Golden Attire – Suna Besha of Lord Sree Jagannath, Puri dham

The Suna bhesa or Bada Tadau bhesa or Raja bhesa happens the day after the return of the Lords from Gundicha. On the day of Bada Ekadasi, the 11th day of the bright fortnight in Asadha. The deities, on their chariots itself don the golden attire or the suna besa, with hands, arms and crown made of solid gold. They are decorated with gold diadems, hands and feet made of gold. Lord Jagannath holds a gold Chakra (Disc) in his right hand and Silver Sankha (Conch) in his left hand. Lord Balabhadra holds a gold Hala (plough) in his left hand and a golden Gada (mace) in his right hand. The dress reportedly weighs one ton. They are also offered sweet drinks, adhara pana, on huge cylindrical earthen pots reaching up to their lips. They are taken down from the chariots in a ritual descent to enter the temple. 

Golden attire – Suna Besha of Lord Sree Jagannath, Puri Dham Orissa

Other than the Rath Yatra, the Lord Sree Jagannath is dressed in this regal attire on festivals like Dasahara, Kartika Purnima and Pousa Purnima (Pushyabhiseka Besha).

After this the very human and amusing feud takes place between the Lord and Goddess Laxmi in the main gate of SreeMandir, Puri dham. Ultimately the humility of the Lord prevails and he is allowed entrance to his abode. There is great ullulation and fanfare and in his stately ‘Pahundi’ style the Lord returns to his seat – marking an end to the grand spectacle of Rath Yatra. It is said that a ardshan of the Lords Sree Jagannath in “Suna Bhesa” frees one from the cycle of rebirth.

This year you can see the Lords in their golden attire, popularly known as Suna Bhesa on July 22 and after the symbolic Laxmi-Narayan feud the Lords will enter SreeMandir on July 23’ 2010 bringing to an end the grand festival of Rath Yatra – The Car Festival.

To take part in the conclusive part of ‘Rath Yatra” – The “Suna Bhesa” Festival on 22nd July 19, 2010, Toshali Sands, Puri has exclusive arrangement to take you on visit to the “Sree Mandir” Bada Danda  – The Lord Jagannath Temple, Puri Orissa ‘now called as Odisha”. To Know more, leave your comment or contact travel desk ‘metu@toshali.in, we will get back to you.

I would be glad to hear more about the Holy Ritual Costume or Attires or Bhesas, please post if you feel any information’s in the blog is missing. And would be gald to have you as their guest at Toshali Sands, Puri

I trust you enjoyed this post, I would appreciate, if you share it on Twitter, Facebook, Orkut and other Social Networking sites. 

SreeMandir Traditional Holy Attires or Bhesa of Sree Lord Jagannath, Puri

In Hindu mythologies and rituals Gods and Goddesses are revered and loved just as family. Probably belonging to the bhakti yoga culture popularized by Shri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu – they wake up to strains of music, are offered prasadas, bathed, anointed with fragrances, dressed in finery and jewelry and fall asleep to lullabies. You can either view it as humanization of a deity or the acknowledgement of the Lord’s omnipresence.

In the Sree Mandir tradition of Sree Lord Jagannath, Puri there are altogether 24 beshas or Holy Attires or Ritual Costumes or  the Vastra Shringar of which 22 are used regularly while two beshas are used rarely. The Nagarjuna and Raghunath Besha. In all the attires or bhesas, Sree Lord Jagannath is the focal point except for the Pralambasurabadha Besha used to commemorate slaying of a demon of same name by Sree Lord Balabhadra.

The bhesas or the holy attires are:

  • Abakasha or Tadapa Uttari Bhesa

This is done daily, after mangala arati. Abakash is the tooth brushing and bathing ritual.

abakasa copy

  • Badasrunghara Bhesa

It is the nightly retirement dress. This is mostly made of different kinds of flowers and silk clothes.

Badasrunghara copy

  • Chandana Bhesa

This bhesa is done for 42 days, beginning on Akshaya Trutiya.

chandan copy

  • Hati Bhesa or Gajanana Bhesa

On the full moon day of the month of Jyestha, after the bathing ceremony is over, the Deities are dressed to resemble Lord Ganesha.

gajanana copy

  • Suna Bhesa

When the Deities return from the Gundicha Mandir on their chariots, they appear in the Golden dress. It is said that a darshan of the lord in Suna Bhesa frees one from the cycle of rebirth.

suna copy

  • Raja Bhesa

The Lord dresses up in this attire on the 10th day of the bright fortnight of Aswina, the full moon of Pousa and the full moon of Phalguna.

