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India's first commercially approved premium motorhome that offers guided trails for travel enthusiasts has been launched. IANS

India’s first commercially approved premium motorhome that offers guided trails for travel enthusiasts has been launched. LuxeCamper is an all-new way to travel, especially in such unpredictable times. Starting with personalized travel experiences to exotic locations in Karnataka, the company will very soon cover all of India. IANSlife spoke to Tiger Ramesh, founder of Campervan Camps and Holidays India Pvt Ltd which has designed and manufactured LuxeCamper, to find out more.

What is LuxeCamper all about?

Ramesh: LuxeCamper is India’s first commercially approved compact Motorhome, approved by the Automotive Research Association of India (Govt. of India undertaking) as per AIS 124 standards. It offers a vacation on wheels to exotic destinations across the country. It has also built a tech platform that allows guests to choose from a set of recommended trails, as well as, customize and configure their own trails to various destinations.

This is an all-new way of traveling, as well as engaging in activities, bringing together comfort and style, like never before. It is the safest way to treat yourself to a perfect blend of adventure and relaxation.

What motivated you to enter into this sector/industry?

Ramesh: I am passionate about wildlife and photography and have traveled across the world to explore the beauty of our planet/nature. Many locations do not have proper or no accommodation and therefore we ended up staying in a Motorhome. Some of my most enriching experiences have been in RVs and India definitely needed this.

Since there are no readymade Motorhomes available in India for tourism purposes, we decided to design and manufacture our own Motorhomes. We also built a tech platform that allows guests to choose from a set of recommended trails, as well as, customize and configure their own trails to various destinations.

With these beautifully designed LuxeCampers, our aim is to provide travelers the opportunity to deep dive into unexplored destinations by personalizing their travel trails and activities.

Is it backed by investors?

Ramesh: This venture is backed by marquee angel investors such as cricketer Anil Kumble, international musician Vijay Prakash, Aprameya Radhakrishna – founder of TaxiforSure, Jawad Ayaz – founder of CapriCoast (HomeLane), Subhash Dhar – ex-worldwide head of sales and marketing of Infosys, and Phaneesh Murthy from the IT industry.

LuxeCamper is an all-new way to travel, especially in such unpredictable times. IANS

Vinay Luthra (IFS), the former Principal Chief Conservator of Forests and Head of Forest Force at Karnataka Forest Department, has joined the board as a Director and an advisor to the company, as he encouraged me to go ahead with this idea. With over 35 years of experience, he was instrumental in building the premium eco-tourism chain of Jungle Lodges and Resorts Ltd, and also launched the luxury train Golden Chariot in the state (similar to ‘Palace on Wheels’).

Given the fear of COVID-19, how safe is it to travel in a campervan? What are the safety measures adopted by LuxeCamper to ensure safety and hygiene measures?

Ramesh: All trips in LuxeCamper are highly personalised so that we could focus on creating a safe travel environment throughout the journey. The guests can control the cabin environment for safety from any external contamination.

The LuxeCamper cabins are fully sanitized. The upholstery and linen are treated with 1000C steam to kill any unwanted organism. The interior surfaces are wiped with approved sanitizers that contain 75 percent alcohol. The crockery and cutlery are washed in hot water and sanitized.

Our drivers and team leaders undergo preliminary checks for body temperature and any other visual signs or symptoms of fatigue and flu. They are tracked using the Aarogya Setu application for their “GREEN” status. We also encourage our guests to download the Aarogya Setu application and refresh their health status prior to the commencement of the journey.

We have taken care to collect and dispose the waste generated during the trip in designated areas as recommended after categorizing it as organic, inorganic, plastic, masks, gloves etc. We have taken care to ensure that all our halting sites are small lodges or camps and are not crowded. None of these locations have centralized air-circulation. There will be no interaction of our guests with others without social distancing protocols throughout the journey as well as during the participation in various activities. We have also taken care to ensure that the activities are personalized and no sharing of the same with third parties.

LuxeCamper is an the all-new way to travel, especially in such unpredictable times. IANS

What is the price of booking a campervan? What are the various inclusions and exclusions?

