Outlook Traveller http://www.outlookindia.com/outlooktraveller/ Outlook Traveller en 2017-11-22 23:50:52 Arunachal Pradesh: Eaglenest Wildlife Sanctuary https://www.outlookindia.com/outlooktraveller/wp-content/uploads/2017/11/featured-image-15.jpg http://www.outlookindia.com/outlooktraveller/destinations/arunachal-pradesh-eaglenest-wildlife-sanctuary/ http://www.outlookindia.com/outlooktraveller/destinations/arunachal-pradesh-eaglenest-wildlife-sanctuary/ 2017-11-22T14:31:28+05:30 article Arunachal's Eaglenest Wildlife Sanctuary is a birding destination without equal The stunning hermitage that is Arunachal Pradesh takes you in circlesyou are either climbing up or winding downhills that croon stories of all kinds. We even witnessed a small rumbling disapproval from a portion of the hillsideyes, landslides are common. Having started early in the morning on a random day in November 2016, Eaglenest marked Day 8 of our long exploration of Arunachal.

The drive from the Pakke Tiger Reserve to the Eaglenest Wildlife Sanctuary is captivating. For starters, you are still recounting and visualising the countless butterflies and insects that you witnessed first hand at Pakke which defied your idea of aliens. Second, the journey is spellbinding in itself and a lesson in history if one is attentive. Every small town is named after an Indian army regiment, and on the road you are sure to be tailing military trucks and jeeps. The air is taut with awe and rife with stories of the unforgettable Delta Company of the Garwal Rifles and greats like Jaswant Singh Rawat. Dont forget to persuade your local driver to divulge colourful anecdotes of yesteryears. And while you try to make sense of the abundant wild banana plants and satisfy your fixation for breath-taking mountain flowers, also remember to notice the speckled roads, thanks to eco-friendly bins installed by the army.

Unfortunately, we witnessed plenty of roadkill on our eight-hour drive to Eaglenest too. Most of the snakes that we were eager to spot in the wild, like the medo pit viper, green rat snake, green trinket and spot-tailed pit viper, we found dead on the road. Yes, all of them. Just when we started inching towards Eaglenest, we stopped to witness one of the most magnificent snakes, the monocled cobra, trying to climb a slippery mud wall. It was our very first sighting of this beautiful specimen, and boy, were we thrilled!

We picked up our really young and enthusiastic guide, Phurpa Atjepu, a member of the Bugun community, and drove the remaining 20-odd kilometres in silencethe view can do that to you.

THE HISTORY

Eaglenest comprises all of 218 sq km of pristine forest beautifully tucked away on the western boundary of Arunachal Pradesh and almost hugging Bhutan. Its location makes it possible for diverse habitat types to flourishfrom tropical wet evergreen and semi-evergreen to subtropical forests. Set up in 1989, Eaglenest today hosts over 600 species of birds, the density second in the world only to the eastern slope of the Andes in South America. One of the most successful community based conservation projects in India, today this pocket of forest is run and protected by the Bugun community, thanks to the efforts of several individuals, in particular, Dr Ramana Athreya and his team of scientists and conservationists.

When we reached Lama Camp, one of the campsites offering accommodation in the area, we stood facing the spectacular arc of mountain ranges and valleys, a pretty breathtaking sight. The following morning, we even managed a glimpse of the snow-capped Gori Chen range that rises from Tibet. It was surreal.

The cold did get to us and it was almost dark, but that didnt deter us from heading out for a walk. It had rained the previous evening, and several paths in the forest were still flooded. The guide confirmed the visit of an elephant the previous night after we discovered a few signs of its exploits. We spotted three different colourful species of leafhoppers, a pretty loud cicada that wouldnt quit calling for the rest of the evening, and, closer to camp, we spent precious minutes listening to Hodgsons frogmouths, loud and clear in the night.

EVERY BIRDERS HAVEN

After watching dozens of moths of different colours and patterns the previous night, we woke up to a cacophony of tunes, an orchestra played out by a myriad of birds around the camp. The cold was very real, almost like a shadow, constantly trying to catch up every time we were convinced of warmth.

We set out early in the morningand yes, every moment you spend on this small patch of forest is simply special. You just need to follow the calls, which is exactly what we did. Like obedient rats, we followed the tune of every bird that was audible, and then spent long minutes for the little shy ones to show up. Spotting birds in Eaglenest is different from most other birding hauntsyou hardly ever find them on a perfect perch; they are usually in the bush, amidst leaves, branches and sometimes, maybe if you are very lucky, they land up and call out loudly right next to a leaf near you.

We counted no less than 70-odd species by 3pm, which was an experience like no other. We followed the calls, sometimes we waited patiently, at others we had to make a dash for it, and every single time it was a new species singing a fresh lullaby. We spent a long time watching the drongos troubling a black eagleeach time the eagle dived towards a prey, the drongos would do their bit of being total killjoys. The black eagle, after repeated attempts, gave up and spent hours just hovering in the sky. From several species of babblers, warblers and fantails, to sibias and the lovely striated laughing thrush, we saw them all. Our guide was extremely skilled and through him we were able to tell the subtle differences between several bird callsa much-appreciated learning experience indeed. We were extremely lucky to have been able to sight the local major leaguer, the Bugun liocichla, as well as the stunning and rare Bhutan glory butterfly, though it was almost at the end of its life-cycle, which is usually in October. We had even met a traveller from Japan at Pakke, who was visiting India (Eaglenest) just to get a glimpse of this special creature and mark it off his list. We now understood why.

MORE ADVENTURES
The fickle rain kept us company through the day, but every time the sun peeped through the clouds, the butterflies would appear magically. We spotted several azure sapphires flaunting their bright blues on leaves and branches. We trekked up a path that had been completely restructured the previous night by an adventurous elephant, its footprints and dung covering most of the path leading to the hill, telling stories of its exploits. We kept to the route, eventually reaching a spot in the forest that was thick with the smell of wet wood, where every tree was covered with moss and ferns, and mushrooms of all kinds grew. It was quite magical. There is a wide variety of mushrooms in these forests and, if you take a closer look, plenty of leafhoppers, bugs and even curious pink-faced praying mantises.

If you love observing and listening to birds, Eaglenest is the place for some memorable live music. If you enjoy holding a notebook and penning down observations and sketching, and relish recording bird calls, then Eaglenest makes all these tasks simple and easy. This is the kind of place that stays with you long after you have left. The trick is to take it inunhurriedly.

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Book Review | Is that Even a Country, Sir!: Journeys in Northeast India by Train, Bus and Tractor | Anil Yadav https://www.outlookindia.com/outlooktraveller/wp-content/uploads/2017/11/IS-THAT-EVEN-A-COUNTRY-SIR.jpg http://www.outlookindia.com/outlooktraveller/books/book-review-even-country-sir-journeys-northeast-india-train-bus-tractor-anil-yadav/ http://www.outlookindia.com/outlooktraveller/books/book-review-even-country-sir-journeys-northeast-india-train-bus-tractor-anil-yadav/ 2017-11-21T15:59:01+05:30 article A hauntingly real portrait of the most neglected part of our country If I had never heard of Anil Yadav before, this senior journalist with the online Hindi edition of the BBC has ensured that Ill not forget him in a hurry. The reason is his riveting account of the journey he and fellow journalist Anhes Shashwat undertook in November 2000 through Indias mysterious and neglected Northeast. Unemployed and desperate to make a mark, they hopedespecially in the wake of the massacre in Assam of Hindi-speaking migrants from North Indiato send exclusive despatches on militancy from a land of unceasing terror few had dared to explore. Short on cash and ill-informed about ground realities, the two faced much they hadnt bargained for. Shashwats chronic depression forced him to quit midway, leaving Yadav to soldier on.

Weaving memoir with history, myth, political commentary, rumour and human-interest stories, this free-flowing, well-researched narrative, originally published in Hindi in 2012, presents a wounded Northeast with its scab off. Rich in insights gleaned from the authors conversations with chief ministers, surrendered militants, an AIDS-afflicted unwed mother and a politically astute boatman, among others, it is both an expos on the consequences of corruption involving political leaders, guardians of the law and underground and overground insurgent outfits, and a kaleidoscope of experiences opening many windows to a resourcerich region often dismissed as an all-around mess.

The average reader will be shocked by realities he had, possibly, never considered: prominent Naga militants hiding in the jungles of Myanmar and Bangladesh and funded, like most insurgencies in the Northeast, by China and Pakistans ISI, have reportedly brokered a secret deal with the Indian governmentthey tolerate some degree of surveillance in exchange for a hands-off policy for their offspring studying at the most exclusive schools in Shillong, Meghalaya; in Manipurs Churachandpur, Indias drug-and-alcohol-infested AIDS capital, the local detox methods are apparently so dehumanizing that addicts and human-rights organisations take out protest marches against them.

Replete with vignettes, anecdotes and cameoscould I ever forget the Manipuri in Moirang who wrote letters to his beloved in blood and ensured a steady supply by attaching a leech to his flesh?the grim portrait of entire communities living in the shadow of state neglect and death from substance abuse, policeorchestrated encounters or insurgent-directed executions is offset by the warmth and humour underlying Yadav's interactions with locals. Equally evident is his empathy for the beleaguered outsidersmigrant traders, labourers and officials from mainland India, living in fear, alienated by cultural differences and a history of distrust.

The influx of illegal Bangladeshi immigrants vitiates the atmosphere further, while the stateinsurgentpolicearmy nexus allegedly stands to profit in terms of money and power by sustaining the internecine conflict. Yadav not only gives the distinctive voices in his narrative a fair chance to be heard, but manages to stir our conscience over the blacked out region in our country for which many of us have spared scant concern so far. His book may seem datedits English translation took a long time in comingfor tourists, rather than militants, besiege certain parts of the Northeast today. An enduring peace still remains a distant dream, however, given the vast number of tribesthe defiant Nagas alone are split into 32 separate ones, each speaking a different tongue inhabiting every northeastern state. Linguistic barriers apart, the individual aspirations of every militant organisation representing them is likely to keep them at war indefinitely. As a drunk in Guwahati puts it: Asomiya says first Bengali oppressed and now Bihari oppress. Bodo says Asomiya oppress. Same way Rabha speaks against Bodo, Miri against Rabha Everyone ready to fight each other.

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Oman: 5 Things to Do in Jabal Akhdar https://www.outlookindia.com/outlooktraveller/wp-content/uploads/2017/11/featured-image-14.jpg http://www.outlookindia.com/outlooktraveller/destinations/oman-5-things-jabal-akhdar/ http://www.outlookindia.com/outlooktraveller/destinations/oman-5-things-jabal-akhdar/ 2017-11-21T15:48:04+05:30 article Five things you must not miss while you are at Jabal Akhdar Jabal Akhdar (The Green Mountain) is part of Omans Al Hajar mountain range. Bask in its pleasantly cool weather, enjoy the walking trails or go hiking in the mountains. Here are five things you must not miss while you are at Jabal Akhdar.

Adventure up the Via Ferrata

Test your climbing skills up the Via Ferrata or the mountain routes equipped with fixed wire cables, metal rungs and ladders. These help you to ascend steep rock faces in relative safety while reducing the amount of climbing equipment required. Located near the Saiq Plateau, the Alila Jabal Akhdar Resort offers a guided Via Ferrata experience overlooking Wadi Al Kawr.

Wander through the orchards

With fertile agricultural land, Jabal Akhdar grows a variety of fruits. A walk into the hillside will take you to orchards growing pomegranates, grapes, strawberries, raspberries, pears, apricots, plums, peaches, figs, etc. In September-October, the hills are covered with bright green and pink pomegranates.

Dont miss the Damask roses

Jabal Akdar is renowned for the Damask roses that cover the mountain slopes in large swaths of pink throughout April and May. Enjoy an early morning escorted walk through local villages to view the orchards and rose plantings. These Damask roses are distilled to make Omani rose water a staple in every Omani household for fragrance, culinary and medicinal purposes.

Butterfly trail for children

With scavenger map in hand, young explorers are taken on a journey of discovery through Alila Jabal Akhdars Butterfly Trail, to learn about the mountain and its inhabitants, look for fossils, and spot butterflies and birds. Free guided tours take place at 4 pm on Wednesday, Friday & Sunday. Tourists can avail of these tours even if they are not staying at the resort.

Indulgence in the hills

The bracing climate at Jabal Akhdar has made it a popular getaway from the desert heat. Several luxury resorts, such as the Anantara Jabal Akhdar or the Alila Jabal Akhdar, offer a range of amenities, including world-class spa facilities

www.omantourism.gov.om

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Brazil: Rio de Janeiro https://www.outlookindia.com/outlooktraveller/wp-content/uploads/2017/11/featured-image-13.jpg http://www.outlookindia.com/outlooktraveller/destinations/brazil-rio-de-janeiro/ http://www.outlookindia.com/outlooktraveller/destinations/brazil-rio-de-janeiro/ 2017-11-20T15:38:58+05:30 article Soaking in some Southern comfort on the seemingly endless beaches of Rio de Janeiro Would you fly 14,000 kilometres to get on to a beach? If you had asked me this question before I set foot in Rio de Janeiro, my answer would have been a categorical no. Now that I have seen the light doing a saucy samba on those waters, I am a changed man.

Like Delhi, Rio seems to have a clear preference for horizontal expansion. When it hits a hill, which is pretty often in this neck of the woods, it simply climbs up along the sides. This makes Rios topography extraordinary, and the descent into it utterly dramatic. For a deliciously long duration, the aircraft cruises over this low-lying conurbation. Lushly forested hills appear on either side. There are teasing glimpses of water. And then, finally, we alight in paradise.

Even those who havent been to Rio have heard about the legendary beaches of Copacabana and Ipanema, the second owing its fame to that bossa nova jazz classic, The Girl from Ipanema. (The singers sued the girl when she set up a boutique with the same name, but the court ruled in her favour.) Predictably, these are the most popular areas for travellers but, since I wanted to get away from it all, I had zeroed in on Barra de Tijuca, a tranquil, upmarket neighbourhood in the western part of the city, for my base. Developed in the middle of the 20th century and planned by the Brazilian architect and urban planner Lcio Costa, best known for his master plan of Brasilia, it has a clean, suburban vibe. The avenue on which my hotel, the Grand Hyatt Rio de Janeiro, stood bore Costas name.

Barras beaches are just as beautiful as the storied beaches of Copa and Ipa. But, as a bonus, theyre delightfully uncrowded, as I could see from my ocean-facing room at the Grand Hyatt. Opened in time for the 2016 Rio Olympics, the hotel has an enviable location. To the front lies the scenic expanse of the Atlantic, while the back overlooks the tranquil environs of the Marapendi lagoon and nature reserve.

Rio has an origin story as strange as they come. On January 1, 1502, a Portuguese explorer, Gaspar de Lemos, arrived on this coast and entered the Guanabara Bay. He mistook the bay for the mouth of a river and named it Rio de Janeiro. The millions of revellers who descend here every year are thankful to him for this egregious error.

I usually give touristy sights a wide berth, but there are certain things every visitor to Rio must do, no excuses. One of them is visiting Sugarloaf Mountain, named for resembling a sugarloaf, which is how sugar was made and sold till the 19th century. Set at the edge of Guanabara Bay, it rises 396 metres into the sky and offers panoramic views of Rio.

A cable car dating from 1912, but modernised since, transports visitors from the Urca neighbourhood to the mountains top in two stages. It was from Sugarloafs viewing platform that I had my first view of Christ the Redeemer, the other mandatory stop on any Rio pilgrimage. Created by the French sculptor Paul Landowski, this Art Deco statue of Jesus Christ was constructed between 1922 and 1931 and sits at the peak of the 700m-high Corcovado mountain. The mountain itself lies inside the Tijuca Forest National Park, Rios own urban rainforest. Synonymous with Rio, the statue has been declared one of the New Seven Wonders of the World. Padded mats placed in front of it enable visitors to lie down and take pictures from the best possible anglewhich is all they seem to be interested in doing.

One of the most unusual tourist sights in Rio has to be the colourful Selarn Steps straddling the neighbourhoods of Santa Teresa and Lapa. A series of dilapidated steps, they were restored and embellished by Chilean-born artist Jorge Selarn from 1990 until his death in 2013. Eventually, visitors started to bring tiles. Its a lively, polychromatic diversion on any city tour.

We also took a freshly painted tram up to Santa Teresa, where it deposited us nearly in front of the La Vereda souvenir store. Never have I seen such an engaging souvenir shop or such bloodlust in shoppers eyes. After we had nearly emptied out the store, the heist was celebrated with a meal at Aprazvel, one of Rios most celebrated restaurants. Perched high in the Santa Teresa hills among towering trees, we feasted on dishes conjured with exotic ingredients which had arrived straight from the Amazonian rainforest.

Food was a parallel strand running throughout our discovery of Rio, and it was on the table that the city truly revealed itself. It would be an understatement to say that we ate well.

Several large and leisurely meals come to mind. (Non-meal times were essentially spent recovering from these meals.) It was at Fogo de Cho, a legendary steakhouse, that the vegetarians in our group, quite unexpectedly, had their best meal, digging into copious amounts of vegetables, raw, grilled and boiled, from a lavish buffet. As the meats arrived on the table, the carnivores happily swallowed the claim, possibly true, that they prepared the meat in the authentic gaucho way. Then there was the seafood fest at Satyricon, where we found ourselves face deep in oysters, lobsters and octopuses.

Some of the most superlative meals were at the Grand Hyatt itself. Chef Miriam Moriyamas five-course Japanese tasting menu at Shiso worked with seasonal ingredients to create fresh, enchanting dishes. For traditional feijoada, we turned to Cant. Even our breakfast was enlivened by visits from capuchin monkeys from the nearby mangroves looking for tasty morsels. Expectedly, all this food was generously lubricated with caipirinhas, Brazils go-to drink for all occasions.

The hotel was also a tranquil place to retreat to after our energetic, sometimes overwhelming, forays into town. Like Rio, the hotel has a deceptively understated vibe. The architecture seems inspired by the modern and brutalist trends so much in favour in Brazil. But then Grand Hyatts are always about spirit of place (and I dont mean caipirinha!). Theres nothing cookie cutter about them. Wandering about the hotel, Id sometimes run into a monumental staircase, or a vertical garden. There were always surprises round the corner.

At the hotels Atiaia spa, they use techniques and ingredients developed by the indigenous community. Atiaia, in fact, means light in the Tupi Guarani language. In a curtained room at the spa, Bruno, my therapist, administered the Atiaia Signature Massage, which adopts techniques like lymphatic drainage, acupressure, aromatherapy, and our own abhyanga. I felt cocooned in luxury.

Rio is part rainforest, part mega-metropolis. But mostly its just a beach, with a coastline measuring almost 250km. I had a perfectly acceptable beach right under my nose but, you know, human nature. Even a sucker for shanti like me found Ipanemas lively vibe infectious. Vendors promptly brought deck chairs and umbrellas and set us up in a matter of minutes. Caipirinhas were ordered (they would come at last half an hour laterBrazilian Standard Time), after which I turned my attention to the serious matter of getting into the water. I visited during the Brazilian winter and even though in Rio its definitely mild, the water is pretty cold. And the waters of the Atlantic seem to have a mind of their own, the waves too robust for any serious attempt at swimming. You just walk into the sea until a large wave topples you over. And then start over. Its great fun.

Then it was time to explore the wild, untamed beaches outside town. Only, they were wild in more ways than one. At Abric, the citys only official nude beach, even the barely visible dental floss bikinis of Ipanema had disappeared entirely. Coyly set behind some rocks, bodies sculpted to pure perfection mingled nonchalantly with plus sizes and sagging skin. The Frescobol players were utterly unself-conscious. And you could still order a caipirinha.

The Information

Getting There

No, its not as far as you think. I flewEmirates, on which economy return tickets between Delhi and Rio cost approx.?1,20,000. My flight to Rio from Dubai took around 15 hours, no different from any long-haul flight to the US. I have it on good authority thatEthiopianAirlineshas some of the most affordable connections to Rio.

Traffic in Rio can be slow, especially during rush hour, but a judicious use of public transport should have you moving about pretty swiftly. Your options include themetro, theBRTwhich has dedicated lanes for buses and evenmotorcycletaxis(these cost about a third of the regular cabs). Rios public transportation system can be held up as an example to any developing country. The BRT that failed so spectacularly in Delhi works like clockwork in Rio, connecting seamlessly with the subway system.

Where to Stay

If youre clear about your priorities, youll know where to stay.The Grand Hyattworked beautifully for me. With 436 guestrooms (43 of which are suites, including a penthouse suite with plunge pool and two presidential suites), the Grand Hyatt is located in Barra de Tijuca, one of Rios poshest areas. Rooms feature balconies, with great views of either the Atlantic Ocean or the Marapendi Lagoon. The bathrooms are reassuringly large, with deep, soaking tubs and separate rain showers (standard rate from $169; +55-21-37971234, riodejaneiro.grand.hyatt.com).

What to See & Do

Even on the strength of my oh-too-short sojourn, I could write a book or two on the subject.However, heres a super-short guide.

MUST-DOS

Christ the Redeemer,Sugarloaf Mountain,Santa Teresa Tram, theSelaron Steps, theTijuca Forest,Maracan Stadium.

SAMBA

Sambais as quintessentially Brazil as it gets. The historic downtown neighbourhood of Lapa is the place to catch some samba street parties. Ginga Tropical (gingatropical.com) is said to be the best samba show in town. It features other dance forms aswell, like capoeira, forrand lambada.

BEACHES

CopacabanaandIpanema, of course, but alsoLeblon,SaoConrado,Barra,Recreio, and the wild beaches likePrainhaandGrumari.

MUSEUMS

Must-see ones likeMuseum of Modern ArtandMuseu Casa do Pontal(folk art) have been joined by new entrants like the Calatrava-designedMuseum of Tomorrow.

SOMETHING SPECIAL

My hosts were extremely generous,and had no doubt that I deserved ahelicopter tourof Rio. Youll have to book your own, but they are perfectly affordable. See riohelicoptertour.com.

TOP TIP

Our Italian-return Brazilian guide and tattoo artist,Tatiane Araujo,made all the difference to our Rio trip. Vivacious and friendly, shes listed on Viator. For the unbelievably busy, she also offers a Rio in One Daytour.

 

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Lens Art by Ami Vitale https://www.outlookindia.com/outlooktraveller/wp-content/uploads/2017/10/Featured-Image-5.jpg http://www.outlookindia.com/outlooktraveller/destinations/lens-art-ami-vitale/ http://www.outlookindia.com/outlooktraveller/destinations/lens-art-ami-vitale/ 2017-11-17T16:59:13+05:30 article Compelling connections between humans and animals Ami Vitale is an award-winning American photo journalist and documentary film maker whose photos have been exhibited in museums and galleries worldwide. Amis work has taken her to over 94 countries where shes experienced civil unrest and violence but also captured in her photographs the beauty and unbroken spirit of the human race. Her wildlife stories from around the world are compelling as they beautifully capture the connection between humans and animals.

Shes been featured in almost all top international publications in the world and has received numerous awards for her cultural documentation. Currently based in Montana, Ami has been a featured speaker in over 20 countries.

You can see more of Amis work on her website and Instagram page.

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Offbeat Adventures : Horse Riding, Puducherry http://www.outlookindia.com/outlooktraveller/ot-getaway-guides/offbeat-adventures-horse-riding-puducherry/ http://www.outlookindia.com/outlooktraveller/ot-getaway-guides/offbeat-adventures-horse-riding-puducherry/ 2017-11-17T16:07:46+05:30 article Looking for an offbeat holiday? Try equestrian vacation Whether youve spent your whole life around horses or youve never been close to a saddle in your life, horse riding is one sport you must try! Theres no greater feeling than that rush of adrenaline when your horse takes off at a full gallop, or that soothing sense of calm you feel when its just you and your horse on a long, hilly trail. One of the most well equipped riding schools Ive ever visited is Red Earth Riding School (RERS), which is nestled in the little township of Auroville, a few kilometres away from Pondicherry. This is a full-fledged equestrian center, which offers classes to all levels of riders in show jumping and dressage. RERS is run by Jacqueline Kapur, who comes armed with years of professional training and a deep love for all things horse! The riding school is home to some of the countrys most exquisite horses, who are champion show jumpers trained by some of the worlds finest equestrians.

Even if you choose not to venture on horseback, RERS is a great place for every animal lover. Two boxers and a Labrador will shower you with love as soon as you arrive! There is also a shed that houses the most adorable ponies. (No, you cant take one back with you I tried!) To fully enjoy your equestrian vacation, Id recommend booking accommodation at the farm well in advance. The riding school offers comfortable air-conditioned housing at their cottages. Your stay at the Red Earth riding school, will be all about experiencing the best of what farm life has to offer. The horses, ponies and wonderful people you meet make it hard to leave!

If travelling to the south isnt on the cards for you, visit the Ceddar Equestrian Centre on the outskirts of Pune. Its run by Sanyogeeta Kadu, one of Indias upcoming equestrians, and she has put her heart and soul into establishing this school. Wake up to early morning horse riding lessons, spend your afternoons exploring the on-site obstacle course and end your day with a trail ride into the sunset! Theres no better recipe to a perfect weekend! Before you embark on your first horse riding holiday, remember, horses are beautiful animals with big hearts. Every human who chooses to enter their magical world must treat them with respect and kindness. When you ride a horse, its like a conversation with no words. Love your horse, treat him right and you will be rewarded with a lifelong friend.

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Odissi The Dance Divine https://www.outlookindia.com/outlooktraveller/wp-content/uploads/2017/10/Odissi-Dance1_FI.jpg http://www.outlookindia.com/outlooktraveller/ot-getaway-guides/odissi-dance-divine/ http://www.outlookindia.com/outlooktraveller/ot-getaway-guides/odissi-dance-divine/ 2017-11-17T15:50:29+05:30 article Witness beauty and poetry in motion One of the most significant contributions of Odisha to Indian culture and classical dance is Odissi. Witnessing it being performed against a backdrop of ancient temples is to witness beauty and poetry in motion. Odissi dancers don traditional silks, filigreed silver jewellery and tinkling bells called ghungroos on their feet. A crown of flowers or peacock feathers, which resembles a temple spire, frames their hair bun. An Odissi dancer can mesmerise you with her gazelle-like movements, striking poses, and a glance of her expressive kohl-rimmed eyes.

The celebration of dance and music is imprinted in the landscape of Odissa since time immemorial. Odissi emerged in Hindu temples as a Devadasi tradition (a religious practice where parents marry their daughter off to a temple or deity) over 2,000 years ago. Archaeological sites associated with Hinduism, Buddhism and Jainism display sculptures and inscriptions showcasing the role of music and dance.

