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Let’s go Globetrotting! A decade of strong growth has put more money in pockets of middle-class India

However many Indians chafe about cumbersome visa procedures, particularly for European countries where applying for the Schengen visa requires elaborate documentation

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South Africa. Image source: Wikimedia Commons

New Delhi, August 31, 2016: Indian tourist, Manasi Chadha, 35, spent ten days holidaying in Spain along with six family members this summer. It is the third year in a row that she took an overseas vacation – Portugal and Italy were the earlier stops.

“Travel kind of opens up your thinking as well. You see a lot more instances of people actually venturing out, they share their experiences, so you tend to travel and try them out,” said Chadha, a senior executive with consultancy Accenture in New Delhi.

Richer tourists

A decade of strong growth has put more money in the pockets of middle-class India while the growing numbers of working women like Chadha have added to disposable family incomes. And as budget airlines open up more routes from India, travel has become more affordable leading to a massive spurt in the number of Indians trawling the globe.

By 2020, the United Nations World Tourism Organization estimates the number of Indians heading overseas will grow to 50 million for both business and leisure travel.

To tap the potential of those numbers, foreign tourist boards are ramping up their presence in the country.

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Indian favorites

Spain for example witnessed a three-fold rise in the number of Indian visitors in the last five years, while travelers to Australia and New Zealand nearly doubled.

As it sets out to woo more travelers, the Director of Spain’s Tourism Office in India, Ignacio Ducasse Gutirrez said, “India is positioned as one of our top emerging markets globally.” The European country witnessed a surge of Indian visitors after a blockbuster Bollywood movie “Zindagi Naa Milegi Dobara” was shot in the country showcasing its locales and festivals.

Bollywood has always had a strong influence on Indian travelers, prompting many countries such as Singapore, Ireland, and Australia to woo film producers to shoot films and television soaps in their countries.

Indian tourist tastes are changing

Travel industry professionals say that with higher incomes, travel preferences are also changing from group tours to more luxurious holidays. In New Zealand for example, experiences ranging from helicopter tours to lodge stays are now on the plate of Indian travelers, says Steven Dixon from South and South East Asia Tourism, New Zealand. That includes “adrenaline pumping activities such as jet boating and skydiving, or more luxurious activities such as scenic flights and cruises,” according to Dixon.

And although East Asia still remains a top favorite, time-tested destinations such as Singapore and Thailand or Britain and France in Europe have become passé, as Iîdians with higher incomes head out to more off-beat places. That includes places where few Indians visited earlier, such as Iceland, South America, Uzbekistan, and Croatia.

Wanting a different experience, Mumbai-based management consultant Ajai Mittal and a group of over 50 college alumni chose to go on a cruise of Baltic countries last summer. “It is not as predictable as going to the same places as Paris. There is enough written about them, enough heard about them, these are places which are small and relatively obscure,” said Mittal. He said he would like to explore more such destinations in the future.

However, many Indians chafe about cumbersome visa procedures, particularly for European countries where applying for the Schengen visa requires elaborate documentation. On the other hand, many East Asian countries have liberalized visa rules, allowing Indians to get a visa on arrival, which has helped boost tourism numbers.

Management consultant Ajai Mittal visits St. Petersburg during a cruise of Baltic countries along with more than 50 college alumni. Image source: VOP

Management consultant Ajai Mittal visits St. Petersburg during a cruise of Baltic countries along with more than 50 college alumni.

Indian women love to travel

Still, such woes are not curbing the enthusiasm of travelers, young or old. They include growing numbers of Indian women.

Sumitra Senapaty’s travel club “Women on Wanderlust” organizes all-women holidays to cater to women who want to strike out on their own. From just five trips a decade ago, she now organizes nearly 100 trips a year, with more than half headed overseas.

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She said Indian women travelers have become more evolved and travel for many of them is no longer just a matter of ticking off a destination on one’s passport or visiting the usual hot spots.

In November, she is taking a group of 18 women to Peru, Chile, Argentina and the Galapagos in South America for a holiday that will cost upwards of $12,000. “There is an excitement about it. They look at traveling as not just a holiday, and not just as having fun, but as a way of life. They want to explore new cultures, they want to learn about it,” said Senapaty.

