Month: February 2015

Indian Railway Budget– 2015 brings double decker dhamaka

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Indian Railway Budget – 2015
Photo courtesy: intoday.in

The much anticipated Indian Railway Budget of 2015 is finally out. The rail budget which encompasses 77 new railway projects at a cost of INR 96,182 crore, has been hailed as “futuristic and passenger centric” by Prime Minister Modi. Although no new trains have been announced in the new budget, still with India’s first bullet train project between Ahmedabad and Mumbai in full swing, the future of Indian rail transportation looks bright. The Indian Rail budget for 2015 focuses on integration of technology and betterment of existing infrastructure.

Double Decker delhi-lucknow

It has not been long since India’s first high speed train, i.e., Delhi-Agra Gatiman Express, started its operations last year. Now It appears that the passengers commuting between Delhi and Lucknow are in for an early Holi surprise as Delhi-Lucknow Double Decker Train is all set to fire on all cylinders before the festival in March. The AC double decker train, which was waiting for safety clearances for one year, has finally been cleared as Suresh Prabhu, railway minister, was quoted as saying that a clearance has been obtained from the Commissioner Railway Safety (CRS). Although a launching date has not been finalized yet, the launch is imminent in near future and most likely before Holi. Indian Railways is already operating various double decker trains in India and this Delhi-Lucknow double decker train will only add to the passengers’ delight.

train from Delhi to Lucknow

So if you are a passenger planning to travel in a train from Delhi to Lucknow, Delhi Lucknow Double Decker is definitely something you must look out for. It is reported that the double decker train comprises of 12 coaches, each with a seating capacity of 110 passengers. For a double decker train which is meant to carry maximum passengers, the top speed of the train is quite impressive at 110 kilometres per hour. The fare for a one way trip is believed to be around INR 630, which is anything but steep when you consider the fact that the double decker is fully air-conditioned.

It is safe to conclude that Delhi-Lucknow Double Decker Train is another step in the Indian Railways’ foray towards the betterment of transportation services in the country.

What else can we expect? More of the same, please.

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Goibibo Photo Reviews-Book Best Hotels

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Photo Reviews_Goibibo01

The magic of photography isn’t unknown to any of us. Pictures add a different charm to your words and ideas. While content plays an important role in description of any ssubject yet pictures have the capacity to take it to an altogether different level.

Hotel reviews is something that happens to be an important part of our portal now. In our efforts to provide the best to our customers, we added the reviews section. Feedback in its direct form helps the best. Therefore we came up with the idea of letting our guests post up reviews of the hotels they stayed at so that it helps not only us but the other customers as well to make a wise decision while picking up hotels for themselves. This happens to be in-line with the hotel review sites such as TripAdvisor.

A hotel review looks a little incomplete without hotel photos. This is why we always encourage our customers to post pictures alongwith their feedback. We got in touch with our reviews and moderation team to know how pictures help a person in booking the right hotel. Listing across a few pointers:

  • While a customer is in a hurry, pictures give a quick view of the interiors and cleanliness of the rooms making the overall process quick and convenient.
  • The impact of a photo is a lot more effective than simple description in words. It has been observed that hotels with photo reviews have higher bookings and better positive reviews as compared to the ones that lack photos.
  • If there’s any short coming in the room, a picture gives a clear idea which a person may miss out while reading a feedback.
  • In-room amenities, interiors, furnishing and lighting can easily be gone through while looking at the pictures.
  • Photo reviews gives a genuine idea of the hotel room as compared to the professional photography of the rooms which is more satisfactory to the viewers.
  • Pictures have the potential to give better assurance to customers as compared to only content.
  • Moreover, consumers can sense the negatives well by simply viewing the photos.

It is now easy to post a review from your smartphone (Android/iOS) or Web. All you have to do is look for the hotel you’ve stayed at and start adding your content alongwith pictures.

So next time you go for a vacation, make sure you click snaps of your hotel room apart from your amazing travel photos. Sharing is caring! Help make travel easier with Goibibo hotel reviews.

