Month: July 2013

Kolkata Travel Takes!!!

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As quoted by Tahir Shah, ‘’Calcutta’s the only city I know where you are actively encouraged to stop strangers at random for a quick chat”, and this marks a unique identification on the Bengali people what the nation dub them as, Bongs!

Take 1: The Bongs!

Be in the city, I’m quite sure you will encounter some fussy bifocal old age group sitting in a roadside tea stall, in one hand holding either the Ananda Bazar Patrika or Bartaman and in the other a cup of tea, hashing out a political trauma. Usually it happens in Kolkata, the city turns black and blue, when there is a vigorous blend of Red and Green colours. There is an open invitation where you can join this discussion with your own point of view and that makes another ‘glass of tea’, served hot. You can get hold of these sights at spots in the alleys of Central Kolkata – Bahubazar, Sealdah, Sadar Street and Park Circus; South Calcutta – Ballygaunj, Kasba, Kalighat, Chetla and Gariahat; and North Kolkata – Belghoria, Dumdum, Lake Town, Shyambazar and Sovabazar.

kolkata old buddies
The Bongs

Take 2: The Bengali Delicacies!

There you go to the culinary galley. Here you have the areas like Esplanade, Park Street, Camac Street, Maidan, Rabindra Sadan and Tangra. As quoted by all Bongs, “khabo dabo ghumabo”, and this exhibits how the folk lives. Bengalis are real food lovers and once you are in their tasty den you become one like them. And if you are a sakhahari, a spicy fish curry is palatably waiting for you.

Kolkata Fish Curry
Bengali fish curry

Well my veggie friends, you may burp after the unique preparation of potol’er dorma (preparation of pointed gourd), alu posto (preparation of poppy seeds) and kopi’r torkari (preparation of cauliflower and cabbage respectively).

Potoler Dolma
Potoler Dolma

Step in the restaurants like sholo ana bangali , Oh! Calcutta, Bhojohori Manna and 6 Ballygaunj Place.

Take 3: The Kolkata Horologe!

Ask anyone for one direction, I’m sure the Perfect Bong will end up with the entire routes in Kolkata. They have plenty of time for travellers like you. Like this way with some right turns and left you will acquaint the colonial era. The Victoria Memorial Hall, Indian Museum, Marble Palace, National Library of India, Asiatic Society, Presidency College, Scottish Church College, and St. Xavier’s College, Calcutta, Town Hall, Writer’s Building and Calcutta High Court, are some of the eminent historical buildings in the city. Well, a horse cart ride in the vicinity of Maidan, a boat ride on River Hoogly and a ride on handpull rickshaw could give you some unique and memorable experiences.

kolkata-horse-cart
Image Courtesy : wikipedia.org

Take 4: Kolkata Hymns!

This is where the Bongs exhibits their colours and beat their drums. If you are in the city during the autumn, I’m sure you are going to get hold of Durga Puja. Anyways you can’t miss that. Nonetheless the Kali Temple of Kalighat and the Dakhineshwar Temple are the eminent pilgrimage centers in the city where you can pay a divine visit.

West Bengal Tourist Place
West Bengal Tourist Place

Take 5: Kolkata Shelters!

Well you have lots. Let me clear you that most of the hotels in Kolkata are located amid the congested alleys of Central Kolkata and within the vibrant arcades. Try out The Park Hotel, which is one of the 5 Star Hotels in Kolkata located in Park Street. And now I’m sure you are going to feed your belly when you are stepping in Park Street. This part of Kolkata is arrayed with multi-cuisine restaurants, pubs and discotheques. Just Cheers will not do. Go for Oly Pub, a heritage Bar for all reputed alcoholics. It is a perfect shelter where credit cards are not allowed, only liquid cash can meet your thirst.

Seeking for a budget shelter? The Hotel Camac Plaza located in Park Steet and the Hotel Victerrace International in Ballygaunge are the two budget hotels in Kolkata that brings you an ideal stay.

kolkata Bars
Image Courtesy :
finelychopped.net

*This is a snap of Mr. Kurush F Dalal (an archeologist and a food blogger) inside Oly Pub, Park Street.

