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"If I want to concentrate my mind upon a point, it goes there and the moment when I call, it is free again"

- Swami Vivekananda

NEHRU TROPHY BOAT RACE 2017 - AUGUST 12 (SATURDAY)

Alappuzha is famous for its annual boat race, held on the second Saturday of August every year. The long elegant snake boats, with crews of over hundred men vying to win the coveted trophy, attract spectators from all over. This was started in 1952 when India's first Prime Minister, Mr. Jawaharlal Nehru, visited Alappuzha, and inaugurated the function in which the gigantic snake boats with over 100 rowers in each raced one another. It is called a Snake Boat Race as its 135 feet length has since been overtaken by Vellankulangara snake boat, which is 140 feet long.

THE LEGEND OF NEHRU TROPHY BOAT RACE

The Rajas of Yore
The story of these battling boats goes back 400 years in history when the rajas of the erstwhile principalities of Chempakasseri (Ambalappuzha), Kayamkulam, Thekkumkoor (Changanacherry) and Vadakkumkoor (Kottayam) in the old Travancore area, which were part of the present Alappuzha district and Kottayam district, frequently, crossed swords on the backwaters of Kuttanad. The Chempakasserry troops suffered heavy casualties at the hands of the superior navy their rivals commanded. It soon dawned on the Chempakasserry Raja that the real defect was with his war boats, which were sluggish and cumbersome.

He called all the boat architects in the land to his court and told them of his desire to have better and faster boats for the troops. After days of hard labour, a man who was reputed to be the best boat architect in Chempakasserry, Koduppunna Venkitanarayanan Asari, came up with a specimen which satisfied the raja’s requirements. It had speed, manoeuvrability and capacity to carry 100 able-bodied warriors on board and its eel-like construction was most ideal for launching an ambush since it could be easily kept concealed behind the overhanging bushes on the river banks. The Asari was generously rewarded and in the subsequent battles, the Chempakasseri Raja emerged victorious.

Celebrations of Nehru Trophy Boat Race

The celebrations that mark this annual event include music and folk dance performances and of course the boat race. The Nehru Trophy boat race is organized every year on the second Saturday in the month of August. The drum beats and boat songs called vanchipattu that complement these boat races almost work the spectators and the oarsmen into a frenzy of activity and adds a sense of thrill to the entire boat race.

71ST INDEPENDENCE DAY 2017 - AUGUST 15 (TUESDAY)

15th August, 1947, the day is etched in the minds and hearts of all Indians. India gained freedom after years of struggle against the British Rule. Independence Day of any country is a moment of pride and glory. On this special occasion, rich tributes are paid to the freedom fighters like Gandhi, Nehru, Tilak, Bhagat Singh, Sarojini Naidu amongst others, who fought selflessly for the freedom of our country, sacrificed their lives to free their motherland from the clutches of the oppressors - British who ruled India. On the eve of 15th August, 1947, Jawaharlal Nehru addressed the constituent assembly at the Parliament, delivering his famed, eloquent speech, Tryst with Destiny announcing India’s freedom at midnight. This announcement brought about a rise in spirits all over the country, for India was finally realizing a dream to be a free nation, free from oppression and domination under the British rule. It was a historic day as India finally shook off the shackles of British Rule and became free. It was a night of celebration all over the country.

Every year, on this day, Indians pay homage and remember these great people with a sense of pride. There are functions and activities organized in schools, colleges and government organization to remember the day that we became a free nation. There is an official ceremony held at the Red Fort in the National Capital. The Prime Minister of India hoists the Tricolor at the Red Fort to commemorate Independence Day and to honor our freedom fighters. The Prime Minister's speech at the Red Fort in Delhi is a major highlight. Patriotic presentations by school children add colors to the celebrations. Delhi’s skyline gets dotted with thousands of kites taking to the sky on this day. Similar programs are held at all the State capitals also. The preparations for this major event begin a month in advance. Roads are decorated with flags and buntings. Buildings of national importance are illuminated and all in all it’s a happy and a joyful day.
'At the stroke of the midnight hour, when the world sleeps,
India will awake to life and freedom' - Pt. Jawaharlal Nehru

GANESH CHATURTHI 2017 - AUGUST 25 (FRIDAY)

Ganesh Chaturthi is celebrated on the 4th day of the bright half of Bhadrapad. This festival marks the birthday of Lord Ganesh. Lord Ganesha or Ganpati is one of the most popular deities in the Hindu religion worshiped by both Shaivites and Vaishnavites. Even Buddhists and Jains have faith for Ganpati. He is considered to be an avatar of both Shiva and Vishnu.

