Kabini, one of the most popular wildlife destinations of Karnataka was hand picked as the destination for our annual leisure trip not by chance but after a meticulous research and ground work by the seasoned hands of the Karma Kerala travel desk. At the end of it all, we are happy that it paid off by offering us one of the most beautiful holidays ever. Kabini is 3 hours drive from Wayanad and it retains its pristine charm even today. The lush green landscape surrounding a large picturesque lake and fantastic sightings of large herds of elephants, makes it a favorite choice for wild life enthusiasts.
It is only 80km away from Mysore and comprises the south-eastern part of Nagarhole National Park, now named as Rajiv Gandhi National Park. Spread over an area of 247 square miles, it is considered one of the best wildlife parks of India, famous for elephants , tigers, wild buffaloes and spotted deer among others. The landscape around is breathtaking and is made of gentle slopes and shallow valleys dotted with grass lands, swamps and deciduous trees.
In case you are looking for a quiet holiday away from the hustle and the bustle of the cities, plan a trip to Kabini, where time stands still. Apart from the occasional rumblings of the cars and jeeps ferrying the tourists, Kabini is secretive and silent. Enjoy a tryst with nature, tuck in a banter session with your friends around the bonfire, set out on a paddle boat or break free from the mundane. No matter whatever you choose to do in Kabini, the bottomline reads that you will go back recharged and refreshed, ready to take life head on!
For the first time in the maritime history of Kochi, a passenger-cum-cargo ferry service would soon be operated between Kochi and Male. A major initiative of the Shipping Ministry, it could boost the tourism potential of Kerala in general and the city of Cochin in particular in the days to come. This decision was taken at a high-level delegation meeting between India and Maldives to improve the bilateral maritime cooperation between the two countries. An agreement has also been made to promote leisure cruise service between India and Maldives.
Initially a regular passenger-cum-cargo ferry service will be operated between Kochi and Male, which would probably be a biweekly service run by a private operator. However, all the facilities on either port of call will be made by the concerned ports. The service is expected to be commissioned in two months. The shipping and trading relations between Kochi and Maldives has tremendous scope to be developed considering the fact that last year only 25,000 Indians visited Maldives against 1.55 lakh Chinese, mainly because of lack of awareness or convenient transportation facilities for the tourists. Only 10 percentage of Maldives’ imports are from India, which in turn is shipped through the Tuticorin port.
The Cochin Port is well poised to be a logistics hub in Asia after the commissioning of the Vallarpadom container terminal and Maldives could well be made the first focal point for the Kochi Port. The fun seekers and seafarers can indeed keep their chins up as world class cruise options are truly coming to their shores- finally!
Maldives, is a chain of over 1200 islands, most of them uninhabited and unexplored. Maldives touted as the tropical paradise is well known for its spectacular beaches and underwater coral gardens among others. The capital of Maldives, Male is the largest island and offers lots of shopping and fun apart from beach activities. Read more on the interesting things to do in this exquisite destination right here in Pushpitha’s Round the World Travel Blog.
Though lungis have lost their charm and utility in their home ground in the onslaught of modern trends and dress patterns, it has become a trendy summer wear in Europe. In an ironical swapping of sorts while we in Kerala have proudly endorsed jeans as our favorite outfit even in sweltering summer, the Europeans have placed their bets on the much sensible option of the free flowing lungis.
Though cotton lungis are airy, hygienic, easy to wear and are well suited for the humid climatic conditions of Kerala, people seem to have turned a blind eye towards this sensible dressing option. The best part about lungis is that this trendy cloth can be easily folded up at knee length on a rainy day and ensures free movement even while you have to jump across a muddy puddle on the village road or bash up the baddies. This simple two meter cloth fabric comes in a range of exciting patterns and colors right from the chequered patterns to brilliant floral patterns and even mystical designs like dragons and animal prints. Though lungis have been pushed to the hem by the trend setters in its own home ground , it is heartening to note that lungis is stirring up a lot of interest in the garment industry in Europe, which has come up with innovative and trendy designs to cater to the changing times and needs. Lungis are being converted to beautiful hand-stitched dresses, jackets, skirts and scarves by a Spanish company , which finds ready market among the shoppers.
