Best Places to Visit in Madurai – Part 1

Madurai, the land of the glorious Tamil Pandya Kingdom, is the second largest city in Tamilnadu. This almost 3500-year old city is one of the state’s major destinations, and has remained since the cradle of Tamil civilization and culture, and the seat of learning. Often dubbed as the “Athens of the East”, Madurai resembles the ancient city in architectural style such as its many alleyways.  When the famous Nayaks ruled the city, several outstanding buildings and temples were constructed that still attract tourists and pilgrims in large numbers.  In a two-part series, we will bring you some of the must-see places in this ancient Tamil city.

madurai meenakshi temple

1. Meenakshi Temple:

There is no point in touring the city if you miss out on visiting the Meenakshi Temple, the cynosure of the city. The temple, apparently, was built around the Shiva Linga that you can find inside its sanctum.  The sacred temple is built in an area of 15 acres and comprises 4500 pillars and 12 majestic towers standing tall.  One of the most frequented temples in South India; you will have no problems even spending days inside the sanctum. You can also find Hindu couples gathered in large numbers, during auspicious days, to get married in the temple’s corridor. No wonder, it’s worth visiting the temple once in the morning and again for the night rituals in the evening.

2. Puthu Mandapam:

Feel free to venture inside the capacious Puthu Mandapam, pillared entrance hill that stands opposite the Meenakshi Temple. Built in the 17th century, this hall today is the lifeline of several tailors and small stalls selling scarves, fabric, designer jewellery, fashion accessories, art work and handicrafts. You can get the aforementioned stuffs and more at good discount prices and offers. You can also check good quality clothes, including near replicas.

3. Tirumalai Nayak Palace:

Located about a kilometre south-east of Meenakshi Temple is the renowned Tirumalai Nayak Palace constructed in 1636 by the famous Nayak ruler King Thirumalai Nayak. Considered as the city’s second major attraction, the palace is based on the Indo-Sarcenic style with an Italian architect helping in its design and construction. It was the King’s residential palace before leaving it open for public view. It seems like only a part of the original structure comprising the courtyard, entrance hall, audience hall and dance hall remains intact today. The structure saw some major renovation works with the Government recently spending substantial money on it.

4. Saint Mary’s Cathedral:

The Saint Mary’s Cathedral is one of the oldest Roman Catholic (RC) churches that was constructed in the year 1840. Situated on East Veli Street, the structure took its present form in 1916 with its architecture including two tall bell towers, and is a fusion of several Continental and European building styles.

5. Thiruparankundram:

If you think you still have some time left for strolling along Madurai, then you shouldn’t miss out Thiruparankundram, about 20 minutes south-west of the city. Thiruparankundram houses another ancient temple that is dedicated to one of Hindu religion’s supreme deities Lord Murugan (son of Lord Shiva in Hindu mythology), venerated as a Tamil God. On the hill top of Thiruparankundram, you can find a 14th century-old Islamic shrine (or Dargah) of the sufi saint Hazrat Sultan Sikandhar Badhusha.  We will be covering more about this shrine and few other attractions of the city in the concluding part-series of the article. Until then, it’s happy travel time from us!

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How will choose you the best honeymoon package?

The wedding season is on and you are about to taste its flavour soon. What next? Honeymoon? There can be no denying that. A lot has been already discussed on the choice of honeymoon destinations, but how one chooses the right honeymoon package obviously drives other things in place. There are a lot of options on cards and honeymooners, no doubt, latch on the first available package they find, either online or offline. Remember honeymoon is something that must be remembered for the right reasons.  Some of the initial questions that need to be answered in the planning phase: what type of travel do you prefer? What destinations suit you genre? What is your budget? What hotel or resort falls within your considerations and budget? If you can answer these questions, you are well on your way to your dream honeymoon.

Honymoon packages

What do you want out of your honeymoon?

