All you wanted to know about the Sri Aurobindo Ashram in Pondichery

The Sri Aurobindo Ashram was formed in 1926 under Mirra Alfassa, popularly called by her followers as ‘The Mother’. The Ashram has progressed fast and steady under her inspired guidance from a small circle to two dozen followers into a widely followed diversified spiritual community with about 1200 members that includes about 400 pupils of the Centre of Education and the hundreds of devotees who reside nearby the Ashram, though the larger ashram community boasts of more than 2000 members.

Tour operators in coimbatoreNestled in a buzzing and bustling city of over 7, 00,000 people, the Ashram has never been a place known for tranquillity or relaxation, but a throbbing and pulsating centre of life set on the backdrop of a modern urban scene. This aspect is a reflection of Sri Aurobindo’s philosophy as his steadfast obeisance to the divine forms the core of the Yoga and all Ashramites are required to contribute positively by working productively everyday for the welfare of the community.

The best part about the Ashram is the sadhana or the spiritual discipline at the mind level as there are no needless rituals, no obligatory practises, no mandatory meditations or ‘by the book’ practises in Yoga. Sadhaks are left free to choose whatever that suits their pace and taste of learning. But the general principle of the Sadhana remains intact: one must surrender to the Divine and an opening to the Divine Force at work so that it may turn one into a spiritually and emotionally strong being.

Travel to the eastern part of Pondicherry to visit the Ashram, where the community members live and work in harmony in beautiful old and new buildings side by side in a sprawling area. The community life is focussed on the main building of the Ashram, usually known as “the Ashram”, with block after block of houses in which the Sri Aurobindo and the Mother spend major part of their lives.

At its centre, you can find a white-marble Samadhi (shrine) in a tree-shaded courtyard where the bodies rest in total peace. The members of the Ashram are provided with a healthy and decent life with excellent food, comfortable shelter, necessary clothing and essential medical care. The Ashram, managed by the Sri Aurobindo Ashram Trust, also houses a fine library for study and various other facilities for a variety of cultural pursuits.

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All you want to know about the Rock Fort Temple City at Trichy in Tamilnadu

Tiruchirappalli (also called Trichy) is the fourth largest city in the state of Tamilnadu. Trichy is located at the heart of the state on the southern banks of the river Cauvery. Though there are several attractions in and around the city that tourists can afford to spend some time, the Tiruchirapalli Rock Fort, a historic fort and temple complex raised on an ancient rock, is the most popular tourist destination, often an integral part of the tour itinerary of the city. It is raised on a 273-foot high rock. You can find two Hindu temples inside the complex: the Shiva Temple and the Uchchi Pillaiyar Koil Temple.

Trichy Rock ForteGeologically, the high rock may be over one billion years old. There are other tourist attractions within the temple complex including the famous Nayaka-era fort and the Ganesha temple of the Pallava era. The fort was the scene of bloody battles between Madurai Nayakas, who used it as a military fort, and Carnatic, Bijapur and Maratha empires. The fort also turned the tides in favour of the British in India during the Carnatic wars, fought between many Indian rulers and British and French East India Company on either side.

The Thayumanavar Temple is located in the Rockfort complex close to the base of it and was built by the great Pallava king Mahendravarman I in the 6th century AD. The main deity of the temple is Lord Shiva symbolized by the lingam and is worshiped as Thayumanavar. Mattuvar Kuzhalammai represents Shiva’s consort Parvati. The presiding deity is eulogized in the “Tevaram”, the Tamil Saiva canonical work compiled by the Nayanars, the tamil saint poets belonging to the 7th century.

On the eastern side is the Ucchi Pillayar koil, a Hindu temple of the 7th century, is dedicated to Lord Ganesha who was born to Lord Shiva and Parvati. It is situated on the top of Rockfort. Legend has it that Lord Ganesha ran from King Vibishana in this place, after setting up the Ranganathaswamy deity in Srirangam.