raja copy

  • Banabhoji Bhesa

On the 10th day of the dark fortnight in Bhadra, the Lords are dressed for a picnic, like the cowherds.

banabhoji copy

  • Kaliyadalana Bhesa

On the 11th day of the dark fortnight of Bhadra the Lord is dressed as Krishna the slayer of serpent Kaliya.

kaliadalana copy

  • Pralambasura Badha Bhesa

On the following day, the 12th day of the dark fortnight of Bhadra the Lords are dressed to commemorate Lord Balaram’s slaying of the demon Prahlamba. his is the only beshas when Lord Jagannath’s elder brother Lord Balabhadra occupied the central place.

pralambasurabadha copy

  • Krishna-Balarama Bhesa

On the 13th day of the dark fortnight of Bhadra, the Lords are dressed as Krishna and Balarama.

krushnabalarama copy

  • Bali Vamana Bhesa

On the 12th day of the bright fortnight Bhadra, the Lord is dressed in the image of his reincarnation as Vamana, the slayer of demon Bali.

bamana copy

  • Radha-Damodara Bhesa

From the 11th day of the bright fortnight of Ashwina to the 10th day of the bright fortnight of Kartika, the Lords are dressed with a rope around his waist in reminiscence of his bal-leela with mother Yashoda.

radhadamodara copy

  • Thiakia or Laxmi-Narayana Bhesa

This bhesa is used on the 11th day of the bright fortnight of Kartika.

costumes_laxminarayana copy

  • Bankachuda Bhesa

The curly haired make-up. Used on the 12th day of the bright fortnight of Kartika.

bankachuda copy

  • Adakia or Trivikrama Bhesa

Attire used on the 13th day of the bright fortnight of Kartika.

tribikram copy

  • Dalikia Bhesa or Laxmi Nrisimha Bhesa

Used on the 14th day of the bright fortnight of Kartika.

laxminrusingha copy

  • Raja Rajeswari Bhesa

Attire on the full moon of Kartika.

rajarajeswari

  • Chacheri Bhesa

From the 9th day of the bright fortnight to the full moon of Jyestha except the 14th day, this dress is used.

chacheri copy

  • Nagarjuna Bhesa

In honor of Parasurama. It is used only occasionally – during the month of Kartika, when there are six days of Panchaka. This was done six times in the last 30 years on 11/3/95, 11/16/94, 11/26/93, 11/3/68, 11/16/67 and 11/26/66.

Nagarjuna Bhesa copy

  • Ghodalagi and Jamalagi Bhesa

From the 6th day of the bright fortnight of Margasira (Odhan Sasthi) to the 5th day of the bright fortnight of Magha (Basanta Panchami) to Dol Purnima – the Deities wear winter clothes.

Ghodalagi copy

  • Padma Bhesa

On Saturdays or Wednesdays between the new moon of Magha and Basanta Panchami. The dresses are made from lotus, sola lace and paper.

Padma Bhesa copy

  • Gaja Uddharana Bhesa

On the full moon day of the month of Magha. It commemorates the story of Gajendra, the king of the elephants, and the alligator.

Gajaudharana Bhesa copy

Toshali Sands, Puri has exclusive arrangement to take you on visit to the “Sree Mandir” – The Lord Jagannath Temple, Puri Orissa ‘now called as Odisha”. To Know more, leave your comment or contact travel desk ‘metu@toshali.in, we will get back to you.

I would be glad to hear more about the Holy Ritual Costume or Attires or Bhesas, please post if you feel any information’s in the blog is missing. And would be gald to have you as their guest at Toshali Sands.

I trust you enjoyed this post, I would appreciate, if you share it on Twitter, Facebook, Orkut and other Social Networking sites.

XIX CommonWealth Games 2010 : Impact on India Tourism Industry after Recession

“All journeys have secret destinations of which the traveler is unaware.”-Martin Buber

Like the quote mentions, offbeat, secret, exotic destinations of Incredible India await to be explored by the tourists and travelers, when they arrive for the XIX CommonWealth Games to be held from 3rd to 14th October, 2010 at New Delhi.

However, I agree to witness the changes after the recession a bit – but overall the scenario painted is far rosy than what will eventually materialise. However budget tourism and Northern Indian packages will receive a boost – more as a result of ending of the recession. A personal opinion – the influx of tourists to Northern India will be because of the Dushera / Diwali rush rather than the Common Wealth Game 2010. In fact in view of the paranoia among the Westerners over security I feel that Delhi will not actually be swarming with tourists.

