dish TV have introduced live TV entertainment for the first time in the Indian skies in December 2006.  A satellite dish fitted to each airplane will capture live feeds from the satellite and transmit it to each TV screen. Within two years, all Kingfisher aircrafts will have satellite TV connections. Passengers will also be able to use their mobile phones on Kingfisher Airlines by 2008. Recently, they have started much awaited direct Goa – Jaipur flight as well as Trivandrum – Bangalore sectors!

Air Sahara connects Male (Maldives) & adds a direct daily flight to Colombo: Air Sahara recently expanded its network by adding Male (Maldives) as its fourth international destination. The airline will offer a daily return flight from New Delhi to Male via Colombo. Also, Air Sahara became the only airline to launch a direct flight between Delhi and Colombo. This is in addition to the already existing daily Delhi-Colombo flight via Chennai.

AIR-INDIA’S NEW BOEING 737-800 ARRIVES: On 6 December Air-India inducted a brand new Boeing 737-800 with the Gateway of India painted on it’s tail, into its fleet. It is after a gap of 10 years that a new plane was added to the fleet. It will be flown by Air India’s low-cost arm Air India Express. It is the first of Air-India’s order for 68 aircraft placed recently. The delivery of the second plane is expected by the third week of December, followed by 3 more aircrafts in January 2007.

AFTER MERGER AIR-INDIA & INDIAN TO HAVE ONE FULL SERVICE AND ONE LOW COST AIRLINE: The Government is to have one full service airline and one low-cost airline to look after passenger needs after the merger of Air-India and Indian which is likely in March 2007.  They also plan to hire 20 expatriate commanders. The airline is also expanding its fleet and acquiring larger aircraft and plans to introduce direct non-stop flights to the USA next summer with the induction of the new Boeing 777 aircraft.

AAI EXPANDING RUNWAYS IN NORTH INDIA: In a bid to reduce the cost of operation and transit time and allow bigger aircraft to land at smaller terminals, The Airports Authority of India (AAI) is expanding runways at several places. Kangra and Dehradun runways have been extended to cater to ATR-72 and AB-320 type aircrafts. Apart from this, there are plans to increase the runway length and construct a taxiway and apron. Currently, Air Deccan is the sole airline operating in the region. Similarly runways have been extended at Jammu and Pantnagar. AAI is also looking at the possibility of expanding the Kullu-Manali and Shimla runways. At Pathankot, a new civil air terminal with all modern amenities to cater to 300 passengers, built by AAI, was inaugurated on November 22, 2006.

GUWAHATI AIRPORT IN ASSAM TOO PLANS EXPANSION: Lokapriya Gopinath Bardoloi International Airport, Guwahati, Assam, is planning expansion as part of its plans to modernize the airport. Adhering to this, two air-bridges are under construction to facilitate easy departure and arrival of the passengers. Also, a massive canopy is under construction and the existing car park is being expanded.

DELHI’S AIRPORT TO GET ASIA’S LARGEST RUNWAY: The Delhi Airport will get Asia’s largest runway (4,430 meters) which will become the first in India capable of handling the Jumbo A380. This third runway will be ready by 2008 together with a new integrated two-tier terminal building with a high-speed rail link to city center.

MUMBAI TO HAVE ANOTHER INTERNATIONAL AIRPORT BY 2013: With demand for air travel rising leaps and bounds, especially in the metros, the Government has approved the proposal for setting up a new international airport in Mumbai.

COCHIN INTERNATIONAL AIRPORT PLANS EXPANSION: Cochin International Airport Limited (CIAL) is expanding and upgrading its airport facilities, which is likely to be completed in early 2007.  The modified departure terminal, with an area of 300,000 sq ft., will cater to an increased capacity of 2400 passengers at peak hours.

KERALA’S HELI-TOURISM PACKAGES: Kerala, described in tourist blurb as "God's Own Country" provides heli-tourism packages to both the domestic as well as international travelers. The Bangalore-based Deccan Aviation Ltd in tie-up with Kerala Tourism Development Corporation (KTDC) offers a six seater chopper on a "bird's eye package" covering beaches, backwaters and hill stations for thirty minutes for a price tag of Rs.35,000 (US$ 800). It also provides heli-tourism packages connecting Kovalam beach with many other tourist attractions in the State. In addition India also has heli-tourism pilgrimages to the holy shrine of Vaishno Mata in Jammu and Kashmir. This service is mainly aimed at affluent tourists.

