An escape to paradise | Urban Melange | November Issue

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From its scenic beauty to rich culture, Sri Lanka is everything spectacular and vibrant. Its splendour and abundance of natural beauty add to the reasons to make it a must-visit place. Visit some well-known places of this beautiful country with Mandeep Puri through his 90-hour trip.

It was 10:30 at night when I landed at the Bandaranaike International Airport for a four-day vacation in Sri Lanka. It’s a relatively small, less crowded but a well-maintained airport approximately 32kms away from Colombo city.

123After collecting my luggage, the next thing was to exchange currency. Since Indira Gandhi International Airport, New Delhi doesn’t have Sri Lankan currency (LKR) available, it is advisable you carry US dollar, which is generally the handiest foreign currency. It can be easily converted to LKR at the Bandaranaike International Airport without paying any commission.

The moment I walked out of the airport, there was a car waiting outside to take me to OZO Colombo, the hotel where I stayed. The newly-built highway gives you a wonderful view of the sea on one side and countryside on the other. This drive is a beautiful opportunity to get the feel of Sri Lanka. Meanwhile, the driver kept educating me about various places as we drove towards the hotel. It took me about 45 minutes to reach the hotel from the airport.

On reaching the hotel, I was welcomed by a refreshing drink. It was a pleasure to know about the advance technology that OZO Colombo has adopted with its check-ins and check-outs. The paperless check-in was not just quick but also hassle-free. Located on the marine drive, OZO Colombo has 158 rooms. My room was on the seventh floor and gave a perfect view of the beach.

Day 1 started off with a healthy breakfast at EAT (all-day dining restaurant), located on the first floor. It was time to begin the city tour. The first spot I covered was Colombo Dutch Museum that gave me an insight into the history of the Dutch colonial rule in Sri Lanka. The museum was built in the latter part of the 17th century and was initially the residence of Count August Carl Van Ranzow along with five other houses of the elite. Today, the museum is opened to general public and showcases the Dutch legacy with its furniture, ceramics, coins, arms etc. If history is your subject of interest, you would not mind paying LRK 500 as the entry fee for the museum. The weather was pleasant, but spending three hours at the museum was quite exhausting. I was hungry, and decided to go to Upali’s for lunch. An all-day dining restaurant, it is known for traditional Sri Lankan cuisine. I was advised to try Yapane Kakuluwo Kariya (Jaffna Crab Curry). It is marinated crab cooked in Jaffna origin spices sourced from the region. Although spicy, but it was worth eating.

upalisMy first day tiring and I decided to have a relaxed evening. Choosing ON14 was a good decision as I got to experience the sunset molecular cocktail tasting. In my opinion, ON14 is one of the most happening rooftop bars and lounges in Colombo. The mixologists taught me some tremendous cocktails under their supervision.

It was now time for dinner at EAT.  I wrapped up the day at a good time to get enough rest but fascinated by the scenery and pleasant weather, I decided to spend some time at the beach. This late night walk made me realise how safe and convenient it was to travel around in the city.

Day 2: Breakfast with a Sri Lankan twist at EAT gave a perfect start to the second day. The trip continued with a visit to Sri Jayawardenapura Kotte, where I was shown the local festivities and activities on ground. Open from 10 am to 10pm, the market displays a variety of flowers, vegetables, local food and delicacies. It’s one of the places listed on every visitor’s list. Known as the biggest local market, it gives you an insight into the lifestyle of local people. From there I headed towards La Trattoria for lunch. It’s an Italian rflower market at jayaestaurant in Battaramulla that serves awesome Italian food. I liked the fact that there were a couple of different spaces where you can dine. There’s an option to sit out in front (if the weather permits), or inside in the air conditioner, or at the back courtyard. The restaurant also has an ice cream palour offering different mouthwatering flavours of ice cream, the best in town.