Odissi is characterised by tribhangi, a concept that divides the human body into three parts (head, bust and torso), and the postures that deal with these elements. The exaggerated movements of the upper torso are reminiscent of waves, the graceful fluidity of the mudras or gestures mimic the swaying palm trees and the strong thump of the feet simulate the heartbeat of Mother Earth. The ashtapadis (poem of eight couplets) of Jayadev, the legendary 12th- century Sanskrit poet, is a common theme, while the depiction of the eternal love of Radha-Krishna from his epic poem Gita Govinda is fundamental to the abhinaya (expression) in Odissi dance. Besides popularising the classic tribhangi (threefold) posture of Krishna playing the flute, Jayadev also institutionalised the Devadasi system in Oriya temples, which had a separate nata mandir (dance hall) for performances.

Bas reliefs at Udaygiri depicting shapely dancers prove that dance was actively encouraged as early as 1st century BCE. Recorded as Odra Magadhi and rooted in the principles of Natya Sastra, the sacred Sanskrit treatise on the performing arts, Odissi developed in the Mahari tradition and received royal patronage between the 6th and 11th centuries. At one point in time, even members of the royal family were accomplished dancers, which spawned the Nartaki tradition.

Sadly, the journey of this art was tumultuous. The invasion by Mughal armies and the plunder of temples led to the decline of Odissi. The incursion by Sultan Firoz Shah Tughlaq (136061) damaged several dancing statues and nata mandirs, including the one at the Jagannath Temple in Puri. Dancers were reduced to entertainers or nautch girls in the courts and concubines of royal families.

In the 17th century, Odissi regained some of its former glory under the patronage of king Ramachandradeva, who promoted the arts and the spread of Vaishnava philosophy in Odisha. Dance was encouraged even amongst young men, and it broke away from the norm of being an art form only for women. This gave rise to the Gotipua tradition of Odissi, where young men dressed like women and performed on stage.

Unfortunately, British officers and Christian missionaries launched an Anti-Nautch movement in 1892, discouraging financial support to the dance form, and banned the practice of dancing in temples. However, some nationalists sparked off a revivalist movement. After Independence, artists and performers came together to restructure various classical arts. Odiya poet, researcher and dramatist Kavichandra Kalicharan Pattanayak is credited for naming the dance form of Odisha as Odissi.

Since the 1940s, Odissi has grown into a renowned art form performed throughout the world. In recent years, dance festivals organised at Bhubaneswar, Puri and Konark have exposed Odissi to a wider audience.

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Arunachal Pradesh: Tribes & Traditions https://www.outlookindia.com/outlooktraveller/wp-content/uploads/2017/11/Tribes1_FI.jpg http://www.outlookindia.com/outlooktraveller/ot-getaway-guides/arunachal-pradesh-tribes-traditions/ http://www.outlookindia.com/outlooktraveller/ot-getaway-guides/arunachal-pradesh-tribes-traditions/ 2017-11-17T15:46:05+05:30 article Each tribal community come with its own unique culture, customs, practices, language and folklore The origins of the tribes that are currently living in Arunachal Pradesh remain shrouded in mystery. Whatever little is known has been passed down from generation to generation via oral traditions. It is widely believed that the tribes who inhabit this land now, came from Burma (present day Myanmar) and Tibet, where Mongoloid tribal groups with similar cultures still live.

Over the course of these migrations, several inter-tribal feuds occurred, which resulted in the groups scattering across the region. In addition to that, natural calamities that had occurred in the area forced the tribes to take up different habitats and adapt to the nature of their geophysical surroundings.

When youre in Arunachal Pradesh, you will hear of stories about inter-tribal warfare, when tribes battled for supremacy and better lands. Although you cant see any fences, most of the tribal territories of Arunachal Pradesh are invisibly marked. Every tribe knows its territories and the rivers that come under them and which particular clan alone has hunting or fishing rights over that area. In order to maintain a distinct identity, each tribe used tattoos, headgears or nose plugs.

Every tribe has a village council. These councils solve issues pertaining to kinship, group activities, and set moral standards and necessary regulations. Most village councils also solve basic civil and criminal cases and play an important role in development activities. It is interesting to note that there was no police force in Arunachal Pradesh up until 1972 and the councils were responsible for maintaining peace and order.

There are about 20 scheduled tribes in Arunachal Pradesh each with its own sub-groups. For instance, the Mishmis that inhabit the Dibang Valley have three sub-groups Idus, Digaros and Mijus. Further, each tribal community has its own unique culture, customs, practices, language and folklore.

Arunachal Pradesh has the highest concentration of scheduled tribes in India. Additionally, this region is probably one of the last remaining outposts in the country where tribes still live a primitive existence, seeking out a living from the land and maintaining a harmonious relation with nature.

The religious practices and lifestyle of the tribes share close ties with their surroundings. For instance the Monpas who inhabit the West Kameng and Tawang districts, are essentially Buddhists who follow the Mahayana sect. The Nyishis and Apatanis in the East Kameng, Papum Pare and Lower Subansiri districts practice what can be called almost pagan or pre-Aryan beliefs, which is evident from their worship of trees, rocks and plants amongst other things.

The Noctes, found in the Tirap district, follow Theravada Buddhism and Animism. However, in the central and eastern parts of the state, some tribal communities have started practising Hinduism and Christianity, and hence the areas are now dotted with several churches and temples.

A large majority of the tribes are involved in agriculture, even though they were originally hunters. Wetland cultivation is a common occupation. Tea and fruit such as kiwi and apple are commonly grown commodities here. Some tribal communities are involved in weaving and the production of several items from bamboo and cane. For instance, the Apatanis practice bamboo cultivation; they use the giant grass as food and also to make products such as mugs, ladles, containers, bags, etc., which are sold in markets.

Monpas

The westernmost part of the state is home to the Monpas, who follow the Mahayana sect of Buddhism, which they adopted in the 17th century CE from Merak Lama. Hence, the Tawang Monastery plays a central role in the everyday life of the people of this tribe. They speak the Monpa language, which is actually a combination of Dakpa and East Bodhish Tshangla.

Like most tribes in the state, the Monpas also migrated here, possibly from the Western Himalayas, through Sikkim. It is believed that the Monpas are the only nomadic tribe in Northeast India. In the times gone by, they used to largely depend on yaks, cows, goats and horses for sustenance and had no permanent settlements. However, due to the increasing influence of urbanization, they have begun to build homes in different parts of the West Kameng and Tawang districts. The Monpas are commonly employed at various levels in monasteries (such as priests). They also make shawls, bags, carpets, masks, thangkas (Buddhist paintings), wooden bowls, etc.

Sherdukpens

The Sherdukpens, although small, are one of the most progressive tribes that can be found in Arunachal Pradesh. They reside in Bomdila and the surrounding villages of Rupa, Jigaon, Thongri and Shergaon.

The Sherdukpens are divided into two groups the upper class Thongs are believed to be the descendents of a Tibetan king and Ahom princess, while the Chaos, considered the lower class, are descendants of the king and princess servants and porters. They speak the Sherdukpen language, which is similar to the one spoken by the Monpas.

They practise agriculture, fishing and rearing of livestock. Although the Sherdukpens have also adopted Tibetan Buddhism through Mera Lama, unlike the Monpas, most of their practices still remain pre-Buddhist and more Animistic.

Nyishis

The word Nyishi literally translates to a civilised human being. The Nyishis are the most populous tribe of Arunachal Pradesh and inhabit the Papum Pare, Kurung Kumey, East Kameng, and the Lower and Upper Subansiri districts of Arunachal Pradesh. They are mainly involved in shifting cultivation and produce rice, millet, cucumber, etc.

Folktales, Laws & Customs

The Story of Kojum-Koja

According to legend, Kojum-Koja was an ancient civilisation that sprang up on earth millions of years ago. Their self-sufficient society established several villages. The Kojum-Koja people were supposedly a content lot until a great flood wiped out their entire population.

It is believed that Biri-Bote, the ruler of waters, caused the flood. She was engraged at the loss of her son, Biri Angur Potung (a fish), who was apparently killed and eaten by the Kojum-Koja people during a festival. The deluge left no trace of the Kojum-Kojas. However, a beautiful bride named Nyangi Myete, survived the calamity and it is she who later recited the tale of destruction wreaked on her people.

The celestial bride, today, is considered the epitome of grace and honour. The tribes believe that she still lives on in all things that are naturally beautiful; for example, green vegetation is believed to be her skirt, clouds her white robe, water and rain her sweat and tears, and so on.

Birth of a Child

In the past, the people of Arunachal Pradesh welcomed a newborn child into the world by placing certain symbols at the entrance door of their houses. Passersby would come to know of the childs gender from these symbols. For instance, a miniature bamboo bow and arrow indicated a boy while a small woven rain hat meant it was a girl.

Marriage System

There is no concept of dowry amongst the tribes of Arunachal Pradesh. Instead, there is a custom known as the bride price. A daughter is considered an economic asset, and the grooms family is supposed to compensate the brides family with a mithun, fabric and valuable utensils in exchange for accepting the bride into their family.

Arunachali society is strictly patriarchal and a widow cannot possess her late husbands property or pass it on to her daughters; only personal possessions, such as ornaments and weaving kits can be inherited by the female offspring. All the assets are usually inherited by the son. In case a woman commits adultery, she is deprived of any temporary rights over the property and she may also have to repay the bride price. A fine is also imposed upon her, which is expected to be paid by her new husbands family in case she is marrying again.

Death and Burial

The tribes in Arunachal see death as an event that should be shared by all. Relatives flock to the house of the deceased and perform a wake for days together and guests are accommodated at night. Songs of lamentation (penge) are sung impromptu, retelling the departed persons childhood and other important anecdotes. Their possessions are buried along with their body and a small bamboo shelter is erected over the burial site.

Only the Buddhist tribes in the state believe in reincarnation. Most others believe that one passes through a gate called Sedi Litung Borbung after death and then meets his/ her ancestors. Some tribes believe that tattoos are the only way ones kith and kin can recognise them in their afterlife. Apatanis

UNESCO has proposed that the Apatani valley be listed as a World Heritage Site for its extremely high productivity and unique way of preserving ecology. The tribe, mainly found in the Ziro Valley in the Lower Subansiri district, is known for its wetland paddy cultivation, which produces high yields even without the use of farm animals and agricultural machines.

The Apatanis have a distinct culture with systematic land use techniques and rich traditional ecological knowledge. Their sustainable development ways, and natural resources management and conservation, that has been acquired over the centuries through informal experimentation, is simply exemplary.

Apatanis are a vibrant tribe that celebrate several festivals such as Drii and Myoko. They make intricately woven shawls and skirts that are worn during these festivals. They also create jewellery out of precious and semi-precious stones.

Thanks to the availability of raw material, they make products for daily use out of bamboo and cane.

Khamptis

The Khamptis migrated to Arunachal Pradesh from Assam and the areas around the Irrawaddy River. They are mainly found in the Namsai and Changlang districts in Arunachal Pradesh and follow the Theravada sect of Buddhism.

The Khampti dance drama, Ka Poong Tai, is a highly expressive art form, which reflects the unique culture of the Khampti Buddhists.

Festivals

Celebrating culture and tradition through festivals is an integral part of the Arunachali way of life. With the presence of so many different tribes, one can only imagine the wide range of festivities that occur here.

Torgya

The festival of Torgya is celebrated on the 28th day of the 11th month of the lunar calendar. The Tawang Monastery hosts this three-day-long festival, which is characterised by monastic dances called Cham. These dances are performed while wearing wooden masks. Pagcham, Zamcham, Graicham, Dungcham and Gayi Cham are some of the dances, which depict ancient tales of war.

Adi Festivals

The Adi tribe celebrates a number of festivals but the most important ones are Aran, Solung and Etor. Solung is a harvest festival that is observed in the first week of September for about five days. It is marked by songs, dances, display of weaponry, etc. Etor is celebrated in the month of May and men perform various war dances (collectively called Tapu) during the ceremonies. Aran is observed in the month of March.

Drii and Myoko

The Apatanis have two main festivals Drii and Myoko. The former is celebrated in the month of July. It involves the sacrifice of fowls, eggs and animals to the Sun and Moon gods. The purpose of the festival is to appease the gods so that famine is averted.

Myoko is a festival of prosperity and fertility and is celebrated in the month of March. Its rituals include sacrifice of fowls to nature gods.

Sangken

Khamptis host Sangken on 14 April every year. People irrespective of their tribe, caste, culture, race, etc. participate in the rituals associated with the celebrations. The main attraction of Sangken is splashing clean water, which is the symbol of peace and purity. Idols of Lord Buddha are taken out on processions accompanied by song and dance during the festival.

Nyokum

This festival is celebrated by the Nyishi tribe in order to appease their gods. People gather in community grounds in brightly coloured clothes and perform various dances. Nyokum is observed on 26 February. Certain rituals of the festival also include praying to ancestors as well as praying for a good harvest.

Adis

The Adis are one of the most prominent tribes of Arunachal Pradesh. Now living in East Siang, Upper Siang, West Siang, Lower Dibang Valley and Lohit districts, they were originally from Tibet.

The Adis probably migrated to Arunachal with the gradual spread of Buddhism across Tibet in the 17th century, for they were traditionalists that wanted to hold onto their original religious beliefs. They follow a tribal religion known as Donyi-Polo and worship gods and goddesses such as Kine Nane, Doying Bote, Gumin Soyin and Pedong Nane, who represent various elements and things found in nature.

Young women and men are introduced to each other through the system of dormitories prevalent in the Adi tribe. Men can visit womens dormitories but are not allowed to stay overnight. Occuptionally, the Adis are by and large wetland farmers and hunters.

Other Tribes

The Idu tribes inhabit the Dibang Valley near the Mishmi hills and are said to have come from the Tibetan highlands. The Noctes in Tirap are ethnically related to the Konyak Nagas from Myanmar. Noctes sport distinct jewellery and interesting headgear.

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Palazzo Versace Dubai: Special Winter Package https://www.outlookindia.com/outlooktraveller/wp-content/uploads/2017/11/HERO_IMAGE_-_hotel_exterior.jpg http://www.outlookindia.com/outlooktraveller/hotels/palazzo-versace-dubai-special-winter-package/ http://www.outlookindia.com/outlooktraveller/hotels/palazzo-versace-dubai-special-winter-package/ 2017-11-17T14:14:12+05:30 article This 5 star fashion hotel in Dubai has the perfect offer for a sunny winter holiday Palazzo Versace Dubai is conveniently located along the shores of the historic Dubai Creek, less than 15 minutes away from Dubai International Airport and in close proximity to Burj Khalifa and Downtown Dubai. The property, reminiscent of a 16th century Italian palace, it is a Neoclassical masterpiece with subtle traces of Arabian architecture. Featuring a striking entrance, high ceilings, landscaped gardens, and a range of well-crafted Italian furnishings, the hotel is truly symbolic of the Versace lifestyle.

The striking Pietra di Fiume design of the iconic Medusa and Greek dcor will dazzle you the moment you enter the hotel set in the heart of the Culture Village. A walk through the five-star hotels public spaces reveals several exclusive designs and fabrics from Versace, while the lagoon pools and reflection ponds complement the serenity of the lush gardens that surround the hotel.

The Palazzo Versace Dubai Winter Holdiay package is offering special rates on rooms and suites, including breakfast, privileges on dining and spa treatments, and transfers to some of the city's famous attractions - The Dubai Mall, Nikki Beach and Dubai Parks & Resorts. The earlier you book, the more value you receive off your stay at Palazzo Versace Dubai, the hotel said in its release.

Rates start from AED 1,250/ INR 22,100 (including breakfast), for a Deluxe Versace Culture Village View Room (for 2 adults 1 child; with one king bed, private balcony and room exclusively designed by Versace).

Package includes accommodation in a luxuriously appointed room or suite; complimentary internet access; daily breakfast at Giardino (all day dining restaurant); 20 per cent discount on food and beverage (except Qs Bar and Lounge); 20 per cent discount on massages at The SPA; complimentary shuttle service to Dubai Mall, Dubai Festival City Mall and Dubai Parks and Resorts; and complimentary transfers to/from Nikki Beach Resort & Spa Dubai. However, remember guests are entitled to use the Pool & Beach facilities of Nikki Beach Resort & Spa Dubai with a minimum spend of AED 200 per person for adults and AED 100 for children aged 6 to 12 years of age.

The Winter Holiday offer is valid untilApril 30, 2018; blackout dates apply (during festive holidays). The offer cannot be used in conjunction with any other offer. The package is subject to 10 per cent service charge and 10 per cent municipality fees and AED 20 tourism fee per room per night on Bed and Breakfast basis.

www.palazzoversace.ae; tel:+971 4 556 8888

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Odisha: Chilika Lake https://www.outlookindia.com/outlooktraveller/wp-content/uploads/2017/11/featured-image-11.jpg http://www.outlookindia.com/outlooktraveller/destinations/odisha-chilika-lake/ http://www.outlookindia.com/outlooktraveller/destinations/odisha-chilika-lake/ 2017-11-15T13:40:55+05:30 article One of the largest brackish water lakes in Asia is a perfect place for a winter vacation, especially for a date with the hordes of If it was not for the stern eye of our BNHS birding expert, I might have ended up patting a Godwit or two sitting so temptingly close to our boat. As the boat skimmed through the reed-lined narrow channel, flocks of Godwits welled up before our eyes. In between we spied a couple of purple moorhens, open-billed storks, snipes, black-winged stilts and our journey had just begun. Somewhere in the background, I could hear the photographers hurriedly replacing their long-distance lenses. We were at Mangalajodi, a birding hotspot, on the north-eastern end of Odishas famous Chilika Lake.

Although called a lake, Chilika is a brackish water lagoon with estuarine characteristics. While local people live off fishing in the lake, it is also one of the most delicate biodiversity hotspots of India and home to a large number of species listed in the IUCN Red List. In winter, a large number of migratory birds visit the lake.

Mangalajodi (about 80km from state capital Bhubaneswar) is one of the places where you can spot them so close. But it was not like this earlier, our guide from Mangalajodi Ecotourism explained. The local people would kill the birds without much ado, until some local bird-lovers, the Chilika Development Authority and a few private agencies stepped in with messages of conservation. Slowly, the villagers turned from poachers to conservationists and Mangalajodi Ecotourism was born. Now they provide simple accommodation, boating facilities and guides for exploring the channels. There is also a watch tower near the boat jetty where we spent quite a rewarding afternoon.

While birding is one of the key attractions of Chilika Lake, you can also go dolphin watching, especially from Satapada, about 50km away by road from the beach and pilgrim town of Puri. Although catching a sight of the Irrawaddy dolphins is a matter of luck, usually they can be seen during early morning and late afternoon, when the suns rays are relatively mild. The boats (choose one that offers adequate protection from the sun) will take you on a sweeping ride through the lake and anchor at a sand bar near the sea mouth in between. A popular picnic point, there are shacks here that will fry for you some of the fresh catch from the lake, at a nominal price.

Sprawling over 1,100 square kilometre along the eastern coast of India, Chilika Lake spreads over Puri, Khurda and Ganjam districts of Odisha. Barkul and Rambha in the Ganjam district have been popular entry points for visitors, largely because of the Odisha Tourism Development Corporation tourist bungalows located here and the boating facilities provided by them. One of the most popular attractions from Barkul is a ride to the Goddess Kalijai Temple located on an island hillock. The goddess is much revered by the local people, especially the fisher folk community. On the day of Makar Sankranti, a huge fair is held here.

You may also take a boat ride around Nalban, one of the largest islands in the lake and a bird sanctuary. The Breakfast Island has ruins of an old palace. You can spot the Beacon Island from a distance marked by its obelisk and a small building, said to be built by a District Collector during the British period to warn the boats about the submerged rocks in the area. The Honeymoon Island (nobody knows why it was thus named) is said to harbour the endangered Barakudia limbless skunk.

There are also chances of seeing dolphins during your boat ride.

Despite its scenic beauty and importance, Chilika Lake is still far from the global tourist map. One of the main reasons being lack of international standard of accommodation. To address this problem, one of the key business houses of Odisha, the Swosti Group, has come up with a modern resort, the Swosti Chilika Resort (about 111km from Bhubaneswar), located at Odia Alapur in Ganjam district. Far removed from the beaten tourist path, the sprawling resort sits in the middle of a landscaped verdant plot. Set back from the shore, it offers a panoramic view of the lake. Some of the facilities on offer are a spa, gaming centres for both adults and children, and a swimming pool. Odisha is known for its cuisine, especially seafood. Savour the specialities of the region, especially those made with the fresh catch from the lake, at the two restaurants here. Apart from local cuisine, they also offer international cuisine. Swosti Chilika Resort can also arrange for boating in the Chilika Lake and local sightseeing.

The Information

The best time to visit Chilika is in winter, when the weather is mild and the migratory birds arrive. Even in winter, it can be very hot by day. So carry adequate water and sun protection gear when you go boating in the lake.

Odisha Tourism Development Corporation (OTDC) runs tourist lodges at Satapada, Barkul and Rambha. Facilities are basic and fancy free. If you are looking for a luxury holiday, then the Swosti Chilika Resort is your only option.

Bhubaneswar is the nearest airport for all destinations on the Chilika. Apart from being connected to the rest of the country through domestic airlines companies, Bhubaneswar is also directly connected with Kuala Lumpur (Malaysia) through Air Asia. Located on the Howrah (West Bengal) Chennai (Tamil Nadu) railway route, some of the most convenient rail stations are Bhubaneswar, Puri and Balugaon.

From Bhubaneswar and Puri, there are day tours to Chilika during tourist season. Unless you are lodging in Swosti Chilika Resort, be prepared to encounter a noisy crowd, especially day visitors and picnickers, at the OTDC lodges and the boat jetties. www.otdc.in www.swostihotels.com

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Hyderabadi Food Festival: Caf, Hyatt Regency, Delhi https://www.outlookindia.com/outlooktraveller/wp-content/uploads/2017/11/Hyderabadi-Biryani-at-CAfe-Hyatt-Regency-Delhi.jpg http://www.outlookindia.com/outlooktraveller/cuisine/hyderabadi-food-festival-cafe-hyatt-regency-delhi/ http://www.outlookindia.com/outlooktraveller/cuisine/hyderabadi-food-festival-cafe-hyatt-regency-delhi/ 2017-11-14T14:50:19+05:30 article Get ready to savour some royal dishes from the kitchens of the southern Nawabs at Caf, Hyatt Regency's 24-hour restaurant Do not miss the chance to savour culinary delights from the Deccan, the favoured dishes of the Nawabs of Hyderabad, at the Hyderabadi Food Festival at Caf, the 24-hour restaurant atHyatt Regency, Delhi.
The restaurant, which is located at the hotel's pool level, will host the 10-day festival fromNovember 17, 2017 onwards. The menu promises to bring the exclusive flavours of extravagant Hyderabadi cuisine to your table. The spread offers fresh and original food concepts, with dishes cooked la minute by Corporate Indian Chef Anil Khurana from Hyatt Regency Delhi and Chef Rakesh, from Hyatt Hyderabad.
The chefs work with handpicked spices to retain the authenticity of the dishes. Some of the specialities that are likely to draw the gourmet's attention are Raan E Khaas, Hyderabadi Gosht Haleem, Mirchi Ka Salan, Aloo Ke Garley.
The Hyderabadi Food Festival at theCaf will take place fromNov 17 to 26, 2017. The buffet spread will be available both for lunch (12pm to 2.30pm) and dinner (7pm to 11.30pm), at ?1,950 (plus taxes).
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Mumbai-Goa: Ferry Services https://www.outlookindia.com/outlooktraveller/wp-content/uploads/2017/11/Goa-Mumbai-ferry-featured-image.jpg http://www.outlookindia.com/outlooktraveller/destinations/mumbai-goa-ferry-services/ http://www.outlookindia.com/outlooktraveller/destinations/mumbai-goa-ferry-services/ 2017-11-13T15:44:53+05:30 article Ferry services on the Mumbai-Goa sea route to resume by December this year Travel between Mumbai and Goa is set to get more interesting with the revival of the passenger shipping route, probably as early as December this year. Nitin Gadkari, Unionministerfor Road Transport & Highways, Shipping, Water Resources and Ganga Rejuvenation, made the announcement recently while addressing the media in Goa after the conclusion of the mid-review meeting of major ports.This service will be initiated under the Sagar Mala project, the Central government's initiative tomoderniseIndia's ports.

According to media reports, the Minister has also advised hotels to construct floating jetties so that passengers can be ferried to the hotels.

However, one has to wait and see if the Mumbai-Goa service will be a regular ferry service or a luxury cruise opportunity.

While details of the serviceareyet to be declared, according to reports, the vessel is likely to stop at various points in Raigad and Ratnagiri districts before reaching Panaji.

The minister pointed out that water transportation will reduce pollution and tourists will be able to enjoy the coastal view as they travel through the inland waterways.

Interestingly, the opening of the ferry services will revive a part of the historical sea route that once connected Goa and Mumbai.

Regular passenger services between Mumbai and Goa were available regularly, except during the monsoon, until the boats operating on this route were commissioned for use during the Sri Lanka war. Then a private catamaran service operated on the route for a few years. However, the opening of the Konkan Railway route eased all-season travel and the sea route was not used since then.

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Lounge Review: Turkish Airlines International CIP Lounge https://www.outlookindia.com/outlooktraveller/wp-content/uploads/2017/11/Lounge-Review.jpg http://www.outlookindia.com/outlooktraveller/destinations/lounge-review-turkish-airlines-international-cip-lounge/ http://www.outlookindia.com/outlooktraveller/destinations/lounge-review-turkish-airlines-international-cip-lounge/ 2017-11-13T14:28:59+05:30 article Turkish Airlines' revamped business-class lounge is among the best in the world Some, or should I say many, people have called it the best business lounge in the world. Over and over again. When I passed through Istanbul airport recently, I couldnt help but peek in. For one thing, its huge. Understandable, given they doubled its size a few years ago when it became a tad crowded.

Theres a lot of nifty tech in use. You only have to scan your boarding pass and, should you be eligible for lounge access, electronic gates open up to let you into the sprawling lounge which now straddles two floors. The first impression is of a tranquil, airy, light-filled space, especially after the walk through the very busy food courts and shopping areas of the airport.

If you want to store your luggage, the baggage area lets you do so in glass compartments accessed by passwords. So no fumbling around for keys.

Lounge-Review-2

Plants tucked in here and there strongly suggest an oasis. And an oasis suggests water, which does flow here, but in the plush showers which I realised are rather popular when I lined up for one. I cant tell you how heavenly it felt after my long flight.

Theres lots more, of course. Video gaming and childrens play areas. A library, would you believe. A pool table. A movie theatre with a machine in front of it dispensing as much popcorn as you want.

The seating areas are spread out across the lounge and there is even a piano, in case you suddenly get the urge to play one. There are suites equipped with showers and comfy beds. Should you still not feel rested, in-house massage therapists are at hand to tease out every niggling knot from your body.

As is often the case with business lounges, there was a lot of delish food floating around. The culinary high points of this particular lounge sojourn for me were the live teppanyaki station that had been set up to celebrate the launch of flights to Tokyo and some traditional kofte. Another authentic Turkish delight I sampled was pide, a flatbread topped with ground meat and vegetables. This was Turkey after all, so a plethora of sweets was available all over the lounge. I dutifully tucked into some baklava.