ASSOCHAM predicts India is going to earn around USD 16,915 million in the year 2010 from tourism. The Common Wealth Game 2010 will give them the impetus. Foreign tourists will depend on tour and travel agencies for reservations, flight bookings and other travel services. Expectedly over 2 million foreign tourists and 4.5 million domestic tourists will grace Delhi on the eve of the Commonwealth Games 2010.

The Ministry of Tourism and Archaeological Survey of India has launched ‘Discover India in Common Wealth Game 2010’ in road shows in CommonWealth countries as heavy tourists arrival is expected from these places. Delhi is getting beautified. Tourists will be able to hop on and off dedicated tourist bus services from mid September. Heritage, religious and adventure tourist sites in the northern states are getting repackaged. From spa to spirituality everything is on the menu. Bhangarh – one of the 100 most haunted place worldwide will welcome tourists under an initiative ‘Ghost to be Host’ :).  Shimla, in Himachal Pradesh Nainital, in Utaranchal and Puri, a beach destination and such popular tourist destinations are expected to be crammed with tourists as CWG 2010 corresponds to the domestic tourist season.

Athletes, besides free accommodation, security, transportation would reportedly be offered trips to the Taj and heritage sites likeFatehpur Sikri, Sikandra, Agra, Jaipur, Udaipur, Jaisalmer, Ranthambore, Sariska, Mathura, Vrindavan among others.

Since Delhi is staging the games Northern Indian destinations in Himachal, Uttarakhand and Rajasthan will definitely see an increase in tourist influx but overall Kerala, Orissa, Goa, Andamans etc will also benefit. Alternative, niche focus areas like Medical Tourism, Yoga, Ayurvedic rejuvenation packages, Tribal and Village tours will get a boost. Already popular destinations like Shimla in the north, Puri in the east etc will be choc a bloc. As there will be a heavy rush in the Northern India, domestic tourists will flock to Orissa and other Southern states. Puri (Orissa) is an evergreen destination and this time a significant number of foreign tourists will also visit the Buddhist circuit in Orissa, driving on the local economy. Chandragiri and adjacent places are nearly perfect destinations for tribal or rural tourism. North eastern states are natural havens and nature seekers will not give it a miss. Kaziranga with the highest tiger density in India is the gateway.

Offbeat destinations like Similipal Tiger Reserve Forest and Sanctuary, Jatinga bird sanctuary, Naga headhunter villages like Mon and Longkhum, adventure tours in caves of Mizoram, including one full of human skeletons from ancient history (Milu Puk) are one of a kind experience. Budget Tourism is a sector that will register heavy growth. The unheralded bread and breakfast scheme, with firm focus on “Atithi Devo Bhava” has open up new avenues of niche accommodation.

Commonwealth Games “CWG” is expected to bring a boom to the medical tourism industry. With such anticipation both the healthcare providers and the medical tourism facilitators, are making extra efforts to gain from this opportunity.

Foreign tourist arrivals between January-June 2010 were 26.32 lakh compared to 23.76 lakh in the same period in 2009 (up 10%). According to India tourism ministry data foreign exchange earned by India increased by 28.1% in June 2010 over June 2009. Foreign exchange earnings during January-June 2010 were $6,842 million with a growth rate of 36.6% compared to $5,007 million in 2009. Foreign tourist arrivals in India during June 2010 were 3.70 lakh compared to 3.42 lakh during June 2009. Forex earned in June 2010 was $1,020 million compared to $796 million in 2009.  Things are looking upbeat for CommonWealth Games 2010.

The schedule of the CWG has coincided with the end of recession. This should provide the perfect opportunity for an under pressure tourism sector to erase deficits and launch itself on a path of high growth in the next decade.

For more details on the package and your travel management in India, contact your travel manager – metu@toshali.in

“Atithi Devo Bhavah”: The Incredible India Initiative

Taittiriya Upanishad is a part of the Yajur Veda. A verse says “Matru devo bhava, Pitru devo bhava, Acharya devo bhava, Atithi devo bhava”. Means – Be one to whom your mother is a god; be one to whom your father is a god; be one to whom your teacher is a god; be one to whom your guest is a god – this Upanisad teaches the importance of following the path of charity, duty and dharma.

‘Tithi’ in Sanskrit means date ‘Atithi’ is one who arrives at your doorstep – unannounced. Emphasis in the Upanishad was on the good treatment of even the unexpected guest – who knows it well may have been god – testing the munificence of the host :). This is the tagline of the initiative of Ministry of Tourism, Government Of India to tap the full potential of tourism in India.