The temple houses a large-sized Ganesha and other rare deities and is host to the annual Vinayaka (Ganesha) Chathurthi festival. Devotees take great delight in listening to the classical musical concerts performed by several legendary Tamil Carnatic musicians in the temple, a tradition that has been in practise for over 70 years.

You can also witness the “Pallava Caves” constructed by the famous Pallava rulers during 580AD on the southern face of the Rockfort. One needs to climb 344 stone steps that are carved inside the rock from its entrance and over the rock near the top so as to reach the rock temple.

 

 

 

 

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Ideas on how to play winter sports on your family tour

A happy family stay together, but the happiest family is one that tours and plays together and makes the most of it. It is the togetherness which binds the family together — strong and intact. But do the winters play spoilsport to your family tour and outdoor activities. Don’t be upset and take it in your stride. Every setback has its positives, and therefore, don’t let the season rob off the fun factor. Winter sports are meant for the whole family.  Here are some ideas that will make you a better player, of course, with your family on tour and especially, when it’s snowing hard and heavy.

ice-skatingPlanning:

Research and planning is the key. Ensure you go for a resort with a good ski school and nursery slope for the kids, but just enough to keep you in the mood too. Make sure you book early as possible as good ski schools are pretty much limited and get booked up early. Make sure you are in good shape before the holiday. Start working on your body’s fitness levels and agility before the start of the holiday season. Remember to check if your required equipment is working just fine.

Out & About:

It is a must that kids should be offered plenty of sun protection on their face to protect themselves from the harmful effects of the sun’s rays such as sun burn and UV goggles. You must check the rules on helmets; it is mandatory for children to wear helmets when playing or skidding on the icy slopes. You need to think about the different options you can come up to keep the kids engaged such as husky sledding or ice skating.

Just in Case:

Teach yourself and your kids ski etiquette and rules of conduct to stay away from unnecessary accidents and mishaps. It is recommended to invest in a winter sports travel insurance to protect your family, trip and equipments against any possible accidents and potential disasters. It’s important for kids to get trained on how to cope with emergency or crisis situations, example just in case you get separated in a crowd. Having an EHIC for every member of your family, when travelling in Europe, comes as an advantage in case you require medical treatment.

Winters doesn’t mean putting things in cold storage, especially family tours, sports and outdoor activities. Winters not only presents some unique challenges, but also every reason to travel outdoors and get going with the whole family. With the thermometer dropping, the festive spirit and fervour may well embrace the adventure in you!

 

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Spectacular South Africa 2018

emperor POSTER 2Duration: 10 Nights/11Days

Departs: Mumbai: 21st Feb 2018

From Price: Rs. 1, 25,000 per person

South Africa, a land of extraordinary, beyond-the-world beauty and a plethora of experiences, is sure to get you spellbound. We have a special New Year offer that is a scheduled tour package that includes travelling to Johannesburg, Sun City, George, Mossel Bay, Oudtshroon, Knysna, and ending in the stunning city of Cape Town.

This itinerary allows you to enjoy and take in the magnificent scenes, sounds, and tastes for which South Africa is known for.

Itinerary:

Day 1: 21st Feb 2018. Fly Mumbai to Johannesburg (overnight flight).

Arrive Johannesburg or Joburg, the land of the magnificent Jacarnada Trees. Upon arrival you will be met and assisted to the shuttle transfer service for a city tour. Thereafter you will be taken to The Gandhi Square and Nelson Mandela Square. Then you will be taken to our hotel to sine and stay overnight.

Day 2: 22nd Feb 2018. Johannesburg – Sun City – Johannesburg

After breakfast, this morning depart for Sun City and check-in to the hotel. Thereafter enjoy the myriad entertainment options that Sun City has to offer. Travel along the city or visit the bird aviary. Opt for the adventurous activities like Quad biking, Parasailing, Motor boats, Banana ride and more. Finally, return back to the hotel for dinner and overnight stay.