HELI- TOURISM IN NORTH INDIA: The success of these enterprises in Kerala could boost the high end heli-tourism in other parts of the country. The state-owned New Delhi-based Pawan Hans Helicopters Ltd, which already provides heli-packages to the Himalayan shrines Gujarat, plans to start a helicopter service to Dwarka temple and other religious shrines in Gujarat.

CHANGI INTERESTED IN RUNNING NAGPUR INTERNATIONAL AIRPORT: Singapore’s Changi airport is interested in running the Nagpur airport as part of the Multimodal Hub Airport (MIHAN) project. MIHAN plans to create an international air passenger and cargo hub at Nagpur.

EUROFLY TO LAUNCH DIRECT DELHI - ROME FLIGHT FROM 15 JANUARY 2007: Eurofly, an Italian airline, plans to operate a direct flight between Rome and Delhi from 15 January 2007. The flights will operate 3 times a week using a new A-330 aircraft with 256 seats in economy and 26 in business class.

QATAR AIRWAYS TO CONNECT CHENNAI AND AHMEDABAD IN APRIL 2007: Qatar Airways recently announced its expansion plan across India with the launch of two new routes and introduction of additional capacity on existing services. Beginning April 2007, China and Ahmedabad will join Qatar Airways’ burgeoning Indian network, which already includes non-stop services from Doha to Mumbai, Delhi, Hyderabad, Cochin and Trivandrum.  

EVA AIR COMMENCES PASSENGER OPERATIONS BETWEEN MUMBAI & TAIPEI: EVA Air, serving over 40 destinations worldwide, which was earlier operating freighter flights from Mumbai, has now commenced scheduled passenger flights to Taipei, Taiwan, from Mumbai starting December 11, 2006. The new non-stop service, TPE-BOM-TPE, will have a weekly frequency of three flights departing on Monday, Thursday and Saturday.

LUFTHANSA STARTS FRANKFURT-CALCUTTA – FRANKFURT FLIGHTS AGAIN: The City of Joy was once again connected by a 3-times-a-week flight to Frankfurt. Calcutta was the first Indian City to have a scheduled Lufthansa flight to Frankfurt as early as 1 November 1959, which was later discontinued. On 2 December this year a 221 seated Airbus A340-00 flew into Calcutta from Frankfurt to renew relations with the city.

KRASAIR OPENS SALES AND TICKETING IN INDIA: Krasnoyarsk Airlines - KrasAir, a leading Russian Airline with a large network within Russia, CIS countries, Europe and Asia serving over 50 destinations has opened their marketing, sales and ticketing offices in India. KrasAir has traffic rights to operate flights to Delhi, Mumbai and Goa from Moscow. The airline plans to start online operations to India next year, flying from Russia to India, with connections to Europe, USA & Middle East via Krasnoyarsk, Moscow and Samara. TOP

 

 HOTELS NEWS

ACCOR OPENS ITS FIRST NOVOTEL IN HYDERABAD: The country’s first Accor hotel, Novotel Hyderabad, opened for business with a target of attracting international travelers from the high-tech sectors alongside domestic weekend guests. Although it was launched in May 2006, it has become hundred per cent operational since November 1, 2006.

WYNDHAM HOTEL-ROYAL ORCHID HOTEL SIGN AGREEMENT TO DEVELOP 10 RAMADA HOTELS IN INDIA: Wyndham Hotel Group, the lodging unit of Wyndham Worldwide, has signed an agreement with Royal Orchid Hotels, Bangalore, India to develop 10 Ramada® hotels with approximately 1,000 rooms in the Indian states of Karnataka, Tamil Nadu, Maharashtra, Andhra Pradesh and Rajasthan.

The Park New Delhi launches 'The Residence', luxurious suites & rooms: Continuing with the theme of Vaastu Shastra, The Park New Delhi has come with a collection of luxuriously appointed suites and rooms — The Residence — on the ninth and tenth floors. The rooms and suites are luxuriously made up for relaxation and in-room entertainment. (Source Trav Talk).

 

RAILWAYS PLAN TO SET UP 100 'RAIL RATNA' HOTELS: Indian Railways is planning to use its surplus land across the country for construction of 100 budget hotels through public-private partnership to offer better facilities to its passengers. These budget hotels will be called ‘Rail Ratna’.

