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.