Day 3: 23rd Feb 2018. Sun City – Johannesburg – George – Mossel Bay

Have a bright and early start to the day to proceed to Johannesburg airport to board the flight for George. Proceed from George airport and check-in at our hotel. Relax and refresh at the natural tidal pool. Explore Mossel Bay and visit the famous Post Office Tree, the Bartholomeus Diaz Museum and Shell Museum.

Get ready by evening for an adventurous hike to the lighthouse. Explore the scintillating beauty of Mossel Bay in the late evening. Return back to the hotel for dinner and overnight stay at Mossel Bay.

Day 4: 24th Feb 2018. Mossel Bay – Oudtshroon – Mossel Bay

Have an energizing breakfast at our hotel in Mossel Bay and proceed to travel inland over the spectacular Outeniqua Pass to Oudtshoorn, known as the ‘feather capital of the world’ because of its ostrich industry. Then proceed to the Ostrich Farm to have the time of your life. This is a great opportunity for kids and adults alike to have a thrilling ride on an ostrich and stand on top of an ostrich egg to find out what happens.

Visit the astounding Cango Caves located in the lush Cango valley. Explore the beauty of natural Stalacite caves that are the world’s finest limestone formations. Now is the best part of your day. Proceed to visit Cheetah Land and Crocodile Farm at the Cango Wildlife Ranch. Get closer with the fastest land animal on earth. Experience the most fascinating animal encounters with cheetahs, lemurs, croc-cage diving and more. This place has soemthign for everyone in the family.  At the end of the day, dine and stay at Mossel Bay.

Day 5: 25th Feb 2018.  Mossel Bay

Have a hearty breakfast and get ready to experience a bird’s eye view of the sea. Opt for a helicopter ride and experience the breathtaking views of the bright blue sea that is bordered with over 60 kilometers of bright beaches. Grab your gear and experience some adrenaline rush. Go Quad biking on a 4 wheeled bike or opt for a speed boat ride. Finally, get back to the hotel for dinner and overnight stay.

Day 6: 26th Feb 2018. Mossel Bat –Knysna – Mossel Bay

After breakfast head to Knysna for a day excursion. If you prefer some extreme action, opt for Bungee Jumping at the Bloukrans Bridge on route to Knysna. Reach the beautiful Knysna nestled between the Outeniqua Mountains and the Indian Ocean. Explore South Africa’s beautiful gardens just east of Cape Town. Enjoy the rural beauty of the small towns located by the sea. By the end of the day, head back to the hotel for a scrumptious dinner and stay.

Day 7: 27th Feb 2018. Mossel Bay – Game Lodge

Have a filling breakfast and get ready for an adventurous open vehicle safari. Check in to Game Lodge and grab your binoculars to spend some time with South Africa’s big 5 – Lions, Leopards, Elephants, Wild Buffalos, and African Rhinos, right in their territory. By evening, get back to the hotel for dinner and overnight stay.

Day 8: 28th Feb 2018. Game Lodge – Cape Town

Have breakfast, pack-up and check out from Game Lodge and head towards Cape Town.  Enjoy a day of leisure in the ‘Mother City’. Enjoy quality time exploring this beautiful city. Check-in at our hotel and proceed for Canal Walk, the 3rd largest shopping complex in Africa. Explore and shop at this complex that has over 400 stores, 7000 parking bays, various restaurants, 20 cinemas and a game arcade. By the end of the day, head back to the hotel for dinner and overnight stay.

Day 9: 01st March 2018. Cape Town

This morning continue your journey after breakfast, Drive to Cape Point to visit the “Cape of Good Hope”, which is the South Western Point of the African Continent. Visit the Seal Island on your way back. By evening visit the V&A Waterfront. Finally, head back to the hotel for dinner and overnight stay.