Photo Courtesy @ Kalyan Karmakar – finelychopped.net

Take 6: Kolkata Hop!

Usually you don’t have to worry about travelling in Kolkata. You have the Auto Rickshaws for short distances, my free advice here will be, ‘keep changes i.e. khulley paisey’. Then you have the private buses, tram and local trains. The Metro Railway in Kolkata is also a good option to travel from South to North Kolkata. Avoid Office Hours, here the Bongs are bit messy and slangy.

Kolkata Hop
Kolkata Hop

 

5 Popular Bollywood Movies Based in Kolkata

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The cultural capital of India, Kolkata is well known for its aesthetic values in the field of music, dance, literature, cinema and rituals. Laureate personalities like Rabindranath Tagore, Swami Vivekananda, Sarat Chandra Chattopadhyay, Raja Ram Mohan Roy, Satyajit Ray, RD Burman, Kishore Kumar, Kumar Sanu, Alka Yagnik, Amartya Sen and Mother Teresa and many more are associated with the city. I bet, you all will agree with me, that watching movies is a second best option to know about cities (first is travelling, of course). So, let me tell you more about Kolkata via these 5 popular bollywood flicks:

1. Kahaani (2012)

Topping in my list, Sujoy Ghosh’s Kahaani is a must watch for you all. With twists and suspense, the movie takes you through a festive mood of Durga Puja where Vidya Bagchi (played by Vidya Balan), arrives in Kolkata from London on a mission to avenge the death of Arup Basu, her husband. This critically acclaimed movie will drive you from the posh yet congested streets of Ballygaunge to the hues of Kumartuli, Kalighat, Maidan and Howrah.

Kolkata
A still from Kahaani

2. Yuva (2004)

My next pick is Mani Ratnam’s Yuva. The movie is a fusion of youth, politics, hooliganism and love. This film drives the life of three young men from completely different classes of society and one fateful incident changes their lives forever. The budget film, with full of noted casts from bollywood, Ajay Devgn, Abhishesk Bachhan, Vivek Oberoi, Kareena Kapoor, Esha Deol and Rani Mukherjee, was one of the biggest blockbusters. The movie takes you through the cultural square of Rabindra Sadan and lights and groove of Tantra, one of the nightclubs in Kolkata located inside The Park Hotel, Park Street, which is one of the 5 star hotels in Kolkata.

Kolkata
A still from Yuva

3. Raincoat (2004)

Rituparno Ghosh’s Raincoat is one of the critically acclaimed movies that reels a plot of two lovers, parted by destiny and meet again one day. Inspired from O Henry’s short story, The Gift of Magi, Raincoat is a national award winner and both the superstars, Ajay Devgn and Aishwarya Rai, were critically acclaimed. The entire movie drives you within the congested alleys of Central Kolkata.

Kolkata
A still from Raincoat

When we speak of literature, one of the notable names like Sarat Chandra Chattapadhyay is always esteemed. Big blockbusters like Parineeta and Devdas based on the novels by Sarat Chandra Chattapadhayay are my fourth and last picks.

4. Parineeta (2005)

Parineeta, featuring superstars like Vidya Balan, Sanjay Dutt and Saif Ali Khan, is a story of friendship, family, love and hatred. The film, primarily shot in Kolkata, recreated the 6o’s era and became a box-office success because of its beautiful music and great story.

Kolkata
A still from Parineeta

5. Devdas (2002)

Devdas, is a story that reels the life of a zamindar’s son who is in love with his childhood sweetheart, Paro, who belongs to a middle-class family. The movie powerfully depicts the prevailing societal customs in Bengal in the early 1900’s, because of which love stories don’t see happy endings.