The campaign aims to sensitising key stakeholders towards tourists, through training. Singapore, Hong Kong, Thailand, Malaysia and China far outstrip us in foreign tourist arrivals. There is no reason why India cannot compete. However we need to change our attitude towards those who visit us. Often tourists are mistreated, cheated and rudely dealt with. It’s simple, if someone in a house is rude to you, you don’t refer it to friends and relations. This is why in spite of an incredible wealth of tourist spots, cultural diversity and destinations for the soul, India still not amongst the top 20 tourist destinations Of the world. We hover around the 40s.

The Charter of “Atithi Devo Bhavah” Program includes Hygiene & Cleanliness issues for transportation, hotel rooms, restaurants, shops, etc., personal hygiene & cleanliness of the service provider and cleanliness of the places of tourist interest.

  • Conduct and Behavior: The service provider shall be courteous and polite.
  • Integrity and Honesty: The service provider should display honesty and integrity.

  • Safety and Security: safety and security of the tourists shall be ensured.

Training of key stakeholders in terms of changing their attitude and behaviour towards foreign tourists. The key stakeholders listed were taxi drivers, tourist guides, operators, immigration officers, tourist police and others who have direct interaction with inbound tourists. Any initiative aimed at changing attitudes and perceptions poses challenges, and designing a training program for the often Semi-literate tourist sector workers and convincing them was tough.

FTAs had increased by 45 percent during 2005-06 and 2006-07. In 2005 and 2006, tourist arrivals in India grew annually at a steady 13 percent. The global economic crisis saw a drop in FTA arrivals in 2008 and 2009 but in the opening months of 2010 India has seen a jump of 17 per cent in FTAs. Government has roped in Aamir Khan as the brand ambassador for Atithi Devo Bhavah. The commercials as well as the print advertisements and posters have gone live from January 21, 2009.

Attitudes need to change drastically. Since time immemorial guests has been well treated in India. Legend and history said that even if a sworn enemy came to a Rajput household as a guest – he need not have feared for his life – such was the standard of hospitality. Terminology reflects social mores – in Germany expat labours are called guest workers. Just last week, I read the news of molestation of 2 tourists – its utterly shocking. Crime against foreign tourists at major tourist destinations will remain – the state is expected to act swiftly to ensure punishment for perpetrators and allay fears about India being an unsafe destination. It has done so in a few cases – it must continue to follow up other cases similarly. Fleecing remains another area of concern – how many times have you seen foreigners being ripped off in flea markets, by auto, taxi and rickshaw drivers. This doesnot happens in popular tourist destinations.

You cannot think about such things in say China or Japan, even Malaysia, Singapore etc. States like Goa and Kerala have succeeded because they have sensitised the local population. Things are good in Uttarakhand, Punjab, Himachal, Orissa and most areas of the North Eastern states. But to make India a most favored destination this change must be all pervasive.

Actually I have seen that tourists going for alternative packages – like say tour of tribal villages etc go back content – because in all their primitive simplicity they have demonstrated values that we have forgotten.

Toshali Resorts, welcomes you to discover Incredible India…..  “Atithi Devo Bhavah” – “Guest Is God”

Rural and Tribal Tourism is the New Trend in Incredible India

Rural tourism is a showcase of rural life, art, culture and heritage-on location benefiting the local community and enabling interaction between the tourists and the locals for an enriching experience.

  • Mandawa Village in semi-desert Rajasthan is an “Open-Air Gallery of Rajasthan”. In Udaipur tribal villages like Devhat, Kol, Timla and Kharakwada are nice destinations.
  • In Himachal Pradesh Kinnaur, Spiti & Lahaul were till recently inaccessible.  Now you can discover the riotous green of the Sangla Valley and the magnificent desolation of the Hangrang Valley.

  • In Hodka, in Rann of Kutch, Gujarat is Sham e Sarhad resort owned  and operated by the villagers. Accommodations are in tents or traditional huts – bhungas. You can attend workshops in embroidery or leather work, interact with communities, go out and see flamingos, pelicans, foxes and leopards. In Gujarat, you can visit Vaso known for its wooden buildings. With special permit you can also visit some of the restricted villages of Zainabad in Bhuj. Rabari, Tunda Vanda and the Banny tribal village.
  • Amraee resort Pranpur is in Chanderi, Madhya Pradesh. Villagers will look after tourists and mud huts in mango grove is refreshing.
  • In Meghalaya’s Mawlynnong a community effort has made it the poster boy of rural tourism in India. Similarly tours in Chattisgarh with villages of the Gond, Bhil, Bhilala, Kol, Patelia, Kanwar, etc are unique. The Santhals of Jharkhand are one of the oldest tribes of India, known for their music, dance and colorful attire.