Day 10: 02nd March 2018. Cape Town

Awake to the sounds of the crashing waves and have the morning at leisure to unwind with beach sand between our toes. Enjoy a hearty breakfast and proceed for a breathtaking ride on the cable car atop the glorious Table Mountain. Get to experience the beauty of the entire city with its lively beaches from the top of the Table Mountain, which is South Africa’s pride. Have a stunning colorful panoramic view that stretches from the Table Bay to the False Bay, encircling the mountain to the Hout Bay Valley.

Later that day, proceed for a guided Orientation City Tour visiting the main attractions across the Town including Green Market Square, District 6, Company Gardens, Houses of Parliament, the Castle, Signal hill, sea point, water front, Malay Quarters, downtown business district, and Clifton en route to Hout Bay. Finally, head back to the hotel to dine and stay overnight.

Day 11: 03th March 2018. Cape Town – Johannesburg – Home Bound

Have a good breakfast on your final day of the tour and check-out the hotel. Now head to the Johannesburg airport to board the flight that takes you back to Mumbai.

Highlights:

  • Scheduled Departure
  • 10 Breakfasts, 10 Lunches, 10 Dinners as per preset menus
  • Johannesburg
  • Mossel Bay
  • Oudtshroon
  • Knysna
  • Cape Town
  • Sightseeing
  • Orientation city tour of Johannesburg.
  • Trip to Sun city (You have an option to Visit Bird Aviary or enjoy Optional activities like Jet Ski, Parasailing,
  • Sanana ride etc). Valley Of Waves included.
  • Excursion to Knysna lagoon, Bunjee jumping bridge
  • En route Mossel Bay, Tsisikama national park and George.
  • 1 Game Drive at Game Lodge.
  • Orientation City tour of Cape town including Table Mountain, Scenic drive through Clifton and sea point,
  • Green Market square, walk though the company gardens, House of Parliament, the city wall, the castle and
  • slave lodge at Cape town
  • Full day Cape Peninsular Tour- Cape of Good Hope, Flying Dutchman, Seal Island.
  • Evening Visit to Canal Walk Mall and Victoria & Alfred Waterfront in Cape Town.

Entrance included in this tour:

Garden Route: Cango caves, Ostrich farm, Cheetah Land & crocodile farm.

Cape Town: Table Mountain (If weather permit), Seal Island, Cape point with Flying Dutchman.

Pricing:

Tour Cost:

Tour Cost: Jan – March 2018

  • Adults: Rs. 1, 25,000 per person based on double/triple sharing accomodation.
  • Child with bed: Rs. 1, 15, 000 child sharing room with 02 adults
  • Child without Bed: Rs. 1, 03,000 child sharing room with 02 adults
  • Single Sharing: Rs. 1, 60,000 per person

Note: An additional Airfare Difference of Rs 15000 is applicable for the month of January.

Upgrade Cost per person

  • Johannesburg: D’Oreale/Similar Rs 5500
  • Mossel Bay: Point/ Similar Rs 8000
  • Cape Town: Westin/ Similar Rs 15000
  • Base Fare Calculated at Rs 26000
  • Tour Cost Calculated at Zar 1 = Rs 05

Take advantage of our flexible itinerary this 2018. Contact us to tailor make an itinerary to suit you.

 

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How to fly overseas? Tips to arrive more refreshed

Are you a first time air-traveller? Early nerves, jittery about the experience associated with air travel? May be you just need a quick refresher to shed all your fears and reservations about flying abroad. Here is a list of easy-to-do ideas you should do when flying overseas and arrive more refreshed:

travel agencyStay Hydrated:

Having a large unopened bottle of water in your carry helps in fighting against dehydration. Dehydration is one of the biggest reasons for fatigue.  Yes there is water on the plane, but they are usually not enough.

Book a Premium Seat:

It is worth paying a tad extra to have a premium seat or exit row if you can afford it, so that you have a little extra leg room. If not try and go for another isle seat so that you can stand and stretch your body often.

Comfortable shoes:

Wearing comfy shoes will not only make check-in lot more comfortable, but they tend to give, and swelling of legs and feet are quite common when you’re travelling; go for a comfortable pair of shoes.

