Outlook Traveller https://www.outlookindia.com/outlooktraveller/ Outlook Traveller en 2018-06-22 05:10:57 Hotel Checkout: Hilton Shillim Estate Retreat and Spa https://www.outlookindia.com/outlooktraveller/wp-content/uploads/2018/06/featured-8.jpg https://www.outlookindia.com/outlooktraveller/hotels/hotel-checkout-hilton-shillim-estate-retreat-spa/ https://www.outlookindia.com/outlooktraveller/hotels/hotel-checkout-hilton-shillim-estate-retreat-spa/ 2018-06-21T19:09:56+05:30 article This eco-retreat nestled in the Sahyadris takes sustainability and wellness to a whole new level Karthikesh, my yoga instructor was trying to help me perfect my Matsyasana, while I on the other hand, was busy savouring an upside-down view of the majestic flat-topped granite hills behind me. I couldnt help it. It was seven in the morning, the surrounding hills were reverberant with the sounds of bird calls and cicadas. Nevertheless, keeping my inability to even touch my toes in mind, Karthikesh was kind enough to teach me some of the easiest yoga routines that would help with my spondilitis.

I was at Hilton Shillim, an eco-wellness retreat located in a remote village called Shillim, enveloped by the stunning Sahyadris hills that run along the west coast of India, one of the worlds hottest bio-diversity hotspots.

It was two brothers whose deep-rooted interest in conservation and education led them to aquire 2,500-acres of these mountainous lands, farm fields, and dense forests. A team of designers, engineers, horticulturalists, and ecologists were employed to help design an ecological retreat keeping in mind how to best conserve, restore, and develop the land. The team chose specific natural landscapes in to construct the suites and villas, the spa, the club, the Institute, the riding centre, and the spiritual retreat. The design and architecture was inspired by the landscape in a way that makes the entire property merge into its natural surroundings. Hill sides were revegetated, thousands of meters of contour trenches were cut through to recharge groundwater levels and cultivate new grasslands and forest.With a nursery that houses over100,000 plants, organic farming practices were alsostarted at the resort in 2004.

By my second day at the resort, I realized the story behind the birth of Hilton Shillim was not just all talk. Everything at the resort is focused towards sustainabilityfrom the organic food that is sourced from their own farm or from local farmers to the natural vegetation of the area that has been left untouched unlike most resorts thatare all about manicured gardens and ornamental plants.

I was assigned one of the 99 well-appointed villas, complete with a view of the hills and a private swimming pool. The day began for me with a beautiful trek up to the Shillim Peak, a gorgeous plateau about half an hour away from the resort. On the way, Prateek, the enthusiastic in-house naturalist bombarded me with names and properties of the flora and fauna of the area. He warned me about encountering snakes but fortunately I did not meet any. I was happy with the fig, almond, mango and a whole lot of other fruit trees that just grow in the wild in Shillim. I even managed spotted a few birds such as the green bee-eater, red-vented bulbul, a couple of jungle fowls and a bunch of noisy babblers with my myopia-ridden eyes.

Most of my meals were at the The Green Table Wellness Restaurant, lead by Chef Shubendhu Kadam, with two decades worth of experience in the food industry. The menu draws inspiration from Ayurveda with a special focus on super foods that detoxify and cleanse the body. Contrary to popular belief that wellness food is bland and boring, the vibrant and aesthetically-plated food presented to me took me quite by surprise. The food was nutritious yet flavourful. The emphasis is on low-calorie content, organic and seasonal produce. Special cooking techniques are used to enhance the flavours without compromising with the natural textures of food.

Post lunch afternoons were reserved at one of the 17 treatment rooms at Hilton Shillim. Mind you, this is not your regular feel-good-for-an hour spa. It is a wellness centre headed by a seasoned health professional, Mr. Arun Pillai that focuses on wholesome and sustainable well-being. They call it the Dharana way of life that encompasses mind, body and spirit. The moment you check-in you are taken through a series of tests that measure your BMI as well as mineral deficiencies and a special programme is designed for you accordingly that includes everything from food to the kind of Ayurvedic treatments you are to opt for during your stay. I was prescribed Shirodhara and Abhyanaga treatments that were expertly delivered by Rumi, an Assamese therapist at the spa. Before leaving, Dr. Pillai along with the nutritionist even gave me a detailed report suggesting the lifestyle changes that I need to make according to my dosha.

Deepak, a lovely boy from a neighbouring village accompanied me around the sprawling resort throughout my stay. He told me about how a few decades ago, the entire area was covered in dense forests and how villagers preferred not to venture out after dark in fear of being attacked by wild animals. Now, however, the surrounding village lands are slowly being taken over by property developers, not all of who unlike the DSouza brothers are very conscious of the ecological impact of constructing luxury villas in the Sahyadris.

 

 

 

 

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5 Easy Day Trips From Hong Kong You Should Go For https://www.outlookindia.com/outlooktraveller/wp-content/uploads/2018/06/Hong-Kong-Victoria-Harbour-1.jpg https://www.outlookindia.com/outlooktraveller/destinations/5-easy-day-trips-from-hong-kong-you-should-go-for/ https://www.outlookindia.com/outlooktraveller/destinations/5-easy-day-trips-from-hong-kong-you-should-go-for/ 2018-06-21T17:13:24+05:30 article When in Hong Kong, break away from the monotony of the city and take these day trips to the neighbouring islands and mainland China When in Hong Kong it is easy to be tied down to the city because there's just so many things to experience. From themeparks, skyscrapers to beautiful harbours, there are sights aplenty to capture one's attention. But when in Hong Kong, do take out time for some of these easy day trips. They are worth your time!

Lantau

Lantau is the largest island in Hong Kong. This island is home to high mountains and indigenous forest, a refreshing change from the busy and crowded cityscape. The island is home to Hong Kong Disneyland with Disney theme park, hotels, shopping, dining and entertainment options. For those interest in heritage, Po Lin Monastery and the 85ft high bronze Tian Tan Buddha statue located in the Ngong Ping plateau.

Macau

Everything about Macau spells holiday and fun. Be it religious festivals, Macao Grand Prix or cultural festivals, Macau is an interesting mix of everything fun. Macau consists of two major culturesChinese and Portuguese. The Lunar Chinese New Year is the most important festival of Macau. In terms of events, Macau Grand Prix draws in a lot of visitors. The same goes for the Macau Arts Festival (March), and International Fireworks Display Contest (September). There are plenty of temples for the religiously inclined travellers.

Mai Po Marshes

This wetland, a restricted area, is a haven for birders and nature lovers. Over 350 species of birds, mammals, insects and repltiles make Mai Po Marshes their home. Resident as well as the migratory birds like black-faced spoonbill together constitute globally significant number of wetland birds.

Guangzhou

One of China's three largest cities, Guangzhou is also China's best commercial mainland city. Located just 120km north-northwest of Hong Kong, the city hosts the annual Canton Fair, China's oldest and largest trade fair. In addition to this, Guangzhou is probably the best place to experience Cantonese goodness, be it cuisine, music or opera. When in Guangzhou, one must pay a visit to the Temple of the Five Immortals, Temple of the Six Banyan Trees (one of the most prominent Buddhist temples in Guangzhou) and Hoi Tong Monastery.

Shenzhen

Shenzhen is the immediate neighbour of Hong Kong Special Administrative Region. When in Shenzhen, don't miss Hongfa Templea popular Buddhist temple, Temple of the Queen of Heaven, China Folk Culture Village, Safari Park in Nanshan, and beautiful city parks. Golfing enthusiasts can head over to Overseas Chinese Town. Satisfy your shopping needs at Sea World.

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Indian Textile Exhibition in Jaipur: June-July 2018 https://www.outlookindia.com/outlooktraveller/wp-content/uploads/2018/06/Screen-Shot-2018-06-01-at-3.06.18-pm-1.png https://www.outlookindia.com/outlooktraveller/destinations/indian-textile-exhibition-jaipur-june-july-2018/ https://www.outlookindia.com/outlooktraveller/destinations/indian-textile-exhibition-jaipur-june-july-2018/ 2018-06-21T11:30:09+05:30 article Jawahar Kala Kendra, Jaipur presents an exhibition which traces an evolution of aesthetics in Indian handmade textiles from the countrys independence In 1947 till now Reflecting on the innovative fields of art, design, fashion and craft, the Jawahar Kala Kendra (a non profit arts and culture centre) in Jaipur launches an exhibition to showcase unparalleled handicraft textiles produced in the Indian subcontinent since 1947!

Curated by Mayank Mansingh Kaul and designed by Reha Sodhi, this exhibition is going to be an out and out celebration of art and culture through the ages. A feast for the culture vulture in you, mark your calendars from 20 June-30 September 2018 to experience the extravagance of the Indian aesthetic- presented throughpaintings on cloth, tapestries, sculpture, carpets and rugs, saris, garments and other forms of creative expression on fabric. Sustaining processes of hand manufacture in textiles through a diversity of skills and technologies, vocabularies of patterns and motifs, or the gaping large scale of production capacities; there has been a consistentlyconstant attempt at metamorphosis in inherited traditions. Commonly mistaken to be rigid and static with regard to its strict rules of production and utility, the Indian handicrafts have always made room for multiplicity.Dynamically influencedby diverse climates ranging from cultural, political, social, economicto scientific stimuli, Indian textiles have been known to accommodate the aforementioned seamlessly into its being.

Seen in the context of the predominant impulses of various periods in India's post-independence trajectories, the textiles are presented through broad themes: The National Movement, Khadi and the effects of the European-colonial encounter in the early to mid 20thcentury; the engagement with International Modernism from the 1950s till today; an intense revival period in village-basedcrafts and textiles beginning with the 1970s which has informed the present ecology of urban design; the negotiation of roles between artisans- craftspeople, designers and artists; a return to historical vocabularies from the 1980s onwards which moulds contemporary fashion and mass consumerism; textiles as a means and metaphor for sculpture; as well as Indian minimalism.

Works of artists and designers likeAndrew Ananda Voogel Aneeth Arora, Amit Aggarwal, Anavila Misra, Ajit Das, Ashdeen Lilaowala, Asif Shaikh, Bashobi Tewari, Berenice Ellena, Bhikari Maharana and many more will be exhibited. Some of the studios, brands and organisations represented include-11:11, Abraham & Thakore, Akaaro, Anokhi, Avani, Bandhej, Himmatsingka Seide, Khamir, Lesage, Malkha Marketing Trust, The National Institute of Design, The Registry of Saris; and many more.

The presented works are additionally drawn from relevant art and textile collections including The Devi Art Foundation, New Delhi; Ms Lekha & Mr Anupam Poddar, New Delhi; Ms Priya Paul, New Delhi; The Museum of Art & Photography, Bangalore and Dr Monisha Ahmed, Mumbai. Contributing galleries include Nature Morte and Art. Motif in New Delhi and Jhaveri Contemporary in Mumbai.

The Information

Venue:Jawahar Kala Kendra, 2, Jawahar Lal Nehru Marg, Jhalana Doongri, Jaipur, Rajasthan 302004

Timings: 11 am to 7 pm

The exhibition will open with a preview between 14 June- 19 June and will be on view daily from 20 June through 30 July2018, with the exception of Mondays and Public Holidays.

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The Mahakal Mandir in Darjeeling https://www.outlookindia.com/outlooktraveller/wp-content/uploads/2018/06/feature-6.jpg https://www.outlookindia.com/outlooktraveller/destinations/mahakal-mandir-darjeeling/ https://www.outlookindia.com/outlooktraveller/destinations/mahakal-mandir-darjeeling/ 2018-06-21T09:31:53+05:30 article There is much more to the queen of hill stations than clock towers, post offices, toy trains and tea. Welcome to the land of pious Dorje-ling. Thunder-storm.

Stop. Take a deep breath. Soak in the view. Feel the purity of the air from this holy space in the queen of hill stations, Darjeeling.

Popularly called 'The Mahakal Mandir', the sanctity of this elevated abode of the Gods fills the air of Darjeeling with purity and peace. Serving as the panopticon, it overlooks as well as looks after this hill station, which has changed consistently over the years. Located at the highest crease of the Mall Road or the Chowrasta(as the locals prefer to call it) the way to the Mandir is roughly around a 15- 20 minute walk uphill (depending on how old your bones feel!). The walk is breathtakingly, and rightly so, beautiful. One can expect to be taken aback by the view of the Kanchenjunga mountains, the smell of wood and bhuttas(charred corn) and overwhelmingly friendly fellow pilgrims- humans and monkeys. On the way to the mandir, it is a common sight to find tourists chatting with the locals, momolasand popolas(grandmothers and grandfathers) pace faster than the youngsters and hear the call of the bells. With railings and bars ringed with prayer flags, brightly hued holy threads and khadas(holy white scarves), it is the vibrancyof this short journey that ceases to leave, though one might have left the destination. Prepare to be greeted by grand gates and entrances, deafening ringing of bells and trance-like rhythmic chants emerging out of every corner.

Darjeeling's colonial heritage has left many in a state of awe. From its architecture, railways, tea gardensto its roads, the impact of colonialism is as tangible as it can get. 'Divide and rule', however, is not something that has been able to sink its teeth into the colourful culture of this hilly town. What one can gather, is the absolute harmony that exists amongst those who revel in this heterogeneity. This is perhaps one of the only places where you can witness a Hindupandit and a Buddhist monk sitting across each other and chanting, within the main temple- the Mahakal Mandir. The sight of this alone is enough to make one feel the presence of something otherworldly. Though it is called the Mahakal Mandir, it really is a complex serving many Gods. What comes as a delightful surprise is how easily the monks and pandits slip into casual conversation with tourists and visitors, telling them stories about the history of this spiritual complex, the legends related to their religion, while also going back into praying for the wellbeing of those who hear these stories. Marked with red, yellow and orange teekas(a holy powder which is applied on the forehead), colourful threads on wrists and savouring the sweet prasad (the religious substance of food used as an offering) from the temples, one tour of the holy hilltop is never enough. The entire complex speaks sanctity as it houses temples of Lord Shiva, Siddhi Sai Baba, Hanuman, Lord Ram; Goddess Kali, Goddess Parvati and many more elaborate idols which demand attention and command power. The temple complex is not the only space atop the hill- there are a few caves and tiny rock-like structures hidden away as one decides to explore the lower parts of the hill. Beware of steep and slippery steps while you step down!

The compelling history of this holy hilltop never goes ignored. The original 'Dorjeling Monastery' was first situated here, before a Sikkimese invasion. Now called the 'Bhutia Busti Monastery', it has been relocated and stands as tall as it was, around 1.5 kilometres from the temple complex. So, plan your visit to Darjeeling and get ready to experience piousness like never before.

Getting there

Vistara, IndiGo, Jet Airways and Air India are some of the few airlines which go to the Bagdogra International Airport.

You can hail a cab at the airport and the journey from Bagdogra to Darjeeling (67 kmsapprox) will take around 2 hours and 30 minutes.

Cabs and any other vehicles are not allowed in the Mahakal Mandir area. Walk it!

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World's 50 Best Restaurants 2018: Osteria Francescana Claims Top Prize https://www.outlookindia.com/outlooktraveller/wp-content/uploads/2018/06/Worlds-50-Best-Restaurants-2018-was-announced-in-Bilbao-June-19.jpg https://www.outlookindia.com/outlooktraveller/cuisine/worlds-50-best-restaurants-2018-osteria-francescana-claims-top-prize/ https://www.outlookindia.com/outlooktraveller/cuisine/worlds-50-best-restaurants-2018-osteria-francescana-claims-top-prize/ 2018-06-20T18:04:10+05:30 article Massimo Botturas 'Osteria Francescana' in Modena reclaims the top spot while Gaggan Anand's 'Gaggan' in Bangkok is fifth in the World's 50 Best Restaurants list If you love to eat out, knowing all about well-known chefs or simply, love food, then following the annual 'World's 50 Best Restaurants' must be on your list. Often dubbed the Oscars of the fine dining world, this year, the event took place in Bilbao (sponsored by S.Pellegrino & Acqua Panna) on June 19 andthe acclaimed top prize was reclaimed byMassimo Botturas Osteria Francescana, a position the restaurant had last held in 2016. Head chef Bottura's restaurant in Modena, Italy, is discreet and servescontemporary cuisine, which challenges and reinvents Italian culinary tradition while making use of the finest produce from the Emilia-Romagna region.

Claiming the second and third sports wereEl Celler de Can Roca andMirazur, respectively. While the former is the 2015 winner and last year won third place, the latter had been placed fourth in 2017. El Celler de Can Roca is based in Girona, Spain, while Mirazur in Menton, France.

Last year's winner Eleven Madison Park was bumped to fourth. In this year's awards, Asia and South America were represented with Gaggan (Bangkok, Thailand) taking the fifth spot and Central (Lima, Peru) at No 6.

Gaggan has been winning the No 1 spot in Asias 50 Best Restaurants for the last four years in a row for his creativity and innovation. However, if you want to eat at this restaurant, you better do it soon as chef Gaggan Anand has pledged to close it down in 2020 after 10 years of service.

This year's list included restaurants from 23 countries around the world and features nine new. Six on the list were making their debut and three returned as reentries.

Spain leads the way with seven restaurants on the list, including three in the top 10 -El Celler de Can Roca (No 2); Mugaritz (No 9) and Asador Etxebarri (No 10). The United States follows close behind with six whileFrance has five, two in the top 10 - Mirazur (No 3) and Arpge (No 8) in Paris. Italy and the UK each have four restaurants in the list and Peru has three - two in the top 7 alone! Central (No 6) and Maido (No 7) are both in Lima.

We applaud all those involved in this list of inspiring restaurants, which is constantly redrawing and reflecting the global gastronomic map. We are also thrilled to see Osteria Francescana return to the top spot in The Worlds 50 Best Restaurants ranking this year," said William Drew, group editor of The Worlds 50 Best Restaurants, at the event.

The Chef's Choice Award, bestowed onan individual believed by their peers to have made the most significant contribution to the industry over the last year, was given toDan Barber of Blue Hill at Stone Barns in Pocantico Hills, USA (No 12). The award is a testament to Barbers innovative work and commitment to the debate around food ethics.

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Ocean Park Hong Kong presents Summer Carnimal 2018 https://www.outlookindia.com/outlooktraveller/wp-content/uploads/2018/06/Ocean-Park-update.jpg https://www.outlookindia.com/outlooktraveller/destinations/ocean-park-hong-kong-presents-summer-carnimal-2018/ https://www.outlookindia.com/outlooktraveller/destinations/ocean-park-hong-kong-presents-summer-carnimal-2018/ 2018-06-20T11:30:14+05:30 article Look forward to a summer of feasting, festivities and fun at Ocean Park, Hong Kong, with its 'summer carnimal'! Featuring an animal-themed grand parade and Stilt walkers, colourful costumes, music and dance will make for the perfect summer booster this year!

Mark your calendars from 30 June- 2 September 2018 for the Summer Carnimalat Ocean Park, Hong Kong! A brand new celebration of summer, taking place in summer, the Summer Carnimalwill bring the world to you- with talented and elite performers from across the globe, get ready to experience a summer festival on the grandest scale. Mind-blowing performances and acts await you; from different animal-themed parades like thewhole newCaribbean Summer ParadeandCaribbean Summer Night Paradetaking place both during the day and the night; tailor-madecostumes wherethe international performers will dress up in fine costumes with three main themes marine life, wildlife and birds;to exquisite giant animal puppets,will be displayed for the first time ever!

Performances during the day will include-Applause Pavilion introducingViva Spectacularwith plenty of difficult tricks and skills in a South American style, all delivered by international award-winning performers; a synchronised swimming team from Canada that performs to a national team standard will entertain atAqua Kaleidoscopeat Ocean Theatre, allowing guests to admire their elegant water ballet up close;Whiskers Wet & Foam Bashand a water playground at Whiskers Harbour will be available for families tocool down together during the hot summer weather. During the night, get ready to bring out your party animal with special DJ nights arranged especially for the shy dancer in you! Enhance your look by embracing this carnivalesque culturewith glowing bubble wands, animal-themed hats and more summertime-limited merchandise, together with a face painting workshop with colourful patterns and designs.

Guests may spot some familiar faces during the parades, including giant puppets that imitate the Parks beloved golden snub-nosed monkey, a four-meter-tall giraffe and an elegant stonefish. During night-time performances, the professional dancers will change into lit-up costumes and appear glittering in the dark. As they perform in theCaribbean Summer Night Paradein a different style that continues the carnival party, guests will also be able to experience the Parks unique summer atmosphere at night.

Prepare to be amazed every hour with elaborate shows which bring authentic culture to the limelight! Caribbean cultural shows boasting of colourful and exciting stunts, Brazilian actsdisplaying high energymarching to its own drum beats and professional synchronised swimming performances to a national team standard. The carnival also promises to keep you dancing with its arrangement for a bombastic DJ party 'Burning Beats' at The Waterfront Plaza, coupled with a vocal band performance by 'Party Groove' at Aqua City Lagoon! Too tiredafter moving to the beats of the night? Go and grab a chilled drink at the Lakeside Chill to hydrate and...go back to the dancefloor.

Getting there

There are multiple direct as well as connecting flights flying to The Hong Kong International Airport from all around the major cities in the world.

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Kot Naikana by Mountways Homestay https://www.outlookindia.com/outlooktraveller/wp-content/uploads/2018/06/Jageshwar-featured-image.jpg https://www.outlookindia.com/outlooktraveller/hotels/kot-naikana-mountways-homestay/ https://www.outlookindia.com/outlooktraveller/hotels/kot-naikana-mountways-homestay/ 2018-06-20T10:30:29+05:30 article Discover the quaint, hike-able, likeable and historical Naikana village, home to the comfortable Kot Naikana by Mountways homestay I wandered lonely as a cloud / that floats on high oer vales and hills

Just like William Wordsworth, who begins his poem Daffodils with these lines, I started my trip pondering upon the loneliness that comes with being alone amid hilly meadows and silent among birdcalls and whooshing gusts. However, my March visit to the slopes of Uttarakhand took me to a quaint-yet unique village filled with gregarious folk. As I stayed there, the poem continued in my headWhen all at once I saw a crowd/ a host, of golden daffodils I wondered, perhaps, Wordsworth speaks of a literal flower, but also intends for us to find company in nature, and ourselves.

I reached Naikana village (1,940m), which lies about 35 kilometres east of Almora town, on a spring afternoon. My route was fringed with trees bearing pinkish flowers that danced with the breeze, as if chuffed to fruit apricot, peach or plum the next month. The village, though, was in a slightly arid region. I wasnt exactly headed to the main hamlet eithermy destination lay on the opposite hill, at the seven-month-old boutique homestay called Kot Naikana by Mountways, run by the bubbly Dinesh. This 30-something fellow does not belong to these parts, but going by his knowledge of the place, he might as well have.

I realised this when he spotted and identified many species of birds that sat perched on the wires, or even hid in the surroundings forest. Only the scarlet minivet was prettier than the blue-as-an-ocean verditer flycatcher, but the Eurasian hoopoe and the black drongo, too, made for stunning sightings. A nature photographer friend once identified 70 no, 80 kinds of birds here, he told me. Given the plenty of vistas, birding was a breeze here. Even as I sunbathed in the restaurant area, I spotted two swallows play a cat-and-mouse game.

I quite liked the restaurants aestheticsand coloured, built in mud brick, partly alfresco, strewn with cane chairs and lined with wooden tables and a book rack. A lot of the dcor had been fashioned by local wood carvers and purchased from nearby craftsmen. Indeed, local was the keyword: the material, the labour and, most importantly, the design.

The cottage, which looked ordinary on the outside (although, it was sizeable and had a nice stairway on the frontside), was a whole different ballgame indoors. Each room had a unique themeBirders was done up with green cushions and curtains, and decorated with bird photographs and bird-themed paraphernalia; the blue-toned Hillz had a mountain theme; the purple-toned Bikers seemed perfect for the motorcycle enthusiast; and Blossom had a vibrant yellow flower-themed look.

It was immediately evident that Dinesh had put his heart and soul into the project. It had a serendipitous story of originhis chef, Dhan Singh, learned that an old village house was up for lease. The timing was right, and Dinesh decided to give his highland dreams a chance. One thing led to another, a painstaking revamp and rebuilding process ensued, and Kot Naikana came into existence.

Dhan Singhs serendipity also extended to his food, which was spectacular and your best bet for miles. He was seamless with Kumaoni fare, whether it was the bhat (a soybean-like lentil), mooli ka raita (yoghurt with radish) or an interesting chutney made of hemp seeds (no, it didnt get us high). Dessert included bal mithai (made with khoa) and singori (again khoa, but less roasted). For other meals, we enjoyed familiar delicacies like the Kumaoni chicken and curd mutton, but desserts such as banoffee in a jar and the continental delicacies proved to be underdogs.

But after these hearty meals, what was a good way to burn calories? The answer was obvioushiking. Turns out, there were plenty of trails to follow, and a nice one was a 40-minute downward walk to the well-known Jageshwar temple complex. Considered home to one of the12 Jyotirlingas (or a devotional representation of Shiva), it has a centuries-old history and consists of 125 temples.

We took a winding path from Kot Naikana that was heavily canopied with oaks and pines. The descent began, which continued all the way till Jageshwar. (This, obviously, foreshadowed a tough uphill climb for the way back.) Along the way, I saw a group of people participate in a procession, perhaps headed to another temple. I remember thinkingtheres a spiritual air about this place. And I hadnt spoken too soon because Jageshwar was abundant with a pronounced air of spirituality. Or, maybe, I was just too overwhelmed by the sheer number of temples. One Deodar tree, someone said, was over a thousand years old. I even learnt the history of Naikana, which was once home to barbers (or nais), and later taken over by Jageshwars Nath priests.

The next morning, we set off for the second hike. It reached a climax right at the onset: we almost had to slide down the hill, headed towards the river below, clutching onto trees for support. I proved to be pathetic at this. We crossed a bridge across the river and found ourselves at a deodar forest, rife with towering trees. From here, it was uphill till Naikana village. As we gained the metres, it was a delight to watch the scenery unfoldeventually, the lake formed a U shape.

Naikana turned out to be a lush agricultural wonderland, with everything from wheat to banana. It formed a bit of a plateau, and each house looked more fascinating than the last. The villagers were cheery, though shy (especially the girl whom my fellow traveller Puneet greeted. She blushed immediately). Atop, we sat by a temple and enjoyed tea, which Dinesh had been kind enough to arrange before we headed back.