Devdas
A still from Devdas

So, have you seen any of these movies?

a la carte @ Andaman

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Blessed with rich natural flora, home to many endemic and near endemic birds and mammals and inhabited by the aboriginal Jarowas, the Andaman and Nicobar Islands has only recently become a grapevine among honeymooners and leisure travellers and is one of the most sought holiday vacations these days. Geographically positioned between the Indian peninsula to the west and Burma to the north and east the Andaman Islands are a group of Indian Ocean islands in the Bay of Bengal. With serene and tranquil beaches and picturesque landscape the islands have been able to pull in a lot of wander thirsty, pleasure travellers, love birds and adventure freaks.

Andaman for sure has quenched the thirst of the wanderlusts. But that is not all it has to offer. One can satiate his taste buds to his fill, overlooking the beautiful landscape in eateries strategically positioned amidst the flora and fauna. The Bay Island Restaurant gives a strong competition. Strictly on reservations, the place offers high priced ala carte menu. Strategically located right in front of the sea breeze, the place definitely scores high on ambience. The food here is expensive no doubt but once you enter its door step, you are greeted by the cool sweet aroma of the fresh sea brezze and you forget the rest of the worries.

Best place to eat in Andaman
Best place to eat in Andaman

Icy Spicy may just offer you a treat to tour taste buds as well. With a plush ambience, the restaurant is mostly frequented by vegetarians. Nonetheless, it serves you Chinese cuisine as well.

Mandalay Restaurant would definitely top our list of the best place to eat in Andaman. Located in the posh environment of the Marine Hill, Port Blair, the restaurant offers a buffet dining option. The restaurant being a part of The Fortune Group, is highly recommended for classy travellers and gourmets. The food is obviously not cheap and one has to shell out a big chunk from his wallet to savour it. For you all spirited people, there is a bit of a bad news. Strict Indian licensing requires denying serving alcoholic beverages. So, you might just have to chunk your plan of wining and dining here.

South Indian Dosas
South Indian Dosas

If you are fishy enough, do not forget to hit the Royal Palace. The place serves you a lip smacking fish curry. Also, if you are keen to gorge on Continental delicacies, this is the best place to frequent. They also serve you Chinese and Indian cuisine.

My South Indian friends have no reason to worry. If you are looking for an authentic place serving you Dosas and Idlis then do drop in at Annapurna. Mostly known for its South Indian cuisines, the place serves you breakfast and brunch and definitely tops the list for veggie’s delight.

Want to treat your honey bunch with the best of the dinner buffets? Then drop in at Corbyn’s Delight- the in house restaurants for the Peerless Sarovar Portico. The restaurant on looks the beautiful Corbyn’s Cove beach and would serve as an ideal joint for your romantic honeymoon dinner that you are going to cherish for years. The ambience is definitely plush and would accentuate your mood and the decor would rejuvenate your spirits conjuring up your carnal desires.

Time for some cookies and confectioneries as a sweet ending to your scrumptious meal. Dessert served- Milan Restaurant. Looks mostly like the conventional coffee and pastry joints, the place can be a rage among youngsters craving for sinful pastries. Nonetheless, the place also serves you meal mostly in sync with your budget.

splurge in on food
splurge in on food

They say, the best way to reach a man’s heart is through his stomach. Let me take the liberty to re syntax the statement. The best way to reach your lovie-dovie’s heart is definitely appeasing his or her taste buds. So once you step in your favourite destination for an idyllic holiday, do splurge in on food.

One travelling from India may book a direct flight from Kolkata to Port Blair or Chennai to Port Blair flight. Nonetheless if you one to enjoy the ocean rage, you may also book an ocean cruise from Kolkata or from Chennai. Seeking for an exotic holiday? Then step on the floor of Palm Grove Eco Resort, which is one of the best resorts in Port Blair, Andaman. This serene eco-friendly resort is located on the pristine Carbyn’s Cove Beach and serves some mouth-watering sea-food delicacies at its Bacchus Bar-cum-Restaurant.

