Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Goa Tourism Minister Writes Letter to Centre Requesting Visa Rules Relaxations

Experiencing a steep drop in the influx of international tourist, the minister of Goa tourism has made a request to the Centre to make arrangements for relaxing the visa rules and regulations by offering special concessions to the International travellers willing to tour Goa. The Goa tourism minister, Nilkant Halarnkar, wrote a letter to P Chidambaram, the Union home minister, to introduce relaxations in the India travel visa norms for the travellers visiting Goa, the beautiful coastal state of India.

According to the Goa tourism minister, most of Goa tourists comprise repeat visitors, who are now travelling to the Non-Indian coastal hotspots like Thailand and Sri Lanka, as both these countries are offering visa on arrival to their tourists. According to the Indian visa travelling norms, the international tourists need to wait for 2 months before they can re-visit the country, against the earlier Indian visa norm which was valid for the traveller for six months and the international visitors could come to and leave the country whenever they wished, and for that period of 5 to 6 months, Goa would become their preferred travel destination in India, while they also kept the surrounding destinations of Malaysia, Cambodia and Thailand in their itinerary. Later again, they would again travel to Goa to spend the rest of their winter holidays.

This however, has become quite difficult in the Goa tourism scene in the recent times with the enforcing of the stringent India visa norms. So, while only 288 charters touched the soils of Goa in December 2010 against the 700 odd charters that landed in previous years, the hotels of Goa have experienced a dip of 30% dip in their revenues per room! Thus, like the minister of Goa tourism, we too would be eagerly expecting to bring some relaxation in the Indian travel visa rules and regulations so that tourism in Goa starts looking up again.

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Ten Hilton Worldwide hotels to add up to the India portfolio by 2011 end

The Hilton Worldwide Group which is currently operating three luxury hotels in India namely – Hilton Mumbai International Airport, Hilton Garden Inn New Delhi and Hilton Chennai are now planning to add up seven more accommodation facilities to this list of existing hotels and the project is hoped to be completed by the end of 2011. Presently, the Hilton Group has a total of 19 hotels in India, all of which are under different developmental stages. While two of these hotels will be under the operation of Conrad brand, three will be operated by the Hilton Garden Inn brand, while four of them will be under the Hampton brand and the rest of the five hotels will be under the operation of Hilton and Double Tree brands.

The President of Asia Pacific, Hilton Worldwide, Martin Rinck, was quoted as saying that he feels India has phenomenal growth potential and an enormous market despite there being several challenges and thus, dreams to introduce five of the ten Hilton Worldwide brands to the country. The President has also named the metros of Bangalore, New Delhi, Mumbai, Kolkata, Chennai and happening cities of Kochi, Jaipur, Goa, Pune, Hyderabad and Chandigarh as the places where the group is expected spread its wings. This sure exudes an aroma of luxury waves throughout the nation and luxury tourism in India will surely benefit and boost up international tourism in India.

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Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Magh Bihu 2011 – Festivals of Assam

The Magh Bihu 2011 was held from 14th January to 16th January. The Magh Bihu 2011 festival was celebrated with great pomp and show with an assorted foods prepared from the fresh harvests. The Assam Magh Bihu festival is also popularly known as Maghar Domahi or Bhogali Bihu, which means, Bihu of enjoyment. This harvest festival of Assam marks the end of the winter harvest season and is the Assamese way of celebrating Sankranti with grand feasts and merry bonfires that last for an entire week.

Magh Bihu Uruka

During the Magh Bihu festival in Assam, youths build up makeshift huts called meji ghar with the help of thatch, leaves and bamboo and inside these huts; they enjoy the feast in the gathering of their friends and families. Similar huts called Bhelaghar are also built. Both types of huts are built usually near a river on a rice field on the eve of Magh Bihu called Uruka. The entire festive night of Uruka is kept alive with bihu songs, which are played in tune with the rhythmic beats of the musical instrument “dhol,” similar to the drum. These huts are then, ritually set aflame on the next morning after the Magh Bihu feast. People gather around the meji ghar huts and throw rice pastries or pithas and betel nuts to the fire after setting the huts aflame. This is a ritualistic way of offering prayers to the Agni Dev or Fire God to mark the end of the harvest season. The next day is followed by celebrations when relatives visit each other, gather up in a community and distribute rice cakes and pastries made from coconut, til, rice and jiggery, to everyone.

Magh Bihu Entertainment

The Magh Bihu celebration is also marked by exciting games and activities such as pot-breaking competition called tekeli bhonga, bird fighting and buffalo fighting. Dance and music are also an integral part of the Magh Bihu festival in Assam.

Magh Bihu in other regions of India

The Assamese Magh Bihu festival is equivalent of the Makar Sankranti or the winter solstice cum harvest festival celebrated in South India as Pongal, Lohri in North India and Makar Sankranti in Central India.

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Bikaner Camel Festival 2011

The Bikaner Camel Festival 2011 begins today i.e. the 18th of January. The Bikaner Camel Festival 2011 held in the desert village of Ladera in the Bikaner town of Rajasthan, India is dedicated to the hardy and surly “ships of the desert” - the camels, and the frenzy of the fair will be on till 19th January 2011. The curtains of the Bikaner festival of Rajasthan will be rolled up with a beautiful parade of these all decked up Bikaner camels. The Bikaner camel festival 2011 will be followed by different other events ranging from camel races to even fun filled camel beauty pageants!!

On the camel festival of Bikaner, camel traders, artisans and craftsmen from the different parts of the desert state Rajasthan converge on the fair venue of the Bikaner camel festival and the entire fair environment comes alive with the bustling crowds of buyers, sellers, on lookers and tourists. The fair grounds of Bikaner camel festival 2011 Rajasthan bring along enough scope for indulging in local Rajasthani delicacies, souvenir shopping and of course unforgettable photo moments.

Like every year, the annual Bikaner Camel festival 2011 is organized by the Department of Tourism, Art & Culture of Rajasthan in the month of January. The fun and frolics of the frenzy filled Bikaner camel festival is held on the grounds with the magnificent Junagarh Fort of Bikaner filling the backdrop. This colorful camel festival of Bikaner, which begins with the mesmerizing procession of ornamented and festooned camels, concludes on the Polo grounds.

Some of the exciting activities which keep up the charm and the spirit of the Bikaner festival of camels for several days are the activities like camel dance, acrobatics, tug of war championships, local folk entertainment, camel riding, fire dances by expert performers and spellbinding fireworks in the evening. Activities like camel milking and food sampling of sweets made from camel milk also keep the visitors on the Bikaner camel festival merrily busy.

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