The IOU Project, based out of Madrid in Spain, is buying lungis from weavers in Kurinjipadi, near Cuddalore. The European designers later hand-stitch them into garments to sell them online using social media marketing . Considering our blind love for anything foreign, the day is not far away when we might see people sporting lungis imported from Europe! This interesting travel blog is all about lungi strutting in Kerala and it shows how deeply this piece of cloth is entwined in Kerala cluture though we sometimes tend to lose sight of this fact …
All that glitters is not gold; and going by the latest reports, this famous axiom could well be proven right! Next time when you buy gold, keep in mind that K.D.M.( cadmium) which is used as a joint in gold jewellery could cause cancer. The goldsmiths also face a high risk of contacting cancer or skin disease due to the continuous exposure to Cadmium vapours. It is ironical to note that though Cadmium is banned worldwide for manufacturing jewellery, it is used in many developing countries like India.
The Government has introduced hallmark system for gold jewellery to check the use of cadmium and while applying for a license the manufacturer has to give undertaking to the effect that he would not use cadmium in any way. However, the law remains only on paper as its implementation is not ensured. Many jewellers flout the rules openly, putting the lives of millions of goldsmiths working in the industry and the gold crazy population of India at risk. Wearing gold ornaments with KDM for a long time can cause ‘Contact Dermatities’ or skin allergies. However, as no research studies have been taken up on this subject, buyers remain oblivious to the risks involved.
This piece of startling information is particularly important in the context of Kerala that accounts for one third of 800-odd tonne annual consumption of gold in India. Buying ornaments as investment and as jewelery has been part of the culture of Keralites for generations. This tiny state of Kerala is one of the world’s hungriest gold markets thanks to the NRI remittances and on any given day, you could see swelling crowds in the jewelery shops of Kerala, which will increase manifold during special occasions like wedding seasons or Akshaya Thritiya. Check out this blog of Miss Malini, which makes an interesting read on the gold craze of Indians
So, before lapping up the latest designs in gold, you should be well informed on the dangers of buying KDM gold. Never be a gullible buyer; insist on cadmium test while buying gold jewellery and be happy , healthy and prosperous. Recently, in a counter-affidavit submitted by director of the Bureau of Indian Standards ( BIS) before the Kerala high court, it was stated that highly carcinogenic elements such as iridium and ruthenium were being freely added to gold ornaments in India. So, before spending all your life time earnings on the lure of yellow metal, remember that the cancer scare could well be the cost that you are paying on every gold purchase!
Read more on the gold craze of India in the Wall Street Journal article here : India’s $600 Billion Hidden Treasure
Are the bogus realtors in Kerala pushing up the land value beyond the reach of ordinary people?
Soon on the heels of Apple a day properties scam that siphoned off the hard earned money of the investors and offered nothing in return, a few other real estate companies have also joined this infamous league of builders. It goes without saying that considering the small size of Kerala and its land constrains, flats are the most feasible housing options to cater to the population of Kerala. However the flat boom has also let in many unscrupulous elements with no track record or good will into this industry .
Most of these fly by night operators who are only interested in amassing wealth do not care for the welfare of the investors. These massive land deals have pushed up the land prices of Kerala to unbelievable levels.The ground reality is that the ordinary mortals of this State find it difficult to buy even a small patch of land these days and dare not dream of a roof over their heads!
Let’s admit it- Kerala is a land of real estate companies and land deals. Every other person you meet on the road could be a realtor agent in some form or the other. From full time land deal brokering to part time activities, land deals pump money into many a kitty in Kerala. They could be an auto driver,a petty shop owner or a vegetable vendor, however they’ll slip into the role of a cheeky broker the moment he sniffs a prospective client in you and pockets a handsome brokerage in every deal irrespective of his role in the deal! Shady land deals and forest and water front encroachments happen at an alarming pace and with no fool proof monitoring system in place, Kerala is slipping into the tight grips of the land mafia.