On the occasion of the Ganpati festival, a large number of idols are made of clay or metal in all possible sizes; sometimes even up to twenty feet.

People buy idols of Lord Ganesha and install them in their houses and worship the idol for one to ten days, after which the idols are taken out ceremoniously, through the streets of the town (especially in Maharashtra) and immersed into the river, sea or well.

ONAM 2017 - SEPTEMBER 4 (MONDAY)

Onam is one of the greatest festivals of Kerala. It is the festival, which the Keralites celebrate unitedly without the difference of caste and religion. Onam is a time for sports and festivities and in Kerala where one third of the area is low lying, covered with canals, lakes and backwaters; the people take to their boats and country crafts to celebrate. Colourful aquatic festivals are organized along the sacred river Pamba.

Onam is the most important harvest festival of Kerala and is an attraction for thousands of people within and outside the state. Ranging from four days to ten days, all the activities during this season are centered around worshiping, music, dances, sports, boat races and good food. It is celebrated in the Malayalam month Chingam (ending of August and beginning of September). Onam is a harvest festival, and celebrates the bounty of nature after a year of hard labour. Elaborate procession of Trichur and spectacular snake boat races on River Pampa mark the merry-making nature of the festival. Women dress up in new saris and heavy jewellery and make elaborate and intricate designs of 'rangolis' (with coloured rice paste) and 'pookkalam' (with flowers) in front of their houses.

PLACE IN FOCUS : BINSAR, UTTARAKHAND

The summer capital of the erstwhile Chand kings of Kumaon, Binsar is a picturesque hamlet and one of the most scenic spots in the Kumaon Himalayas. Situated at an altitude of 2,420 m, 95 km from Nainital, it offers views of the snowy Himalayan peaks such as the ranges Chaukhamba, Trishul, Nanda Devi, Shivling and Panchchuli. Zero Point, the highest point in Binsar Wildlife Sanctuary, is where tourists can enjoy a 360-degree view of the Himalayan landscape.

Abundant with wildlife, Binsar is home to many rare animals, birds and wild flowers. Besides, Binsar is also known as a trekking destination. Some of the popular tourist attractions in and around Binsar include Binsar Hill, Khali Estate, Gananath Temple, Binsar Wildlife Sanctuary amongst others. During summer, the temperatures in Binsar are lesser than other cities and towns in the mainland, thus making it a popular tourist destination.

ROYAL CARIBBEAN INTERNATIONAL’S ‘NAVIGATOR OF THE SEAS’ REPLACES MEXICAN WITH INDIAN MENU

Indian travellers will now be able to enjoy Indian cuisine at the Sabor Indian Cuisine, the premium restaurant in Royal Caribbean International’s cruise ship Navigator of the Seas. Sabor, which originally featured a Mexican cuisine. Sabor will be available for 2017 European sailings only and can only be booked onboard. In recent months, the number of Indian guests on the Royal Caribbean sailings has increased exponentially which motivated RCI to change Sabor’s menu.

Commenting on the decision, Ratna Chadha, Chief Executive, TIRUN said, “The number of Indian travellers onboard Royal Caribbean International has increased considerably. RCI decided to have a menu that comprises dishes reflecting the culinary heritage of India. Inspired by the flavors of the country, cuisine at Sabor has been kept as diverse as the region’s expansive culture.”
All sailings of the Navigator of the Seas will leave from Southampton till October 2017, with itineraries distributed across different durations from five days to 14 days sailings, which are popular with Indians. The cruise ship will sail though England, France, Spain, Portugal, Morocco, Italy and more.

DWARKA GETS ITS FIRST MERCURE WITH 99 ROOMS
Mercure makes its debut in the holy city of Dwarka with the opening of Mercure Dwarka. Strategically located in the Devbhumi Dwarka district of Gujarat, the hotel is a short drive from the Dwarkadhish temple, popularly known as Jagat Mandir. The hotel is conveniently located at a five minute drive from the railway station, an hour’s drive from Porbandar Airport and a little over two hours from the Jamnagar Airport. The hotel is also in close proximity to Nageshwar Temple, Gopi Talav Theertham, Rukmani Devi Temple and Hanuman Mandir. The opening of Mercure Dwarka marks AccorHotels’ fourth property in the land of legends, Gujarat.
Featuring 99 guest rooms, including one suite, the hotel offers spacious interiors and modern design; the rooms are equipped with in-room amenities and high speed Wi-Fi access. Fitness enthusiasts can also enjoy a refreshing work out at the state-of-the-art fitness centre.
With more than 750 hotels in 58 countries located in the centre of key cities, Mercure provides a multi-service offer to business and leisure guests with spacious, modular rooms, balanced meals, meeting rooms, a multi-purpose lobby and fitness centres.
THE LODHI, NOW A ‘LEADING HOTEL OF THE WORLD’

The Lodhi in New Delhi has now come under the The Leading Hotels of the World portfolio. The city property reflects a dynamic, new interpretation of simple and easy luxury.