It was then time for an authentic village experience at Ape Gama, a craft village and Folklore centre. It’s a replica of Sri Lankan villages in the yesteryears and showcases mud huts with thatched roofs, tree houses, paddy fields, a paddy storing house and much more. I spent around two hours admiring the place. It was time to go back. In the evening I visited Gangarama Temple, and from there I drove for dinner at Urban Kitchen. It’s a place famous among food lovers and offers 233 dishes inspired by Italian, Mexican, Japanese, Chinese, Malaysian, Thai, European and Middle Eastern cuisines. After this long and interesting day, I got back to the hotel. Its rooftop swimming pool gives a magnificent view of the Indian Ocean tempting one and all for a swim, and I did just that before going off to sleep.

Day 3: I left the hotel at 7:30am with packed breakfast. I set the journey for this day on a TUK-TUK to visit the Old Parliament Building at Galle Face Green. There I walked along the beach towards 1950’s Lighthouse overlooking Colombo Port. Thereafter, I headed towards the Dutch Hospital Shopping Precinct to explore some shopping options and colonial architecture. Reaching there, I decided to enjoy my breakfast at the sittidutch1ng area of Dutch Hospital.

Then it was time for some more shopping at the famous ODEL. ODEL gives you the best shopping experience in Sri Lanka hosting a variety of national and international brands to choose from. On the other hand, Dutch Hospital has one of the best dining restaurants of Colombo – Ministry of Crab, which is owned by cricketers Mahela Jayawardene and Kumar Sangakkara. Also, Spa Ceylon Ayurveda is a must visit; it offers specialised therapies like full-body distress, sleep therapy for LKR 7,500.

After so much shopping and checking out new places, I was hungry again. Lunch at Barefoot Café at 706 Galle Road seemed the best option. Open from Monday to Saturday from 10am to 7pm, and Sunday from 11am to 5pm, Barefoot Cafe in a frangipani garden, serves the best fresh lime juice and calamari pasta on the island and the chocolate mousse is positively wicked. The café also has a free wifi facility.

There was a lot more to before the day was over. A tour of old Colombo in Pettah, a visit to Grand Oriental Hotel, St Peter’s Church and Chatham Street (famous for its classic British-colonial architecture) were things I covered on this day. I finished my shopping at Pettah’s main market with some stuff for myself and souvenirs for my friends, and finally went back to OZO Colombo. Dinner at ON14 with rooftop view of the city and a drink to relax completed my day.OZO Colombo Ocean Night

Day 4: And it was time to pack my bags. OZO Colombo was a good host and my last breakfast of this trip at EAT was as tasty as the first one. Check-out formalities, final goodbyes from the hotel staff, a drop till the airport. This was the last bit of my journey to an island, which is no less than a paradise. It was time to go home after spending joyous four days here.

OZO Colombo

With OZO Colombo, Onyx hospitality has entered Sri Lanka with a 158-luxurious- room property. The 14 storied seaside building bordering the railway lines has some outstanding features like the Snooze Zone that gives each gOZO Colombo Exterior Shotuest a perfect comfortable night sleep. The hotel offers paperless check-in, a Vocal Local’s, and information lecterns that comes with recommendations for each guest about where to go and what to do during your holiday, which could be 24 hours, 48 hours or even 72 hours. The hotel also gives guests an option to take their staff along- be it visiting club, or for a sightseeing or even to a salon.

OZO Colombo offers 158 guest rooms and suites categorised into Sleep, Dream, Dream Ocean and OZO Suites. An all-day dining restaurant, EAT offers all three meals, whereas EAT2Go is a place for you to grab midnight snacks available round the clock. ON14 is a rooftop bar offering amazing view, some great cocktails and great menu options. The outdoor swimming pool Splash overlooks tOZO Colombo EAT Dayhe Indian Ocean, while Tone is a well-equipped fitness centre located beside the pool offering great city view. The boardroom talk and meeting room Aqua offers sea views and can accommodate up to 220 guests for any event.

Dining at ChaoBella

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I love eating out, particularly trying hands to different cuisines. I was lucky enough to be able to have authentic Chinese and traditional Italian during my last trip to the national Capital,New Delhi.