5 Places to Celebrate Holi in India

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Holi
A still from Yeh Jawaani Hain Deewani

Bollywood songs like ‘Holi ke din dil khil jaate hain..’, ‘Holi khele raghuveera awadh mein..’ and ‘Balam pichkari jo tune mujhe maari…’ have captured beautifully the spirit of the colourful festival on big screen. This year, on March 24 people all over India will celebrate Holi, with great excitement and enthusiasm. The celebration comprises applying colours, throwing water balloons, drinking bhang, eating delicious gujiyas and dancing on latest hit bollywood songs. Meanwhile, let’s take a look at 5 Indian places and their unique style of playing with colours:

1. Mathura

Religious Holi of Mathura

In Mathura, the birthplace of Lord Krishna, people play Holi for about a week with immense zeal and fervour. On the main festival day, a huge number of devotees can be seen at the Banke-Bihari Temple of Vrindavan, passionately chanting the name of Lord Krishna and Radha, whose divine love is intimately associated with this festival.

2. Bengal

Basant Utsav Holi in Bengal

In Bengal, Holi is celebrated as Basant Utsav or Spring Festival following the traditional way as started by poet and Nobel laureate Rabindranath Tagore at Shantiniketan. People of Bengal joyfully welcome Spring, the season of hope not just with colours but with songs, dance and chanting of hymns in the peaceful ambience of Shantiniketan.

3. Barsana

Lath Mar Holi in Barsana

Barsana village is famous as the birthplace of Radha, located 42km away from Mathura. Here, this festival is celebrated with laths (sticks)! On the first day, men from Nandgaon (Krishna’s village) visit Barsana to play Holi with the women of the latter village, who playfully chase them away with their laths. On the second day, the  same ritual is repeated with Barsana men going to Nandgaon.

4. Gujarat

Fun-filled Holi in Gujarat

Gujarat welcomes this festival with the chants of the folk song, “Govinda aala re, aala…zara matki sambhal Brijbala…” The tradition of breaking earthen pots full of buttermilk, tied high on a rope is observed in various places of the state. Hundreds of people participate by forming a human pyramid in order to reach the pot and break it. The one who breaks the pot is crowned as the ‘Holi King’ of the locality for the year.

5. Rajasthan

Cultural Holi in Rajasthan

A bonfire before the night of this festival, marks the beginning of Holi celebration in Rajasthan. On the second day, which is known as Dhulandi, people apply different colours on each other. The festival is also marked by a number of cultural programmes like folk dances performed by women.

So friends, let’s play Holi!

Have a look at these do’s and don’ts of White Water Rafting

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EPIC-Rafting_02

I am sure you would love to hit the rapids, ride on the wild waters of untamed rivers, take your rafting boats far across the rivers and let your adrenaline rush like never before. White water river rafting has turned out to be a favourite sport amongst adventure junkies. Especially in India, the mighty rivers gushing down the heights of Himalayan Ranges create an euphoric setting to river rafting in India. However, before heading for this pleasure seeking adventure sport, you must prepare yourself accurately. We would like to share some great Do’s and Don’ts ideas to make white water rafting vacations safe and more enjoyable and exciting.

Water Rafting

Do’s

  • Dress accordingly! Wear light, airy and quick drying garments as it make the rafting expedition more thrilling. Remember to bring an extra pair of clothes that you need to wear after the sport. Carry a towel and a bottle of sunscreen too. A waterproof camera is a must to capture those exciting moments with the waters.
  • Wear a life jacket: even if you know swimming, do wear a life jacket. It is a mandate for all who undertake the expedition. Make sure the jacket is is snug and buckled throughout.
  • Wear proper shoes: do not wear flip- flops and slippers. Going bare feet is a strict no. Old sneakers, water shoes or sandals with ankle straps are best types for water rafting.
  • Help your fellows back: if your fellow rafters unintentionally fall into the water, do pull them back to the raft. Even if you don’t know them, don’t ignore them also.
  • Pay attention to guides: Listen to your river guides’ safety precautions carefully as they are going to keep you thrilled and safe. Let them know about any medical conditions if you have any.

whitewater_Rafting

Don’ts

  • Do not stand: during a moving current, do not stand up at all. If you fall by chance. You can float on your back with toes pointed up facing downstream.
  •  Don’t drink: do not drink or bring alcohol during the trip. It is dangerous as you may feel drowsy. It is harmful for all, you yourself, guides and fellow rafters.
  • Avoid unwanted particles: if you see fallen debris or tree branches on the river, avoid them and take a different route.
  • Do avoid cotton clothes: as the atmosphere remains windy, wearing cotton clothes may catch you cold. For cooler months, wear wetsuits or woollens to keep yourself dry.
  • Lastly and most importantly, never go for rafting alone!!

