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Experience Legendary Kashmir Houseboats

The first destination that most tourists visit in Kashmir especially in Kashmir Valley is Srinagar. Srinagar is the largest city of Jammu & Kashmir (J&K), and the city has lots to offer in terms of heritage and Mughal gardens but the real draw is the legendary houseboats. Any stay in Kashmir should include at least a night or two on the fabled houseboat, and one can choose from the eight hundred houseboats moored by the edges of Srinagar’s jewel, Dal Lake and its smaller and quieter Nigeen Lake. Many tourists are attracted to these houseboats because of the unique experience of living on the water with facilities and conveniences of a hotel. Narrow, flat-bottomed canoes called shikaras paddle tourists to these houseboats that have become a defining feature of the lakes. Loophole in the law Sometime during the 1800s, Kashmir was a popular retreat for the British colonialists in India to seek alpine climate especially in the summer when the heat is unbearable in the plains. However, the then Maharaja of Kashmir forbade foreigners to own land and buy homes in his state which irked the British who did not want to lose their summer retreats in Srinagar. Instead, they

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Are You Planning a Trip to Kashmir? Here Are Popular Tourist Destinations in Kashmir

The Mughal Emperor, Jehangir was said to have written about Kashmir, “If there is paradise on earth, it is this, it is this, it is this!” Kashmir ranks as one of the most beautiful places in the world, renowned for its mountains, valleys and gardens but this paradise on earth has been beleaguered by violence and border disputes between India and Pakistan for many years. This highly-contested prized possession has been declared off-limits to tourists on a number of occasions so much so that the troubles have seriously affected the valley’s thriving tourist industry. Despite high political tensions that remain till today and about half a million Indian troops stationed in Jammu & Kashmir (J&K) state, Kashmir, particularly Kashmir Valley, as a travel destination is making a comeback – slowly and confidently. Domestic tourists from the rest of India are returning in spring and summer for cool air, lush greenery and alpine scenery. Intrepid foreign travellers are coming to Kashmir in the winter for powder paradise of snow falls for skiing and snowboarding. I, on the other hand, came to Kashmir during last autumn when the leaves of soaring chinar (maple) trees in hues of golden yellow and crimson red.

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Cheerful Stay at Grand Chennai by GRT – Review

I was excited to arrive in Chennai, for it was my first visit to Tamil Nadu and to the southern region of India. But I was ambivalent at the same time, not knowing what to expect of the southern city. I had been travelling for twenty days in other parts of India, and by that time, I had experienced a multitude of emotions. I felt happy to have met old friends and made new contacts in Bhopal and Delhi but low-spirited as I gained insights about the Kashmir situation and overwhelmed by the mad rush of Mumbai. That said, I had also enjoyed every minute of my journey. The paradox of India! Thankfully, my mood changed when I arrived in Chennai, and it was Grand Chennai by GRT that made a difference. The feelings of negativity and craziness washed away the moment I checked into the hotel – there was something refreshing about this property. Refurbished in April 2016, Grand Chennai by GRT is the flagship hotel of GRT Hotels & resorts. The hotel is now a 4-star stylish and contemporary hotel attracting leisure and business travellers. Grand Chennai is strategically located in one of Chennai’s major business district, T

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Peacock Trail with Storytrails in Mylapore, Chennai

Whenever I travel to a new city, I’m always looking for walking tours. This is because I feel that walking tours is the best way to have an introduction to a new place. Walking tour guides are different from your bus tour guides – they give you insights into the history, heritage and culture of the place by sharing stories and anecdotes. Storytelling is always more interesting than a history lesson, and for that reason, I joined a walking tour called Peacock Trail with Storytrails in Mylapore, Chennai. After having travelled to India nine times over five years, November 2017 was the first time I visited the southern part of India – Tamil Nadu. I came to Chennai (formerly known as Madras), the capital city of Tamil Nadu, for a few days during which I spent an afternoon with Storytrails in Mylapore, the bustling cultural hub and neighbourhood in Chennai. *Also Read: Cheerful Stay at Grand Chennai by GRT The meeting point for the walking tour was at Rasi Silks shop, a stone’s throw away from Kapaleeshwara Temple. Ask anyone about top places to visit in Mylapore and the immediate answer you get is Kapaleeshwara Temple. Kapaleeshwara Temple is one

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Top Places to Visit in South Goa

Goa is one of my favourite states on the west coast of India. After spending much time in the bigger cities in the country where there are massive crowds, vehicles, traffic jams and honking, Goa is a respite from all that congestion and noise. Back in 2014, Goa was a place where I had sought solitude and relaxation at awesome beaches on lovely coastlines amid towering palm trees. Spread over 3,700 square kilometres, Goa is divided into two districts: North Goa and South Goa. I had stayed for four days in South Goa, after which I moved on to the north. Accommodation is aplenty ranging from luxury resorts, homestays, beach shacks and Treebo hotels in Goa. Comparing the two districts, I preferred the south for it’s more laid-back than the north and has picturesque landscapes of pristine beaches, fishing villages and historical Indo-Portuguese heritage homes inland. *Also Read: Happy that Heaven is Here If you wish to explore South Goa, here are some of the places to visit: Colva and Benaulim Beaches Although South Goa is known for its quietness, Colva Beach is an exception. Just like its counterpart Calangute in the north, tourists flock to Colva for its full