I was aware about CrownPlaza’s ChaoBella offering Chinese and Italian food and somehow I was passing to the hotel on my way to Noida. I was hungry and tied and thus decided to give it a try at ChaoBella. Wow….I must say that I am glad I did.

The restaurant overlooks onto the lobby, includes a private dining rooms, and an extensive selection of fine vintages. I was given a warm welcome as I went in, and was offered some water straight away, which I thought was a nice touch rather than having to make a snap decision on what wine to have before we’d thought about the food.

The interiors were warm and cozy and my waiter was a lovely friendly guy who suggested me what I should have.  While, I looked at the menu, I chose to have Chicken Manchow Dumpling, which has Poached chicken dumplings with julienne greensbread.

I then ordered Crisp Iceberg and Chargrill Chicken Breast Salad which came with Bacon chips, reggianno parmesan herb crouton dressing. It was lovely and I really liked the presentation of it!

I then went for the ‘ Butter Garlic Lobster / Prawns’, which was described as “Stir fry lobster meat with curry leaf, green chilies, garlic, butter and capsicum” and moved to some thin crust Pizzas and ordered Smoked Chicken with a topping of Bell pepper, garlic, extra virgin olive oil and leafy green.

After this, I moved on to a selection of pastas and thought trying Homemade Duck Ravioli served with burnt butter, sage and reduced duck jus.

Then, I moved on to the main course and ordered Roasted Aniseed Flavoured Pan Seared Jumbo Prawns with buttered courgettes, sun dried tomatoes, pernod sauce. I really liked the sauces that went along with the main course. They were yummy lovely and you can’t afford to miss.

Then came the pudding and I chose Nougatin Parfait with Raspberry sauce and Wild berries Tiramisu with Almond Meringue.

Our Verdict:

This 80-seater restaurant, offers authentic Chinese and traditional Italian food, where only the freshest ingredients are used to prepare a cuisine that is light and refined, yet hearty in portions.

The culinary skills of the master chefs are on display in an open kitchen that makes preparation part of the gastronomic experience. Chef Sam Wong considers cooking to be art. “Passionate about food, I love experimenting with flavors and I am on a constant quest to serve my guests with the finest of culinary offerings”, says the Chef.

I was impressed with the fact that the chef was actually Italian. This was absolutely divine!  I loved it, all in all a very pleasant experience, and delicious food.

A fantastic evening! I’ll definitely be going again.

CrownPlazaprovides a spectacular view of the historic Tughlaqabad Fort, and is easily ccessible from all major commercial hubs such asNehru Place, New Friends Colony, oida, Greater Kailash andFaridabad. It is just 25km away from the international airport.

RADISSON MBD HOTEL, NOIDA

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One of the most fashionable five star deluxe business hotel, RADISSON MBD HOTEL, NOIDA is located at a close proximity fromConnaught Place.

A 20 minute drive from the central business district of Delhi, RADISSON MBD is owned and is being promoted by the MBD Group, which is the largest publishing house inIndia. For this property, the MBD group has entered into a franchise agreement with Radisson Hotels & Resorts, a group company of Carlson Hotels Worldwide.

What makes Radisson unique:

From the artwork displayed in the public areas and rooms of the hotel to the very stylised uniforms worn by the staff, specially designed by the noted fashion designer Ritu Beri.

Sprawled across an area of 8000 sq metres, the hotel has 126 rooms of which 11 are luxury rooms, which are spacious, contemporary in style and design and present a perfect blend of luxury with modernity. The Prive rooms are a set of 11 rooms where the guests can expect the finest in living in the privacy of the wing which not only offers controlled access to the area but also offers personalized services catering to the individual needs of the guests.

Apart from the regular features the hotel has special rooms for the physically challenged. The hotel offers a combination of twin and king size bedded rooms with options of smoking and non-smoking rooms. Radisson MBD has an exclusive Club Floor with an Executive lounge and complimentary breakfast for the Club Rooms.

Radisson MBD Hotel offers four dining options, which cater to the varied and individual preferences of guests. These include:

Made in India – Made in India is a culinary journey where diners now have access to a unique experience, which brings together the New Age with the Old Age. The pride in the traditional Indian cuisine, the master chefs have introduced the “Futuristic cuisine” which marks the evolution of the Indian cuisine as it would be desired by the future palate.