Dongria Kondhs

Dongira Kondhs

  • One of the most famous tribal villages in Orissa is the Kutia tribal village located at the Baliguda area. The Dongariya Kondh Haat also attracts tourists. Other tribal villages of Orissa include Bonda, Didayee and Gadhaba. All the tribes of Orissa excel in producing wonderful fabric and textile work. Do not forget to watch the graceful dance of the Gadaba Tribe while on tribal tour of Orissa. Bissam Cuttack is home to the Desia Kondh tribes and their weekly market, Chatikona is home to Dunguria Kondh tribe – they follow the barter system exchanging papaya, jackfruit, pineapple with kerosene, salt chicken etc. In Balliguda you will meet the Kutia Kondhs and in Belghar the Malia Kondhs.

Orissa - Jeypore Bonda Women

Orissa – Jeypore Bonda Women

  • In Orissa, Onkdeli is home to the backward but colorful Bonda tribe and their village Gadaba. In Kundli visit the biggest tribal market to meet the Paraja & Rana tribes and Baligaon to meet the Dhuruva tribes. You can plan a day’s hike with porters in villages of Gadaba and Malli. Jeypore or Rayagada can be your base. As these places are fairly close to Taptapani and the world famous Chilka lake a visit would be convenient.
  • In Northeastern India also known as the Seven Sisters states, some of the notable places include Pasighat where the Adi village is located. The Nishi village, village of the Apatani tribe and the Hillmiri village and the Tagin village in Daporijo.

Paraja Tribes

These are, but a tiny proportion of interesting rural tourist sites in India, just a beginning…..

Toshali Resorts International continuous effort and pursuit in promoting Rural and Tribal tourism has been a driven success on its own for Incredible India. To know more and book an exclusive India Rural and Tribal Tourism package, contact me – your own travel consultant “Metu”. Its simple just post a message at the blog or send a mail with details at metu@toshali.in. I will get back to you……

India Sea Beach Holiday: Best Beaches in India

Sun, Sand, the Wind and 3000 people around – is that your idea of a lazy beach holiday? Neither is it mine. So a look at some quaint gems of beaches India has on offer, where you can hear the sand blowing,  see the waters turn molten gold and the guy from the fishing village trudging back home.

  • Andamans got some beautiful beaches – Corbyn’s cove, Radhanagar and Vijaynagar in Havelock Island are some of the best tropical beaches. Harminder bay beach at Hutbay Island, Karmatang beach is a turtle nesting ground, Ramnagar beach in Diglipur Island is another serene, sparsely populated beach.
  • Lakshwadeep boasts of the Kavaratti Beach, Kalpeni Beach has the small islets Tilakkam & Pitti and an uninhabited island on the north – Cheriyam. A huge shallow lagoon encloses them. Bangaram Beach in an uninhabited island, Bangaram is the only one open to foreign tourists. The island has superb beaches and beautiful lagoons.
  • Konkan coast has some of India’s most serene and quiet beaches Gokarna (Karnataka), besides being a religious destination is also famous for its beautiful beaches. The main beaches are the Gokarna beach, Kudle Beach, Om Beach, Half moon Beach and Paradise Beach. Kudle and Om are around 6 km from Gokarna, accessible by rickshaw or foot. Half moon and Paradise are beyond Om beach and are accessible only by foot or boat. Om beach is named so because its shape. Paradise and Half Moon – are smaller and remote beaches. The beaches in Uttar Kannada district have a peculiar landscape, near the Western Ghats, they are bound by hills. The Beach Trekking Route from Bellikere to Murudeshwar is exciting. Among the main rivers Kali and Sitanadi are also famous for river rafting. This list does not even includes beaches like Ullal, Kaupe, Baindur, Bhatkal, Honnavar, Kirki and Kumta.
  • Goa beaches. Here’s a few along the path lesser trod. 20 km from Margao, Netrolim village is a serene and bountiful worldDSCF4286untouched by modernity. The facilities are rustic but ok. So is Candolim, the birth place of Abbe Faria, the Father of Hypnotism who counseled Napoleon Bonaparte and finds immortality as the mad monk in Alexander Dumas’s ‘The Count of Monte Christo’. Sinquerim near fort Aguada of white sands has a hiking route to Candolim beach and all the way to Baga. Bambolim beach is largely undiscovered, just before the mouth of the river Zuari. The entrance lies along the hill between Medical College and the University. Benaulim beach is more peaceful and isolated than Colva. Palolem beach, in Canacona distrct, also called “Paradise Beach” is popular for dolphin cruises and fishing trips. At the northern end of the beach is a tiny, island in the middle of a fresh water stream that can be reached by swimming at low tide. Agonda is a virgin stretch of beach off Palolem. Cavelossim is south of Colva. South of it is the Mobor beach that boasts five star resorts and a small lagoon and fishing village.Manaltheeram Ayurveda Beach Village, near Kovalam, Cherrai beach off Cochin on Yvpeen island, Kappil and Pallikere close to Bekal fort are quite beaches. Near from Fort St. Angelo, the Payyambalam beach is ideal for a romantic walk. Varkala is a quiet beach embroidered with rocky cliffs. Somatheeram – 15 acres of greenery sloping down soft, white sands that lazily stretch into an azure calm sea. A virgin and untouched beach, Poovar is surrounded by tranquil backwaters melting into the sea.
  • Puri and Konark – no paeans remain unsung but the stretch between them still has undiscovered jewels of sandy stretches. IfBalighai Beach you have visited Puri you would know there is a sonorous quality to the coastline. The Bay of Bengal, unlike the gentler Arabian Sea crashes around teh beaches with a deep rumbling sound. Just down the road from Puri is Toshali’s private beach – “Balighai” – The Casurina fringed beach is a treat – in solitude and expansiveness. Just laze around and see your worries melt away – the sunset is particularly attractive near the confluence of Nuanai River.