Rafting is an adventure of a lifetime. Remembering all safety precautions, you must take this adventure sport to recapitulate its thrilling memories again and again. Water rafting in Rishikesh is an amazing way to explore the mighty Ganges and Indian Himalayas and is also known to turn your white water rafting vacations into an ideal one.

Top 5 Paragliding Destinations in India

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“Once you have tasted flight, you will forever walk the earth with your eyes turned skyward, for there you have been, and there you will always long to return.” ~ Leonardo da Vinci           

Paragliding                                      

Are you bored from daily routine and want to go for a holiday? Yes? Then it is high time to try out a refreshing adventure activity like paragliding that enables you to enjoy the excitement of flying like a bird! Here is a list of top 5  for paragliding destinations in India, where you’ll surely have an unforgettable experience.

1. Billing, Himachal Pradesh

Paragliding

Located in the Kangra Valley of Himachal Pradesh, Billing is one of the best paragliding destinations in India. Billing is the place from where paragliders take off while Bir is a village where landing takes place. Moreover, Bir is also known for its regular thermal and ridge lifts techniques. The best time to enjoy paragliding in Billing is from March to June. Other than paragliding, you can also go for various activities such as mountain biking, trekking and camping.

Read Himachal Pradesh Travel Guide to know more.

2. Bedni Bugyal, Uttarakhand

Paragliding

Bedni Bugyal is a Himalayan Alpine meadow, situated at an elevation of 3,354 metres in the Chamoli district of Uttarakhand. This place offers breathtaking views of the Himalayan Mountains and is therefore perfect for the high flyers. You can also visit nearby Bedni Kund or lake which is famous for its rare Brahma Kamal, the state flower of Uttarakhand.

Visit Uttarakhand Travel Guide for more information.

3. Manali, Himachal Pradesh

Paragliding

In Manali, the thrilling experience of paragliding is enhanced by the view of the Himalayan ranges. The slopes of Solang Valley is the place where paragliding is organised by expert paragliding pilots who have more than a decade experience. There are three options available that include Short Flying, Medium Flying and Long Distance Flying.

Check out our Manali Travel Guide for more info.

4. Pavana, Maharashtra

Paragliding

One of the popular paragliding places in India, Pavana is located on the Kamshet highway near the Pavana dam. Its popularity is due to the fact that when you start up, you take off from the pristine Pavana lake. Imagine flying all over the lake amidst natural greenery! Moreover, there are various places of tourist interest such as forts of Logagarh, Tungi and Tikona which you can visit.

Check out our Kamshet Travel Guide

5. Yelagiri, Tamil Nadu

Paragliding

Yelagiri is a hill station, located in Vellore district of Tamil Nadu. For paragliding enthusiasts, there is a Yelagiri paragliding club which provides professional equipment and instructors. The club also hosts an international paragliding festival in September. Presently, three take-off and landing points at heights of 450, 560 and 600 metres above ground level have been identified in Yelagiri.

Browse through Yelagiri Travel Guide to know more.

Go Explore Karwar–get lured by the waves

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Explore_Karwar

Romantic, alluring and serene – our Go Explore destination of the month is a beautiful beach, tucked away in the Western Ghats surrounded by the oceans. If you are looking for a destination to escape this Valentine ‘s Day with your partner, then this has to be it. It is so romantic that it has inspired none other than the legendary poet, Rabindranath Tagore to pen his work, Prakritir Pratishbodh. I am referring to Karwar, nestled in Karnataka. The story goes that the 22 year old Tagore stayed with his brother, Satyendranath Tagore, who was then the district judge in Karwar. The confluence of the rivers, the moonlit night when he went rowing solo promoted him to write his ode to Karwar. The quote I read somewhere says – “The sea beach of Karwar is certainly a fit place in which to realise that the beauty of nature is not a mirage of the imagination, but reflects the joy of the infinite and thus draws us to lose ourselves in it.” Today, a beach still remains in the town in Tagore’s memory.

I can visit Karwar any number of times – just to relax, romanticize or rejuvenate. There are many reasons to visit this pristine region this Valentine’s Day and these are some of my recommendations.

1.    Do nothing

Do_Nothing_Beach
Karwar is beautiful. If you have ever dreamt of being in tune with the waves, bobbing along with the flow and gazing at the blue green waters, then you must head here with your Valentine. Look around and you will see the narrow coast hugging the sea, while surrounding it are the ridges of the Western Ghats. Straight out of a picture postcard, Karwar is a nondescript town perched among the mountains and oceans, oblivious to its own beauty. If I were you, I would do nothing here. Just go hand in hand for long walks with your Valentine, watch the sun rise and set and the moon spreading its sheen on the waves.