Other travel professionals agree that the Indian middle class is on the move, helping fuel the global travel boom from Asia. (VOA)

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Himalayan Yogi Swami Sundaranand to open art gallery consisting 8 quintal photographs

Wanderer Baba aka Click Baba Swami Sundaranand is all set to open his art gallery

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Himalayan Yogi
Himalayan Yogi Swami Sundaranand (Wikimedia Commons)
  • Himalayan Yogi Swami Sundaranand is also known as “Himalayan Wikipedia Baba”, have clicked 8 quintal photos in beautiful Himalayas

You must have heard about many Himalayan yogi living upto hundreds of years and having miracle powers. But this is the story of a wanderer Sadhu, who is a mountaineer and photographer by choice. He has a deep connection with Himalayas. Swami Sundaranand is known to be a principal advocate for the ecological preservation of the Himalayas, the Ganges and its source at Gangotri.

During 1962 war Indian Army also sought help from this Himalayan Yogi as he was very much aware with all the routes and region in Himalayas.

Swami Sundaranand’s love for Himalayas started at a young age when he read a book named “Himgiri Vihaar” by Tapovan Maharaja. He was so inspired by the book that he went to Tapovan Maharaja and started Yoga Sadhna under his guidance.

Swami Sundaranand
Tapovan Kutir, where Swami Sundaranand lives in the summer (Facebook)

In 1956 he bought a camera for Rs. 25 from a Belgian tourist. And since then he has been clicking pictures of the beautiful Himalayas. He has taken more than 100,000 photos, over a 50-year period, of the shrinking Gangotri glacier in the Indian Himalayas. The photographs he clicked weighs around 8 quintals.

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  • The most awaited Art Gallery by Himalayan Yogi Swami Sundaranand will open in Gangotri region

Himalayan Yogi Swami Sundaranand is now all set to open his Himalayan art gallery at a height of 10,310 feet in Gangotri region. The construction has already begun. He has invested Rs. 2 crores in this project, money which he got through royalty of his book “Himalaya : Through a lens of a Sadhu”. His book was launched by then Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee. Swami Sundaranand is the subject of a feature documentary shot at his home in Gangotri titled “Personal time with Swamiji”. The film was produced by The Centre for Healing Arts and directed by Victor Demko.

Himalayan Yogi
Swami Sundaranand’s Art Gallery under construction in Gangotri Region (Facebook)

Himalayan Yogi Swami Sundaranand is also a skilled naturalist who is familiar with thousands of Himalayan plants and he knows the lore and medicinal uses of these species. The most important parts of his life are meditation, japa and pranayama. As a younger man he was an accomplished hatha yogi, mastering 300 postures, and he continues to practice it daily. He is very devoted to the ecosystem in which he has lived for forty years and believes that “God does not reside in temples or mosques – he is scattered everywhere in the courtyard of nature.

So Himalayan Yogi’s art gallery you can not miss to visit! Plan your trip soon and thank us later.

– by Shaurya Ritwik, Shaurya is Sub-Editor at NewsGram and writes on Geo-politcs, Culture, Indology and Business. Twitter Handle – @shauryaritwik

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Forks in the Road : 10 places to eat in Delhi

Delhi has so many diverse cuisines to offer. Here is the list of 10 places to eat in delhi which you can not miss

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Foodie Delhi
10 places to eat in Delhi (pexels)

Delhi, the present day cultural hub of India, which was once under the rule of The Parthians, The Turks, The Afghans, The Mughals and The Britishers which left an impact on the city and gave it its own  unique status. Tourists from all over the world come down to Delhi and lose their hearts to it scrumptious cuisines.

It’s winter in Delhi, a perfect weather for sampling Delhi’s most famous attractions- its incredible street food. It’s not just the street food that Delhi is famous for but a lot of history and culture that is mixed up with the food. Everything from Asoka era to Mughals to the invaders who held sway over Delhi to Purana Qila, have left the taste of the food behind.

To the variety of chats that will take you on tour of tangy, sweet and spicy flavours to the non-vegetarian food which will remind of the rich flavours to the food never tasted anywhere, Delhi has it all.

Here are 10 places to visit for indulging into the flavors of Delhi.

