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.
Cochin corporation, has come up with various plans to ensure the safety of women in the city. The project named ‘Sabala’, will include various proposals to make the city women friendly. This time bound project is expected to go a long way in solving most of the problems faced by women. This is for the first time that a Corporation has come up with a separate budget outlay for the welfare of women.
Some of the projects include :-
- Extending free medical care for families with only female members. The education expenses of children of such families will also be fully covered in these schemes.
- A modern lodging facility for women will be set up in the city to ensure safe stay for those women travelers who reach the City for various purposes. Apart from an all women staff team, the lodge will also have various other facilities like online reservations, taxi and other services.
- Kudumbashree Women only Buses run by Metro Cochin Transport Corporation (MCTC) is another novel venture envisaged in the project. The buses will have an all women crew.
- To arrest instances of child abuse, a team of three counselors will be set up in each school who will try to protect the students from the modern vices like internet scams and exploitation of students through mobile phones and social network.
Once this project is fully implemented, the business capital of Kerala will have an envious repute of being a women friendly City in all aspects.
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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.
Kerala is bestowed with a long sea coast that virtually extends all along the State and a meandering network of backwaters, canals and rivers, which makes it a perfect destination for water tourism and leisure activities.
Kerala has asked The National Institute of Water Sports (NIWS) in Goa to chart out a detailed project report. Once the policy clearances are obtained , water sports and other leisure activities will be taken up in a phased manner. Kerala holds an enviable position for a range of water sporting options like windsurfing, kayaking and canoeing. The ethnic water activities of Kerala including house boat cruise and snake boat racing could also be included in the activity list to ensure a diverse fare. The main objective of this plan would be to promote new water sporting destinations apart from the popular spots like in Kerala like Punnamada, Ashtamudi, Kumarakom and Bakel.
Apart from enhancing the tourism potential of the State, weather sporting events would also ensure the protection of water bodies in the State, which are facing a high risk from the spiraling commercial and developmental activities in the State, which has taken a heavy toll over its natural resources.
Gone are the days when autos used to be a budget travel option in the cities of Kerala. The spiraling fuel prices have pushed up the autofares beyond the reach of the ordinary commuters that most people think twice before flagging down this popular transport option.
Fondly called Tuk, tuk, this sprightly three wheelers can navigate crowded streets of cities like Kochi where traffic snarls are the order of the day. There are many city dwellers who depend on autos to travel to and for their workplaces and homes and to go about their daily errands. However the charm of these handy transport options are being overly marred by the growing complaints of auto drivers fleecing the hapless commuters.
It is interesting to note that the commuters too have come up with some smart tips to make sure that they do not fall victims to the nefarious ploys of the auto drivers. Some people do a bit of analysis on the body language and the general appearance of the drivers before hiring an auto. Nonetheless, this may not work out at all times as there are auto drivers who fleece the commuters with a smiling face and a friendly demeanor.
However, group travelers are at a distinct advantage because if they think that the driver has an unfriendly look, the person who has to travel the shortest distance gets in so the other persons can choose from the rest of the autos in the line. This would ensure that the the person who has to travel the farthest gets the best choice. As the going gets hard, the hapless passengers are forced to indulge in a bit of mind reading and character mapping of the drivers before hiring an auto!
Cochin, the emerging business capital of Kerala has a floating population comprising of people from various parts of India and even abroad, which could make it a target for unlawful activities. Though Malayalees have so far only come up with instances like kidnapping on reel screen and not real life, the possibilities when this familiar scene in many Malayalam movies can become a threat in real life too cannot be ruled out.
In an innovative method to stall such a remote possibility three engineering graduates have developed an easy downloadable software for android phones. The trio Doney P Dev, and his friends Rizwin Azeez Naina(TechLead) and Mahesh J Nair, who has set up their own independent company, August Info Solutions has come up with the Hello Kerala software that can automatically locate the nearest police station to where you are and send an sms to the mobile number of the police station thereby alerting them instantaneously. The sms will have all the details like location address and even if the mobile number does not work, the number will be immediately sent to the cyber cell.