The traditional Indian masterpieces include the rare and forgotten recipes like the centuries old Dorra Kebab which is the signature dish at Made In India and which has been recreated and introduced by the Chefs at Made In India.

What We Saw:

Made inIndiareflects self-indulgence and luxury a beautiful culmination of the opulence of the erstwhile Indian royalties and the contemporary Indian design. The restaurant creates a theatrical experience by exaggerating objects which are predominant inIndia’s centuries old history.

The Prakash Yantra is a modern version of Jantar Mantar along with “THE MAHARAJA TABLE” a virtual chess board which adds to the royalty to the restaurant Graphics and miniature paintings are used extensively as decoration on the ceiling blended with light hues to create an ethereal space. These blended with the light hues create an ethereal space with the inscription of the DEVANAGRI script. Transparent fabric and virtual chess boards have been created to define spaces of varying character within the restaurant.

While the huge eight copper pillars are inspired from the pillars in the  palaces of The Maharajas one of the pillars  ,the traditional charcoal tandoors are given contemporary look with  circular pattern of ropes around  them. Untreated copper a rich looking metal has been used extensively. The copper changes color overtime which symbolizes the cyclic nature of the place.

Ambient music is a highlight as Indian sounds filter into the space through the coves. It is an eclectic restaurant where diners now have access to a unique experience, which brings together the New Age with the Old Age.

R.E.D [Rare Eastern Dining]- a restaurant which offers new experiences in oriental food with a show wok kitchen and interactive stations that give guests the choice of cooking a great meal for their families and friends.

What You Get:

R.E.D serves interpretations of classic far eastern cuisine fromJapan,China,ThailandMalaysia &Singapore. The menu also offers a selection of customized Signature dishes designed by the reputed Singaporean Chef Raymond Sim.

R.E.D stands for Rare Eastern Dining. The colour red is also a strong symbol of oriental culture & history, as illustrated by the flags of RedChina &Japan. Red also stands for the sheer energy & vitality of the East. The logo represents the vibrant, hi-tech & fashionable New East – crisp, contemporary & chic.

R.E.D. reflects a brand new cultural phenomenon – the New East. This is a cosmopolitan, hi-tech world, where ancient, historical boundaries are being re-drawn by business jets and broadband. As this cultural & economic revolution continues to gather momentum, its spectacular culinary spin-offs are being served up at R.E.D.

What We Saw:

R.E.D. is intensely interactive. It features the uniquely designed concept of induction tables – where diners can personally cook for their guests with skilled support from our chefs. Less adventurous guests can simply select their ingredients and catch all the action at the show kitchens. R.E.D. looks ravishing. That’s because every single element is eastern, including the impeccable interiors designed by P49, the Thailand-based design group.

R.E.D. also hosts a sea food festival every year titled as Sim’s Seafood Studio. So far five successful edition of Sims seafood studio  have been launched .This year’s Sim’s Seafood Studio starred the delectable soft shell crabs, Steamed Oysters with Black bean sauce; the Black Pepper Crab, Wok Tossed Lobster. Star Chef Sim was back with exotic creations that added to his repertoire this year.

At R.E.D, one can have much more than alternative versions of dishes one will already find in other oriental restaurants.

S-18 is a 24-hour brassiere that serves world cuisine and where each order is customised to the guest’s specific taste and preferences.

@Links is an informal and trendy bar that has on its menu an excellent range of wines and liquors, which can be had with the finest of cigars and a wide variety of coffee from across the continents. Expansive selections of teas & coffees from five continents we offer the essence of the world’s purest and most ancient delicacies

The Chocolate BoxTM – an exclusive pastry shop and Boulangiere with designer Swiss Chocolates, cakes & more, for the ultimate chocolaty experience. It prescribes to the high standards of innovation, style and excellence that is unique to the Radisson MBD Hotel Noida’s efforts and promotions in all spheres of operation.