From Europe to Hawaii, the Caribbean Islands to Las Vegas, there are a whole lot of honeymoon destinations to pick from. You need to decide first on the type of travel, what you want out of your honeymoon trip, then the rest of the things will fall in place. It must be noted that every destination will offer its unique feature: history, mysticism romance, adventure, thrill and other travel genres; sometimes a combination of one or two travel genres will turn out to be really cool.

In general, go for something that will offer varied travel experiences for your honeymoon vacation.

Destinations that’ll match your interest

Now that you have some idea on the type of honeymoon you are looking for, let us be more specific on the selecting the specific destination that will match your interest.  While there are some European vacations that offer the ability to travel multiple countries in a single trip, most travel packages are single-country or single-location based.  If you’ve decided to honeymoon on an island, research a bit on the local attractions around, traditional culture, language, foods and information on the beaches and the type of activities the place offers such as fishing, diving, sailing, or chilling on a lounge chair around the pool, enjoying the sun, etc.   There may be a few more questions, but let’s narrow down our focus to the basics.

How much is your travel spend?

Like most things in life, travel is decided on the basis of budget. How much are you willing to spend on your honeymoon trip? How many days have you planned to cover in your trip? This, more often than not, isn’t a difficult one as there are several resorts, hotels, tour operators, travel websites and app platforms all competing for some business space. All you need to do is refine your search a bit, either online or offline, and match your needs with the budget. Look for discounts and offers and check if the available packages cover meals, transportation, and entertainment at the hotel or resort. Some extra bucks will probably allow you to spend outside the all-inclusive travel package that you’ve selected.

Finding the right resort

If you have managed to answer the first three questions, then finding the best resort, hotel or accommodation is only a cinch. As we discussed earlier, it’s always considered a great idea to participate in social media interactions, travel forums, travel blogs, and other social networking sites to say what others have to say about a particular resort or hotel. Find out how from the experience of previous honeymooners on particular destinations; this will go a long way in helping you make the right decision and spice up your honeymoon trip.

 

 

 

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What can you learn from the ‘Langar’ lessons of Golden Temple?

The Golden Temple (or the Harmandir Sahib) in Amritsar is the ‘Mecca’ of Sikh community all over the world.  Considered the holiest Gurdwara, it is the most important pilgrimage site of Sikhism. If the architectural features of the Golden Temple are striking, even more unique is the ‘Langar’ (or Sikh community kitchen), which brings people of all religions and faiths together shedding all communal differences altogether. The main objective of this revolutionary concept started by the founder of Sikhism, Guru Nanak Dev, is to feed the poor and the needy and unite people of all walks in the name of service to God and humanity.

Golden temple

This timeless tradition of cooking and serving food to people together paves the way to community sustenance and upliftment.  Visitors to the Gurudwara actively engage in Langar activities such as cooking food, cleaning utensils and visiting the local farmer markets and cattle diary, the main suppliers to the Gurudwara for feeding around 60,000 pilgrims every day.

The volunteers mingle with the devotees to perform ‘sewa’ (voluntary service) as they cut and chop vegetables, peel and slice onions, roll and make ‘chapathis’ with their heads covered sitting with crossed legs on the floor in the Langar housed within the Golden Temple.  Take a closer look – the volunteers give in everything they can to sustain the efforts of the community kitchen and uphold the age-old sacred tradition. The scale of Langar in the Golden Temple can be beyond one’s wildest imagination.

One can learn a great deal of lessons from the Golden Temple including the art of building communities with haves and have-nots working together and sharing tasks and resources with another. The volunteers are also drawn by the ‘magical’ power to serve humanity and the role played by farmers, traders and merchants in donating 10% of earning to the Langar (also, known as “daswandh”).

If you are at the Golden Temple and miss out on serving at the Langar kitchen community, then you haven’t derived the full benefit of visiting the sacred site.

 

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How do students benefit from educational trips?