Istanbul is a lively airport, filled with enticements. If you can tear yourself away from all that, the Turkish Airlines lounge is just the restful nook you need before your next flight.

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Bandhan Express: Connecting Kolkata with Khulna https://www.outlookindia.com/outlooktraveller/wp-content/uploads/2017/11/Bandhan-express.jpg http://www.outlookindia.com/outlooktraveller/destinations/bandhan-express-connecting-kolkata-khulna/ http://www.outlookindia.com/outlooktraveller/destinations/bandhan-express-connecting-kolkata-khulna/ 2017-11-12T14:16:19+05:30 article Rail services resume after 52 years connecting Kolkata (India) to Khulna (Bangladesh) Passenger railway services between India and Bangladesh got a boost with the inauguration of the Bandhan Express, which will travel between Kolkata (West Bengal, India) and Khulna (Bangladesh) every Thursday.
The inaugural run took place on Nov 9 with Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina and West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee jointly flagged off the train through video conferencing. Regular service is scheduled to start from November 16, 2017.
The Bandhan Express will cover a distance of 172 km one way -- 77 km in India and 95 km in Bangladesh. The train will travel via the Petrapole-Benapole route. It will leave Kolkata station every Thursday at 7.10am and reach Khulna at noon, same day. It will start on the return leg from Khulna at 1.20pm same day and reach Kolkata at 6.10 pm same evening.
With the opening of the International Passenger Terminal at the Kolkata railway station, passengers will be able to complete their immigration checks here for the Indian part. In Bangladesh, the checks will be done at Benapole for the Bandhan Express.
The other train running between India and Bangladesh is the Maitree Express, since 2008. It runs six days a week between Kolkata and the capital city of Bangladesh - Dhaka. Earlier, passengers aboard the Maitree Express had togo through immigration and customs checks at Gede (last railway station on the Indian side) and Darshona (Bangladesh). Now, according to latest reports, the immigration checks will be held at the newly opened international terminal at Kolkata station and not at Gede.Passengers travelling from Kolkata to Dhaka by the Maitree Express have been instructed by the Eastern Railway to arrive at the International Passengers' Railway Terminal at the Kolkata station by 5.10am. The scheduled departure of the train is at 7.10am.
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Pujo Sans Borders https://www.outlookindia.com/outlooktraveller/wp-content/uploads/2017/11/Just-Back.jpg http://www.outlookindia.com/outlooktraveller/destinations/pujo-sans-borders/ http://www.outlookindia.com/outlooktraveller/destinations/pujo-sans-borders/ 2017-11-12T14:05:58+05:30 article Travel to Taki to witness a unique phenomenon where faith unites people from two different countries every year It takes about three-and-a-half hours drive through the Bengal countryside to reach Taki.A small town bordering the Ichamati river near Hasnabad, Taki is ideal for a weekend break from Kolkata. But on Mahadashami during Durga Puja, the place draws massive crowds as idols from India and Bangladesh are taken on boats to be immersed into the river. Though this ritual has been an annual visual treat since Independence, Taki has come under the spotlight only recently.

It was raining on the last day of the festival this year as my photographer and I made our way to the little town. The lush greenery, the petrichor in the air, the rural pandals, the enticing smell wafting from sweetshops along the waythey all built up our excitement for what was to come.

On reaching Hasnabad, we were shown the way to MV Saudamini, the white and red launch which would take us to the immersion spot. The water was calm and one could guide pointed at the opposite banks and said, That is Bangladesh. Its at that moment you realise how close you are to the neighbouring countrythe international border actually runs through the river.

The atmosphere completely changed as the boat approached the kilometre-wide immersion stretch, the closest spot from where both Bangladeshis and Indians could see the grand event.

The scene was electric. Country boats from both sides, their respective ags waving proudly, showed off their idols across the border, which was guarded by the BSF. (Go too close to the border and they shoo you away!) The pitter patter of raindrops continued but failed to dampen the enthusiasm. Impromptu dhunuchi naach, the latest dance moves from trending movies and the beats of the dhaak added to the festive spirit as each boat circled around their side of the border seven times, each round infusing new energy into the devotees. As the boats made their rounds, the people on the banks got a glimpse of the idols before they were immersed. The incessant waving and merrymaking, throwing of sweets from passing boats as a gesture of friendship, calling out to each other in the same languagethe experience was one of magic and symbolic unity across borders.

As the afternoon gave way to dusk, it was time for reworks. Fired from the boats, rockets burst into coloured balls of re that lit up the sky and evoked gasps from the audience. There was a stipulated time for the immersion but it carried on until darkness engulfed the open river. From a scene of buzzing activity, the river fell eerily silent. Flashing lights from the BSF boats guided us back and the river lapped contentedly against the boat. There was peace.

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Mumbai: Celebrity Cruises https://www.outlookindia.com/outlooktraveller/wp-content/uploads/2017/11/Celebrity-Cruises.jpg http://www.outlookindia.com/outlooktraveller/destinations/mumbai-celebrity-cruises/ http://www.outlookindia.com/outlooktraveller/destinations/mumbai-celebrity-cruises/ 2017-11-09T18:27:25+05:30 article Hop aboard the Celebrity Constellation to enjoy a cruise that conveniently starts and ends in Mumbai Premium cruise line Celebrity Cruises is offering a unique luxury experience: cruises that both start and end at Mumbai onboard its Celebrity Constellation ship. You no longer need to take a flight to a foreign city to enjoy a luxe cruise experience. Starting from ?50,000 per person, all inclusive, the cruises are scheduled for December 2017 and January 2018. Choose from five-day and seven-day itineraries that include stops such as Dubai, Muscat and Abu Dhabi. The Celebrity Constellation, with a capacity of 2,170, is opulent with its luxurious staterooms, iconic restaurants and tailor-made services. One can savour exclusive Indian menus, a rooftop lounge, movie screenings and shows, etc. Cruises dates: December 7-12 and December 1219, 2017; January 29 and January 914, 2018. See celebritycruises.com

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Maharashtra: Coco Shambhala https://www.outlookindia.com/outlooktraveller/wp-content/uploads/2017/11/featured-image-6.jpg http://www.outlookindia.com/outlooktraveller/hotels/maharashtra-coco-shambhala/ http://www.outlookindia.com/outlooktraveller/hotels/maharashtra-coco-shambhala/ 2017-11-08T16:59:55+05:30 article Coco Shambhala combines luxury with unobstructed rural life by a virgin beach in Sindhudurg There are leopards in the jungle five feet from my door at Coco Shambhala, and whales in the ocean under my bedroom balcony. During my stay, the manager has a python crawling on his porch. I spot bright blue kingfishers taking a shortcut via my living room, black-faced langurs watch me from the trees, and a non-lethal snake slithers off the road as I walk in the adjacent village.

This south Maharashtra resort is located in Bhogavea jungle settlement with a minuscule post office (code: 416523), a school and an anganwadi, a couple of stalls selling sundry items and a population of about a thousand. Its main attraction is a beach with half a dozen benches for viewing the sunset. A friendly villager who works at the hotel (the managements social agenda includes employing as many locals as possible) leads me along narrow paths to meet his relatives and show me the sightsold wells that ensure the village never faces drought and a mysterious pond from within which a submerged Shivalingam used to lend out jewellery to poor villagers at the time of weddings. We immediately discuss a possible village heritage walk. Its an occupational hazard. One thinks of everything in terms of tourism opportunities.

I tell myself to focus on just enjoying the paradisiacal Sindhudurg district. Best known for its historical forts, especially the Sindhudurg Forta massive island citadel built in the 1660s for the warrior king Shivajithe district is a lot like neighbouring Goa; similar beaches, same sunny weather, fresh seafood cooked in the local Malwani style. But unlike Goa, the government here doesnt want boozy beach shacks, and prefers the low-impact, high-quality sustainable tourism embodied by Coco Shambhala, which consists of a well-manicured hillside garden with red laterite stepped paths that connect four fancy villas.

A splendid design detail is the terrace-like semi-outdoorsy living pavilions, furnished with sofas, a classy bar, and a dining corner where gigantic ferns are daringly allowed space to grow (bringing the jungle virtually indoors). These open onto large private poolswith a 180-degree panoramic view of the ocean. The low villas appear to have grown out of the jungly hillside, but aredespite feeling solid to the touchnot permanent structures. They arent even set up with landline phones; each guest is handed a mobile pre-programmed with staff contacts so one can stay in touch with the hotel while down on the beach. When I stand there on Bhogave Beach with my feet in the spray, barely 200 metres away, I can just about spot the Mangalore-style red-tiled roofs of the resort among the palm trees.

The construction itself is a feat of imagination. British backpacker turned hotelier Giles Knapton fell in love with India and decided to move here 10 years ago to create a chain of optimum glamour hotels, of which this is the second. The first was in Goa and the next is coming up in Rajasthan. His approach to building is intuitive, he tells me, as he describes how he would hike in the jungles until he found this hill. Here, he would sit, listen to the ocean and observe nature until his mind conjured up these airy villas where the smallest of detailsincluding the rustic wooden table coasterswere handcrafted locally. A keen interest in tropical architecture probably helped, so did the dedication of his team, which included 130 local labourers who built it. The staffers, from managers to chefs, are more like a joint family.

They treat guests like family too. Though extremely polite, they engage in easygoing chats about everything from sacred forests to dilapidated forts worth seeing nearby, besides sharing their own life stories. Within two minutes of arriving, I feel at home, taken well care of by mindful hosts and a pitcher of complimentary sangria.

Coco Shambhala seems to straddle ultra-luxury accommodation and unobtrusive village lifefor example, local fishermen can offload their catch here at the hotel rather than travelling to a distant market. During the non-beachy monsoon season (when I visited), local string puppet artists are invited to entertain guests with their performances.

After a foot massage in the small spatravel writers feet need to be treated well, I justifyI walk the three kilometres down the beach, past surreal rock formations, to explore the rather unknown 17th or 18th century Nivti fort. It stands on a steep headland like a magical mystery location out of The Lord of the Rings.

The beach offers few grub options apart from vada pao and masala omelettes at a stall, but the in-house dining experience features a carefully curated selection of Asian and Continental by a chef whos worked at some of the finest Maldivian resorts. The breakfasts (included in the room rate) are virtual feasts with their abundance of handmade Goan pork sausages, Mumbai-style bhurji scrambles as well as wholesome sprouted salads and seasonal fruit platters.

Main courses have Mediterranean touches such as hummus, babaganouj, gazpacho, feta or couscous salads; samplings of Indian cuisines including Malabari and Bengali; as well as comfort food like daal chawal. I serendipitously discover that the kitchen staff is eager to explore off-menu local flavours too. They get a lady from the village to cook sumptuous Malwani meals for me each day. Spicy rawa-coated prawns, snapper curry laced with kokum, coconutty daal, roasted eggplants, tisre sukkeamazingly lightly fried clams, dry mutton, and rice rotis, served along with sol kadi (a kokum beverage). The Goan offerings are equally sublime with moelho, cafreal and the works. In some respects, Malwani cuisine resembles Goan cuisine but is a bit spicier, richer and more robust.

Each room also has its own wine cooler with Moet & Chandon champagnes, Maharashtrian wines, Indian craft beers, and a selection of single malts such as Laphroaig (all free if you book the all-inclusive package). As I digest my meals and snap open another chilled Bira, I quietly listen to the waves break and watch the clouds turn into purple candyfloss, and then slide into the infinity pool for an evening swim.

The Information

Location: Bhogave Beach, Near Parole village, Sindhudurg, Maharashtra.

Accommodation: There are four luxury villas on offer, each with a living area and two large bedrooms facing the sea, a bar, and an infinity pool.

Tariff: B&B packages start from ? 42,000 per day. All-inclusive rates with meals and free bar go up to ? 95,000 in high season.

Contact: +91-9372267182, +91-8550985232; cocoshambhala.com

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Australia: The Obliteration Room https://www.outlookindia.com/outlooktraveller/wp-content/uploads/2017/11/australia.jpg http://www.outlookindia.com/outlooktraveller/destinations/australia-obliteration-room/ http://www.outlookindia.com/outlooktraveller/destinations/australia-obliteration-room/ 2017-11-07T14:55:39+05:30 article Check out the all-new edition of 'The Obliteration Room' by Yayoi Kusama at Queensland Art Gallery Have you heard of Japanese avant-garde artist Yayoi Kusama? At the age of 10, she began to experience hallucinations, seeing light, auras and polka dots. The dots, especially, became her obsession and, eventually, a theme common to many of her creations. In Yayois hallucinations, the world around her got covered with dots and she felt like she had begun to self-obliteratea word she uses to describe the feeling of losing oneself and becoming one with the universe. The Obliteration Room, an interactive project Yayoi first displayed at Australias Queensland Art Gallery in 2002, tried to convey this feeling. It invited adults and children alike to stick polka dot-shaped stickers on the interiors of a stark white house that functioned as a canvas. With every sticker, people obliterated the house and saw the world through Yayois eyes. The Queensland Art Gallery is currently hosting a new edition of The Obliteration Room up till February 4 next year. So if youre down under, stop by and contribute to this peculiar universe. Entry free. See qagoma.qld.gov.au.

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Offbeat Adventures : Caving in Meghalaya https://www.outlookindia.com/outlooktraveller/wp-content/uploads/2017/10/Offbeat3_FI.jpg http://www.outlookindia.com/outlooktraveller/ot-getaway-guides/offbeat-adventures-caving-meghalaya/ http://www.outlookindia.com/outlooktraveller/ot-getaway-guides/offbeat-adventures-caving-meghalaya/ 2017-11-07T14:37:38+05:30 article Meghalaya is one of the top 10 caving destinations in the world A cave is an entire world in itself. If youve ever visited Vietnam, youd know that the caves there have their own water bodies, flora and fauna species and are rich in biodiversity. But if you havent been able to go all the way to Vietnam yet, this activity can be best experienced right here in India in Meghalaya.

Meghalaya has one of the longest and deepest cave systems in the Indian subcontinent and is amongst the worlds top 10 caving destinations. Krem Mawmluh, about 7km from Sohra is a famous site for spelunking activities. It is advisable to wear jumpsuits and wear helmets with lights mounted on them before entering these caves (dress up like youre entering a mine), as you will have to trudge through several dark, deep places.

Some portions of the cave are extremely small and narrow, so claustrophobics beware! Inside the caves are exquisite formations created over millions of years, which are made of limestone and sandstone. If youre adventurous enough, stock up on food and roll up those sleeping bags because its possible for you to stay the night inside the cave!

Mawsmai, Krem Dam, Krem Lymput, Krem Mawjymbuin, Krem Lubon, Krem Umkseh and Siju are amongst the other caves you can explore when youre visiting Meghalaya. Try it once, and I promise you that youll get hooked to this amazing sport!

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The Tribes of Odisha https://www.outlookindia.com/outlooktraveller/wp-content/uploads/2017/10/Tribes1_FI.jpg http://www.outlookindia.com/outlooktraveller/ot-getaway-guides/the-tribes-of-odisha/ http://www.outlookindia.com/outlooktraveller/ot-getaway-guides/the-tribes-of-odisha/ 2017-11-07T14:32:49+05:30 article The cultural ethos, identity and vitality of the state is deeply influenced by its rich ethnic tribal diversity Dense forests, a hilly topography and remote tracts of land help Odisha support a thriving tribal population. Of the 645 Scheduled Tribes enlisted in India, Odisha hosts the largest number 62 indigenous tribal communities reside in the state.

Unchanged for centuries and mostly untouched by civilisation, the ancient tribal settlements are found on hills or close to rivers flowing near forests, far from the plains. Yet, the cultural ethos, identity and vitality of the state is deeply influenced by its rich ethnic tribal diversity. While some share common characteristics, each tribe varies greatly in terms of lifestyle, cultural traditions, religious beliefs, folklore, language and appearance.

Tribal economy is driven essentially by activities around the jungle. Most communities were hunter-gatherers, who also did some fishing as a source of livelihood. Agriculture and farming are also practiced with the slash and burn technique or shifting cultivation. However, larger tribes have adopted newer agricultural practices and cattle breeding. Some local tribes sustain themselves with crafts and artisan skills such as textile and basket-weaving, tool-making and metal craft. The local haat (market) is the best time to see various tribes together. Haats are held on specific days at specific venues and offer tribals a platform to buy provisions or livestock or sell their wares. Despite poverty and a struggle for survival, they still retain their heritage and love for music, dance and revelry.

The southwestern part of Odisha possesses the largest concentration of tribal people in the subcontinent. When you drive southwest of Bhubaneswar to Baliguda in Phulbani district, you reach the entry point to the tribal highlands. The drive passes through beautiful countryside and forested mountains of sal trees, and a typical tribal tour gives visitors a chance to experience the hidden heritage of Odisha. Stop at Deshia Paroja villages enroute to Jeypore and continue further south to the Thursday haat of the Bonda and Gadaba tribes at Onukudelli and watch Dhurubas at Gupteswar. The Tribal Museum at Koraput is a good introduction to the states rich tribal culture. Every Friday, Kundli, 65km from Jeypore, hosts the biggest haat in the entire tribal area with up to 10,000 people visiting the market to trade. Here, one may encounter the Paraja tribe. Continue 145km from Jeypore to Rayagada to visit the Kutia Kondh weekly market on Tuesdays at Kotgad and the Dongria Kondh market at Chatikona on Wednesday.

Tip Specialised tour operators arrange an itinerary of tribal circuits based on market days.

Major tribes in Odisha

Bonda

A remote hilly tract in the Malkangiri district called Bonda hills, distinguished by steep slopes and dense green hills and forest, is home to the fierce and colourful Bondas. Sometimes they are also referred to by their language, Remo. Bondas truly stand out amongst other tribal communities due to their typical attire. Their bodies and heads are bedecked in a riot of colours yellow, blue, russet, red, green, white and ochre, with long strands of beaded necklaces that hang below their navels all the way down to their upper thighs. Their backs wrapped in a blue cape and hips covered by a thick woven sash, Bonda women carry themselves with enviable grace. They also adorn themselves with several metal ornaments. Men are usually short and arm themselves with bows and poisoned arrows and darts. Quick to react to any provocation with violence and aggression, Bonda men are regarded warily. Mainly agriculturists, this tribe believes that the death of a tribe member is the work of evil spirits.

Their courting tradition is unique young boys are allowed to visit the girls dormitories of different villages at night and revel in music and dance together. They then establish intimate relationships with marriageable girls and select theirpartners. Bonda girls are allowed to marry younger men.

Gadaba

The Gadabas are a colourful tribe believed to be amongst the earliest settlers, with their origins allegedly dating back to the Ramayana era. Gadabas speak Gutub, a Mundari dialect, and call themselves Ghutan. It is believed that, in the past, they were employed as load bearers on the hills and carried palanquins. The word gadaba means person who bears a load on their shoulders. Today, they live around the areas of Ganjam Malkangiri, Koraput, Kalahandi, Sundargarh, Boudh and Phulbani. True to their name, Gadaba women wear twin metal chokers or neck chains, each weighing up to 700 grams. These are removed only after they die. They wear several tribal orna-ments and a colourful striped two-piece dress, which is usually woven by them.

Gadabas eke out a living through agriculture, hunting and fishing. They are deeply religious and shamanic rituals are not uncommon. They have a great love for music and are famous for their dhemsa dance. The Gadabas erect monoliths or menhirs to honour the deceased.

Gond

Spread across the hills of Balangir, Koraput , Sundargarh, Sambalpur and Kalahandi is a warrior tribe called the Gonds, who wreaked havoc and fear in the past. They form one of the largest tribal groups in South Asia who lived all over the uplands of the Deccan plateau.

It is believed that Gondwana, or the land of the Gonds, was the original Southern super-continent Gondwanaland, comprising Africa, Madagascar, South America, Australia, the Indian subcontinent and Antarctica. Like other tribes, they practice agriculture, grow cereal and herd cattle.

Juang

This unique jungle tribe can be found in Dhenkanal and Keonjhar. Their language can be traced to the Munda community. However, they claim to have no tribal traditions, having severed all ties with the Hos and Santhals in the past. They claim to be true aborigines, and are skilled in basket-making. They trade their basketry products, which are in great demand, for food and money. They adopted the worship of Goddess Lakshmi due to their proximity to Hindu villages.

Kondh

The Niyamgiri hill range, 40km from Rayagada, is home to the Dongria Kondh, a unique farming tribe who worship nature, hills and streams. They worship the mountain god Niyam Raja and his hilly dominion that includes the 4,000m Niyam Dongar (literally, Mountain of Law). While their name is derived from dongar, meaning mountain, they regard themselves as Jharnia or protectors of the streams. This reverence for nature is echoed in their art, which uses triangular motifs to depict various deities.

One of the largest tribal communities in the state, the Kondhs have an intrinsic knowledge of the forest, mountains, trees and plants including rare medicinal herbs. Apart from cattle breeding, they cultivate fruits in orchards and a vast range of crops for livelihood. Wrapped in strips of white cloth, the women of the Dongria Kondh community can be distinguished by their facial tattoos, distinctive jewellery, multiple earrings and a trio of nose rings besides silver neck bands, bangles and beads. Another distinction is their hair, styled with many attractive hairclips. Dongria Kondh men are no less fashionable, sporting hair buns, hair clips and two nose rings, though they are less colourful than the ladies. They carry hunting tools like bows and axes.

The Kondhs speak a language called Kui. The community is spread around Kandhmal (Phulbani), Balangir, Koraput and Ganjam districts. Head to Barakhamba from where you can hike to the remote villages of the Desia Kondh. Desia Kondhs bear beautiful tattoos on their faces.

Oraon

Unlike other tribal communities, the Oraons are a progressive and prosperous group, who have adopted advanced agricultural practices. They use fertilisers and pesticides, improved seed varieties and accept the influence of modern science or technology. They have proper roads and transport leading into their settlements and have adapted to the trappings of mainstream society with greater ease.

Paraja

Inhabitants of the hills and forests, the Parajas worship numerous gods and goddesses and have a passion for music and dance. They are divided into two groups one follows the Hindu traditions of omitting beef and buffalo meat from their cuisine, while the other does not. Marriage alliances within the clan are banned. They are mainly agriculturists, who sustain themselves through animal husbandry.

Santhal

The Santhals are a fascinating tribal community who possess a keen eye for beauty. They build pretty homes that are hand-painted with exquisite artwork and keep their surroundings very tidy. Santhal women collect silk cocoons from asan trees to process them into the fine, gold-toned tussar silk used in weaving.

Sauora

One of the oldest tribes in the country, the Saora tribals find mention in Hindu myths and classics like the Puranas. Bearing axes on their shoulders, the Saoras are intrepid forest dwellers and expert climbers, with great stamina for marathon walks across all kinds of terrain. Their settlements are virtually inaccessible as they are set deep within forests. Their costume is unique as the men wear a lanjia (loin-cloth) that hangs behind them like a tail. Hence, they are also called Lanjia Saoras.

Saoras are master artists and their homes and shrines are decorated with incredible wall murals that depict daily scenes and social and religious events. Their art is emblematic of Odisha and has inspired wide-ranging handicrafts including scrolls, textiles and metal art. Visit hamlets near Puttasingh to see their paintings.

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Rajasthan: Sculpture Park at Nahargarh Fort https://www.outlookindia.com/outlooktraveller/wp-content/uploads/2017/11/The-Sculpture-Park-at-Madhavendra-Palace-Nahargarh-Fort.jpg http://www.outlookindia.com/outlooktraveller/destinations/rajasthan-sculpture-park-nahargarh-fort/ http://www.outlookindia.com/outlooktraveller/destinations/rajasthan-sculpture-park-nahargarh-fort/ 2017-11-07T13:05:42+05:30 article In a first-of-its-kind effort, Rajasthan govt. announces the launch of a contemporary art space within the Nahargarh Fort grounds The Government of Rajasthan in collaboration with Saat Saath Artsrecently announced the launch of The Sculpture Park at Madhavendra Palace, Nahargarh Fort, Jaipur on December 10, 2017. In an effortto turn the palace into an art gallery, sculptures by top Indian and international artists will be displayed at the palace. The exhibition is curated by Peter Nagy, Director of Nature Morte Art Ltd will be an annual event at Nahargarh Fort.

This year, artworks by 15 Indian and 9 international artists will be exhibited at the palace. Some of the artists include Subodh Gupta, Jitish Kallat, Thukral & Tagra. This partnership is a first of its kind where the Government has collaborated with a range of corporate sponsors and private individuals to bring a contemporary edge to Indias heritage properties, with the purpose of boosting national and international cultural tourism. Many renowned international galleries have also come forward to support this initiative by lending their artworks including Hauser & Wirth, London, Salon 94, New York, Xavier Hufkens, Brussels, Sikkema Jenkins & Co, New York, Livingstone Gallery, The Hague.

Our initiative aims to promote India's growing interest in contemporary art and culture whilst also embracing its important heritage. The Sculpture Park at Madhavendra Palace is a true amalgamation of the best of India's past and present, made possible through a unique collaboration between the public and private sector. Saat Saath's endeavour has always been to showcase India's prowess in contemporary art, and to that end, we are thrilled to be able to bring this initiative to the public. says Aparajita Jain, Founder & Director, Saat Saath Arts.

Rajasthanhas always maintained a reputation as a destination for arts and culture. Itis especially rich in architecture and is home to some of the oldest and most famous forts and palaces. The states cultural tourism has had a great impact after adopting the contemporary culture and launching a series of cultural events like the renowned Jaipur Literature Festival and an international photography festival Jaipur Photo. The Sculpture Park at Madhavendra Palace, Nahargarh Fort, is a great example of a public-private initiative and will encourage the government to support contemporary art in India.

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A Quick Guide to Darjeeling https://www.outlookindia.com/outlooktraveller/wp-content/uploads/2017/08/Darjeling3_FI.jpg http://www.outlookindia.com/outlooktraveller/ot-getaway-guides/quick-guide-darjeeling/ http://www.outlookindia.com/outlooktraveller/ot-getaway-guides/quick-guide-darjeeling/ 2017-11-06T14:36:57+05:30 article An erstwhile 'frontier town', Darjeeling has so much to offer from colonial architecture and tea gardens to fantastic views of Kanchendzonga In its formative years Darjeeling was a scattered village of English cottages. Because of its location and fluid poli-tical situation, Darjeeling became a sort of frontier town in the 1840s and 50s, a haven for international misfits. Tibetan and East European refugees, fleeing Russians and displaced monarchs such as the Emir of Afghanistan, were all found here. So were spies of every ilk British, Japanese, some working for the Chinese Kuomintang, some for the INA. And then there were also the independents, plotting entry into forbidden Lhasa. From that lost era of cosmopolitan intrigue, Darjeeling has grown hugely in its domains.