Ramesh: For trails that are curated, the price is listed on the website, however, for the one’s that is self-created, the tariff will be worked upon and shared immediately by the LuxeCamper team. The prices for customized trips differ based on the distance covered and the number of days required. It is inclusive of all, which includes the rentals for the vehicle, driver and helper, diesel charges, toll charges, and all provisions available in the vehicle.

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What are the plans for LuxeCamper?

Ramesh: LuxeCamper aims to go pan-India in the coming years as our inventory is a Motorhome. We are not bound by any location and therefore we would love to move around beyond Karnataka with these mobile assets. We can also take advantage of the peak season throughout the year across different markets as and when the travel restrictions are removed. Owing to the current restrictions to travel interstate, we are unable to meet any requests to travel interstate. However, once these restrictions are relaxed, we should be able to accommodate requests for inter-state travel as well. We are looking forward to expanding our fleet and adding 10 more LuxeCampers. We plan to invest up to Rs 50 crores in the next 18-24 months to scale the business.

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Currently, the company provides personalized travel experiences to exotic locations in Karnataka and will very soon expand to rest of India. As part of the initial trails offered, the company has tied-up for camping sites at locations such as Aanejari, Bandipur, Bheemeshwari, Hampi, Kabini, Kodagu, Kudremukha, Sadashivgad, Sakleshpur, Sakrebyle, Sitanandi, and a few more locations under finalisation. (IANS)



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Milky Way galaxy as seen from Chitkul Valley

NASA's Chandra X-ray Observatory has for the first time spotted signs of a planet transiting a star outside of the Milky Way galaxy, opening up a new avenue to search for exoplanets at greater distances than ever before.

The possible exoplanet -- or planets outside of our Solar System -- candidate is located in the spiral galaxy Messier 51 (M51), also called the Whirlpool Galaxy because of its distinctive profile, NASA said in a statement.

Astronomers have, so far, found all other known exoplanets and exoplanet candidates in the Milky Way galaxy, almost all of them less than about 3,000 light-years from Earth.

An exoplanet in M51 would be about 28 million light-years away, meaning it would be thousands of times farther away than those in the Milky Way, NASA said.

"We are trying to open up a whole new arena for finding other worlds by searching for planet candidates at X-ray wavelengths, a strategy that makes it possible to discover them in other galaxies," said Rosanne Di Stefano of the Center for Astrophysics at Harvard and Smithsonian (CfA) in Cambridge, Massachusetts, who led the study.

The findings are published in the journal Nature Astronomy.

The exoplanet candidate was spotted in a binary system called M51-ULS-1, located in M51. This binary system contains a black hole or neutron star orbiting a companion star with a mass about 20 times that of the Sun. The X-ray transit they found using Chandra data lasted about three hours, during which the X-ray emission decreased to zero.

Based on this and other information, the team estimates the exoplanet candidate in M51-ULS-1 would be roughly the size of Saturn and orbit the neutron star or black hole at about twice the distance of Saturn from the Sun.

The team looked for X-ray transits in three galaxies beyond the Milky Way galaxy, using both Chandra and the European Space Agency's XMM-Newton. Their search covered 55 systems in M51, 64 systems in Messier 101 (the "Pinwheel" galaxy), and 119 systems in Messier 104 (the "Sombrero" galaxy).

However, more data would be needed to verify the interpretation as an extragalactic exoplanet. One challenge is that the planet candidate's large orbit means it would not cross in front of its binary partner again for about 70 years, thwarting any attempts for a confirming observation for decades, NASA said.

Named in honor of the late Indian-American Nobel laureate, Subrahmanyan Chandrasekhar, the Chandra X-ray Observatory is the world's most powerful X-ray telescope. It has eight times greater resolution and is able to detect sources more than 20-times fainter than any previous X-ray telescope.

Known to the world as Chandra (which means "moon" or "luminous" in Sanskrit), Chandrasekhar was widely regarded as one of the foremost astrophysicists of the twentieth century. (IANS/JB)

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