Month: December 2014

Agra to have its first Disneyland-style theme park by 2015

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Agra Theme Park
Photo courtesy : web2present.com

Uttar Pradesh Government has planned to develop an ambitious theme park project in Agra in collaboration with Bollywood actor, Sanjay Khan. The project will be built over a land area of 1,580 acres. The mega park will be a cluster of seven theme parks and international expertise will be required for developing the project.

Disneyland-style theme park-Agra
Photo courtesy : news18.com

Officials have said that the Agra Theme Park will be developed on the lines of Disneyland Park in USA. An amount of Rs 5,000crore is estimated to be spent for the project. The park will contain snippets of Indus Valley Civilization, pre- independence India town and a futuristic city. Prabhanshu Srivastava, secretary, Agra Development Authority (ADA), stated that Sanjay Khan’s company has been selected as the project’s strategic partner. He also mentioned that building up of such a project is expected to change the present status of tourism in Agra. Not only that, the park is also going to be a major tourist attraction in Agra.

tourism in Agra
Photo courtesy : wallpaperhdworld.com

By developing replicas of past and future civilizations, the theme park is going to be one of a kind in India. December 2016 has been set as the deadline to finish the project.

 

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Essence of Gujarat: Rann Utsav

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The vacations are about to start and all of us have already put on our reading glasses researching on the best places to head to this winter. A major chunk of the tourist junta of North India goes down south during this time of the year. However, it’s time to go unconventional. Instead of taking a trip to the backwaters of Kerala, why not take a trip to the Kutch? The most awaited fest of the state of Gujarat has started. Yes, we are talking about Rann Utsav.

Rann Utsav_Kutch
Rann Utsav | Photo Courtesy: rannutsav.net

Rann Utsav in Gujarat usually takes place every year from December and goes on till Holi in March. However,  Rann Utsav 2015-16 commenced on 18th November 2015 and will last till 29th February 2016. It is a carnival where you get to witness the beauty of the landscape, the traditional music and dance, local cuisine and the Gujarati culture at its best. The fest began way back in 2006 by the efforts of the then CM of Gujarat and now the PM of India, Narendra Modi. This is possibly the best time to book a flight to this region and take advantage of enjoying the warmth and hospitality of the locals. This is the best time experience Khushboo Gujarat ki at its best.

Rann_Utsav
Enjoy camel rides in Rann Utsav

This fest includes camel cart rides which are perhaps the best thing to experience on a full moon night in the shimmery sands. A visit to Gujarat is incomplete if you do not shop local handicrafts items, jewellery, wall paintings, embroidered garments (Suf, Khareek, Paako) and traditional Bandhani sarees. Apart from this, live music concerts and dance performances take place periodically. The music is definitely one of its kinds, folk with a hint of Sufi. Moreover, there are special arrangements on the New Year’s Eve and Kite flying event on Makar Sankranti.

Rann_Utsav
Live music concert at Rann Utsav

Activities to indulge in here comprise Helicopter joy ride, star gazing, Tandem Bicycle, Archery, Rifle shooting, Bungee run basketball, Para motoring, ATV (All terrain Vehicle) Ride etc. For the adventure freaks, this is definitely the place to be. The Rann of Kutch is seasonal salt marshland located in the Thar Desert. A part of it lies in Gujarat and the rest of it lies in Pakistan. Kutch happens to be one of the largest salt deserts on the globe and hence, it becomes all the more significant for the curious traveller in you.

rann-utsav
Rann of Kutch | Photo Courtesy: flickr.com

Taste the traditional flavour in the form of Gujarati thali that consists of Kadhi (Yellow coloured curry made out of yoghurt and besan), roti or rotla as its is locally called, khichdi (quite different from the regukar khichdi we have in the North and a lot more delicious) and green chilli pickle served with chaas (buttermilk) so as to neutralize the spice. Sweet dish includes jalebis, basundi (dessert made of thickened milk quite similar to North Indian rabdi), sukhadi or malpua. Vegetarian food is synonymous to the Gujarati clan. Hence, do not expect non vegetarian food in this region.

Rann-Utsav
Gujarati Thali

It has been rightly described as a riot of colour sprinkled on the white sand. The moustaches, the colourful lehengas, the traditional jewellery, the sumptuous Gujarati thali, the garba and the camel rides, everything is going to sway you away like never before. The Rann Utsav definitely gives a boost to the Gujarat tourism as it witnesses more than 8000 tourists every year.