THINGS TO SEE AND DO

Darjeeling is a town made for long walks, situated over a ridge and spilling down the hillside in a series of interconnecting roads. Youll come across a lot of colonial architecture English cottages with antiquated windows and smoking chimneys, magnificent school buildings and churches. Chowrasta, the main town square, is lined with shops, restaurants and hawkers. Whether you notice it or not, Khangchendzonga, the third highest peak in the world, is omnipresent. Each morning, tourists head to Tiger Hill to see what was reckoned by many to be, at least from 1838 to 1849, the highest mountain in the world Kangchendzonga. Then, in 1856, the Survey of India confirmed the suspicion that actually Nepals Sagarmatha, named Everest by the British, was it. The difference in their height is a mere 826ft.

The Yiga Choeling Tibetan Monastery of the Gelugpa (Yellow Hat) sect is located near Tiger Hill. It is also called the Ghoom Monastery, probably came up in 1850 but the foundation date is commonly stated as 1875. Besides the 15-ft-high Maitreya Buddha, check out the beautiful thangkas on the walls. The monastery is also a storehouse of Tibetan translations of famous Sanskrit works, such as the Meghdoot by Kalidasa, Nagamandala by Sriharsa and Nyaya Krit by Dharmakriti.

The Bhutia Basti is the oldest monastery in Darjeeling. Its an unusual blend of Tibeto-Nepalese architecture and a storehouse of rare artefacts, including ancient Buddhist texts.

The Himalayan Mountaineering Institute was established in 1954, a year after Everest was scaled. Tenzing Norgay, one of the first two individuals known to reach the summit of Mount Everest, was the director of this institute for many years. The Mountaineering Museum here has interesting displays and records of some major expeditions. The Everest Museum, traces the history of different attempts on Everest. The institute also organises mountaineering courses. Rock climbing lessons can be taken at the Tenzing Norgay Rock, located on the northern fringes of Darjeeling.

The Padmaja Naidu Himalayan Zoological Park is known internationally for its successful breeding programmes of the endangered snow leopard and the red panda. You will also see the rare Siberian tiger and Tibetan wolves here.

Darjeeling also has some lovely gardens and parks. Behind the Raj Bhavan is the Shrubbery (which was once the summer home of the Maharaja of Cooch Behar), a garden with a view of Kangchendzonga and the Singalila Valley. The Lloyd Botanical Gardens house Himalayan and alpine plant varieties. The hothouse has more than 50 species of orchids.

When built in the late 19th century, the Darjeeling Himalayan Railway was something of a technological marvel. Its tracks rose from sea level to an altitude of 7,545ft in just about 70km. The engineers devised many zigzags, reverses and loops to overcome these gradients, but the most famous one is the Batasia Loop, where the train does a complete figure-of-eight along the track. If you havent taken this train today a UNESCO World Heritage Site up to Darjeeling, you can always take a short joyride from Darjeeling Station to Ghoom Monastery.

Darjeeling Tea

Dr Campbell, the first superintendent of Darjeeling, planted the first seeds in his garden sometime in the late 1830s or 1840s. The first seeds were from Chinese hybrid bushes brought from the Kumaon Hills, but gradually these strains metamorphosed into what is now known as Darjeeling Tea. In 1886, one TT Cooper estimated that Tibet consumed 60,00,000 lbs of Chinese brick tea annually. Cooper suggested that if this could be replaced by tea supplied from India, it promised a market of great value. The rest, as we know, is history. Today, there are some 87 tea estates in and around Darjeeling, employing over 50,000 people. Among the best tea is first flush superfine tippy golden flowery orange Pekoe. Prices range from ?38025,000 per kg. Nathmulls on the Mall is a good outlet.

WHERE TO STAY

The Windamere Hotel (Tel: 0354- 2254041; Tariff: ?15,74530,000), on top of Observatory Hill, is the place to stay. In time-honoured tradition, afternoon tea is served in the drawing room. The full course dinner is legendary. The Elgin (Tel: 2257226/ 27, Kolkata Tel: 033- 40646300, 22269878, 2265103; Tariff: ?9,05010,650), a 120-year-old hotel, is also among Darjeelings oldest and finest. The Cedar Inn (Tel: 2254446; Tariff: ?10,30018,400) is near St Pauls. Planters Club (Tel: 2254348/ 49) is the old Darjeeling Club converted into a hotel; it is currently being renovated. Other options are Hotel Mohit (Tel: 2254818; Tariff: ?4,0005,200), Hotel Seven Seventeen (Tel: 2255099, 2254717, 2252017; Tariff: ?2,5003,800), the Darjeeling Bellevue Hotel (Tel: 2254075, Cell: 09800667148; Tariff: ?1,6004,500) and Sinclairs (Tel: 2256431/ 32; Tariff: ?4,8007,000).

WHERE TO EAT

Keventers, opposite Planters Club, is known for its breakfast spreads, especially cold cuts. Though Penang looks slightly seedy, it has superb Tibetan food. For thukpas, momos and unforgettable chilli chutney, try Dekevas. Glenarys homemade chocolates, clairs, cakes, and breads are excellent. Kunga is a good place for local cuisine. If you love good tea, Nathmulls Tea Bar is the place.

GETTING THERE

Air Nearest airport: Bagdogra (91km/ 3.5hrs) connected to Delhi, Kolkata and Guwahati. A taxi to Darjeeling costs approx ?2,500

Rail Nearest railhead: New Jalpaiguri (88km/ 3.5hrs) connected to Kolkata, New Delhi, Guwahati and Dibrugarh by Rajdhanis and Express trains. Toy train runs daily from New Jalpaiguri to Darjeeling (89 hrs); the service gets disrupted during the monsoons. Taxi costs approx ?2,500

Road From Kolkata, its a long, 18-hr drive and can be done only with a night halt. From Siliguri, the 81-km drive on NH 55 to Darjeeling passes through Rongtong, Kurseong and Ghoom Bus Deluxe, AC and Rocket buses from Dharamtala in Kolkata, will take you as far as Siliguri. From here, a Maruti Van to Darjeeling would cost ?1,600, shared taxi ?130

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Beach Watch in Puri https://www.outlookindia.com/outlooktraveller/wp-content/uploads/2017/09/Puri7_FI.jpg http://www.outlookindia.com/outlooktraveller/ot-getaway-guides/beach-watch-puri/ http://www.outlookindia.com/outlooktraveller/ot-getaway-guides/beach-watch-puri/ 2017-11-06T14:26:29+05:30 article Puri is all about sandy beaches and lofty shrines Waking up at dawn to the sound of loud, crashing waves, I decide to take a walk along a narrow stretch to the sea. Street lamps illuminate my path. As darkness disappears, I see black specks far away, and realise that those are catamarans riding the voluminous waves. The chimes of temple bells in the distance complete the mystic morning scene on the Puri beach.

Like the ancient town that is its home, the beach, known as Mahodadhi, is held to be sacred. Its impossible to separate the beach from the mythological legends attached to it its believed that Lord Jagannath was found floating as a log of wood on these shores. One often comes across devotees who pay obeisance to the ocean, taking a handful of saline water and sprinkling it on their head as if to cleanse themselves. Other visitors choose to relax on the beach, and some, like me, go searching for tea and food, both of which are sold by vendors. I sip tea and snack on hot samosas and rasgullas absolutely refreshing. I take a stroll towards the far end of the beach, where I find an entirely different setting. A few catamarans, those specks I had spotted at dawn, have come ashore and there is a flurry of activity around them. Waiting fisherwomen sort the catch, quickly fill their cane baskets with fish and then head towards the bazaar. Their work for the day done, fishermen roll their nets and head home to rest. And thus begins another day at the beach.

BEACH WATCH

Said to be one of the finest beaches in the country, the flat, sandy beach in Puri is bound to delight any beach lover. However, the shimmering blue waters can at times be deceptive as strong undercurrents have been reported. If you intend to swim and arent a strong swimmer, do take the assistance of nolias (fishermen). Its inadvisable to sport beachwear in Puri.

THINGS TO SEE AND DO

The main beachfront, near Puri Hotel, is full of tourists and vendors. While mornings are relatively less crowded, the beach comes alive in the evenings.

For devotees, Sri Jagannath Temple is the main draw, but many smaller temples and religious institutions are located in Puri.

On the beach

The beach resounds with shouts of vendors selling jhal murhi, samosas, tea and coffee. Walk around and admire the long beach stretch. Children can opt for horse and camel rides (?30 per ride).

Cultural programmes, exhibitions and festivals create a vibrant atmosphere round the year in Puri. The beach near the Mahatma Gandhi statue is the venue for the annual three-day Beach Festival held in November.

The beach behind Hotel Pink House (CT Road) is the venue for BYOFF, or Bring Your Own Film Festival (Cell: 09830378903; byoffpuri.in), every February, when filmmakers gather to screen their films.

Adventure by the beach

Rangers Adventure Foundation or RAF (Cell: 09437003284; Tariff: ?4,500 per person with meals; rangersatv. web.com) takes you camping, beach trekking, flat water surfing and you get the chance to ride an ATV (All Terrain Vehicle) with a professional. RAF also organises a three-day international India Surf Festival during winters every year off Puri-Konark Beach in which around 20 countries participate. Their campsite is on Puri-Konark Marine Drive, 16km from Puri.

Jagannath Temple Complex

The Sri Jagannath Temples lofty spire, with its flag, can be seen as far as 7km away. The famous temple is said to have been built by Yayati Keshari (10th century CE). The annual Rath Festival at the temple, held in July, attracts millions of devotees.

WHERE TO STAY

Accommodation options in Puri range from cheap hotels to posh resorts. Toshali Sands (Tel: 06752-2375800, Cell: 09937003223; Tariff: ?4,50014,000) is a four star hotel, 8km from Puri on the Puri-Konark Marine Drive.

Mayfair Heritage (Tel: 227800; Tariff: ?13,00025,000) is a top-end hotel with its own private beach. Hotel Holiday Resort (Tel: 222440; Tariff: ?2,5007,500) offers great views of the sea from its four rooms. The Hans Coco Palms (Tel: 230038; Tariff: ?5,50014,000) is located close to the beach.

For a feel of the bygone British era, stay at the heritage Chanakya BNR Hotel (Tel: 222063; Tariff: ?3,0004,000), which has wide verandahs offering spectacular sea views. The Byke Vijaya (Tel: 222702; Tariff: ?4,5008,000) is on CT Road. OTDC Panthanivas (Tel: 222562/ 740; Tariff: ?2,2004,000), also on CT Road, is a no-frills place.

Puri Hotel (Tel: 222114; Tariff: ?700 4,000) on Beach Road offers sea views. Puri Beach Resort (Tel: 231788/ 888; Tariff: ?2,7005,000), on Marine Drive, is sea-facing too. If you are in Puri during Rath Yatra, stay at Neelachal Bhakt Nivas (Tel: 222053, Cell: 09437284108; Tariff: ?6001,240) on Grand Road, to be close to the Yatra venue.

WHERE TO EAT

In Puri, one can find delicious culinary delights at both wayside foodstalls and posh restaurants.

The local delicacy kheera (similar to rabri) is available in most sweet shops. Restaurants and Marwari bhojanalayas on Grand Road offer vegetarian thalis.

If you are looking for a four-course Continental meal, place your order at the Chanakya BNR Hotel.

For Chinese, Chung Wah on VIP Road is a great option, and the prawn delicacies here are highly recommended. Sea food at Wild Grass on VIP Road is value for money. The restaurant in Puri Hotel caters primarily to Bengali tourists and the small cafs on CT Road are popular. Try the fish, prawn and crab dishes sold on carts on the beachfront.

For Indian and Continental, head to Hotel Mayfair or Holiday Resort. Towards the far end on CT Road, there are small cafs serving Italian and Continental fare.

GETTING THERE

Air Nearest airport: Biju Patnaik Airport, Bhubaneswar (56km/ 1.5hrs). Taxi costs about ?1,200 to Puri

Rail Puri Railway Station is connected by direct trains to New Delhi, Kolkata, Ahmedabad and Haridwar. If travelling from the south, youll find it easier to get down at Bhubaneswar and proceed to Puri by road

Road NH203 from Bhubaneswar to Puri. If going via Konark, the distance between Konark and Bhubaneswar is 65km and between Konark and Puri, its 34km. The roads are good Bus Private deluxe buses connect Bhubaneswar and Puri; the trip takes 2hrs. There are many travel agencies from whom taxis can be hired, such as Discover Tours (Tel: 0674-2430477, 2435751)

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Madhya Pradesh: Jal Mahotsav https://www.outlookindia.com/outlooktraveller/wp-content/uploads/2017/11/Jal-Mahotsav-featured-image.jpg http://www.outlookindia.com/outlooktraveller/destinations/madhya-pradesh-jal-mahotsav/ http://www.outlookindia.com/outlooktraveller/destinations/madhya-pradesh-jal-mahotsav/ 2017-11-05T11:30:32+05:30 article The grand Jal Mahotsav festival organised by Madhya Pradesh Tourism celebrates the best of the states adventure tourism activities. Here are five reasons to join Hanuwantiya
Also known as Hanuwantiya Tapu, this MP Tourism complex is an adventure holiday in itself. Plush Swiss tents, private cottages, houseboatsall are fully equipped to host you and your family. As it is built on the backwaters of Indira Sagar Dam, the views are to-die-for. Book your stay at Hanuwantiya Tent City and experience a comfortable stay amid nature (jalmahotsav.com/package.php).

Adventure Activities
Focussing mainly on adventure and water tourism, Jal Mahotsav will showcase watersports like zorbing, surfing, motor boating, snorkelling, scuba diving, jet skiing, etc. Land activities include ziplining, wall climbing, paintball, volleyball, archery, kite-flying and riding ATVs. Or you can just watch all these from up above. Air activities include parasailing from land and water, paramotoring and hot-air ballooning.

Island Hopping
Take a 45-minute boat ride to the neighbouring Boriyamaal Island. You can pitch your tents on this beautiful island and spend a night in the teak forest or hike up the forest path to get a 180-degree view of the water body and the islands nearby. This island is managed by the Forest Department.

Birdwatching
The large reservoir attracts a lot of birds and the neighbouring islands are home to many avian species, which makes Jal Mahotsav a great spot for birdwatching. Even animals like leopard, deer and wild hog can be seen in the area. While you are out exploring, do carry binoculars to spot birds like great tit, black drongo, white-bellied drongo, flameback woodpecker, purple sunbird, bay-backed shrike, coppersmith barbet, black-shouldered kite, etc. Hanuwantiya and the neighbouring islands are perfect to study butterflies too.

And Lots More
The fun doesnt stop there. Apart from the tent experience, you can indulge yourself in their relaxing spa, attend morning yoga sessions, explore the food zone for some local delicacies or shop at their craft bazaar. You can even ring in your new year here, amid natures bounty.

The Information

What: Jal Mahotsav

Where: Hanuwantiya MP Tourism Resort in Khandwa

When: From October 15, 2017 to January 2, 2018

For more information, visit jalmahotsav.com

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Ayurvedic Resort of Keraleeyam https://www.outlookindia.com/outlooktraveller/wp-content/uploads/2017/10/Keraleeyam1_FI.jpg http://www.outlookindia.com/outlooktraveller/ot-getaway-guides/ayurvedic-resort-keraleeyam/ http://www.outlookindia.com/outlooktraveller/ot-getaway-guides/ayurvedic-resort-keraleeyam/ 2017-11-05T10:30:41+05:30 article Keraleeyam, a therapy centre with resort-like facilities In Alleppey, you do not cross your bridge when you come to it. The whole brisk purposefulness of crossing bridges is out of place in the lazy winter-afternoon whistle that is Alleppey. Far better to just sail along in the boat of life, rowing to the other side with paddle-shaped oars, or propelling yourself forward with the help of long poles that push at the lake-bed. Dropping the grandchildren to school, conveying a catch of fish, dropping in for a chat at the neighbours, going to work with your bicycle perched on the boat with you... It all happens at the pace of lengthening shadows and melting ice-cubes.

The Ayurvedic resort of Keraleeyam in Alleppey, right beside a canal emerging from the Punnamada Lake, created by Alleppeys famous backwaters, is one of the best places to thus lengthen and melt. To slow down and breathe, to sink into an armchair and never quite get up. Keraleeyam simultaneously offers one of the most pleasant Ayurvedic rejuvenation experiences and a rather glorious window into life on the backwaters. Given which watery context, it is fitting that I arrive at the resort by boat, immediately leave on a sunset canoe-cruise and then spend the three days of my Rejuvenation package gazing at the canal, which the resort has thoughtfully arranged, about 10ft from my cottage verandah. As you shall see, the Ayurvedic package itself had a lot to do with the gazing.

On the first day of my Keraleeyam visit after the delight of reaching point B from point A by boat, and the pleasure of seeing the 75-year-old wooden building, and the thrill of inspecting my cottage on the lakeside and the positive ecstasy of contemplating the huge easy chair in the verandah I met the resident doctor. She explained the standard Rejuvenation package offered at Keraleeyam: about an hour and a half of general body massage with Ayurvedic oils, steam bath in herb-laden steam, special herb massage and Dhara (pouring a rhythmic trickle of oil on to the head). But after asking some detailed questions on the state of my body, medical history and current complaints, decided to modify the treatment, bless her. And I went blithely for my first treatment session, oblivious of what scenarios were to unfold.

The treatment rooms in Keraleeyam are built in the ethnic, thatched-roof style, equipped with oils and powders, tonics and medicines, loin-cloths and gowns, a gas to heat the oil when required, a rich wooden massage table, and a couple of amazingly good masseuses. Contrary to luxury-spa therapists, who are trained to give primacy to the customers sense of modesty, Ayurvedic masseuses are matronly women for whom the skin is primarily an excellent medium that absorbs therapeutic oils efficiently. (The oil in Ayurvedic oils is essentially a vehicle to carry other healing formulations.) Not for them to cover and uncover you with sheets and towels, section by section, and apply gentle massage. You need to be nude, preferably even without the loin cloth, and you can then watch them perform their luminous arts in strong, rhythmic motions, reminiscent of determined aunts giving the greasy kitchen slab a ruthless scrub.

The treatment starts with me sitting and being given an astonishingly sublime head massage for 15 minutes. Strong and vigorous, the massage starts with the masseuses personal prayer, touching my hands and chest, and ends with her fingers on my head clicking away like so many Spanish castanets. Whats astonishing is that I, fresh and bathed in the morning, all ready to start my day, subjected to much rubbing and clicking, not even lying down but seated, nevertheless start falling asleep. In the next hour, oil is poured on me by people who clearly have no wish to economise. Two ladies massage me top to bottom on the back, and limbs, on the stomach and on either side. They are immensely warm, solicitous and very, very thorough; their hands feel knowledgeable and wise. They take great care of my joints, which the doctor has advised them about. They make sure I take my tonic twice a day.

Instead of the usual Dhara, I am treated to a lovely process described as Kizhi. In Kizhi treatments, the healing material dry herbal powder in my case, but it could even be boiled rice, or even eggs is kept in a linen bundle, which is repeatedly heated and applied all over like a hot compress. Its a brilliant relief-giver for sore joints and leg muscles. The whole process ends with a 10-minute steam bath, followed by a hot water bath and shampoo. This heavenly tune is played on my tired self every morning.

A strange lethargy overtakes me. I find that I am sleeping almost all the time, my appetite seems diminished, I walk about in a heavy stupor and can only sit and gaze at the lake in front of my cottage all day. I read books and sleep. I trudge over to the dining hall, thankful that it is just a minute away, and sleep. I visit the Alleppey Beach, where I am gifted one of the special Arabian Sea sunsets, and return with a great desire to sleep. Every morning I go through my almost 2 hours of treatment and for the rest of the day, walk about in a somnolent daze. I think about cancelling plans for the rest of my vacation.

Clearly, something is happening, but is it rejuvenation? Dr Priya is completely unfazed. Its the treatment, especially the head massage, she says. Its good, you catch up on your sleep and make up for your tiredness.

So the armchair and the vista of the backwaters visible from my cottage balcony become my constant companions, entertainment and soul food. I learn the timings of childrens schools when they row past each morning and afternoon, the ululating sounds by which salesmen attract buyers, the sway of the palms on the distant bank, the tourists as common as fish in these waters who sail past in various kinds of canoes and houseboats. I take their photos, they take mine. At times, on a canoe-cruise, the world seems to dissolve into green and as trees meet above the canal to make a tunnel of green, I become a sleepy emerald. And so three days float by.

On the last evening of my stay, I make haste to say my goodbyes, gather information, and take that last precious photograph. Its good that Im fighting off the lethargy so well today, I think. Actually, Im not all that lethargic today, I think again. Would be good to go for a long fast walk, I further think. Why is everyone so quiet, so slow, so sunk in their armchairs, I wonder. Whats the point of gazing at these lovely waters? Im hungry! Lets raise the roof!

Clearly, Im rejuvenated, if thats the word for this unprecedented energetic, bouncy, bubbly, downright volcanic, lets-eat-everything-in-sight, do-every-activity-possible, stay-up-all-night new personality Ive developed. Whats more, its not just an urge; I actually do these things! Thanks to Keraleeyam Ayurvedic Resort, I have not only a lovely, transformative vacation in Alleppey, but a far more enjoyable time in the rest of Kerala than I would have had otherwise. Rejuvenation package zindabad!

About Keraleeyam

Keraleeyam is run by a well-known name in Kerala Ayurveda circles the SD Pharmacy, which is a 60-year-old Ayurvedic medicine manufacturing group that also runs its own hospital. Keraleeyam is housed in a 75-year-old Kerala structure.

The primary idea behind the resort, in operation for the last eight years, is that while many hotels/ resorts in Kerala offer Ayurveda as an extra, here Ayurveda is not a value addition but the main focus. It is as true to think of Keraleeyam as a resort as to think of it as a therapy centre with resort-like facilities. Alleppey does have luxury hotels and homestays, but Keraleeyam is the only Ayurvedic Resort of its kind here.

TREATMENTS AND TARIFFS

These costs include pick-up and drop from Kochi, accommodation, food, therapy and activities such as canoeing, a backwaters motor cruise, and visits to Alleppey and a Kerala village.

? Rejuvenation package (single): 7D/6N 726; 14D/13N 1,403; 21D/ 20N 2,080

? Body Purification package (single): 7D/6N 782; 14D/13N 1,582; 21D/20N 2,382

? Slimming Therapy package (single): 7D/6N 799; 14D/13N 1,560; 21D/20N 2,323

? Stress Management package (single): 7D/6N 847; 14D/13N 1,722; 21D/20N 2,597

Tip Indians can pay the Euro equivalent (currently ?70) in INR

The Therapists

The very approachable and caring Dr Shridevi is in-charge here. The therapists at Keraleeyam are very experienced, mostly having trained and worked in the SD Pharmacy hospital. In my long Kerala trip, during which I tried massages in many different places, the Keraleeyam therapists stood out, for their skill and downright excellence.

Acccommodation at Keraleeyam

Keraleeyam offers nine lovely lakeside AC cottages (?3,650). Besides, the main building has two AC rooms (?3,650), which are not so airy. Your stay will be really worthwhile if you take one of the lakeside cottages. These offer spacious open-air bathrooms, scrupulously clean rooms and delightful verandahs. There are no televisions, and you may have to adjust to systems such as informing the staff 15 mins before you need running hot water. However, if you are a book addict or specifically looking for a quiet holiday, Keraleeyam is a very good choice.

Meals at Keraleeyam

Since Keraleeyam is not exclusively for people undergoing Ayurvedic treatments, it gets regular guests and offers regular fare as well. For instance, you can enjoy decent prawn masala, fish moily, chicken curry and also items like dal fry, paneer curry and aloo gobhi. Its not gourmet food but its freshly made and is cooked to your specifications (less oil, no chillies and so on). They also serve Continental and Chinese dishes.

Soups, salads, fruits and fresh juices are also available here. Those undergoing therapy can consult the doctor about their diet and instruct the kitchen accordingly. The staff is helpful about special needs. Once they learnt I loved watermelon juice rather obsessively, I got it with every single meal. AROUND KERALEEYAM

Alleppey Beach (7km)

Alleppey or Alappuzha was once the busiest coast south of Mumbai, its canals and backwaters helping in the passage of cargo, be it tea, rubber or other produce from the hills, to the sea. Today the atmospheric storm-battered relics of this past are what you should visit the Alleppey Beach (called Vijaya Beach) for.

The 1,000-foot-long pier, built in 1862 by Captain Hugh Crawford, is a mere skeleton of its past, risky (but fun!) to walk on, exuding an unmistakably colonial air. A light-house adds to the aura.

However, the real pleasure of visiting the Alleppey Beach is in the local flavour of the place. There are hardly any tourists, and you can lounge lazily amidst locals relaxing at the end of the day, merry children and fishermen pulling in their nets filled with the seas gifts for the day. The sunset is, predictably, glorious.

The Kettuvallom Experience

Alleppey offers a must-do experience in the shape of its houseboats, the ubiquitious kettuvalloms in which you can stay instead of a hotel. These are run by private operators and the government; you merely have to reach the Alleppy boat jetty to be deluged by offers. Usually, temples, resorts, museums, boat-making villages are a part of the itinerary.

Try the Alleppey Tourism Development Corporation (Tel: 0477- 224462; atdcalleppey.com) or District Tourism Promotion Council (Tel: 2253308, 2251796) to make bookings for this unique experience.

Inputs by Susan Visvanathan

FAST FACTS

Contact

Keraleeyam Ayurvedic Resort; Tel: 0477-2231468/ 6950; Reservations Tel: 0477-2237161; mail@keraleeyam.com; keraleeyam.com

GETTING THERE

Air Nearest airport: Kochi International Airport, Nedumbassery (90km/ 2hrs). Connected by flights from all metros and many big cities. Pre-paid taxi to Alappuzha costs ?40004,500 approximately, although packages include pick-up and drop

Rail Nearest railhead: Alleppey Station (9km/ 30mins). Ernakulam Railway Station (70km/ 1.5hrs) is another option

Road Alleppey lies on NH47, which connects it to Kochi in the north, and Thiruvananthapuram in the south. The resort is about 2km from Pathirapally Junction in Alleppey after a left turn (if you are coming from Ernakulam/ Kochi). There are no clear signposts and it would be wise to ask repeatedly. Your car can go up to 200m before the resort on the Punnamada Road near a bridge over a canal. A Keraleeyam signpost here guides you down a narrow path to the resort

Boat The resort offers pick-ups from the Alleppey boat jetty for ?300. You can hire a motorboat too for ?300 for this 20-min ride

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Odiya Arts & Crafts https://www.outlookindia.com/outlooktraveller/wp-content/uploads/2017/10/Arts-Crafts1_FI.jpg http://www.outlookindia.com/outlooktraveller/ot-getaway-guides/odiya-arts-crafts/ http://www.outlookindia.com/outlooktraveller/ot-getaway-guides/odiya-arts-crafts/ 2017-11-04T11:00:23+05:30 article Odisha is a land of rich and diverse artistic achievements Home to over 52 craft skills, the state of Odisha is a powerhouse of talent and takes great pride in its vibrant arts and crafts. Its streets, bylanes and villages throb with the constant tinkle and toil of artisans. From sculptures in its beautiful temples that are proof of its ancient mastery to wide ranging classical forms and folk or tribal techniques Odisha has it all.