Our final trail, held just the evening before my departure, was perhaps the most memorable. It started quite enigmatically, as Dinesh made sure my expectations took a pitfall. Oh, were just headed up the hill, an hour away. Youll get a good view of the sunset. Sure, I responded, halfheartedly. Luckily, this proved to be quite a good path. Wide and not-so-steep hills were lined one after the other as I walked across each and gained a bit of an elevation every time. I figured out which one was the destination hill, but it wasnt until I was completely on the top that I saw a table laid with wineglasses and a bottle of rhododendron wine. Surprise! Dinesh roared cheekily, but I was already reeling with excitement. He poured us the drinks, we cheered, and then enjoyed them by the hilltop, as the sun slowly disappear into the horizon. Daffodils came to my mind once more, but in the part that goes A poet could not but be gay / in such a jocund company I agree with Wordsworth.

The Information

Location: Naikana, Jageshwar, Bhanoli, Almora district. Approx. 400km (9.5hrs) from Delhi

Accommodation: Four rooms

Tariff: ?9,000 (for Blossom and Bikers) and ?10,000 (for Hillz and Birders). Tariff includes taxes, all meals, the trails and the Jageshwar temple visit.

Contact: +91-9718655371; info@mountways.com, mountways.com

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The Museum of Islamic Art in Doha is a Treasure Trove https://www.outlookindia.com/outlooktraveller/wp-content/uploads/2018/06/Seafront-of-Doha-park-and-Museum-of-Islamic-Art-during-sunset-Qatar.jpg https://www.outlookindia.com/outlooktraveller/destinations/the-museum-of-islamic-art-in-doha-is-a-treasure-trove/ https://www.outlookindia.com/outlooktraveller/destinations/the-museum-of-islamic-art-in-doha-is-a-treasure-trove/ 2018-06-20T09:34:57+05:30 article The Museum of Islamic Art in Doha, the capital of Qatar, is a treasure trove. Their collection spans a few centuries and showcases ceramics, textiles Asked to design the Museum of Islamic Art in Doha, the capital of Qatar, architect IM Pei requested for a special space that will prevent other buildings from crowding out the museum in the future. While many may consider it as a whimsy of the Chinese architect, as a Kolkatan, I realised the importance of such a request. The Indian Museum in Kolkata, established in 1814, is not only jostled by other buildings but an ugly flyover nearly hides its faade. Pei was given a man-made island off the Corniche where he built the iconic museum, which was opened to the public in December 2008.

With the sweeping promenade of The Corniche, Dohas famous waterfront, behind us, we drove past a tree-lined pathway to reach the bridge that connected to the artificial island on which stood Qatars Museum of Islamic Art. It is said that much-acclaimed architect IM Pei was drawn out of his retirement to design this museum. But Pei said that the museum must be in an area where it would not be crowded out by other buildings. And thus it stands today, surrounded by a huge park and the sea.

To an uninitiated person like me, the building at first appeared to rise like a stack of boxes placed on top of each other, some at impossible angles. A form of cubism? I cannot say. The top-most part contained a pair of eye-like slits. Later, we learned that the 13th-century ablution fountain (sabil) of Egypts Mosque of Ahmad Ibn Tulun in Cairo was the inspiration for the building. The cream limestone made the exterior look soothing in the scorching daylight but the clear geometric lines gave it an air of austerity.

Then came the big surprise. Little did we realise that the angular austerity contained within itself a magnificent domed atrium, with natural light pouring in from a glass wall that rose along the entire five floors of the building. Stylistic use of glass, metal and stone, minimal use of colour, bold patterns on the floor, chandeliers, added to the grandeur of the elaborately planned central hall, a sharp contrast to the sombre exterior. A curved flight of stairs rose along the centre of the hall.

With less than an hour at our disposal, we decided to take the elevator to the top, choose to see the displays of our interest from the signage provided on each floor, and descend by the staircase. Said to hold one of the greatest collections of Islamic Art, the museum largely contains metalwork, ceramics, jewellery, woodwork, textiles, coins and glass. The permanent exhibits are displayed across Floor 2 and 3. Floor 2 contains an eclectic collection depicting figure in art, pattern, calligraphy, and science. Floor 3 contains exhibits of early Islamic art dating between 7th and 12th century as well as exhibits from Central Asia and Iran, Egypt and Syria, India, and Turkey; most of these collections dated between 12th- and 19th century.

The displays are housed in glass cases and well-lit, with enough space to move around easily. According to the MIA, it probably holds the oldest surviving Islamic astrolabe (a two-dimensional map of the heavens which shows the movement of celestial bodies) in the world. Made in Iran, it dates back to the 9 th century and was found off the coast of Malaysia. The collection of scientific instruments and maps is interesting.

The ceramics and textiles are excellent studies of the evolution of artistic style, colour and pattern over centuries across the Islamic world. We saw some fine jewellery and other collectables from Mughal India.

The manuscripts, over 800 of themfrom 7th century Qurans to 19th century Ottoman works, books on science, literature and religious subjects can take up a large chunk of your viewing time. It is here that you will get to see the famous Abbasid Blue Quran, one the finest and rarest manuscripts in the Islamic world. The museum displays two of only five known pages from the largest Quran in the world, the Timurid Baysunghur Quran. The Khamsa of Amir Khosrow Dehlavi in ink, opaque watercolour and gold on paper from 15th century Iran held us spellbound. Needless to say, we were hopelessly behind schedule and hurried down as our desperate guides began to call and remind us of our next stop. Casting a sorrowful eye at the pretty caf that was located next to the glass wall on Floor 1 and offered a nice view of the bay, we stole a few minutes on our way out to catch a hurried look around the Museum Store. If you have to buy something here, do check out the Desert Rose (colloquial name for rose-like crystal clusters of gypsum, found in arid areas).

Getting there: The Museum of Islamic Art (MIA), located off the Corniche, is around 15 minutes drive from Dohas Hamad International Airport, and within walking distance of Souq Waqif. In winter, when the weather turns pleasant, the MIA Park holds a lot of activities.
Museum Info: MIA is open on all days of the week (except for some local holidays, such as Eid).From Saturday to Thursday, it is open from 9am to 7pm; on Friday, from 1.30pm to 7pm. Last admission 30 minutes before closing. Galleries, gift shop and caf shut 15 minutes before actual closing time. Every Thursday and Saturday, there is a free 40-minute guided tour, starting at 2pm, in English and Arabic. The museum is fully accessible; multi-media guides for the visually impaired are available on request. The reception and information centre are to your left as you enter. No entry or photography charges. However, flash and tripod photography not allowed. Cloakroom, washroom, gift shop, caf, free wi-fi and ATM available. The MIA is a no-smoking zone.

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Dance, Drama and Magic At Olappamanna Mana https://www.outlookindia.com/outlooktraveller/wp-content/uploads/2018/03/Olappamanna2_FI.jpg https://www.outlookindia.com/outlooktraveller/hotels/dance-drama-and-magic-at-olappamanna-mana/ https://www.outlookindia.com/outlooktraveller/hotels/dance-drama-and-magic-at-olappamanna-mana/ 2018-06-19T13:32:34+05:30 article Olappamanna Mana, an old feudal Namboothiri Illam, has a glittering cultural heritage in the field of Kathakali (classical dance form), Carnatic music, melam and thayampaka Once upon a time in picturesque Vellinezhi, a tiny, sleepy village in Palakkad district, Kerala, there lived a powerful feudal family of upper caste Brahmins called the Namboothiris. Although they owned thousands of acres of land (almost half of the entire Palakkad district to be precise) they had dedicated their lives to helping the community they were patrons of literature, classical music, Vedic and Sanskrit education and percussion. They were influential benefactors of the older styles of the mesmerising Kathakali dance. Around 300 years ago the family made their most notable and significant contribution to the field of performing arts. Their home, Olappamanna Mana, became the birthplace of the Kalluvazhi Chitta, one of the most popular forms of Kathakali. They taught this wondrous art form for centuries in their house where they had founded the Ola-ppamanna Kaliyogam (dance school). Then in 196570, the Land Reform Act came into being and most of their land was taken away. With this dramatic change in Keralas socio-political environment, the Namboothiris of Olappamanna Mana lost much of their income. However, a sense of service to the community has remained of utmost importance to the members of this once powerful family.

Set on a 20-acre property, the Olappamanna Mana Homestay opened its doors to guests in 2006. What began as a simple retirement project for O.N. Damodaran Namboothiripad soon became a highly sought-after accommodation option for those seeking an insight into Keralas artistic history. With a legacy steeped in history and legend, I was greatly looking forward to my stay at this diamond-rated heritage home-stay. Coconut and banana trees dot the sprawling property, myriad birds flutter about in the foliage and peacocks casually cross your pathway.

The first thing you see when you enter the main gate is a huge structure with an old-fashioned sloping red roof. Built in the typical Kerala style of architecture, this edifice is the former family home and is more than 300 years old. While generation after generation occupied it over the centuries, today it stands as an empty reminder of a once rich heritage. The only part of this historic house that is still in use is a small temple, which houses two idols of the family deity, Kali (one of them is made of gold and the larger one is made from an alloy of five metals or panchloha). The temple also has two Sri Chakras, which is a geometric representation of Goddess Parvati the older one is made of granite, while the newer, smaller one has been sculpted in bronze. Till 1989, there were many people who lived in this building. Eventually, we had to move out because there were fewer people in the family and despite that we would have needed many servants to cater to our needs.

The only person who lives here now is the priest, but he is also constructing his own house and will be moving out shortly, said Navaneeth Olappamanna, who has been running the homestay since 2016. The only time that this building witnesses major activity is during a 41-day festival celebrated from mid-January to February. There is a puja every day and on the final day, the building plays host to a splendid feast attended by all members of the family and villagers. Besides, the temple, several rooms, two courtyards and a large kitchen, the main building also has a small museum, which houses centuries-old artefacts such as a massive palanquin and several large Chinese vases that were used to store oil. The family will be happy to open the museum if you want to have a look inside.

The main building is surrounded by relatively newer dwellings and guests will be accommodated in one of them. However, do not discount the historicity of these newer structures either; they are more than 200 years old!

The family shared an interesting anecdote about the bronze Sri Chakra with me during my stay. In the 18th century, Kerala was invaded by Tipu Sultan, the ruler of the kingdom of Mysore. In their effort to lay siege on the kingdom of Travancore, which was an ally of the British Empire, Tipu Sultan and his army reached Palakkad, a mere 40km away from Olappamanna Mana. Since he was an iconoclast, the family knew that the temple in their house was at serious risk. Back then, there was a heavy granite Sri Chakra, a geometric representation of Goddess Parvati, in the temple. They were forced to flip this Sri Chakra and it sustained a crack, which can be seen even today. In order to counter the negative effects of the crack, the family placed the smaller bronze Sri Chakra here. You know youre in a historic place when even something as commonplace as a crack has a story that can be traced back to the Tiger of Mysore!

Over the years the quaint village of Vellinezhi has churned out hundreds of renowned Kathakali dancers, Carnatic singers and percussionists, some of whom have gone on to win national awards. In 2014, the government started developing this historic hamlet into south Indias largest artist village since several famous sculptors, weavers, musicians and dancers still reside in the area. There are also plans afoot to erect cultural complexes, heritage study centres, a crafts bazaar and a heritage park in this sleepy village, which remains unchanged despite the relentless passage of time. Olappamanna Mana is at the helm of this movement the family has already donated land for the construction of the Kala Gramam (office), which will serve as the headquarters for the project. The heritage homestay is intrinsically linked with the development of local talent, and even though there are only a few activities on offer, all of them ensure that the artists get the attention they deserve.

Today, more than 70 Kathakali dancers, Carnatic singers and percussionists still reside in the village. Travellers who visit the homestay have the option of booking Kathakali performances that employ these gifted local artists. Traditionally, these performances last an entire night. However, you can book a three-hour story for ?40,000. This ensures that the artists have work round the year and not just during the temple festivals that occur between mid February to April. This boosts the local economy greatly.

Vellinezhi is also home to several dying art forms. One of them is the traditional method of making the koppu the intricate ornaments and headgear worn by Kathakali artists. The Olappamannas will be happy to direct you to the home of Ramankutty Kothavil, a 69-year-old artisan whose family has been involved in this rare art form for generations. He uses the white wood of the kumizh tree (Gmelina arborea), which is extremely light, to make his elaborate creations. The headgear alone takes more than a month to carve. Today, he is teaching his sons this rare craft in the hopes of keeping his legacy alive. He will explain the importance of his craft, albeit in broken English, and show you all the accessories worn by a dancer during a Kathakali performance. The Blue Yonder, a travel organisation that promotes responsible tourism, has bestowed Ramankutty with a Lifetime Achievement Award.

Navaneeth also helped me arrange a tour of the village. I was lucky enough to visit Karimpuzha, 14km away from the Mana, and meet weavers of traditional Karaikudi Kerala saris, who were busy at their looms. Fair warning: you will encounter an immense language barrier if you do not speak or understand Malayalam. Even though the weavers dont speak more than a word or two of English, they will strive hard to enlighten you about their work, even if it requires elaborate hand gestures! Remember that most of them will (sometimes not so subtly) ask you for a small donation. But considering they spend a chunk of their time showing you their work, its quite understandable. You can buy saris or veshtis directly from weavers or from handloom shops located in the area.

During your trip, you are also likely to meet Krishnakumar, a man who forges his own version of the famous Aranmula metal mirror. This type of mirror has been crafted for centuries in Aranmula, a temple town located 116km from Thiruvananthapuram. When you visit his home in Adakkaputhur, quite close to Olappamanna Mana, he will show you his home-made clay furnace. Bronze is heated and melted using wood and coal. The temperature inside the furnace can reach a whopping 2,000 degrees Celsius. You can also buy these mirrors here, which come in small (?6,000), medium (?8,000) and large (?10,000) sizes.

Besides holding an extremely significant place in the artistic map of the Kerala, Olappamanna Mana is also important to the residents of this village, who are free to roam about the premises. They are even allowed to use the bathing area, a beautiful outdoor pond with a separate, shaded section for ladies! You can also use this pond if you are so inclined, however, you must know how to swim. You might also see many curious visitors from different regions of Kerala and Tamil Nadu who have come here just to see the property this is because the homestay and its surrounding areas are regularly used as a location for several Malayalam and Tamil films and soaps. In fact, I bumped into a very enthusiastic film crew while I was there too.

Guests here also have the unique opportunity to book a Kalamezhuthu Pattu an ancient ritual, which is rarely practised today. I planned my trip so as to witness one of these pujas, and it was as magnificent as it sounds! A person who belongs to the Kurup caste first draws an image of Goddess Kali with organic powders rice flour for white, charcoal powder for black, turmeric powder for yellow, powdered leaves for green and a mix of turmeric and lime for red. Just the drawing may take him more than two hours. The call to prayer is the beating of the Kerala drum, which resonates throughout the property.

Once all the members of the family and guests have assembled, the main priest performs the puja while singing hymns as a man from the Puduval family plays the drum to keep time. You can book this elaborate ritual for the wellness of your loved ones, and it will set you back by ?1,800. However, I personally think that it is completely worth it since not only do you get to witness a spectacular ancient ritual, but your prayers might just be answered by the supreme being upstairs its a win-win situation! The entire fee goes to the locals performing the puja, in an effort to ensure that the art form is kept alive.

The family also continues to patronise percussion. Though they do not have a school themselves, teachers can use the main building free of cost to hold classes. These classes take place on Saturdays and Sundays, and if youre visiting the homestay during this time, you will hear the soulful beats of the Kerala drums as the children practise this art. Besides drumming classes, they also have Carnatic music and Kathakali classes. These lessons take place every day during summer vacations.

Olappamanna Mana was also the home of OMC Narayanan Namboothiripad, a renowned Malayalam writer and poet who translated the whole Rig Veda to Malayalam. His work, which spans eight thick volumes, is on display in the small library located in the main building. Famous Malayalam poet OM Subramanian Namboothiripad, who wrote under the pseudonym Olappamanna, lived here as well. The library also houses books made of palm leaves.

In an effort to preserve this regions cultural and artistic heritage, the Olappamannas founded the Deviprasadam Trust. This trust conserves the ancient main building from the grips of dilapidation. Since 1990, they have also been giving out awards that recognise the contribution of imminent personalities in Kathakali, Carnatic music, Malayalam literature, Veda and Sanskrit literature all the fields that the family has been supporting for centuries.

During your stay at Olappamanna Mana, you will also be taken to a few temples around the area. Even if you are not religious, be mindful of the people and remember to follow the rules carefully. Men will need to take their shirts off and hitch their pants up while entering the main temple, while women will need to hitch their pants up as well. Though they are not strict about attire, remember to dress modestly. Till a while back, even salwar kameez wasnt appropriate attire! Unfortunately, non-Hindus are not allowed inside most temples in Kerala.

After exploring all the deeply interesting historic and cultural aspects of the homestay, I needed to take a breather. I had the opportunity to do just that with a visit to River Kunthipuzha. It is a tributary of the Bharatapuzha River, which is the second-longest river flowing through Kerala. Spending a few quiet moments on the Kunthipuzhas beautiful and verdant banks are sure to make you forget all about your big city blues. For the spiritually inclined, there is also a Shiva Temple nearby.

caution Do not visit the river during heavy rain. The area is prone to flash floods.

One of the best things about this homestay, and the glutton in me is ecstatic to inform you, is its mouth-watering food. You will be invited into Navaneeths home, which was built in the 1940s as a granary with a few rooms at the back. Here, his mother, P. Sreedevi, will serve you authentic Kerala and sadya food on a banana leaf and I promise it will make you want to stay here much longer than you had planned! Some of the ingredients on your plate, such as bananas, jackfruits, drumsticks, mangoes and other seasonal vegetables and fruits, are grown within the property itself. I had the opportunity to sample some dishes that I had never encountered before. And that was really the icing on the cake, or the ladle of delicious, steaming hot sambar on the idli that was this trip. Remember that you will be served vegetarian food only, but fear not non-vegetarians! The food is so delectable that you definitely wont miss meat during your stay. Note that alcohol is strictly off-limits within the premises. While here you are likely to meet Venkateswarn, a deaf and mute septuagenarian, who has been working for the family for over three decades. His graciousness, boyish smile and sparkling eyes are bound to melt your heart!

While this charming homestay is nowhere near the heart of Keralas popular tourist areas, it offers something that few places in the world can an opportunity to interact freely with history. Olappamanna Mana continues to bring attention to this beautiful village, tiny in size but giant in stature. This home is a living, breathing paragon of culture that opens its arms to travellers who want an interesting twist to their journeys speckled with a little bit of history, a little bit of culture and a whole lot of splendour.

HIGHLIGHTS

Heritage homestayHelps preserve cultural and artistic heritage of PalakkadFounded Deviprasadam Trust to protect the building and to honour imminent personalities in the artsOnly pure vegetarian food served; ingredients sourced from within the property and local markets

FAST FACTS

When to go October to February

Olappamanna Mana

Vellinezhi PO

Dist. Palakkad - 679504

Kerala

Tel: 0466-2285383

Cell: 09847180703

Email: navaneethon@gmail.com

W olappamannamana.com

Tariff ?8,20013,700, with meals

Activities

Kathakali performancesKalamezhuthu Pattu pujaVillage visit to meet artists and weaversExplore the museumVisit River Kunthipuzha

GETTING THERE

Air Nearest airport: Coimbatore (93km/ 2.5hrs) and Kochi (150km/ 3.5 hrs). Taxi from Kochi is about ?7,000. Taxi from Coimbatore will cost you ?7,500 (including permit and toll en route)

Rail Shoranur Railway Station (30km/ 45min) is a major junction served by all major trains serving Kerala. Taxis charge approx ?800

Road From Coimbatore head for Palakkad. Take the road to Cherpulassery. Just 4km ahead from Mangod, take a right turn into Vellinezhi, which is 2km away. If you are coming from Kochi, drive on to Trissur and Shoranur, from where you will head for Palakkad and the road to Cherpuassery (6km from Vellinezhi village). Rest as above.

Read more in the new Outlook Traveller Getaways Responsible Escapes

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Midsummer Celebrations in The Baltic Countries https://www.outlookindia.com/outlooktraveller/wp-content/uploads/2018/06/featured-2-1.jpg https://www.outlookindia.com/outlooktraveller/destinations/midsummer-celebrations-baltic-countries/ https://www.outlookindia.com/outlooktraveller/destinations/midsummer-celebrations-baltic-countries/ 2018-06-19T10:00:30+05:30 article Songs, dances, traditional food and superstitionsexperiencing midsummer celebrations in the Baltic countries is surely a must-do thing, at least once in your lifetime Sitting on the edge of my bed, I took the wreath of stale flowers off my hair. A sigh escaped my lips as I rubbed my eyes and stifled a yawn. It had been an extremely long day, oscillating between happiness and despair. In between unpacking my bag and inhaling the lingering smell of the wildflower wreath, I felt drowsy the glasses of kvass (local drink made of rye bread) I had chugged may have been a tad strong. But it didnt matter; I hummed to myself, looking out of the window. It was close to midnight, but Tallinns Old Town was abuzz, celebrating not nightlife but, in fact, daylight.

I was in Estonia with a plan to go all the way down to Croatia over five weeks. A European summer is what one dreams of, and this time I was going to explore the eastern part of the continent. However, after spending a night on the floor of a really cold airport outside London for an earlier than early morning flight to Tallinn, if youre given a scare at immigration, you do tend to hyperventilate. The last thing you want is the immigration officer telling you to please step aside.

I learnt an important lesson that dayalways check your visa with care before departure. Thankfully, the confusion was cleared up and I was allowed to enter the country as long as I promised to cut my trip short or have an extended chat at the Indian embassy in Helsinki, the capital of neighbouring Finland, just a ferry ride away.

Estonia is often described as the Silicon Valley of Europe. With more start-ups per head than anywhere else in the world and free public wi-fi, it was here that Skype was born. Breaking free from the former USSR in 1995, Estonia had no choice but to adapt to technology. The government realised it was the only way forward to compensate for a small workforce and the lack of physical infrastructure. For Estonians, the internet is entwined with their national identity.

The bus ride from the airport to the Old Town was about getting acquainted with the city. With free wi-fi, phone connectivity wasnt an issue, and while I looked at alternate routes and airline tickets for my journey onwards, I thought the city was unusually empty. Was I imagining things? No, not really, said Joe, the receptionist. You do know its midsummer eve, right? Seeing my blank face, he tried again, You know the summer solstice Of course I knew what the summer solstice was, but it had slipped my mind that it was today.

Everyone knows of midsummer celebrations in the Scandinavian countries. Its probably the most important holiday here, where darkness and long winters linger. The arrival of summer is much appreciated, and celebrations of the summer solstice predates even Christianity. In the neighbouring Baltic countries, the midsummer is celebrated with equal gusto, as I found out. While locals head out to the countryside, tourists descend to witness the traditional celebrations.

Tallinns Old Town, a UNESCO World Heritage Site for its wonderfully preserved medieval architecture, was abuzz. Along its cobbled alleys, as in most old European towns, Tallinn looked pretty as a postcard. A sense of modernity intertwines with the medieval Gothic architecture here. A flea market had been set up at the Raekoja Plats (Town Hall Square) where one could find wooden spoons to scarves, magnets to kvass, all under the shadow of the spiralling town hall, one of Tallinns most recognisable landmarks. Passing by restaurants and cafs and you head towards Toompea Hill, which houses most of Tallinns historic monuments, such as the magnificent St Alexander Nevsky Cathedral and the 13th-century Cathedral of Saint Mary the Virgin. Saint Olafs Church nearby was, in the 16th century, the tallest building in all of Europe. Just walking along the Old Town, seeing monuments juxtaposed with modern cafs serving food made from traditional recipes like elk and ox, and climbing up steps to see a sweeping panorama of the skyline made me realise how alive the city was.

It was strange to register the time as I made my way to the bus stop outside the Old Town. My watch said evening but the natural light refused to corroborate. To experience St Johns Eve (also called Jaanilaupev or Jaanipev; celebrated on June 24), its best to go to the Open Air Museum. Like all traditional festivals, midsummer celebrations have strong folklore roots. Picking up a wreath of wildflowers and placing it on my head, I got a nod of approval from a smiling old woman at the entrance of the museum.

Walking along the lush green forest, I came across exhibits that showcased Estonian traditions. The place was buzzing with activity. Going a little further, I came to a large clear area where a bonfire was being stoked. The jaanituli (bonfire) is one of the most important aspects of the celebrations. It is said that if you jump over the bonfire, it guarantees a life of prosperity and no misfortune. The fires also keep mischief-making spirits away to ensure a good harvest, as agriculture was important in earlier times. Superstitions play a huge role; its even said that sacrificing something like a twig or branch to the fire can grant you all your wishes. Then there is the folklore of the fern flowerthat those who find it, will instantly gain wealth. The celebration is also tied in with the countrys victory in the War of Independence (191820).

The faint music that filled the air got louder as I walked towards another clearing, through a muddy path with a green canopy covering the fluffy white clouds in the blue sky. Men and women dressed in traditional folk attire, in shades of white, red and black with intricate patterns, were dancing in a circle. They went round and round in pairs, dizzyingly coordinated to perfection as folk music blared around us. The fun and laughter was contagious and before I knew it, I was tapping my feet to the beat. People jostled for place with their mobile cameras out, trying to capture the perfect shot for social media.

The best part, though, was the display of food. Estonians love their meat, but with new food trends on the rise, there are ample meat-free choices. I surveyed the situation and chose traditional sausages, barbecued meat with potatoes and fresh salad, washing it down with kvass.

Midsummer celebrations are called by different names across the Baltic. Its Jani in Latvian and Jonines in Lithuanian, but the traditions are similar. The importance of the fire, the search for the flower, the long weekend celebrations with near and dear ones away from the citiesmidsummer ranks even higher than Christmas in the region.

To be able to stay awake through the longest day is a plus as it leads to basking in the morning sun and rolling in the magical properties of the morning dew, but I was too tired. Making my way back to the hotel, the emptiness of the city streets was a stark distraction from the joyous celebrations. While Riga, the capital of Latvia, and Vilnius, the capital of Lithuania, too would be similar during midsummer as I would later come to realise, I was glad to have stumbled upon these traditional celebrations accidentally. Theres sheer joy in marvellous discoveries, even more so after a harrowing start.

As I burrowed under the covers, the sky showed no signs of darkening. A wildflower was carefully tucked away between the pages of my travel journal where it would forever remain. A memory, never to be forgotten.

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Cartoon Network themed park opening soon in Bali https://www.outlookindia.com/outlooktraveller/destinations/cartoon-network-themed-park-opening-soon-bali/ https://www.outlookindia.com/outlooktraveller/destinations/cartoon-network-themed-park-opening-soon-bali/ 2018-06-18T22:44:52+05:30 article The Balinese have always had a way of attracting tourists to its rich indigenous culture. There's so much more in store for children and adults 'Courage the Cowardly Dog', 'Powerpuff girls', 'Tom and Jerry'... a mere mention of these is enough to give you the giggles and take you back to the golden days of post-school siestas while watching TV.

