Newsletter Vol. 5

Railway to receive a makeover at five prominent tourist cities
The tourist amenities at the railway stations in Amritsar (Punjab), Trivandrum (Kerala), Gaya (Bihar) and Agra Cantt and Rae-Bareilly (Uttar Pradesh) will be receiving a makeover in terms of infrastructure development.

These five stations invite huge traffic due to their close proximity with the iconic tourist destinations. The initiative will surely promote the connectivity to the tourist attractions like Golden Temple in Amritsar, Kovalam and Padmanabhaswamy Temple in Trivandrum, Mahabodhi Temple, Gaya and repertoire of Mughal monuments including the Taj Mahal. Also, this initiative will strengthen and promote rail tourism in India.

Kerala Tourism’s new gesture-controlled website gets 100,000 hits in three months
Kerala Tourism did it again. With the innovative approach and use of technology, the tourism department has again captivated the Kerala aficionados with its new website (http://when-it-rains.com) employing gesture-controlled features. And its success is evident from the fact that the website generated 100,000 hits in just three months.

This is done to present Kerala in an experiential way and engage the users around the world to the beauty and appeal of the state during monsoons.

Six new special tourism zones in Madhya Pradesh
Madhya Pradesh Tourism has recently identified six new special tourism zones to promote its potent tourism potentials. The special tourism zones include Salkanpur, Chitrakoot, Panna, Choral, Maheshwar and Amarkantak. With the inclusion of these special tourism zones, the state has added on to its special tourism package offerings.

Special Superfast Train Now Connects Jodhpur and Jaipur
The prime tourist destinations of Jodhpur and Jaipur are now connected with a special superfast train. Currently run on a trial basis daily from 21 Aug 2013 till 01 Oct 2013 for 42 trips, this train is a result of high rising demand of passengers for a morning service. If this tourist train gains the permanent status, it will bring in a lot of benefits to the tourism world.

As per the schedule, the train will depart from Jaipur at 06:00 hrs and reach Jodhpur at 10:30 hrs. On its return, the train from Jodhpur is scheduled at 18.15 hrs and the arrival at Jaipur is at 22:40 hrs.

Upcoming Fairs and Festivals

Ganesh Chaturthi – This is the most important festival in Maharashtra celebrating the birth of Lord Ganesha on fourth day of Bhadrapada’s waning moon. During this festival, clay idols of Lord Ganesha are brought at home and are worshipped over 10 days amidst lively festivities. After this, they are led in colourful processions to the closest water body and immersed on the fourteenth day of the month. This year, the Ganesh Chaturthi celebrations will take place from Sep. 9th – 19th, 2013.

Tarnetar Fair – On the same day of Ganesh Chaturthi, the state of Gujarat comes alive with the Tarnetar Fair in Rajkot. Held annually, this is one of the most colourful fairs in India. Traditionally, the fair uniquely serves as a meeting point for both boys and girls and many proposals are accepted during the fair itself. Besides this ritual, one can see the authentic folk dance performance, theatre and rural handicrafts in this fair.

Onam – Onam is a Hindu festival celebrated by the Keralites in a gesture to welcome mythical King Mahabali who comes to the land once in a year. The king was a selfless ruler who worked for the contentment and happiness for the kingdom. The Gods, envious of his noble ways tricked him in to losing his life and kingdom. His last wish was to visit his people once in a year to ensure that they were happy.

During Onam, an aura of opulence is created to gladden Mahabali’s heart. Greatly lavish Sadya meals are prepared, new clothes are worn and courtyards are decorated with floral patterns (athapookalam) as a part of Onam celebrations. This year, Onam is falling on September 16, 2013 on Monday.

Shraadh – Spread over a fortnight, this is not a festival but a ritual where even ancestors of Hindu followers are worshipped with same devotion. It is believed that even though the body is dead, the soul is alive. And Shraadh is a way to express the heartfelt gratitude and thanks towards their deceased parents and ancestors, for having nurtured them to be what they are and remembering their existence on the Hindu date of their death.

During this period, Hindu followers make it a ritual to perform the ancestral ritual at the pilgrimage sites in Gaya, Nashik and Haridwar. Here, it is believed that the deceased souls gain ‘Moksha’ or liberation. This year the Shraadh rituals are scheduled from September 20, 2013.

Navratri – Navratri is one such festival where celebrations abound the entire country. Be it north, south, east or west; all drape the colour of celebrations during this festival. Some people fast, whereas others feast in the glory of the mother goddess, who is also the source of our energy and power.

Literally meaning as nine nights, Navratri is celebrated throughout India, particularly in Gujarat as a dedication to mother goddess. During this long event, Garba dance is performed by women to honour the goddess during the worship. Dandia is another great way to express the happiness where men and women strike small lacquered sticks on the energetic beats of music. This is one major attraction of the festival, attracting tourists and pilgrims all over to the state.

In West Bengal, the mother goddess is worshipped during Durga Puja celebrations. This is marked as a home coming period of Devi Durga in the state. Brightly illuminated pandals are erected in different parts and the entire state dons the colours of celebration. Quite literally, the married women play Rang Khela with Kumkum / Vermillion to mark the festive departure of the deity. On the final day of Vijaya Dashmi or Dussehra, the idols are immersed in the Hooghly river to the frantic drums and cries of ‘Jai Ma Durga.’ This year, the Navratri celebrations are beginning from October 5th, 2013.