Bring things to do:

You can always carry things that help you while away the time: a good book, magazine, I-pad, tablet PC, etc. Don’t forget to bring your own earphones as they help block noise.

Snacks:

It is important to eat only healthy snacks and remember to pack some like nuts, dry fruits, etc. Remember most airline snacks are usually peanuts or chips that are full of sodium that are unhealthy.

Exercise:

If you are suffering from leg cramps, you can walk up and down the aisles or do simple leg and arm stretches while on the seat. Neck rolls, heal raises and foot circles can be preformed to relax a bit and for your body to be flexible.

Sleep:

It is important to get good sleep even though if it’s a short snap. Don’t forget to carry neck pillow, eye mask, ear phones or ear plugs. Your doctor may come to your help if you are having trouble sleeping during air travel.

Positive Attitude:

Travelling can be, more often than not, strenuous and taxing, but it’s worth your efforts if you have a positive attitude, and once you arrive safely at your destination.

 

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How to get along with your Travel Companions

Travelling with companions can be rewarding in most cases and sometimes frustrating too. However there are a few things you can always do to make your journey together smooth and stress-free as planned.  So whether you’re travelling as a group or as a couple or volunteering an overseas trip with your kith and kin, remember the reason why you were there in the first place – you like each other, don’t you?

Travel Companion

Communication is the key

Communication is the key, like anything else. It matters a lot in finding out your co-traveller’s likes and dislikes; intention of the trip; tour itinerary and changes, if any; planned budget, etc. Pre-planning what and what not to see, well in advance, can minimise surprises and heart burns leading to agony and conflicts. Always remember: no two minds are the same. Communication, and more importantly effective communication with a definite gameplan, can keep everyone happy, positive and comfortable throughout the journey.

Magic of Compromise

As we had already discussed, don’t try to impose your viewpoints on others, especially on the kind of activities people wanted to enjoy.  Have an open mind and embrace diversity, not as a condition or a rule, but something you can use to explore hobbies or unravel new passions. ‘Variety is the spice of life'; why not compromise a bit with your travel companion? Consensus is an important element when travelling with others. Give every touring member a fair chance and you will find him/her to be lot more involved and happy.

Similarly, conceding to go along with your travel partner that he/she is excited about is a good idea. Even if you aren’t interested and the other person is well aware of it, you may be appreciated for having agreed to come along.

Do your own spadework

It is OK to drag an unwilling individual or group to a tourist attraction you really want to go – after all it is a matter of compromise as well! But ensure you do the spadework properly: work out the cost involved, how to reach the destination, how long do you need to travel and how long you would be content spending time there. Hopefully, even the most reluctant audience will become curious and join the party; even if they don’t, ensure you stay positive. You can be a soft target if things don’t go well as planned having convinced people to the trip.

Mix & Match

Once the group is done enjoying your choice of activity, take a look around to see if you can halt somewhere else that others may be interested about. If you show genuine interest in the travel needs of others, your travel partner will appreciate your gesture and this will go a long way in making the travel mutually enriching and inclusive.

Caring for the needs of others

Any travel situation may either involve your close acquaintance (not every time, mind you) or a group of total strangers onboard, and how you deal with the known and the unknown is the key. For instance, if you find a chatty and garrulous passenger seated next to you, it can kind of irritate you. But it can be a good ploy to overcome nerves, especially during the first 10 minutes of take off and ensure the next 10 hours of travel is flattering.

Relax!

Finally, you are there to chill out, and don’t forget that. A lot of time and effort goes into the planning a tour and you must try making the most of it. Remember, it isn’t about showing your muscle; it’s about having an open mind and a positive outlook, and it’s about showing humility and empathy with your fellow traveller or travel buddy. Let trivial matters not take centre stage during travelling. Enjoy your personal space. Yes, by all means (of course) and share some space, when required, with others. How often do we complain about not spending quality time with our best pals? Don’t you think travelling can unite hearts, or may be even heal a broken heart?  Finally, the most memorable holiday experiences are those that come unrehearsed, free and easy. Be appreciative, considerate and optimistic, and rest assured, you’re off on the trip of a lifetime.

