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Sunday, February 23, 2014

Hemis Festival 2014

The two day Hemis Festival commemorates the birth of Guru Padmasambhava, who founded Tantric Buddhism in Tibet. It's held in June or July every year at the 300-year-old Buddhist monastery of Hemis Jangchub Choling near Leh. This monastery is the biggest and richest Buddhist monastery in the Ladakh region.

The highlight of the Hemis Festival is teh Masked Dance, performed by the hlamas, that illustrates good prevailing over evil. The performers wear elaborate and bizarre costumes and brightly painted masks. These masks are the most vital part of the dance. The dance movements are slow, and the expressions grotesque. The music is characteristically punctuated with sounds of cymbais, frums, and unwiedly trumpets.

Each colourful mask depicts a different figure in the legend that's being portrayed. The Padmasambhava dance, which shows the conquest of the ruta demons, includes Yama - the God of death, and the black-hatted sorcerer, Guru Trakpo - the vanquisher of all demons.

How to Get There : Flights to Leh operate from Delhi, Srinagar and Jammu. Alternatively, it's possible to travel there by road from Manali and Srinagar. The Hemis Monastery is 45 kilometers from Leh and can be reached by car/jeep or bus.

Thursday, February 13, 2014

Tamilnadu - Gulf of Mannar

The Gulf of Mannar marine National Park, about 10 km away from the east coast of Tamil Nadu, consists of 21 small islands (islets) and coral reefs in the Gulf of mannar in the Indian Ocean. The core area of Gulf of Mannar Biosphere Reserve lies between Thoothukudi (Tuticorin) and Dhanushkodi.

The national park is picturesque for its rich confluence of estuaries, mudflats, beaches and forests. The lush green islands are dominated by mangroves, though flowering herbs, sea grass and seaweeds are abundant.

The Dugong, a vulenrable marine mammal is the most important inmate of the park. The park is also home to Indo-Pacific hottlenose dolphin, finless porpoise, spinner dolphin and common dolphin. About 510 of the 2,200 fin fish species in Indian waters are found in the Gulf of Mannar, making it the most highly diverse fish habitat in India.

The islands in the Gulf of Mannar are uninhabited and access is prohibited. Tourists visiting the marine national park can use glass-bottomed boats to see the marine splendor abundant in this area.

Visiting the islands in dependent on permission received from the Chief Conservator of Forests and Chief Wild Life Warden. Accommodation and hotels are available both in Rameswaram and Ramanathapuram.

Saturday, February 8, 2014

Switzerland pointed on young travellers

Home to some of the most scenic landscapes in the world, made popular here by Bollywood, Switzerland wants a larger share of the Indiain tourist pie and is therefore focusing on youngesters. And it is not only about the youth with high disposable incomes but the schools and college going kids as well who have the power to influence their parent's opinion when it comes to selecting a holday destination.

"The May-June holiday season is coming up and we are specially focusing on youth between 12 to 24 years who can influence theri parents," Stephan Heuberger, director of Switerland Tourism, said. Acknowledging that the destination is expensive Heuberger justified it by saying that the experience would be "unforgettable and value for money".

"Switzerland is expensive but it offers value for money. You won't regret spending the money as the experience is priceless," he said. As part of the marketing campaign, the board is training Indian tour and travel operators on selling Switzerland as an ideal destination to Indians apart from activities like customer reach out programmes, e-marketing and advertising campaigns.