Come and discover them. Of course I was simply name dropping 🙂 what can I do? India has a coastline over 7500 kms long. There are hundreds of places which I haven’t even heard of. So next time you are cycling past some unknown seashore here and come across a sleepy beach village you know where to come and tell me all about it.

Potential of Online Travel Industry in India: An Overview

Online travel booking in India is no longer a nightmare. It is quite safe to book tickets and hotels and package tours online. Firstly I don’t think many of the ‘travel’ portals that mainly sell tickets can be considered as ‘travel’ portals. They are ticketing portals. The real ‘traveling’ starts only when you reach your destination. Some of them are relatively dynamic portals but options in a one stop shop catering to all travel needs remains few. The online space is mainly driven by domestic air ticketing but the railways need to play a more crucial role to make them successful. Studies suggest that more than 2,000 towns and cities are accessing the Net for booking travel. Secondary cities account for 74 per cent of business and rising. In 2009-10 more than 25 per cent of all airline tickets are booked online.

Despite myths India’s online market Tourist bookings in most sectors (accommodation, airlines, car rental etc.) are still made over the phone, email or in the provider’s office, rather than on-line. So the share of internet bookings remained small but growing. I think consumers in India are still not comfortable booking on-line due to concerns over payment security. But these concerns of the traveler are being addressed and many government and non government travel sites are today considered ‘safe’ bets.

Many service providers and intermediaries are still not offering the full range of travel products (accommodation, flight tickets, car rentals etc.) on their portals and it is sometimes cheaper not to book on-line. However with advancement in on-line payment security, the presence of more developed portals of direct providers as well as intermediary travel portals, and with greater internet penetration, internet booking is expected to gain significance during coming days.

A recent report in Economic Times said the slowdown has been good for the online travel industry. It has actually seen a lot of people moving from offline to online booking. A survey found that traffic to these sites grew to more than 14 million visitors in April 2010, an increase of 50% over April 2009 as a growing number of Indians turned to the web in search of travel deals and accommodation. This is one opportunity online travel industry should really grasp. This could be the beginning of a new phase in the industry.

Today there are more payment options available online. Last August (2009), the RBI issued guidelines making it mandatory for all online transactions to have an extra level of authentication. People feel more secure transacting online. Travel sites now attract more than one-third of India’s total Internet population. Today’s smart consumers are being cost-conscious while making travel arrangements. They are diligently comparing prices before choosing. Actually the recession was good for the travel industry as it forced them to think out of the box – increase efficiency, innovate and design customized packages to retain clients. So we are looking forward to a market that is mature, growing and more users oriented.

To summarise – “Metu” – your own friendly, neighborhood online travel consultant feels that online travel booking is safer than ever before in India. But dear traveler do check, compare – be aware and Happy Journey……

All invited to contribute by sharing your thoughts, views on this blog post, through the comments / blog. Hereby, looking forward to conversing with you!

Chandragiri – The Little Tibet: An offbeat destination..

Phuntsokling or the ‘land of happiness and plenty’ is just 80 kms from Brahmapur, in the Gajapati district, little Tibet in the Western Orissa, now called Odisha. This was one of the earliest resettlement villages. The Tibetan guests arrived on May 1, 1963 and gave their own name to a remote corner of a land that welcomes all.

