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Travel News - March 2009

Sufi festival was a sheer delight for the devotees

Sufi Festival Ajmer

The eight-day Sufi festival, which came to an end on 4th March, was a vibrant event organized by the Chisthy Foundation in Mehfil Khana at the shrine of Khwaja Moinuddin Chishti in Ajmer. This is among the well-organized events devoted completely to the propagation of Sufi messages of peace and harmony. Syed Salman Chishty, a Sufi scholar and a managing trustee of the Foundation organized an exhibition of paintings called Sufi art festival. The exhibition showcased a collection of 40 photographs on the theme of Sufism with 100 other paintings concerning Sufi values.

The momentum of the festival was very high with Jana Anand, a Hindu Sufi artist exhibiting her collection of paintings titled 99 names of Allah' in the festival. The exhibition was unique in its appeal since it represented the teachings of Sufis in calligraphy. She did her paintings by fingers, palms and sponges. Contribution of Syed Najmul Hasan Chishty cannot be undermined since he had wonderfully portrayed in his paintings the poetry of Mevlana Rumi, the Sufi saint from Turkey. He also captured the trauma of the pilgrims after the bomb blasts in the shrine of Khwaja. The event reached its apex level in the final day with a performance on the mystic tunes of devotional Qawwali by the followers of a Sufi order from Turkey.

Alappuzha back waters in Kerala will have a 'floating market'

Alappuzha Backwaters

Alappuzha is a district in Kerala, which is noted for large number of water bodies and a picturesque setting. Often regarded as the Venice of the East, Alappuzha will soon get a "floating market" that will sell provisions to people living on the banks of the Vembanad Lake. Floating Triveni is a 16-metre-long and six-metre-wide boat, which will carry over 12,000 items. The boat will start plying the Vembanad Lake immediately after the elections get over. State Cooperation Minister G. Sudhakaran, who took the initiative to launch the floating market, declared that the total project will cost Rs.75 lakh (Rs.7.5 million) and the boat will halt at around 100 spots in and around Alappuzha. The route for the boat will soon be announced.

According to the officials, the floating shop City-based hotel company Floatels India is building the boat, which will be managed by the State-run Kerala State Cooperative Consumers Federation Ltd. The floating shop is expected to benefit over 200,000 people living on the banks of the lake. The natives of Alappuzha considered this to be a "huge boon" for the people since 20 per cent of residents in the area remained dependant on small shops in their neighbourhoods for consumer goods. This system will enable the natives to get good quality supplies and that too at cheaper rates.

Slum-tourism in Mumbai is getting popular

Slum Mumbai

The movie Slumdog millionaire seems to have a major impact on the international travelers drawing their attention to the Mumbai slums, the least beautiful places in the country. The vast expanse of slums in Mumbai and its raw character has attracted a lot of attention. Even the tourist agencies have started noticing this fact and they are just waiting for the ripe time when the demand for the slums will increase. Dharavi is the biggest slum in Mumbai where almost one million inhabitants stay in wooden shacks. Diversity of this huge area is certainly attractive with market places, temples, food stalls and narrow alleys adding to its uniqueness. The agencies are ready to offer unique tours here provided they witness a growing demand. A major tourist agency is presently conducting 'Slumdog' tour in Mumbai and it gives back most of its returns to Dharavi for its betterment. The agency accepts $10 from each person with six tourists allowed at a time for the tour. Despite the fact that touring through slum is quite raw the tourists seem to take it as a unique experience.

Rock Garden will soon be renovated for Rs.17.4 million

Rock Garden

A whopping Rs.17.4 million has been sanctioned by the Chandigarh administration for revamping and beautifying Rock Garden, one of the sought after tourist attractions in the city. Home and Tourism Secretary Ram Niwas declared that such a decision was taken after considering the various proposals put forward by Nek Chand, the curator of Rock Garden. This beautiful garden deserved an added attention from the government and the whole amount will be utilized to add to the artistic value of the garden. There will a major redesigning of the structure making it look more appealing. The money will be spent for an array of other necessary things. Maintaining the existing establishments in the Rock Garden and building of low height sculptures are high on priority. This is expected to enhance the beauty of this long cherished garden.

Kashmir hosted international ski championship in March

Ski Championship

International ski championship was organized in Gulmarg Resort from March 1. This is one of the few colorful and adventurous events which the people of Kashmir can get to experience. The championship, which set off on the 1st of March continued with enough enthusiasm adding to the beauty of the snow-draped Gulmarg. After inaugurating the international skiing championship named 'Gulmarg Global Derby 2009', Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Omar Abdullah tried his skills in skiing to promote tourism. He was clear in his message that this Indian state is open to business and tourists. Even Tourism Minister Nawang Rigzin Jora said that such championships are vital for proving Kashmir to be a big tourist destination. The higher reaches of Gulmarg were covered with a thick snow and slopes ideal for skiing. Around 250 skiers including 50 foreigners took part in this winter game. Teams from Australia and Canada also participated in the derby competition.

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