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20 travel blogs any traveller can’t be without – Part 2

Travel folks, here is another bunch of travel blogs and websites for you to get some insightful and handy info and updates on the world of travel. Go on, keep reading.

 11. Fresh Off The Grid

Website: www.freshoffthegrid.com

Description: Founded by a traveller-couple, this is an excellent cooking resource for outdoor enthusiast.

image001  12. Carnets De Traverse

Website: www.carnets-de-traverse.com/blog/

Description:  Another creative outlet for travel photographers, travel writers and bloggers.

image003  13Meraviglia Paper

Website: www.meravigliapaper.com

Description:  An online travel mag aimed at travellers interested in fascinating, unique places with collection of stories, articles and reviews.

image005  14. Jungles in Paris

Website: www.junglesinparis.com

Description:  Not just another blog on nature and culture. It explores planet Earth in all its glory and diversity covering themes such as culture, craft, wildlife and geography.

image007  15. Roads & Kingdoms

Website: www.roadsandkingdoms.com

Description:  An award winning website, it is an independent journal of food, travel, politics and culture.

image009  16. Petite Passport

Website: www.petitepassport.com

Description:  A collection of some of the nicest (design) places on the earth, according to its founder, to inspire travellers around the world.

image011  17. Huckberry Journal

Website: https://huckberry.com/journal/

Description:  Want to buy some of the coolest travel gear at the best prices online, as well as read inspirational stories, at the same time? Then check this site out to find lot more.

image013  18.  Mr. and Mrs. Smith

Website: www.mrandmrssmith.com

Description:  Excellent resource in the form of hotel guide books and a website that takes one on a virtual tour around the most sizzling hotels in destinations around the globe.

image015  19. Camels and Chocolate

Website: www.camelsandchocolate.com

Description:  A traveller-author chronicles the experiences of her extensive travel around the world, with the best of the lot coming from American South and Latin America.image017  20. Cup of Jo

Website: www.cupofjo.com

Description:  A daily lifestyle site; one of the best blogs for women, you can find everything from fashion, design, beauty, food, travel, motherhood, relationships to lifestyle.

image019

Did we miss a whole lot of other good travel sites? We strongly feel so. The internet is as a big as an ocean. Why don’t you write to us about your favourite travel site? Also, let us know why you like the site; there, of course, must be a reason to do so. We believe you like our collection of travel sites in this two-part blog series, and don’t forget to bookmark them on your browser, so that you may keep reading and keep coming to those sites for more. We will be adding more blog posts to our site for you to make the most of our writings.

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20 travel blogs any traveller can’t be without – Part 1

As we are approaching the end of another year, we will try to list some of the most popular websites and blogs in the world of travel this year, not in terms of traffic or popular votes, but by offering online audience infotaining and valuable content that would kindle the spirit of travel, adventure and creativity. These travel blogs have inspired travellers around the world to travel safe, smart and with a definite sense of purpose. The experiences shared by the bloggers, mostly hardcore traveller-writers, have proved more than useful in making travel decisions. Here they go… our favourite blogs no traveller can be without.
(Note: We don’t endorse, promote or intend to drive traffic to any of the blogs mentioned below)

1. Scandinavia Standard

Website: scandinaviastandard.com
Description:
A unique blog to understand Scandinavian lifestyle in English.
Tour operators in coimbatore2. Lost with Purpose

Website: lostwithpurpose.com
Description:
Started by a backpacking couple travelling full-time, the site takes you to some of the offbeat world destinations.Tour operators in coimbatore3.This Is The Place I Was Telling You About

Website: thisistheplaceiwastellingyouabout.com
Description:
By far the longest web address any blog would have had, the founder-couples who started this blog share their travel stories, and pretty much endlessly!tour o