Rann_Utsav
Rann Utsav

In order to reach Kutch, one needs to book a flight to Bhuj that is available from all major destinations of India. Alternatively, there are direct buses and trains to Bhuj. When it comes to accommodation, it is recommended that you book in advance. Bookings at hotels in Bhuj can be made at Goibibo.com.

Check out Hotels in Bhuj

Nearby locations to visit include Mandavi Beach (not to be missed), Indo Pak Border, Hodka Artist Village, Ludia Village and Kala Dungar (Black Hill).

So when are you going?

India launches electronic visa facility for 43 countries

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tourist visa-on-arrival
Photo courtesy:blog.y-axis.com

To give a boost to Indian tourism, the government has officially unveiled the much awaited Visa on Arrival (VoA) enabled by Electronic Travel Authorisation (ETA) for 43 countries. With this latest mode of tourist visa on arrival, citizens of these 43 countries can now easily avail ETA through nine major Indian airports with the help of a digitized procedure sitting back at home. On arrival to India, visitors have to present the authorization to immigration authorities who would then put a stamp and enable their entry to India.

tourist visa

The countries which will be able to avail Indian visa under this scheme for a duration of 30 days includes Australia, Brazil, Cambodia, Cook Islands, Djibouti, Federated States of Micronesia, Fiji, Finland, Germany, Indonesia, Israel, Japan, Jordan, Kenya, Kingdom of Tongo, Laos, Luxembourg, Mauritius, Mexico, Myanmar, New Zealand, Niue, Norway, Oman, Palestine, Papua & New Guinea, Philippines, Republic of Kiribati, Republic of Korea (i.e. South Korea), Republic of Marshall Islands, Republic of Nauru, Republic of Palau, Russia, Samoa, Singapore, Solomon Islands, Thailand, Tuvalu, UAE, Ukraine, USA, Vietnam and Vanuatu.

electronic visa facility

Foreigners who wish to visit India for the purpose of recreation, sight- seeing, short term medical treatment, casual business visit, casual visit to meet friends or relatives, etc can avail this facility. However, TVoA enabled with ETA cannot be availed more than twice in a calendar year. Nine international airports of India namely Delhi, Mumbai, Chennai, Kolkata, Hyderabad, Bengaluru, Thiruvananthapuram, Kochi and Goa will offer VoA to tourists.

Check out list of Airports in India .

Vistara Takes To The Sky

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Air Vistara
Photo Courtsey:ndtv.com

Air Vistara, the joint venture between Singapore Airlines Ltd and Tata Sons Ltd. received the permission to fly from the aviation regulator Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA). The airline that was announced in 2013 has managed to get the Air Operator Permit (AOP) and will begin its operations next year. This joint venture finds Tata Sons Ltd as its majority stake holder in the form of 51% whereas the remaining 49% is shared by Singapore Airlines.

In an interaction with the media, the airline stated, “The AOP is a significant milestone as it is the final step in a highly technical and complex compliance process.”

Tata-Singapore Airlines venture
Photo Courtsey : twitter.com

After the state-run Jet Airways and Air India, Air Vistara is going to be the third in the line of full service air carrier. With its headquarters in New Delhi, Tata Sons-Singapore Airlines aim to offer world class hospitality and finest of services to all its passengers. Tata is a reputed brand based in India with its wings spread all across the globe whereas Singapore Airlines has been in the aviation sector since long and has also made a mark for itself in the industry. Tata also has ties with another low cost Malaysian airline, Air Asia seems to be taking quite big steps in this sector.

To Know More about  Air Vistara flight booking

The initial investment into airlines includes over Rs. 600 crores or $100 million coming from both the partners i.e. Tata Sons Ltd and Singapore Airlines Ltd. It is estimated that the airline will have 87 flights operating weekly in the first year which will then be escalated to about 301 flights by its fourth year. As per its four year plan, the airline seems to be quite promising for the aviation market.

Tata Sons-Singapore Airlines aim to offer
Photo Courtsey : timesofindia.indiatimes.com

It currently has two leased Airbuses in the form of A-320 which will later on increase to five by its second year in the industry. The bookings for this airline will begin in a day or two. It is going to connect all major destinations of India including New Delhi, Mumbai, Hyderabad, Bangalore, Goa, Jammu, Srinagar, Goa and Patna.