The states heritage crafts include paintings, textiles, embroidery and tribal jewellery, with artefacts made from diverse materials such as stone, wood, metal, coir, clay, animal horns, feathers, sisal fibre, sabai grass, lacquer and more.

Each region in Odisha has something unique to offer to the intrepid traveller. Not only do these crafts provide sustainable livelihood to marginalised craftsmen, they also keep these glorious traditions alive and provide the avid shopper with an opportunity of a lifetime!

Appliqu work

While appliqu or patchwork is seen the world over, the small hamlet of Pipli between Bhubaneswar and Puri has become synonymous with this craft as it has been practiced here for centuries. Some of the earliest examples of this unique textile handicraft were seen in the umbrellas and temple chariots of deities. Vibrant bits of cloth are cut into various shapes and laid out in geometric designs or human, animal and bird forms before being stitched on a contrasting sheet and made into wall hangings, lampshades, umbrellas, letter holders or stationery. The sight of Odishas rainbow-hued appliqu work, embellished with glass, makes it an irresistible souvenir.

Brass and Bell Metal Work

Metal artefacts, especially those made of brass, have always found an important place in Odiya society, with use at homes and temples from finely-etched pots and vessels, to lamps and decorative objects. There are several areas known for their bell metal craftsmanship like Rathijema and Bainchua in Balakati, Bellaguntha, Kantila, Remuna, Bhatimunda and Bhuban.

Coir Craft

Coir craft is another interesting artistic tradition here. Light-weight coir fibre is wound around a mould and fashioned into toy animals like deer, horses, crocodiles, dinosaurs, giraffes and monkeys, besides flowering trees and home dcor pieces. These seemingly simple creations, beautified with bits of coloured thread, capture the playful and cheery symphony of nature.

Golden Grass, Sabai and Cane Handicrafts

Theres a rich weaving tradition in Odisha and the craft extends beyond textiles to hand-woven baskets, fans and mats, for which craftsmen use wild grasses that grow abundantly in the region. Golden grass (kaincha) grows in swamps and marshes and the stem of the reed is collected, dried and woven into beautiful objects. Sabai grass (bobei dauda) is plentiful in the forests of Mayurbhanj, which is used to make wall hangings, gift boxes, bags, dustbins, table mats and chatais (floor mats). The weavers also use cane to make baskets and furniture such as tables, chairs and sofas.

Horn craft

Odisha craftsmen are adept at fashioning decorative pieces and everyday objects like vases, pen stands and combs out of horns from cows, bullocks or buffalos. Creatures of the living world form a recurrent theme with cranes, lobsters, scorpions, birds being popular depictions on these pieces. The best known area for horn work are the wild tracts of Parlakhemundi in Odishas deep south on the border with Andhra Pradesh.

Lacquer work

Lac, a gum collected from the kusum tree, is used to make fashionable lacquer boxes. Birds and foliage are painted on these boxes, which are sometimes studded with mirrors. Traditionally, the boxes were used to store valuables in rural homes. Ordinary toys are also transformed into objects of desire after a colourful lac coating. Nabrangapur in the Koraput district has several karkhanas (warehouses) that produce these beautiful products.

Lanjia Soura Paintings

The ethnic art of the Lanjia Soura tribe, also known as Idital paintings, features their folk deities and everyday village life of feasts, festivals, hunts, marriage rituals and symbols of fertility. Even the borders of the paintings bear decorative designs and imagery that blends seamlessly with the artwork. Originally drawn on the walls of tribal homes, this art has found its way on to handmade paper and silk scrolls, greeting cards, apparel and utilitarian products.

Metal & Bead Tribal Jewellery

The jewellery of Odisha reflects the distinctive styles, ethnic identity and cultural nuances of various tribes. Tribal jewellery like necklaces, bangles, pendants, earrings, anklets, hair accessories are often made of metal and colourful beads in fascinating geometric designs with unique knots in the cords, woven reeds or cane. Some metal pieces often bear complex etchings. A good place to procure tribal jewellery are tribal haats (local weekly markets) like Chatikona near Bishamcuttack, north of Raygada or Onukudelli near Machkund, south of Jeypore.

Pattachitra and Palm Leaf Engraving

Pattachitra, the indigenous traditional painting style of Odisha, is practiced by an artist community called chitrakars. A canvas is prepared using a paste of ground tamarind seed and chalk on a patta, which is a strip of cloth or tussar silk. This lends a pale yellow background to perfectly contrast the vibrant images that retell legendary tales from the Puranas and epics like the Ramayana and Mahabharata. A brush of squirrel hair is used to create the art work. Miniature versions of pattachitra also feature in bookmarks, greeting and playing cards.

The chitrakars have also evolved a style of engraving Puranic stories and themes onto palm leaves. These are arranged into foldable strips to create scrolls that can be strung on a wall or framed. Some of the palm leaf engraving also have flaps with hidden layers of etched scenes and characters!

Silver Filigree

Cuttack is legendary for tarkasi or the art of silver filigree, and objects handcrafted here have been much sought after as gifts to royalty and distinguished guests. The process is quite tedious the craftsman melts silver in a mould, which is poured into a narrow tray, beaten on an anvil and elongated into a taar (thin wire) by passing it through a steel plate wire gauge. The wire is so thin that two are welded together, pressed and flattened, ready to be twisted into fantastic shapes flowers, leaves, peacocks, decorative boxes or the chariot of the Sun God drawn by seven horses!

Stone carving

Driving past Bhubaneswar, Puri and Lalitagiri, it is not uncommon to find clusters of stone carvers chipping away at stone blocks to shape them into exquisitely carved idols. Images of Buddha and deities like Ganesha, Krishna, Laxmi, etc, and miniatures of important shrines like Lingaraj, Mukteswar, Jagannath Puri and the Sun Temple are quite popular. Artists also carve ashtrays, vases, lamp bases and soap dishes, besides animal forms and beautiful garden landscape accents.

Terracotta & Pottery

Pots of various shapes and sizes, besides terracotta figurines of elephants and horses, have long been used in religious ceremonies and rituals. This tradition of offering animal figures ranging from six inches to over 3ft to the grama devata or village deities continues to this day. The pots, plain or adorned with lines, fish and flower motifs, have widespread use in weddings and social events.

Wood Carving

From wooden toys, god and animal figures and pen stands, to bangle holders, flower vases, lamp stands and treasure boxes, Odishas wood carving is a prominent craft. Smaller, simple wooden forms of birds and animals are enlivened with colourful paints and speckled with patterns. Sometimes, they are used as statuettes and pencil tops, strung onto wooden frames or stuck on reed mats to create wall hangings, room dividers and screens.

Dhokra: Waxing Eloquent

The 4,000-year-old craft whose earliest and most well-known example is the Dancing Girl of Mohenjodaro takes its name from the Dhokra Damar tribe. Distant relatives of the Gadabas and Gonds of the Chhota Nagpur Plateau (present-day Odisha, Jharkhand, West Bengal and Chhattisgarh), they once roamed Central and Eastern India exchanging their wares for food and grains. With royal patronage, the artists managed to achieve exquisite and intriguing lace-like detail in their designs. The casting of idols in wax is well-documented in Chapter 68 of the ancient Sanskrit text Manasara Silpasastra, titled Maduchchhista vidhanam, or the lost wax method. The painstaking process has remained unchanged for thousands of years and is practiced by nine different communities in Odisha.

Arts-&-Crafts6_TI

Arts-&-Crafts7_TI

It all begins with a clay core; then the craftsman heats beeswax or resin from the damara orientalis tree mixed with mustard oil in a vessel. The paste is sieved to form slender vermicelli-like threads, which are wound on the contours of the core. A thick coat of fine clay obtained from termite mounds is applied, followed by two more coats of a mixture of cow dung, hay or paddy husk, black soil and red river soil. Drain ducts are created for the wax to melt away when the clay is baked. The vacuum between the core and the clay layer is filled with molten metal, usually brass scrap or bell metal, an alloy of copper and tin in a 3:1 ratio. The liquid metal is made to flow uniformly through the mould so that no gaps or bubbles remain. This is allowed to cool and solidify. The outer layer of clay is then cracked open to reveal the final figure, which is given a final polish.

The themes of these metal figurines range from everyday scenes of rural life musicians, hunters, fishermen, rituals, folk deities besides birds, animals and nature. Jewellery, geometric-patterned cups and vessels, traditional lamps, decorative hooks and animal curios can be created with this method. Simple designs can be done in a day, while intricately handcrafted items can take months to finish.

In Odisha, one can visit the artisan village of Sadeibereni or Khajuriakata of Hindol Block near Dhenkanal to watch craftsmen churn out objects of great beauty in the simplicity of their mud-plastered homes.

Tribal Art & Textiles

The ethnic diversity of Odisha is also visible in its tribal textiles. Most homes possess looms and each tribe is famous for its distinctive style, colour combinations and patterns. The earthy hues of vegetable dyes make the textiles of the Dharuas stand out from the standard maroon and neutral tones. Some tribes, like the Dongria Kond, enhance the weave with deft needle work. They believe that that their embroidery unites the pining hearts of young boys and girls.

Textile Traditions

Handloom weaving in Odisha goes back to 600 BCE. For centuries, an exquisite piece of silk fabric woven in Nuapatna, embellished with inscriptions from the Gita Govinda, has been used to dress the idols of Lord Jagannath, Balabhadra and Subhadra at the Jagannath Temple in Puri. Generation after generation, weavers of Odisha have clattered away at their looms to clothe gods and mortals alike. From saris and dhotis to garments in silk, cotton or tussar, they toil relentlessly to churn out a dazzling array of fabrics in diverse styles.

Odisha is most famous for its bandha design, a tie and dye technique better known by its Indonesian term ikat. The two most well-known styles of this art are the traditional Sambalpuri tie-dye and the Nuapatna bandha (Khandua). An indigenous method of weaving silk and cotton called Bapta is also popular. Be it the Khandua of Cuttack, Habaspur and Bomkai of Kalahandi, Kotpad of Koraput, Parda of Khurda, Kusumi of Nayagarh or Saktapar and Bichitrapar of Bargarh and Sambalpur, each weaving region has its own subtle specialty. The Berhampur pattu, the jala (Bomkai) and varieties of silk saris from Sonepur and the Kataki (Cuttacki) saris of Jagatsinghpur are noteworthy.

Nuapatna near Cuttack houses many co-operatives of weavers, who are masters of their craft. They weave in silk, tussar and eri silk and are happy to explain the warp and weft, and the entire process of creating the saris from cocoons to the finished fabric.

Sambalpuri saris are known for traditional motifs like shankha (shell), chakra (wheel) and phula (flower), inspired by local Vaishnava tradition. Rudraksha beads, temple borders, paisley prints, fish, elephants, peacock and the mango seed also feature prominently. The designs in the sari are derived from epics like the Ramayana, Mahabharata, the Jagannath cult and the folk tales of Odisha. Theres Panchabati, which represents the Panchavati Forest, where Lord Rama spent his exile; Konark Chaka is a tribute to the chariot wheel at the Sun Temple of Konark; Nandighosha symbolises the chariot of Lord Jagannath during the Rath Yatra; Aasmaan Tara resembles twinkling stars; Bichi-trapuri alludes to the variation of ikat on the borders. Passapalli, Taa-poi and Boita Bandana derive from Odishas rich folk culture. Paintings on tussar saris owe their origin to the patta paintings of Raghurajpur.

Walk into the home of a weaver in Barpali, one of the biggest weaver villages in Odisha and hell explain how silk, cotton and tussar are woven. At Sonepur, learn about the natural dying process, ingredients, traditional designs and jala work. At Kotpad, traditional methods of natural dyeing are still used, with cow dung and castor oil to give the cotton yarn a rich tone. At Nabarangpur, visit tussar silk farms to trace the journey of the silk sari from inception the breeding of silk worms.

Today, nearly 5 lakh weavers in the state are employed in the trade. No matter where you go in Odisha, narrow bylanes in weaving quarters bustle with activity. Take a textile tour of Odisha into the homes of weavers, buying directly from them or visit any of the city showrooms of Utkalika, Boyanika and Sambalpuri Bastralaya.

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Wild Odisha https://www.outlookindia.com/outlooktraveller/wp-content/uploads/2017/10/Wildlife2_FI.jpg http://www.outlookindia.com/outlooktraveller/ot-getaway-guides/wild-odisha/ http://www.outlookindia.com/outlooktraveller/ot-getaway-guides/wild-odisha/ 2017-11-03T16:17:52+05:30 article Odisha is renowned for its wildlife parks and sanctuaries Odisha is a diverse habitat of forests, rivers, grass-lands, marshes and beaches. Crocodiles lurk in the marshy realm of Bhitarkanika, Olive Ridley turtles throng the beach at Gahirmatha, Irrawady dolphins dance in the seas and thousands of birds flock the largest coastal lagoon in the country Chilika Lake. Beyond well-known wildlife haunts like Simlipal, Satkosia and the Nandan Kanan Zoo near Bhubaneswar, theres a great wealth of wildlife across the state.

Besides the numerous wildlife sanctuaries, there are several places where you can enjoy the natural world and its creatures Indira Gandhi Mini Zoo at Rourkela, Kapilas Mini Zoo in Dhenkanal and Motijharan Zoo in Sambalpur. There are many deer parks across the length and breadth of Odisha too at Cuttack, Harishankar in Balangir district, Gandhamardana at Nrusinghanath in Bargarh district, Papadahandi in Nabarangapur district, Sunabeda in Koraput district, Taptapani in Gajapati district, Bhanja Vihar in Ganjam district, Nisanga at Chandipur in Balasore district, and Kuanria in Nayagarh.

Balukhand-Konark Wildlife Sanctuary

Located 70km from Bhubaneswar, this is a small 72-sq km sanctuary along the Bay of Bengal between Puri and Konark, with sandy tracts of cashew and casuarina trees. The Kushabhadra and Nuanai rivers pass through the sanctuary. Its star attraction is the blackbuck, besides the striped hyena, jackal, jungle cat and spotted deer.

Chandaka Dampara Elephant Sanctuary

Located on the northeastern limits of the Eastern Ghats only 20km from Bhubaneswar, this is the only wildlife preserve in Odisha solely dedicated to the elephant. Spread over 193.39sq km across Khurda and Cuttack districts, the sanctuary has several watchtowers for wildlife viewing and remnants of old forts. Enter from the main gate at Godibari, stay overnight in forest rest houses and spot elephants from the Bharatpur watchtower, besides deer, sloth bears, hyenas, jackals, reptiles and birds. Kumarkhunti, a man-made reservoir, which is being developed as a heronry (a breeding colony of herons), has waterfowl in the thousands.

Debrigarh Wildlife Sanctuary

Fringed by the Hirakud Reservoir and the Barapahad hills of Bargarh district, the Debrigarh Sanctuary is 40km from Sambalpur. Spread over 346.91sq km, Debrigarh is rich in both terrestrial and aquatic flora and fauna. It supports a good population of tigers, leopards, bison, hyenas, sambar deer and chousingha (the four-horned antelope), besides 41 species of reptiles and 234 species of birds. In the summer, animals flock to the reservoir, while in winter, you can spot migratory birds.

Hadagarh Wildlife Sanctuary

Situated in the Keonjhar district of northeast Odisha, the verdant Hadagarh Wildlife Sanctuary, spread over an area of 191.06sq km, is linked to the Similipal Tiger Reserve and Kuladiha Wildlife Sanctuary nearby. Its location in the catchment area of the Salandi River and numerous streams, and the presence of the Hadagarh Reservoir, make it an important wetland area. A plethora of resident and migratory water birds flock to the dam site. The sanctuary is a good place to spot mugger (crocodile), while the dense sal forests abound with animals such as leopards, dhole (wild dogs) and elephants.

Karlapat Wildlife Sanctuary

It is believed that the area of this sanctuary was once so rich in tigers, they began calling it karla pat after the striped leaf of the bitter gourd. The 147.66sq-km sanctuary, 35km from Bhawanipatna, is still home to leopards, elephants, sambar deer and gaur. Just 5km from the park gate is the Phurli Jharan Waterfall, while the Jacom Forest Guest House by the Karlapat River is a good spot for birdwatching.

Kotagarh/ Kotagad Wildlife Sanctuary

Situated southwest of Baliguda in Kandhamal district, Kotagarh spans nearly 400sq km. There are various entry points to the sanctuary Tumudibandha from the north and Kotagarh from south, Belghar from the west and Subarnapur from the east. Surrounded by mustard fields, forests of mahogany and sal, and hamlets of the Kutia and Desia kondh tribes, Kotagarh is rich in wildlife you will be able to spot elephants, sambar deer, leopards, gaur, spotted deer and reptiles here. Ludu Waterfall near Subarnapur is a good excursion.

Khalasuni Wildlife Sanctuary

This 116sq-km sanctuary lies in Rairakhol sub-division of Sambalpur. The altitudinal variation of 223m to 750m gives Khalasuni great diversity of avian life and reptiles. You can spot peafowl, jungle fowl and hornbill here besides the tiger, leopard, gaur, elephant and lots of deer species including mouse, barking, sambar and spotted deer.

Kuldiha Wildlife Sanctuary

Kuldiha is a pristine sanctuary in the Balasore district linked to Simlipal through the Sukhupata and Nato hill ranges. Forest permits can be obtained from the range office at Nilagiri. The forest rest house at Kuldiha, with an artificial salt lick nearby, is a good spot for wildlife sightings. Elephants, bison, deer and wild cats are present in the sanctuary. The other forest rest house at Jodachua is remote. Risia Dam at the sanctuarys northwest edge is great for birdwatching.

Lakhari Valley Sanctuary

A relatively small wildlife zone of 118sq km in Gajapati district of South Odisha, the Lakhari Valley Sanctuary is accessed from Chandragiri, a small hamlet on SH34, which has a forest office and acts as a gateway into the sanctuary. The single range comprises Chandragiri, Chandiput and Bhismagiri sections, with headquarters at Podamari. You can stay in the Chandragiri Forest Rest House and go on a birdwatching trail through the valley via Talabanda, Kamrakhali and Baliganda to Manikpur.

Sunabeda Wildlife Sanctuary

A proposed tiger reserve, the 500sq-km Sunabeda Wildlife Sanctuary in Nuapada district has diverse wildlife habitats, with a vast plateau, canyons and nearly a dozen streams and waterfalls. Located in the catchment area of the Jonk River and adjoining Chhattisgarh, the sanctuary is a great spot for sighting swamp deer and wild water buffalo, besides sambar deer, wild boar, leopard and even the tiger.

Ushakothi Wildlife Sanctuary

Primarily a dry deciduous forest of sal, sandalwood, neem and arjuna and spanning an area of 304.03sq km, the Ushakothi Wildlife Sanctuary lies east of the Hirakud Dam. The park has a healthy population of elephant, tiger and gaur.

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Kerala: A Quick Guide Munnar https://www.outlookindia.com/outlooktraveller/wp-content/uploads/2017/09/Munnar3_FI.jpg http://www.outlookindia.com/outlooktraveller/ot-getaway-guides/kerala-quick-guide-munnar/ http://www.outlookindia.com/outlooktraveller/ot-getaway-guides/kerala-quick-guide-munnar/ 2017-11-03T16:09:46+05:30 article It's all about tea gardens, lakes and all things pretty in this little hill station of Munnar In Tamil, moon-aar literally means three rivers; Munnar lies at the confluence of the Nallthanni and Kundale streams, which join the Muthirapuzha River, that cascades out of the hills into the Periyar River and, later, the Arabian Sea. Tea is truly Munnars claim to fame; here, over 12,000 hectares of lush, manicured tea fields form an irresistible canvas. There is no better place than Munnar to put ones feet up, and enjoy cups of tea and idyllic surround-ings, with a breath of calming, pure air.

THINGS TO SEE AND DO

Church of South India

Located one kilometre outside town, the Church of South India rises tall and stately above the road. Its fortress-like exterior, shrouded by eucalyptus trees, holds within its walls a repository of Munnars colonial past.

Timings 10.00am5.00pm

Mass 8.00am

Eravikulam National Park

A former hunting preserve of the British planters, the Erivakulam National Park exemplifies wildlife conservation at its best. The main draw here is the Nilgiri tahr, an endangered species of wild goat which was all but extinct due to poaching in the 1950s. Thanks to conservation efforts, the ungulates can now be seen in large numbers. The view from the park, whose average elevation is about 7,000ft above sea level, is breathtaking in its extent and diversity, especially from the popular Directors Leap viewpoint.

Entry Adults ?85; Children ?65; Foreigners ?360 Timings 9.00am 4.30pm Tel 04865-231587

Tea Museum and Tea Processing

Run by Tata Tea, the Munnar Tea Museum traces the evolution of the tea industry in Munnar from the 1880s. It houses an interesting array of artefacts as well as several historical photographs and pieces of period furniture. At the adjacent tea-processing unit, one is introduced to the various stages of tea production and the intricacies of tea-tasting.

Entry Adults ?80; Children ?40 Timings 9.00am4.00pm Closed Mondays Tel 04868-255272/ 73 Photography ?20

Munnars Falls

The Athukad Falls are located approximately 8km from Munnar. At the height of the monsoons in July and August, these waterfalls become a roaring, untamed cascade. A narrow bridge, which needs to be negotiated carefully, spans the gorge. There are two other cascades along this same route which acquire remarkable proportions during the monsoons. The Cheeyapara Falls plunge from a height of over 500ft, a popular bathing site for tourists eager to rid themselves of the grime and dust of the plains. Another kilometre down the road, the equally impressive Valara Falls cascade tumultuously into the thickly forested ravine below the road.

THE INFORMATION

When to go September to May

Getting There

Air Nearest Airport: Cochin International Airport, Nedumbassery (121km/ 4hrs). Prepaid taxis cost ?2,8003,084

Rail Nearest Railhead: Ernakulam Junction (127km/ 4hrs)

Road NH49 links Munnar with Kochi and Madurai. Munnar is also connected to Coimbatore via Pollachi and Udumalaipettai Bus Munnar's bus stand, located at the edge of the town, is served by KSRTC and private buses from both Kerala and Tamil Nadu

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Sikkim's Maiden Airport https://www.outlookindia.com/outlooktraveller/wp-content/uploads/2017/11/Sikkim-airline-update-featured-image.jpg http://www.outlookindia.com/outlooktraveller/destinations/sikkims-maiden-airport/ http://www.outlookindia.com/outlooktraveller/destinations/sikkims-maiden-airport/ 2017-11-03T15:57:09+05:30 article The tiny Himalayan kingdom of Sikkim is ready for the inauguration of its maiden airport If all goes according to plan, the tiny Himalayan kingdom of Sikkim is all set for the inauguration of its maiden airport. Although Sikkim joined the air network map long ago with helicopter services between its capital city Gangtok and Bagdogra airport in neighbouring West Bengal, the new airport will connect the state to the rest of the country with regular flights.
The Pakyong airport is likely to be inaugurated on November 30, according to media reports. The media, quoting government sources, reported that the state government has sent a request to the Prime Ministers Office (PMO) to seek availability of Narendra Modi for the function.
Approved by the Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs in 2008, the airport was initially planned to be completed by 2012 but got delayed owing to several reasons.
Sikkim, which has no rail connectivity, is dependent on its air, road and rail connection through West Bengal. The full-fledged airport will not only ease connectivity but will also boost the state's tourism potential.Built at a cost of Rs 300 crore, it will be among the five highest airports in the country, at 4,700 feet.
The airport is located about 35 km from Gangtok.
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10 Visa Friendly Islands for Indian Passport Holders https://www.outlookindia.com/outlooktraveller/wp-content/uploads/2017/11/featured-image-4.jpg http://www.outlookindia.com/outlooktraveller/destinations/10-visa-friendly-islands-indian-passport-holders/ http://www.outlookindia.com/outlooktraveller/destinations/10-visa-friendly-islands-indian-passport-holders/ 2017-11-03T15:43:47+05:30 article Always imagined living the island life? Look no further than these islands that are visa-friendly for Indians Living the island life has always been a dream. Wake up at leisure, head to the beach to relax and swim, eat freshly-caught fish thats been cooked to perfection, finish your reading list, run on the sand, end the day with delicious cocktails. Isn't that what a lazy holiday looks like on the islands?

While travelling with an Indian passport can sometimes prove to be difficult due to requirements of visas, we have it easy in many islands across the world that provide either visa-free entries or visa on arrival. Pack you bags, book a ticket and just go to these gorgeous islands! You wont regret the decision!

Visit these 10 islands that are visa-friendly for Indian travellers:

Madagascar

The fourth-largest island in the world, Madagascar is located off the coast of East Africa. Its isolated location of so long has resulted in the islands unique flora and fauna which is a top draw for visitors. For traveller with an Indian visa, Madagascar offers visa on arrival which is very helpful. Your passport needs to be valid for six months and the tourist visa is available for a maximum 30-day stay free of cost!

Mauritius

The tiny island in the Indian Ocean is famous for gorgeous beaches, reefs and lagoons. The tropical island is more famous for honeymooning couples but its natural beauty such as the coloured dunes (Seven Coloured Earth) and Chamarel Waterfall are also big attractions. For Indians, visa is not required! Just book your tickets and fly out. But do remember you will need a confirmed return ticket within 60 days.

Maldives

Another famous honeymoon spot for couples around the world, the tropical islands of Maldives are often picture postcard perfect. The blue waters, coral islands and virgin beaches are a hit among visitors. With an Indian passport, when visiting Maldives, no pre-arrival visa is required! A 30-day visa will be issued provided one has all documents sorted.

Seychelles

The group of islands off the coast of East Africa are famous for sandy beaches and natural reserves. One of the most beautiful beach destinations in the world, Indians who wish to visit Seychelles have it pretty easy. Wish to head to the topaz waters and talcum-powder beaches? A 30-day visa is issued free of cost to Indian passport holders!

Samoa

One of the most famous group of islands in Polynesia, Samoa is made up of volcanic islands. While its red-bordered beaches and rainforests are a major draw, the island culture is also very exciting for visitors to experience. The good thing for Indian passport holders is that they can obtain an entry or transit permit for maximum 60 days upon arrival.

Jamaica

The Caribbean island nation filled with lush green tropical forests, mountains and reef-lined beaches is home to athletics star Usain Bolt! Head there to find great diving or snorkelling spots. If you love reggae, Jamaica is definitely the island on your must-visit list. For Indians, entry to Jamaica does not require a tourist visa for 14 days if you have a valid passport!

Fiji

The archipelago of over 300 islands has become a famous honeymoon destination among Indian tourists. Snorkel in the coral reefs or sun tan on the palm tree-lined beaches as you soak in the Fijian atmosphere. The Oceania island is easy access for Indians because no tourist visa is required for stay upto 120 days!