Schools, colleges, educational and academic institutions organize annual educational trips that are important in many ways:

hanover universityGoing on an educational trip means leaving the school premises as a group for a collective objective of gaining pedagogical knowledge while also deriving pleasure out it, at the same time. Educational trip is a key educational element, but its impact can be more in terms of content. It brings students of a particular group or community closer, helps them experience new learning environments and, if anything, gives them a little break in the middle of a stressful academic environment.  Students may also display fresh and renewed focus on their schoolwork right after a successful educational outing.

Fresh learning experience:

The first tangible advantage of any educational trip is the collaborative learning experience of both students and teachers in a new environment. It may also invoke innovative learning experience, teaching many subjects such as exotic wildlife, rare plants, and may be even the Milky Way or Galaxy if the intended educational trip field is a planetarium.  Remember, they are extremely rare to find in schools or colleges. It is also good if the details about the educational trip are discussed beforehand as students may get to know what they’ll experience in the planned educational trip.

Networking opportunities:

Educational trip can be a relaxing escape from the everyday school grind as students get to network better in a new, fresh environment. They can connect and relate things better with one another on a more personal level without any structured approach. Networking can be much more effective in smaller groups that are involved in chatting, observing and learning things together.  When students participate in educational trips early in their lives, they are well on their way to winning another’s true heart and friendship for life.

Informal Learning Environment:

WOW is a day of escape from the classroom at some point during the year, keeping aside textbooks, notebooks and other study materials for a while and enjoying a few quiet moments. Educational trips lend a more informal set-up for learning. If the educational trip field or destination has individuals with hands-on teaching experience with a bit of practical skills, they can be an invaluable asset to visiting students during the trip, opening up a new realm of immersive learning experience.

Lastly, it is fun throughout:

Whatever is the learning experience derived out an educational trip, ultimately it is the fun part that simply is matchless, at the end of the day —there can be no denying that. Educational trips offer rich, positive experience and — in any case — the beginning of a lifetime love affair with students.

 

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Must-have travel apps for people on the go – Part 2

Folks, we promised last time to bring you another post on the most sought-after travel apps across the world to maximise your travel experience. Here are they, waiting to get downloaded or shared by users based on their experience:

 6. Google Translate

image1

The Google Translate, as the name implies, helps you to translate mostly used phrases during travel: using it as a language training tool for serious learning is beyond its scope. Well, nothing can match the practicality of a language learning classroom. As with this app, if you hold your camera up to a text, for example, such as a menu or a sign, it will translate what is required in a flash, making it a much sought-after app for any traveller. Free, iOS and Android

 7. LiveTrekker

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If you want to maintain a complete log of your travel details, this is it. You can maintain a detailed track record of your route, where you captured images or recorded a video,  where you were put up or create a micro blog for every trip of yours. Web: livetrekker.com; Free, iOS and Android.

 8. Wolfram Sun Exposure


image3 Are you exposed to the sun’s harmful rays and excessive heat during travel? This app for iOS is just the thing for you to calculate how much sun is too much, with recommendations on which SPF level to apply. It can also help you in calculating the UV forecast based on where you are, or offer useful info on the UV levels for a five-day period. Paid, iOS

 9. Time Out

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This is a fabulous directory of ideas of things you’d want to do in cities around the globe. This app covers almost everything you’d require to hang out from hotels, restaurants, bars, events and local attractions, whether you’re in Amsterdam, Accra, Edinburgh or Singapore. This means you don’t have to run around searching for the most popular concerts, cultural fests or one-off events going on around you in a particular place.  Want to tailor make a travel guide for your holiday or book a concert ticket or a restaurant table? This app is for you. Free; iOS and Android

10. Splittr

Are you someone using complicated spreadsheets to jot down and calculate travel expenses? Worse, you must be having a hard time splitting split group expenses on vacations with your friends, roommates or any other activity that involves a group. With Splittr App, you can go on adding your travel expenses that will tell you who is next in line to pay and who owes how much to whom. This app, which can also work offline, allows you to invite your friends, and anybody can enter his or her expenses using a Smartphone device.