Besides, Chandragiri Tankilipadar, Lobarsingi, Jiranga, and Mahendragada were the other resettlement villages. With temperatures between 40-80 degree Farenheit, this is hardly Tibet but sheer zeal and hard work has transformed this jungle into fertile fields and orchards. After a project to increase agricultural yield this is now the official “Maize bowl of Orissa”. Colorful prayer flags – carrying the message of peace and tranquility will welcome you. The Tibetan cooperative society of  Chandragiri now runs a handicraft centre, dairy centre, poultry centre, horticulture centre, health centre, mechanical workshop, an elderly person’s home, crèche, schools and Buddhist monastery.

The bus journey is uniquely Indian – people, chickens and the occasional goat share space. An hired vehicle is much more comfortable and convenient. At Lobersing, another resettlement village and bus stop you’ll find exquisite Tibetan wall mats, carpets, handicrafts and leather goods in the co-operative society factory. The superior will show you around. Just across the road is the village monastery. Young lamas jostle around – like everywhere in India cricket is popular while the elders rotate the “chakra” humming prayers, like gentle apostles of non-violence.

You can stay at the Society’s Guest House. Just two words of caution – protect yourself against mosquitoes and order your lunch or dinner early. His holiness the 14th Dalai Lama inaugurated South Asia’s biggest monastery – the Rigon Thupten Mindoling monastery called the Padmasambhava Maha Vihara at Jiranga. Chandragiri on January 2010.  A huge 21 feet high golden statue of the Buddha presides with statues of Lord Padmasambhaba and Lord Avalokiteswara on either side.

Incidentally Acharya Padmasambhava was the founder of the Vajrayana sect of the Mahayana path of Buddhism who lived during the seventh century in Orissa (place of birth was Oddiyana – some say its in the Swat Valley of Pakistan, some believe it to be Orissa) who is said to have transmitted Tantric Buddhism to Bhutan and Tibet.

In charge of the monastery Khenpo Pema expects an influx of foreign tourist and there is already a spanking new 10 suite guest house to welcome them all. Jaampa the chief architect ensured that the monastery has all the flavours of Tibetan architecture.

Nearby the perennial hot spring of Medicinal Sulfuric Waters of “Taptapani” is nestled at about 1800 feet above Sea Level. The guest house overlook a pristine valley. The Dining Hall is between two crests of mountain fold. You get an eerie feeling amid buzzing crickets in the evening. In the nearby Kandimata Mandir locals take a bath in the spring before offering prayers. There is also a deer park nearby maintained by Orissa wildlife conservationist.

All are invited to explore the offbeat destination of Chandragiri Tibetan Settlement and Taptapani Sulphur Spring Shrine. Have you contacted your travel manager yet, for more information contact metu@toshali.in

Eco Tourism in India: A New Approach

Eco-tourism means making as little environmental impact as possible and helping to sustain the indigenous populace, thereby encouraging the preservation of wildlife and habitats when visiting a place. This is a responsible form of tourism and tourism development. It is also the key to sustainable ecological development. The International Eco-tourism Society defines eco-tourism as “responsible travel to natural areas that conserves the environment and improves the well-being of local people.” You must – Minimize impact, Build environmental and cultural awareness, Provide positive experiences for both visitors and hosts, financial benefits for conservation and local people.

Today the “Green Laws” of conservation are making people aware of how man and the environment can live symbiotically it is the only way to maximize the economic, environmental and social benefits of tourism.  In India too the movement is gathering momentum. Eco-Tourism in India is still at a very nascent stage, but there are for sure conscious efforts to save the fragile Himalayan Eco System and culture and heritage of the indigenous people. Holiday Camping vis a vis Hotel accommodation are gathering momentum in the Himalayan belt. Resorts tucked deep inside jungles of Karnataka, House-boats of Kerala, Tree Houses at Vythiri combine to make India one of the most diverse eco-tourism destinations on the planet.