  1. Paranthe Wali Gali
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Paranthe Wali Gali since 1870s is the name of a narrow street in the Chandni Chowk area of Delhi known for its series of shops selling parantha, an Indian flatbread. The food is old fashioned, strictly vegetarian and the cooked dishes do not include onion or garlic. Stuffed aloo (potato), Gobi (cauliflower) and matar (peas) paranthas are the most popular ones. Lentil paranthas are also available. The cost could come up to 150 rupees for 2 people. This street is lit from 9 a.m. to 11 p.m.

  1. Dilli Haat
India Opines

Dilli Haat does not only showcase the rich Indian culture and diverse Indian Heritage, but is also one of the best place to enjoy regional food from all over the country. Dilli Haat provides various food stalls having food from various Indian States that gives you a variety of choice at low cost prices. Its timings are from 10:30 a.m. to 10:30 p.m. Bijoli Grill- a West Bengal food stall offering Fish curry and Kosha Mangsho; Momo Mia, an Arunanchal Pradesh food stall offering Momos and Fruit Beer; Nagaland Kitchen, a Nagaland food stall offering Raja Mircha and Momos; Manipur Foods, a Manipuri Food Stall offering Fried Rice, Tarai Tong ad Fruit Beer; Rajasthani Food Stall offering Pyaaz Kachori, Desi Ghee Jalebi and Rajasthani Thali; Maharashtra Food Stall offering Vada Pav, Puran Poli, Shrikhand; Dawath-E-Awadh, a UP Food Stall offering Kebabs, Biryani and Phirni and other food stalls from states such as Andhra Pradesh, Assam and Kerala.

  1. Khan Market
The Urban Escapades

Khan Market is not only a place for die hard shoppers, it is also Delhi’s incredible food districts. A neighborhood that never sleeps, whose streets are filled with the scent of mutton kebab and fried rice. Khan Market has restaurants such as Town Hall Restaurant, The Big Chili Café, Yellow Brick Road Restaurant, Wok in Clouds, The Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf, Soda bottle opner wala, Azam’s Mughlai, Café Turtle, Omazoni and Market Café.

  1. Spice Aangan
EazyDiner

Tucked away in Safdarjung Development Area’s main market is a hole-in-the-wall tandoor-and-takeaway restaurant known as Spice Aangan. Spice Aangan has been a staple of the SDA market food scene for a while now. The hole-in-the-wall is bang opposite the small, grassless park located at the centre of the market. While there are a couple of steel benches at edge of the park to sit and enjoy their food, it is otherwise a purely takeaway and home delivery outlet. Restaurant serves tandoori snacks–chicken tikka, malai tikka, seekh kebab–as well as mutton dishes, curries, biryani and shawarma rolls. Despite so many options, though, you’d be hard pressed to find the regulars ordering anything other than the chicken shawarma.

  1. Karim’s
Musafir

Karim’s is a historic restaurant located near Jama Masjid Gali Kababian, Old Delhi, Delhi. It is know that this is the best restaurant in Delhi, serving non-vegetarian food since 1913. The original Karim’s is bang opposite Jama Masjid in the walled city area of Delhi. It is close to a market known as Darya Ganj. Those visiting Karim’s for the first time will be surprised at the location. Getting there is not easy, you will need to ask locals for help. Mutton Burra, Mutton Raan-this starter is huge, and is meant for four or five people. There is a wide range of kebabs including Seekh Kebabs, Shammi Kebabs and Mutton Tikka. Chicken Seekh Kebab, Tandoori Chicken or Chicken Tikka for those who love chicken. Mutton Korma, Mutton Stew and Badam Pasanda Chicken Noor Jehan and Chicken Jahangiri are the main courses to be tried once you get there. As for the bread Khamiri Roti is something not to be missed. Karim’s serves two main desserts Kheer Benazir and Shahi Tukda.

  1. Pandara Road
ScoopWhoop

Delhi serves delectable food in almost every nook and corner of the city. Whether it is crowded streets of Chandni Chowk or the sophisticated eateries of Khan Market. One such stop is Pandara Road Market, located near India Gate, the place serves best non-vegetarian food of the city, so all the meat lovers out there fill your wallets. Havemore offering the best Butter chicken and garlic naan and Gulati which is best known for its Dum Biryani and kebabs with the cost price of 1500 rupees for two, and many other restaurants like Chicken Inn, Pindi and Ichiban.