To ensure a comfortable and enjoyable stay, the hotel presents a pure indulgence zone for the senses, Espace– a spa that offers it all under one roof. Well-trained attendants and therapists work out special menus for the body and soul with personalized attention.

A spa specially conceived to take the body and mind to new heights of inspiration and rejuvenation; Espace brings in the concept of the best of beauty and balance under one roof. This is a spa, not just about de-stress or de-tox. Energy zones have been created in each of the Espace areas; the studio offers dance and aerobics classes’ holistic wellness beyond the conventional and allows exploring one’s horizons.

A pure indulgence zone for the senses, Espace is a spa that offers it all under one roof. A spa specially conceived to take your body and mind to new heights of inspiration and rejuvenation; Espace brings in the concept of the best of beauty and balance under one roof.

Our Verdict:

Radisson MBD Hotel is in every sense a fashionable hotel.

Ooty – ‘The Queen of Hill Stations’

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Ooty is one of the most exotic locations in the lap of the nature, located in Tamil Nadu. Situated at a height of 2,268 meters, the land of botanical delight was bought in the public view by Coimbatore Collector, John Sullivan in 1819 and was termed to be his summer destination.

Today, Ooty is known as a land of picturesque picnic spots that holds an important tourist spot and summer vacation destination. Ooty is also recognized as Udhagamandalam in Tamil which means the ‘Queen of Hill Stations’, a status honoured to it by Pandit Jawarhal Nehru and is the capital of Nilgiris or ‘Blue Mountains.

How to Reach:

Lofty mountains, dense forest, sprawling grasslands and miles of tea gardens make Ooty a very popular hill station. Reaching to this hill station is not a problem. You have a whole lot of options to travel either by road, air or rail.

Air

The nearest airport to Ooty is at a distance of about 88kms and is located inCoimbatore. One can fly by Indian Airlines flight toCoimbatore,Bangalore,Cochinand Chennai.

Rail

The railway station of Ooty is just 2 Km away from the City Center and the next railway station is 46km away at Mettupalayam.  There is also a toy train that connects Ooty with Mettupalayam and Coonoor, another famous hill station. Though it is not the fastest way to get there, but the guests can enjoy scenic beauty on the way.

Road

Traveling by road is a not a bad idea since Tamil Nadu has a very good road network. The state has many highways that connect distant places and make traveling much easier.

Ooty has many beautiful spots to offer to its tourists which can easily take one day to cover the entire place. There are some places like Rose garden and botanical garden where one can spend quality time. There are many other places in Ooty for tourist interest and is also prominent for its abundant tea estates.

Its botanical gardens cover an extensive 22 hectares, the garden includes more than 650 species of flora.

Like any other hill station, there is a lake with boating facility available here to enjoy natural beauty of Ooty. One can see this lake from train just before arriving at Ooty station.

The GovernmentMuseumhas many tribal objects, items for use and crafts of Tamil Nadu on display. This museum is located at the Mysoreroad.

The Race Course is considered as an important place located in the central part of Udagamandalam. Usually, the horse races are conducted in summer season, from April to June.

Doddabetta Peak is situated at a height of 2623 meters, which is the highest peak of Nilgiris hills and it is the junction of the Western and Estern Ghats. It is located at a distance of 13 Kms from Ooty.

Another attraction is the mountain train journey on a ratchet and pinion track which commences from Kallar, near Mettupalayam and wends its way through many hair-raising curves and fearful tunnels and chugs.

Ooty offers other places of interest to tourists likeMukurthiNational Park( 40 Km from Ooty), Mudumalai Wildlife Sanctuary ( 35 Kms from Ooty ), Ketti valley view and Katery falls.

Known for antique Toda jewellery and lovely Toda shawls, Ooty has a variety of teas.

Ooty’s rose garden is full of the most exotic rose flowers; this is one romantic place that you simply have got to visit when visiting Ooty. The next most attractive place is thePykaraFallsand the dam at Pykara. Enjoy going boating at Pykara and have a wonderful time doing this amidst some of the most beautiful lake settings.