Your favourite cartoon characters are going to be enjoying a Balinese vacation soon, just like you! By 2020, Bali will have a fully operational 'Cartoon Network-themedpark' and a 10-acrewater resort, ready to bring a flood of childhood memories. The park will be brought to life with liveperformances and interactions with your childhood heroes! On 6 June 2018, Turner Asia Pacific announced its partnership with Indonesian real estate and hospitality investment company, The MAJ Group to develop a large entertainment park, adding another feather to Bali's cap as a family holiday destination. With innovative technology and creative thinking that is second to none, Turner's initiative is all set to keep you engaged,making it Balis largest waterpark as well asIndonesia'sfirst ever park development featuring an international brand. It will also be a first for the Cartoon Network, as it becomes the networks first-ever park with both indoor and outdoor attractions.

Ricky Ow, President of Turner Asia Pacific, stated, Turner and The MAJ Group share the same vision of creating the ultimate family destination in Indonesia, and the entertainment park will combine world-class design with unparalleled Balinese hospitality. Above all, it will offer guests genuine fun powered by Cartoon Network, Asias leading kids' entertainment brand.

Water rides, surf and wave pools are all one needs to have some fun in the Balinese sun and this theme park is aiming toblend summer goalswith a splash of nostalgia. Located within The MAJNusa Dua complex, a premier visitor destination in southern Bali featuring world-class hotels and an award-winning golf course, the announcementof the theme park has gathered massive attention. Are you excited yet? 2020 isn't that far away to take you to 'the land far far away' in your imagination. To keep you glued toyour growing excitement about revisiting your childhood, you can also plan trips on 'Disney's Toy Story themed plane' which promises to take you to 'infinity and beyond'.

For more information on this joyride, visithttps://disneyparks.disney.go.com/blog/2018/04/now-boarding-this-plane-themed-to-shanghai-disneylands-disney%C2%B7pixar-toy-story-land/

As for Bali, Scooby dooby do, here we come to you!!

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Udaipur: A Complete Guide To The Venice Of The East https://www.outlookindia.com/outlooktraveller/wp-content/uploads/2018/06/Sunset-at-Lake-Pichola-in-U.jpg https://www.outlookindia.com/outlooktraveller/hotels/udaipur-a-complete-guide-to-the-venice-of-the-east/ https://www.outlookindia.com/outlooktraveller/hotels/udaipur-a-complete-guide-to-the-venice-of-the-east/ 2018-06-18T10:48:38+05:30 article Udaipur is a popular tourist destination and is known for its history, culture and the Rajput-era palaces. Its abundance of natural beauty, mesmerising temples and Udaipur is happy again. After many parched years, its skies are full of water and so are its lakes. The walls are a smiling cream or a radiant white, and the caparisoned elephants and horses painted next to welcoming doors sport a splash of red and indigo. The mango and rayan trees are vibrant green and muted auburn, the skies a brooding grey or a tender crimson. The abandoned ruins muster up an ochre melancholy and the lively palaces are a shower of gold. The waters provide a silvery sheen. Colours have come to life and Udaipur has become a charming, seductive miniature painting of the Mewar School, once again.

ORIENTATION

The Old City is to the east of Lake Pichola. The city wall is hardly seen, but many areas are still known by the gate names of yore: Suraj Pol, Hathi Pol, etc. The City Palace sits on the east bank of Lake Pichola, with its back towards it. The tourist hub is to the north of City Palace. Fateh Sagar Lake is further north. The train station and the bus stand are just outside the Old City, to the southeast. The airport is 25km from the city centre to the east. Autos here dont run on metre and the minimum fare is ?5080. An auto for the day costs ?6001,000. The taxi fare for a day is ?1,5002,200. There are numerous travel agents around the city centre. Its best to compare rates or ask your hotel to arrange a taxi.

THINGS TO SEE AND DO

A tourists itinerary in Udaipur inevitably revolves around the sites of the erstwhile rulers: the palaces they lived in, the lakes they built, the gardens they frequented and the cenotaphs built for them. All these places today dutifully echo a fictional history in which the Sisodia Rajput rulers of Mewar are famous for their virtues, victories and fierce independence. However, the splendours of Udaipurs architectural heritage belong mainly to the peaceful periods when Mewar accepted at first the sovereignty of the Mughals and later that of the British. Having done the regular tourist bit, the best thing to do in Udaipur is to amble in the chaotic maze of streets between Jagdish Temple and Suraj Pol. You will need at least three days to explore all the sights.

City Palace Complex

The City Palace is where it all began in the 16th century when Udai Singh met a sage who advised him to establish a city here. Now the complex is a conglomeration of palaces built over 400 years. It is the largest palace complex in Rajasthan and has a fascinating edifice. Twenty-two maharajas of Udaipur contributed to this structure and yet it maintains a graceful uniformity. Despite its huge size and the profusion of architectural elements jharokhas, columns and towers the elegant palace has an airy lightness about it. Perhaps thats because of its creamy hue. It also gels easily with the blue waters of Lake Pichola.

Keep aside a few hours to explore the City Palace. Walk up the hill from Jagdish Temple, buy your tickets at Badi Pol, and enter the complex. After Badi Pol, the imposing Tripolia Gate welcomes you, with seven arches or toranas to its left, commemorating the seven times when the maharajas were weighed against silver and gold which was then distributed amongst the people. On the right is a wall called Agad, across which elephants were made to fight each other a royal idea of sport. Further ahead is the entrance to the palace building and above the entrance, the Mewar crest, an image of the Sun God (from whom the Mewar royalty claim to have descended), flanked by a Rajput warrior and a Bhil.

A part of the City Palace Museum in the complex has been designated the Government Museum. Shambhu Niwas is the present home of the royal family. Further south are Fateh Prakash Palace and Shiv Niwas Palace, both luxury hotels today.

City Palace Museum

Beyond Ganesh Deori, the entrance to the City Palace Museum, is a maze of narrow passages, steep staircases, terraces, patios and apartments. Just inside the entrance, where your tickets will be checked, notice the paintings of the important Krishna deities of Mewar Srinathji, Eklingji and Charbhujaji all lovely examples of the Mewar School of painting. Now begins a series of mahals and chowks, with their names, dates of construction and the names of builders displayed prominently, but soon you will be lost in a world of luxury, indulgence and comfort. Note the Rajya Aangan, the spot where Udai Singh met the sage.

Chandra Mahal, with its elegant columns and beautiful windows, is a great palace with stunning views of Lake Pichola, its islands and the surrounding hills. Badi Mahal, or Amar Vilas, was built on a rock formation and ingeniously incorporated into the complex with an enclosed garden. The Kaanch Ki Burj is a chamber with its walls inlaid with red and silver glass. The Krishna Niwas has some remarkable miniature Mewar paintings. A room is dedicated to James Tod, displaying a manuscript of his Annals and his portrait. The Mor Chowk, originally built in 1620, was decked with brilliantly coloured mosaics of three dancing peacocks in the 19th century. The Zenana Mahal has princesses apartments.

Location 150m south of Jagdish Mandir Entry Adults ?250; Children ?100 Timings 9.30am4.30pm Cameras ?250 Sound & Light show fee Adults ?250500; Children ?100200 Timings 7.008.00pm (English)

Government Museum

The Government Museum is also accessed from the Ganesh Deori. They have splendid acquisitions but lacklustre display and shoddy maintenance have all but killed them. There are stone inscriptions from the Mewar region, dating from the 2nd century BCE to the 19th century, as well as sculptures. One gallery depicts the Mewar tradition of miniature art and includes a series on Krishna-Rukmini. The museum also houses eclectic exhibits including a turban belonging to Khurram (Shahjahan), who took refuge in Udaipur during a rebellion against Jehangir.

Location Within the City Palace complex Entry ?10 Timings 10.00am5.00pm Closed Monday

Crystal Gallery

The Crystal Gallery has a profligate display of wealth. In a shopping binge, Rana Sajjan Singh ordered an assortment of crystal objects from F&C Osler & Co in England in 1877. He died before the crystal chairs, beds, sofas, glasses and dinner sets arrived in Udaipur. Successors thought this was a bad omen and the extraordinary bequest stayed packed in boxes for 110 years before somebody thought of making money from this misadventure. The rather over-priced admission fee includes the entry charges to the grand Durbar Hall of the Fateh Prakash Palace and a drink in the Gallery Restaurant.

Location Fateh Prakash Palace Entry Adults ?550; Children ?350 (including entry fee to palace premises and a beverage) Timings 10.00am 6.00pm Cameras Not allowed

Vintage Car Museum

About 2km away from the City Palace complex is the Vintage and Classic Car Collection, where about two dozen vehicles are on display in garages. Theres a 1934 Rolls Royce Phantom II and also a 1939 Cadillac convertible, which transported Jackie Kennedy during her visit to Udaipur.

Entry Adults ?250; Children ?150 (includes a lunch/ dinner coupon) Timings 9.30am8.00pm

Jagdish Temple

Built in 1651 in the Indo-Aryan style, the temple is located high above the streets, on a crossroad. The outer walls have carvings typical of Mewar temples. Vishnu, as Jagannath, is the chief deity.

Sanctum timings 5.00am 2.00pm & 4.0011.00pm

Bagore ki Haveli

The residence of a former prime minister of the state, Amarchand Badwa, the haveli sits right on Lake Pichola. This 18th-century residence has been diligently restored. The 138 rooms around courtyards evoke the past and exhibit the traditional arts and crafts of the region. Impressive dance performances in the Mewari and Rajasthani traditions are held here every evening at 7.00pm.

The Bharatiya Lok Kala Museum, about 2km away, has interesting dresses, paintings and puppets on display.

Location Panchvati Entry Indians ?75; Foreigners ?150 Bharatiya Museum entry ?40 Museum tim-ings 10.00am8.00pm

Ahar

Now famous as the cremation site of the royal family of Mewar, Ahar has an array of cenotaphs of 19 Mewar rulers built over four centuries. The first and the most striking cenotaph is that of Maharana Amar Singh, who after abdicating his throne, spent his last days in a haveli here. Ahar is also an ancient site with a history going back to 2000 BCE.

Location 2km east of city centre Museum timings 10.00am5.00pm Closed Monday

Monsoon Palace

Originally called Sajjan Garh and built by Sajjan Singh of the crystal collection fame, the 19th-century palace was supposed to be an astronomical centre, but became a hunting lodge. Perched atop Banswara Hill, this neglected building has a fairy-tale quality about it. The views, particularly at sunset, are spectacular.

Location 8km west of city centre Entry Indians ?30; Foreigners ?300 Timings 8.00am6.00pm Forest jeep ?90 per head Photography ?80

Udaipurs seven sisters

Udaipurs rulers understood the importance of water, built dams and created reservoirs. You can see some of the most amazing and artistic engineering feats in Udaipurs lakes: Pichola, Dudh Talai, Govardhan Sagar, Kumaria Talav, Rangsagar, Swaroop Sagar and Fateh Sagar. Collectively, they are called the seven sisters of Udaipur (and there are more).

These water bodies have been Udaipurs lifeline over centuries. All these lakes are inter-connected and the surplus water from one flows into the next.

WHERE TO STAY

The most scenic, and expensive, stay options are around Lake Pichola. However, there are scores of budget and mid-range hotels close to Lake Pichola and Fateh Sagar Lake.

The 18th-century summer palace of the erstwhile rulers, Taj Lake Palace (Tel: 0294-2528800; Tariff: ?60,0008,50,000) on the Jagniwas Island in Lake Pichola, is the traditional, dream stay option. You can expect all imaginable luxuries and more here. Shiv Niwas Palace (Tel: 2528016-19; Tariff: ?15,0001,00,000) and Fateh Prakash Palace (Tel: 2528016-19; Tariff: ?12,00042,000) are famously part of the City Palace complex. Jagat Niwas Palace (Tel: 2422860; Tariff: ?1,8507,000), located in the Lal Ghat area in two renovated 17th-century havelis, is also a good stay option.

Amet Haveli (Tel: 2431085; Tariff: ?4,0008,700), another restored haveli, has an enchanting location on Hanuman Ghat.

WHERE TO EAT

Udaipur is bursting with rooftop cafs, lake-view eateries and restaurants on the lake, but is deficient in good food. Most serve strictly passable Indian and Continental food.

Ambrai, the open-air restaurant in Amet Haveli, has a unique location at water level and is a beautiful place to sit. It offers a few Rajasthani specialities, including mutton soweta a dish that uses corn. If you want basic vegetarian Rajasthani fare, head to Santosh Daal Baati Bhojanalaya at Suraj Pol, where you can have dal-baati-choorma. The rooftop terrace at Udai Kothi is set around a pool and has good enough food including dal makhani and tandoori chicken and fish. Caf Edelweis on Gangaur Ghat is popular for its coffee and Continental snacks. The kadhi and seasonal vegetable dishes at Sunrise are tasty. Savage Garden near Chand Pol can be found only after much looking around but is worth the effort for its location and dcor if not for its pizzas and pastas. For a cheap thali, go to Garden Hotel Restaurant on Lake Palace Road. For an expensive meal, head for Udaivilas or take the boat to Taj Lake Palace hotel.

Many caf owners here earnestly believe that the essence of the place is to be found in watching the Bond flick Octopussy, which features Udaipur, and towards this end they have been screening the film every evening for over 20 years now!

FAST FACTS

When to go Visit from October to February, though July to August, when it rains, is also pleasant. Avoid summer

Tourist offices

Rajasthan Tourism Office

Fateh Memorial, Suraj Pol

Udaipur

Tel: 0294-2411535

RTDC Tourist Reception Centre

Dabok Airport, Udaipur. Tel: 2655433

STD code 0294

GETTING THERE

Air Udaipurs Maharana Pratap (Dabok) Airport (25km/ 45mins) is connected to Jaipur, Jodhpur, Aurangabad, Delhi and Mumbai. Taxi costs approx ?500 to the centre of town

Rail Udaipur Station has speedier connections with Delhi now and excellent options from Jaipur. It has good connections from Ahmedabad as well as Mumbai

Road Udaipur is on NH48 which links Delhi to Mumbai via Ahmedabad and Jaipur. It is a 9-hr drive from Jaipur, a 14-hr drive from Delhi and a 17-hr drive from Mumbai. Halt for the night at Ajmer on NH58 if driving down from Delhi, and at Ahmedabad if coming from Mumbai

Read more in the new Outlook Traveller GetawaysHeritage Holidays in India

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The Most Dangerous Roads in India https://www.outlookindia.com/outlooktraveller/wp-content/uploads/2018/06/India-is-home-to-dangerous-roads.jpg https://www.outlookindia.com/outlooktraveller/destinations/the-most-dangerous-roads-in-india/ https://www.outlookindia.com/outlooktraveller/destinations/the-most-dangerous-roads-in-india/ 2018-06-18T09:20:23+05:30 article India is home to some of the most dangerous roads in the world that require the utmost focus, even from seasoned drivers who live and Havent you ever wanted to go on a Dil Chahta Hai-style road trip with your friends? With the windows down, the breeze blowing through your hair, that nostalgic playlist lined up on the car stereo as you and your friends hurtle down a highway en route to the holiday of your lifetime. Sounds like an absolute blast, doesnt it? Well, there are some roads in India where you cant really afford to live out this fantasy. This country of ours is home to some of the most dangerous motorways in the world that require the utmost focus, even from seasoned drivers who live and breathe the ways of the tarmac. Here are our top picks for the most dangerous roads in India:

Umling La (Ladakh, Jammu and Kashmir)

If you thought Khardung La was the worlds highest motorable road, youd be wrong. There is a new contender on the list, and it officially dethroned Khardung La in 2017. Umling La situated in Ladakh stands at a height of 19,300-ft according to the Border Roads Organisation and is one of the most difficult roads to traverse in the country. Forget the fact that breathing here is difficult due to low oxygen and there is a severe risk of altitude sickness if you havent properly acclimatised, the term road itself is a bit of a stretch considering most of it is unpaved. You will also have to negotiate a few water crossings on the way, which will not only test your nerves but also your driving ability. This road is definitely not for the faint of heart.

Tip: Since the pass is located close to the Indo-China border, you will require special permits to visit the area.

Zoji La (Jammu and Kashmir)

Whats protecting you from a fatal 12,000-ft drop off a narrow, uneven road when a truck is barrelling straight towards you? If your answer is a resounding absolutely nothing, then youre probably talking about Zoji La. This dangerous mountain pass is located on the Srinagar-Leh Highway (NH1A) and is often used by trucks to transport goods to the remote region. The road one of only two roads into Ladakh (the other is from Manali) is a dreadful nightmare in summer, but when it rains, it becomes even worse and has been witness to countless accidents over the years. The road is impassable in winter months and is extremely prone to landslides. The government has now planned to construct a tunnel in the area, which will connect Sonmarg in Kashmir to Dras in Kargil, so that this highway can be avoided by commuters. The tunnel is expected to be operational by 2023. Till then, maybe just fly to Leh.

Sach Pass(Chamba district, Himachal Pradesh)

Connecting the beautiful Chamba Valley with the Pangi Valley of Himachal Pradesh is one of the toughest roads to navigate the Sach Pass. Only open between June and October, this road is extremely narrow and completely unmetalled. And the cherry on top of this perilous cake? The sheer drop on one side leading straight into the freezing waters of the Chenab River! On the way, one will need to steer through several water crossings and absolutely nightmarish road conditions. Heres a handy hair-raising video of bikers conquering the infamous pass, with ominous music to boot, to give you a little idea about what you will encounter here.

Nathu La(Sikkim)

At an impressive elevation of over 14,000-ft, Nathu La is located on the Indo-China border in the East Sikkim district. This road becomes risky to travel through during rain and snowfall when its condition severely deteriorates and landslides and avalanches are far too common. However, even in summer months, the road should only be traversed by seasoned motorists. Those with motion sickness should steer clear; this road has many twists and turns that can make anyones stomach turn. Though you will pass by pristine Tsomgo Lake, it will make you wonder whether the risk is really worth this reward.

Tip: You will need special permission to visit Nathu La, which can be obtained at Gangtok. Nathu La is closed to Indian tourists on Saturdays and Sundays, so keep that in mind when you plan your trip.

Mumbai-Goa Highway (NH66)(Maharashtra)

Yep, thats right. The road connecting Indias sunshine state to the commercial capital is a downright risk to your life. The highway, erstwhile known as NH17, is only two lanes wide, has no dividers for the most part, and is host to a number of blind turns. Between 2006 and 2011, around 1,500 people lost their lives travelling this route. Accidents including pile-ups and head-on collisions are scarily common, so most commuters from Mumbai tend to take the expressway to Pune, which then connects to Satara, Kolhapur and then Goa. This is a much longer route, but definitely safer. The widening of this highway is set to be completed by 2019 according to Nitin Gadkari, Union Minister for Road Transport and Highways. However, until then, this will remain the road less travelled and for good reason.

If you have a thirst for adventure, a heart that knows no fear, a cultured left foot (theres a good chance your clutch will take severe damage on these roads), and the off-road skills to see you emerge safe on the other sides, these daredevil routes may just be right up your alley. Dont forget to carry your trusty toolbox and some spares because the rock-strewn passes will wreak havoc on your cars unprotected underbelly. And remember, wrenching at the side of narrow paths is a herculean task, especially since theres scarcely any oxygen to breathe on many of these roads! Its your choice either err on the side of caution and stay put on that couch, or fasten that seatbelt and get ready for the ride of your lifetime. You have been warned.

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Top 5 Wildlife Destinations in Kerala https://www.outlookindia.com/outlooktraveller/wp-content/uploads/2018/06/featured-3.jpg https://www.outlookindia.com/outlooktraveller/destinations/top-5-wildlife-destinations-kerala/ https://www.outlookindia.com/outlooktraveller/destinations/top-5-wildlife-destinations-kerala/ 2018-06-17T10:30:48+05:30 article With more than a dozen wildlife sanctuaries and national parks, Kerala is home to some of the most rare varieties of flora and fauna in Hidden in the dazzling jungles of the Sahyadris in Kerala are fourteen wildlife sanctuaries and two tiger reserves.The state also has six national parks that are home to a number of protected and endangered species like lion-tailed macaque, Indian bison, the Indian sloth-bear,Bengal tiger and Nilgiri Tahr among many others. Here is a list of some of the best:

Idukki Wildlife Sanctuary

Nestled between the Cheruthoni and Periyar rivers, Idukki is among the most beautiful districts in Kerala and the Idukki Wildlife Sanctuary is blessed with the most diverse flora and fauna. The sanctuary has a gorgeous lake that is perfect for romantic boat rides. The tropical evergreen and deciduous forests teeming with elephants, bison, sambar deer, wild dogs, jungle cats, tiger and wild boar along with various species of snake including cobras, vipers, kraits and many non-poisonous snakes is a wildlife lovers dream. A variety of birds such as grey jungle fowl, Malabar grey hornbill, woodpeckersandbulbuls also have found a home in this sanctuary.

Eravikulam National Park

Hidden inside Munnar is the Eravikulam National Park, a home of the fast-disappearing Nilgiri Tahr. Located in Idukki district, it is also well-known because of the Neelakurinji flowers that bloom once every 12 years. Anamudi, the highest peak in South India is also located in the southern portion of the park that is spread over an area of 97sqkm. Echo Point and Rajamalai region are some of the popular spots in Eravikulam. The core zone and the buffer area of the park however are not open to public. One can spot a large variety of rare flora and fauna while trekking in this region. Official vehicles take people on trips where they can experience the biodiversity of a high elevation shola-grassland system. You can also see rare terrestrial and epiphytic orchids and beautiful wild balsams along with the Nilgiri Langur, leopards and the Indian Bison.

Silent Valley National Park

A couple of hundred years ago before humans encroached the area that is now known as the Silent Valley National Park, this reserve of tropical rainforests stood undisturbed and tranquil like a hidden treasure. Situated in the northeast corner of Palakkad district, it was only in 1984 that Silent Valley was declared a National Park. The Kunthippuzha River which feeds the entire forest was named after Kunthi, mother of the Pandavas. The park is flanked by the Nilgiri Plateau to the north and the Mannarkkad Plains to its south. It makes up the core of the Nilgiri Biosphere Reserve, an important part of the Western Ghats, that was declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO in 2012. The flora and fauna found here are very unique. From tigers, leopards, elephants, snakes, lion-tailed macaques and malabar giant squirrels to moths, bugs and toads, the mere diversity of fauna is amazing, to say the least. Along with them there are over 1000 species of flowering plants and another 110 species of orchids. Over 400 species of moths and 200 species of butterflies have been recorded in this area. Out of the 128 species of beetles found here, ten were previously unknown.

Periyar Tiger Reserve

The Periyar forests of Thekkady are one of the richest wildlife reserves in India. Spreads across the entire district, the area comprises of beautiful spice plantations and hill towns. There are over 1965 flowering plants including 171 grass species and 143 species of orchids here. The only south Indian conifer, scientifically known as Podocarpus Wallichianus, grows in the forests of the Periyar Tiger Reserve. More than 60 species of mammals are found here which include the asian elephant, bengal tiger, indian bison, sambar deer, indian wild dog, leopard, barking deer and the smooth-coated otter which can be sighted during a boat cruise in the Periyar Lake. The reserve also boasts of over 265 species including migrants. the malabar grey hornbill, the Indian pied hornbill,whitebelliedtreepie, many species of drongos, woodpeckers, flycatchers are a few examples. abound in the areas adjoining the Tiger Reserve. Watch Towers: There are a few watch towers inside the Periyar Tiger Reserve which are excellent for viewing wildlife.

Thattekad Bird Sanctuary

Thattekad Bird Sanctuary is Keralas very first bird sanctuary. In 1983, the 25-sqkmarea in Thattekad was declared a sanctuary. It was earlier in the same year that the legendary Dr. Salim Ali had surveyed Thattekkad, and called it the richest bird habitat he had ever seen. There are 284 species of birds that have been recorded at the sanctuary. It is located to the north of the Periyar River, at the foot of the Western Ghats. The best time to visit the sanctuary is between October and March. According to the recommendations made by Dr. Salim Ali, in 1983 an area of 25 sqkm at Thattekkad was declared as Keralas first bird sanctuary.

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Explore Skne, Sweden's Charismatic County https://www.outlookindia.com/outlooktraveller/wp-content/uploads/2018/06/Palsjobaden-Sweden-international-featured-image.jpg https://www.outlookindia.com/outlooktraveller/destinations/explore-skane-swedens-charismatic-county/ https://www.outlookindia.com/outlooktraveller/destinations/explore-skane-swedens-charismatic-county/ 2018-06-16T10:30:50+05:30 article South of the touristy spots in Sweden, there is Skne, just a little more Nordic and hiker-friendly, and just as charismatic Say Sweden and the first thing that comes to mind is frigid winters. For a few months every year, though, the snow melts and the frost evaporates, the greys and the blacks metamorphose into striking colours, trees begin to bear leaves again, and the sun remains a constant on the horizon. A remarkable transformation takes place each spring and summer in Sweden. Short-lived, albeit playful, summer hatches an escapist mood, and is much yearned for by the Swedes. Tourists travelling to Sweden between June and August will find packed outdoor cafs, streets throbbing with performers, and stately parks interspersed with picnicking families.

First-time visitors usually gravitate towards Stockholm and its idyllic archipelago. With its cobblestoned Gamla Stan, royal palace, museums (the Nobel Museum and ABBA The Museum, for instance) and an abundance of blue waters surrounding its city islands, Stockholm is a safe bet to experience the allure of Sweden. However, it is the less visited, low-profile, southernmost part of countrythe Skne regionthat offers a wider spread of Nordic charms.

SkneScania in Englishis Sweden at its most continental, a gentle reminder of whats to come further south in Central Europe. It covers 3 per cent of Swedens area but is home to 13 per cent of the countrys population. Its counties are separated by sweeping stretches of land full of blooming yellow rapeseed flowers in the summer. Elsewhere, there are untarnished white sandy coastlines and numerous trails that snake through the forests. Skne provides alternating, at times contrasting, views of Sweden compared to the capital. It is not a weekend destination to be browsed in a rush, but meant to be savoured piecemeal over at least a few days, if not a few weeks.

Skne has a substantial number of museums, art galleries, nightlife options and other cultural spots. Its most important city is the capital Malm, which, together with the rest of Skne, was once a part of Denmark. That was before it was ceded to Sweden in a war in 167579. Today, Malm is better known as the home of one of the best football clubs in Sweden, Malm FF, which was home to Swedens megastar Zlatan Ibrahimovic. Coupled with the Danish capital Copenhagen through the partially underwater resund Bridge, Malm has seen an economic boom that led to its transformation from an old industrial town into a knowledge-driven economy.