4. Landcruising Adventure

Website: landcruisingadventure.com
Description:
A traveller-couple takes you to the various corners of the world on their vintage Land Cruiser, an ongoing, 15-year long journey, to give readers some delightful stories and awesome photos.image0075. Culinary Backstreets

Website: culinarybackstreets.com
Description:
Hear stories of a city’s foodways bent on a more traditional side of urban culinary life. image009

 6. Roam Magazine

Website: roam-magazine.co
Description:
A unique, creative outlet for travellers, photographers and travel writers that inspire readers to seize the fleeting moments of travel through words and photographs and explore the marvels of Mother Nature rich bounties.image011

 7. Melting Butter

Website: meltingbutter.com
Description:
A Pinterest-esque layout capturing some of the coolest and gorgeous spots handpicked by curators with real taste.image013

8. Tiny Atlas Quarterly

Website: tinyatlasquarterly.com
Description:
A photography-based lifestyle travel brand and niche social community for travel that is more than life: in their magazine, through products, events and on immersive adventures. image015

 9. Our Wild Abandon

Website: ourwildabandon.com
Description:
Started by two best pals, it documents their lives on the run and tells stories about the people in their journey.image017

10. Travel Fish

Website: travelfish.org
Description:
An independent travel guide covering Burma (Myanmar), Indonesia, Cambodia, Laos, Singapore, Malaysia, Vietnam and Thailand.image019

Though we have covered a handful of travel blogs and website in this post that we love, we promise to bring you some more in the next part series of the blog. Until then, it is happy travel time from us!

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How do you choose the right travel backpack for your next trip?

tour operators in coimbatoreTravelling around the world can be one of the finest experiences for most people, be it leisure, business or a combination of business and leisure lately known as ‘bleasure’. For most people it is all about passion and the thrill that comes out of their travel experience. Whatever, no bit of travel can be an ‘experience’ without planning it out well, and the even the best of the travel requires the right travel backpack, if not a lavishly expensive one. Here’s a quick few tips of things you should be aware in order to pick the right travel backpack:

 

Type:

There are tens of thousands of backpack models and types available in the marketplace
to choose from. Whether you choose a traditional backpack or a travel backpack with
wheels for mobility is up to you and your specific travel needs.

Size:

A travel backpack with a capacity of 40-80L will just do the thing if you’re plotting a 3-7
days personal or business trip.

Water-Resistant/Waterproof:

Check if your travel backpack comes with a water-resistant or waterproof material to
save your valuable contents from the effects of water, snow, or rain.

Multiple Compartments:

Going for a backpack with multiple compartments helps to keep your contents
organized, secure and prevent overflowing during travel.

Front-loading Compartment:

Those who do a lot of travel may well tell you that having a front-loading compartment in
your backpack can help you access your contents quickly and easily, especially when
you are on the move.

Straps:

Check for backpacks that are provided with chest straps, padded shoulder straps and
waist strips for higher level of comfort and greater convenience.

Laptop & Tablet compartment:

Any business traveller or tech-savvy traveller would tell you how important it’s to have a
compartment with sufficient padding and foam support for laptop, notebook, tablet PC,
chunky smartphones and other electronic devices.

Weight:

Empty backpack that weighs 2-4 pounds is good enough to carry reasonably huge
contents. If the weight is too heavy, the backpack can actually pull you backwards, and
this isn’t good news.

Raw Materials:

There is a good choice of materials for backpack to choose from depending upon your
budget. But Polyester and Nylon are found to be lightweight and highly water-resistant.

Price:

The price of any backpack may depend upon what your choice of brand is, functionality
and quality it delivers. Therefore, the price range of an average quality backpack may
fall between $50 and $100; if you are looking for premium quality backpacks, you may
have to shell out anything between $100 and $300.

You may add a few points to the ones listed above. However, if you consider these
factors, then you can get a reasonably priced travel backpack with satisfactory quality.
Remember that quality always has a price tag attached and premium quality backpacks
may burn your pockets.