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Bloomrooms @Link Road, South Delhi – Review

When we travel, most of us spend time sightseeing throughout the day, only to return to the hotel in the evening. Hence, we don’t usually get the chance to peruse most of the hotel facilities such as the bar, spa, swimming pool and gym. As such, do we really need all the fancy trappings that we find in a luxury hotel? Not really. Instead, what we want is a clean room, comfortable bed, hot shower, working air-conditioning, fast speed WIFI, and an overall good service. So, when I was visiting South Delhi in November 2017, Bloom Hotel was what I wanted. Bloom Hotel is a boutique business hotel group that has several establishments in New Delhi, Gurgaon, Bangalore and Goa. The hotels in Delhi are located close to the New Delhi Railway Station and South Delhi. I chose to stay at the hotel in South Delhi because majority of the historical sites and shopping places are located in South Delhi and most of my friends live in the area. The Bloom Hotel in South Delhi is called Bloomrooms on Link Road, close to Defence Colony flyover and opposite Jangpura metro station. The hotel has thirty-nine rooms spread over three floors

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Hidden Wonders of Orchha and Khajuraho, Madhya Pradesh

Orchha and Khajuraho are located on northeast of Madhya Pradesh in central India with Orchha an essential stop en route to or from Khajuraho. I was on a group tour, we left Bhopal, the capital of Madhya Pradesh, early in the morning to catch the Samta Express train to Jhansi, the main railway station that connects to Orchha and Khajuraho. The 41/2 to 5 hours’ train journey is relatively faster than the bone-shaking 6 to 8 hours’ drive on bumpy Madhya Pradesh roads. Upon arrival in Jhansi, Orchha is just 15km away. *Also Read: Bhopal and Begums Orchha – A Hidden Place From the outset, Orchha is a non-descript laid-back hamlet, its main road lined with shops and stalls selling souvenirs, Indian clothes, food and drinks. I saw a handful of tourists walking around the main road and surprisingly, no touts! Immediately, I took a liking to this “hidden place” (Orchha means hidden place) in the heart of India which has a medieval heritage dating back to the early 16th century. Located near the banks of Betwa River, Orchha was a former princely state of the Bhundelwal dynasty – one of the largest kingdoms of central India. Founded by Bundela Rajput

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Bhopal and Begums

I was invited by Madhya Pradesh Travel Mart (MPTM) in India to attend a travel fair organised by Madhya Pradesh Tourism Board from 27-29 October 2017. It was the fourth time that MP Tourism Board organised MPTM, and the objective of the travel fair was to promote Madhya Pradesh as an all-year round destination for domestic and inbound tourists. For the benefit of my non-Indian readers, Madhya Pradesh is a state in central India. Due to its geographical location, Madhya Pradesh is called “The Heart of India” and is the second largest state in the country. Madhya Pradesh is not often known overseas as a popular tourist destination, unlike Delhi, Taj Mahal or Rajasthan, but the state is rich in heritage, culture and wildlife. For those who like to explore tribal culture, hilltop forts, erotic sculptures in ancient temples and India’s best tiger reserves, Madhya Pradesh is the destination to go. Despite having been to many places in India, I have not travelled to Madhya Pradesh until that October. Those who know me too well as the ‘Indophile’ from Malaysia, I’m always keen to see and experience more of India, therefore having the opportunity to attend MPTM as media and

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Guide to Delhi: Sightseeing, Shopping and Accommodation

Most international tourists who visit Delhi for the first time spend only a day in the capital city, after which they quickly move on to Agra in the south to see the renowned Taj Mahal, and to Jaipur in the west, a city in the Rajasthan desert. This tour is called the Golden Triangle Tour and is typically conducted over a period of six days, sometimes four days. As a result, regular tourists don’t get the opportunity to experience Delhi. Instead, what they usually see is a quick drive past Rashtrapati Bhawan, the President’s home; a thirty-minute photo op at the war memorial India Gate and a stopover at Raj Ghat, a memorial dedicated to Mahatma Gandhi; a drive past Old Delhi and an hour visit at the Red Fort. Those sights are covered as much as possible in the morning, following which there would be a lunch break, perhaps a tour of the Lotus Temple post-lunch or onward travels to Agra. Some tourists may spend more time exploring Old Delhi – a chaotic maze of tiny lanes and crumbling havelis with Jama Masjid looms large in the background – but still, Delhi is so much more than the old

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This is Kathleen’s Kolkata

Believe it or not, Indian films have somewhat influenced my choice of travel destinations in India. I enjoy watching Indian films (with English subtitles, of course) but would like to quickly add that I’m not inclined towards Bollywood masala films. Thanks to a Bengali friend living in Delhi who introduced to me an array of critically acclaimed Indian films that portray vibrant and riveting stories; films par excellence in terms of screenplay, directing and acting that may not necessarily perform well in the box-office. Over a period of time, I discovered more Indian films on my own, and these films happened to feature the city of Kolkata or Calcutta, depending on the era in which the films were based. The first of which was Kahaani, a mystery thriller film about a pregnant woman searching for her missing husband in Kolkata. The entire film kept me on the edge but it was the frenzied, climactic scene of the last day of Durga Puja festival when the Goddess Durga was carried out in the streets of Kolkata amid music, dance, blowing of conches, ululation and married women smearing vermillion powder on each other’s face, left me spell-bound and captivated. It took a

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