The best time to visit Ooty is November and March, however you can also visit Ooty during April-June, but during this period the hill station remains a bit crowd. Happy Traveling!

Highlights:

Area 2479 sq km

Altitude 2,268 m above sea level

Population 7, 64,826 approx

Rainfall (average) 1900-2000 mm

Temperature 25°C in summer to 5°C in winter

Gulmarg is all about skiing and snow

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A legendary beauty, prime location and proximity to Srinagar naturally makes Gulmarg as one of the premier hill resorts in the country, in addition to Pahalgam and to some extend Sonamarg in Kashmir.

While Gulmarg is an all-weather resort with refreshing summer meadows and pastoral scenes to keep the camera busy, the main reason to come here, at least in winter, is the off-piste, deep-powder, long-run skiing and snowboarding. We head here for the world’s highest gondola ski lift and eye-popping views

Originally called ‘Gaurimarg’ by shepherds, its present name was given in the 16th century by Sultan Yusuf Shah, who was inspired by the sight of its grassy slopes emblazoned with wild flowers. Gulmarg was a favourite haunt of Emperor Jehangir who once collected 21 different varieties of flowers from here. Today Gulmarg is not merely a mountain resort of exceptional beauty- it also has the highest green golf course in the world, at an altitude of 2,650 m, and is the country’s premier ski resort in the winter.

The journey to Gulmarg is half the enchantment of reaching there– roads bordered by rigid avenues of poplar give over to flat expanses of rice fields interspersed with picturesque villages. Depending on the season, nature’s colours could be the translucent green of spring, summer’s rich emerald, or autumn’s golden hues, when scarlet chillies festoon windows of village homes. After Tangmarg, the climb to Gulmarg begins through fir-covered hillsides. At one point, known simply as View Point, travellers generally stop their vehicles for a few minutes and look out a spectacle of snow-covered mountains, almost within touching distance.

With huge cup shaped meadow, lush and green with slopes where the silence is broken only by the tinkle of cowbells, Gulmarg looks like a fantasy set in a film and not surprisingly have been the venue of several films.

ThevalleyofGulmarg, a large meadow about 3-sq-kms in area, stands at 2,730 metres, 56-km south west ofSrinagar. The name means ‘Meadow Of Flowers’ and in the spring it’s just that, a rolling meadow dotted with countless colourful Bluebells, Daisies, Forget Me Not’s and Buttercups. The valley itself is about 3-km long and up to a km wide.

Gulmarg can be accessed fromSrinagar(the capital ofKashmir) in about 2 hours by car or bus. The buses will reach Tangmarg in about 1 hour. From Tangmarg, for the 13 km hill road, jeeps can be hired for reaching Gulmarg hilltop in about 30 minutes. Some searches and identity checks may take place about 5 km before Gulmarg. The last jeep down from Gulmarg is available at sunset.

Reach Gulmarg by Air: Gulmarg lies only 56kms away from Srinagar, which is an important domestic airport in the region. Several airlines operate direct flights to and from Srinagar and connect it to cities like: Vhandigarh, Delhi, Mumbai and so on.

Reach Gulmarg by Road: Although in the mountainous region it is difficult to construct and maintain roads, Gulmarg has a good road connection. Only 56kms away from Srinagar, Gulmarg is linked to it by good metalled roads. Srinagar is connected by road to prominent cities in northern India.

Reach Gulmarg by Rail: Jammu is the closest railway station from Gulmarg. Several trains from all parts of this country arrive at this station.

All around are snow-capped mountains, and on a clear day one can see all the way to Nanga Parbat is one direction andSrinagaris another. It’s a popular day trip fromSrinagarto Gulmarg, although many people extend their stay or use it as a base for trekking. The road fromSrinagarrises gently towards the lower slopes of the range, passing through rice and maize fields.

There are many places one can visit while on a tour to Gulmarg. You can go to Khilanmarg by pony, which is a famous skiing spot. It also offers a great view of theKashmirvalley and the Himalayan range.