We believe the aforementioned travel-related apps covered in this post and the previous one would help you make well-informed travel related decisions and plan your next trip perfectly. Happy travel; the sun is shining down.

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Must-have travel apps for people on the go – Part 1

Would anyone ever want a smartphone that is just full of flashy apps of no real utility and high on eating up space? Emperor Traveline brings you a selection of the best travel app tools that are really light on your phone, powerful and easy on-the-go for the digital-savvy traveller, in a two-part series:

 1. Citymapper

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This app is quite popular for what it is intended to do: easy to use, playful and all-inclusive.  App users rate the app higher than the Google maps for its detailed journey/trip planner information, disruption alerts, real-time departures and incorporation of Uber and cycle routes. Currently available in over 30 cities globally, it covers all the popular city-break destinations you’d look for. This app can even tell you the time it would take if you happen to travel by jetpack – not worthy of information, actually, but hopefully, there is something to cheer about in the event of your train or flight cancellation. Web: citymapper.com; Free, iOS and Android.

 2. Duolingo

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This free app is a well-designed language learning app and has about 70 million+ users. Though the app cannot be used for foreign language learning or training, it can well teach you a couple of language basics, refresh your grammar skills and vocabulary you may require on a foreign soil. And that’s it. Similar to a computer game, it has various levels with experience points that can guide you through the basics of any foreign language step-by-step.  Web: duolingo.com; Free, iOS and Android.

 3. XE Currency

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 This app is the most popular one when it comes to currency conversions on the web; therefore, its addition here comes as no surprise with more than 20 million app downloads since its start. You can find a whole lot of info concerning historic currency charts and rates for precious metals, but it is the ability of the app to convert every world currency that accounts for its huge popularity.  Even if you are offline or with limited connectivity or looking to save on mobile data, you can easily check the last updated currency exchange rates. Web: xe.com; Free, iOS and Android.

4. Tripit

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This app is similar to a pocket travel agent. It is an aggregate of various travel related information such as ticket bookings, confirmation status, travel itinerary, etc. All you need to do is forward your emails to the app for it to do the rest. Sharing your travel plan is quite a cinch with the app if you are travelling in group, making it a highly sought-after App for coordinating group travel. Web: tripit.com; Free, iOS and Android.

 

5. App in the Air

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The name of the App may not sound ‘chic’. No, not at all. But this app is highly sleek when it comes to performance. A flight tracking app that is pretty much straightforward, it gives you exhaustive coverage of airlines and airports and keeps you alert on flight status – even without internet connection. This app is a perfect ploy to managing time at the airport, as it breaks down each flight into four chunks: check-in, boarding, takeoff and landing times. If you want to integrate the app with Tripit, do as you may to display flight details import. Web: appintheair.mobi; Free, iOS and Android.

We’ll follow this post up with another one soon comprising more travel apps for you to make the most of, but until then, it is sayonara!

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Emperor Traveline’s selection of 20 best inspiring quotes on Travel

Quotes inspire us; they lift our spirits and keep the ball rolling. They let us fall gracefully and make a strong comeback. Emperor Traveline has selected and presented 20 most inspiring quotes on Travel for you:

travel tips

20. “Travel makes one modest. You see what a tiny place you occupy in the world.”  – Gustav Flaubert

19. “Travelling – it leaves you speechless, then turns you into a storyteller.” – Ibn Battuta

18. “To Travel is to Live”  – Hans Christian Andersen

17.  “The journey not the arrival matters.” – T.S. Eliot

16. “Travel and change of place impart new vigour to the mind.” – Seneca

15. “Life is either a daring adventure or nothing at all.” – Helen Keller

14. ” Travel makes a wise man better but a fool worse.” – Thomas Fuller

13. “Travel is never a matter of money but of courage.”  – Paolo Coelho

12. “Two roads diverged in a wood and  – I took the one less travelled by.” – Robert Frost