  1. Amar Colony
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Amar Colony is generally known to be the hub of garments but it is also the hidden street food hub. Home to a diverse population from India, Africa and Afghanistan, there is no doubt, diversity in food here too. A number of small joints for street food in Amar Colony exist which serve the most delicious dishes for you. Most of the shops are situated in the main market and are close to each other. Nagpal Chole Bhature, Hunger Strike, Tibb’s Frankie, Biryani Corner, 34 Chowringhee Lane, Sharma Chaat Bhandar, Deepaul’s Café, Dolma Aunty Momos, Muttu South Indian Anna, High On Burger are the best places to visit when on Pandara Road.

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  1. Hudson Lane, GTB Nagar
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Hudson Lane, very close to the main North Campus area, is one place where you will find one of the finest cafés and best restaurants in Delhi. Mostly serving Italian, Café, and Fast Food Cuisine, these quirky joints offer an amazing culinary experience at an extremely pocket-friendly price. Woodbox Café, Mad Monkey, Indus Flavors, QD’s, Ricos and Big yellow Door are the most recommended places to munch at.

  1. Jung Bahadur Kachori Wala
Delhipedia

Situated near Paranthe Wali Gal, Jung Bahadur Kachori Wala is a small but popular street stall that’s been serving sought- after Kachoris since the early 1970s. Kachori stuffed with urad dal and served with special spicy chutney is a must try ther.

  1. Connaught Place
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From fancy revolving restaurants to the delicious local rajma chawal, Connaught place does not discriminate when it comes to food. Home to some of the best restaurants in Delhii and also ironic dahbas, one can relish all kinds of cuisines here be it local, regional or international. Kake Da Hotel, Parikrama, Jain Chawal Wale, Minar and much more are the places to step up with.

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India’s best New Year Destinations : Where will you be heading for a memorable New Year’s Eve?

Well here’s a list of 5 of the best New Year destinations in India, which we have compiled for you, so that all you got to do is book those tickets, pack your bags and take off!

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New Year Eve
New Year Celebrations are less than a month away

 

It’s less than a month before the world witnesses itself transitioning into another year. And with all the anticipation the world’s most awaited festival brings with itself, comes the laborious task of decision making to lay one’s finger on the perfect place for a perfect New Year party.

Well here’s a list of 5 of the best New Year destinations in India, which we have compiled for you, so that all you got to do is book those tickets, pack your bags and take off!

1. MANALI

New Year Destinations
Manali, Himachal Pradesh (Wikimedia Commons)

The Himachal valley which needs no introduction, Manali tops the list everytime one sits down to jot down their favourite New Year getaways. A snow- cloaked land, Manali offers its visitors the thrill of adventure activities like skiing besides breath- taking landscapes dotted with pine trees ad hippies. Also, not to forget the one thing that will take you on a whole other level for your New Year’s Eve celebration- the herb!

2. KASOL

Places to celebrate New Year Eve
Kasol, Himachal Pradesh (Wikimedia Commons)

If you wish to enjoy some crazy New Year’s Eve events and parties among scenic mountains promising nature’s best kept visions, Kasol is the place to go! Nestled amidst the enthralling hills of Himachal Pradesh, Kasol’s renowned Parvati Valley is one of the most favourite New Year destinations for backpackers.

3. KUFRI

New Year eve
KUFRI (Wikimedia Commons)

A tiny hill station lying about 20 kilometres from Shimla, Himachal Pradesh, Kufri is the winter sports capital of Shimla. If winter adventure sports upon the renowned ski- slopes of Kufri form your idea of a perfect New Year celebration, now would be the greatest of times to set up an itinerary for this little hill station.

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4. GOA

New Year Eve Party
Goa (Wikimedia Commons)

Had enough of the mountains? Well, the beach is the place to go! It is never an overstatement to call Goa the Vegas of India. Cheap beer gulped down with infectiously energetic live music sure does fulfill the idea of “New Year Parties Done Right!” With all its quirks and craziness, Goa is the one place that is bound to satisfy your party- hunger and make your transition into a new year a maddeningly memorable one.

5. PONDICHERRY

New Year Eve
Pondicherry (thirllophilia)

Celebrate New Year’s Eve the French way in this exotically beautiful holiday destination. If beach- side New Year parties coupled with bonfires and fireworks project a tempting image in your mind, do not resist and hold back! Simply go for it! It will be a New Year party you won’t easily forget no matter how many New Year’s Eve you’re bound to have in the future.