These pictures say it all!! These patches of marshy land where one of the apartment complexes of apple a day property were to have come up would be better suited for stilt houses or a fish farm may be. It is high time that we pulled the plugs to stop this menace. Make sure that you check the credentials of the builders and their track record before leaving your hard earned money at their desks. Rather than the lure for money and profits , let credibility be the deciding factor while you pick up the builders because this is the only way you can put an end to this series of real estate scams rocking this tiny State , which is overburdened with more flats and apartments than it can possibly sustain!
AMET group is picking up the cruise options from where Louis Cruise had left due to high berth charges! The AMET group has already started arrangements to operate the cruise by the first week of October , if everything goes on as planned .
AMET group CEO, P Bharathi held discussions with the officials of the Cochin Port Trust in this regard, a few weeks back. The final decision on berth charges and other related matter will be taken at the next board meeting of the Cochin port trust.
AMET is planning to start a cruise service from Kochi to Maldives ( 4 nights), Kochi -Lakshadeep ( 2 nights)and high sea cruise during nights. If there is one trip to Maldives and three high sea trips one week , in the next week it will be two trips to Lakshadeep and three high sea trips, which will be on a rotation basis. High sea trips will be conducted every week as it is the most attractive package and a handy get away for a day for the busy city folks.
The cruise liner will operate for 5-6 months a year and will make a minimum of 100 calls to the Kochi berth. At present there are over 50-60cruises calling at the Cochin port and once AMET starts its operations, it will go up to more than 150 a year. With the resumption of this service, cruise tourism is likely to gain more popularity and is expected to bring in huge revenue. State of the art facilities may be introduced at the berths to woo international tourists.
It may be recalled that when Louis cruise introduced their services nearly 2,50,000 people enjoyed the cruise in a matter of just 6 weeks, out of which more than half of the tourists were from states outside Kerala. The count down has already started. So, be ready to explore the high seas and the fun of a luxury cruise right here in Kochi in the days ahead.
Padmanabhaswamy Temple in the State capital of Thiruvananthapuram hit the headlines when a massive treasure that is valued at over 1 lakh Crore was discovered from its secret vaults, making it the richest temple in the world, displacing the world famous Tirupati Balaji Temple in Andhra Pradesh to the second position.
The treasure included ancient ornaments, crown, bow and utensils of various shapes and sizes made of pure gold. A statue of Krishna embedded with precious stones, which is priced at 5000 crores and a 18 feet gold chain of the deity were some of the other items found in the secret chambers (Nilavara) of Sree Padmanabhaswamy Temple.
17 kg of gold coins dating back to the period of India East Company, gold in the form of strings, 2.5 kg gold collar, heaps of gem encrusted ‘aval’, thousands of pieces of antique jewellery studded with diamonds and gold vessels were some of the other items. The value of articles stocked in the vaults of the temple, managed by the royal family of the erstwhile Travancore princely state is beyond imagination. According to noted historian Dr M G S Narayanan, Padmanabhaswamy temple dating back to the 9th Century will have several centuries old priceless antiques.
The seven-member panel appointed by the Supreme Court of India has been entrusted of making an inventory of the assets that had remained hidden for over 150 years. The temple has six secret vaults and two of them had not been opened for the past one-and-a-half century. A major chunk of the estimated treasure was stored in the cellar, coded as A. The preparation of inventory of another chamber B will be taken up later and when the full list is compiled it is expected that the total worth of the valuables will reach unimaginable levels. The news has stirred up a lot of interest in both the social media and print media not only within the country but also in foreign countries where many newspapers like Khaleej Times have kept their readers updated on this treasure discovery.