You can also take a tour to theAlpatherLake, which is a beautiful lake that usually remains frozen till June. TheAlpatherLakelies across the Apharwat peak.

You may also pay a visit to the shrine of Baba Reshi, a Muslim mystic saint, while you are on a tour of Gulmarg.

Gulmarg -Things to do

Gulamrg is the perfect skiing destination for many adventure seekers. One can hire all the equipment needed, such as skis and sticks, snow boots, mufflers, woolen socks, jackets, goggles, etc here. One can take skiing lessons from ski instructors too.

The time to enjoy skiing in Gulmarg is between November to February. The slopes in Gulmarg vary from 8,700 ft to 10,500 ft. One remarkable fact about Gulmarg is that it is the only heli-skiing resort inAsia.

Though not exactly an adventure sport, Golf is enjoyed as a relaxing activity by many. Gulmarg has the world’s highest golf course. Visitors can enjoy golf by obtaining a short-term membership at the Golf Club.

Gulmarg is also the place for enjoying long walks. One can walk through woods, and green hills. You can also check outNanga Parbatand Haramukh.

Skiing is normally offered from end-December to mid-April.

Accommodation

Gulmarg has around 40 hotels of all grades. The peak season starts with the snow fall in December and lasts until June.

Visitors to Gulmarg need not worry too much about accommodation. There are many hotels and lodges for the tourists. There are hotels available for every kind of budget.

If you are going in the peak season, then it is advisable that you book accommodation prior to your visit to Gulmarg. One can also check out hotels run by the Jammu and Kashmir Tourism Development Corporation, which offers reasonably priced accommodation.

While you are in Gulmarg, you can enjoy both vegetarian and Non-vegetarian cuisine. If you eat non -vegetarian, then do try a traditional dish, called Rogan Josh.

Gulmarg -Things to keep in mind

Though Gulmarg is more or less safe for tourists, it is advisable that you update yourself with the current law and order situation in the area, before you visit Gulmarg.

Gulmarg is very cold, so make sure you carry heavy woolens with you, while you tour Gulmarg.

 

Chandigarh witnesses over 5,500 participants in Chandigarh Cyclothon

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Singer Jasbir Jassi performing at the Cyclothon

The first edition saw Virendra Sehwag, Ashok Masti, Jasbir Jassi 

 Chandigarh

The first edition of Hero Cycles India Cyclothon witnessed over 5, 714 turn out in various categories in the largest celebration of cycling at foothills of the Himalayas.

 Sport18, along with Hero Cycles also concluded the last competitive national road cycling event before the Commonwealth Games. The race was held under the aegis of the Cycling Federation of India with race director Rakesh Mohindra with 15 national state teams participated in the 60 Km Hero National Race that saw a close finish in the end.

The Hero Cycles India Cyclothon was kicked off with the Hero National Race followed by the Kids ride, the Go Air Corporate Ride, the Hero Amateur Ride and the LG Green Ride. Virendra Sehwag and O.P. Munjal flagged off the kids ride while Pankaj Munjal flagged off the Hero National Race along with Dhindsa, president of the Cycling Federation of India.

 The event saw some of the top music artists from Punjab performing on stage while the citizens of Chandigarh participated. Playing to live audience performers such as Ashok Masti and Jasbir Jassi regaled the audience with their foot-tapping performances.

 The union territory of Chandigarh had for the first time hosted the India Cyclothon, a mass mobilization cycling event that promotes the practice of cycling,that has already traversed the key metros of Delhi, Mumbai and Bangalore over the last event. The concept of Cyclothon proves to be a big draw with thousands turning out to pedal on the roads to proclaim their support for greener and cleaner urban spaces. Participants from all walks of life- amateur cyclists, cycling enthusiasts, working professionals, housewives and school children, participated in the event. Ram Niwas, Home Secretary, Chandigarh also graced the occasion.

 OP Munjal, Chairman Hero Cycles, commented, “We’re delighted with the overwhelming response of the citizens of Chandigarh towards the Hero Cycles India Cyclothon. An event of this scale is a significant step towards promoting the practise of cycling amongst one and all.”