Spanning across seven acres on the green edge of Lutyens Delhi, the hotel is just across the road from the Delhi Golf Course. Guests can relish exotic delicacies at the restaurants, and enjoy the cool ambiance of the courtyards and public areas. It also preserves a sense of seclusion, peace and club-like atmosphere in its eight floors of guest accommodation.

The property was extensively renovated in 2013, with all rooms and suites featuring private balconies. The hotel is in close proximity to the Lodhi Gardens, as well as many stylish shopping precincts.

VITS LUXURY HOTELS ANNOUNCES LAUNCH OF VITS DEVBHUMI IN DWARKA
VITS Hotel Worldwide has recently opened its Hotel VITS Devbhumi in Dwarka, located close to prominent landmarks of Dwarkadish temple, of Dwarka Devbhumi district of Gujarat. Announcing the launch, Vikram Kamat, Managing Director¸ VITS Luxury Business Hotels says, “This is our third property in Gujarat and we are extremely upbeat on the growth prospect in the region. VITS is positioned as a moderately priced full service luxury business hotel and enjoys high occupancy rate at all our 10 properties across India. We believe VITS Devbhumi Dwarka with its strategic location, imposing décor, banqueting and host of hospitality will appeal to both leisure and business tourists.”
VITS Devbhumi Dwarka offers 58 rooms providing four-star deluxe experiences. It offers well-equipped conference room, travel desk, multi-cuisine restaurants, open air terrace restaurant, gaming zone and banqueting facilities.
VITS Luxury Hotels presently operates 10 properties located in Mumbai, Pune, Aurangabad, Nashik, Latur, Ankleshwar, Silvassa, Agra, Chakan and Bhubaneshwar. The Hotel chain presently has inventory of 900 rooms with host of banqueting, conferencing, restaurant and lifestyle facilities. As part of its expansion plans VITS Hotel will unveil the VITS hospitality experience in Mumbai (Colaba), Nanded, Dahej, Ahmedabad and Mangalore by April 2018.
LE MÉRIDIEN UNVEILS ITS LATEST HOTEL IN GOA, CALANGUTE

Le Méridien Hotels & Resorts, a part of Marriott International Inc, has announced the opening of the Le Méridien in Goa, Calangute further strengthening the Paris-born brand’s presence in India with its 10th property. Situated on the bustling Calangute- Candolim road, Le Méridien Goa, Calangute’s chic design, is inspired by Goa’s first settlement – the “Kunbi Tribe” and the arrival of the Portuguese into the state. The hotel features the Le Méridien Hub, a concept that reinterprets the hotel lobby into a social gathering space meant for guests to convene and converse. With 146 rooms (including Family Studio Rooms and Suites), each room features the signature Le Méridien Discovery Bed, 43 inch LED TV, designer bath amenities and high speed internet access.

Le Méridien Goa, Calangute offers interactive multi-compatible meeting spaces spread over 10,000 sq. ft featuring a premium outdoor terrace venue, ballroom and a16-seater boardroom. It promises a perfect venue for meetings, conferences and weddings.

85-ROOM CARLSON INN & SUITES BY CARLSON KOTA DEBUTS IN KOTA

Country Inn & Suites by CarlsonSM Kota opened its first hotel in Kota, making it the first-ever international brand to have presence in the city. Located within the proximity to corporate zones and educational service institutes, the hotel offers 85 rooms and suites which is suited for both business and family guests.

The hotel offers a host of modern amenities and an expansive 20,000 square feet outdoor garden and flexible banquet hall and meeting space of over 10,200 square feet for all types of corporate and social events.

HYDERABAD AIRPORT INTRODUCES INDIA’S FIRST EXPRESS SECURITY CHECK FACILITY
GMR Hyderabad International Airport Ltd (GHIAL), which operates Rajiv Gandhi International Airport (RGIA), Hyderabad has announced that under the umbrella of GHIAL’s signature programme ‘Passenger is Prime’, and in collaboration with CISF, it has become the first airport in India to provide pre-embarkation security check right at the terminal’s entry gate. This will serve as ‘Express Security Check’ facility for domestic passengers travelling without any check-in baggage.
Hyderabad Airport has earmarked a dedicated space at terminal entry point of departure level for the new ‘Express Security Check’ facility. The domestic passengers, after printing their boarding pass from the newly installed ‘self-service kiosks’ located conveniently at the departures forecourt area outside the terminal building, can now enter the Express Security Check lane without getting into the check-in area and head straight towards the boarding area.
Currently, Hyderabad Airport handles more than 18,000 domestic departure passengers on daily basis, of which close to 40 per cent travel without any checked-in baggage, and carry at most only hand baggage.
Recently the security check area at Hyderabad Airport was enhanced to offer over 40% more security lanes for domestic passengers. Additionally, a dedicated lane has also been earmarked for passengers with reduced mobility and airline crew members, helping them clear security check with minimum of hassles and waiting.
AIR INDIA EXPRESS’ DIRECT FLIGHTS BETWEEN DELHI AND MADURAI