 

MARARI FISHERMEN VILLAGE BEACH RESORT COCHIN: An exciting new resort for the tourists, The ‘Marari Fishermen Village’ has opened on the coast of Cochin, which offers endless miles of superb sandy beaches backed by swaying palms. With 10 independent A/c cottages the Resort is constructed with a strong ethnic flavour. Its restaurant serves delectable fare, both Indian and Continental.  Special package rates for peak and off-season are available.

GINGER HOTELS PROMOTE THEIR HOTELS’ ROOM WITH A VIEW: The Taj Group has hit on a novel way of promoting their budget Ginger hotels. At Mahim Causeway in Bombay a 2 story, three-dimensional “hoarding” for Ginger hotels is up. During peak hours an 18-year old stays in this make shift hotel, watching TV, reading a book or just sleeping. At least 15 people stop and ask him what he is doing and then he gets a chance to tell them about the brand. This unique promotion will be replicated in other source markets for Ginger Hotels, which are present in 7 cities including Mysore, Pune, Haridwar and Durgapur.

WELCOMHERITAGE TO HELP RESTORE 4 HERITAGE PROPERTIES: WelcomHeritage will help restore four more heritage properties in the country. The Shalim Palace at Kolhapur (Maharashtra), Taradale Cottage, Ramgarh (Uttaranchal) Heileyburia Tea Bungalow, Elappara, Iuddki (Kerala) and Inderlok Kothi Nawalgarh in Sekhawati (Rajasthan) are the four properties selected. With these 4 properties joining the WelcomHeritage Chain the group now has 50 properties.

CHOICE HOTELS PLANS US$ 168 MILLION EXPANSION: Choice Hotels plan to invest US$ 168 million over the next 2-3 years to set up around 10 budget hotels across the country. Most of the hotels will be operational by 2010. Choice Hotels are India franchisees for Quality and Comfort Inn Brands.

UPPAL'S ORCHID RECEIVES COMMITMENT TO EXCELLENCE AWARD FOR ENVIRONMENT: Uppal’s Orchid, An Ecotel Hotel, has been awarded the prestigious ‘Commitment to Excellence Award for Environment’ at the 2006 Annual Convention of the Leading Hotels of the World (LHW) in Barcelona, Spain on November 18, 2006. TOP

FESTIVALS / MARTS & EVENTS

KONARK DANCE FESTIVAL INAUGURATED ON 3 DECEMBER: The famous sun temple at Konark, once again reverberated to the sound of ankle bells as artistes of the Bangalore Nrityagram performed Odissi at the Konark Dance Festival. The dance festival is popular with locals and tourists alike.

INTERNATIONAL KITE FESTIVAL, AHMADABAD 11 - 15 JAN’07: The International Kite Festival 2007 was organized from 11 to 15 January, 2007 at Ahmedabad. On this occasion, several Special Tour Packages were been introduced by Gujarat Tourism. It coincides with the famous festival Makar Sankranti on 14 Jan each year, kite festival also being organized at Jaipur & Jodhpur simultaneously!

PRAVASI BARATIYA DIVAS 7 - 9 JANUARY IN DELHI (NON RESIDENT INDIAN’S DAY): The Pravasi Bharatiya Divas was held in the capital 7-9 January. This annual gathering of people of Indian origin (PIOs) focuses on the role of the diaspora. Over 1200 delegates from 50 countries attended.

INTERNATIONAL CAMEL FESTIVAL BIKANER DREW LARGE CROWDS: As December drew to a close, the International Camel festival in Bikaner drew large crowds. On 28 December foreign tourists joined in the races and tried to play traditional instruments while enjoying Camel races. At the same time, now the famous desert festival at Jaisalmer is just round the corner, taking place from 31 Jan – 02 Feb!

KAZIRANGA DREW CROWDS FOR ELEPHANT FESTIVAL 5-8 JANUARY: Children in colorful costumes performed at the opening ceremony at the Elephant Festival in Kaziranga on 5 January. Nearly 100 elephants from various parts of Assam participated in the 3 day festival.