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Best Places to Visit in Madurai – Part 2

Let’s move along with our previous post on some of the must-visit places in one of Tamilnadu’s most bustling cities–Madurai. Here are a few places you can add to your travel bucket:

6.  Thiruparankundram Dargah (also, Sulthan Sikandhar Badhusha Shaheed shrine):

The Thiruparankundram Dargah is located at the top of the Thirupparamkundram hill. Housing the grave of the Islamic saint Sultan Sikandhar Badushah shaheed, this shrine is frequented by people of all religious faiths and stands as a symbol of inter-faith harmony, secular and pluralistic values. Devotees gather in large numbers during the annual Urs (anniversary ) festival to pay their respect to the great Sufi saint.

7. Gandhi Memorial Museum:

Situated across the famous Vaigai River and tucked in the Summer Palace of Nayak queen Rani Mangammal, is the Gandhi Memorial Museum, one of the seven museum galleries dedicated to the ‘father of the nation’ Gandhiji. It has some of the rarest collections of Bapuji such as the spectacles, shawl and the bloodstained dhoti (loincloth) worn by him at the time he was shot dead in 1948. Gandhi turned to wearing the dhoti only on his visit to Madurai in 1921 and termed it “national pride”. Don’t miss out on the Madurai Government Museum located within the same campus.

Koodal Azhagar Temple

8.  Koodal Azhagar Temple:

This is another famous temple in Madurai dedicated to Lord Vishnu and is one of the 108 Divya Desams, the holy shrines of Vishnu. Located near the Meenakshi Amman Temple, this temple holds significance as much as the Thirupallandu. According to legend, the great Tamil poet Periyalwar sung the first 12 verses of the 4000 Divyaprabadam eulogizing the Hindu deity Azhagar. The lord was so pleased that he appeared in the form of ‘Koodal Azhagar’. Koodal is also the ancient name of the city.

9. Vandiyur Mariamman Teppakulam:

The Vandiyur Mariamman Teppakulam is a huge square water tank spread over a sprawling 16-acre land. Constructed in 1646 by Thirumalai Nayak, this tank is situated 5km east of the Meenakshi Temple. In the middle of the tank is placed an idol of Lord Vinayaka or Vignesh resting on a platform. Legend has it that this place was unearthed when the earth was excavated to make bricks for building the Thirumalai Nayakar Mahal. The place was turned into a temple tank and was dedicated to Lord Ganesh, one of the supreme deities of the Hindu religion. The annual “Teppakulam Float Festival” takes place here with great fanfare and celebrations, during the months of January and February.  It is said that the water from River Vaigai flows into the largest temple tank in the state.

10. Azhagar Kovil Temple:

Situated at a distance of 21km from the city, Alagar Koyil Temple (or Alagar Kovil), dedicated to Lord Vishnu holds a lot of religious significance. Nestled in the foothills of the Azhagar (Alagar hills), the temple features an enthralling architecture; even more mesmerizing is the natural setting encircling this temple. The main deity the temple is Lord Paramaswamy, with the processional idol being Lord Alagar or Sundararajan, considered to be the brother of Goddess Meenakshi. The Kalyana Sundaravalli, the consort of Lord Alagar, has a separate shrine enclosed within the temple complex. You can also find separate shrines for deities Yoga Narasimha, Sudarshana and Andal.

Though built by the Pandyas, the temple known for its intricate sculpting, detailing and mandapams, was later renovated by the Nayak rulers. Many Theerthams are located nearby including the “Noopura Ganga”, believed to have descended directly from the heavens.

Madurai is just not about temples, it is also famous for its wholesale banana market, Murugan Idli Shop, Vilachery Pottery Village, Keelakuyilkudi and Samanar Hills and many more attractions that will bring out the complete ‘traveler’ in you. So if you come down south, Madurai is the place for you to refresh your spiritual as well as your nocturnal quotient as this city never sleeps at night!

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