Malm is popular for its cosmopolitan nightlife, daytime cafs serving artisanal brews, and the Turning Torso that dominates its skyline. One of the best ways to study Malm is to walk across it, something that could take up to half a day while giving perspectives into the layered society that Malm has become with the parallel, albeit contrasting diffusion of new wealth and influx of poor immigrants. A suitable place to start such a walking tour is Malms Western Harbour, which overlooks the resund Bridge, while yachts shilly-shally in the cold waters of the Baltic Sea touching it. The rich of Malm live here, evident in the expensive residential buildings that span its promenade alongside the 190-feet-tall Turning Torso, the tallest building in Scandinavia.

From Western Harbour, walk alongside the moat-ringed Renaissance castle of Malmhus, into the elegant spread-out parks, Slottsparken and Kungsparken, before heading to the medieval centre of the city, Gamla Vster, which houses several art boutiques and is a fine place to experience the aesthetic side of Malm. The gingerbread houses of Gamla Vster are home to the middle-class of Sweden. A 10-minute walk further towards the outer periphery of the city leads to the poorer immigrant quarters. Sweden has an open immigration policy, but the huge intake has resulted in the ghettoisation of some parts of its cities despite considerable efforts towards integration. Malm, in many ways, is like a vast open-air museum, offering glimpses into its many societies coexisting alongside one another.

Lund, another important location in Skne, the second oldest city of Sweden, is marked by an impressive cathedral called Domkyrkan. Domkyrkan was constructed in 1100 AD and saw a visit by the Pope in 2016 when Catholics and Lutherans together commemorated the 500th anniversary of the Reformation. Lund in also a university town. Its university is not only the oldest in Sweden, but also a churning pot of innovations, including the first artificial kidney, ultrasound and Bluetooth. No wonder that some of the worlds leading technology companies, including Sony and Ericsson, have set up offices within walking distance of the prestigious university. With its old buildings, photogenic cobblestone streets and youthful vibe thanks to a huge student population, Lund is an excellent base for a couple of days in Skne.

While both Malm and Lund have a mix of history and city life, Skne is scattered with several smaller towns that offer a peek into the Swedish countryside. Standout mentions are Bstad and Torekov, further north of Malm along the west coast. In terms of architecture, there may not be much to see in these towns, except rustic halcyon villas with unobstructed views of the ocean. Life moves at a calm pace, and a day or two here is a fantastic opportunity to slow down, eat lengthy meals with a glass of locally made gin, and go for a dip in the ocean. Perhaps that is why famous Hollywood actors and football players also find their way here during the summer months.

For nature lovers, Skne has plenty of activitieshiking, kayaking, diving, fishing, camping, biking and even horseback riding. Thick deciduous forests carpet the whole region, while several lakes punctuate it, opening opportunities for both day trips and longer hikes. To top it, the Swedish law of Allemansrtten (the freedom to roam) allows anyone to camp in an open area, including a private farmland, for a night, making it easier for trekkers to access nature in its most raw form.

While paddling in the canals of Malm is popular with the locals, the county of Blekinge on the east coast of Skne provides an ideal platform for planning a kayaking trip across its archipelago. Blekinge comes from the Swedish word bleke, which roughly translates into calm. Sprinkled with pine trees, some of its islands are uninhabited, while others have few rustic wooden cottages painted in the Swedish flags yellow and blue, or more commonly red and white. The waters are calm and ideal for long cruises between the islands. Some of the islands have stunted rocks, pre-fitted with nuts and bolts to practise basic rock climbing.

For a more intensive experience of rock climbing and trekking, the Kullaberg Nature Reserve on the eastern peninsula in Hgans county is ideal. Climbers prefer its bony, rugged cliffs and steep precipices, and there are several opportunities for first timers to take some lessons here. Recently, Kullaberg got a bicycle trailthe Kattegattledena route of roughly 370 kilometres. Kullaberg is also ideal for spotting some wildlife, including foxes and the elusive red deer. The trails are well-marked, and the staff at the visitor centre can suggest good hiking routes in the region.

The most interesting highlight of Skne is its Skneleden Trail. At 1,000 kilometres long, it burrows into beech forests, curves alongside lakes, circumvents towns, and runs parallel to the rapeseed fields and the coasts of this region. This trail has a cult status among walkers and hikers in Sweden. It is rarely covered in one summer; rather, it is best taken in in smaller bits over several years. Skneleden consists of five separate trails, which are further divided into 89 sections. The entire trail is clearly marked, and there is little chance of getting lost. For those interested in doing only one section of Skneleden, the 70-kilometre-long Kullaleden trail is recommended. It has been certified by the European Ramblers Association as one of the best hiking trails in Europe. The route has campsite options, and access to these facilities is free.

Skne also has 400 kilometres of coastline, dotted with some untouched beaches. The bathing season is not long, usually between May and July. The temperature in these months could be in the high twenties. The popular city beaches include the unspoiled one at Ribersborg in Malm and the beach in the city of Helsingborg. In Ribersborg is a kallbadhus (cold bath house), which is a traditional Swedish sauna with open-air swimming in the waters of the Baltic. In Helsingborg, the beach overlooks the Danish coastline. On the east coast, the town of Ystad has a white sand beach and a luxurious spa hotel to complement it. The shallow waters of Lomma beach in Bjrred county on the west coast make it a favourite for families with young children.

Then there is the delightful little island of Ven, which, like the rest of Skne, comes with a split personality, given the shared history with Denmark. Ven is called Hven by the Danes, and people come to this island off the west coast to indulge in its good food and rich wines, ride around on tandem bikes and do kitesurfing. During summer, regular ferries run from the city of Landskrona to Ven. Though less than 500 people live on the island, it is a top draw when it comes to owning a summer house. A solitary trail curves around the island, running parallel to the coast, along which the sea-facing villas queue up like chocolate squares lined next to one another. Far off in the blue water, expensive yachts of all shapes and sizes lie scattered in relaxed informality, like pieces of broken china littered on the floor. Complaints vanish in Ven, and life seems all right, at least while you are here.

The food landscape in Skne is carved out of locally produced and sustainably sourced ingredients. Lately, Nordic cuisine has gained fame, thanks to the world-famous Danish restaurant, Noma. This cuisine, also central to Skne, is defined by slow food, prepared fresh, and simple. While there are many fine-dining restaurants, some of the best places to taste local fare are the food marketscalled saluhallsof Malm, Hgans and Lund. Malms saluhall is converted from an old warehouse, and is lined with farm shops selling fresh juices, jams and ciders, along with organic cheese, fish and vegetables, while Lunds is perfect for trying some local cheese. Its difficult to go wrong with food in Skne, even for vegetarians.

There is a considerable immigrant population in Skne and its influences are visible in the food as well. Malm arguably is the falafel capital of Europe and several kiosks serve this beloved snack. Its an affordable meal, easily available on the streets, and perhaps that explains its popularity. Swedes love their coffee, and Skne is also home to some of the best artisanal cafs in Sweden. Thats a good reason to take a Swedish coffee break, called fika. Some of these popular cafs are Lilla Kafferosteriet and Solde in Malm, Java and St Jakobs in Lund, and Flickorna Lundgren in Kullaberg.

While Skne is the birthplace of Absolut Vodka (from the small village of hus in the east) and Spirit of Hven Gin (organic gin, distilled in the island of Ven), and Akvavit has long history here, it is now gaining fame for its microbreweries also. Popular ones include Helsingborgs Bryggeri and Stockeboda Grdsbryggeri, located in the sterlen region on the east coast. Many of the breweries arrange guided tours and beer tastings on a regular basis.

What makes Skne notable for visitors are the short distances between places. This not only makes the region accessible (more so given its proximity to Copenhagens airport) but also allows one to accumulate multiple experiences even in short stays. Skne is slowly being discovered. Its sights and landscape, art and culture, food and drinks all fuse together into an education into the Swedish way of lifeone defined by gentle pace, slow food and deep history.

The Information

Getting There
Air India runs daily direct flights from Delhi to Copenhagen and Stockholm, from where Skne is easily accessible. From Copenhagen, take the train (?800one way). From Stockholm, take either a train or a flight to Malm. The fares are comparable (?5,0008,000 one way). The towns and villages in Skne are connected via trains and buses from both Malm and Lund.

Where to Stay
It is worth experiencing at least one night each in both city and village settings. Speak to the friendly local tourist information staff for tips. Airbnb is the cheapest and easiest option. Scandic (from ?5,000 doubles; scandichotels.com) is a hotel chain present in all major locations across Skne. In the countryside, there are excellent B&B options. In Kullaberg, the locals prefer Rusthllargrden (from approx. ?16,000 doubles; rusthallargarden.se) in the village of Arild. In Bstad, Skansen (from ?15,000 doubles; hotelskansen.se/en) is where most celebrities end up. In the town of Torekov, Torekov Hotell (torekovhotell.se/en) is in the secluded countryside and regularly organises training and spa weekends. In Ystad, dont miss out on the luxurious Ystad Saltsjbad Spa (spa packages from approx. ?14,000 per person; ysb.se), which, in addition to stay options, also has excellent food and rejuvenating spa treatments.

What to Eat & Drink
For vegetarians, Skne has multiple options. Saluhalls (food markets) in Malm (malmosaluhall.se), Lund (lundssaluhall.se) and Hgans (hoganassaluhall.se) are the best and cheapest options to sample local fare. Lunch options in Malm include Spoonery (try their vegetarian hotpot, ?600per dish), while for fine dining, the hip Bastard Restaurant (bastardrestaurant.se) is the place to go. In Lund, Govindas (veganistan.se/lund/govindas) is a vegetarian-only option, and is always crowded with students.

Swedes love their coffee, and Lilla Kafferorsteriet, Hollandia and Solde in Malm are some of the popular coffee shops. In Lund, Java and St Jakobs are popular cafs.

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Monkey Bar introduces special discounts this FIFA World Cup Season https://www.outlookindia.com/outlooktraveller/wp-content/uploads/2018/06/feature-halftime.jpg https://www.outlookindia.com/outlooktraveller/cuisine/monkey-bar-introduces-special-discounts-this-fifa-world-cup-season/ https://www.outlookindia.com/outlooktraveller/cuisine/monkey-bar-introduces-special-discounts-this-fifa-world-cup-season/ 2018-06-16T10:00:14+05:30 article Even though India may not be playing in the ongoing Fifa World Cup in Russia, 'Monkey Bar' urges Indian football fans to cheer on their With bottomless pitchers, shots at half prices after every 45 minutes, a selection of spirits on special price, Monkey Bar, the pan-Indian gastro-pub, wants Indian football fans to be a sport and cheer for the nations who have made it to the final round of the World Cup in Russia. Called 'Halftime', their special promotion too lasts for the entire duration of the championship, fromJune 14 to July 15at their outlets in Delhi, Mumbai, Bangalore and Kolkata. You may choose to sit with like-minded team supporters as the space will be divided into two sides and allow you to catch the action on giant screens.
The 'Halftime' special menu includes snacks from around the world such as Salty Fingers - the classic English batter fried fish and chips or Football Farsan - a trio of munchies including curry and parmesan popcorn, chili and rosemary coated peanuts, and foxnuts in honey and togarashi, or Chicken Dip and Corn Chips. You can also choose from Frickles - deep fried pickled cucumber, carrot and daikon radish with mint cream or a portion of Mexican Wave - soft flour tortilla with honey and chipotle chicken served with pico de gallo, cheddar cheese and sour cream. The Mini Bunny Chow- is restaurants twist to the traditional South African snack of a bread bowl and curried chicken. The Kahns Hot Dog - chicken or pork sausages in a hot dog bun with mustard, ketchup, sauerkraut, charred pepper sauce, sweet pickle relish and more is Monkey Bars tribute to the Germans. The legends of the game are honoured with No.10 - chili pork belly toasted in roasted garlic, chili and shallots.
Small Plates start from ?220 per plate + taxes and drinks ?220 ++ onwards.
While your favourite teams battle it out in Russian stadiums, you may try your luck playing Flip Cup, Beer Relay and Foosball, with your friends at Monkey Bar.
Check for timings and age restrictions.
Bengaluru: 080-44114455/ Delhi: 011-41095155/ Kolkata: 033-40606446/ Mumbai: 022-26005222
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Canada issues faster Student Visa for South Asian Applicants https://www.outlookindia.com/outlooktraveller/wp-content/uploads/2018/06/Canadian-visa-students.jpg https://www.outlookindia.com/outlooktraveller/destinations/canada-issues-faster-student-visa-south-asian-applicants/ https://www.outlookindia.com/outlooktraveller/destinations/canada-issues-faster-student-visa-south-asian-applicants/ 2018-06-15T13:37:16+05:30 article Tired of waiting for your visa while your dreams of world-class education are on hold? Worry no more because the Trudeau government promises not to On June 8, 2018, the Student Partnership Programme (SPP) was replaced by the Student Direct Stream (SDS) Programme in India and other pre-existing reinforcement programmesaimed at students from China, Vietnam and Philippines. Significant changes and revisions have been made by the Canadian government to ease and fasten the procedure of applying for student visas by reducing its processing time. To the relief of students from the aforementioned South East Asian countries, accelerated student permits will be issued through the Student Direct Stream Programme. For the SDS permit applications, the procedure will be expedited to 45 days (approx) whereas normal processing time will continue for the non-SDSpermit applications.

The SDS scheme, unlike the SPP scheme also opens opportunities for potential students to pursue higher education in any Designated Learning Institution (DLI) in Canada, which includes publicly funded and private post-secondary institutions alike. In order to apply for the SDS programme, the following criteria must be fulfilled by allapplicants:

The student must have already been offered an acceptance letter at a Canadian UniversityProof of paid tuition fee for the year of study

Documents like an upfront medical exam confirmation and a statement of purpose need to be produced with the application. Once the application procedure reaches completion, the application will be studied to check whether or not it meets the SDS criteria. After approval of the application, an introduction letter will be sent to the selected applicants which they need to produce to the immigration official on their arrival in Canada. However, students who dont satisfy these requirements can still apply through the regular study permit application.

As one of the most sought-afterdestinations for international students to pursue quality higher education on a global platform, Canada's welcoming, all accommodating and respectful environment has been a key attraction for students. Providing affordable costs and numerous funding opportunities, the country has seen a boom in its education sector. To benefit students from across the globe, Canada is also deliberating on extending the programme to countries like Kenya and Senegal. Universities in Canada have openly welcomed this new initiative by stating that it will make it easier and faster for students who want to study in Canada.

For more information, visit:https://www.canada.ca/en/immigration-refugees-citizenship/services/study-canada/study-permit.html

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Puri Rathayatra: When the Lord of the Universe goes on a ride https://www.outlookindia.com/outlooktraveller/wp-content/uploads/2018/06/Rathayatra-idols-in-Puri-Odisha-India.jpg https://www.outlookindia.com/outlooktraveller/destinations/puri-rathayatra-lord-universe-goes-ride/ https://www.outlookindia.com/outlooktraveller/destinations/puri-rathayatra-lord-universe-goes-ride/ 2018-06-15T10:58:56+05:30 article Brave the hot and humid weather of Odisha in June-July and catch a glimpse of one of the greatest shows on earth, Puri Rathayatra. Awed Residing in the 12th-century temple in the heart of Puri, a beach town in Odisha, are three huge wooden idols Jagannath (Lord of the Universe) and his siblings, Lord Balabhadra and Goddess Subhadra. Every year, they make a trip to their aunts house, the Gundicha Temple, riding in their giant decorated chariots, pulled by thousands of devotees. This is known as the Rathayatra or the Chariot Festival. Even though the festival lasts for 10 days, the first day, when the chariots trundle down the road, attracts the largest number of devotees.

But what sets apart this festival from others is its unique context. While the idols are ministered to by Brahmin priests when they reside in the temple, the rites and rituals during the Rathayatra are conducted by a special class of priests called Daitapati, who claim to be the descendants of a tribal king. During this particular festival, devotees irrespective of caste or creed can even touch the idols, which is impossible inside the temple. Because it is believed that during Rathayatra, the gods come down from their divine pedestal to mingle with the people.

There are many legends associated with the cult of Jagannath, who is otherwise known as an incarnation of Vishnu, and is part of the Dasavatara list. According to a legend, it was Neelmadhav, worshipped by a local tribal king, who disappeared to reappear as Jagannath. Other tales explain why he is worshipped with his siblings, why they idols are made of wood and why they are incomplete the idols are without limbs, etc. Usually every 12 to 14 years, the old idols are replaced with new ones.

Preparations for the Rathayatra begin months ahead as the wooden chariots are made anew every year, draped with patchwork embroidered cloth, and fitted with decorative figures. A fortnight before the Rathayatra, there is a special event called Snan Yatra or the Bathing Festival. The wooden idols are taken to a special corner inside the temple premises and given a bath. Then they retire to a secluded chamber. The temple remains closed during this period of seclusion. Meanwhile, the idols are spruced up and painted for their grand appearance on the day of Rathayatra.

There are many rites and rituals associated with the festival. One of the main rituals involves carrying the heavy wooden idols from the temple to the chariot. This uninterrupted journey, called pahandi, is made through a sea of people who make a rush to touch the idols. The chariots are lined up in front of the temple. On the eve of the festival, coils of thick rope are tied to the chariot and tested by the security personnel as devotees will use these ropes to pull the chariots. Do not be surprised if you find foreign media gearing up to live telecast the first day proceedings.

As the idols are carried to their individual chariots, the temple square and the road in front is flush with people. While devotees chant Jai Jagannath, members of various Vaishnava institutions and cultural organisations sing and dance and even perform acrobatic moves to appease the gods. After the gods are seated, other rituals take place. Meanwhile, the Gajapati ruler of Odisha arrive in his royal palanquin. He offers prayers to the deities and then takes up a gold broom. It is his duty to sweep the platforms of the three chariots before they start their journey. The ritual, known as Chhera Pahanra, indicates everyone is equal in the eyes of the gods.

Finally, the signal to pull the chariots is given. The chariot of Balabhadra is the first to leave, next comes sister Subhadra and finally Jagannath himself. As cries of Jai Jagannath rent the air, the assembled mass of people begin to tug at the ropes. The giant wheels wake up to life and begin to roll. In the earlier days, it was believed that a sight of Lord Jagannath on his chariot and death by the wheels will not only prevent rebirth but also assure a seat in heaven. It was the British rulers who finally put a stop to the ritual of throwing oneself at the wheels.

The chariots are scheduled to reach the Gundicha temple by sunset. The gods stay in this temple for seven days. The return journey is known as Bahuda Yatra. After reaching the main temple, the idols stay in the chariot for the Sunabesh festival the idols are decked up in gold ornaments. However, it is not easy for the gods to enter the temple, Goddess Lakshmi the consort of Jagananth is angry with her husband and blames him of neglecting her. She refuses to allow him to enter the temple. The attendants of each deity enter into verbal duels on behalf of their gods, until Jagannath apologises and peace is restored. As devotees begin to depart, the tired gods take their place on the ratnabedi (pedestal) inside the sanctum sanctorum.

Information about the festival

The Rathayatra is held during monsoon. So be prepared for showers as well as hot and humid climate. Fire engines often hose the crowd with water if the temperature is very high. There are two ways to enjoy the first day. You may play it safe and buy a ticket for a seat in the galleries that are constructed near starting point. Or simply lose yourself in the sea of people travelling along the Bada Danda or the Grand Road along which the chariots travel. Always carry drinking water with you. The local administration keeps arrangements for first aid and other medical help ready, including ambulances.

A little extra!

Taladhwaja: Chariot of Lord Balabhadra. Draped in red and blue cloth. Height: 44 feet. Wheels: 14. Pieces of wood used to make chariot: 763. Horses: White.

Darpadalan/Devadalan: Chariot of Goddess Subhadra. Draped in red and black cloth. Height: 43 feet. Wheels: 12. Pieces of wood used: 593. Horses: Red.

Nandighosa: Chariot of Lord Jagannath. Draped in red and yellow cloth. Height: 45 feet. Wheels: 16 (seven feet in diameter). Pieces of wood used: 832. Horses: Dark.

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A Complete Guide To Travelling With Pets https://www.outlookindia.com/outlooktraveller/wp-content/uploads/2018/06/travelling-with-pets.jpg https://www.outlookindia.com/outlooktraveller/destinations/a-complete-guide-to-travelling-with-pets/ https://www.outlookindia.com/outlooktraveller/destinations/a-complete-guide-to-travelling-with-pets/ 2018-06-15T10:05:25+05:30 article Travelling with pets need undivided attention, planning, patience and flexibility to accommodate them during the journey. Here's a complete guide which will help you on Pets are like our family members and we cannot possibly leave them behind when going on a vacation. Having said that, travelling with a pet needs undivided attention, planning, patience and flexibility to accommodate them during the journey. While it all depends on the exact travel schedule, including your final destination and type of travel, there are some things which you can consider to make your journey more accommodating and comfortable with pets. Like, your stay, your road travel, your flight and the rest of your travelling experience. Holidaying with a pet is definitely an amazing bonding opportunity and an experience to cherish, only if you plan it right.

Here are few suggestions to make it a memorable trip together:

1. Even before you begin the trip; it is good to start taking your animal out for short car rides. It will make them used to the way of road trips. You can also notice their behaviour in the car and make some mental notes for the journey to be. Just make sure to exercise your pet before the journey.

2. Before your travel date, begin the travel-feeding schedule for your pet. Like, prepare them light meal 2-3 days before departure so that they can do the road journey in comfort without any fury.

3. Pack a pets travelling kit. Put in food, a bowl, a waste scoop, some plastic bags, grooming supplies, medicines, and a pillow or their favourite toy. Pack travel-friendly no spills bowl also.

4. It is better to pack the food supply for your pet from home than buying it on the road, or at the venue. Some pet manufacturers use ingredients which may or may not be of optimum quality. Therefore, it is always recommended to buy from your trusted store than on-journey.

5. Similarly, you need to be cautious of water feed to your pet. You dont want to travel with the risk of water-borne infection, therefore, we recommend only bottled water feed. It means no tummy upsets for your pet too.

6. It is very important to carry pet medicines along in the journey. Depending on where you are headed, your pet may need a vaccination or injections for safety and good health. Always carry parasite prevention products to save him or her from fleas, ticks and other parasites, especially in a warm climate or in monsoons.

7. Before you begin the journey, talk to your veterinarian.Ask your veterinarian to make an official note of your pets vaccinations, any major illnesses and any medications to be carried along. You may need to attach a copy of pets medical history for air travel. Also, request a health certificate.

8. Carry a crate or carrier which is well-ventilated for safety and security of your pets. Space should be comfortable for them. Meaning, there should be enough space for them to stand, sit, rest and sleep or turn around in.

9. Setting your animals to lose or unrestrained in the car is not a good idea. It can distract you and can also injure them in the speeding car. It is advisable to restrain them by using a latch attached to the car seat. Seat belts will not help. Using dogs leash inside the car is also not recommended. There is a special latch hardware which should be used for
the purpose of travelling with a pet in the car.

10. Use a soft kennel in the hotel room to make your pet comfortable and safer at the same time. Before you let loose your pet in the room, make sure to check the room. There should be nothing left unattended by the hotel staff. Check under the bed to be sure that the housekeeper has not missed anything. There should be no stack left inside the room.

Thus, like you, your pets too need attention and care with co-fellows on the trip. It is your personal responsibility to take care of their every need and everyday needs when on a trip. It is better to be cautious and safe. A smart and secure approach is to plan everything in advance. You need their necessities, their grooming tools, food, containers, and the rest, along in the journey. Special care should be given to having your pet in front of you, as you tour the place. There should be nothing left to chance. Only careful planning will let you and your pet enjoy the time together.

The author isfounder, Countryside Adventure Holidays

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Emirates One&Only Wolgan Valley in Australia https://www.outlookindia.com/outlooktraveller/wp-content/uploads/2018/06/EOOWV_One_Only_Spa.jpg https://www.outlookindia.com/outlooktraveller/hotels/emirates-oneonly-wolgan-valley-australia/ https://www.outlookindia.com/outlooktraveller/hotels/emirates-oneonly-wolgan-valley-australia/ 2018-06-14T11:30:59+05:30 article Rejuvenate your mind, body and soul with the restorative powers of One&Onlys first Nature Resort amidst the serenity of the Greater Blue Mountains in Australia This spring, luxury and sustainability come as a package at theEmirates One&Only Wolgan Valley's nature resort in Australia, between the months of August to November. Situated amidst the tranquil Australian Greater Blue Mountains, this pristine resort offers numerous opportunities for you to embark on a journey of wellness and inner peace. Curating wellness escapes which offer personal interactions with the leading practitioners of the country, these escapes revolve aroundmindfulness, wellness and beauty, which will be launched in the month of August. There are some big names who will be a part of these wellness escapesguiding people through their journey of discovering their inner selves with the help of the resort's advanced facilities.

Aiming towards the holistic wellbeing of guests, the resort brings togethervarious specialists to cater to the needs and queries of the guests ranging from skincare, personally tailored facial treatments, manicuresto self-care practices. There are other exciting and productive activitiesyou can indulge in while your sense of smell escalates with the fragranceof scented candles during the therapeutic process of candle making. The 'Sodashi Weekend of Wellness' allows guests to immerse themselves in guided hikes of the nature reserve, spa treatments, sleep rituals, daily yoga sessions and homecare regimes. Have you always wanted to release the tension built in your muscles? The yoga retreatand meditation sessions on the resorts Yoga deckare sure to leave your souls to feel alive.

Sessions to look forward to:

Jocelyn Petroni

(Friday, 31 August to Sunday, 2 September)

Jocelyn Petroni is one of Australias leading beauty artisans, renowned for her bespoke facial treatments and flawless manicures

(Please note: Treatment prices applicable. Spaces are limited, advanced reservations are essential)

Anthia Koullouros from Ovvio Organics

(Friday, 14 and Saturday, 15 September)

Anthia Koullouros, the founder of Ovvio Organics, will host an array of unique wellness experiences for guests

(Please note:Complimentary to guests. Spaces are limited, advanced bookings essential)

Candle Making with Atelier Lumira

(Friday, 21 and Saturday, 22 September)

Almira Armstrong, founder of Lumira, luxury scented candle and fragrance house, will host candle-making sessions in the mountains for Emirates One&Only Wolgan Valley guests

(Please note:Complimentary to guests. Spaces are limited, advanced bookings essential)

Sodashi Weekend of Wellness

(Friday, 26 and Saturday, 27 October)

Emirates One&Only Wolgan Valley welcomes Sodashi founder Megan Larsen back to the resort to host the Sodashi Weekend of Wellness

(Please note: $300 per guest. Spaces are limited, advanced reservations are essential)

Yoga Retreat with Kate Kendall

(Friday, 23 and Saturday 24 November)

Kate Kendall, from Sydneys renowned Flow Athletic Studio, will host an unforgettable Yoga Retreat in the heart of the Greater Blue Mountains

(Please note:Complimentary to guests. Spaces are limited, advanced bookings essential)

The Information

Two-night accommodation packagesfor two at Emirates One&Only Wolgan Valley start at AUD $2,090 per evening in a Heritage Villa with private pool, including gourmet breakfast, lunch and dinner daily, local wines and beers with meals, non-alcoholic beverages with meals and two nature-based activities.

