The prince and his entourage enjoyed the heavy downpower from deep inside the forests and the beauty of the bountiful waterfalls in Vazhachal.
Later he met the tribals who live in the periphery of the tropical forests and enquired about their food habits and mode of living.
The Prince spent around 40 minutes in the elephant corridor and was curious to know about the unique flora and fauna of the region. He also spared time to interact with the forest range officials and other senior officials of Wildlife Trust of India and other forest conservation organizations.
The authorities also introduced snake charmer Vava Suresh to the prince, who has the rare distinction of capturing over 250000 snakes till date including king cobra with bare hands and releasing them to the wild. Elephant lover Thadikannan, traditional botanist Mari and wildlife expert S Guruvayurappan also met prince Charles.
The villagers of teh otherwise sleepy villages near vazhachal accorded a rousing reception to the visiting Prince in a traditional style when his convoy passed through the area.
Image courtesy : Mail Online
A survey conducted by BBC World News has rated Kerala as the most popular tourist spot among foreign travellers. The survey included 1000 people from around the world who have visited India and never visited India. The survey focused on four factors including travel habits of international travelers, tourism attractions and facilities and the things that prevent them from visiting.
Tamil Nadu was pitched at a close second position among the South Indian states with 34 percent of the tourists who have visited India instantly recalling the state. Good road connectivity and the ancient temple architecture and culture in the well preserved testimonial like Madurai Meenakshi temple were cited as its major attractions.
Karnataka is at slot three with 31 per cent of travelers who have visited India recalling its value.
In the fourth position stands Kolkata, which is known to most foreign travelers as the home of Mother Teresa and Rabindranath Tagore. The survey rated West Bengal in the first position among the Eastern Indian states. 20% of visitors who have visited India instantly recalled West Bengal with travelers from the US and the UK being the most aware about this state. Interestingly 19% of the travelers who have never visited India also knew about West Bengal.
Though it might sound a bit paradoxical, Gujarat which ranks high as an investment destination, is yet to emerge as a popular tourist destination among international travelers. Some of the factors that were thought to contribute to its low popularity include liquour ban as per the survey. The state has also not fully popularized its credentials as the home town of Gandhiji. Only one percent of the respondents had instant recall about Gujarat.
Though Gujarat has good infrastructure and transport facilities, it has to do more to promote destinations such as the Rann of Kuttch, Gir Forest and Gandhi Ashram, said a statement.
The travel survey reveals that North Indian states in general have a negative attitude towards foreign tourists. While Uttar Pradesh was rated the least popular because of the negative
attitude of local populace towards foreign tourists, low medical facilities, safety, security and hygiene. Madhya Pradesh and Bihar too ranked low among foreign tourists for the low safety records for travelers especially women tourists.
In a novel concept to bring alive the beauty, the magic and above all the nostalgia of the monsoons of Kerala to those who miss it, the Kerala Tourism Board has brought alive the monsoon experience to the desktop of millions of global netizens all around the world through the state of the art gesture recognition technology.
The gesture controlled website, http://when-it-rains.com/ which is best viewed with Google chrome and a webcam has got over 100,000 hits already. The website has some brilliantly captured rain sights and monsoon moments in its portfolio, which the visitors can browse by simply waving their hand in front of the camera.
The gesture recognition technology will bring a new image onto the screen and it gives them a realistic experience of the rain spectacles of Kerala and its dramatic beauty. The site also functions without gesture control, where the users can flip through the images through the direction tabs at the bottom right of the web page.
The website, the first ever of its kind developed so far by a state tourism board in India, gives a peek to the rain soaked plains, mist clad mountains and the pristine backwaters among many others through this gesture based interface. Launched as a part of the monsoon campaign by Kerala Tourism, this website is one of the few tourism websites in the world that employs gesture controlled technology. Spectacular images of monsoon shared by Facebook fans of Kerala Tourism find place in this website.
The site, developed by Stark Communications, the official marketing and communications agency of the Kerala Tourism Department ensures a user friendly browsing experience. The website tracks and responds to the movements of the users in front of a webcam, ensuring an interactive and personal monsoon experience to those browsing the site even if they are not in Kerala. It can go a long way in linking the various Kerala destinations to people and take them upclose to the sights and scenes that await them on their visit.