By Swairik Das  (Ex Goibibo Writer)

Lets acquaint the North-East – Meghalaya the land of Khasis, Garos and the Jayantias

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Clouds had always liberated the soul and stimulated the idealistic mind of the great Tagore, since he was a child. This is probably one of the reasons behind his occasional retreat to the “Abode of Clouds”, Meghalaya. Located in the north east of India, Meghalaya is one of the Seven Sister States in India.  Geographically, the sate covers an expanse of 300 kilometers in the lengths and approximately 100 kilometers in its breadth. The capital of Meghalaya is known as Shillong, often dubbed as the “Scotland of the East”.

Meghalaya the land of Khasis
Meghalaya the land of Khasis

Is it only because of his fantasy running wild for clouds that the maestro poet sought and longed to be in this place? This might be up for debate, but if one visits this place, he might find take this point to a different realm altogether. Meghalaya is just not about clouds, it is also about its people, their ethnicity and their puritan culture.

Music, dance, rhythm, food and immaculately beautiful nature soak into the hearts, minds, souls and most importantly the lifestyles of their people. But of course people here are mostly of the tribal lineage because the average educated common men have deserted their own place for want of job opportunities. Nonetheless, Meghalaya continues to be one of the most beautiful and romantic destinations for love-locked sojourners, illuminated minds and leisure travellers and this can mostly be attributed to its culture and there can be no two minds about this.

The main tribes in Meghalaya are the Khasis, Garos and the Jayantias. One of the best features of the state is that, the lions’ share of the tribal population follows a matrilinear system, whereby property inheritance and lineage follow to the hands of the girl child. This is the most progressive part of their culture, one might say. Where the rest of the country cannot assure the safety and security of their daughters, Meghalaya stands tall and proudly boasts of their women demographics and workforce. Notably, most of the shops are run by women, most of the workforce comprises women who singlehandedly take care of their family as well as contributes to the overall GDP.

Once in Meghalaya, one must check out for the tribal handicrafts. The “Dakbanda”, a kind of saree mostly worn by the women folk there, are hand woven with intricate designs. The Garo women are expert pro weavers. Those not interested in 12 yards wonder, can also have their fill; for Meghalaya offers a wide range of handcrafted cane and bamboo works. Their intrinsic design would take away your heart if you are a connoisseur in hand made art and crafts.

Garo women
Garo women

 As I have said earlier, Meghalaya is a staunch advocate for celebration of life. Festivals occupy an important place in the pages of its cultural heritage. Song, dance and rhythm make up for a Khasi soul and speak profusely of their life. Blended with  rich repertoire, dances are often performed as a part of “rites de passage”- the life cycle of a human being in a society or the cycle and transformation of seasons one after the another. The dance form melded with the regional flavours and colours adds different hues to the Khasi folk culture and brings variation. Jaintias, on the other hand celebrate the spirit of unison and cohesiveness existing or that should exist among men and brotherhood. The main festivals of the Garos are Den Bilsia, Wangala, Mangona etc. Call them different names, but the cornerstone of all these festivities drive home the same point – maintaining a balance between man, culture and his ecosystem.

Meghalaya serves you a delectable cuisine comprising mostly of dried fish and pork. If you are there, you must savour the local best “Jadoh” which is mostly made of rice and pork. Also, donot forget to dig deep into the seasoned fish chutney. If you are “spirited” enough, “Kyat” (a locally brewed rice beer) would surely give you a new high!!

Still wondering what to do? Just book your flight to Guwahati and drive down the highway to Shillong. Book a cab from Guwahati to Shillong and experience an exotic road trip.

To know more about Car Booking

The Guwahati Airport or the Lokpriya Gopinath Bordoloi International Airport is connected directly to major domestic cities like Chennai, Delhi, Imphal, Jaipur, Kolkata, Mumbai, Bangalore, Agartala and Hyderabad whereas international cities like Paro and Bangkok. One who is travelling from across the border can book a direct flight from New Delhi to GuwahatiKolkata to GuwahatiBangalore to Guwahati and Chennai to Guwahati flight.