 The Hero Cycles India Cyclothon also served as the first event of the World Tourism Week hosted by the Chandigarh Administration and CITCO.

 Satish Menon, CEO of Sport18 said, “ This is a new chapter in the history of Chandigarh. Never before have we seen such a response to any cycling event in this part of the country. We thank the Chandigarh Administration and our principal sponsor Hero Cycles, all our partners in making this a day to remember.” 

 Mr. S.S. Dhindsa, president of the Cycling Federation of India, stated, ” This was the fourth edition of India Cyclothon in 12 months in partnership with Sport18 that gave a wonderful platform for our cyclists to participate just before the Commonwealth Games. I wish the teams and the cyclists the very best in the upcoming Games and hope we’re able to make our nation proud.” Hon’ble Governor Punjab and Administrator Chandigarh Mr. Shivraj V.Patil flagged off the first edition of Chandigarh Cyclothon at Sukhna Lake today.

 The administrator also congratulated the participants for taking part in the event and helping the administration in sending a positive message to the people.

 Addressing the participants and the city residents Home-cum-Tourism secretary Ram Niwas said that the administration is organizing a lot of events to promote Chandigarh as a tourist place. Talking about Chandigarh Cyclothon he said that it is a wonderful step to aware the people about being eco-friendly and to save the Earth.

CHANDIGARH THEATRE FESTIVAL

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Shabana Azmi

A RENDEZVOUS OF CINEMA WITH THEATRE

 

 

 

The second edition of the Chandigarh Theatre festival, a rendezvous of cinema with theatre organized by Chandigarh Administration and Pearls institute of Hospitality and Management, was widely appreciated by theatre lovers evident from the number of visitors witnessed the program in the last three days. The finest theatre productions across the India were staged during the Chandigarh Theatre Festival.

 The concluding play “SAKUBAI ” Written & Directed by Nadira Zaheer Babbar had the accomplished actor Sarita Joshi delivering a dramatic monologue as a common working woman who is hailing from one of the lowest rungs of urban India. She is projected as the good old kaamwali bai, an indispensable figure in an average household of our cities and towns. Sakubai is a woman who puts on a brave face despite every trouble that comes her way. She finds her solace in managing her mistresses’ household efficiently and in narrating the story of her life to the audience in front of her.

SAKUBAI is the solo performance by Sarita Joshi. As an accomplished Gujarati stage actor, Joshi knows the right strings to pull and has the ability to display a range of emotions. The audience in general loves her as she leads them as Sakubai who as the credo of the play goes is capable of- “cleaning houses, cleaning hearts”. And true, the experience stops just there. There is no cleansing or purging that takes place as the drama of Sakubai does not lend itself to any sort of catharsis. The play brought forth by Ekjute theatre group and directed by Nadira Babbar brought to life many hues of womanhood, especially Indian womanhood that rang true for most viewers.

While, the concluding day witnessed the “SAKUBAI ” Written & Directed by Nadira Zaheer Babbar, the third day of the festival unveiled with a play “Broken Images” staged at the Tagore theatre.

“BROKEN IMAGES”, a confluence of myriad talents like the great actor Shabana Azmi, playwright  Girish Karnad and  unassuming director Alyque Padamsee who embellished producer Raell Padamsee’s ACE Productions.. Most interesting part of the play was that the talented actor Sh

Shabana Azmi

abana Azmi played double role in it. What’s even more interesting was that she was not enacting two different characters, but two facets of the same character. And with the help of theatrical technology developments, two Shabana’s were seen on the stage at the same time.

“Broken Images” is a psychological thriller that rips the mask off a celebrity. The twenty-first century is the age of the electronic image. From every corner of our world, electronic images fling themselves at us, entertaining, educating, enticing & offering us a virtual world. Manjula Sharma is not a very successful Hindi short-story writer. She suddenly becomes wealthy and internationally famous by writing a best-seller in English. The question haunting Manjula is, whether in opting for the global audience, has she betrayed her own language and identity? Now, without warning, it’s her own “image” that decides to play confessor, psychologist and inquisitor.