Kerala Tourism Director Hari Kishore described the gesture controlled website as yet another step in extending to the world the many experiences that Kerala can offer to a visitor. The warm and quick response in the social media was obvious as this site got over 100,000 visits since its launch on 28th May 2013 apart from 13,000 likes in Facebook and 300 tweets. It is another feather in the cap of Kerala tourism, which has to its credit the award-winning website of /www.keralatourism.org, which is also one of the most-visited tourism websites in the world.
So for those scores of overseas Malayalees who love to soak up the monsoon magic at its best or bring back the nostalgic memories, anytime, anywhere, all they need to do is to log into http://when-it-rains.com/ . No matter where you are , now the Kerala monsoon experience is only a few clicks away! Enjoy
Not many of us might have heard about Kodikkal beach in North Kerala, though it has all the credentials to be a world class drive in beach. The shallow and safe waters , the sandy coast that is free from the footfalls of mass tourism and the rustic milieu around would make it a choice worth reckoning.
Yet the potential of this beautiful 8km beach , which is situated near Vadakara in Kozhikode is yet to be tapped. The beach is well suited for a range of beach activities like paragliding. Foreign tourists who often come to this beach find it more beautiful than its popular counterparts like Kovalam or Muzhuppilangad beach . The hard black sandy coast of Kodikkal is perfect place for one to drive in without getting stuck in the sand.
There are many other obscure tourism spots in Kerala as well, which are not fully documented and are known only to the local populace.As The Kerala Tourim Development Corporation plans to focus more on new and unexplored destinations apart from promoting the popular attractions of Kerala, this beach, which has remained hidden from the public eye might get featured in the tourism brochures soon. The best thing is that there are many other tourist attractions around, including the Iringal craft village, the house of Kunjali Marakkar and Velliyamkallu which can be combined with Kodikkal beach to form an interesting package as well.
A proper tourism promotion package alone can bring out the beauty of these hidden tourist attractions, which remain unexplored and untamed. To retain its impressive track record in tourism sector, Kerala will have to offer a diverse fare for the curious tourists who always look for something new!
Today, Google marked the 160th anniversary of the first passenger train journey in India with a doodle on its homepage. Indian railways holds the repute of being the largest rail network in Asia and the world’s second largest under one management. Indian railway connects the length and breadth of this massive country by operating many short and long distance trains in addition to many luxury trains like palace on wheels. A train journey in India is not just mayhem and frenzy but also a delightful opportunity to discover the charm of the rustic life and people upclose, to make new friends and to experience the diverse culture, cuisines and life styles of the country. As the search engine giant takes its visitors on a short journey into the history of Indian Railways, in this image of a steam engine train chugging along a palm-lined railway track in the backdrop of ancient palaces and buildings, we Indians can take pride in the tremendous achievements, Indian Railways has made in the last many years.
India’s first passenger train from Bombay to Thane had chugged out of Bori Bunder, in Bombay on April 16, 1853, exactly 160 years ago. This maiden railway passenger journey in India which involved three steam locomotives, Sultan, Sindh and Sahib, took 400 invited passengers in 14 carriages on a 57 minute journey that had one halt. As Google commemorates this milestone with a celebratory doodle on its India home page, which features a steam engine pulling a passenger train, let us strive to make Indian Railways the best ever by keeping it clean, prompt and safe.
The union Government of India has accepted the proposal to start a seaplane service in Kerala in principle. In the beginning, seaplane services will connect various tourist destinations like Kumarakom, Munnar, Ashtamudi, Punnamada, Bekal and Bolgatty from the airports of Trivandrum, Kochi and Kozhikode. At present Andaman and Nicobar island administration is successfully operating sea plane services.
Seaplane services will be a boon for tourists who are hard pressed for time as they can make the most of their available time by utilizing the faster transportation option of seaplanes. Apart from boosting tourism, sea plane services would also help a lot in opening up the lesser known tourist spots in Kerala for those who look for an off the beat sight seeing experience.
The river Nila, which is fast disappearing will also lead to the wiping out a rich civilization that thrived along the Nila. The traces of this civilzation, which is only kept alive by the folk lores , stories and songs might be lost forever for want of conservation measures.
An internationally-acclaimed tourism agency, The Blue Yonder, is striving to piece together this vanishing civilisation by wiki mapping and crowd-sourcing, which will give everyone including you and me a chance to be part of this novel venture.