11. “Tourists don’t know where they’ve been, travellers don’t know where they’re going.” – Paul Theroux

10. “I travel not to go anywhere, but to go. I travel for travel’s sake. The great affair is to move.” – Robert Louis Stevenson

09. “Wherever you go becomes a part of you somehow.” – Anita Desai

08. “I travel not to cross countries off a list, but to ignite passionate affairs with destinations.” – Nyssa P. Chopra

07. “You don’t have to be rich to travel well.” – Eugene Fodor

06. “Wherever you go, go with all your heart!”  – Confucius

05. “Take only memories, leave only footprints.” – Chief Seattle

04. “To travel is to discover that everyone is wrong about other countries.” – Aldous Huxley

03. “A journey is best measured in friends, rather than miles.” – Tim Cahill

02. “A good traveller has no fixed plans and is not intent on arriving.” – Lao Tzu

01. “The world is a book and those who do not travel read only one page.” – Augustine of Hippo

We sincerely believe that these quotes will inspire you to travel more and more, chart out new territories, carve out routes and explore the traveller in you.  Happy Travel!

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Are you travelling with Diabetes? Check out these quick tips.

There is a golden rule for diabetes patients who want to travel:

‘Diabetics can go on their vacation and have fun, but they can’t forget they have diabetes.’

That is because when diabetics travel, either the travel schedule or the effort can break them out of their routine diabetes care; the problem starts there. If they aren’t careful, blood sugar spikes can create quite a quandary leading to increased complications and health emergencies.

diabetes

There are a few tips that diabetics can incorporate into their travel plan. It becomes all the more important they follow these tips to reduce risk of sudden sugar spike:

The first step will be to visit a diabetes specialist and get documentation about their present condition and the required treatment methods. Insulin users that need to travel for a long time should seek the advice on the timing and doses.

It is recommended that diabetics buy a travel insurance policy that covers medical expenses, protects them from a variety of unexpected circumstances and go on their trips without any worries. Diabetics should pack twice as many supplies, and back up pump is essential if they use insulin pump. Keep all supplies close as it may be required anytime in case of contingencies. Pack supplies in carry case, if flying.

It is important that diabetics carry their own food and drink with them in case of travel delay. Another point to be noted here is that carbohydrate quantities in the food supplied may vary when travelling by air.

Avoid walking barefoot, particularly on hot sand or spiky, rough, rocky, coarse surfaces. This can cause a blister and needs to be covered with a plaster. Keep it absolutely clean and stay out of the sea. Check your feet regularly throughout the day to check the presence of any blisters. High altitude, humidity and heat can, at times, affect test strips and metres, and therefore diabetics shouldn’t take the readings too serious.

Diabetics should keep insulin in a cool place that’s away from direct sunlight. Too much heat or cold can degrade them. If prone to hypoglycaemia, diabetics should always carry glucose gel, blood glucose tablets, or even plain chocolates or candies may come in handy to raise blood sugar levels. Informing the airport security authorities beforehand that you have diabetes can help.  Keeping time zone changes in mind is equally important. Testing your blood sugar levels often can keep things under control and less panicky.

All said and done, Diabetes can still prove a barrier to long-travel. If you are a diabetic, only proper planning and adequate medication administration can make a trip really enjoyable and safe for you.

 

 

 

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10 Best English songs to listen while travelling

Music defines life and this is no different for a traveller in his or her pursuit of reaching
destination. This week, we decided to put together 10 English songs that will continue to
reverberate through time and distance. Now take your keys, call up your favourite travel
buddies, roll down the windows, and let the music begin!