For reservations and enquiries, please contact Emirates One&Only Wolgan Valley at +61 2 9199 1811, emailreservations@oneandonlywolganvalley.comor visitoneandonlyresorts.com.

Getting there

Emirates One&Only Wolgan Valleyis located approximately 190 kilometres or a 2.5 hour's drive North-west of Sydney, between the Gardens of Stone National Park to the North, and Wollemi National Park to the East, both part of the Greater Blue Mountains World Heritage area. The closest township is Lithgow, 35 kilometres to the South. There are multiple international flights to the Sydney Airport.

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SWISS launches new inflight menu on India-Zurich routes https://www.outlookindia.com/outlooktraveller/wp-content/uploads/2018/06/feature-4.jpg https://www.outlookindia.com/outlooktraveller/cuisine/swiss-launches-new-inflight-menu-india-zurich-routes/ https://www.outlookindia.com/outlooktraveller/cuisine/swiss-launches-new-inflight-menu-india-zurich-routes/ 2018-06-14T10:30:48+05:30 article SWISS Air Lines in partnership with Oberoi Flight Services now serves a delicious new menu on board which is inspired by traditional and gourmet recipes Swiss International Air Lines (SWISS) proudly introduced their new in-flight menu curated by Oberoi Flight Services, on June 07, 2018.Indulging in a mix of cultures, SWISS successfully marries authentic Indian dishes with an impressive variety of meals across the globe- you can find a vegetarian starter like the humble khandvideliciously surrounded by fruit salsa on a banana leaf, garnished with micro greens and served with a dollop of mint chutney. With desserts ranging from fruit tarts to beetroot halwasto carrot and quinoa kheer,SWISS has definitely upped its game with the help of its partners.

India is a key market for SWISS and over the years we have constantly innovated to elevate the experience of our passengers to and from India. We are committed to deepening our connection with the customers by extending the best of Swiss warmth and hospitality onboard, said Wolfgang Will, Senior Director, South Asia, Lufthansa Group. Indian cuisine is known for having a unique blend. We have created distinctive meals that reflect the cultures and history from different regions and are proud to offer our customers a dining experience on board.

Were you always discontent with the boring range of food provided on long-haul flights? SWISS offers a variety of meals across the economy, business and first classes, leaving everyone satisfied and digging in for more. With a well-kept promiseto tantalise your palate with its Swiss specialities- a spread of cheeses like Gruyre, Appenzeller, Tte de Moine; original SwissMvenpick ice cream; SWISS is all set to surprise its flyers! The new menu is also a walk in the clouds menu for the hungry vegetarians who are often disappointed with their greens on flights- samosas with mint chutney, matar badam ki tikkiwith olive kofta, gobhi parathas, carrot batons and creamy spinach,are a few of the meals that are offered to FirstClass guests. There are non-vegetarian items like the lobster slice with beetroot mayo, roast lamb leg Forestier with parsley baby potatoes, pan seared seabass with grilledzucchini.

For Business Class and Economy Class passengers, there is a wide spread of both vegetarian and non-vegetarian meals like the chana pindi wrap, smoked pumpkin soup, paneer peas bhurji, cheese omelettewith potato croquettes and grilled sausages; makhani veg wraps, Mysore masala dosasand an assortment of toothsome breadsshow the perfect partnership between SWISS and The Oberoi Group in understanding the culinary expectations of its guests.

The menu has been planned carefully, after months of workshops and tastings, to suit the palate of the desi Indian as well as the international passengers. Keeping in mind how palates are bound to change while flying at a height of 30,000 ft. the head chef and the entire hospitality team has made sure that all the food is fresh and cold frozen, boarded 2 hours before departure. Being the only allergy friendly Air Line worldwide with the quality seal of approval from the European Centre for Allergy Research Foundation (ECARF),SWISS also has a few feathers on its cap. Taking steps towards a greener environment, there is no use of plastic cutlery across the economy, business and first classes; it also refreshes its menu every three months so as to keep its passengers looking out for more. As a sweet takeaway, SWISS also gives its passengers a taste of its culture with their signature Swiss chocolate tablet, which is a part of every SWISS flight.

So, go India to Zurich, go SWISS!

Visithttps://www.swiss.com/ch/en for more information.

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A Romantic Getaway to Banyan Tree Vabbinfaru https://www.outlookindia.com/outlooktraveller/wp-content/uploads/2018/06/Banyan-Tree-Vabbinfaru.jpg https://www.outlookindia.com/outlooktraveller/hotels/romantic-getaway-banyan-tree-vabbifaru/ https://www.outlookindia.com/outlooktraveller/hotels/romantic-getaway-banyan-tree-vabbifaru/ 2018-06-14T10:30:09+05:30 article Can't decide on the perfect honeymoon destination? Here's a deal from a Maldivian island resort that you wouldn't want to miss If youre in the mood to spoil yourself silly along with your someone special with a holiday that screams pamper us this summer, then Banyan Tree Vabbinfaru is a great destination to head to. Not just a treat to your eyes, this resort island surrounded by the vast Indian Ocean in North Mal Atoll, Maldives has a pretty good deal for couples that is valid up to October 27, 2018.

48 villas with amenities that will leave no stone unturned in indulging you, the resort also has an excellent range of dining facilities from open-air bars to private dinners on the beach. The spa boasts of treatments that go perfectly with the tropical environs of the resort. Inspired from the vast range of traditional Asian healing philosophies, the spa offers soothing treatments from competent therapists.

Here are some of the details of the Sense of Exploration package:

Daily breakfast, lunch & dinner and sunset canapsTwo nights stay at Banyan Tree Vabbinfaru in an Oceanview Pool Villa or Beachfront Pool VillaTwo nights of sailing aboard our catamaran - Kahan'buTwice a day guided snorkelling tripsDaily night fishingTwo sandbank dining experiences (one breakfast & one dinner) with a glass of champagne (weather permitting)

So go on and forget reality for a while amidst the amazing turquoise waters, soft white sand, swaying coconut trees and beautiful tropical flowers of this Maldivian hideaway.

For bookings, contact: +91 124 430 9300or Email at reservations@thrs.co.in

 

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Sports Lovers, Head To New York Over The Summer https://www.outlookindia.com/outlooktraveller/wp-content/uploads/2018/06/US-Open-Flushing-Meadows-New-York.jpg https://www.outlookindia.com/outlooktraveller/destinations/sports-lovers-head-to-new-york-over-the-summer/ https://www.outlookindia.com/outlooktraveller/destinations/sports-lovers-head-to-new-york-over-the-summer/ 2018-06-13T16:52:21+05:30 article From tennis to golf, wrestling to football (or as they call it soccer); New York offers sports lovers a variety of events to enjoy this New York is always a favourite destination among travellers. Great architecture, the vibe of the city, the music and art scenes, and of course, the variety of food make the Big Apple a universal hit. However, New York is also a sports lover's dream. Tennis to golf, wrestling to football (or as popularly known as soccer),New Yorkoffers something for every kind of sports fan. If you are a sports fan and have plans to visit New York this summer, it will be the best time as you can catch all the live action in and around the city.

US Open Golf Championship

When: June 1117,2018; Where: Southampton

Catch Tiger Woods, Jordan Spieth and Rory McElroy in action as Americas premier golf tournament returns to the New York City area for the first timein nine years.The golfing superstars will be competing in the second Major to be held at theShinnecock Hills Country Club. This will be the fifth time the club has hosted the event.More info:usopen.com

2018 Qatar Airways New York City E-Prix

When: June 1415, 2018; Where: Red Hook, Brooklyn

This is motor racing's youngest event (started in 2014) and will see the crowning of a second champion as it concludes the 2017-18 season. Drivers will have to navigate 14 turns along the harbour's scenic waterfront which has breathtaking views of the Manhattan skyline.More info:fiaformulae.com

International Champions Cup

When: July 25August 7, 2018; Where: East Rutherford/Harrison, New Jersey

Once the Fifa World Cup gets over in Russia and national duty is over, some of the world's top football teams will turn their attention to America. Manchester City, Liverpool, Benfica, Juventus, Real Madrid and AS Roma among otherteams will be seen in action in New York. This tournament will span three continents and nine countries and New York will get to see their favourite stars in action. Keep an eye out for these matches:Manchester City vs Liverpool (MetLife Stadium, July 25),Benfica vs Juventus (Red Bulls Arena, July 28) andReal Madrid vs AS Roma (MetLife Stadium, August 7). So, who wants to see Cristiano Ronaldo in action? More info:internationalchampionscup.com

WWE Summer Slam

When: August 19, 2018;Where: Brooklyn

For the wrestling fans out there, the Barclays Center will host WWE's biggest night for the fourth consecutive summer. Wrestlings biggest superstars will compete for several world titles on theSunday but that whole weekend will see additional events taking place which will be treat for fans. More info:wwe.com

US Open Tennis Championship

When: August 27September 9, 2018; Where:Flushing Meadows, Queens

The fourth Grand Slam of the year will celebrate its 50th anniversary in Flushing Meadows. The $600m renovations at theUSTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center is set to be completed this summerbefore the likes of Roger Federer, Rafa Nadal, Simona Halep and Serena Williams descend at the venue in hopes of capturing the title. At thenew state-of-the-art complex, fans can celebrate the Open and its history at US Open Fan Week which include the qualifiers, open practice sessions and the Arthur Ashe Kids' Day celebrations. More info:usopen.org

Getting there: Air India has a direct flight to New York from New Delhi. Other carriers such as KLM, Air France, Virgin Atlantic etc all fly from different parts of the country to New York with halts.

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The Grand Heritage of Sivasagar https://www.outlookindia.com/outlooktraveller/wp-content/uploads/2018/06/Talatal-Ghar-Sivasagar-Assam-Heritage-featured-image-1.jpg https://www.outlookindia.com/outlooktraveller/destinations/grand-heritage-sivasagar/ https://www.outlookindia.com/outlooktraveller/destinations/grand-heritage-sivasagar/ 2018-06-13T14:36:06+05:30 article This medieval city surrounded by a rainforest in Assam served as the capital of the mighty Ahom kings for almost a century Theerstwhile seat of the mighty Ahom kings, the ruins of Sivasagar offer a glimpseinto its grand past.The town takes its name from the Sivasagar Tank/lake, a large man-made water body which is also the town's main attraction. In present-day Sivasagar, a visitor can explore the town's well-preserved palaces, temples and amphitheatre. Here are some of the most popular attractions in Sivasagar for those keen on exploring Ahom heritage:

Rang Ghar: Also meaning 'House of Entertainment', Rang Ghar is situated near the Rangpur Palace, also known as Talatal Ghar. During the times of Ahom kings, this two-storied structure used to be a sports pavillion from where kings and nobles would enjoy a game of buffalo or cock fight apart from the annual bihu festivities.What makes this structure even more interesting is its architecture. The roof of Rang Ghar is shaped like an inverted boat, typical of Ahom architecture.Interestingly, the Ahomsused a mix made of rice, egg, pulses and fish as binding agents in their buildings.

Talatal Ghar: Talatal Ghar or the Rangpur Palace is one of the largest and finest Ahom structures. It used to be a seven-storiedbuildingin its heyday butnow only ground, first andthe remains of second and third floorare open to visitors. The underground floors remain closed to visitors. According to various legends, theTalatal Ghar has two secret tunnels and three underground floors that served as secret exit routes during wars.

Shivadol: One of the three most prominent temples in Sivasagar, Sivadol stands tall on the bank of Sivasagar tank. The temple is 104 feet tall and has an 8-foot golden dome for a crown. It is the most important place for the devotees of Shiva to congregate during Shivratri.

Joysagar Tank: Joysagar tank ranks among the most popular tourist attractions in Sivasagar, mainly because of its size and religious importance. The tank complex also has many important temples like Joydol, Baidyanath Shiva Dol, Devi Ghar, Sri Surya Mandir, Ganesh Mandir and Nati-Gosai dol, thathold an place important in religion, historyas well as archaeology.

Kareng Ghar: Kareng Ghar or the Garhgaon Palace is located 15km away from Sivasagar and is another fine example of Ahom architecture.Constructedof wood and stones, the present-day Kareng Ghar is arebuilt by Rajeshwar Singha. The palace used to have plenty of rooms of which only few remain today. During its glory days, the palace used to be surrounded by large water-filled moats and fortified boundaries whose faint evidence can still be seen.

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Mahindra Adventure Expedition 2018 https://www.outlookindia.com/outlooktraveller/wp-content/uploads/2018/06/featured-2.jpg https://www.outlookindia.com/outlooktraveller/destinations/mahindra-adventure-expedition-2018/ https://www.outlookindia.com/outlooktraveller/destinations/mahindra-adventure-expedition-2018/ 2018-06-13T12:39:55+05:30 article The Mahindra Adventure Himalayan Spiti Expedition is all set take you through the gorgeous Lahaul-Spiti region of the Himalaya this year Heres something for driving enthusiasts: a journey that, quite literally, goes off the beaten track. An ever-ready partner for indulgent getaways and conquering challenging terrain, Mahindra Adventure unveils their classic expeditionand its an unmissable package for anyone passionate about driving. Not only will it satiate expert drivers who crave new avenues for navigation, but also ignite a spark in those new to steering across mountain roads. And dont worry about bringing your car along, as the journey features an advantageous arrive and drive concept pioneered in India by Mahindra Adventure.

This year, the Mahindra Adventure Himalayan Spiti Expedition takes you to the beautifully vast expanses of the Lahaul-Spiti region of the Himalaya; dont forget to mark the dates from September 8-17, 2018 on your calendars. The adventure begins at Chandigarh, before going through Shimla, Narkanda, Sangla Valley, Nako, Tabo and Kaza; the return route to Chandigarh stops through Manali. The challenge, here, is coming out on top of the trying topography of these valleys: with the naturally exciting twists and turns of alpine roads, the expedition will not only pump up the adrenaline, but also test your boundaries for adventure.

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What can one expect to see on this brilliant trip, you ask? The jaw-dropping sight of the beautiful valleys, ancient monasteries, and some gargantuan mountain passes. What makes the package more enticing, are adventure activities like river crossing and off-roading. And if all this doesnt leave you bright-eyed and bushy-tailed, the fact that you can off-road at 14,000-feet near Kaza is sure to leave you with tingles of enthusiasm.

National rally champion and off-roading legend Hari Singh will lead the motley team of rallyists and off-roaders in this adventurous escape, his years of experience coaching participants to accelerate through any difficult situations.

Driving a sturdy and trustworthy 4X4 Mahindra vehicle, fulfill your rough road dreams, but drive assured: medical assistance, should you require it, will be ever-present. Along with experiencing personal peaks, you will also visit the highest post office, and the highest inhabited village in the world; enjoy idyllic Chitkul village, and gorge on delicious breakfasts; and be rewarded with a party on the last day in Manali before returning to the starting point. So, what are you waiting for? Rev up your engines, its going to be a bumpy ride!

To register and pay for the experience, visit mahindraadventure.com

DATES FOR THE MAHINDRA ADVENTURE EXPEDITION

Adventure-seekers, make sure to block these dates:

Sept 8, 2018: Fly into Chandigarh

Sept 9, 2018: Reach Narkanda

Sept 10, 2018: Reach Sangla

Sept 11, 2018: Enjoy Sangla

Sept 12, 2018: Reach Nako

Sept 13, 2018: Reach Kaza

Sept 14, 2018: Enjoy Kaza

Sept 15, 2018: Reach Manali

Sept 16, 2018: Reach Chandigarh

Sept 17, 2018: Fly out of Chandigrah

This is a promotional article

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Turtle season in Oman: 2018 https://www.outlookindia.com/outlooktraveller/wp-content/uploads/2018/06/Ras-Al-Jinz_turtle.jpg https://www.outlookindia.com/outlooktraveller/destinations/turtle-season-oman/ https://www.outlookindia.com/outlooktraveller/destinations/turtle-season-oman/ 2018-06-12T12:30:58+05:30 article For the wildlife lover in you, Oman has the perfect activity in store. This June-September, Oman is all set to welcome you and the turtles Home to four different types of turtles:green, olive ridley, hawksbill and the loggerhead; Oman is all set to welcome the 'Turtle season' from June to September 2018 this year! Nesting in Ras al Jinz in Sur, a three-hour drive from Muscat city, these visitors can be closely observed nesting in the green turtle habitat in theRas al Jinz Reserve in Oman. With a temperature that is ideal for turtle spotting, this is one of the few places where these grand reptiles are celebrated without any disturbance caused in their natural surroundings.The rate of growth in the number of visitors to Ras Al Jinz turtles reserve was 37 per cent in the past seven years, with the total number increasing from 30,002 visitors in 2010 to 41,244 visitors in 2017.

Best spotted in the wee hours of the morning or late at night, these turtles are protected in Oman because of its policies against the use of harmful artificial light like torches or mobile phones, which would disturb the natural environment of the turtles. The tours to spot the turtles are all guided, taking up to25 people in a group by the seashore. To further the protection of the turtles, there are turtle rangers at the beach and all tourists/visitors are only allowed to walk towards the turtles once they havebegun laying their eggs- 200-300 or more at a time. You are sure to witness the extraordinary with the sight of the mother turtle digging a pit to lay her eggs and then watch the eggs hatch, only to follow the path that the tiny baby turtles choose to take, running around the seashore. If you are intrigued by what you witness on the beach, theMuseum of the Scientific Centre in Ras Al Jinz would also interest you because of its latest technology for information regarding turtles and their life cycle.

So don't miss out on this opportunity and come to bask in the glory of Oman and its celebration of turtles!

Visithttp://www.experienceoman.om/experiences/things-to-do/nature-wildlife/for extended information.

Getting there

Thenearest airport to Oman is the Muscat International Airport, which is 5 hrs 30 minutes away (approx) and there are multiple flights which fly to the Muscat International Airport.

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Visit Europe's Underrated Destination: Luxembourg https://www.outlookindia.com/outlooktraveller/wp-content/uploads/2018/06/FEATURE.jpg https://www.outlookindia.com/outlooktraveller/destinations/visit-europes-underrated-destination-luxembourg/ https://www.outlookindia.com/outlooktraveller/destinations/visit-europes-underrated-destination-luxembourg/ 2018-06-12T09:30:02+05:30 article From the battle of the Bulge to quality hiking and rock climbing, Luxembourg may be one of Western Europe's most underrated destinations and deserves to I wasnt quite sure where exactly Lorenzo wanted to go. He was staring down at his phone, furiously barking inconsistent instructions at it. Take the next left Oh no thats not it. Wait, I think you can go around this exit on the right, and then go left up on that bridge there.

Where exactly are we going? I asked again.

Youll see, he replied, with a mysterious grin.

I tried to follow his instructions, not really minding the mystery as long as we were outdoors. Soon, he had me pull over by the side of the elevated bridge. On our left, a used-car store and a sex shop. I laughed out loud.

He noticed and said, No, thats not it.

On our right, a slightly grubby field and a small copse around a stream flowing under the bridge. Leaving the car in the parking lot of the sex shop, we vaulted over the metal barrier of the bridge and scrambled down a disused trail, past discarded car tyres and random junk. The field across looked like it once contained a factory, but had now been abandoned for years. The mystery deepened. The trail became increasingly muddy as it twisted to become parallel to the stream, becoming just very slightly pastoral, with weeds and straggly wild flowers growing on its edges. A fly or a bee buzzed past my ear. I felt vaguely worriedsemi-urban adventures hadnt been my thing since I broke into an abandoned clubhouse with friends to smoke a cigarette back in middle school.

And voila! Zo looked at me proudly. He stood precariously in his Converse shoes, balancing on leaves at the edge of a muddy bank above a grubby river. Just across, a few metres away, he pointed at a rusting metal pillar, quite overgrown with weeds, brush and sad-looking low trees. Its the tri-border. The point between Luxembourg, France and Belgium!

I was not impressed.

That, in a nutshell, is how the average Western European perceives Luxembourg. It barely registers on their radar. When it does, its usually oh, its so boring. As someone who spent the first part of his childhood in very small and out-of-the-way places, I find that pretty funny, because Luxembourg City is actually a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and it isabandoned industrial zones asidegorgeous.

I have a phenomenal view from my apartment of the old walled city rising above the deep Ptrusse and Alzette gorges. An unbroken line of beech, oak, wild cherry and other tall trees march away to my left and right along the Ptrusse valley, and continues as far as my eye can see north and northwest, towards (eventually) Germany. One of my favourite things about living here is the fact that I can walk out of my apartment, head down into either Ptrusse valley or the Grund, and feel transported. Alternating between verdant forest, high rocky cliffs and ruined fortifications, its hard to imagine that Im literally in the middle of a major European capital.

A very short walk across the Old Bridge (Al Brck in Luxembourgishyes, its a language), and I can walk along the Chemin de la Corniche, whats sometimes touted as the most beautiful balcony in Europe, towards the rocky promontory of the Bock, the site of Count Siegfrieds castle in 963 AD.

A hundred metres straight below, the Alzette wanders along between the Neumnster Abbey (new because it was rebuilt in the 1600s after the old one burnt down), medieval townhouses and apple orchards. Heading down, I walk along the river to the Clausen district, past Amazons European headquarters, towards the Pfaffenthal district. Just across and on the other side of the valley, quite stunning from above, are the reconstructed ruins of the Fort Thngen, into which is incorporated the Mudamthe Museum of Modern Art. Its quite a stunning feat of architecture, blending the modern with the old. Even after a year, I still discover new paths and trails, ruins and historical sites.

Luxembourg is a small country, 2,500 sq km the shape of a pear, bang on the point where France, Belgium and Germany meet. Once upon a time it was much larger, a four-petalled flower, but it steadily lost territory in the last several hundred years. A little chunk of the Netherlands isnt too far awayin fact, the Dutch acquired Luxembourg after the latter lost their past grandeur, territory and influence, so much so that the two flags are nearly the same.

The Dutch still like to invade in droves as soon as the sun is out, to go climbing on the sandstone cliffs of Berdorf. Second funny story. A few months ago, the famous 1970s climber Henry Barber contacted me to ask for climbing tips for India. We got chatting, and I told him I lived in Luxembourg. He said, Luxembourg? But thats got amazing climbing. Berdorf is magical, its one of my favourite places, with little caves and stuff. So dont take it from me, take it from a legend.

As with much of Europe, theres evidence of human occupation since Palaeolithic times in what is today the country of Luxembourg. It was later occupied by Celtic tribes, then by the Romans, which is possibly when Luxembourg (Lucilinburhuc, literally, little fortification) got its name. Since then, its lush valleys and hills have been dotted with historical sites.

One day, with my aunt visiting from the US, we drove up north to Vianden Castle, a stunningly well-reconstructed European monument. It stands on a rock a hundred metres above the river Our, flowing through the Ardennes. Once a Roman castellum, it went through various periods of construction and subsequent ruin, and even served as a centrepiece during the Battle of Vianden, when four Luxembourgish partisans held off hundreds of Waffen-SS troops in World War II, just before the Battle of the Bulge.

Im still discovering much of this little country. Even though its small, it is a Schengen state Schengen being a village in Luxembourg where the free-movement treaty was signedand its so easy to wander off for a hike into the Ardennes in any direction.

THE INFORMATION

Getting there

There are no direct flights to Luxembourg from India, but it is well-served by major airlines via their hubs, including Lufthansa, KLM and Swiss. A good option is Turkish Airlines, which flies via Istanbul and is well-priced (approx. ?45,000 round trip). There are also multiple TGVs daily from Gare de lEst in Paris, a quick two-hour train ride.

Plan to spend two or three days in the city, but explore the rest of the country by car. There are pretty forest hikes, rivers and streams, castles atop rock formations and so on.

Youre also not far from Trier in Germany and other interesting places to check out.

Where to stay

Unless youre willing to cough up every day for expensive taxis, stay as downtown as possible when in Luxembourg City. This will give you a chance to get around on foot. Kirchberg and Cloche dOr are brand new, modern districts, which is not what youre coming to Luxembourg for, so no point staying there, unless you want easy parking for your rental car.

Try to avoid hotels just opposite the train station (Gare) as the area can feel grungy in the evenings. Prices for good hotels start from around 150 a night. Also try Booking.com and Airbnb for apartment rentals.

Where to eat

The country has several Michelin-starred or listed restaurants, so definitely look up viamichelin.com. As for secret spots and cheap eats, I (only half-jokingly) think that Risso, a low-key pizzeria on Rue dAnvers, in the city, serves one of the best Napolitano-style pizzas north of Naples. They wont give you a table without a reservation even if you talk to them in Italian, and no, they will never turn down the TV when a football match is on. But the pizza is excellent.

Other tips

>Taxis in Luxembourg are hellishly expensive, and there is no Uber. Walk or use the bicycle-sharing system, or get adventurous with public transport.

>If youre game to try the buses, download the Mobiliteit app (mobiliteit.lu) for schedules and route planning. Its not always possible to buy tickets on the bus, so download the M-ticket app and hook up your PayPal account to it, or remember to buy your ticket beforehand.

>Rent a car at the airport, but remember that city parking isnt cheap.

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Address Downtown Opens in Dubai https://www.outlookindia.com/outlooktraveller/wp-content/uploads/2018/06/Address-Downtown-lobby-evening.jpg https://www.outlookindia.com/outlooktraveller/hotels/address-downtown-opens-dubai/ https://www.outlookindia.com/outlooktraveller/hotels/address-downtown-opens-dubai/ 2018-06-11T14:47:11+05:30 article Ever wondered what high-end hotel services coupled with a stellar location would feel like? Address Downtown in Dubai is all set to give you a Overlooking the Burj Khalifa, providing high-end facilities with its luxurious hospitality, Address Downtownin Dubai opened its doors to hotel guests on 4 June 2018.