ARDHA KUMBHA FAIR IN ALLAHABAD (FROM 03 JAN): Several million Hindus took part on day one of the Ardh Kumbh festival in northern India. Devotees braved the cold to bathe at Sangam, the confluence of the Ganges and Yamuna holy rivers near Allahabad. Rituals began at daybreak - Hindus believe the holy dip washes away sins. The festival, held every 12 years, is one of the world's largest gatherings. A city of tents will house an expected 60 million pilgrims over the next six weeks and security is tight.  (Source: BBC)

RAILWAYS CELEBRATE HERITAGE MONTH WITH STEAM: The Indian Railways are celebrating a heritage month with the black beauties of a bygone era chugging along different stations of the capital every Saturday for the whole month of January. On 27 December 2006 the “Palace on Wheels” chugged out of Delhi’s Safdarjung station to Patel Nagar and will do so every Wednesday till 31 January. On 6 January a 1947 WP-7200 locomotive steam engine left Safdarjung Railway Station with the Nizam’s coaches. From 22-31 January there will be an exhibition on Rail Heritage of Northern Railways at the National Rail Museum.

WORLD AERO SHOW FROM 07 - 11 FEB’07 AT BANGALORE: The Sixth Edition of Aero India, the Biennial International Air-Show cum defence exhibition will be held at Air Force Station Yelahanka, Bangalore from Feb 07 - 11, 2007. The significant feature of Aero India 2007 will be about 100 per cent increase in the participation by Indian firms. 148 Indian companies participated in the Aero India 2005 while this time 286 companies have confirmed their participation in Aero India 2007. Besides India, exhibitors from 40 countries including USA, Russia, Sweden, France, Israel, Italy, Germany, etc would be participating in Aero India 2007. More than 480 leading companies will showcase their aircraft and Aero Space products / equipment through air display, static display and exhibition attracting a large turnout of professionals and businessmen across the world.

SURAJKUND CRAFTS FAIR 01 – 15 FEB’07: As usual, this world famous crafts fare is to take place again at the south of Delhi, in Haryana for 15 days. It showcases the arts and crafts by the local craftsmen and women from various states and you can see them work right before your eyes. It is accompanied by a great cultural extravaganza.

WORLD MILITARY GAMES AT HYDERABAD 14-21 OCTOBER 2007: With 6000 athletes expected from over 100 countries India will host the World Military Games (WMG) at Hyderabad 14-21 October 2007. Outside the Olympics it is one of the largest sporting events. It is for the first time the games are being held in Asia. About 25% of the participants are medal winners at the Olympics.  TOP

NEWS MEANS GOOD NEWS (India)

NEW DELHI TO HAVE THREE NEW GOLF COURSES: The Delhi Development Authority (DDA) is planning to set up three golf courses in Delhi before the Commonwealth Games to be held in 2010. The three golf courses would be at Dwarka, East Delhi and at the GT Karnal Road. A four-day golf festival was held in the Capital in December at the Qutab Golf Course.

AUTORICKSHAW TOUR FROM COCHIN TO SILIGURI FOR CHARITY: 90 foreign tourists mostly from the UK, including 12 French women, set off from Cochin in 34 auto rickshaws on 28 December 2006 on a journey to Siliguri in West Bengal. The 2700 km / 1680 miles journey will take approximately 21 days. It has been organized as part of a charity run.

TOURISM MINISTRY LAUNCHES SPECIAL TOURISM DRIVE: The Tourism Ministry has launched a special drive to expand cultural tourism with a focus on illuminating heritage monuments. Besides Delhi’s monuments, heritage centers like Hampi, Gwalior Fort, Chail, Naggar among others will be promoted together with the rural arts, culture and heritage of the region. Holistic traditional healing and rejuvenation packages will be encouraged. 

INDIAN OCEAN CRUISES SETS OUT ON ITS MAIDEN SAIL: For the first time in India a 15-day cruise is being offered by Indian Ocean Cruises on MS Ocean Odyssey. The cruise vessel set its maiden sail on January 14, 2007. It will be operating every alternate Saturday. The ship will leave Goa and journey through pristine atolls of Lakshadweep Islands, India’s Malabar Coast and Sri Lanka. Passengers can opt for a minimum of 7 day cruise terminating at Cochin. The remaining 7 day itinerary goes through Colombo, Tuticorin, Trivandrum and Cheriyam  (Lakshadweep). For more information, please check out www.indianoceancruises.net.