This is the first time in India that attempts are being made to revive a river through ‘crowd-sourcing’ . In this ambitious plan, each and every civilizational trace in the 9,000 sq kms surrounding the 200-km course of the Nila through three districts — Thrissur, Palakkad and Malappuram will be documented. By roping in the local populace whose lives are influenced by the river Nila, The Blue Yonder hopes to preserve what is remaining of Nila. The team is setting up an open source platform where people could directly upload any Nila-related information.
“It could be about stories they want to share, it could be about the natural ponds in their village, it could be about farming traditions, about musicians, about skill sets, handicrafts, pottery,” Gopinath Parayil, founder of The Blue Yonder. said.
To get started Nila Foundation will take up a pilot documentation of 10 historically significant regions within the 9000 sq km including Thirunavaaya, Thrithaala or Thrissur cole lands. Each hub will have 10 volunteers who will be mapping 10 sq kms and this pilot exercise will offer an open platform for the general public to access and furnish information on Nila. Only novel ventures like the Nila foundation can save the rivers of Kerala, which are all facing a death knell due to the rampant sand mining and other human activities.
It was an afternoon of ‘Tsunami’ for us at Karma Kerala yesterday…
The time is 2.20 and we are working, most of us glued to our seats and computer screens. I have my headsets on and at the same time am part of a group chat on Skype, with our Scottish boss Mark Scott getting me to change a blog post. Suddenly I see some kind of a commotion and people looking down on to the road and some pointing to a fan. I don’t realize what’s happening; I guess it’s some film-star who has appeared in the studio opposite our office for a shoot or a photo-shoot that has caused the commotion. But then, why do they point at the fan that’s not working?
I take off my headphones… I hear something, can’t make out what it is. I prick my ears and listen… and hear it vaguely – “Earthquake!”
“Earthquake?! Where? When?”, I ask myself, since I was sitting in the very same office and didn’t feel anything. Thejal, Venu, Tijo, Tanweer and others move about; they point at the fan that’s swinging slightly. Aji surfs the net for updates. Praveen makes some quick calls to newspaper offices. Jisha says she can still feel the slight tremor. Shyama, who works from Delhi (Dilli), says over Skype that an earthquake of magnitude 8.7 has happened in Sumatra and that there is a Tsunami warning too…
“So the earth did tremble, after all”- I say to myself, and sit down on my seat after going around for a while.
By that time the word ‘Tsunami’ reaches our ears. My cousin who is on the train to Chennai from where he has to catch a flight to Port Blair the next morning calls me as he could not get connected to his father, my uncle, who is in Port Blair. I make a call to Port Blair, for the sake of my cousin. That gives me a clearer picture. My uncle says, “ We just felt a slight tremor, I was having my lunch then. There are Tsunami alerts in Southern Islands like Car Nicobar (I had spent my early years there), Kamorta, Katchal etc, but it’s just an alert”. (They have been used to having tremors of much more magnitude, ever since the 2004 quake and Tsunami, from which my mother, who was then working there, had a narrow escape).
Then on, it’s ‘Tsunami’ at out Karma Kerala office. People check the net for online television news and updates. Sreekumar gets calls from home; he is told that something had happened to a building at Palarivattom here and he’s worried. Jisha goes on saying she can feel slight tremors still. Praveen and Aji tell us people have run out of high-rise buildings and the IT companies at Infopark when the tremor happened. We are told the Mullaperiyar dam is safe and we needn’t worry on that count.
Over a cup of Coffee, the ‘very vocal’ Venu talks about quakes and Tsunamis. Aji once again checks the net and says people say the Tsunami has struck Indonesia. Shola says she wants to die wearing a Saree. Usha and Deepa remind her to wear a white one. Shola asks Aji when the Tsunami would hit Kochi. Aji says ‘Dunno!’. Shola retorts by saying she has to apply some makeup and lipstick to greet the Tsunami. Remya is worried that tremors are happening at Thiruvananthapuram too, her little son and parents are there. Rinoj gets calls from home, asking him to come home, at Thrissur. Ragesh calls his wife; he is now the proud father of a baby boy, whom he has named Rakshan. Amjath sits glued to his computer screen, working and in between cracking jokes.