As a flagship hotel under Emaar Hospitality Group's premium lifestyle Address Hotels and Resort brands, Address Downtown promises to reach new heights. It introduces fresh and innovative concepts revolving around hospitality, cuisine and its interior design too. Featuring 220 rooms and suites with extravagant designs, this hotel is set to woo all visitors and travellers with decadent facilities. Guests can choose from 16 spacious, welcoming and immaculately appointed room and suite choices. Among the selection are: Deluxe Rooms, Premier Rooms, Premier Fountain View Rooms, Club Rooms, Club Fountain View Rooms, Junior Suites Fountain View, to name a few. All of these rooms provide a view of the skyline- aren't you on cloud nine already? Address Downtown, with its first class provisions, can soon be seen climbing the ladder to becoming the top choice for trips made for business as well as pleasure. Well equippedmeeting rooms, a collaborative environment, spacious seating arrangements make it the perfect place to seal deals.

With a 15-minutedistance to and from the airport,Address Downtown'sprime location allows easy access to both the city and the airport due to it being situated at the heart of downtown Dubai. Overlooking the spectacular Burj Khalifa and The Dubai Fountain, Address Downtown does not fail to impress. It's modern and avant-garde interior, with architectural nuances and handcrafted accessories, may successfully be able to make guests prolong their stay.

If you want to wind down after a hard day of meetings and travelling, The Spa at Address Downtown combines the mind, body and soul. Boasting nine treatment rooms,a hammam, steam rooms and relaxation areas, a personal training room and much more, this is the place for you to unwind and relax. Feeling hungry after a long day? There are a lot of food choices which will entice you to indulge in a variety of cuisines- 'The Restaurant' at Address Downtown is designed in the style of avant-garde French apartment with inspired spaces from the Living Room to the Kitchen. Also open are 'the Lounge', that serves la carte meals to lighter fare and afternoon tea; and the all-time favourite 'Katana, which brings robatayaki-style cuisine to life, offering a uniquely delicious and expert blend of Japanese tradition and modern fare. There are other new restaurants all set to open soon, which you must look out for!

Olivier Harnisch, Chief Executive Officer of Emaar Hospitality Group, said "With the opening of Address Downtown, Emaar is bringing to life a crowning glory in its hotel assets. Working with world-leading designers and consultants, the all-new Address Downtown ushers in an exceptional lifestyle choice and set new standards in luxury hospitality. The hotel will continue to uphold its distinctive positioning of where life happens"

Getting there

There are multiple flights (both connecting and direct) to the Dubai International Airport, from all over the world.

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A Royal Weekend at JW Marriott Jaipur Resort & Spa https://www.outlookindia.com/outlooktraveller/wp-content/uploads/2018/06/JW-Marriott.jpg https://www.outlookindia.com/outlooktraveller/hotels/royal-weekend-jw-marriott-jaipur-resort-spa/ https://www.outlookindia.com/outlooktraveller/hotels/royal-weekend-jw-marriott-jaipur-resort-spa/ 2018-06-11T13:38:33+05:30 article Experience the royal grandeur alongside modern facilities at JW Marriott Jaipur Resort & Spa for a perfect weekend getaway with family, friends or a special We commoners often wonder what it might have been like to be a royal. The stories weve heard, the books weve read or the films weve seen all paint a picture that seems far from reality. Jaipur in general harkens back to the royal life of the past, with the citys iconic pink walls, the royal havelis that have been converted to heritage hotels, and iconic architectural gems.

Returning to Jaipur after many years, I was greeted by the familiar pink walls, while the traffic on the streets piled on. As we left the rush of the city to get on the National Highway, the empty road invited us with open arms. With the Aravalli Range giving us company, we cruised along. In the distance, a sparkling white structure, in stark contrast to the brown hills in the background, caught my eye. It was my destination. As we turned into the gateway, I was treated to a full view of the JW Marriott Jaipur Resort & Spa.

This is JWs ninth property in the country, having opened its doors four months back and already having become a hot wedding location. My first impression was that it was grand, but a sort of contemporary grand. Let me explain. Unlike most luxurious heritage properties that are renovated, this one has been built from scratch. There is a newness which is indeed refreshing. To give visitors a feel of olden-day royalty, the property has borrowed elements from the past. Local artisans were employed to create a piece of royal grandeur that can be experienced alongside modern facilities. The whole property is painted in shades of white, with royal blue and green designs. There is a play of gold and silver on doors that glint in the afternoon sun. Traditional tikri (mirror art) designs and jalis (lattice screens) add to the aesthetic appeal, while marble fountains sprout up all around.

Among the many categories of rooms the property offers, I stayed at a royal pool room, one of their most popular ones. Access to your own plunge pool in the soaring heat of Rajasthan indicates a weekend where one alternates between the water and the comfortable bed. There is simply no reason to go to the common swimming pool in the heart of the resort.

Dipping my toes in the water, my stomach rumbled. I sought out Sukh Mahal, the popular all-day dining restaurant, which is done up in pleasing shades of white, bronze and black to reflect different shades across the day. Here, one can opt for buffet or la carte. If you opt to order separately, do try the laal maas (local meat curry) and daal panchmel (made with five lentils). Both tasted fine, though I prefer my mutton more spicy.

For a peek into the lives of the local women weavers, one can head to nearby Manpura village with the Jaipur Rug Foundation, which the resort will happily arrange. These rural women are artists and entrepreneurs. A fixed income provides them economic stability, while the work gives them dignity.

For dinner, if you want to eat a royal meal on silverware in candlelight, book a table at Mohan Mahal. Inspired by the iconic Sheesh Mahal, Mohal Mahal took two years to create, with over 3.5 million pieces of mirror. There are no lights, just candles and on a water body in the centre. The soothing sound of water is the perfect accompaniment to the traditional thali (?3,500 plus taxes). Youd better be starving all day for this experience. The non-vegetarian thali had three appetisers, soup, bati and churma (local specialities), mutton and chicken curries from the region, and then three kinds of dessert. The downside to this experience is the massive quantity of food which diners often dont want.

To round off a relaxing weekend, try the spa. Opting for 60 minutes (?6,000 plus taxes) of massage, my body felt pampered.

While certain sections of the resort, such as the rooftop dining restaurant, is still not open, and small kinks that need to be worked out, overall, its relaxing, quiet and luxurious; elements that make for a pampered royal weekend.

The Information
Location: Off NH 11. The airport is 32 km away; approx. 40 mins

Accommodation: 200 rooms (including 22 terrace rooms, 16 studios, 41 pool rooms,1 palace suite, 1 presidential suite)

Tariff: ?15,000 approx. onwards

Contact: +91-142-6666000, jwmarriottjaipur.com

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Be a Local: 9 Things to do in Amsterdam https://www.outlookindia.com/outlooktraveller/wp-content/uploads/2018/06/feature-3.jpg https://www.outlookindia.com/outlooktraveller/destinations/be-a-local-9-things-to-do-in-amsterdam/ https://www.outlookindia.com/outlooktraveller/destinations/be-a-local-9-things-to-do-in-amsterdam/ 2018-06-11T11:10:23+05:30 article How to behave like a local in Amsterdam? Well, we bring you 9 things you must absolutely do when there to fall in love with While in Amsterdam, take time out from the usual Rijksmuseum, Anne Frank Huis and Canal District routine to do a few of these real Amsterdammer things:

EAT AT ROOMSERVICE IN HOTEL DROOG

Amsterdam, like most European cities, has its share of charming, quirky, hipster or just plain elegant cafs, but one of the citys most exciting and stylish places to brunch at has to be Hotel Droog. The iconic Dutch concept design store has an excellent caf-restaurant, Roomservice, overlooking the canal and a sprookjestuin (literally, fairy garden). It is open daily from 9am to 7pm for a drink, late breakfast, early lunch, high tea or anytime-dinner. Still not tempted? It has free wi-fi and fantastically designed products that decorate the space and are also for sale. Recommended sandwich: grilled vegetables and hummus. Simply super lekker! See droog.com.

GO SHOPPING AT MARQT

Grocery shopping is probably not most peoples idea of a fun thing to do on vacation. However, in Amsterdam it could be a nice break between visiting museums and buying Delft ceramic ware. If theres time for only one supermarket trip, give the ubiquitous Albert Heijn a pass and visit Marqt (marqt.com) instead. A Dutch organic and sustainable small supermarket chain, it has all the usual produce, dairy, etc, but also really wonderful cookies and artisanal chocolates, including an entire section of superfood cookies and treats that dont taste like sandpaper. Note that Marqt usually doesnt accept cash payments, but all major credit cards are accepted.

GET LOST IN HET SPUI

Sometimes the best way to get to know a city is by getting a little lost in its streets. And few cities are more fun to get lost in than Amsterdam. I suggest the neighbourhood of Het Spui for this. And if youd rather not, get on tram 5, towards Centraal Station, and get off at Het Spui. The word Spui comes from the original name of the waters that until 1425 formed the southern border of the city of Amsterdam. Today, the neighbourhood is an eclectic mix of bookshops, including two large English language bookstores (the American Book Center and the British chain Waterstones), little cafs, frites shops, the Amsterdam Museum and a pedestrian-only street given over to high-street stores like Zara, Desigual, Topshop and Foot Locker. The area is also home to a few wonderful vintage kitchen shops that sell everything, from beautifully engraved antique silver spoons to post-War Dutch ceramic butter dishes and cream jugs. Prices range from several hundred euros to under 100.

TAKE IN A SHOW AT THE BOSTHEATER

If you happen to be in Amsterdam during the summer, a visit to the Amsterdamse Bostheater is certain to give you some unforgettable memories. A large open-air theatre (openluchttheater) in the middle of the sprawling Amsterdamse Bos, a landscape park, it is the venue of choice for music and theatre productions during long summer evenings. Shows get sold out quickly, so plan your visit well in advance. You can book at bostheater.nl.

TAKE THE KIDS TO THE VERZETSMUSEUM

If youre in Amsterdam with kids eight years and older, then dont leave the city without a visit to the excellent Verzetsmuseum. Verzet is the Dutch word for the resistance, and this museum, in its childrens section, tells the story of the Netherlands during World War II through the individual interactive stories of four survivors of the war, including Anne Franks less famous cousin, Eva. It is an educative experience, with tours in English, Dutch and other

ENJOY A NIGHT OUT AT THE FOODHALLEN

Like the Mercado de San Miguel in Madrid, Amsterdam now boasts its own gourmet indoor food market in the Foodhallen (foothallen.nl). Located in a renovated tram depot, this huge loft-like space offers a number of food stalls, selling everything from artisanal burgers and craft beer to sushi, and bitterballen elevated to Michelin-star levels. Good music, a very cool vibe, hipster-chic fellow-diners and communal tables all make for a very enjoyable evening out.

CATCH A CONCERT AT CONCERTGEBOUW

If Western classical music is your thing and you would love to see a concert at Amsterdams celebrated Concertgebouw without breaking the bank, do what thrifty Amsterdammers love doing: watch a Gratis Lunchconcerten, performed every Wednesday at the Concertgebouw (except in July and August), starting at 12:30pm, at the Grote or Kleine concert hall. Find more information at concertgebouw.nl

GO FOR A STROLL IN THE HORTUS

Hortus Botanicus Amsterdam is one of the oldest botanical gardens in Europe, open every day from 10am to 5pm. Carnivorous plants, a medicinal garden, greenhouses and endangered plant species are sure to provide entertainment to grown-ups and kids alike. The Hortus caf, located in an old monument known as the Orangery, is one of the citys most charming outdoor cafs and a good enough reason on its own to visit the gardens. For more information, go to dehortus.nl

TAKE A DAY TRIP

>If youre done with the canals and coffee shops of Amsterdam and have a day free, go visit Scheveningen, one of the eight districts of Den Haag or The Hague. A modern seaside resort easily accessible from Amsterdam, Scheveningen has much more than an excellent beach and an incredible museum hidden in the dunes. Plan your visit at denhaag.com/en/scheveningen.

>Just 15 minutes from Amsterdams Centraal Station is the picturesque town of Haarlem. Home to the Frans Hals Museum and the historic Grote Kerk, a favourite thing to do here is to visit on a Saturday when the sprawling square surrounding the cathedral is turned into one of the Netherlands best and most colourful street markets.

>A short drive out of Amsterdam is the charming medieval town of Amersfoort. Known as the birthplace of the artist Pieter Mondrian, his home for the first eight years of his life is now a museum, Mondrianhuis. Its worth a visit if you are a fan of his vivid primary-colour art. Visit the New York section of the museum to see Mondrian art on Converse sneakers (not for sale of course!). Walk around the old town centre and through the narrow cobblestoned street lined with craft and antique shops, and cafs selling hand-churned ice cream and freshly brewed coffee.

>Like your beer? Then visit Delft but think outside the box, and leave the blauwe ceramics for another day. Instead, head just for the beer. This picturesque town once had over 200 breweries, and a local historian, Aad van de Hoeven, wrote a book that eventually led to the Delft Beer Historical Society organising its famous walking tours (and tastings). For more information, visit bierhistoriedelft.nl (in Dutch, though you get an email address where you could write for more information in English).

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It's Adults Only at THE Park Baga River Goa https://www.outlookindia.com/outlooktraveller/wp-content/uploads/2018/06/Park-Baga-3.jpg https://www.outlookindia.com/outlooktraveller/hotels/adults-park-baga-river-goa/ https://www.outlookindia.com/outlooktraveller/hotels/adults-park-baga-river-goa/ 2018-06-08T16:09:40+05:30 article Its adults-only at THE Park Baga River Goa, making it perfect for couples and honeymooners Its adults-only at THE Park Baga River Goa. It promises experiences that are Anything but Ordinary. An hours ride from the airport, the hotel is just 10 minutes away from Baga Beach and has a scenic lagoon view. Perfect for couples and honeymooners, the 28-bedroom property, also the brands first adults-only hotel, is guaranteed to impress with its personalised services like intimate in-room dining, spa treatments, romantic gifts, make-your-own-cocktail sets, wines, candles, chocolates, flowersin short, the works.

I stayed at one of the river-facing suites with a spacious sitting room and an adjoining bedroom with an attached bathroom. From rugs to art, the interior had a very strong traditional Portuguese influence, mixed with THE Park Hotels signature cool contemporary style that never goes out of date.

The property targets both business and leisure travellers, and offers all sorts of modern amenities, including a meeting space, a 24-hour restaurant (Saltwater), lounge access and pool. Its not just about the stay; there are a range of activities guests can enjoy, like photography and cookery workshops, art classes, yoga, kick-boxing, sailing and river cruises, to name a few. Rooms from ?12,000 per night; theparkhotels.com.

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Self-Driving Holidays with Self-Drive 365 https://www.outlookindia.com/outlooktraveller/wp-content/uploads/2018/06/self-drive.jpg https://www.outlookindia.com/outlooktraveller/destinations/self-drive-holidays-self-drive-365/ https://www.outlookindia.com/outlooktraveller/destinations/self-drive-holidays-self-drive-365/ 2018-06-08T12:14:16+05:30 article Self-drive 365 has a lot in store for the roadster in you Drive yourself crazy this holiday season with your favourite wheelsranging from sedans, to luxury SUVs, to motorbikes. Powered by Cox & Kings, Self-Drive 365 offers a wide array of road trips within India and abroad, with international packages like The Great Pacific Drive (USA) and Spanish Tango, alongside domestic offers like Heart of the Himalayas and Into the Tigers Lair. With easy access, hassle-free procedures, round-the-clock assistance and road trip advisors, this initiative ensures uninterrupted journeys and a wholesome travel experience, combining activities and adventures that are exclusive to certain destinations. Their support crew makes booking an easy procedure, and the brand offers customized thematic experiences to suit personal tastes.

 

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10 Places to Visit Before They Disappear https://www.outlookindia.com/outlooktraveller/wp-content/uploads/2018/06/featured-1.jpg https://www.outlookindia.com/outlooktraveller/destinations/10-places-visit-disappear/ https://www.outlookindia.com/outlooktraveller/destinations/10-places-visit-disappear/ 2018-06-07T15:40:58+05:30 article Pack your bags and head to these places before they turn into history Are you a traveller who likes to go off the beaten track? But have you ever wondered what might happen if the beaten track stopped existing? Well, thats exactly whats happening to a few well-known tourist attractions around the world. Due to a multitude of reasons, ranging from pollution, natural calamities and global warming, there are a few legendary spots across the globe which are on the brink of oblivion. Pack your bags and head on over to places on this list before they disappear entirely and become the stuff of stories and legends.

The Great Barrier Reef

Australia

The worlds largest coral reef system, which is located off the coast of Queensland, Australia, the Great Barrier Reef was designated a World Heritage Site way back in 1981. The reef is so large that it can be seen from space! Though the government of Australia is making serious efforts to protect this treasure, the reef has already experienced mass bleaching events many times. Climate change, pollution and over-fishing are all to blame if this beautiful natural attraction disappears. If things dont change, its days are most definitely numbered.

The Amazon Rainforest

South America

A tropical jungle that has been in existence for over 55 million years, the Amazon rainforest boasts unparalleled biodiversity. It is home to a whopping 2.5 million insect species alone, along with thousands of bird and mammal species, including the South American jaguar, bald uakari (a species of primate), howler monkey, brown-throated sloth, etc. But in the near future, this lush rainforest may stop existing altogether due to rampant deforestation. The authorities need to wake up and smell the forest fire before this ecological hotspot is reduced to farmland.

Glacier National Park

United States of America

A national park in the state of Montana which began forming 150 million years ago, this natural gem is spread across 1 million acres and is home to more than 130 pristine lakes. The diverse ecosystem here comprises upwards of 1,000 species of plants, along with hundreds of animal species. In the mid-19th century, scientists recorded the presence of 150 glaciers (hence the name), but by 2010, only 25 remained. It is estimated that all glaciers in the area will disappear by 2030 if steps arent taken to combat climate change, and species that are dependent on glacial melt will suffer. With the United States backing out of the Paris Climate Agreement in 2017, this now seems like a distant dream. Visit this natural attraction before its too late.

The Sundarbans

India and Bangladesh

The largest coastal forest in the world, which is home to numerous animals such as tigers, crocodiles and deer, is under serious threat. Besides cyclones that regularly pummel the area, the Sundarbans coast is retreating up to 660ft every year due to climate change. Considering this mangrove forest forms an important protective shield against cyclones and tsunamis, the loss of this habitat will displace tens of thousands of individuals living in this region, not to mention the terrible toll on the unique biodiversity that can be found here.

Machu Picchu

Peru

The most well-known remnant from the once mighty Incan Empire, Machu Picchu was built in 1450, but now faces the threat of disappearance. Declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1983, UNESCO is now considering putting this wonder on its List of World Heritage in Danger. As this is the most visited tourist attraction in Peru, it witnesses an incredibly high volume of footfall. Rampant urban development, deforestation and landslides are all cause for concern. Though the Peruvian government only allows 2,500 visitors at the site per day, this marvellous piece of history is incredibly fragile. It doesnt help that it is situated on the Tambomachay Fault, which may cause a devastating earthquake a final nail in the coffin for this glorious site.

Alaskan Tundra

United States of America

The threat of pollution and global warming loom over the tundras, and one of the most sensitive regions is in Alaska. Scientists have observed that the Alaskan tundra, which used to be a carbon sink in the 1970s, has become a carbon source. This is because the permafrost here is melting, releasing carbon dioxide and methane into the atmosphere. Over time, this is bound to change the landscape radically and the animals that have made the frozen tundra their home may become endangered or even face extinction. Lets hope that the US government wakes up before this frozen paradise is lost.

Venice

Italy

Unlike other entries on this list, this one isnt a natural habitat, but a full-fledged city that is home to more than 2,50,000 people. Since the 20th century, Venice has been sinking. Though the sinking has slowed markedly since artesian wells that drew water from an aquifer beneath the city were banned, the city continues its downward spiral at the rate of 12mm per year. That doesnt sound like much, right? Unfortunately, unless something is done, the citys fate is sealed. The government began the construction of a movable barrier in 2003 to protect the city from flooding, but the work is yet to be completed. Take that romantic gondola ride while you can.

The Maldives

Got a tad worried when you saw a city on this list? Well, how about an entire country? The Maldives is a South Asian island country famed for its beautiful coral atolls and gorgeous beaches. But as sea levels continue to rise, this island nation is under threat from disappearing underwater forever. Scientists have predicted that if the human populace does not mend its ways and we are unable to reverse climate change (which already seems unlikely at this point), Maldives will disappear by 2100.

The Dead Sea

One of the most popular tourist attractions in the world, the Dead Sea might literally die. The water level of one of the worlds saltiest water bodies is dropping by a whopping 3 feet a year! One of the main causes of the lakes recession has been the diversion of water from the Jordan River, its only source, by Jordan and Israel. Thousands of sinkholes have appeared in the region as the groundwater level has rapidly dropped. So, if you want a picture of yourself casually reading a book as you bob on the lake whose waters are nine times as salty as the ocean, you better head there fast.

The Forests of Madagascar

The nation of Madagascar is located off the eastern coast of Africa on the fourth largest island on earth. Its verdant forests are home to a vast array of animals, 90% of which arent found anywhere else in the world! However, it has been estimated that Madagascar has already lost 80% of its original forest cover. The main culprits? Agriculture, as farmers continue to use the slash and burn technique (known locally as tavy) to clear forests, and the demand for timber. Wildlife enthusiasts should head to this unique ecological wonder before its history.

There is still time for the human race to protect these amazing places from disappearing, but we need to act fast. Perhaps this list will encourage our readers to become more responsible and environmentally conscious. Every small step counts whether its cycling to work rather than driving, using less plastic or choosing hotels and resorts that practise responsible tourism. Lets try and change our world for the better before these gems are lost forever.

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Sustainability and Green Holidays by Cox & Kings: India https://www.outlookindia.com/outlooktraveller/destinations/sustainability-green-holidays-cox-kings-india/ https://www.outlookindia.com/outlooktraveller/destinations/sustainability-green-holidays-cox-kings-india/ 2018-06-07T15:37:27+05:30 article Sustainable practices during vacations is the way the Indian youth wants to go Young India means responsible India. That's right! On the eve of World Environment Day, 5 June 2018, Cox & Kings Ltd proudly released a study that determined that the youth of India is at the forefront of demanding 'sustainable tourism and green holidays'. Showing an enormous percentage of 87% young Indians wanting to save the environment, the study was based in metropolitan cities like Delhi, Bangalore, Mumbai, Chennai, Ahmedabad, Kolkata andThiruvananthapuram among 5000 youth aged between 20-35 years.

Travellers are becoming more conscious about their surroundings withtourism's global carbon footprint increasing, accounting for about 8% of global greenhouse gas emissions, small steps are being taken by the young guns of the country to contain greenhouse gas emissions. While in Europe, most now prefer to use bicycles and practical, environment-friendlylocal travel. Around 67% of travellers have shown theirpreference for locally sourced food at foodjoints which have minimal plastic usage. Initiatives like 'green hotels' have also come up and the younger generation has consistently been choosing stays with sustainable practices like utilising solar power, sourcing food locally, waste treatment facilities and technological intervention to reduce carbon footprints.

Altruistic practices are beginning to be merged with travel and young India has also shown a rise in interest with regard to cause based travel, farming trips, sustainable hikes and treks, to name a few. Mass tourism has also decreased with concerned youngsters not wanting to overcrowd places with heavy footfall, leading to a lack of resources for the destinations themselves. A similar trend was seen in Shimla where the youth have been active on social media to curb travel to Shimla due to its water shortage. Sustainable and conscious tourism need to be encouraged and promoted and it is the youth of the country who have shown determination to make the environment greener.

Cox& Kings promotes Responsible/Sustainable Tourism and is committed to work with its partners to reduce the global carbon footprints. Its adventure wing Trip 360? has also launched rural trips, city green getaways, sustainable treks etc. to endorse Responsible Tourism.

 

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Travel Istanbul with Touristanbul https://www.outlookindia.com/outlooktraveller/wp-content/uploads/2018/06/istanbul.jpg https://www.outlookindia.com/outlooktraveller/destinations/travel-istanbul-touristanbul/ https://www.outlookindia.com/outlooktraveller/destinations/travel-istanbul-touristanbul/ 2018-06-07T13:06:29+05:30 article Ever wondered what you could do while on a boring, long drawn halt? Turkish Airlines makes sure you get a peek into Istanbul's culture with Did you ever expect to be rewarded with free travel services while on a halt?

Touristanbul, an initiative by Turkish Airlines, chooses to add value to your layover. Since 2009, the airline has
offered free tours for those with connecting international flights in Istanbul with a layover between 624 hours. Explore Turkeys cultural heritage like the Topkapi Palace, Sultan Ahmet Mosque and Grand Bazaar; soak in the sights and sounds of the streets; and enjoy a traditional Turkish meal. Sign up at the International Arrivals Hotel Desk at Ataturk Airport, and make the best of your journey.
See turkishairlines.com for tour schedules.

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Awadhi Cuisine at Orza, Ansal Plaza https://www.outlookindia.com/outlooktraveller/wp-content/uploads/2018/06/feature-2.jpg https://www.outlookindia.com/outlooktraveller/cuisine/awadhi-cuisine-orza-ansal-plaza/ https://www.outlookindia.com/outlooktraveller/cuisine/awadhi-cuisine-orza-ansal-plaza/ 2018-06-06T16:54:01+05:30 article The menu of Orza borrows from the epicurean offerings of Iran, Oudh or Avadh and beyond. Presenting food in a mesmerising manner, Orza is the Chapli kebabs, bakhlavas, sheermaals, zafrani paneer...

Mmhmm... Are you salivating yet? Tracing the routes from Turkey, consuming culinary cultures ofPersia, Kandahar, Kabul, Kashmir and finishing at Awadh;Orzaat Ansal Plaza, devours all its influences and produces a delectable "influenced Indian cuisine". Orza, translating to "earthenware", dictates most of its interiorsthere are earthenware jars and ceramics which decorate the shelves of the restaurant, the sheer blinds allow for natural light. Minimalism in its modern design!

Exploring the eastern belt of Central Asia, the cuisine at Orza guarantees not to disappoint. Playing with flavours is one thing, getting them right is another. I was pleasantly surprised to see that Orza effortlessly blends cultures with its dynamic flavours and adapts its food for the modern palate. While entering the restaurant,I was greeted warmly by my hosts for the evening. As a five-month-old stand-alone restaurantseating48people, Orza does wonders with its 'five-coursemeal' idea, keeping in mind practical portions for individuals, avoiding wastage and adds to a fine dining experience with its splendid plating.

With a complementary vegetable bread and an assortment of dips and pickles, Orza hit it off right. The watermelon and feta salad is a winner and finely suited for the summer. Chunks of feta and fresh, sweet watermelons are married together with a ginger balsamic vinaigrette and pine nuts. The flavours keep you going back for more and the Delhi heat is soon forgotten with every bite. The starters and main course offer a wide varietyforthe hungry vegetarians too- who would've thought? As a newly turned vegetarian, my taste buds were aroused with the kind of vegetarian options I could spot on the menu.