SUNDERBANS CRUISES LAUNCHED: Vivada Inland Waterway Corp is ready to start its cruise service by end January. Home to the Royal Bengal Tiger, the Sunderbans delta of the Ganges would be a big tourist attraction. Cruising through this mangrove delta Vivada would be the first to offer day and night river cruises in the area. The 2 days, 3 nights 400 km cruise will be done with a 3 deck cruiser “Paramahansa” which has 32 air-condition rooms and multi cuisine facilities, massage and sauna decks and internet connectivity.

FIVE YEAR VISAS FOR NATIONALS OF 18 COUNTRIES: The government has introduced a long term (5 years) multi-entry visa for nationals of 18 countries in order to promote India’s tourism. The 18 countries include, France, Germany, Luxembourg, Netherlands, Belgium, Finland, Spain, Switzerland, Norway, Iceland, New Zealand, Japan, South Korea, Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Mexico and Vietnam.

TOURIST ARRIVALS TO INDIA KEEP SOARING AT 4.42 MILLION, 13% GROWTH IN 2006: Indian Tourism has something to smile about - tourist arrivals to India have crossed 4.42 million in the calendar year 2006 showing a growth of 13% over January - December 2005. Good news is that the same or higher growth rate is likely to continue until 2010.

RECHRISTENING OF AN INDIAN STATE FROM UTTARANCHAL TO UTTARAKHAND: From the beginning of this year Uttarakhand will be the new name for the new state of Uttaranchal. This has been done because of a long standing demand of the locals, as Uttarakhand is the name by which the region is referred to in ancient scriptures.

A MID AIR WEDDING IN A HOT AIR BALLOON IN JAIPUR: Sunil and Vandana Sharma became the first Indians to be married in a hot air balloon with priests performing Hindu rituals in mid air. An event management company organized the marriage as part of the Indian Festival of Thematic Arts.

TUNNEL TO MAKE LEH ACCESSIBLE IN ALL SEASONS: An 8.8 km / 5.4 miles long tunnel, the highest in the country is planned to bypass the Rohtang Pass. The Lahaul Valley will thus be connected and Leh will be accessible throughout the year. A snow gallery will be built to protect the Tunnel from avalanches just as in the Alps in Switzerland. The horseshoe shaped Tunnel will also reduce the distance from Manali to Leh by 46 km / 29 miles.

SANTOOR PLAYERS RELEASE MUSIC ALBUM ON LADAKH: The musical album of the Santoor player Rahul Sharma (son of Shiv Kumar Sharma) “Ladakh: in search of Buddha” was released in the capital recently. The music is a fusion of Tibetan sounds, Buddhist chants and contemporary sounds of the Santoor.

US MANAGEMENT STUDENTS VISIT INDIA, GET LESSON FROM RAILWAY MINISTER: While the globally renowned author of The One Minute Manger, Dr. Kenneth Blanchard is expected to address audiences on 29 January (Delhi), 31 January (Bangalore) and 2 February (Bombay), India’s Railway Minister Mr. Lalu Prasad notched up a first in addressing over 150 management students of Harvard and Wharton, visiting India. He spoke to them of turning the world’s third largest railway around without any lay offs of the staff, all the time using earthy analogies in his own inimitable way. India has become a popular destination for students of management studies from all over the world.

KASHMIR VALLEY TO HAVE TRAIN SERVICE BY MARCH: Come spring a railway train will chug across the Kashmir Valley for the first time. Work on the 40 km / 25 miles (of the 120 km / 75 miles) stretch from Qazikund to Baramulla is complete. From March the first train will start plying around 20 km on either side of the capital, Srinagar, from Pulwama to Budgam. A 30 minute journey, it will cut the present road travel time by a third.

SIX MAJOR PORTS WILL OFFER DUTY FREE SHOPPING: Duty Free shops will soon open at the six major ports of Mumbai, Mormugao (Goa), Cochin, New Mangalore, Tuticorin and Madras. This will make cruise tourism more attractive. The ports will also have ATM services, restaurants and foreign exchange counters.

CALCUTTA ILLUMINATES HOWRAH BRIDGE, PLANS TO RESTORE CITY’S HERITAGE SITES: Plans are afoot to restore the crumbling ghats on both sides of the river Hoogly. Also on the cards is a plan to develop a second “millennium” park. Of course the pride of place has been taken by the illumination of the Howrah Bridge. The UK Government is keen to partner with the State Government in restoring some of the heritage sites like old warehouses and develop them into popular tourist attractions.