The beta version of this handy software that was developed in about 4 months can be downloaded from the internet for free from Google Play. In a short period of over a few weeks it has received tremendous response from the users and the team might consider developing an advanced pro version depending on the response. The biggest advantage of the software is that even though the system works on Google maps and Global Positioning system, it can still work on phones without an internet connection. In the pro version, the software will be developed for Blackberry and I Phones apart from those with Windows Applications. In addition Hello Kerala will also provide details like roads, hotels, airports, tourist destinations and the events list of the State, making it a useful directory of all the essential information.
So, next time when you think you are being stalked or being targeted by kidnappers, don’t panic. All you need to do is to simply use this powerful tool to ensure police assistance right away.
Now that the peak tourist season in many Indian tourist destinations including Kerala has already started, we at Karma Kerala wish to share a few helpful tips to the tourists to ensure a hassle free and enjoyable trip.
Recently a French Family of five members got into legal trouble for possessing fake Indian Rupees. They were duped by a fraudulent money exchanger outside the airport by offering a higher exchange rate than the normal rates. Tourists should make sure that you get the money exchange done in authorized money exchange counters instead of falling prey to swindlers on the prowl!
Kottayam Kumily Road which forms the strategic link between the high ranges of Central Kerala and Tamilnadu completed 150 years recently. Extending over 109 kilometers, KK road is part of the Kollam Theni Highway. Built during the reign of Rani Lakshmi Bhai in 1863, this road was completed in different phases. The first phase extending from Kottayam to Mundakkayam took 4 years to get completed. In the next 4 years, the road was extended to Kumily via Kuttikanam, Peerumedu and Vandiperiyar. The road was built using the latest available technology of those times. Elephant trails were used as markers while building the first stretch of road from Mundakkayam to the Highranges. labourers for crushing the stones were brought from the neighbouring places.
British engineers who used to undertake horse back trails to the jungles for pleasure trips and hunting also found this pathway useful. Thousands of labourers toiled day and night to complete the first phase of the KK road and the rugged terrain and hostile working conditions left many labourers sick. Many fell victims to the deadly disease of Malaria while a few others died in work site accidents while crushing boulders. Hundreds of dead were buried near the cattle market in Pambady as per historical data. The place where the engineers camped in cloth tents later came to be known as Koodarakunnu ( literally meaning tent hill).
The East of Mundakkayam was thickly forested that had no access from outside . The British saw great scope in the plantation and trading of spices like cloves, cardamom and tea in the high ranges with the opening up of the road. A bridge was built at Mundakkayam. Jungle paths and boulders were cleared to pave the way and as per records there were days when over 2000 persons were engaged in road construction. Soon bullock carts started plying from Kottayam to Mundakkayam through this stretch ferrying goods like coconut and paddy. In the ensuing stage, the road was extended from Kuttikanam to Chappath, Elappara and Kattapana, which became the first settlements in high ranges. The products from the main spice trading centres of the last century including Ponkunnam, Ranni, Konni, Manimala and Chirakadavu started reaching Cochin through the waterways via Kottayam.
Ponkunnam was infested with poisonous snakes, wild shrubs and poisonous thorny bushes which posed great challenge for the workers. To motivate the labourers to complete this difficult task, the British officers used to give a gold coin at the end of the day for those who had successfully completed their tasks. Hence the name Ponkunnam. ( Ponnu means gold and kunnu hillock )
Bus services were started before the tarring of the road was completed, which makes it 70 years since bus transportation began in KK road. The first buses were 8 seaters which were propelled by coal and Swaraj, Kailas and Balakumar were some of the transport companies that plied in this route for the first time in KK road to Peerumedu. Later the service was extended till Periyar and in the third stage, the bus route was extended to Kumily. When the road was completed , it was inaugurated by none other than the king His Majesty Sree Chithira Thirunal who travelled through the newly laid KK road.
150 years after , the prominence of this strategic road has only increased and KK Road still continues to be a nerve centre of the spice trade connecting the spice pockets to the trading posts like Cochin and will have a bigger role to play in the emerging Kerala.