1. Song: Cherry Wine

Artist: Hozier

2. Song: Life is a Highway

Artist: Rascal Flatts

3. Song: All Summer Long

Artist: Kid Rock

4. Song: Paradise

Artist: Coldplay

5. Song: Home
Artist: Phillip Phillips

6. Song: Boulevard Of Broken Dreams

Artist: Green Day

7. Song: Life’s For The Living

Artist: Passenger

8. Song: You’re Beautiful

Artist: James Blunt

9. Song: The Nights

Artist: Avicii

10. Song: Hotel California

Artist: Eagles

That’s definitely music to your ears. Isn’t it? These road trip songs will definitely make your next trip an unforgettable one. This is why you are here, right now, to get some inspiration around these epic travel songs, right?

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Ten biggest travel mistakes and how to avoid them

Whether you are a frequent flyer, globetrotter, business traveller or on a bon voyage, there are a few mistakes that can happen, either intentionally or deliberately, which may put you on a spot. Check out these 10 big travel mistakes you may commit, and learn how you can avoid them from happening in the first place.

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Overstuffing your travel bag

Does this seem tempting to you? Yes, for all reasons, it may. But think of carrying and hauling your luggage around you, and the frightening weight limit haunts you forever. Be judicious, and plan your outfit accordingly — as simple as that! Ask yourself if you are going to wear them all. If not, go out and do some laundry you find on the road.

Failing to check your mobile plan

How often do we do that? Have you any measure of your data roaming fees? Does your mobile plan cover data roaming? Do you forget to turn off your data before getting on the plane?  Is your phone set on airplane mode? If data is of utmost importance to you, you need to check international plans or go for a local SIM card at your destination.

Failing to have enough buffer time in between flights for booking

Nothing can get so unpredictable as the flight conditions or your flight booking status. If your flight is delayed, your Adrenaline rushes, and you might not make it in time to catch the connecting flight. Sounds familiar? The point is to exercise precaution, and have a cosy buffer in between. It is advisable that you plan with a buffer time of minimum 2 hours every time, lest you need to go through endless security measures while moving from one flight to another.

Not having enough local currency

Have some local currency and cash on hand to avail for public transportation or for taking a cab once you arrive at your destination.  Don’t be of the idea that every little shop in the planet accepts Credit card. Most don’t, therefore, you will find that airport ATMs offer better exchange rates. Take out cash as required, and maybe, even a wee extra during emergency situations.

Failing to inform your credit card company of your travel plans before hand

This can get serious when your credit card company may well flag foreign transactions, and consequently freeze your account. Now what? Ensure you inform your company before hand of your travel plans, and check out if you are charged anything for foreign transactions.  This may not surprise you later!

Don’t have Travel Insurance?

There are times when you don’t hit your vacation or business trip, as expected. If you are covered by travel insurance, it will help your running out of hundreds of dollars. Check if your plan also covers contingency medical expenses, supposing your health insurance plan fails to offer coverage outside your country.

Not Checking Visa Requirements

We have seen, on numerous occasions, of travellers being whooshed away at checkpoints overseas on account of incompliance to visa requirements.  This is rather time-consuming, off-putting, and expensive, and could play spoilsport of what would have been a memorable trip. There are a host of websites online that elucidates travel visa requirements for several countries. Google, and find them out;  don’t be in for any surprises.

Jam-packed schedule

Scheduling an overseas trip shouldn’t be like overstuffing your belly or over-packing your travel luggage. Trust the locals, Google and find out the must-visit touring spots, and give quality travel time in visiting those places to make the most of your trip. More importantly, relax and enjoy the moment as it comes along.

Failing to keeping track of your reservation details

‘Go digital’ is today’s mantra, and go for web and mobile travel apps that can help plan your itinerary, or online reminder apps. Business travellers are more agile and dynamic in their approach towards itinerary planning. It pays to be a bit tech savvy? Isn’t it

Failing to keep your valuables safe

The last thing you would want in a travel is theft of your valuables, cash or electronic gadgets. Therefore, avoid carrying too much cash, and again — take the digital payment way. Anti-theft bags may help; but then, it is your safety that matters most.

 

 

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