FIRST PRIVATE HILL STATION COMING UP AT 50 KM / 31 MILES FROM PUNE: Come 2009, the country will have its first private hill station coming up on 15,000 acres in Mose Valley, 50 km / 31 miles from Pune. Christened “Lavasa”, it will be located between the Mulshi and Warasgaon dams. About 10,000 acres have already been acquired and a private road paved. Lavasa, 2000-3000 feet above sea level, will have apartments, hotels, entertainment, convention centers, multiplexes and educational institutions. Accor Hotels have signed up to run 2 hotels.

WORLD’S LONGEST ROCK ART CHAIN IN THE VINDHYAS IN MADHYA PRADESH: The 12 km / 8 miles long site with most of its petroglyphs or pre-historic rock carvings intact has been discovered in Mandsaur district of Malawi region in Madhya Pradesh. This is also home to Bhimbetka, the UNESCO World Heritage Site 45 km / 28 miles south of Bhopal. This site in the Vindhya range is the “longest chain of rock art in the world” and lies 350 km / 218 miles from Bhopal.

WARANGAL - WHERE A THOUSAND PILLARS ARE SET TO RISE AGAIN: The historic thousand-pillar temple built by the Kakatiyas (110 km / 68 miles from Hyderabad) was taken apart pillar by pillar for restoration. The ASI (Archeological Survey of India) has teamed up with the National Institute of Technology (NIT) to restore the temple to its former glory. Work has begun on the project and will take a year and a half to complete. The foundation is being reinforced and then the pillars will be re-erected, just as they were installed 900 years ago at the Kalyana Mandal.

INDIAN ASSOCIATION OF TOUR OPERATORS ENTERS IN ITS 25 YEAR:
The Indian Association of Tour Operators (IATO) completes 25 years of existence this year. The Silver Jubilee celebrations will be held in August in Delhi. The occasion will provide an opportunity to look back at the 25 years achievements of IATO, which has played a major role in propelling the tourism boom in the country.

INDIAN RAILWAYS' PALACE ON WHEELS FROM MUMBAI AND BUDDHIST TRAIN TO BE INTRODUCED IN JAN: Indian Railways, the biggest infrastructural sector of the country, will commence a new luxury train, palace-on-wheels, from Mumbai in the near future. Also from January 12, a semi-luxury train for Buddhist circuit will depart from Chennai with tariff ranging from US$ 80 to 120.

THE CHENNAANGALAM SYNAGOGUE – JEWISH COMMUNITY IN A KERALA VILLAGE: (AN OLD PIECE OF NEWS) The exhibit in the newly-restored Chennamangalam Synagogue in Kerala was opened on Friday, February 24th, 2006 The event was made possible by the Koret Foundation and the Taube Foundation for Jewish Life and Culture, in cooperation with India's Department of Archaeology and Department of Tourism, Kerala, and the Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs.  TOP

 

NEWS MEANS GOOD NEWS (International)

BILL CLINTON, QUEEN RANIA OF JORDAN, AND ACTOR RUPERT EVERETT CAME VISITING: Former US President, Bill Clinton came on a philanthropic mission and stopped by at the Bukhara restaurant to savour his favorite Sikandari raan, Murg Malai Kebabs and tandoori prawns. Queen Rania who accompanied her husband King Abdullah of Jordan on a State visit, went sightseeing and shopping. British actor Rupert Everett stayed at the Imperial Hotel and did a weeklong campaign on AIDS awareness for MTV. His grandfather was born in Calcutta and he enjoys visiting India.

HOLLYWOOD MOVIE BEING SHOT IN JODHPUR, RAJASTHAN: Hollywood’s “The Darjeeling Limited” is being shot around Jodhpur for past one month. It is based on the spiritual journey of 3 brothers after the death of their father. Shot in the city’s crowded bazaars, Adrien Brody (The Pianist) could be seen moving around the clock tower with co-star Angelica Huston.

JAZZ UTSAV (CELEBRATIONS) IN DELHI: Musicians from Norway, Switzerland, Poland and Germany congregated in Delhi for a 3 day Jazz Utsav. This Jazz festival has been part of the capital’s scene for over two decades. TOP

SPECIAL FEATURE

WILDLIFE S.O.S. - AWARENESS AND FUND RAISING PROGRAMMES FOR DANCING BEARS: Wildlife S.O.S. brought a little bit of Venice to Salt Lake City, USA, recently with a Masquerade Ball and masked fashion show worthy of a modern day Casanova. The events raised money and awareness for India's dancing bears. First came the fashion show, featuring designer clothing, Qalandar jewelry from India, and masks made by local artists.