You cannot miss the lip-smacking zafrani paneer spiced with Kashmiri chillies and saffron and the subz gullarkebab which remains my personal favourite because of itstextures and explosion of flavours. My friend, who was excited to try the non-vegetarian delicacies of Orza, cried yelps of satisfaction while tasting the chapli kebab. With its reputationofbeing a regional delight, this non-vegetarian starter took my friend back to her roots. Perfectly pounded and aromatic asaromatic gets, we say! It is, however, served with a dip that is not as authentic butgoes well with the theme of an influenced Indian cuisine.

For the main course, we went with khoreshtgharch a stew made with three types of mushrooms, the gravy tasting of mushrooms and aromatic spices, served with Orza Pulao. The khoreshtgharch was well cooked and portioned perfectly for one person. The Dum Murg ka stew felt a little lackluster in comparison due to its creaminess and the sheermaal (saffron bread) could have been replaced with another bread to enhance the flavours. Overall, the meal did pack a punch. The star of the main course meal was the famous Berry Pulao, its aroma filling the corner of the restaurant. Easily one of the best berry pulaos on the block!

All's well that ends well, they say. Damn right! The desserts at Orza were enough to make me walk through the authentic spice and dry fruit markets of the Persian Peninsula. Fragrance, flavours and visual delight never leave the diner at this restaurant. The Bakhlava, a traditional flaky pastry filled with berries and pistachios is splayed out on a bed of cinnamon dust and edible flowers. Coupled with their homemade saffron ice cream-Bastani Akbar Mashti, you are sure to reach a divine destination of appetites and heightened senses: sight, smell, taste, touch and the sound of the crumbling pastry, Orza has it all.

After a scrumptious meal and a memorable overall experience. The executive chef of the restaurant,Mr.Amit Rai, who was all smiles, stated, "Most diners come in from Noida and Gurgaon. It's surprising how much of a distance they cover for authenticity..." And why not!

Come and experience the magic of Oudh with a modern twist at Orza and set out on a culinary journey like never before.

Musthaves:

Paneer Kundan Kaliyan; berry pulao; bakhlava; cocktails like the classic martini and margarita

Address:
B-105, Ansal Plaza,
Khel Gaon Marg, New Delhi

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Vivid Sydney: 10th Anniversary https://www.outlookindia.com/outlooktraveller/wp-content/uploads/2018/06/vIVID-SYDNEY.jpg https://www.outlookindia.com/outlooktraveller/destinations/vivid-sydney-10th-anniversary/ https://www.outlookindia.com/outlooktraveller/destinations/vivid-sydney-10th-anniversary/ 2018-06-06T12:24:25+05:30 article Festivities like never before with Vivid Sydney and its grand plans to lure travellers into this city of culture, art and lights! Ever been on a date with a city? Its time for some fun after the sun with Vivid Sydney for their 10th anniversary, stretching over 23 nights (May 25June 16, 2018). Setting out to make the city magically come to life with its innovative programmes, this festival brings together light installations, musical collaborations and performances from the likes of Mazzy Star and Iron & Wine, along with discussions and summits to quench your creative thirst.Celebrating travellers world over, it allows access to precincts like the Taronga Zoo, Darling Harbour and more. Exciting packages and airfares await the explorer in you, urging you to scour through more destinations around Sydney like the Blue Mountains, the Central Coast and the Broken Hill in New South Wales. See vividsydney.com.

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The Colourful Festivals of Odisha https://www.outlookindia.com/outlooktraveller/wp-content/uploads/2018/06/feature-image-2.jpg https://www.outlookindia.com/outlooktraveller/destinations/colourful-festivals-odisha/ https://www.outlookindia.com/outlooktraveller/destinations/colourful-festivals-odisha/ 2018-06-06T10:30:54+05:30 article The festivals of Odisha offer an insight into the social and cultural aspects of the state The Rathayatra or the chariot festival of Lord Jagananth is the most well-known among the festivals of Odisha. Festivals held at the Lingaraja Temple in Bbhubaneswar and other festivals involving Puris Lord Jagannath Temple are a big draw too. A slew of music and dance festivals are held in Bhubaneswar in January. The state tourism department also holds other festivals from time to time. For example, in 2018, the first National Bird Festival was organised at Mangalajodi, at the edge of the Chilika Lake.

Rathayatra

Usually held in June-July, the Rathayatra or the Chariot Festival is the most well-known religious festival of Odisha. Lord Jagannath and his siblings Lord Balabhadra and Goddess Subhadra take a chariot ride to their aunts home and return to their abode after a seven-day holiday. The festival is observed throughout the state but the most famous is the one at Puri. The huge deities ride three gigantic chariots that are pulled by the attending pilgrims. Interestingly, the 10-day festival in Puri is conducted by the descendants of a tribal king and not Brahmin priests (who attend to the deities for the rest of the year). Preparations for the festival begin months ahead with the construction of the chariots. There are innumerable rituals associated with the festival, including one where the ruler of Puri sweeps the chariot with a golden broom a ritual based on the concept that everyone is equal in the eyes of god. The first day of the festival sees almost a million people turning up in Puri. So book your accommodation well in advance. If you are not willing to lose yourself among the teeming crowd that throngs the street, buy a ticket for a seat in the temporary galleries that spring up along the way. But remember, it can be a long wait, so carry some snacks and drinking water. Carry protective rain gear as sudden showers are common. To know more about the cult of Jagannath and the chariot festival, checkhttp://jagannath.nic.in/?q=home.

Bali Yatra

Usually held in November, on the day of Kartik Poornima, Bali Yatra celebrates the time when Kalinga (the ancient name of Odisha) used to have trade links with Bali and Sumatra in Indonesia. The key ritual involves floating decorated paper boats in the river. The biggest celebration takes place on the banks of the Mahanadi River near Cuttack. The local administration organises a week-long craft and cuisine fair in honour of the festival. When in Cuttack, do not forget to buy a finely crafted silver filigree product.

Konark (Dance) Festival

One of the best time to visit the Sun Temple of Konark, inscribed a Unesco World Heritage Site in 1984, is during the two festivals, held separately, in winter. The one organised by the state tourism department, popularly known as the Konark Festival, is held in early December. Apart from classical dance programmes with the famous temple as a background, artists camps, craft fair and sand art exhibitions are also organised. The International Sand Art Festival is also held at the same time at the Chandrabhaga Beach, about three km from Konark.

The Konark Music and Dance Festival, usually held in February, is now being organised by the Konark Natya Mandap, located about two km away from the Sun Temple. The programmes are held on its own premises, in an open-air theatre designed after the Natyashala (dance hall) of the iconic temple. Konark, Puri and Bhubaneswar is popularly known as the Golden Triangle of Odisha.

Nuakhai

A popular festival of western Odisha, it is celebrated widely in Sambalpur and adjoining districts. Usually observed in Aug-Sep, it revolves around eating the new rice of the year. The rice is cooked with milk and sugar to make kshiri, which is then offered to Lakshmi, the Goddess of Wealth. Later, the sweet preparation is shared with everybody. It is also the occasion to spruce up homesteads, wear new clothes and indulge in merry-making with friends and relatives. Budget to mid-budget accommodation can be found in Sambalpur town, which is also well known for its uniquely patterned Sambalpuri sari and textile.

Maghe (Mage) Parab

The tribal festival calendar of Odisha varies from tribe to tribe. Maghe (Mage) Parab, observed by the Ho, Oraon, Kisan and Kol tribes, is a harvest festival, usually held in February. People offer thanks to the village deity, usually Mother Goddess, praying for her blessings for good fortune and protection from calamities. One of the key rituals involves sacrificing a black fowl before the deity and offering liquor made from mahua flower. Besides, people wear new clothes and indulge in feasting and group dances.

Information:The best time to travel in Odisha is during winter, between December and February. Most of the festivals organised by the state tourism department is held during this time. It can be hot and humid during the Puri Rathayatra. Carry mosquito repellants while travelling through Odisha, especially while visiting the tribal areas.

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Nicholson Cemetery in Delhi https://www.outlookindia.com/outlooktraveller/wp-content/uploads/2018/06/cemetery.jpg https://www.outlookindia.com/outlooktraveller/destinations/nicholson-cemetery-delhi/ https://www.outlookindia.com/outlooktraveller/destinations/nicholson-cemetery-delhi/ 2018-06-05T15:42:34+05:30 article This Delhi cemetery is a window into the forgotten days of 1857 Whether you are a traveller or a resident, Dillialwayshas something new under its sleeve for everyone. The city has gained a reputationfor having embraced an urban aesthetic with its vivid and vibrant city scenes. There is, however,a dark juxtaposition, in the very heart of Puraani Dilli, which sends shivers down ones spine. Amidst the bustling expanse of Kashmere Gate, where one takes in pollution, crowds, colours and life, the Nicholson cemetery breathes its slow breath drawing wanderers into it, living in perfect opposition to the hurried life of the city that surrounds it. This cemetery is anything but ordinary. It is one of the few hidden holders of history that the city has forgotten. Offering a connection to our colonial past, with the bodies of many colonial residents buried here, the Nicholson Cemetery brings back haunting images of the Revolt of 1857.

The walk from the rusty iron gates of the cemetery to the tombstones is interrupted by the grave of Brigadier General John Nicholson, after whom the cemetery has been named. A superciliousBritish official during the First War of Independence- as the British preferred to call it- his graveimmediately draws attention with itsmetalfence and its location right next to the residence of the caretaker of this dead zone.

On a bright, sunny Delhi day, one might be easily enticed to spend hours here andexperiencethe timelessness of the space. The graves do have a magnetic pull after all. Even though thereare no fancy tombstones, what keeps one coming back or even looking for more is the breadth of the space and the way the sun shines through the nettle, filling in the wanting gaps of the leaves, much like the explorers own sense of adventure that needs to be gratified. Not much attention is paid to this cemetery.The graves lie in shambles withovergrown shrubs and grass that youwill find yourself entangled inif you try to takea good look at the chipped inscriptions on the tombstones. The tombstones are shocking to look at because one can trace a history of poor life expectancy during the days of the revolt, withchildren as young as 5 years old buried under them.

What strikes the searching eyes of those who visit this place of departure is what they find as they walk towards the end of the cemetery, big trees and a lone sweeper going about his job in the distance. On a good day, youmight find yourselfamong young people sitting and reading poetry under the shade of a tree, on someones short-lived existence, breathing life into the cemetery again.

The Information:

Getting there

Easy metro connectivity. Take the yellow line till Kashmere Gate Metro station. Walking distance from the metro station. The timings may vary at different times of the year: 9:00 a.m.- 5:00 p.m. between October and March and 8:00 a.m.- 6:00 p.m. the rest of the year.

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The Chinese Fishing Nets of Kochi https://www.outlookindia.com/outlooktraveller/wp-content/uploads/2018/06/featured.jpg https://www.outlookindia.com/outlooktraveller/destinations/chinese-fishing-nets-kochi/ https://www.outlookindia.com/outlooktraveller/destinations/chinese-fishing-nets-kochi/ 2018-06-05T15:38:42+05:30 article Once a cultural symbol of Kerala, the much photographed Chinese fishing nets are ill-maintained and fast disappearing from the Kochi coastline My first memory of the Chinese fishing nets of Kochi is from my parents photo album. The photograph is still so vivid in my memory. My mother is standing in a blue dress, wind in her hair, with the fishing nets in back ground while the sun sets dramatically behind the nets. There are hardly any people around and the beach looks very clean. My father, a tea planter, started his career in the tea estates of Kerala and when he got married, hed take my mother to Cochin on weekends.

Fortunately or unfortunately, I dont really know, he moved to Darjeeling before I was born so the first time I saw these fishing nets was early this year, almost 30 years after my parents left. What was it like, you ask? Well, to say it was disappointing would be an understatement. And don't get me wrong, the few fishing nets that remain are a thing of beauty in whatever condition they might be but what really broke my heart was the filth that surrounded them at the beach.

Locally known as Cheena Vala these huge cantilevered fishing nets are believed to have been brought by sometime between 1350 and 1450 by traders from the court of Kublai Khan, some others say Chinese explorer Zhang He introduced the nets to Kochi shores. While some accounts mention that the nets were set up by thePortuguese from Macau,an erstwhile Portuguese colony. Irrespective of who brought them first, they are one of the most significant symbols of the rich exchange of culture and ideas that existed in the Indian subcontinent at the time.

Operated from the shore, these nets are set up on bamboo and teak poles and held horizontally by huge mechanisms, which lower them into the sea. They look somewhat like hammocks and are counter-weighed by large stones tied to ropes, making for an ingenious way of fishing. The entire structure of the Chinese fishing nets is about ten meters in height. Each fishing net spreads to about 20 meters over the water body and is operated by a team of some six fishermen. Each net has a limited operating depth. Due to this, an individual net cannot be repeatedly operated in tidal waters. There are different fishing nets for operation, depending on the state of the tide. The whole paraphernalia is such that that the weight of a man walking along the main beam is sufficient to cause the net to descend into the sea. The net isallowed to remain underwaterfor about four-five minutes, before it is raised back by tugging the ropes. The catch might not be huge but it gets sold almost instantly owing to its freshness.

These fishing nets have been in use for the last 500 years and they are one of the biggest tourist draws in Kerala. So how is it that they are vanishing so fast from the coastline of Kochi? Agreed that the huge maintenance costs and poor catch is forcing fishermen to look for other alternatives, but what are the local authorities doing to help?

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MORI Building Digital Art Museum, Tokyo https://www.outlookindia.com/outlooktraveller/wp-content/uploads/2018/06/OPPENER-HIGHRES.jpg https://www.outlookindia.com/outlooktraveller/destinations/mori-building-digital-art-museum-tokyo/ https://www.outlookindia.com/outlooktraveller/destinations/mori-building-digital-art-museum-tokyo/ 2018-06-05T13:41:53+05:30 article This Japanese den of magic and art will transport you to another universe Decades after Yayoi Kusamas Infinity Mirror Rooms first enthralled audiences, the Japanese prove themselves, yet again, to be a cut above the rest. Opening on June 21, 2018 on Tokyos Odaiba Island, MORI Building DIGITAL ART MUSEUM: teamLab Borderless attempts to create an immersive digital experience like no other. In what seems to be a mysteriously sentient world, 470 projectors in the 10,000-sq-metre museum will unleash unique artworks that freely travel across rooms to intermingle, influence and create connections with visitors. The detail-rich cosmos will feature rooms of kaleidoscopic waterfalls, the haunting luminescence of an ocean floor, charming animals that shapeshift at the touch of your palm, and more. The Boing Boing Universe stands out among other psychedelic exhibits, as its flexible surfaces allow visitors to leapfrog through time and space to birth stars and black holes, while the Athletics Forest offers a chance to experience weightlessness and creative physical exercise. Disney fans will definitely draw parallels between the radiant Forest of Lamps and the iconic river scene from Tangled.

Experimental educational activities are available at a space called Future Park, where kids can slide through fruit fields, sketch the inhabitants of a virtual aquarium, and control the lives of tiny people on a table.

With a rainbow of ever-changing options that effortlessly blur the lines between dreams and reality, itd be easy to willfully lose yourself in this artificial paradise.

Admission fee: JPY 3,200 for adults and JPY 1,000 for children. Open 11am to 7pm from Monday to Thursday, 11am to 9pm on Friday, 10am to 9pm on Saturday, and 10am to 7pm on Sunday. Visit borderless.teamlab.art

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What Not To Miss in Milan https://www.outlookindia.com/outlooktraveller/wp-content/uploads/2018/06/feature-1.jpg https://www.outlookindia.com/outlooktraveller/destinations/not-miss-milan/ https://www.outlookindia.com/outlooktraveller/destinations/not-miss-milan/ 2018-06-05T11:36:09+05:30 article A low-down on the best spots in the fashion capital of the world FORNASETTI STORE

The Fornasetti store, which was inaugurated in 2016, is located in what was once the home of Filippo Tommaso Marinetti, the founder of Futurism. The store features the production of Piero Fornasetti, a Milanese designer and decorator, and a one-of-a-kind visionary who created more than 10,000 pieces in his lifetime. His legacy of unmistakably original, whimsical and imaginative style has been carried forward by his son Barnaba. In the store, you can find things like cabinets decorated with malachite motifs, trays covered in butterflies and the famous series of black-and-white plates known as Tema e Variazioni dedicated to the endless faces of the designers muse, which have become collectors items. (Corso Venezia, 21/A)

BAR BASSO

Over the years, this historical bar founded in 1947 has become a sort of Milanese institution. It is especially famous for its signature cocktail, the Negroni Sbagliato (sbagliato means wrong), which is served in a peculiar large glass, one of the bars trademarks. This is a cult spot for true cocktail connoisseurs. It has an extensive list of quality drinks and also happens to be the place where apertifs became popular with the hoi polloi at a time when they were exclusive to expensive hotels. It is also a charming bar where you can spend time talking to the owner Maurizio Stocchetto. Today, the best way to describe it would be radical chic meets working class, and it is packed to the gills during Milan Design Week, when designers come here late at night and dont leave until early morning. (Via Plinio, 39)

FONDAZIONE PRADA

This multidisciplinary arts space created by the fashion designer Miuccia Prada and her husband Patrizio Bertelli stands on the outskirts of Milan with its towering haunted house clad in gold leaf. A former distillery dating back to the 1910s, the complex was beautifully updated by the architect Rem Koolhaas in 2015. It was completed last April with the opening to the public of a 60m-high tower in exposed white concrete featuring works from the Prada Collection. The dramatic display includes art by Jeff Koons, Damien Hirst, Michael Heizer and Carsten Hller, paused at the sixth floor by a restaurant with a view that is a homage to Philip Johnsons iconic Four Seasons restaurant dismantled two years ago in New York. Fondazione Pradas Milan venue is also currently hosting the Post Zang Tumb Tuuum exhibition till June 28, a must-see show focussing on Italian art and culture between 1918 and 1943. I never miss a chance to take a break at the Bar Luce caf created by the movie director Wes Anderson, offering a postmodernist take on the traditional Milanese pasticceria. (Largo Isarco, 2)

PINACOTECA DI BRERA

Housed in the same building as the Accademia de Brera, the school of arts in the bohemian district of Brera, the Pinacoteca is the place to go in Milan for an immersion in classic Italian art. Its permanent collection covers the 14th to 19th century, and features many works by Andrea Mantegna, including The Lamentation over the Dead Christ, Piero della Francescas Pala Montefeltro (both dating to the 1470s), Giovanni Bellinis Madonna and Child, and other masterpieces by Raffaello, Bramante and Caravaggio. Also on display are more modern works, but it is safe to say that the old masters steal the scene. (Via Brera, 28)

WAIT AND SEE

Milan is the city of fashion, of course, and the obvious area for high-end brands is the elegant clutch of streets north of the Duomo known as the quadrilateroVia Montenapoleone, Via Borgospesso, Via Della Spiga and Via SantAndrea. But I actually prefer the more eccentric selection at Wait and See (Via Santa Marta, 14), which the designer and fashion consultant Uberta Zambeletti curates from her travels around the world. The little boutique is hidden in what is the most ancient and maze-like area of the city, a district called 5 vie (5 streets), which is the also the perfect place for a retail-focussed stroll with interesting shops, workshops and traditional trattorias where one can take a break for a cosy lunch.

VIA SOTTOCORNO

This street is my so-called gourmet destination, in other words, where I find my favourite restaurants in town, boasting a mix of good food and splendid dcor. Ristorante Da Giacomo, Giacomo Bistrot, Pasticceria Giacomo, Rosticceria and Tabaccheria are all from the stable of Giacomo Bulleri, a chef who came to Milan from Tuscany about 50 years ago. I often choose the most basic foods: the simple spaghetti al pomodoro at the Bistrot is fabulous, and what I like the most at the Ristorante is that you always get a slice of delicious pizza as a starter. When it comes to dessert, I go for double chocolate although the most famous cake here is called Bomba di Giacomo (Giacomos Bomb), a decadent delight with Chantilly cream and strawberries. And if I want to take home some of the ingredients the chef has scoured Italy for, I stop in at Tabaccheria, or head to Pasticceria for the sweets. The interiors are by the famed architect and scenographer Renzo Mongiardino and his pupils Roberto Peregalli and Laura Sartori Rimini. (Via Sottocorno, 56, 36)

VILLA NECCHI CAMPIGLIO

One thing I love about Milan is its selection of grand private homes that have been turned into museums. There are a few, including Poldi Pezzoli, Bagatti Valsecchi and Casa Boschi di Stefano, but the one I like the most is probably the Villa Necchi Campiglio. The Italian film director Luca Guadagnino chose this as the setting for his 2010 movie I Am Love featuring Tilda Swinton. The home was originally built for an upper-class family (in the business of manufacturing sewing machines) by the rationalist architect Piero Portaluppi in the 1930s with lavish materials combined in a minimalistic aesthetic. It stands in its garden with a swimming pool like a modernist fortress surrounded by opulent palazzos. (Via Mozart, 14).

BASTIANELLO

Go to Bastianello (Via Borgogna, 5) for possibly the best cappuccino in town (if you like super-creamy foam, this is the place for you). With an ornate aesthetic that extends throughout the place, even down to the tableware, this kitschy pasticceria might be a bit overdressed, but it cant help put you in a festive mood from morning to aperitif, which is also a popular time of day here thanks to the outdoor patio. On the weekends, I sometimes hop from caf to cafand the city centre is filled with historic ones with that grandmotherly allure that makes them so preciousbecause having a quick coffee at the counter is a quintessential Milanese experience.

SAN MAURIZO AL MONASTERO MAGGIORE

From the outside, this 16th-century church is not particularly interesting, but inside, it is truly spectacular. The building is next to the archaeological museum, which, in the past, was a Benedictine convent, while the Cenacolo Vinciano, the famous Last Supper by Leonardo Da Vinci at Santa Maria Delle Grazie church, is just 10 minutes away. What makes this church a hidden gem is its abundance of Renaissance frescoes exploding in a triumph of colours and a marvellous decorated vault that has earned it the title of Milans Sistine Chapel. These frescoes were done by Leonardesque painters, including an extensive collection by Bernardino Luini. The overall scenic setting is quite remarkable. (Corso Magenta, 15)

SIX

Opened last year, this is still a kind of secret downtown address where the cool crowd heads for shopping and dining. Behind a large doorway on a side street, one finds a design gallery, a bistro and a poetic flower shop housed in what was a former monastery. The space has been renovated to offer an underground vibe with a sophisticated touch. The Six Gallery is the brainchild of husband-and-wife architects David Lopez Quincoces and Fanny Bauer Grung. It features an inspiring mix that ranges from affordable pieces to iconic ones, bringing together Venetian glass by Yali, chairs by Gio Ponti, and the architects brand new furniture collection, which just launched in April. Its the perfect destination after 5pm. End the day with one of the seasonal dishes at Sixime bistro and a cocktail before or after dinner. (Via Scaldasole, 7)

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Book Review - Coromandel: A Personal History of South India https://www.outlookindia.com/outlooktraveller/wp-content/uploads/2018/06/COROMANDEL-feature-image.jpg https://www.outlookindia.com/outlooktraveller/books/book-review-coromandel-personal-history-south-india/ https://www.outlookindia.com/outlooktraveller/books/book-review-coromandel-personal-history-south-india/ 2018-06-04T15:58:00+05:30 article The Coromandel Coast through the eyes of Charles Allen One of my favourite walks in the Western Ghats is to the Naneghat Pass. Theres something unfailingly satisfying about ascending from sea level to arrive at the flat Deccan plateau. So I was pleased to see that Allen enters his chapter on the Satavahanas through Naneghat and the Brahmi inscriptions in its caves. From there he goes on to the 19th-century British officials who documented the inscriptions, the German epigraphist who deciphered the inscriptions as the 2,000-year-old account of Vedic sacrifices performed by Satavahana rulers, the Roman trade that passed through and probably funded the cave inscriptions as well as the Satavahana patronage of a Buddhist revival in the south, and on to recent discoveries of Buddhist sites in Andhra, such as Kanaganahalli, which will in time become as world famous as Sanchi or Ajanta as one of Indias very few well-preserved early Buddhist sites.

As a cultural history of southern India, Coromandel is meant partly to correct the tendency to equate India with its north. Its termed a personal history, which accounts for the freewheeling narrative style, Allens deep engagement with India, and the discretionary omission of large portions of south Indian history.

The book begins with pre-historythe hunter-gatherers of India, the advent of agriculture known through archaeology, language and genetics (though the advances in palaeogenetics in the last few years are not represented). It arrives at the present day via the complex interactions of Jains, Buddhists and Hindus, the evolution of deities and traditions as they played off each other, figures like Agastya and Thiruvalluvar around whom identities were built, the arrival of European colonisers, an account of the formation of Kerala society, a chapter on Islam in the south, and the Dravidian movement of the last century, all amid the coming and going of rulers and dynasties. Allen writes that colonisation certainly worked to the advantage of the British, but it had some upsides for the colo-nised, among them the modern era of Indian historiography and Indian studies. Coromandel is in part a tribute to colonial British administrators, scholars and Orientalists who began piecing together Indian history.

Allen writes engagingly and with a great deal of affection for his subject. He is also a sceptical writerHistory should never be reassuringalways looking to go beyond legend and myth to arrive at a more nuanced story. Compelling as they are, these stories go off in so many directions that the book seems to lack a continuing thread, a central argument, a resting note. Also, more citations would have been welcome. For example, it is not clear if Allens identification of the Rig Vedic Saraswati river as the Harut comes from his own analysis. The book could have done with some fact checking: there is no Chitaldurga district in Karnataka, Srikakulam is not in northern Odisha, Kappagallu does not mean Peacock Hill, and so on. And I wonder what Allen was getting at when he says M.M. Kalburgi was both a Brahmin and a Lingayat.

History is a diffused thing. We may not remember particulars, but everything weve read or heard adds to a broad awareness that enriches our experience of place, our sense of how the world came to be what it is. On that account, Coromandel certainly works. Theres much here that probably hasnt been written about before for a popular audience, and its put together with a definite and attractive sensibility.