Meghalaya
Meghalaya

CEO Speaks:

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CEO – Goibibo.com
CEO – Goibibo.com

A freewheeling interview with Sanjay Bhasin, CEO – Goibibo.com

About – Travel, Work, travel for work, an omelet and wet red saris

 1.       Tell us about your last eating out experience

 Beer Café – with the complete Goibibo CRM team. The party went on till 12 mid night and we all danced on Bollywood and English numbers equally, finally we had to be pushed out as the restaurant was closing and the cops threatened to shift our party to the police station.  The

  2.       How do you get to office? How is the experience?

 I stay in West Delhi and the office is 30 kms away. But the best part is that it is nearly a signal free drive and except for the traffic around the toll I don’t get a jam anywhere.

  3.     Your last holiday…Where? Which Airline? Which                              Hotel/Resort?

Last Holiday was in Goa, Club Mahindra resort. We took Go Air to go and Spicejet to come back. We took KFC burgers and Café Coffee day coffees from airport before boarding flight and had a blast on way.

 4.       Tell us about one good habit you have

Never to get angry.

 5.       Tell us about one bad habit you have

Drinking large amounts of Beer which has given me a beer belly.

 6.       What’s in your wallet/bag right now?

Wallet – some cash, Indian rupee, One dollar note , 10 Hong Kong dollar note, 2 debit cards, 3 credit cards, Driving license , Delhi metro card.

7.       Tell us about your last Bus journey

From Goa Airport to resort- 1 hr, enjoyed the view of serene quite green Goa. Totally relaxed.

 8.       Your favorite dish …to cook ?

Omelete , that’s all I can manage except boiling water.

 9.       You are in a meeting …someone lets one go …what will you do?

Get another one

 10.   The 1st thing that comes to your mind when you hear the word

Batman                                      Black

Cricket                                       Sachin Tendulkar

Airport                                       Journey

Ood-bilav                                   Whats that ?

Thai Green Curry                       Spicy, not for me

Bantha Lemon                           Times of India, that’s where,
we used have literes of it in ,
my first job

Musharraf                                   Villain

Monsoon                                    Red Saree, Bollywood

Metric system                             To be on top of your job

Profit                                           Goibibo

Direct flight started from Amritsar to Birmingham

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Air India has earned another milestone with the initiation of direct flights between Amritsar and Birmingham, United Kingdom. According to reports, the airline has confirmed to operate its first flight on the specified route on August 1, 2013.

Air India’s latest inclusion, Boeing 787 Dreamliner seizes opportunity to connect the vital route. Incorporated with 256 seats, Dreamliner is likely to operate 4 days in a week.  This novel initiation will save time, as the passengers need not change the aircraft at Delhi.

En-route Delhi, the Amritsar to Birmingham flight is expected to depart at 10:30 am from Amritsar and expected to reach Birmingham at 6:00 am. The return flight AI 114 is estimated to leave Birmingham at 9:30 pm and reach Amritsar at 1:15 pm. Air India is likely to offer air fare of approximately Rs 47,600 on the returning air ticket.

11 KM long tunnel launched in Pir-Panjal

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The Udhampur-Srinagar-Baramulla rail link project has been finally accomplished. Under the project an 11.215 km tunnel, which connect Kashmir Valley with Bichleri Valley of Banihal has been successfully constructed. Commissioned on June 26, 2013, the commercial run on the route started on June 27, 2013

The Pir Panjal Railway Tunnel as it is popularly called; reduced the distance between Banihal and Qazigund by 17 km by train and 35 km by road. Connecting the Banihal Railway Station with Baramulla Railway Station of Kashmir, the novel initiation enables efficient connectivity with the reduced distance of 137 kms. The construction of the tunnel also benefits the vital route between Jammu Tawi and Banihal. It is India’s longest railway tunnel and Asia‘s third longest railway tunnel (28 km long Taihang Tunnel in China is the longest and 21 km long Wushaoling Tunnel in Gansu, China is the second longest)