NEW LUXURY TRAINS IN INDIA: Those who enjoy the languid pace of train travel but relish the comfort of a hotel can now have both. Three Palace on Wheels will roll out in 2007! Tourism ministry and the railways have cleared a second Palace on Wheels for Rajasthan and one train each for Karnataka and Punjab. The train to Karnataka is likely to cover Bangalore, Hampi, Badami, Hubli and Goa. These trains will charge $400 per person per night and are touted as the last word in luxury. TOP

NATURE DOES MATTER

YAMUNA BIODIVERSITY PARK TO REVIVE NATURAL ECOSYSTEMS OF DELHI: Spread over the river’s flood plains, the Yamuna Biodiversity Park supports 10 ecosystems and attracts birds with its 2 water bodies and a lake. Phase one of the park (137 acres) is complete with another 300 acres to be added shortly. It is already home to a 180 species of birds, many of them winter migratory birds. In a bid to further revive the natural ecosystems of the Capital City, a medicinal park with 300 species of plants where demos for making of ayurvedic medicine are also planned.  A Butterfly Park and a fruit park, with river basin fruit like, chikoo pomegranates, mangoes and fruit indigenous to Delhi (Khirni) will be its additional features.

BANDHAVGARH ROAD BULLETIN BY JUNGLEMANTRA RESORTS: The Grand Old Fort of Bandhavgarh re-opened on 25th Nov 2006.  Guests can alight at Sheshaiya (the reclining Vishnu statue) and then trek 3 km uphill to the Fort. It is also a great place for bird watching and tigers have often been sighted there. The Fort visit requires an additional entry fee for foreign nationals.  The Park has also introduced the use of ethnic Indian – Khadi goods and home grown vegetables and fruits and the toiletries can boast of 100% organic soaps, shampoos, conditioners and moisturizers.  Accommodations are also set aside for a minimum of 2 weeks and a max of 6 months for researchers or conservationists.

DANCING BEARS RESCUED BY WILDLIFE S.O.S.: On December 6th, three of India's dancing bears, two females and one male, were handed over to Wildlife S.O.S. by their owners. These beautiful bears are now safe and well cared for in the sanctuary.

 

CRACKDOWN ON ILLEGAL TRADE IN TURTLES IN DELHI: Wildlife S.O.S. and the Delhi Wildlife Department rescued several turtles being sold for their meat in the Capital. Among the rescued turtles, 34 were the Indian Soft Shell Turtle species, while five were Spotted Black Terrapins and nine were Indian Tent Turtle species. The rescued turtles were initially kept under observation and then released in their natural habitat at the Chambal River.


FOSSIL TREE OF JURASSIC AGE FOUND AT DHOLAVIRA:
A massive fossilized tree of Jurassic Age has been discovered at Dholavira in Gujarat, the site of an ancient city of the Harappan civilization in the Rann of Kutch in Gujarat. The fossil tree is at least 176 million years old. TOP

 

PERMANENT FEATURE - GOA

NIGHT LANDING PERMITTED AT GOA: Following confusion at Goa airport in the first week of Jan, due to diversion and cancellation of several flights, the Navy has agreed to extend night landing facilities to civilian aircraft from January 8. The runway is being recarpetted. They will reserve some portion for civilian aircraft which will enable the landing and take-off even at night. In the last one year, Goa has seen a 50 per cent increase in passenger load and 33 per cent increase in flight traffic. The airport building, with a capacity for 350-passengers, has 33 scheduled flights besides chartered flights for tourists amounting to 3,000 passengers every day. Heavy rush is witnessed during week-ends when the number of chartered flights rise to 13.

YULETIDE & NEW YEAR: The festival of Christmas began in Goa on the 24th evening with midnight mass conducted at various churches and chapels around the State accompanied by ringing of bells in commemoration of the birth of Jesus Christ.  The State also reverberated to the sounds of music and fireworks and merry making on December 31 midnight to herald in the New Year 2007.

Top hotels in GOA to have menu inn Braille system: How does a blind person visiting a hotel order his food? Probably a waiter to read it out for him. But in near future, it may not be necessary to do so as the big hotels have been asked to make the menu available in Braille system. The department of social welfare in Goa has written to municipalities to ensure that at least big hotels have menu cards in Braille system for the benefit of blind visitors.