These points taken care of will aid organisations involved in eco-tourism:

  • Education -Three levels of education; how well the staff is educated, level of education the organization provides to local communities, and how well it informs guests about sustainable tourism practices and how to successfully practice themselves.
  • Conservation and Preservation – This pertains to the level of conservation/ preservation activity in the environmental and cultural sectors. This category will determine the flow of visitors  – ultimately..
  • Sustainable Use of Resources – This category involves how well the resort utilizes, preserves and recycles resources, and the effective techniques they practice. This category will focus on water, waste and energy resources.
  • Innovative/Creative Practices – Many are developing new approaches to conservation, education, marketing, and creative ways to sustainably use resources. This category focuses on these new approaches because they are direct factors contributing to successful ecotourism.
  • Influence on Local Communities Economies – This category determines if the involvement of the organization with the surrounding communities brings new economic growth to the local community.
  • Involving local human resources in the projects – This would ensure local support for the organisation and the activity both.
  • Local and Global Recognition – This category determines to what extent the local and global familiarity the ecotourism organization.
  • Marketing Practices – The way an organization market’s itself, will ultimately determine its survival/sustainability.
  • Involvement of Local People – This is about community participation. Say a stay in a village to experience ethnic life and functions first hand – lets say a stay at the lantern lit hut of a former Naga headhunter or a trip to Jatinga bird sanctuary to witness the eerie phenomenon of hundreds of birds flying to their death on foggy, windy, moonless nights during August to October. For there cord the only similar phenomena exists in the Phillipines.

We look forward to your conversation and comments on it, to make Eco Tourism a success in Incredible India

Product launch at holy place: A New Concept of ‘business with leisure’

Product launches and dealer meets are basically working vacations. The ambience needs to be sufficiently relaxing but boardroom facilities are a must as launches and meets entails some serious business work. A relaxing ambience of the seaside resort is an added advantage. It houses one of the largest conference centres in the state. Without going into the mundane details let us say that technical and secretarial services available here are efficient and competent – without the seven star price tag. There is something for every budget and a smaller budget does not mean ‘diminished’ returns. Even menus are customised to suit the corporate need and individual tastes. But why Puri – let us say that the resort is trying to mould itself to modern needs.

Nature trails, sustainable eco tourism, continuing campaign to keep the beach clean – all these have added another dimension to a timeless destination – the seat of the Lord of the universe. Organizers and trainers know the potential of time outside the seminar room.

At Toshali Sands you can have range of activities to complement any conference programme. The senior honchos can have a chat over a game of golf – not quite in the vicinity but neither too far away, then you can sweat it away at the gym, relax in the sauna, cycle around the reserve forest area, trek a bit or simply watch time and river Nuanai flow by lazily. Well if you have team-building activities in your schedule with combat or adventure games the Toshali Sands Team even help you arrange that too. There is another activity – unique to the resort – India’s best sand sculptor

World acclaimed Sand Artist Sudarshan Patnaik can arrange a workshop in sand sculpting specially tailormade for you. The stretch from Toshali Sands to Konark offers a few pristine and virgin beaches. It is unspoilt nature and an idea is floating around that a cycle track could throw up an entirely new possibilty of extended beach hiking and cycling. This is an entirely new concept but we are seriously considering this. To keep your product launch hassle free

Toshali sands will assign you a dedicated conference coordinator to make all the arrangements. Toshali Sands provides a conducive environment for product launch, seminars & conferences, dealer meets etc.

The conference halls are – Indraprastha with a capacity of 350 (theatre style seating) offers double option with a collapsible partition for small meetings (over 200 people) and Boardroom parleys. Panchayat Conference hall can accommodate 200 in theater style and Mantrana Conference hall is relatively smaller but equally well appointed. Different from the more conventional type but you have an usually high level of service right from organizational to technical facilities, secretarial services etc.

All corporates try to host Conference programmes for their executives in a relaxed and stress-less environment, where there will be better clarity of thought and vision. The concept of ‘business with leisure’ is here to stay and the key word in today’s corporate world where resorts pronounce themselves as superior to commercial hotels. Toshali Sands is not exactly competing with 5 star luxury hotels but as far as the settings and ambience goes. This is one of the best Eastern India has to offer, a four star classified resort.

The Puri Kshetra is considered a holy place since millenniums. Toshali sands is aware that most people do pay a visit to the temple of Lord Jagannath – a guide, priest and transport is all for yours to ask. It is still early days for Toshali sands to start off as an attractive destination for national product launches but it is a fantastic destination for regional and zonal launches. We will be working our way up to making this a national destination.

Recently, “The Blue Eyed Boy”- the new Maruti Suzuki Wagon R was launch at Toshali Sands by Maruti Udyog Limited in the holy “Sankha khyetra” of Shree Lord Jagannath, it was a huge success among Maruti dealers and distributors. the event drew wide corporate participation and national press coverage.

For more details on Product launch, Convention and Conference Facility at  Toshali Royal View Resort, Shimla –  and Toshali Sands , Puri

I would love to hear, your product launch at Toshali Resorts, we would be glad to have you as our guest. If you enjoyed this post, I would appreciate, if you share it on Twitter, Facebook, Orkut and other social networking sites.