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Gujarat: Museum Tour https://www.outlookindia.com/outlooktraveller/wp-content/uploads/2018/06/feature.jpg https://www.outlookindia.com/outlooktraveller/destinations/gujarat-museum-tour/ https://www.outlookindia.com/outlooktraveller/destinations/gujarat-museum-tour/ 2018-06-04T15:55:57+05:30 article Museums in Gujarat cater to every kind of travellers interests Vechaar Utensils Museum, Ahmedabad

A visit to the Vechaar (Vishalla Environmental Centre for Heritage of Art, Architecture and Research) Utensils Museum, located inside the Vishalla Village Restaurant, will make you realise how utility and art was combined to make utensils in the bygone days, how the inherited vessels and other traditional objects we use every day are a commentary on our social evolution. The main building is designed like an Indian hut. There are around 4,000 artefacts, ranging from pre-historic vessels to new-age products. There are utensils made from leaves, a gourd jug, to modern stainless steel and glass utensils. The metal utensils cover everything from brass, copper, bronze, zinc to German silver. Ask for a guided tour. The museum (closed on Mondays) remains open between1pm and 3pmand between5pm and 10.30pm.Ticketed entry. The Vishalla Restaurant serves typical Gujarat thali; seating is on the carpeted floor.http://www.vishalla.com/

Auto World Museum, Ahmedabad

Love vintage cars? Then a visit to the Auto World Museum in Ahmedabad is a must. The museum was established by the late Pranlal Bhogilal, one of India's famous car collectors. The cars are displayed across a huge area in his Dastan Estate. There are Rolls-Royce, Bentley, Daimler, Langonda, Mercedes, Maybach, Packard, Cadillac, Buick, Auburn, Cord, Lancia, Lincoln, Chrysler, etc.You will find Limousines and Grand Open Tourers for ceremonial occasions, convertible cars used for evening drives, station wagons shaped like a boat as well as a horse drawn carriage, etc. Nearly all of them were built to individual specifications by famous car makers from across the globe. Ticketed entry. There is a souvenir shop and a cafeteria. Check for timing. Contact:+91-79-22820699.

Calico Museum of Textiles and Sarabhai Foundation Collections, Ahmedabad

The Calico Museum of Textiles, housed in The Retreat (Sarabhai Foundation) in the Shahibaug area, offers a journey through the different aspects of Indian textiles. There are two wings here - the Haveli showcases religious textiles, as well as south Indian bronzes, Jain art, and Mughal and other miniature paintings; the Chauk displays royal tents, carpets, furnishings and costumes of the Mughal and regional courts; textiles for Indias export trade; as well as a wide range of regional ethnographic textiles. Gallery entry is free (museum is closed on Wednesdays and public holidays). You can also pre-register for a guided tour (10.30m to1pm) but it is restricted to 20 people only. The museum has many dos and donts, such as children below 10 years of age are not admitted on the museum tour; no handbags/baggage, cameras or mobile phones allowed in the premises; no photography/videography allowed, etc.http://calicomuseum.org

Maharaja Fatesingh Museum, Vadodara

Even if you have seen the private collection of Indian maharajahs elsewhere in India, the collection at Vadodaras Maharaja Fatesingh Museum will still surprise you. Located in the Lakshmi Vilas Palace compound, the museum houses objects collected by the Gaekwads of Baroda, especially Maharaja Sayajirao Gaekwad III (1875-1939). Paintings by Raja Ravi Verma, paintings and sculptures by Venetian artist Fellicci, Japanese and Chinese porcelains, Greek and Roman sculptures, 18thcentury French furniture, etc. are some of the eye-catching displays here. There is also a dedicated head gear gallery. The museum (closed on Mondays and public holidays) is open from10am to 5pm.Ticketed entry. Contact: +91-8511179951/+91-2652426372

Kutch Museum, Bhuj

If you are keen about regional history, then Kutch Museum in Bhuj will be of interest to you. Housed in a Gothic-style building, it contains some rare artefacts among others, such as Kshatrapa inscriptions (1st century AD), extinct Kutchi script, kori once the local currency, etc. There are also displays on tribal and folk crafts. The display on local Kutchi embroidery is interesting. The Museum is closed on Wednesdays. On other days, check for opening hours. Contact: 91- 9675796178

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Neelakurinji blooming season: Munnar https://www.outlookindia.com/outlooktraveller/wp-content/uploads/2018/06/Neelakurinji.jpg https://www.outlookindia.com/outlooktraveller/destinations/neelakurinji-blooming-season-munnar/ https://www.outlookindia.com/outlooktraveller/destinations/neelakurinji-blooming-season-munnar/ 2018-06-04T13:31:13+05:30 article Munnar promises to make all your senses celebrate with Neelakurinjis Blossoming once in 12 years from July to October, this blue bloomer is set to attract tourists from all over the world with its flower power.Targeting over eight lakh tourist arrivals during the Neelakurinji blooming season in Munnar's Idukki district, Kerala Tourism is excited to see the boost in its tourism industry. Foundacrossthe Western Ghats, this flower is sure going to gain attentionafter almost a decade long wait for its arrival (it last bloomed in the year 2006) as it is set to spread skies on the land for three months this year!

Promising to paint the hills and valleys of Munnar blue, the flush of this flower saw Mr. P. Bala Kiran, IAS, Director, Department of Tourism, Government of Kerala, state, "There is no better time to visit Munnar than the time when Neelakurinji plants bloom en masse. As many as 628,427 tourists had visited Munnar in 2017 with an increase of 34.31 percent as compared to 467,881 vacationers in 2016. The Tourism Department is expecting a growth of 79 percent in tourist arrivals to Munnar this year. This unique lifecycle of the plant makes the hills a must-visit destination for travel enthusiasts.

Munnar has much more to offer still. The Nilgiri Tahr, endangered mountain goat native to this region can also be spotted here during this time. The Tourism Board of Kerala has taken several measures to make sure that it attracts tourists withtour planners whipping upvarious adventure activities and treks which will entice you to go buy those trekking shoes and set a journey to the best trekking trails in the country. The Eravikulam National Park, where the endangered Nilgiri Thar is protected is also the main flowering area of the blue flora.

Regulated vehicles and parking spots, effective waste management, well planned travel itineraries are some of the careful steps taken by the Kerala Tourism to help travel enthusiasts get a glimpse of the beautiful blues of Munnar.

Visit Munnar to experience that bluereally is the warmest colour!

For more information, visithttps://www.keralatourism.org/travelcare/

The Information:

Getting there

The nearest airport to Munnar is the Cochin International Airport (110 kms away)

There are multiple flights available to Kochi from all over the world.

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The Forts and Palaces of Kerala https://www.outlookindia.com/outlooktraveller/wp-content/uploads/2018/06/Bekal-Fort-on-a-cloudy-day-Kasaragod-district-FEATURED.jpg https://www.outlookindia.com/outlooktraveller/destinations/forts-palaces-kerala/ https://www.outlookindia.com/outlooktraveller/destinations/forts-palaces-kerala/ 2018-06-04T12:56:16+05:30 article Head to these forts and palaces if you're looking for an insight into the region's vibrant history The forts and palaces of Kerala provide a deep insight into the rich history that nurtured gods own country. From their splendid architecture, the varied colonial influences and their vast collection of antiques and artifacts, these places in Kerala demand a visit from any traveller who wishes to delve into the regions rich past.

KRISHNAPURAM PALACE


Located in a quaint little village in Alappuzha, this palace was built around the 18th century by the Travancore king, Raja Marthanda Varma after his victory over Odanad. Complete with gabled roofs, narrow corridors, dormer windows and Mangalore tiles, it is one of the finest examples of Pathinarukettu or Kerala-style architecture. The palace complex, which now functions as an archaeological museum, is a treasure trove of ancient paintings and inscriptions, coins, megalithic remains, artefacts made of wood, brass and stone sculptures. Some of the best displays in the complex are the Kayamkulam Val (sword), a statue of Buddha from the 10th century, ceremonial utensils and the gorgeous mural of Gajendra Moksham, that depicts an elephant saluting Lord Vishnu as the other Gods, Goddesses and sages look on in reverence. Sized at 49 sq m, it is the largest single mural ever found in Kerala.
Visiting Hours: 9 am to 5 pm on all days, except Mondays.

BEKAL FORT


Built in the 17th century, this magnificent fort in Kasaragod is one of the most well-preserved forts in Kerala. Designed in the shape of a giant keyhole, the fort has tall observation towers that offer stunning views of the Arabian Sea. It was only a few centuries ago that giant cannons were placed all around it in order to defend it from threats. Right next to the fort is an old mosque that is said to have been built by the great king Tipu Sultan. Originally constructed by the rulers of the Kadampa dynasty, the fort changed many hands from the Kolthiri Rajas, the Vijaynagar kings, Tipu Sultan till it was finally occupied by the British East India Company. Now its scenic location has become a favorite shooting locale for film-makers and selfie-takers alike.
Visiting hours: 8 am to 5:30 pm.

KOYIKKAL PALACE


Built for Umayamma Rani of the Venad Royal Family between 1677 and 1684, the Koyikkal Palace now functions as a Folklore Museum and a Numismatics Museum. The beautiful collection of antiques here give a valuable insight into Keralas intriguing past. The gabled roofs make the double-storied palace stand out. The Folklore Museum was setup in 1992 and boasts of musical instruments, household utensils and models of folk arts. This is the only place in the State where you will find the Chandravalayam, asmall percussion instrument that is played while reciting the ballad of Ramakathappattu. It also houses old manuscripts along with decorative items and jewelry used by the royal family. The Numismatic Museum, on the other hand will give you a rare insight into Keralas trade relations that flourished in the past through its rare coin collection. Amaida, a rare coin which is believed to have been presented to Jesus Christ can also be seen here. More than two thousand years old Karsha coins, Rasi coins (the smallest in the world), coins belonging to the Roman Empire and those used by a wide variety of dynasties across India are also part of the magnificent collection.
Visiting Hours: 9 am to 5 pm on all days, except Mondays.

MATTANCHERRY PALACE


Popularly known as the Dutch Palace, it was built by Portuguese as a gift to the Raja of Cochin around 1555. Later when cochin came under the rule of the Dutch, it was renovated and came to be known as the Dutch Palace. Built in the Nalukettu style of Kerala architecture, the double-storied palace has a courtyard in the middle and is quadrangular in shape. The dining hall boasts of an exquisitely ornate wooden ceiling embellished with brass cups. The palace also contains rare examples of traditional Kerala flooring, which looks like polished black marble but is actually a mixture of burned coconut shells, charcoal, lime, plant juices and egg whites. You can also take a look at the stunning collection of murals here. The mural paintings cover an area of almost 300 sq. km depicting scenes from Indian epics such Ramayana and Mahabharata along with the royal familys favorite gods such as Krishna of Guruvayur Temple. The great works of Sanskrit poet Kalidasa are also painted on the walls. Other exhibits include life-size portraits of the Kings of Cochin since 1864, sheathed swords, daggers and axes besides royal caps, coins issued by the Kings of Cochin along with plans laid out for Cochin by the Dutch.
Visiting Hours: 10 am to 5 pm

PALAKKAD FORT


Not much is known about the origin of this fort also known as Tipus Fort. It is said to have existed since ancient times. In recent history, it served as an important military base and was conquered and renovated by Hyder Ali, Tipu Sultans father in the 18th century. However, it was only in 2004 that the ASI declared it as a protected monument. The giant red laterite walls against the lush greenery that surround the fort make for a refreshing image in the eyes of a visitor.
Visiting Hours: 8 am to 6 pm

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Goa's culture and the art of motorcycling https://www.outlookindia.com/outlooktraveller/wp-content/uploads/2018/06/FEATURE-IMAGE.jpg https://www.outlookindia.com/outlooktraveller/destinations/goas-culture-art-motorcycling/ https://www.outlookindia.com/outlooktraveller/destinations/goas-culture-art-motorcycling/ 2018-06-03T20:48:40+05:30 article Discover the world of art that runs parallel with the love of motorcycling in Goa To many, riding is synonymous with something that is rough and tumble, and an affirmation of masculinity. For a long period of time I too shared a similar outlook. But now, with riders taking the road, men and women alike, spreading the spirit of adventure and travel one throttle at a time, it was not tough to disengage myself from any inherent biases.

I experienced a newfound respect for the riding community on my recent visit to the Royal Enfield Garage Caf in Baga, Goa. I arrived just in time for their annual worldwide event, One Ride, one of the worlds largest community rides, on April 8, 2018. My first and only stop was the Royal Enfield Garage Caf.

Clouds rumbled, threatening to burst any time, and I was surrounded by riders creating their own thunder on the road astride their Royal Enfield bikes. And just like that, over 300 bikes, and I as a pillion rider, took to the road that afternoon. As the RE riders explored every nook and cranny of North Goa, I was in my own world, trying to come up with possible explanations for this riding culture and for a vehicle that made a lot of noise.

I knew then that I needed to go back to the place where I had first landedthe Royal Enfield Garage Caf.

Back at the caf, my hosts were preparing to fill me up on everything about what they call pure motorcycling. The caf, located right beside a lagoon, a mere 10 minutes away from Baga beach, was not only about the brand Royal Enfield or motorcycles, it was beyond that. The Garage Caf in itself was a cultural hubfor riders, artists, food connoisseurs, those who customise bikes, and people like myself, who dont follow this particular culture but are open to learning. The caf had three partsan exhibition area, motorcycle accessories and workshop area, and a bar.

The exhibit grabbed my attention. All around the caf were Portuguese artworks, and displayed items ranged from customised bikes to the 125cc Flying Flea from WWII and the iconic Cast Iron 350, one of the last cast iron engines seen in a Bullet. The exhibit was a tribute to the art of motorcycling.

As I took a walk around, I came across a black-and-white photo gallery by Ronny Sen, aptly titled The Highway Star. His work was mainly to showcase the Indian highway from the lens of a motorcyclist, seeing India as a rider sees it. In a little cosy corner of the exhibition area, I came face-to-face with a hand-built classic miniature motorcycle by the RE industrial design studio in Chennai. Each miniature part had been created using the same process as it would have for a real motorcycle. From the buffed tank to the key, the model was a fine example of a passion for art and the use of real materials. I was later told it had taken them two years to complete the model.

The Bullet, with a production run since 1931 and still going strong, ran parallel with the Portuguese art on display. The pinstripe work on the Bullet, done by a dedicated community of free-hand artists, got a tribute on one of the walls in the caf. But bikes were not the only art on display. It reflected in their food as well.

Outside the caf I noticed a sign that said Garage Caf at J&As. The food from the kitchen of Jamshed and Aisha was the binding force that brought together riders and others under one roof. Their main goal was making food that would suit everybodys palate. Garage Caf was a place for the biking community to feel a sense of family, a sense of belongingness. And to bring this emotion to their food, Jamshed and Aisha, avid riders themselves, have gone in-depth into the culture. Jamshed introduced me to the large plates of calamari, prawns and chicken liver. Food here is served with style and integrity, without any pretension. Generous portions supported his claim. At the caf, it was a country-style kitchen because motorcycling is a country thing.

I had come to Goa with preconceived notions about motorcycling. However, seeing how riders and artists associated themselves with motorcycles under the rubric of creative expression, made me realise that we need more such places like the Royal Enfield Garage Caf.

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The Wonders of Northwestern France https://www.outlookindia.com/outlooktraveller/wp-content/uploads/2018/06/feature-image-1.jpg https://www.outlookindia.com/outlooktraveller/destinations/wonders-northwestern-france/ https://www.outlookindia.com/outlooktraveller/destinations/wonders-northwestern-france/ 2018-06-02T10:55:55+05:30 article Navigate through the French streets and the corridors of the Gothic abbey on this island The deeply evocative Sanskrit word maya described our feelings most succinctly. Was that soaring edifice on a rocky island in the sea an illusion? Or was it a sorcerers castle, swathed in an early morning veil of mist? Or could it be the palace of a wicked witch who haunted our darkest childhood fantasies? Le Mont-Saint- Michel, a Gothic medieval abbey located on a 264-feet rocky isle just off the coastline of Normandy, France, seemed to pull us forward irresistibly and yet filled us with a sense of foreboding.

As we walked towards the Bay of Mont-Saint- Michel in which the abbey is located, the over a thousand-year-old offshore Benedictine monastery seemed to move farther away. It is perhaps the indefinable aura of unattainability that clings to this remarkable monument that has held devotees and travellers in thrall for centuries. The abbey evolved into one of the great centres of learning in Europe, and soon became known as merveille de lOccident the marvel of the Western world. The epithet is well deserved, for the abbey was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site way back in 1979, and is among the first to figure on the list. (Indeed, UNESCO has declared it a technical and artistic tour de force!)

And a marvel it isit seems to rise majestically from the heart of the islet, moulded to its sharp, edgy contours as if it belongs there. The minuscule population (comprising largely of monks) is overwhelmed by 2.5 million tourists a year and a sprinkling of pilgrims.

In the days of yore, the abbeys relative inaccessibility was heightened by the fact that the bay turned into a quicksand mudflat at low tide, and at high tide, the sea rolled in at the speed of a galloping horse which made it resemble some mythical hard-to-reach eyrie. Weary pilgrims would cross the mudflat quickly in what were called hip boots, related our guide. In the late 1800s, an ugly causeway was built for easier access, silting up much of the bay. Soon the once-isolated island seemed to merge into the mainland, destroying much of that hard-to-define appeal it drew from that unique sense of remoteness. Today, a low curving bridge on stilts has replaced the causeway and connects the abbey with the mainland, allowing water to ebb and flow around the monument and enhance its maritime aura.

We walked down the narrow main street of the village that the serene abbey has birthed and sheltered beneath its ramparts. There, unlike the abbey itself, restaurants serving the local staple, omelettes and crpes, and shops hawking tourist memorabilia were wreathed in the smell of commerce, jolting us back to the 21st century. The abbeys stone steps were worn smooth by pilgrims and wayfarers from centuries past who had trudged up, propelled by deep faith and a sense of awe as they gazed at the gilded statue of Archangel Saint Michael, glowing like an avenging angel atop the soaring edifice.

Most legends have their roots in a dream and so does the abbey. It goes back to the eighth century, when a local bishop had a vision of Archangel Saint Michael instructing him to build an abbey at the site. It all started with a small church and over the centuries, the vision was transformed into reality. Granite was ferried across the bay and hauled uphill; monastic buildings and a collection of vast chambers were built at a dizzying height. These seemed to enhance rather than detract from the cohesiveness of the structure.

This is the original labour of love, we thought, as we drifted through the largely empty Gothic rooms impregnated by piety and a strange sense of eeriness. Was that a meditating monk, sitting in a nook by the window? Were we imagining the chanting of hymns soaring to the highest point of the abbeythe bronze, sun-stunned, winged statue of the archangel with sword raised? Or was the resonant singing for real? It was only when we would gatecrash a room full of awestruck tourists that the abbeys grip on our wayward imagination would loosen.

It was the slender spires and flying buttresses of the abbey church on top that drew us. From there we drifted into the tranquil cloisters where silence wrapped around us like a second skin and, seeing us, a few monks slipped away into the dark interiors, as elusive and ephemeral as shadows.

By the time we were down on terra firma, it was dusk. The abbey lights came on, making this historic pile glow like a stranded extraterrestrial ship that had been snagged one foggy night on the rocky island. The abbey glimmered thus till midnight, after which the lights faded almost as though, this, one of the most other-worldly sights that France has to offer, was taking a curtain call.

THE INFORMATION

Getting there

Paris (approx. 300km) is the most accessible airport, as it boasts of many direct and connecting flights from major Indian cities. Pontorson (9km) is the nearest railhead, connected by a regional train from Paris. Another option is to take the high-speed TGV train from Paris Montparnasse station to Rennes, and then a bus to Le Mont-Saint- Michel (approx. 60km).

Getting around
Self-drive car rental from Paris is the best option (around 30 for 24 hours). A number of tour operators, including Viator (viator.com) and Paris City Vision (pariscityvision.com), offer round-trip day tours from Paris starting at 135. Alternatively, one can opt for Responsible Travels (responsibletravel.com) 6D/5N cycling tour of Brittany and Normandy which includes Mont- Saint-Michel (695).

Where to eat
There are cafs and brasseries within the walls, as well as a few outside. Mont-Saint-Michel caters to all palates and budgets. For a quick snack visit La Sirne and for fine dining go to Le Relais Saint-Michel.

Visa
A non-immigration French Schengen visa costs 60. The validity of a visa can be from a few days to two years, depending on the discretion of the visa-issuing authorities.

Currency
1 = approx. ?76.

Where to stay

The majority of hotels are located outside the walls of the citadel, while a few are inside. Options include Htel Du Guesclin (from 100; hotelduguesclin.com), Htel Mercure Mont Saint-Michel (from approx. 100; accorhotels.com) and Le Mouton Blanc (from 180; lemoutonblanc.fr).

Contact
Atout France, the countrys tourism department, at in.france.fr.

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Raise your Lassi Glasses for a Toast this Summer https://www.outlookindia.com/outlooktraveller/wp-content/uploads/2018/06/lassi-festival-kiyan-the-roseate-delhi-featured-image.jpg https://www.outlookindia.com/outlooktraveller/cuisine/raise-lassi-glasses-toast-summer/ https://www.outlookindia.com/outlooktraveller/cuisine/raise-lassi-glasses-toast-summer/ 2018-06-01T17:58:39+05:30 article Beat the heat this summer with these delicious and carefully prepared lassis at Kiyan, The Roseate Delhi's heat is no joke and no one should take it lightly. I didn't. As soon as the mercury started hovering around 40's, I made a bee-line to Kiyan at The Roseate for their Lassi Festival. It was hard to resist knowing that Chef Anand Parwar was whipping out some of the most delicious and refreshing lassis that hot afternoon.

I reached The Roseate in Samalkha, a resort not too far away from IGI Airport, wondering what was I doing outside in that sweltering afternoon heat. Upon reaching the resort, it almost didn't feel like summerthe resort was designed in such a way that large trees gave shade when you enter the resort premises, then you enter a high dome-like structure and suddenly find yourself near an artificial pond. Few steps further you are greeted by high columns, more pond, grassy knolls, fruit bearing trees, vinesdidn't feel like summer with all that cool breeze.

Inside, Chef Anand Panwar welcomed us with his summer specialslassis made with seasonal fruits (and other surprises!). The menu showed six types of lassis and I started to panic a little at the thought of downing six different types of lassis in one afternoon. Without much further ado, we began our lassi tasting session. Chef explained that all ingredients were locally sourced and that he would be presenting one lassi thick and the next one thin. Our first one arrivedbael lassi (wood apple), a thick and sweet goodness in a shot glass. I could taste every bit of the fruit in that lassi and nothing spoke more summer than bael. Next up was Rose lassi. To be quite honest, it was an instant favourite for all present there, but I found it a tad too sweet for my taste. But fresh was that glass of lassi! The drink was pretty in pink, garnished by fresh petals of rose (or so I thought). Chef Anand explained how it was crucial to soak the petals in RO water to preserve the freshness, fragrance and that lovely pink shade. Otherwise, salt content in normal water would have turned those petals brown!

We balanced the sweet drinks with savoury tiny portions of snacks. From deviled eggs to tiny samosas, different snacks followed after every different flavours of lassi. To clean the palate, we were told. The season called for other fruits and so we had mango, chickoo, coconut, pudina masala, papaya basil and even paan! Coconut was a personal favourite, followed by pudina masala (I was told it was Rajasthan-inspired flavour). Each and every glass of lassi felt like I was eating the fruit. Paan lassi, to me, was something of an acquired taste.

Delhi's heat is something to be careful of, what better than delicious glasses after glasses of lassi to beat the heat? These delicious drinks are available in their summer menu!

The Information

Where: Kiyan, The Roseate, NH-8 Samalkha, New Delhi

Contact: 011 3015 8676 for reservation

 

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Art Exhibition at Jawahar Kala Kendra, Jaipur https://www.outlookindia.com/outlooktraveller/wp-content/uploads/2018/06/Jawahar-Kala-Kendra.jpg https://www.outlookindia.com/outlooktraveller/destinations/art-exhibition-jawahar-kala-kendra-jaipur/ https://www.outlookindia.com/outlooktraveller/destinations/art-exhibition-jawahar-kala-kendra-jaipur/ 2018-06-01T17:03:24+05:30 article This new exhibition at Jawahar Kala Kendra, Jaipur explores the transformation of aesthetics in hand-made Indian textiles from Independence until now Jawahar Kala Kendra, Jaipur is all set to present an exhibitioncurated by Mayank Mansingh Kaulwhich traces an evolution of aesthetics in Indian handmade textiles from the countrys independence in 1947 till now. Reflecting the fields of art, design, fashion and craft, the exhibition designed by Reha Sodhi will present paintings on cloth, tapestries, sculpture, carpets and rugs, saris, garments and other forms of creative expression in fabric. Together, these convey the expected and often unusual journeys in materials and techniques which have shaped the explorations of creative makers, master artisans, craftspeople, artists, designers as well as experimental, niche design studios and popular, well known brands.

The Indian subcontinent has, over the last seven decades, sustained processes of hand manufacture in textiles which is unparalleled in the world. Be it the diversity of skills and technologies, vocabularies of patterns and motifs, or the sheer large scale of production capacities, such processes have suggested constant innovation in inherited traditions. Unlike the common perception that such traditions are traditionally static and bound with strict rules of making and usage, they have been observed to be dynamically influenced by new stimulus - political, social, economic, scientificand are inspired by emerging cultural developments.

Seen in the context of the predominant impulses of various periods in Indias post independence trajectories, the textiles are presented through broad themes: The National Movement, Khadi and the effects of the European-colonial encounter in the early to mid 20th Century; the engagement with International Modernism from the 1950s till today; an intense revival period in village-based crafts and textiles beginning with the 1970s which has informed the present ecology of urban design; the negotiation of roles between artisans-craftspeople, designers and artists; a return to historical vocabularies from the 1980s onwards which moulds contemporary fashion and mass consumerism; textiles as a means and metaphor for sculpture; and Indian minimalism.

The artists and designers whose works are being presented include Andrew Ananda Voogel Aneeth Arora, Amit Aggarwal, Anavila Misra, Ajit Das, Ashdeen Lilaowala, Asif Shaikh, Bashobi Tewari, Berenice Ellena, Bhikari Maharana, Chandrashekhar Bheda, Charu Wadhwa, Ghiora Aharoni, Gunjan Jain, Hashim Mohammad, Jadunath Supakar, Jigisha Patel, Manisha Parekh, Mahender Singh, Manisha Arora, Manuel Bougot, Monika Correa, Nelly Sethna, Paola Manfredi, Prabhakar Barve, Rahul Jain, Rahul Mishra, Rajesh Pratap Singh, Renuka Reddy, Rimzim Dadu, Riten Mazumdar, Ritu Kumar, Sanjay Garg, Shelly Jyoti, Sri Niranjan and Toofan Rafai.

The exhibition will open with a preview between 14/19 June and be on view daily from 20 June through 30 July between 11am and 7pm, with the exception of Mondays and Public Holidays.

 

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