2.    Get high on water sports

Get high on water sports
For those who like to get their adrenalin flowing, there are many resorts that offer a slew of water sports activities for the enthusiasts. Trekking, rappelling, snorkeling and fishing head the top of the charts. If you are looking for a dash of adventure to your romantic holiday, then you won’t be disappointed. The oceans are the abode of dolphins and if you are lucky you can spot them by going on a boat ride. I went on a sunset cruise looking for dolphins and it was one of the most beautiful moments of my trip.

3.    Binge on sea food

sea_food

If you love sea food then this is where your taste buds get tickled the most. Fresh catch from the sea is available in almost every resort and you could try your hand at fishing as well. There is something about Konkani cuisine and most resorts offer authentic taste. I may be a vegetarian but my friends swear by the sea food here.

4.    Go island hopping listening to stories

Go_Beach_side_storys
Karwar is replete with beaches and several tiny islands are scattered around. The most popular haunt is Devbagh — the name literally means the garden of gods. Boat rides are organized to various little islands – Kurumgad, Oyster-rock, Anjudeeporgan, Sadashivgad and Sanyasi. A tale rings around all these islands. The Sanyasi island for instance owes its name to a sage who sought refuge here. The Devgad Island or the Oyster Rock has one of the oldest lighthouses atop .The Anjudeep or Anjudiv island is the largest of the five islands and it is now home to the navy. The island has some remains of the bygone Portuguese era, some old houses and ruins of a church. The 18th century fort at Sadashivgad here that lies in ruins here speaks of the battle fought by Basalinga Nayak of Sonda dynasty against the British. The fort built at the confluence of Kali River and the Arabian Sea is now one of the key tourist attractions.
The Kurumgad island in the shape of the tortoise was ruled by several dynasties like the Vijayanagar and Sonda. The island is also renowned for its Narasimha temple atop the hill. According to a legend, Lord Narasimha made his way through a long creek leading to a cave near the temple. Geologists, however, certify that an earthquake formed this interesting rock formation over 300 million years ago .

5.    Legendary beaches and towns

Legendary beaches and towns

Surrounding Karwar are several towns and legends that echo with tales of Gods and demons and ring with tales of curses and boons.  The Om Beach in Gokarna may have a divine feel to it, but Gokarna and Murudeshar close by take you down to the tales of Ramayana, The seas and the mountains here have witnessed another tale – a story about the good, the evil and a weapon called power.  According to the legend, Ravana wanted to become immortal and prayed to Shiva for an atmalinga, which would make him invincible. He was granted his wish but with a caveat – the atmalinga was never to be placed on the ground. However a plot to put Ravana in place was planned by Narada with the help of Vishnu and Ganesha. As Ravana was nearing Gokarna, Lord Vishnu blotted the sun to make it look like evening. Lord Ganesha, in the guise of a Brahmin boy approached Ravana and offered to hold the atmalinga until he finished his evening prayers.
Ravana returned from his prayers to find the boy gone and the atmalinga on the ground. The linga however could not be removed and he called it Mahabala as he was unable to lift it   It is believed that the Mahabaleshwara temple was built in Gokarna on the site where the linga was placed. A small hole in the temple permits devotees to have a glimpse of the top of the Aatmalinga. The Maha Ganapathi temple is a reminder of Ganeha’s role in the legend, while the towering statue of Shiva at Murudeshwar  blesses the entire coast.
Walking back to the beaches, the stories cease and you get to lose yourself in the sounds of the ocean, thinking of the heady mix of the mythical, spiritual and historic influences in this region.

Getting there

beaches and towns

Karwar is just 8 kms from South Goa border and the Palolem is the closest beach. Panaji is 135 kms and Mangalore is 220 kms and Londa is 130 kms. The closest airport is the Dabolim airport at Goas at 90 kms Karwar is also accessible by train on the Konkan railways. There are also trains from Bangalore and Mangalore. The coastal route is a beautiful drive although roads are bad in certain patches.

Hotels in Karwar

If you are looking for accommodation in Karwar, there are variety of options for beach resorts, deluxe and budget hotels, Some of my recommendations for you are given below and you can get great offers on goibibo on these.