Saint Kitts and Nevis

The two Carribean islands are on travel wish lists for unique beaches! The former sugar plantations on the islands have been converted into inns for tourists as they enjoy and explore the rainforests and wildlife prevalent on the island. For Indian visitors, no visa is required for stay upto 30 days!

Cook Islands

The nation in the South Pacific has 15 scattered islands over a vast area. The islands offer tourists tons of activities that range from snorkelling to scuba-diving. One can explore the vast lagoon and various coral reefs while also have a good time at the islands and discover the local way of life. Indian travellers do not require a tourist visa for upto 31 days of stay!

Tuvalu

The least-visited country in the world is a collection of nine islands sitting halfway between Australia and Hawaii. Tuvalu is a hidden treasure if you find the remote country. Ideal for rest and relaxation, Tuvalu offers tourists vast and fascinating marine life. One can also experience true Polynesian culture here in terms of art,culture and crafts. Indians are required to hold a valid passport and are usually granted visa on arrival for a month provided one has proof of documents, tickets and sufficient funds.

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5 Most Unique Beaches Around The World https://www.outlookindia.com/outlooktraveller/wp-content/uploads/2017/11/featured-1.jpg http://www.outlookindia.com/outlooktraveller/destinations/5-unique-beaches-around-world/ http://www.outlookindia.com/outlooktraveller/destinations/5-unique-beaches-around-world/ 2017-11-02T17:17:24+05:30 article See nature in all its glory at these unusual beaches Playa del Amor, Marieta Islands, Mexico


Playa del Amor, popularly known as the Hidden Beach is located on Marieta Islands in Mexico looks like it is right out of a fairytale. With the turquoise blue waters of the Pacific gushing into a sprawling cave, it almost looks like a place right out of a fantasy novel. The islands are an archipelago and have always been uninhabited, making them ideal sites for military testingby the Mexican government. Rumour has it that it were test bombs that caused this stunning formation. The islands were declared a national park, Parque Nacional Islas Marietas in 2005. Swimming, kayaking, sunbathing are some of the activities you can enjoy on the islands.

Panaluu Black Sand Beach, Hawaii


This natural wonder of a beach in Hawaii has a sand of a deep, black color lending it an almost post-apocalyptic look. The black sand of Punalu?u is made up of basalt that has washed up on the shores from beneath the waves. It is formed due to the streams of lava flowing underwater over-heating rocks and causing them to explode, just off shore. The area is also home to a variety of endangered wildlife species such as the Hawaiian Monk Seal and Hawksbill Turtle.

Giants Causeway, Ireland


The Giants Causeway is one of the oddest geological formations that almost man-made because of their shape and precision. These step-like interlocking hexagonal columns were born of natural processes during the Paleogene (65-23 million years ago), when the north of Ireland was undergoing massive volcanic activity. A lava plateau was formed when molten basalt came into contact with chalk beds and when it cooled down, the plateau contracted and cracked into tens of thousands of hexagonal columns of varying heights. The tallest of these is almost 36 feet in height. Some other examples of unique rock formations includeDevils Postpilein California, Fingals Cavein Scotland and Los Prismas Baslticosin Mexico.

Glass Beach, California


In the early 1900s, everything from discarded appliances, glass and even cars were dumped off the cliffs on to the beach below by the residents of Fort Bragg. The Dumps, as the area was known then was owned by the Union Lumber Company. As The beach began to accumulate huge quantities of rubbish, fires were lit to burn them down to reduce their size. Post 1967, the local leaders undertook a multitude of clean-up drives after realizing the damage they had caused. Over the next couple of decades, powerful waves cleansed the beach, turning the discarded glass into the small, smooth, colored pebbles . Finally in 2002, 38-acre property of Glass Beach was sold to the California State Park system and it became a part of the MacKerricher State Park.

Vaadhoo Island, Maldives


Most of us are quite familiar with this out-of-worldly phenomena that occurs on the shores of Ra Atoll in Maldives made popular by Ang Lees Life of Pi. Commonly known as the sea of stars, it is caused by bioluminescent phytoplankton, a tiny organism that often appear in warm coastal waters and glows when it is under stress.

 

 

 

 

 

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Shillong: Cherry Blossom Fields Forever! https://www.outlookindia.com/outlooktraveller/wp-content/uploads/2017/10/Cherry-Blossom-featured-image.jpg http://www.outlookindia.com/outlooktraveller/destinations/shillong-cherry-blossom-fields-forever/ http://www.outlookindia.com/outlooktraveller/destinations/shillong-cherry-blossom-fields-forever/ 2017-11-02T10:30:41+05:30 article The India International Cherry Blossom Festival 2017 is all set to take place in Shillong between 8 and 11 November Not many know that Meghalaya is one of Indias four biodiversity hotspots. It is home to 5,538 species of fauna, which includes one of Indias only two species of true apes, and about 3,128 species of flowering plants, that account for 18% of the countrys total floral wealth.

Over two years ago, the states government launched the Cherry Blossom Festival in recognition of this abundance. The idea first came to Institute of Bioresources & Sustainable Development (IBSD) director Professor Dinabandhu Sahoo, while the chief Minister, Dr. Mukul M. Sangma, had been instrumental in making it a reality.

Every state of the country must be connected with the global community by creating a product which is exclusive to that state. And since cherry blossom is something unique and exclusive as far as its availability in Meghalaya is concernedappearing naturally on the roadsidewe took it as an advantage. We brought in more and more saplings, which we encouraged people to grow. We are also promoting eco-tourism, rural tourism and community tourism by involving all stakeholders. And tourism is something new to the people of the northeast; we ultimately want to bring in more aggressive participation of all the stakeholders and the India International Cherry Blossom Festival is one such initiative, says Dr Sangma.

Now known as the India International Cherry Blossom Festival, thousands of trees of the flower have been planted. This is the worlds only autumn cherry blossom flowering event and the festival is meant to display it to visitors; in places such as Japan, where there has been an age-old tradition to grow the flower and use it as a symbol of peace and friendship, the flowering only takes place in March.

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Jerusalem: Night Spectacular at the Tower of David Museum http://www.outlookindia.com/outlooktraveller/destinations/jerusalem-night-spectacular-tower-david-museum/ http://www.outlookindia.com/outlooktraveller/destinations/jerusalem-night-spectacular-tower-david-museum/ 2017-11-01T16:57:06+05:30 article Do not miss this unfolding of the city's history through a spectacular laser light show Enjoy the story of Jerusalem at the Night Spectacular show at the Tower of David Museum, where a breathtaking cinematography presents 3000 years of the citys history in huge colorful film and images.

The Night Spectacular is shown multiple times a week outside in the courtyard of the restored ancient citadel at the Jaffa Gate entrance to Jerusalems Old City.

Amidst the archaeological remains in the Citadels courtyard and to the sound of original music, the story of Jerusalem unfolds through giant virtual reality images.

Eighteen projectors are being used to project the Night Spectacular onto the ancient walls of the citadel.

The first of its kind M-Vision Laser 18K projectors by British company Digital Projection have recently been installed at the Tower of David Museum, Jerusalem.

This is the largest installation of 18,000 Lumen Single Chip M-Vision Laser projectors in the world, say the organisers.

The projectors have been chosen for the quality of their high definition projection and their ability to map images on the historical Tower of David. Proprietary features, such as ColourBoost technology, coupled with a 10,000:1 contrast ratio brings out new dimensions in The Night Spectacular that had never been seen before with sharp high resolution cinematography, bold color and crisp lines, according to the organisers.

The 18 laser projectors and their associated accessories, a hardware investment of close to $750,000, were part of a total investment of $2.2 million by the Tower of David.

Besides, the show also includes 10 video players, 14 computers and 14 loudspeakers.

But do remember, the show takes place outside. It is advised to purchase tickets in advance (can be booked online) and to bring warm clothing.

For more information: www.tod.org.il/en

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6 Picturesque Beaches Around The World https://www.outlookindia.com/outlooktraveller/wp-content/uploads/2017/11/featured.jpg http://www.outlookindia.com/outlooktraveller/destinations/6-picturesque-beaches-around-world/ http://www.outlookindia.com/outlooktraveller/destinations/6-picturesque-beaches-around-world/ 2017-11-01T16:47:24+05:30 article Bird's eye view of some of the most stunning beaches on the globe Kumarakom Lake Resort https://www.outlookindia.com/outlooktraveller/wp-content/uploads/2017/10/Kumarakom-Lake-Resort1_FI.jpg http://www.outlookindia.com/outlooktraveller/ot-getaway-guides/kumarakom-lake-resort/ http://www.outlookindia.com/outlooktraveller/ot-getaway-guides/kumarakom-lake-resort/ 2017-10-31T13:31:31+05:30 article Head to Kumarakom Lake Resort for a perfect wellness holiday Thankfully, every silver lining has a cloud. Not for nothing have they, for centuries in this largely hot, tropical subcontinent, been singing songs of joy on the advent of the monsoons, propitiating rain gods, and invoking metaphors of dark clouds for the heroines lustrous black hair. The cloud is the silver lining. And in monsoon-soaked Kumarakom, in early October when the monsoon is retreating, it is even more. Dark and wonderful, carrying so much more than just rain, the cloud is a vast page on which narratives of loveliness are being written. The Vembanad Lake is a long meaningful sentence that describes its own beauty, punctuated by the precise and elegant commas of palm trees, now mysteriously dark, simultaneously saintly and romantic.

It is easy to see why National Geographic Traveller would call Kumarakom one of the ten paradises on Earth. A hundred and fifty years ago this area was a largely marshy tract, part of the huge Vembanad Lake wetlands eco-system, itself part of the backwaters that connect Keralas Kottayam, Kochi and Alleppey districts. Then the king of Travancore granted 500 acres of this wetland to an AG Baker, later to become Kumarakoms local legend. In much of his watery acreage, Baker reclaimed land, filled the marsh with earth, made embankments for fields, planted mangroves for soil protection, and grew paddy and coconut. Equally significant were the 10 acres in which he did nothing. He kept these for the local and migratory birds that came here, forbidding any disturbance. Today, protected by a thick cluster of mangroves, the Kumarakom Bird Sanctuary, with over 180 species of birds, is a huge attraction. And the little village by the vast lake teems with water and palms, fish and birds, boats and rice, sunset and breeze.

Being in the Kumarakom Lake Resort is a bit like drinking a distillate of all this: beauty, geography, ecological patterns, local circadian rhythms and the immensely rich fun of getting to know an interesting place and its heartbeats. The resort offers all this with impeccable architectural elegance, warm people and blessed quiet (it is suggested to all guests that their mobile phones not be used outside the cottages).

On arrival, like everybody else, I get a freshener towel and Keralas favourite traditional welcome drink for foreign tourists: coconut water directly from the fruit. After I have drunk this, I proceed to drink even more deeply of the quantities of glowing wood that make up my cottage, set amidst that inimitable Kerala greenery. The room merges into French windows merges into verandah merges into swimming pool, fluidly. The mural on the wall is vibrant. The bathroom (and I warn you, this will be a running theme through this feature) is a mini-garden. I have too much dignity to bounce on the bed.

Dignifiedly, I glide over to the lake. Through glimpses of heritage cottages and visions of trees, over a little bridge, past a wooden boat, and near a jetty with a bobbing houseboat, the lake presides, giving meaning to everything. Including the lakeside swimming pool, hammocks, lounge chairs, and the cocktail bar artfully at hand. The sun has perfected its routine over centuries and does a flawless lake-dip every evening. Birds in fluid V- formations fly across to the nearby sanctuary with impeccable timing.

Wheres the Ayurveda, you ask? Well, literally in a 200-year-old building, a Nalukettu (four-sided mansion) belonging to a traditional family of Vaidyas, transplanted here. Set a little away from the cottages, the spa is called Ayurmana and functions under the auspices of two doctors and many therapists. The average tourist may treat it as a spa for occasional relaxing massages albeit one in which youve to take off your shoes at the entrance and the oils are not aromatherapy but Kumarakom also caters to clients who come here for long-term treatments. In keeping with the trends of contemporary life, these treatments are oriented towards weight-reduction, rejuvenation and de-stressing.

After consultation with Dr Baiju Raj, I give myself up to the ministrations of Reeba, who turns out to have magical hands. She and her colleague set out to give me a Patra Podala Svedam, a specialised hour-long treatment. Medicinal herbs and leaves, such as castor leaves in my case, are treated with therapeutic oils, and stuffed in a linen bundle. The bundles are then dipped in hot oil as it simmers away on a stove and rubbed with gentle but thorough friction on the skin, with special attention to the joints. The heat is satisfyingly deep and no inch of skin is left untended. Like most Kerala Ayurveda treatments, this begins with a lulling head massage and ends with a hot bath and shampoo. Till just before the point in Patra Podala Svedam when you drop off into deep sleep, you can actually hear your calves, knees and shoulders weeping with gratitude.

Waited four years and it was worth the wait, goes the guest comment of one Ian Salter who seems to have loved his massage as much as I did mine. Later I succumb to an Ayurvedic facial as well, in a perfectly silent room. Fresh papayas and cucumbers dominate the senses for one lovely hour.

In a sleepy-eyed haze I smile my way through the explanation of how the Patra Podala Svedam is a preparatory treatment for the main event since it makes you sweat, how the body has five elements and seven dhaatus in Ayurvedic understanding, how the oils and materials used at Ayurmana are from Kerala Ayur Pharmacy. Yesyesand sweet dreams to you too.

Post-sleep I am taken over by the affable activities manager who encourages me to try my hands, literally, at pottery. In his corner, the potter is ready all day with clay and wheel. He keeps my useless hands on the lump of clay, covers them with his own, spins the wheel and guides me into putting and releasing pressure. Incredibly, I have not corrupted his labours and a pot emerges! They graciously call it a pot I have made. With remnants of mud on my salwar I go off to see the traditional boat-building near the resort. On the way an angelic South African child sees my discoloured salwar and asks her mother: Mumma, why does the lady mess her pants?

Later, my belly full of lightly spiced fish (here in the backwaters, the fish is so tasty because it gets both salty water of the sea and sweet water of the river) and my head full of how they make such huge boats without using nails, I gravitate to the lake again. Its past sunset, and the darkening monochromatic world of water, cloud and tree is gathering its secrets to itself. I feel sympathy for myself and my fellow word-vendors and our exhausted phrases that lie gasping among the pages of travel literature: languid lagoons and limpid lakes trying to survive amid enchanting sunsets, magical dawns and heavenly backwaters. Its not our fault, dear reader. The whole ruddy package is mind-bogglingly enchanting, magical and heavenly.

About Kumarakom Lake Resort

The Kumarakom Lake Resort is a heritage resort right on Vembanad Lake, spread over 25 landscaped acres, with transplanted old Kerala cottages and little canals meandering in and out of the property. It belongs to the select group of Small Luxury Hotels of the World and is in its seventh year now. It has been nominated for the Asian Architectural Excellence Award, declared one of the top five luxury hotels in India in 2004 by Incredible India, and called the place for a holiday pamper by the Wall Street Journal.

Treatments and Tariffs

? Individual treatments at Ayurmana come in a range of prices. The massages for relaxation and rejuvenation come for ?5,000, while the more specialised Ayurvedic massages such as Shirodhara (steady stream of oil on the forehead), Patra Podal Svedam, or Navarakizhi (massage with a linen bag full of medicinal rice) cost ?5,500 each. Pizhichil (a continuous pouring of warm medicated oil on the body) costs ?6,500. Theres also a face massage (?2,000), head massage (?2,000) and an athletic massage (?6,000). The facial costs ?2,500. A 60-minute session of Yoga and Meditation for two costs ?5,000.

? Ayurvedic packages are offered for 7, 14 and 21 days. They include: Weight reduction (?21,500), Rejuvenation (?21,500), De-stress (?21,000), Essence of Ayurveda (?21,500), Arthritis (offered for 7 days, ?21,500 per night), Panchakarma (offered for 7 days at ?21,500 per night). All of the rates given here are per-night single occupancy rates.

Tip The rates given here are indicative, taxes are extra.

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You can opt for any of these according to email or phone consultations with the spa doctor. You should take the doctors advice on the combination that would be ideal for you and may need to send your reports beforehand.

Opting for most of these packages will mean specialised vegetarian diets (sorry meat eaters!), with less oil and spices, and easily digestible food. Some foods do not react well with certain medicines and will be prohibited. The treatment will include medication, and this needs to continue after you leave the resort.

The Ayurmana spa has been given a Green Leaf certification by the Department of Tourism and the Government of Kerala, endorsing its requisite standards of quality.

The Therapists

Ayurmana spa is run under the guidance of two friendly and informative doctors: Dr Liji, a graduate of Chennais Chandrasekarendra Saraswathi University and Dr Nitin from Mangaluru. There are 16 therapists at the resort.

Accommodation at Kumarakom

Spread across the resorts 25 landscaped acres are its different kinds of cottages. These are: Old heritage cottages, which are actually transplanted old houses from Kerala villages of which some are lake-view and some are duplex villas; poolside villas (next to a large, semi-private meandering pool), and lakeside presidential suites with a private pool. Each is a pleasure and comes with open-air bathrooms that require a separate ode to them. The elegance of the furnishings and glory of the old wood apart, its very relaxing to stroll through the property, with little canals, boats bobbing on them, trees at every step, artefacts strewn around, and always the imminent lake. The main swimming pool is bang on the lake, hammocks and palms sway with equal grace, and the waters are very soothing. The prices, however, are not. Some indicative prices are given below but rates differ quite sharply according to season.

In the summer (June 1September 30), the costs would be: Meandering Pool Villa (?15,500); Heritage Lake View Villa with pool (?17,500); Presidential Suite (?50,000).

Winter is season time and costs more. The same accommodation in normal season (October 1December 19) and peak season (December 20January 10) would cost you Meandering Pool Villa (?20,500/ ?34,500); Heritage Lake View Villa with pool (?23,500/ ?38,500); Presidential Suite (?65,000/ ?85,000).

The resort offers a host of activities that are included in the package. The nicest of these is a sunset cruise every evening, in which you are taken some way in to the Vembanad Lake on a boat and then, as the sun sets, treated to a mid-water flute concert. There is also Yoga, pottery and mat-weaving, cycling, fishing, village walks, cultural programmes, a dip in the swimming pool, health club and indoor games. You can have a speedboat ride for ?2,500 per hour (plus taxes) and a backwater cruise for ?2,400 per hour (plus taxes). Fair warning, the boat rides are subject to availability.

Meals at Kumarakom

At the Ettukkettu restaurant, the resort offers buffet meals, which are included in the price of the room. A variety of cuisines are served Thai, Chinese, Continental and several Indian styles. My favourite was the Naadan Kerala cuisine. There was some exceptional fish; the banana-leaf wrapped karimeen and chemeen curry is to die for! The vegetarian food was as interesting and tasty as the non-vegetarian fare.

When people come for specific Ayurvedic packages, the doctor prescribes certain food-related dos and donts for them which are communicated to the restaurant. Special food can then be taken accordingly. The Ettukkettu buffet is such that you can skip all you are not allowed to eat and still be left with some choice.

The restaurant also serves complimentary tea/ coffee and snacks between 4.00pm and 6.30pm in pleasant open-air surroundings at Thattukada.

Souvenirs

The curio shop at the resort offers a mish-mash of what may interest the tourist, from Auroville handcrafted soaps, beautifully packed incense sticks, sandal collection, coconut shell jewellery and books on Kerala. The best pick of the lot, however, are the knick-knacks the resort has picked up from the old properties in Kerala, from old bottles to brass lamps to pots and ceramic plates.

AROUND KUMARAKOM LAKE RESORT

Kumarakom Bird Sanctuary (2km)

Set on the banks of the Vembanad Lake, the Kumarakom Bird Sanctuary is said to host around 180 species of birds, local and migratory. When AG Baker was developing this marshy area for agricultural purposes in the mid-19th century, he kept aside some 10 acres of land for the birds. The Kerala government declared this a bird sanctuary in 1989.

The sanctuary is a stones throw away from the resort. It can be reached on foot, or on cycles, or the resort can organise your trip.

It is ideal to go early in the morning at about 6.00am to catch sight of the birds. There are numerous varieties of birds here, such as the Northern pintail ducks, owls, moorhens, cormorants, darters, Brahminy kites, waterfowl, egrets and heron. A variety of birds such as teal, parrots, flycatchers and larks also migrate to this sanctuary during certain months. If you journey here in the winter you might be lucky enough to catch the migratory Siberian crane. A highly endangered species, there are only a few thousand of the cranes left in the world.

Its best to take a boat on the lake for a good experience. A resort organised trip costs approximately ?700 per car.

GETTING THERE

Air Nearest airport: Nedumbassery Airport (124km/ 2.5hrs), north of Ernakulam, offers connections to all metros and several major cities, such as Delhi, Chennai, Mumbai, Bengaluru, Kolkata and Hyderabad. Ambassador or Indica taxis are available for ?4,000 4,500. The resort organises pick-up for ?6,500 (one way)

Rail Nearest railhead: Kottayam (15km/ 20mins). The resort can organise a pick-up will cost you around ?2,000 one way. A taxi will cost between ?1,000 and ?1,400

Road It is difficult for a newcomer to navigate the backwater roads leading to KLR. Hire a cab with a driver who knows the area

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Visa Friendly South East Asian Countries for Indians https://www.outlookindia.com/outlooktraveller/wp-content/uploads/2017/10/featured-image-12.jpg http://www.outlookindia.com/outlooktraveller/destinations/visa-friendly-south-east-asian-countries-indians/ http://www.outlookindia.com/outlooktraveller/destinations/visa-friendly-south-east-asian-countries-indians/ 2017-10-31T12:55:44+05:30 article Check out these five visa-friendly countries in South East Asia if youre travelling with an Indian passport An honest confession-I love travelling in South East Asia. The region has beautiful architecture, delectable food, warm and friendly locals and so much history which sometimes isn't taught in classrooms. One needs to visit to understand the language, culture and traditions in these South East Asian countries.

However, if you hold an Indian passport, the first concern is always, Would I require a visa? Well, yes and no. India currently ranks 75 in the global passport index with visa-free entry to 51 countries. Dont be fooled because most countries require a visa and you can get it when you arrive apart from the ones you need to get ahead of time.

Though many countries in South East Asia give visa on arrival to Indian passport holders, some require visitors to apply for e-visas for short stays or proof of documents like accommodation and finances.

If you find yourself in South East Asia with an Indian passport, these five countries should be on your go-to list!

Thailand

Almost everyone I know in India goes to Thailand or at least has been there because its so easy! Just book your tickets, arrive and stand in line, pay 1000 baht (Rs 2000 approx) and voila, you've got yourself a 15-day stay in the country. Head to the spectacular beaches to relax, soak in the architecture, enjoy the picturesque paddy fields of the North or party till dawn in Bangkok, Thailand has something for every traveller! In case you are a traveller who oversees every minute detail, you can apply for a visa at the embassy prior to your travel.

Cambodia

One of the most gorgeous countries in South East Asia with an incredibly sad past, Cambodia offers tourists a heady mix. Angkor Wat is usually on everyones bucket list, but don't forget to check out the whole complex which holds other temple ruins. The capital Phnom Penh is a modern city with quaint architecture while the beaches are perfect for some fun under the sun. Indian passport holders can pay $30 (Rs 2000 approx) to get a 30-day stay on arrival at the airports or at certain checkpoints if coming by land. There is also a provision of applying for an e-visa or directly to the embassy prior to your travels.

Hong Kong

Though not technically South East Asia, Hong Kong offers Indian passport holders free entry for 14 days after successfully completing a pre-arrival registration. So what are you waiting for? Book your tickets to visit Disneyland or indulge in delicious street food such as dim sums, wanton and brisket noodles and various roasts!

Indonesia

Why don't you head to the Indonesian islands to check out the spectacular temple complexes or enjoy a relaxing holiday by the various beaches? The brave-hearted can head to Mt Bromo, an active volcano, while the nature-lovers can see exotic creatures such as the Komodo Dragon! Remember that if an Indian passport holder is visiting just for tourist purposes and not planning to stay beyond 30 days, its free entry! Yes, you heard right! However, understand that it cannot be extended in any which way but if you pay $35 (Rs 2300 approx) and make use of a 30-day stay in the country, there is a possibility of an extension.

Macau

Indian passport holders require no visa if visiting the Las Vegas of Asia for 30 days or less! Visit the Venetian Macao to experience Italys famous gondolas and gamble to your hearts content. A very glamorous autonomous region, take in sweeping views of the city atop the 338m high Macau Tower!

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First Look: TUTCs Jaagir Lodge, Dudhwa https://www.outlookindia.com/outlooktraveller/wp-content/uploads/2017/10/Jaagir-Lodge-Dudhwa.jpg http://www.outlookindia.com/outlooktraveller/hotels/tutcs-jaagir-lodge-dudhwa/ http://www.outlookindia.com/outlooktraveller/hotels/tutcs-jaagir-lodge-dudhwa/ 2017-10-30T15:39:04+05:30 article Dive straight into the lap of luxury at this beautiful colonial structure deep in the forests of Terai Best known for introducing the concept of glamping in India,The Ultimate Travelling Camp (TUTC)is all set toexpand tolodges and palaces. Its latest takeover being a luxury jungle lodge nestled deep in the rainforests of the Terai, Uttar Pradesh, India. The all new rebranded TUTCs Jaagir Lodge, Dudhwa was originally a colonial structure built in the 1940s.

It is a gateway to Indias four distinct forests reserves - Dudhwa, Katarniaghat, Kishanpur and Pilibhit. Within close proximity of the Dudhwa Tiger Reserve, the lodge is a witness to the long-standing Bengal Tiger conservation programme - Project Tiger championed by well-known conservationist, Billy Arjan Singh. It is home to few critically endangered species like the Indian one-horned rhinoceros, ganges river dolphins and fishing cats. Dudhwabeing one of the most biodiverse regions and endangered ecosystems in India is home to38 species of mammals, 90 species of fish, and some 500 species of birds in addition to half of the worlds 4,000 swamp deer, Indian crocodile, wild elephants and one of the best places in the world for seeing the gharial in its natural habitat.

The Dudhwa National Park isabout a 5-hourdrive away from Lucknow airport. For the ultimate luxury travel experience, one can charter an aircraft from Delhi to Ballia airstrip which is just 12 kilometers away from the lodge. TUTCs Jaagir Lodge notonly promises guests a luxurious stay but also familiarizes guests about the conservation initiatives and wildlife protection in Terai ecosystem with its bunchof expert conservationists and naturalists. You could cycle around sugarcane farms to explore the rich flora and fauna, ride elephants or take a boat ride to see the gharials hunting the shallows or marvel at the Indian crocodile. You could also interact with thelocalTharu tribe who happily co-exist with the wild and call themselves people of the forest. Celebrate authentic food with elaborate menus satiating different taste buds, curated by award-winning chefs that make way for an epicurean exploration. Currently, the lodge features seven luxury suites and soon to be opened two luxury villas and four stilted villas. The property is within easy reach of transport hubs and major cities. Go for the5 night/6 day itinerary for a wholesome wildlife experience.