Jisha says she is a Taurean and hence can feel the pulse of nature. Meanwhile there is a second tremor and some of us at Karma Kerala once again get the feel of it. Still I am excluded!!Caro (Carolane) moves about, inquiring things and making calls. Leneesha is a bit worried. Tanweer and Mary and Sara and Divya and Sooraj and Teena are all part of the talks on earthquakes and Tsunamis. Sreejesh, who had gone to the bank, comes back after a while saying he felt nothing as he was riding his scooter.
I ask Shyama to keep me updated, not because I am worried about the Tsunami reaching here, but because I have close relatives in the Andaman and Nicobar Islands and I am concerned about them. Shyama is ‘worried’ about her Kochi apartment, which remains locked as she is in Delhi. I take the occasion to philosophize, on a lighter vein, on the group chat on Skype, saying that there’s absolutely no reason to be worried and that life is just like a ‘bubble of water’ and what’s destined to happen cannot be changed etc… It’s blah blah blah…
Rain clouds gather around and that adds to the worries and the tension that’s created.
Finally, Thejal, who manages the office and decides things here, says the ladies can go. Ladies start moving out; bidding adieu and saying, though light humouredly- “See you tomorrow, if the Tsunami doesn’t strike!”. Shyama reminds Remya over Skype- “Dress well to bed…not make-up…but running clothes”, Remya responds with a smiley and leaves with a ‘bye’, along with Jisha.
Sreekumar is busy planning work for the next day. We are in office till 5.30- 5.45 and talks are mostly about Tsunami and earthquake. We try to remain updated on what’s happening. Aji reminds me to write a post here on this Karma Kerala blog on the earthquake and the Tsunami alerts and related things.
Well, this was what happened at the Karma Kerala office yesterday; I feel this would suffice to give you an idea of the commotion that struck Kochi in particular and Kerala in general after the tremors that were felt in various parts of the state and the Tsunami alert that came into effect.
The Kochi International Airport is going to be one of the four airports in India that would have the Visa-on-Arrival facility working in a year’s time.
The decision to extend the Visa-on-Arrival facility, provided to tourists from some countries, like Japan, Singapore, Finland, Luxemburg, New Zealand, Cambodia, Laos, Vietnam, Philippines etc, to four airports has been taken by the Government of India. That the Kochi airport is one among these is a matter of happiness for the people of Kerala, especially since people not just from European countries, but from places like Japan and Singapore too visit India, especially Kerala. This could prove a boost for the tourism sector and do good to Kerala.
If the rise in the number of Sabarimala pilgrims flying in to Kerala is any indication, it is quite possible that we may have an exclusive counter to cater to the devotees in the airport soon. In a dramatic change in the travel patterns adopted, Sabarimala pilgrims from the neighbouring states of Tamilnadu, Karnataka and Andhra Pradesh seem to have opted for air travel to reach Kerala. Most of them have chucked out the once popular modes of transports including rail and road transportation. Typically, the annual pilgrimage to Sabarimala would be an elaborate and well planned trip for the devotees that might extend to 3-4 weeks at times. Most of the groups used to depend on hired mini buses or taxis to reach this remote divine destination. Often they bring along gas cylinders, provision and vegetables and cook their own meals as they travel covering all the major temples enroute to Sabarimala.
However , at present most of the pilgrims prefer to complete the darshan and return home as early as possible and it has caused a steady increase in the number of pilgrims taking the flight to Kerala. As per the figures of the Travel agents and airline officials, there has been a rise of over 10 percent in the number of Ayyappa devotees using Cochin airport.
The over crowded trains, the difficulty in procuring train tickets and the negligible difference between train and flight fare are some of the major factors that make the pilgrims opt for flights. For instance while a Chennai-Kochi II A/C tickets would cost Rs 1,300, airfares start from Rs 2,000 and the best part is that the pilgrims from the South Indian metros can reach Kochi in over an hour by air . Most low cost airlines offer 5-10% discount on group bookings for ten or more passengers apart from extending facilities like check-in for connection flights and group check-in for a group, which the Sabarimala pilgrims find quite useful.
Thus a devotee from Karnataka or Andhra Pradesh can return home after his pilgrimage in 2-3 days as against the arduous Sabarimala pilgrimage of the yesteryears mostly on foot through the jungle tracks that could extend to a week or more!