First Train of Meghalaya

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Meghalaya First Train
Photo Courtesy : ibtimes.co.in

Meghalaya, one of the beautiful states that come under the list of seven sisters of east, is among the most visited locations in India. Its scenic beauty, the waterfalls, the hills, the lush green forests and streamlets make it the perfect location for the honeymooners, artists and beauty admirers. There is a spur in the east now with the launch of the first passenger train from Meghalaya. It was flagged off from Assam by our present Prime Minister Narendra Modi. This train would operate between Mendipathar in Meghalaya and Guwahati. The inauguration of this train was done by the PM via remote control system. All of this happened at Railway Stadium in Maligaon, Guwahati. Additionally, PM Narendra Modi also laid the foundation stone of a broad gauge railway line. This was done for the train running from Bhairabi to Sairang in Mizoram.

Cherrapunji

The function was attended by some of our national leaders along with our current PM. These included the Railway Minister, Suresh Prabhu and Chief Ministers of Assam, Meghalaya and Mizoram. In his speech, PM Modi said that his government has decided to allow 100 percent FDI (Foreign Direct Investment) in railways. He also said that this would be done to increase the process of modernization of Indian Railways. In addition, the government will consider privatization of railway stations for the purpose of promoting economic activities. This step is definitely going to be beneficial for improving Meghalaya tourism.  

To know more about Meghalaya Tourism

Narendra Modi Flags-Meghalaya
Photo Courtsey:livemint.com

He claimed that his government would set up four Universities for the Railways. All students who graduate from these Universities would be able to contribute to the Indian Railways, and also increase the rate of employment. There was a mass crowd at the function and roads were crowded on both ends leading to it. It became a grand occasion for the east as now even the north-east would attract more tourists towards it, just like the other states.

The PM has been putting in sincere efforts in the upliftment of the condition in the north-east and is actively seen participating in the region’s activities. Sometime back, he was present to inaugurate the Hornbill Festival that is held every year in Nagaland. Mr. Modi had kick started the policy of Take in India as soon as he took to the seat of the Prime Minister. If we look closely into the industries being affected as per this program, tourism finds a significant place so we can easily conclude that these steps are being implemented in accordance with the same.

Meghalaya
He signed off saying, “It is believed in Vastu Shastra that Northeastern part of the house must be proper. Then things will be good at home. If we take good care of the Northeast, the entire India will move ahead.” This statement definitely implies that his government is going to work for the betterment of this region. The initial steps work out in the favour of Northeast and Meghalaya for the recent matter and continuous efforts will help the government reach out to the masses and touch millions of hearts. The decision of bringing out the railway connectivity here will generate curiosity as well as intrigue people from all across the world to visit the splendid state of Meghalaya.

Goibibo Reviews and Rating – The Currency for Hotel Information

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Some people are chilling at the mall and it is a Saturday, what are they talking about?
Two people are sitting on a park bench, it is sunny and warm, what are they talking about?
Young people, friends, chatting on the beach, what are they talking about?

Goibibo Reviews and Rating That meal I ate at “Curry in a Hurry” was superlative; the new Christopher Nolan movie is outstanding (Nah!!! I didn’t get the plot!!!), that new teacher!!!! Phew!!!!

Hotel reviewsYou get the drift; the voicing of our individual opinion is what gets us going, defines us and informs the world, I think therefore I am. Cogito Ergo Sum.  My opinion matters and it must be heard, and what I think and say about the anything in my world goes a long way to make things better. When people talk within their clique they are able to influence the opinions of their friends and when they speak out to a larger audience they are able to spark a revolution. People know where to plug in to get connected to the revolution they seek to bring about. Those seeking revolution in movies know where to go, food place seekers find their answers somewhere and travellers have a space of their own.

Goibibo ReviewsIn the world of Hotel room seekers one such revolution has started. Goibibo reviews and rating was started in October 2014 and it seeks to bring about a revolution by empowering its user with the knowledge and insight into the very experience they need. In a matter of months 15k + reviews have poured in and currently the batting average is sitting at 250 reviews per day. As with all reviews and rating systems, we can spot trends using the data generated.

What do people say when they write reviews about hotels?

  • Hotel services, facilities, furnishings of room
  • A key point is hygiene and levels of cleanliness
  • The food is a tasty topic and users always chip in (see what I did there) with suggestions
  • The presentation of food served, the plates and cutlery used to the smell/odour
  • The swimming pool of hotel is a subject often dived into (did it again)
  • The more important stuff is location and charges

People are always looking to share information about location and this topic is the hands down winner both in terms of the number of people who mention it and its utility to others. People travelling mostly prefer to stay at hotels close to the market areas and railway stations or airports so that they can easily commute to places of business.

Coming up to the subject of pet peeves, hotels charging exorbitant prices for water and a simple cup of tea are heavily criticized. Lethargic management and other staff which are not energetic, smiling, able to provide courteous services are frowned upon. Hotel equipment that does not work adds to the level of dissatisfaction of most. This includes television and air cons.