The lodge will be operational from 19th December, 2017 to 15th June, 2018 when the game viewing is at its best. For further queries call on +91- 8010902222, write to info@tutc.com or visit www.tutc.com.

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Fairs & Festivals of Odisha https://www.outlookindia.com/outlooktraveller/wp-content/uploads/2017/10/Fairs-Festivals1_FI.jpg http://www.outlookindia.com/outlooktraveller/ot-getaway-guides/fairs-festivals_odisha/ http://www.outlookindia.com/outlooktraveller/ot-getaway-guides/fairs-festivals_odisha/ 2017-10-30T14:10:24+05:30 article Here's our quick guide to various festivals and fairs of Odisha Odisha is a confluence of Aryan, Dravidian and adivasi cultures and the annual calendar is busy with festivals. These are inspired by the changing seasons, agricultural practices or are dedicated to various gods, goddesses and folk deities. Many of the celebrations are associated with the para-mount deity Lord Jagannath, though the Puri Rath Yatra towers above all of them. Owing to its rich cultural legacy, song and dance festivals are also regularly organised by the state tourism department.

Besides nationally celebrated festivals, there are several festivals that are unique to the state. No matter when you visit, theres always a celebration in some corner of Odisha.

Folk Dance Festival, Sambalpur (47 January)

Sambalpur Lok Mahotsav is a three-day cultural extravaganza where hundreds of international, national and local artists perform exquisite folk dance forms. The festival was started in 1997 with an aim to revive dying art forms and one can witness local dances like Ghubkudu, Karma dance, Chutkuchuta and other folk dances from India and beyond.

Sume-Gelirak, Koraput (January)

The 10-day festival of the Bondas of Koraput is associated with the reaping and threshing of the rice harvest. It starts on a Sunday with the Sisa (tribal priest) worshipping gods and spirits through animal sacrifice and liquor offerings. Young men and women visit neighbouring Bonda villages and choose their life partners while dancing. Another aspect of the festival is the lashing session for men. In this practice, a pair of boys stand and strike each other with flexible tree branches to the sound of drumbeats. Once they have had enough, they salute and embrace one another and the next pair takes their place. After the face off, the Sisa offers cakes and sermonises on the value of friendship. The next evening the ritual is repeated with the older men, ending only when enough blood has flown.

Ekamra Utsav, Bhubaneswar (1020 January)

The 10-day temple city festival is an expo of traditional art and craft with a flower show, a food festival, cultural programmes, heritage walks, the states biggest half marathon and attractive discounts by shopping centres.

Mukteswar Dance Festival, Bhubaneswar (1416 January)

Held on the courtyards of the famous Mukteshwar Temple every evening, leading exponents of Odissi dance enliven the stage with their performances in solo, duet and group categories.

Rajarani Music Festival, Bhubaneswar (1820 January)

A showcase of Indias glorious tradition of classical music, this festival is held against the backdrop of the Rajarani Temple, with performances by the best instrumentalists and vocalists in the country.

Adivasi Mela, Bhubaneswar

(26 January9 February)

The Odisha state-level Annual Adivasi Exhibition or Adivasi Mela kicks off on 26 January at the Advasi Exhibition Ground in Bhubaneswar. The tribal fair is held across two weeks and show-cases the art and craft of various tribal communities, forest produce, tribal products and handicrafts. The mela also has cultural programmes in the evening.

Kalinga Mahotsav, Dhauli (February)

The festival of martial dances is befittingly held at the foothill of the famous Peace Pagoda at Dhauli, where emperor Ashoka was so distraught by the bloodshed of the Kalinga War that he adopted Buddhism. This festival commemorates the victory of peace over war as renowned dancers fuse the vitality of martial arts with the finesse of sublime dance forms, using swords, spears, shields and other weapons.

Dola Purnima or Holi (March)

In Odisha, the spring festival is held over five days and followers carry images of Krishna on their shoulders in dolas or vimanas (wooden temples) from house to house. Offerings are made to these processions. Vimanas from different villages assemble in an open field followed by bhajan-kirtan (singing of devotional songs). The day after the full moon, people playfully smear each other with abir (coloured powder) and coloured water. As a tribute to Krishna, cattle are bathed, anointed with vermillion, garlanded and fed sumptuously in rural areas. Jatras or village fairs continue till the month of Chaitra across Cuttack, Puri and Ganjam districts.

Chaita Parva (mid-April)

The most important festival of the tribal people of Koraput and the Bhuiyans of Mayurbhanj and Keonjhar, the whole month of Chaitra dons a festive mood. They go on hunts and sacrifice birds and beasts to appease their gods, wear new clothes, feast, drink, sing and dance.

Chhau Festival, Baripada

(1113 April)

The three-day festival showcases the Mayurbhanj style of the martial dance Chhau, which does not rely on masks, but on facial expressions. Earlier celebrated to mark a successful harvest during spring time, the Chaitra Parva Chhau was institutionalised by maharaja Krushna Chandra Bhanj Deo of Mayurbhanj in the 19th century.

Rath Yatra, Puri (JuneJuly)

The grand chariot festival of Lord Jagannath is the worlds oldest rath yatra and commemorates his annual visit to Gundicha Temple via Mausi Maa Temple. It is one of the worlds largest human gatherings. The idols of Jagannath, Balabhadra and Subhadra are taken in a procession of elaborate chariots to Gundicha Temple where they remain for nine days, after which the deities return to the main temple, and this journey is called Bahuda Jatra. Lakhs of devotees throng Puri to pull the raths through the streets.

The festival opens with the Chandan Yatra at Narendra Sarovar, where the divine trinity is anointed with sandalwood paste for 21 consecutive days and taken for a ride around the lake in an ornamented swan-shaped boat. Thereafter, an elaborate bathing ritual is performed, which is called the Snana Yatra. After the deities are ritualistically bathed, there is a fortnight-long purification ceremony in seclusion prior to the Rath Yatra.

At an auspicious time on the full moon of the following month of Ashada (JulyAugust), the deities are placed in their respective chariots, which are colour-coded. The yatra is led by elder brother Balabhadra who is seated in the green chariot, followed by Subhadras chariot in black and the 13-m-tall mammoth chariot of Lord Jagannath, draped in red and yellow and rolling on its 18 wheels. The chariots are then led by the 4,200 devotees and dragged all the way to their holiday home, the Gundicha Ghar or Garden House about 1.5km away, where they remain for nine days. After this, the whole routine is repeated in reverse. The sight of thousands of devotees tugging at the ropes of the chariot forward in a frenzy of devotion is a scene to behold. It is a festival that unifies all, irrespective of class or status. Here, kings sweep the ground before the chariot and the poor, lesser privileged have the honour of accompanying the deities.

Karam Festival

(AugustSeptember)

Widely celebrated amongst the Bhumij, Oraon, Bhuiyan, Ho and Kisan tribals in Mayurbhanj, Sambalpur, Balangir, Dhenkanal and Keonjhar, the presiding deity Karam/Karamsani (god/goddess) is represented with a branch of the Karam tree. Traditionally held on the eleventh day of the bright fortnight of the rainy month of Bhadra, people go to the jungle accompanied by drummers and cut branches of the Karam tree. These are carried by unmarried girls who sing in praise of the deity. The branches are brought to the village and planted in the centre of a ground, which is plastered with cow-dung and decorated with flowers. The tribal priest propitiates the deity with liquor, germinated grams and blood from a wild fowl for wealth and children.

Puri Beach Festival (November)

Held across five days, the Puri Beach Festival has cultural events, classical and folk dance performances, beautiful handicrafts, food festivals, rock concerts, beach parties, sand sculptures, regatta, fashion shows and traditional sports such as beach volleyball, kabaddi and malkhamb on display.

Konark Festival

(15 December)

Eminent classical dancers from all over India congregate to perform against the magnificent backdrop of the Sun Temple at Konark. As part of the festival, the International Sand Art Festival is also organised on the sandy Chandrabhaga Beach, 3km from Konark.

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Odiya Cuisine https://www.outlookindia.com/outlooktraveller/wp-content/uploads/2017/10/Cuisine2_Chicken-Kassa_FI_1.jpg http://www.outlookindia.com/outlooktraveller/ot-getaway-guides/odiya_cuisine/ http://www.outlookindia.com/outlooktraveller/ot-getaway-guides/odiya_cuisine/ 2017-10-30T14:02:04+05:30 article From sweet to savoury, we are here to take you on a culinary tour of Odisha In Odisha, the land of Lord Jagannath, food is a divine celebration, an offering made to god before it is eaten by the masses. While rice is the common staple and mustard oil the main medium of cooking, most temple dishes are prepared in ghee, but avoid garlic and onion.

Odiya cooks from the Puri region were much sought after all over East India due to their ability to cook food as per Hindu scriptures and norms of purity. Many were employed in Bengal during 19th century and, as a result, took several Odiya dishes with them. Perhaps the most famous export is the rasgulla, which was invented in Puri and has a 700-year-old tradition of being served as bhog at the Mahalaxmi Temple. This tradition is much older than the claim that the rasgulla was invented in Kolkata in the 19th century.

Odiya cuisine is not very spicy or oily, which allows the flavours of the dish come through. Curd-based dishes are common, especially with fish, brinjal or okra. Like the panch-phoran of neighbouring Bihar/Jharkhand, the usual seasoning is panch phutana, a blend of five spices rai (mustard), jeera (cumin), methi (fenugreek), saunf (aniseed) and kalonji (black cumin). In the bordering regions of West Bengal, kalonji and mustard paste are used and the curries tend to be slightly sweet. The influence of Andhra Pradesh to the south can be seen in the fondness for dosa, idli and vada (locally called bara) with sambar, chutney and the use of tamarind and curry leaves.

Rice

Odishas favoured staple is rice and its consumed in many forms from simple bhaat (steamed rice), mudhi (puffed rice) to chuda (flat beaten rice). Cooked rice when mixed with water is called pakhala bhata. If left overnight in water to ferment, it forms the sour basi pakhala, usually paired with sukhuwa (fried fish). It is supposed to be the perfect antidote to hot summer months. The unfermented version is called saja pakhala. When mixed with curd, it becomes dahi pakhala and when spiced with cumin, it is jeera pakhala. Ground rice mixed with jaggery or other condiments forms various steamed or deep-fried snacks called pithas.

Fish and Seafood

The profusion of rivers, lakes and an extensive coastline has blessed Odisha with abundant fish and marine life. Chilika Lake, Indias largest saltwater lagoon, is famous for its prawn cultivation. Busy eateries like Chilika Dhaba dish out delicious chingudi jhola (prawn curry) and kankada jhola (crab curry). Freshwater fish from rivers and irrigation canals such as rohu, katla, bhetki (barramundi) and ilishi (hilsa) remain popular varieties, though smaller fish from marshes and mangroves like aluva, kukuli and sabala are also loved by connoisseurs.

Fish is consumed in many ways from a simple no-frills machha bhaja (fish fry) to curries of various consistencies like machha besara (mustard fish), machha mahura (fish and vegetable curry) and dahi machha, an unusual combination of fish in curd, served cold.

Temple food

Many shrines in Odisha prepare food offerings to the presiding deity. As per legend, Lord Krishna lifted Govardhan Parvat to give shelter to his village folk from a terrible storm that lasted a week. Since his mother used to feed him eight meals a day, it is a practice to propitiate the lord with chhappan bhog or 56 food items. At Jagannath Temple, this takes the form of mahaprasad with Mahaprabhus favourite dishes specially prepared in the temple kitchen and premises. The dishes vary with different meal times and seasons. After being offered to the deity, the bhog is distributed amongst the eagerly awaiting devotees.

Another noteworthy fact is that Lord Jagannaths kitchen, one of the largest temple kitchens in the world, can feed up to one lakh people at a time.

Pitha

Pithas are like flat pancakes that can be fried, steamed or baked, with either a sweet or salty filling. They are considered festive offerings and also make perfect teatime snacks. Chakuli pitha is a popular breakfast item. Arisa pitha is a crisp deep-fried snack made of ground rice batter and sugar. Manda pitha or modak, made of semolina stuffed with a sweet filling of grated coconut or chhena (cottage cheese), is often made during festivals. Enduri pitha is made of rice flour with a sweet filling steamed in turmeric leaves. It is usually prepared during Prathamashtami a festival to celebrate and pray for the long life of a first born in the family. Chitau pitha, made of rice flour and coconut slices, is made during Chitalagi or Chitou Amavasya. Chhena poda pitha is a tedious yet delicious baked pitha made traditionally during the annual Raja (Swing) Festival. The caramelised top, a hint of cardamom and the crunch of nuts makes the dish stand out. It is particularly popular in Dashapalla and Nayagarh areas. Kakara pitha, a small pancake made from semolina with a sweet coconut filling, is notably made in Choudwar and Tangi, Cuttack district.

Sweets

Odiyas have a sweet tooth and it is not uncommon to start the day with sweets! Most sweets are based on chhena. Yet, the talented cooks and halwais churn out a dazzling array of sweets. Sweet shops and mistan bhandars (snacks and savoury stalls) across the state are filled with trays of assorted sweets and cauldrons with rasgullas and gulab jamuns.

A few key dishes of Odisha

Arisa Sweet pancake made from ground rice and sugar; Anandapur in Keonjhar district is famous for it.

Badi Chura Fried badis (spiced black gram dumplings) crushed and mixed with chopped chilli, onion and garlic to make a nice accompaniment, mostly with pakhala. The badis of Keonjhar are all the rage.

Bara There are baras and theres the Dhenkanal bara, a small crispy snack made of urad dal (black gram) and rice, served with ghughuni (yellow peas curry) and green chutney.

Basadahi Creamy hung curd served in an earthen pot; typical of Manikapatna and Brahmagiri in Puri district.

Chhenajhili A delicacy of fried cheese balls dunked in sugar syrup from Nimapada in Puri district.

Chhenamuduki Cottage cheese cubes with a thick sugary crust. Keonjhar and Bhadrak district specialise in this.

Chhena Poda Literally burnt cottage cheese, this classic Odiya delicacy from Nayagarh is made of soft chhena with dry fruits dipped in sugar syrup and baked till its brown.

Dalma A nutritious wholesome dish of dal and fruits and vegetables like raw papaya, unripe banana, brinjal, pumpkin and gourd, with a spicy seasoning, usually eaten with steamed rice.

Ghanta Literally mixture; assorted vegetables are cooked together to create this classic Odiya dish, which can be eaten with rice or rotis.

Kalakand Milk cake of sweetened reduced milk thats made to solidify though retaining a soft grainy texture; Shakti Mistanna Bhandar in Sambalpur is legendary for its kalakand.

Kanika Sweet rice dish garnished with raisins and nuts.

Kassa Easily the most widely available Odiya dish; chicken or mutton kassa is a thick non-vegetarian gravy.

Khasta Gaja A type of rasgulla, which is made of sugar and semolina, allowed to dry before being deep-fried and dunked in sugar syrup.

Kheersagar Balls of chhena dunked in sweet, thickened milk and seasoned with cardamom and saffron. Best served cold.

Kora Khai Served as prasad at the Lingaraj Mandir, the puffed rice is spiced with cinnamon and cardamom, caramel-ised with jaggery and topped with cashew and coconut.

Labangi Star-shaped sweet pinned with a clove.

Pakhala Odishas signature dish of cooked rice mixed with water, often allowed to ferment overnight.

Rasabali Similar to rasmalai and believed to have originated in the Baladevjew Temple in Kendrapara, the deep-fried chhena balls are inundated in sweet, thickened milk flavoured with cardamom.

Rasgulla The classic sweet has a slight orange tinge in Odisha and is best enjoyed at Pahala there is a stretch of 4050 shops between Cuttack and Bhubaneswar, which can be visited.

Rasmalai A spongy chhena cake dunked in saffron-infused sweetened milk, with a topping of almonds; best enjoyed at Brahmapur in Ganjam district, Baleshwar and Baripada in Mayurbhanj district.

Saaga Moonga Green gram dal cooked with green leafy vegetables.

Santula Finely-chopped vegetables sau-ted with garlic, chilli, mustard and spices.

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Himachal Pradesh: A Gem Called Garli http://www.outlookindia.com/outlooktraveller/destinations/himachal-pradesh-gem-called-garli/ http://www.outlookindia.com/outlooktraveller/destinations/himachal-pradesh-gem-called-garli/ 2017-10-30T12:38:00+05:30 article Located in the heart of Kangra valley, this charming little village is waiting to be discovered Not far from the Dhauladhar range in the Kangra valley, lies a hamlet that is a treasure trove of heritage buildings. Garli is a delightful destination for anyone looking to getaway from Delhi over a long weekend or simply to explore Himachal Pradeshs countryside. The former bastion of the Sud clan, prosperous timber merchants who built grand homes here in the early 20th century, Garli and near by Pragpur have been designated heritage zones by the Ministry of Tourism, HP.

Garli was a pioneering village in the late 1800s and early 1900s. Its founding fathers built educational institutions for boys and girls, a womens hospital, a veterinary hospital as well as infrastructure for sanitation and waterworks.

A walk around Garli is like stepping back in time. Armed with a handy map that details the sights of interest, wander down cool alleys and lanes flanked by thick foliage to discover decrepit two-storied mansions. Even in their state of disrepair it is obvious that they must have been glorious in their day. The Suds travelled extensively during the British Raj, which exposed them to various cultures. From Portuguese and Italian to Islamic and Rajasthani, these heritage homes showcase an amalgamation of architectural styles that will capture anyone with an appreciation for history and art. If houses could speak, these structures would have fascinating tales to tell. Apart from the gabled roofs with slate shingles, which are common to all, the builders of these homes tried to outdo each other. Keep an eye out for unique features like two sentries standing guard on either end of the roof in one house to rose and jharokha windows in others. One structure has elegant brick jaali work. Sadly, most are abandoned, locked up or have caretakers living in them their owners having moved away for better jobs. Fortunately, this is slowly changing. The descendants of those who built these homes are returning to their ancestors village and discovering the potential it holds.

One such person is Yatish Sud, the owner of Chateau Garli, a heritage property now being run as a hotel. Restoring the mansion built by his great grandfather in 1921 was a joint effort undertaken by Yatish, and his children Amish and Tarini. They retained the essence of the original structure, only adding modern amenities to suit travellers of today. They also built a new wing that overlooks the swimming pool. Prepare to be dazzled by the striking red, blue, green and yellow windowpanes in this building, which create a dramatic effect once the sun sets and the lights come on indoors. It reminded me of a grand cathedral with stained-glass windows.

The old house is a treasure trove of items from a bygone era. A gramophone and large wooden radio in the living room brought back memories of my grandfathers home. Dont forget to look up as you explore the interiors or youll miss the beautiful blue and red Belgian chandeliers hanging from the ceiling. A large copper platter, known as Chamba thal, adorns one wall. It depicts the 10 avatars of Lord Vishnu and was used during religious and cultural ceremonies. A cabinet in a corner contains a set of ivory handled knives engraved with Yatishs great grandfathers initials. Notice the door handles in the dining room theyre shaped like peacocks. Pop into the reception to see the organ and a telephone that looks more like an old accounting machine. Out in the verandah sit a huge hammam that was used to heat water and a food smoker cum heater made from solid Burma teak, along with various other knick-knacks from the past.

If you truly want to experience Himachali cuisine then request the kitchen at Chateau Garli to prepare a dham for you. Dishes with flavours ranging from spicy and sweet to sour and tangy unite on a thali ensuring that you will enjoy every bite. This is also the place to binge on fresh fish. If youve been consuming frozen or a day-old fish for years, youll be able to tell the difference right away.

Further down the road from Chateau Garli, lies Naurang Yatri Niwas. This striking brick edifice was built in 1922 to serve as a sarai (inn) for travellers. As with several buildings in Garli it fell into neglect after a couple of decades. Thankfully Atul, the grandson of the original owner, and his wife Ira decided to restore it a few years ago. It recently opened its doors to visitors. A wide corridor at the entrance leads onto a sunny central courtyard, around which lie the rooms and common areas. They have taken great pains to ensure everything is spick and span. The rooms are simple yet tastefully furnished and the lounge and dining rooms are comfortable and inviting. The Rang outdoor caf adjoining the inn, also run by them, is the perfect place to spend an evening under the stars.

Ira has also been instrumental in reviving the tradition of patchwork in Garli. Shes taught a group of local women the art and together they create bedcovers, table runners and cushion covers, etc., with patchwork. These items are sold in the local crafts shop on the premises of Naurang Yatri Niwas, as well as in exhibitions in Delhi.

A visit to Garli would be incomplete without a day trip to the Kangra Fort and Masroor rock-cut temple. The former is the most magnificent fort I have ever seen. Built atop a hill with a sweeping view of the valley, its no wonder that this fort was a much sought after conquest by invaders and other northern kingdoms within the subcontinent. Built around 1500 BCE (when the Bronze Age Civilisation was at it's peak) by one of the Katoch kings, it is one of Indias oldest forts. Opt for an audio guide during your tour of the fort. Produced by Narrowcasters and narrated by Roshan Seth, whom you may recall was nominated for an Oscar for his role in the film Gandhi, it brings the history of the fort and its inhabitants to life as you walk along the ramparts and explore the ruins. While a good portion of the fort was destroyed in 1905 during an earthquake, luckily one intricately carved wall of the Laxmi Narayan temple within the complex escaped destruction. Remember to wear a cap or hat especially in summer as the sun gets very sharp by mid morning.

It is hard to describe in words the feelings of awe the Masroor rock cut temple evoked in me the first time I saw it. Dated to the 6th 8th centuries, this series of temples were carved out of huge rocks in the classical Indian architectural style featuring shikharas (towers). Exquisite carvings on the towers and lintels depict gods and goddesses. A large pool in front of the complex reflects the temples, reminiscent of Angkor Wat in Cambodia. Unfortunately several parts of the complex were destroyed in the earthquake of 1905.

Back in Garli, dont miss out on a night safari. A reserve forest near by is home to several animals including leopard and wild boar. Even if you don't see anything, driving around in forested hills in the dead of night, never knowing what might appear around the next bend will set your pulse racing. If youre lucky you might just spot smaller animals in the village. I saw a civet cat walking along a wall one evening! Another thrilling activity is a Beas safari. If the riverbed is dry then your tour guide may just take you for a bumpy drive on it, else picnic on the banks and enjoy a beautiful sunset.

I would have happily spent a few more days in Garli, enjoying the clean air and quite village life. But as the saying goes, all good things must come to an end. I promised myself that Id return in the near future.

The Information

Getting there

Indigo, Spice Jet, Jet Airways and Vistara fly to Chandigarh, which is 3.5 to 4 hours away from Garli by road. Alternately take the Kalka Shatabdi till Chandigarh and then carry on by road.

Getting around

There is a taxi service run by Rakesh Rana, a resident of Garli. Prior booking is recommended. Rakesh can be contacted at +91 9816363598.

What to see & do

Garli is home to several heritage buildings. Start early in the morning as it can get very hot later in the day. If youre feeling peckish, check out the local bakery, which offers fresh buns around 7.30am.

The Kangra Fort is 47km away and can easily be covered in a day trip.

The spectacular Masroor rock cut temple complex lies 57km from Garli.

For more information, please see:

www.garli.in;www.chateaugarli.com

 

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Peru: Mistura Food Festival 2017 https://www.outlookindia.com/outlooktraveller/wp-content/uploads/2017/10/Peru.jpg http://www.outlookindia.com/outlooktraveller/cuisine/peru-mistura-food-festival-2017/ http://www.outlookindia.com/outlooktraveller/cuisine/peru-mistura-food-festival-2017/ 2017-10-27T16:34:26+05:30 article This foodie fest promises the best of Peruvian culture through its scrumptious delicacies If you think you're a foodie with an ever-growing appetite to know more and eat more, and happen to be anywhere near Lima, Peru between October 26to November 52017, please take note. The 10thedition of the Mistura Food Festival promises to be epic!

A festival celebrating themisturaor mixture of cuisines, this foodie fest promises the best of Peruvian culture through its scrumptious delicacies, and is definitely one for the bucket list. With over 70 food trucks, 50 restaurants and innumerable dishesfrom around the world, this gastronomic fair even has sections dedicated to individual meats and ingredients.Over 5,00,000 foodies from around the globe are expected to assemble together and partake in the festivities of the Mistura festival while awakening their taste buds to best of Peruvian flavors of the season.

Opening their hearts and gates to countries beyond Latin America, Lima also hosted Indian culinary chefs and their dishes at their event last year (you can check out celebrity Chef Vicky Ratnani's webisodes - Vicky the Gastronaut: Peru). If youre in South America on these dates or are planning a trip, dont miss out on this opportunity to truly spoil yourself silly! Head over to Lima for a gastronomic experience that you will remember for a lifetime.

When:October 26th -November 5th, 2017

Where:Club Revolver, Rimac District, Lima

Catch a glimpse:

For more information, check outwww.mistura.pe

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Lens Art by Rathika Ramaswamy https://www.outlookindia.com/outlooktraveller/wp-content/uploads/2017/10/Feature-Image.jpg http://www.outlookindia.com/outlooktraveller/destinations/lens-art-rathika-ramaswamy/ http://www.outlookindia.com/outlooktraveller/destinations/lens-art-rathika-ramaswamy/ 2017-10-27T13:00:08+05:30 article Telling stories through her pictures Rathika Ramaswamy is one of Indias most famous wildlife photographers. After studying and honing her skills in national parks in India, she took up the challenge on a professional front. She is most passionate about bird photography and has developed her own style of combining a captivating story with technical brilliance. Her work has been much appreciated and shes served as a jury member for many photography competitions.

You can see more of Rathikas work on her website.

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Quirky Bali https://www.outlookindia.com/outlooktraveller/wp-content/uploads/2017/10/Featured-image-1.jpg http://www.outlookindia.com/outlooktraveller/destinations/quirky-bali/ http://www.outlookindia.com/outlooktraveller/destinations/quirky-bali/ 2017-10-26T15:13:18+05:30 article Visiting a 'boneyard' or witnessing mass kissing probably isn't on your Bali wish-list. We suggest you add them now! Lush green fields, pristine beaches, temples, volcanic mountains, culture-rich streets... these things come to mind when we speak of Bali. But what if we tell you that 'pretty holidays' are pass and quirky is in? From boneyards (literally) to kissing strangers to a bat cave (no relationto Gotham city whatsoever), this list on how to explore Bali is for the curious minded.