Leisure Vacation Westend Resort

Located in Sadashivgad, here is a place that gives you the comfort of a small town and a beach. You get a variety of meal options here and the rooms are at a steal. One of the best deals you can opt for this Valentine’s Day. For more details, visit Leisure Vacation Westend Resort, Karwar.

Leisure Vacation Tarang Resort

Nestled very close to the beach and is a sanctuary by itself is this romantic resort, ideal for couples. Surrounded by greenery and located in Devbagh is Leisure Vacation Tarang Resort.

Aditi Comforts

If you like the comfort of a home and a convenience of a hotel, then these premium service apartments in Sadashivgad may be your best answer to accommodation in Karwar. Aditi comforts is one of the best  Premium serviced apartments.

Go Unconventional: Hidden Hill Stations in India

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“Travel is about the gorgeous feeling of teetering in the unknown”. The quote happens to be the driving force behind today’s post. Isn’t it an amazing feeling to tread onto a completely unknown path? Doesn’t the feeling of being in a whole new place with nothing known give you a high? Being a regular traveller, I wasn’t really looking forward to head to a conventional destination. Hence began my search for the hidden hill stations in India. After a month full of extensive research that included numerous hours on the laptop, travel books, countless sleepless nights and cups of coffee, here’s the list of recommendations:

Shogi, Shimla

Hill stations in India

Away from the crowded Shimla lies the peaceful land of Shoghi. A 30 minute drive is all it takes to reach the land of solitude. Nestled amidst lush green surroundings and soothing winds, this place is ideal for bird watching. Oak forests greet the travellers here. There’s no dearth of good food joints, Sharma Dhaba being a speciality. Don’t miss out on filling up your bags with apple and its byproducts.

Accommodation: Some regular choices of hotels in Shogi, Shimla include Aamod Resort and Lord’s Garden Glory.

Visit Shimla Travel Guide for more information.

Landour, Mussoorie

hill stations in India

There’s no doubt in the fact that Mussorie is a heaven for writers. Move a little further and you’ll find a place that goes beyond the description of heaven. Yes, we are talking about Landour and you have to agree to this. After all, the man who woos the world with his words, Ruskin Bond, lives here. A perfect depiction of the countryside is what this place is. If Mussorie is called as the ‘Queen of Hills’ then Landour happens to be its tiara. The Welsh town of India, Landour has four churches from the times of the British Raj and are definitely a must see. They are Kellogg’s Church, St. Paul’s, St. Peter’s Church and Methodist Church.

Accommodation: It is easy to find good hotels in Landour, Mussoorie that offer a pleasant stay in budget. Prospect Point and Hotel City Castle are two instances.

Look up our Mussoorie Travel Guide for more info.

Yelagiri, Tamil Nadu

Hill stations in India

Down south where Ooty and Kodaikanal enjoy preference amongst hill stations lies Yelagiri, the land of tranquility. Enjoy a silent session of boating at Punganoor Lake or maybe a romantic walk with your loved one in the park around it. In order to reach Yelagiri, take a bus or cab from Jolarpet Railway Station and you’ll be at this serene land in just half an hour. If you are into adventure sports, do try paragliding at Yelagiri.

Accommodation: Hotels in Yelagiri offer a range of facilities under reasonable amount. Kumararraja Palace and Hotel Landmark fall in our list of recommended accommodation.

Yelagiri Travel Guide takes you to a tour into this land full of charm.

Pelling, Sikkim

Hill stations in India

While it may not really find its name in the list of secret destinations in India, Pelling at Sikkim is one place vacationers often miss out on while travelling to North East. One reason behind this is because Gangtok is more of a reachable destination within the state of Sikkim. An excellent place for the trek lover with loads of breathtaking views, Pelling is the place to be.

Accommodation: There are a vast number of hotels in Pelling such as the Norbu Ghang Resort and The Elgin Mount Pandim Hotel.

Read the Pelling Travel Guide for details.

Saputara, Gujarat

Hill stations in India

Last but not the least, Saputara in Gujarat finds its name in our list of hidden places in India. Located in the Sahyadri Range, Saputara is the only hill station in the state of ‘Thepla‘ and ‘Dhokla‘. Arrive in the monsoon season to witness the beauty of this land at its best. It is famous for its Dangs Darbar Festival that is held a week before the festival of colours, Holi. The event is a wonderful opportunity to learn about the traditions of the tribal community here.

Accommodation: Amongst hotels in Saputara, Patang Lord’s Inn and Uday Hill Resort are preferred by tourists.

Read Saputara Travel Guide to know more.