Air India’s low-cost arm Air India Express will launch direct flights between Delhi and Madurai with effect from September 15. The service will be offered four days in a week i.e. on Mondays, Wednesdays, Fridays and Sundays.

The airline will also be offering passengers the additional facility to buy special meals of their choice online on select sectors, the statement added.

The budget carrier currently operates around 545 flights per week, connecting 15 Indian cities to 14 destinations in the Middle East and South East Asia. The airline has a fleet of 23 Boeing 737-800 NG aircraft.

AIRASIA CONNECTS BANGKOK WITH JAIPUR & TIRUCHIRAPPALLI FROM SEPTEMBER

AirAsia has introduced two new routes between India and Thailand with a Bangkok-Jaipur connection and a Bangkok-Tiruchirappalli connection respectively. While both routes will ply four times a week, the former will run on Tuesday, Wednesday, Friday and Sunday while the latter will run every Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday starting September 28, 2017. The airline is confident that the two new routes will stimulate tourism for both countries.

Thai AirAsia presently flies direct from Thailand to four fascinating Indian cities of Chennai, Bangalore, Kolkata and Kochi, maintaining a Load Factor average of 80 percent with 80-85 percent of passengers coming from India, indicating determined strength of the market where travellers have consistently showed excellent feedback toward AirAsia.

GUWAHATI TO HOST INTERNATIONAL AVIATION CONFERENCE

The Ministry of Commerce and Industry, Government of India, and the International Chamber for Service Industry (ICSI) will jointly organise an International Conference on Strengthening Aviation Network between North East Indian Region and Bangladesh, Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar and Vietnam (BCLMV countries) at Radisson Blu Hotel Guwahati in Assam today. The mega event aims to bring nations closer by augmenting and improving travel, trade and people to people contacts through a stronger aviation network. It will be attended by dignitaries from the Ministry of Civil Aviation, Airports Authority of India, as well as Indian and international carriers and other leading aviation business entities.

Over the past few years India’s trade with the BCLMV countries has grown exponentially with the total trade with CLMV countries growing seven-fold from $1.4 billion in 2005 to $10.3 billion in 2015 and current trade volume with Bangladesh at about $6.6 billion.

AIRLINES IN INDIA TO ORDER UP TO 2100 AIRCRAFT OVER NEXT 20 YEARS: BOEING

According to Boeing Co, Indian airlines are expected to order up to 2100 new aircraft worth $290 billion over the next 20 years. “The increasing number of passengers combined with a strong exchange rate, low fuel prices and high load factor bodes well for India’s aviation market, especially for the low-cost carriers,” Dinesh Keskar, Senior Vice President-Asia Pacific and India Sales, Boeing Commercial Airplanes reportedly said. The company expects passenger growth of about eight percent in South Asia, dominated by India, over the next 20 years, compared with the world average of about 4.7 percent. Keskar added that Boeing could increase the projection next year depending on how India’s regional connectivity scheme pans out. The company also said that it expected single-aisle planes, such as the next generation 737 and 737 Max, to account for the bulk of the new deliveries, with India likely to take 1,780 such aircraft. Boeing expects worldwide demand for 41,030 aircraft over the next 20 years, putting India’s share of the total at about 5 percent.

QATAR OFFERS VISA-FREE ENTRY TO INDIANS

Citizens of 80 countries including India can now enter Qatar visa-free. Besides Indians, travellers from the UK, the US, Canada, South Africa, Seychelles, Australia and New Zealand will be able to enter Qatar visa-free.

“Citizens of these 80 countries wishing to visit Qatar will not need to apply or pay for a visa,” Qatari officials announced in a release said. “A multi-entry waiver will be issued free-of-charge at the port of entry, upon presentation of a valid passport with a minimum validity of six months and a confirmed onward or return ticket,” the release added.

Did you know?
The Baily Bridge is the highest bridge in the world. It is located in the Ladakh valley between the Dras and Suru rivers in the Himalayan mountains. It was built by the Indian Army in August 1982
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