Trunyan Village

This village, located on the remote eastern shores of Lake Batur, is home to the Bali Aga people who are known for their unique 'burial' rites. They don't cremate their deceased. Instead, they are laid out within the village grounds, with only bamboo canopies to cover them. Strangely enough, there is no putrid stench. This is because the bodies are placed in close proximity to a huge Taru Menyan tree (taru meaning 'tree'; Menyan meaning 'nice smelling'). This large banyan tree produces a sweet fragrance that masks the stench completely. The ritual is allowed only for married people. Unmarried ones get a normal burial! It is, however strange, also true that this village is quite popular among tourists. Trunyan is accessible by boat.

Pura Paluang Car Temple, Nusa Penida Island
Somewhere in this world is a temple with a main shrine built in the shape of a Volkswagen car. Yes, it is Pura Paluang Car Temple in Karang Dawa village, Nusa Penida island. The villagers claim that the temple has been there for centuriesdefinitely way before any cars were invented! If the locals are to be believed, the goddess Ratu Hyang Mami comes to visit the village with blessings of wealth and prosperity. And that's when the sound of a car can be heard.

Balinese New Year

Balinese New Year or Nyapi, as it is known locally, is the festival of silence. On this day (March 17), complete silence is observed from 6am until 6am the next morning. The streets are deserted and even daily routine comes to a standstill as everybody observes a day of silence, meditation and fasting. Only the Pecalang (traditional security men) are seen outdoors. This complete silence is intriguing, but what makes it so are the rituals that takes place before and after Nyapi. Several days prior to the D-Day, the Balinese Hindus go through a purification ritual and ceremony called Melasti. It takes place near water sources (ocean, rivers, lakes, pond) as after purification all bad karmas are thrown into the water. And on the eve of Nyapi, each and every street turns into a riot of colours and revelry as Ngrupuk parade or Monster Parade takes place. On this day, Ogoh-Ogoh, statues of monsters, are built and paraded around as a symbol of purification of the natural and spiritual environment. This very loud ceremony ends in burning of the statues which symbolises self-purification. And the next day, dead silence.

Balinese youths take New Year very seriously and for a befitting reason too. Omed-Omedan or The Kissing Ritual takes place the day after Nyapi. This ceremony is performed by unmarried youths (ages ranging from 17-30 years old). The ritual requires male participants to pull the female participants and kiss them while the villagers pour cold water on them. Well, certainly a fail-safe way to end a kiss.

Bat Cave Temple of Goa Laweh, Klungkung
Also known as Bali Bat Temple, this is one of Bali's most important temples. The temple dates back to the 11th century. The star attraction being hordes of nectar bats chirping around and behind the cave opening, this place with high pitch din used to be a place for meditation.

Balinese Street Food

You can never really know a place if you don't try their street food. Some are locally inspired, some globally and most of them are pleasing to our taste buds. And then there are some that are purely an acquired taste. You are in Bali and you are taking a morning stroll in the local market when you come across the highly divisive fruitdurian. This most hated fruit globally is the most loved in Indonesia. Notorious for its odour, durian is often kept at a distance. But you never know, if you can get past the smell, you might actually like the fruit. Trying will be an experience in itself. Bali's traditional salad is lawarone kind consist of fruits and vegetables; the other raw pork and blood. Kakul or freshwater snails can be had in soups, salads or skewered. High-protein snack of ancruk (sago worms) and lawar nyawan (bee larvae salad) are worth a try.

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Kerala: Responsible Tourism Mission https://www.outlookindia.com/outlooktraveller/wp-content/uploads/2017/10/Kerala-RT.jpg http://www.outlookindia.com/outlooktraveller/destinations/kerala-responsible-tourism-mission/ http://www.outlookindia.com/outlooktraveller/destinations/kerala-responsible-tourism-mission/ 2017-10-25T15:51:51+05:30 article Kerala has officially launched Responsible Tourism Mission and aims at expanding across the state Adding another feather to its cap, Kerala Tourism has just launched Responsible Tourism Mission, to be practiced across the state. According to this new project, all tourism destinations in Kerala will focus on being people-friendly, local community-friendly and environment-friendly. New tourist destinations will be added which will automatically help in the mission's expansion. As of now, the project is being carried out in Kumarakom, Thekkady, Vythiri, Ambalavayal, Kumbalangi, Bakel and Kovalam. The mission aims at ensuring rural development, employment opportunities, women empowerment, public participation in tourism and waste management.

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Outlook Traveller Boutique Hotel Awards 2017 https://www.outlookindia.com/outlooktraveller/wp-content/uploads/2017/10/BHA-featured3.jpg http://www.outlookindia.com/outlooktraveller/destinations/outlook-traveller-boutique-hotel-awards-2017/ http://www.outlookindia.com/outlooktraveller/destinations/outlook-traveller-boutique-hotel-awards-2017/ 2017-10-25T14:52:39+05:30 article The best properties from all over the country were honoured for their excellence at the event The Aaliya Resort lawns, on the banks of the Ganges in Haridwar, was beautifully decked up. Dim yellow lights,alovely tent in different shades of pink, lamps lit around the swimming pool, a food arena with cloches and cutlery,anopen bar with unopened bottles lying in wait and the big white stage; everything was perfectly set for a gala evening at the Outlook Traveller Boutique Hotel Awards onOctober 23.

Held for the second consecutive year, the awards are a one-of-its-kind initiative to honour Indias luxury boutique hotels for their unique excellence. This year, the Outlook Traveller Boutique Hotel Awards was presented by Uttarakhand Tourism. Diageo was the celebrations partner for the event and Aaliya Resort the hospitality partner.

The beautiful state of Uttarakhand is rich in flora and fauna. The biodiversity it offers, makes it a must-visit destination for tourists from all over the world. One can fall in love with wildlife at the various National Parks in the state. Head to Jim Corbett to spot tigers in the wild, the oldest national park in the country. For the adventure seekers, theres always sporting activities like whitewater rafting, paragliding, hang gliding and even skiing in different regions of the state. For natural beauty lovers, trek to the Valley of Flowers for an outstanding view of blooming flora. Uttarakhand also has beautiful hill stations like Mussoorie and Nainital, which are great weekend getaways for a group offriends and families. For the religious-minded, the state has various pilgrimage sites such as Kedarnath, Haridwar and Badrinath which are extremely popular among tourists. Uttarakhand also has various fairs and festivals, the most recent addition being the annual International Yoga festival. Overall, Uttarakhand is a great tourist destination which offers activities for every kind of traveller.

As the invitees started streaming in for the eagerly-anticipated event, new friendships were formed and old friends caught up after ages. The chief guest for the night was Satpal Maharaj, Uttarakhands Tourism, Irrigation and Culture minister. As he along with his family made his way to thetent, the evening began with a musical performance by Impulse which was greatly enjoyed. Their music, inspired from Indian classical and Sufi traditions, is widely acclaimed.

A five-member jury, after much deliberation, had decided on the winners from among the nominees in each of the categories. The members of the esteemed jury were Hari Nair (Founder & CEO,HolidayIQ.com), Shravan Gupta (Executive director- Leisure businesses, FCM Travel Solutions India), Kapil Goswami (Managing Director, Big Breaks), freelance author and journalist Charukesi Ramadurai, and the husband-wife travel writer duo Anurag Mallick and Priya Ganapathy.

The tourism minister spoke about what the beautiful state of Uttarakhand had to offer tourists-adventure sports, wildlife, culture, heritage, unique experiences which cant be found in other states along with the challenges they face and the plans to overcome them, to much applause.

As guests enjoyed the delicious local food of the region on offer, catered by the host resort,the main awards ceremony began. It began withRoseate Housein Aerocity winning theBest City Hotelaward. Its a popular watering hole for NCR citizens and an epitome of contemporary design in this great urban landscape.

ZuriKumarakomwas awarded theBest Resort. Its strategic setting on the embankments of Lake Vembanad, classy accommodation, tempting gourmet meals and the iconic Kerala backwaters a stones throw away, are the many allurements that make them a popular choice for countless travellers exploring Gods Own Country.

With a seamless fusion of modern-day designs and patterns and intricate architectural carvings in the iconic Haveli-style of the 18th century, theRaas Jodhpurhas bridged the ancient and the modern with remarkable ease. No wonder it was awarded theBest Designedhotel.

Skyvilla, Beyond by Sulais set in the wine country of Maharashtra and the lovely lake-view retreat set amidst the hilly environs of Nashik, won forBest Private Villa.

Responsible Tourism is a major focus for Outlook Traveller and keeping in mind eco-friendliness, the charmingDune Elephant Valleyorganic farm and plantation, set upon an ancient elephant migration route in the Western Ghats, won theBest Responsible Hotelaward.

TheBest Beach Propertywent to theLalit Resort & Spa, Bekal-a gorgeous luxury beach retreat sprawling over 26 acres of virgin land in Kerala whileMosaic, Mussooriewas adjudged theBest Hills Propertyfor its countless quaint charms.

For romantics, theres nothing better than to experience nature in gorgeous wooden cottages offering forest and waterfall views. No wonder theBest Romantic Hotelwas awarded toWildernest, Goa.

Taj Faluknama, a stunning palace of the Hyderabadi Nizams which has now been transformed into a splendid luxury hotel, wonBest Hotel for Honeymooners.

Standing cheek by jowl by the Kiplingesque Pench National Park,Jamtara Wilderness Campoffers guests a delightful eco-friendly experience of one of the loveliest wilderness spaces in India. No wonder it was the top choice forBest Wildlife Lodge.

TheWelcomHeritage Ferrnhills Royale Palacehas been familiar with the business of providing private spaces of luxury and comfort for long. Thus, theBest Suiteaward couldn't have gone to anyone better.

Hosts play a major part in a guest experience. The charming, knowledgeable and attentiveHemendra Singhensures guests have a wonderful time at Bhainsrorgarh Fort. It was so surprise he was awarded theBest Host.

Tijara Fort-Palacewas the wining fortress hotel from the Neemrana chain with its hallmark hospitality and fabulous atmospherics forBest Destination Hotel.

The iconic and elegantWelcomHotel The Savoyopened its doors in 1902 and is today one of the top choices in Mussoorie. It wasawarded theBest Heritage Hotel.

The lovely sea-facing villas ofCoco Shambhalain the robust environs of the old fortress of Sindhudurg on the Konkan Coast won forBest Debut Hotel.

TheChampakali, with its lovely twin villas in Old Goa near the Mandovi River delta, won forBest Guest Experience.

Boats are a wonderful way to experience a holiday. The award for theBest Boutique Boatwent toSukoon, the luxury houseboat, where one can be pampered and make memories that last a lifetime.

TheJawai Leopard Campwith 9 luxurious tents, including one royal suite, was adjudged theBest Boutique Camp.

The last winner of the evening was selected among all the nominations for theFinest Boutique Hoteland it went toAlila Fort, a unique heritage experience with no compromise on hospitality. Over 230 years old, the warrior fortress in its restored avatar, with 59 luxury suites, all supplied with modern conveniences, is a stunning testimony to traditional Rajput hospitality and rugged charm.

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Uttarakhand: Bhuli Art https://www.outlookindia.com/outlooktraveller/wp-content/uploads/2017/10/bhuli-featured.jpg http://www.outlookindia.com/outlooktraveller/destinations/uttarakhand-bhuli-art/ http://www.outlookindia.com/outlooktraveller/destinations/uttarakhand-bhuli-art/ 2017-10-25T13:39:23+05:30 article Unveiling Uttarakhand, one Bhuli sketch at a time Two childhood friends from Uttarakhand are on a mission to revive its cultural tradition, arts and cuisine. Tanya Kotnala- a fashion designer who worked with the Ministry of Minority Affairs in Assam, Meghalaya & Sikkim founded Bhuli Art. She was soon joined by Tanya Singh- a freelance nutritionist who recently undertook a project in Bihar with UNICEF. Bhuli means little sister in Garhwali dialect. In an interview with Garima Pura, they walk us through their inspiration behind each of the featured art works.

Weavers of Bhotiya

Bhotiyas are a community of shephards and farmers found in the Garhwali regions of Uttarakhand. They weave shawls, blankets, carpets and occasionally adorn them with embroidery. Its a skill passed on over generations. Chiyas mother used to hum a tune as she drew thread after thread, recalls Tanya Kotnala. It was my first encounter with a frame on which yarn is woven. Her mother had arranged each thread of wool with meticulous precision. The meditative tune allowed her to concentrate on her design. She took her time and carefully chose the colour of the next yarn thread that would go on the frame.

Today in sketchbook Traditional costume of the Bhotiya women (reimagined) . . . #illustration #illustrator #drawing #draw #sketch #sketchaday #bhuli_art #doodle #drawing

A post shared by ???? - Bhuli (@bhuli.art) on Jul 14, 2017 at 8:15pm PDT

 

The Promised Pichaura

Women, who dwell in the kamauni region of Uttarakhand, hold the Pichaura dupatta in great regard. Pichaurais partof eachand everypahadigirl's traditional wedding, confides Tanya Kotnala. A variety of motifs feature on a saffron-mustard background in deep red. It is traditionally coloured in vegetable dye. Even though a quintessential Pichaura simply dons red dots, the motifs range from swastikas to regular scenes from a village. It is considered auspicious for the bride. Pichaura is known to symbolize prosperity, fertility and a successful married life for married women.

Seen in the Himalayan foothills... Pahadi bride and relative. Traditional Pichora + Nathuli + Gulbandh Painted postcards . . . #art #paint #painting #handmade #illustration #doodle #instaartwork #craft #fashionillustration #instaartoftheday #mixedmediaart #sketching #watercolor #bhuli #sketch #sketchaday #handmade #draw #drawing #illustrators #artistoninstagram #artist #india #art #arte #artist #paint #artistsofinstagram #sketching #sketchbook #bhuli.art #waterblog #womenwithpencils

A post shared by ???? - Bhuli (@bhuli.art) on Aug 21, 2017 at 7:03pm PDT

 

Is Magenta edible?

We were on our way toNagthat(Jaunsar region of Garhwal) and noticed magenta fields on either side. To know that anything edible could be magenta in colour was amusement enough for us children then, shares Tanya Singh. Amarnath seeds, locally known as chulai are grown by Jaunsari tribe and preserved from September onwards for the forthcoming winter. As children, we did all we could to escape eating vegetables but this pink dish served to us got us excited, and well, hungry. The next morning, its seeds were served to us as breakfast cereals with milk. I am still quite astonished at the value of this one plant, she says. Amarnath, one of worlds oldest crops is recommended by World Health Organisation. It has been categorized as a superfood too.

2. Amaranth Seeds (Chaulai) . National Nutrition Week is celebrated each year from 1st September to the 7th September to educate and inform the people about food choices, sound eating and physical activity habits. Bhuli celebrates this week by sharing with you the local cuisines of Uttarakhand. We strongly encourage people to eat produce which is locally grown because of many reasons, - benefits the local economy - promotes food safety - more variety to choose from - local seasonal which means no artificial ripening. We will be sharing a series of 7 locally grown crops with a recipe. So get ready to enjoy the taste of eating right!! . . . . . #illustration #illustrator #drawing #draw #sketch #sketchaday #bhuli.art #bhuli #food #sketchpens #travel #organic #healthyfood #NationalNutritionWeek #art #arte #artist #artistsofinstagram #sketching #sketchbook #instagood #instamood #instadaily #traditional #culture #women #nutrition #india #rural #desserts

A post shared by ???? - Bhuli (@bhuli.art) on Sep 1, 2017 at 8:09pm PDT

 

Grandmas Mango Chutney

Grandmas hand moved in a rhythm on the sil-batta (pestle and mortar) as she ground mint leaves that would eventually go into the preparation of mango chutney, reminisces Tanya Singh. She woke up with the rising sun and collected all the ingredients near her sil-batta. She patiently plucked the garlic cloves and peeled their skin off. She had a katori (vessel) by her side. It was her standard tool of measurement. The grounding of masalas in the sil-batta woke us up! We rushed to the court-yard, fully aware of what was cooking. She greeted us with a warm smile, dug her finger into the chutney and placed it in our mouths. She was always up for a genuine feedback! With time, the sil-batta got replaced by the electric mixer-grinder and she grew too old to make the chutney for us.

Mango chutney #foodjournal . Ingredients Raw mango- 1 Green chilies- 2 (can be altered as per taste) Coriander leaves- 100g Mint leaves- 100g Garlic cloves- 2 to 3 Salt- To taste Sugar- a pinch Method: 1. Wash and peel the raw mango and dice it to pieces. 2. Wash the coriander leaves, mint leaves and green chillies. Chop them coarsely. 3. Peel off the garlic cloves and all the ingredients together in a blender. 4. Blend it to make a smooth paste. Add some water if required. 5. Enjoy as a dip with snacks or an accompaniment with your food. *If you have a Sil Batta, use it, as it makes the chutney more delicious. . . . . .. #art #arte #artistsofinstagram #illustrator #bhuli #sketchpens #travel #illustration #doodle #instaartwork #instaartoftheday #sketching #draw #drawing #illustrators #artistoninstagram #artist #india #instadaily #bhuli #womenrights #food #foodporn #yummy #indiankitchen #mango #health #chutney #food #yummy

A post shared by ???? - Bhuli (@bhuli.art) on Sep 22, 2017 at 8:30pm PDT

 

This compilation of textiles, crafts and foods of Uttarakhand should come handy; for when you next visit the state, be a traveller, not a tourist

For more on responsible tourism, log on to responsibletourismindia.com

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First Look: Philtre Bistro, Gurgaon https://www.outlookindia.com/outlooktraveller/wp-content/uploads/2017/10/Philtre.jpg http://www.outlookindia.com/outlooktraveller/cuisine/first-look-philtre-bistro-gurgaon/ http://www.outlookindia.com/outlooktraveller/cuisine/first-look-philtre-bistro-gurgaon/ 2017-10-24T14:15:06+05:30 article Head to this brand new pub in Gurgaon for some great cocktails and food Ifcomfort food withsome nice drinks is what makes your weekends then you might want to check out this new kid on the block. Located in Sector 29 Gurgaon, Philtre Bistro. With space spanning over two floors including a lovely terrace, theinteriors are mix of French and Greek style with plenty of wood. The food menu, designed by award winning chef Gaurav Raghuvanshi, is familiar, with special focus on Indian cuisine with a global twist. The menu will not leave vegetarians disappointed leaving them with a variety of choices. The bar menu deserves special attention. Mixologist, Aman Dua, has put together aheadylist of beverages. Even the cutlery is specially designed towork like an extension of the menu. For example, since the drinks are inspired froma timewhen therewere no glasses, serveware is made from terracotta/ ceramics, aluminum and brass metal mix. The bistro also boasts of a brewery designed by the well known beer-man of NCR, Ishan Grover.

Meal for two: 1200 plus taxes Address: SCO 40, 1st Floor & Terrace, Sector 29, Gurgaon Timings: Today 12 Noon to 1 AM For reservations: 95993 83708, 95993 83707

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New Terminal at Changi Airport https://www.outlookindia.com/outlooktraveller/wp-content/uploads/2017/10/T4-facade-Changi-Airport.jpg http://www.outlookindia.com/outlooktraveller/destinations/new-terminal-changi-airport/ http://www.outlookindia.com/outlooktraveller/destinations/new-terminal-changi-airport/ 2017-10-24T13:14:39+05:30 article Here's all you need to know about Changi's brand new terminal T4 The new terminal (T4) at the Changi Airport is scheduled to commence operations fromOctober 31and boy is it swanky. Passengers will enjoy a visual and theatrical experience with specially curated art and entertainment features. Not only will T4 add to the capacity of 16 million passengers per annum at the Changi Airport, nine airlines will operate from the terminal. With over 800 flights scheduled in a week, T4 will serve an estimated eight million passengers per annum. T4 is beautifully designed with petal motifs and has ceiling skylights.

Heres a quick look at some of the features Terminal 4 will offer:

The gross floor area of the terminal is 225,000 sqm or about 27 football fields!

Handling capacity of 16 million passengers per annum

Nine airlines will operate: the Air Asia Group (four airlines), Cathay Pacific, Cebu Pacific, Korean Air, Spring Airlines and Vietnam Airlines.

Check in counters will be a mix of conventional and automated. Facial recognition system will be prevalent in the automated counters

46 automated boarding gates equipped with facial recognition system

Over 16000 sqm of space for retail and F&B outlets!

5400 bags will be handled in an hour thanks to 7 arrival belts and 9 departure racetracks

More than 340 species of plants across the terminal with over 16000 plants on the external facade!

At the heart of T4 is a grand-scale kinetic sculpture, Petalclouds, spanning 200 metres of the Central Galleria.

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Dubai: Go for the international spread to Kaleidoscope at Atlantis, The Palm https://www.outlookindia.com/outlooktraveller/wp-content/uploads/2017/10/Atlantis-Dubai.jpg http://www.outlookindia.com/outlooktraveller/hotels/dubai-go-international-spread-kaleidoscope-atlantis-palm/ http://www.outlookindia.com/outlooktraveller/hotels/dubai-go-international-spread-kaleidoscope-atlantis-palm/ 2017-10-23T17:34:51+05:30 article The all-day dining address is offering a variety of country-themed spreads for dinner Atlantis, The Palmone of Dubais most popular addresseshas relaunched its all-day dining restaurant, Kaleidoscope. The newly done-up interiors are in keeping with the namea neutral colour palate, marble tiled flooring, the pillars, colourful furniture, give the place a friendly yet polished look. The smart live cooking and food stations have also been done up with marble and copper. The covered outdoor terrace provides stunning views over the Royal Pool and The Palm, providing the perfect background to capture memories with family and friends. Kaleidoscope, specialises in North African, Mediterranean and Arabic cuisines, with strong influence from Greece, Malta and the Levant region. The menu features a collection of global cuisine, with theme nights to spice up the dining experience.
On Sundays, guests can grab a sombrero and spice up their life with Hola Mexico night, featuring Mexican favourites from traditional chilli con carne to the fresh flavour of chicken quesadillas. AED 200 per person.
For a delectable Indian spread, both from the north and the south,Mondaynights will feature Indian Heat. AED 210 per person, including soft drinks and water.
Tuesdayis the day for A Taste of Persia, consisting of an elaborate spread, including long grain rice, kebabs and kachi. AED 215 per person, including soft drinks and water.
Buenvenuto Italiaon Wednesdayis your chance to sample traditional Italian cooking from freshly made pizzas, pastas and risotto. AED 200 per person.
Kaleidoscope presents the Marhaba Arabic night on Thursdays, serving authentic Arabian recipes from traditional mezzeh to tender meat, grilled favourites and special recipes. AED 200 per person.
The weekends double up the fun with a mix of global cuisine, including Indian, Mediterranean and Arabic cuisines. AED 215 per person, including unlimited soft drinks and water.
AED 170 per person food only on weekdays.
Breakfast is served from7am- 11am(11:30amon weekends); lunch is served from12:30pm-4pm(5pmon weekends); and dinner is served daily from6pm - 11pm.
For reservations, call + 971 4 426 0800 or visitwww.atlantisthepalm.com/restaurants/kaleidoscope.
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Uttrakhand: Safari at Corbett National Park https://www.outlookindia.com/outlooktraveller/wp-content/uploads/2017/10/featured-7.jpg http://www.outlookindia.com/outlooktraveller/destinations/uttrakhand-safari-corbett-national-park/ http://www.outlookindia.com/outlooktraveller/destinations/uttrakhand-safari-corbett-national-park/ 2017-10-23T17:26:21+05:30 article Not spotting a tiger can turn out to be good thing when you're on a safari in Corbett As I take the winding road from my villa at the Golden Tusk Resort to the reception area, a classroom of birds erupts noisily. At six a.m. the sound, unlike the schoolkid variety, is not altogether undesirable. It helps rid me of residual drowsiness.

I climb into a waiting Gypsy and the guide, Suresh, tells me were going to spot much more than just the tigers of Corbett National Park. Youll see the tigers if they want to be seen, he says. But keep your eyes open. Its natural for people to expect to see tigers on their first safari but you need to remember that youre simply a guest in pure animal territory.

The Park is divided intosix eco-tourism sections. The resort is a stones throw away from the Jhirna zonelocated at the southern edge of the national park, open through the year. As our IDs are verified at the guard post, I rent a pair of binoculars for the ride.

The Gypsy enters Jhirna and veers off the asphalt road into jungle territory, Suresh shouts for the driver to stop. He points to a massive tree. Perched on a high branch is a changeable hawk-eagle pecking away at a smaller bird gripped in its talons. Through the binocular lens, I stare directly at him breakfasting and never once does he break eye-contact.

Our jeep enters the tall grass and birds of startling variety and colours fly out of the green. Chestnut-headedbee-eaters, oriental magpie-robins, scaly-breasted munias, yellow-bellied prinias and pied bush chats weave their way over us as we drive on. A long-tailed shrike sits pompously on a high branch staring at us and then dives into the tall grass. We enter a clearing where a safari the previous day had spotted a tigress and her cubs.

The Gypsy comes to a halt and Suresh is examining the ground. Fresh pug marks, he says. I notice the mud is damp implying a tiger had walked past a few hours ago. I scan the area with my binoculars but theres nothing to be seen except for the head of a deer that disappears before I could even be sure it was there.

We drive on and reach a four-storied watchtower. The view from the top is that of a painting where the clouds of dawn are slowly lifting, displaying Corbett in all its lush beauty. Straight ahead, at a distance of about eight hundred metres, two elephants are feasting in the tall grass. They look like black rocks with eyes and even through the lens, their size helps puts things in perspective.

From the watchtower we drive to a dry riverbed. The long-winding trench has a group of monkeys on the other side looking suspiciously at us. This seems to be a common waiting area for safaris, and sight-seers whip out their camera phones to click photographs of themselves. Their laughter and conversation driving even the smallest animals away and Im happy when its time for our Gypsy to depart. The beauty of a safari lies in the lull of conversation and the subsequent heightening of the visual sense. The surprises that Mother Nature puts on display here are best enjoyed in silence.

We pass an electrified area housing the forest guard post and I wonder if this could be the most exciting and dangerous job at the same time. A row of eucalyptus trees rise up ahead and we pass an anthill the size of our jeep. The thick foliage allows sunlight to drip through, illuminating rows of wildflower bushes. The sounds deep in the jungle are simply conversations happening overhead and I find myself forgetting about everything else as I explore the region.

As we make our way out of the tall grass and back onto the asphalt road, Suresh asks me if Im disheartened about not seeing a tiger. Im not, I reply. And thats the truth. I realised a Corbett safari isnt a zoo. You get a front-seat view of the jungle and its inhabitants without disrupting their way of life. These animals are lucky enough to be living in their natural habitat while so many of their kind suffer through deforestation all around the world.

As we drive towards the Jhirna exit, a spotted deer darts out a hundred metres ahead of us. It lunges into the tall grass opposite and disappears giving me just enough time to whip out my camera. A tiny Oriental white-eye with its canary yellow plumage follows after it. As I turn back and look out at the vast expanse of the jungle, black shouldered kites circle in the clear sky above. I sit back happy and contended with the Corbett experience. I may not have seen a tiger this time, but I got more than a passing acquaintance with his neighbours. Theres no way Im not coming back here.

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