REMEMBERING SHAKTI: ‘Shakti’ the renowned fusion music group, played to a nostalgic crowd after a return of 22 years.  Two of its original members, Zakir Hussain (tabla) and John Mclaughlin (guitar), performing along with maestros U. Srinivas (mandolin), V Selvaganesh (percussions) and Shankar Manadevan (vocals), mesmerized the large audience at the Kala Academy in December 2006.

FONTAINHAS FESTIVAL FROM FEB 20-25: The Fontainhas Festival of Arts 2007 will be held in the heritage precinct of Fontainhas - Mala between February 20-25 by the Goa Heritage Action Group, for the fourth successive year. This is a unique festival in which the heritage houses in the precinct become temporary art galleries, with the exhibition and sale of art / paintings by local as well as established artists. Special programs showcasing the cultural heritage of Goa by local as well as international artistes will be held during the tenure of the event. The highlight of the festival will be lectures delivered by 5 art personalities from across India.

REPUBLIC DAY PARADE – 26 JAN’07: A tableau on ‘Houses of Goa’ has been selected to participate at the cultural pageantry on January 26, 2007 at Delhi. The houses dating back to the 18th Century and reflecting the rule of the Portuguese era in Goa will be on display.  The front of the float will depict closely-knit architectural designs and at the other end a live band will play traditional Goan songs, particularly the ‘Goencho Mando’. TOP

CONTEST

 

Just Answer Five Simple Questions to win a book on India:

 

1)      Where is India’s first private Hill Station coming up?

a.      Hyderabad     c.         Pune

b.      Ooty                 d.         Udaipur

 

2)      What will be the length of Delhi’s new runway, when completed (slated to be the largest in Asia)?

a.      5000 metres    c.         4430 metres

b.   4000 metres    d.        3000 metres   

 

3)      Rail Ratna is..

a.      Railway-budget hotels            

b.      Rail Journey

c.       Awards for railway personnel

d.      Sleepers

 

4)     Which domestic airline has floated the ‘Seat of Fortune’ contest?

a.      Indigo            c. GoAir

b.  Indian            d. Deccan

 

5)     Which of these is the national bird of India?

a.      Kiwi              c. Peacock

b.      Kingfisher       d. Ostrich   

 

LAST DATE: 10 FEB’07 to send your entries to the email address pmaurya@vsnl.net or pmaurya@indiainvites.com

 

ANSWERS OF LAST CONTEST:

1)      Which airline has been granted the landing rights in the US?

ANS:           b. Jet Airways

2)      Where is the Goldshield Wellbeing Resort coming up?

ANS:           d. Raia, Goa    

3)      Where was IFFI held this year?

ANS:           a. Goa

4)      Which mobile company in India has commenced SMS airline bookings?

a.      ANS:     d. Hutch

5)      What is the Indian name of the horse dance performed at the Puri Festival?

ANS:           c. Godha Nache

WINNER OF LAST CONTEST: We received a good response and there were quite a few correct answers, however Adolph Fernandes, Goa is the lucky winner out of the lot! Warm congratulations! The other people with all correct entries are: Usha Rao, Bangalore; Anjali Tolani, Gokarna; Dr. Gerry Rodricks, Goa; Meena Chhichhia, Mumbai; Corina Miranda, Canada; Deba Nayak, Meena Chhichhia, Mumbai; California; K. Venu, Goa; Dr. Sunita, Goa; Karmen Meneses, Kuwait. We thank you all for your kind participation – better luck next time!!! TOP

 

DISCLAIMER: This newsletter is currently being sent to about 4500 select tour operators, individuals, friends, tourist offices, hotels and other organizations. The news contents of this are compiled through various resources, newsletters, magazines, newspapers, books, etc (e.g. Travtalk, BBC, India Travel Online) and are being customized to suit our needs of balanced information in tourism and its related field. The newsletter itself does not carry any commercial value and the sole purpose is to increase the awareness and disseminate the available information in a fast manner to the people concerned in the trade. We try to provide the news as authentic and correct as possible, however, there might be errors sometimes.   TOP

 

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Telephone 00-91-832-2715781 / Fax: 2713421 Email: pmaurya@indiainvites.com & pmaurya@vsnl.net