Now that the hidden treasure is out in the open, debates are on as to what should be done with this humongous amount of wealth. The chief minister has said that the temple treasures will be preserved as it is and high tech surveillance and fool proof security measures will be provided to protect the wealth .Historians too opine that as the measureless wealth belongs to the Lord, it is legally and morally wrong to take the money out of the temple. However, there are apprehensions whether these priceless valuables that escaped the eyes of the marauding plunderers of the past will remain safe in its original abode and will be preserved for posterity? The lid of one of the best kept secrets is blown away and to safeguard this massive wealth from the greedy eyes all over will make it a Herculean task for all concerned!
Drive south from Cochin to Alappuzha and once you turn off the road to Puchakkal, an older Kerala is revealed of small homesteads and little towns. Once upon a time, it was anticipated that this road would lead to a new township called New Cochin that would rise from the paddies beside the backwaters and become a chic colony for Keralites tired of the noise and bustle of Cochin. That was the dream, but with the implosion of the company responsible and the arrest of its promoters on charges of fraud, the site is now a sad testimony to both high hopes and naivety on the part of the investors who often borrowed money to buy into the dream.
We have watched the story unfurl for some time as we actually own a property beside the Apple A Day plot.
Once upon a time, the land was quite cheap around here: it was just paddies, coconut groves and the occasional fish farm in a lagoon beside the lake. Apple changed that as they offered large sums for the otherwise largely worthless land. For a long time nothing actually happened, the slowly there were signs of impending construction and the erection of a sign and map that provided a glimmer of the future township.
Here was the map back in November 2009 when we drove past. Although it was new, there were already distressing signs of wear and tear. I took a panorama as well which shows the map in situ
You can see signs of a little activity, but not a lot. You can imagine how excited prospective owners were when they saw this glossy vision of a Miami on Backwaters. Today, the building materials have been either removed or stolen and the land is back to Paddy, except that now nobody knows who actually owns it as the documents are certainly moot and improperly recorded.
Although most signs of building have disappeared, there is one building completed, apparently by a frustrated owner who decided to take the matter into his own hands. There is something sad and ironic about its fate. Like the township which was to be built in the middle of nowhere, the house sits forlorn in the midst or water-logged paddy. Perhaps, like the township would have done, the building is beginning to tilt as it weight drops it into the mud. Without sufficient foundations and build over a canal the weight of the concrete is too much for the land and millimetre by millimetre, it is being swallowed by the wet land.
It is difficult to see it by eye, you need to roll a marble across the floor to realise that the building is not straight and that the rear of the building is slowly sinking into the ground.
When you see around the building, you see the rest of the land is simply undeveloped paddy field, largely uncared for.
Did you ever visit New Cochin? Is this what you expected? How do you feel now?
Later it was said that an Apple-a-day keeps the doctor away. And now we have this new form of Apple, that simply managed to swindle millions from different people across Kerala and ironically that includes doctors too.
Well! We are talking about Apple-a-day properties- the new face of the biggest land scam in Kerala (Over Rs. 100 crores). If we have to believe the early story of Adam and Eve, and that Apple was symbolic for immortality and tempted man to commit sin after sin, Apple-a-day, builders did just that- woo people from far across middle-east asking them to invest in proposed ‘Garden of Eden’ in God’s own Country. This company promised plush Villas and flats. The modern Adams and Eves pumped in all their hard earned money for a life in Eden, were just waiting to see the day of light when they realize that this time the serpent was the Apple itself.
These are the pictures of the site in Thycattussery panchayath near Cherthala, Alappuzha district where they proposed flats for Rs.5 lacs plus a Tata Nano car for the occupants. All they did here was land piling to eye wash investors and left it for the stray dogs to defecate.
Please visit us for more interesting stories on how Apple-a-day converted marshy land to look perfect for construction and how they managed to coax investors to eat their Apple. The fact remains that these lands were never ever suitable for construction.