Online Reviews RatingThese points are among the more simple tasks a hotelier needs look at and the insight “get the simple things right, the big things will take care of themselves” seems to be the un-startling fact  that comes through, but can hoteliers learn from this, time and a few million more goibibo reviews will tell.

It would not be too early to say that the Goibibo Review and Rating programme is a resounding success. Reviews are pouring in from all over the country and International hotel reviews have now started pick up in pace. Thailand, Dubai, Singapore and Malaysia are the early leaders in the international reviews race.

Let’s look now at some insights and judge for ourselves the truth success of the Goibibo Review and Rating Programme.

Reviews Details-hotelsThe snapshot presented above is pulled from the total size of 15000+ reviews for over 3000 hotels rated and the key insights here are

1) Most people are happy to rate their experience but do not want to write reviews, this could be a function of time at hand and the fact that these are likely business destinations.

2) The leisure destination traveller has submitted reviews, it some cases long reviews and it is clear that people want to share their experiences where holiday destinations are concerned and care a lot more for these moments and want to help other travellers.

To know more about Holiday destinations

Hotels feedbackLike the good and the bad, there is the ugly face of rating and reviews. FAKE REVIEWS!!!

For any currency to work people need to believe in the words “I promise to pay the bearer ….”, the same holds true for a review system. There are many stakeholders who may try to manipulate reviews in the direction they want. A robust system of checks and balances such as filters, authentication calls, moderation and trend spotting, testing and analysis has been put into place to ensure that the reviews and rating are authentic and do not breach the very need that they are built to enhance.

When people talk in the mall, on the beach, on the way home from work, in a forum, what are those who listen seeking?

Trust.

 

Places to Visit in Goa Beyond Beaches

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Goa and beaches go along hand in hand. When we talk about Goa, the first thing that clicks your mind are the beaches. Then the parties, the romantic walks, the local drink, the sea food, the night clubs and so on and so forth. Summer has already set in and monsoon is few months away, which are perhaps best times to head to this beautiful land of ‘sun, sand and sea’, but with a twist. Let’s take a look at places to visit in Goa that goes beyond golden beaches and turquoise sea, let’s explore the best of Goa tourism that does not include the conventional spots.

Dudhsagar Waterfall

Places to visit in Goa_Dudhsagar Waterfall
Dudhsagar Waterfall

Situated near the border of Goa and Karnataka, Dudhsagar waterfall in Goa is one of the most visited places after the beaches. The sheer beauty of standing there and watching the water fall is indescribable in words. You need to actually see it in order to understand the sentiments. It is easily reachable through bus and taxi.

To know more about Dudhsagar waterfall

Dr. Salim Ali Bird Sanctuary

Places to visit in Goa_Dr. Salim Ali Bird Sanctuary
Entry gate of Dr. Salim Ali Bird Sanctuary

Located quite close to Panaji on the river Mandovi, Dr. Salim Ali Bird Sanctuary is an estuarine mangrove forest where you can spot some amazing bird species. Named after the great Indian ornithologist, it is spread over an area of 1.78 sq. meters. One needs to take a ferry in order to reach there. It is recommended that you visit this place during early hours of morning.

Places to visit in Goa_Moorhen
Moorhen in Dr. Salim Ali Bird Sanctuary

Spice Plantations

Places to visit in Goa_Tropical Spice Plantation Goa
Tropical Spice Plantation Goa

The Tropical Spice Plantation, Goa lies in Keri (ponda), a small village in the outskirts of the state. It can be reached from Panjim via Mardol. It is undoubtedly one of the best spice plantations you’ll ever get to see in India. Enjoy the typical Goan lunch along with the cashewnut or coconut feni, if you have the capacity to handle it. It is a must do activity in this place and you should know that you are missing out if you are striking Goa Spice Plantations off your list.

Goa’s Portuguese Architecture

Places to visit in Goa
A house built in Portuguese architecture, Goa

Another prime attraction of Goa is the Goan architecture that reflects the existence of Portugal civilization at its best. The churches and old building are clear epitomes of the Portuguese architecture. The bungalows with pillared porches and wrought ironed balconies portray the times of the 18th century pretty well. The inner courtyards happened to be quite common during days and even today, architects in Goa follow this particular style. In order to take a tour of this kind, head to the Basilica of Bom Jesus, Church of St. Francis, Se Cathedral, Church of St. Augustine, St. Anne Church and Mary Immaculate Conception.

For more information on places to visit in Goa, please have a look at our Goa Travel Guide .