Beatles to revive tourism in Rishikesh

One half of the Fab Four may not even be alive today, but the Uttarakhand government is hoping that the spirit of the Beatles gang will help it shore up the sagging tourist numbers.

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John Lennon, Paul McCartney, George Harrison and Ringo Starr had spent seven weeks meditating at the erstwhile Maharishi Mahesh Yogi Ashram in Rishikesh, beginning February 1968.

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To capitalise on that wondrous seven week connection, the Uttarakhand government now plans to promote eco-tourism here and get more footfalls.

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Rajaji National Park’s director Neena Grewal said: “We want to revive the Beatles connection to the ashram as a lot of tourists come here because of it. We will restore the huts as a part of promoting eco-tourism in Chaurasi Kutiya. We will submit a detailed proposal to the government soon.”

Most of the old buildings associated with the Beatles’ 1968 visit were razed by the ashram management with a view to creating modern infrastructure. But the bungalow of Maharishi Mahesh Yogi, where the argument between him and Starr took place, still stands.

A number of foreigners still visit the ashram every day but cut short their trip when they see elephant dung lying around. Tall bushes and vandalised facades here tell a sad tale. As the ashram is part of the Rajaji National Park, elephants, leopards and other wild animals intrepidly roam around here.

 

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So the Rajaji National Park management plans to trim the bushes and renovate the 123 huts – shaped like igloos – in a phased manner. There are also plans to exhibit photographs of the Beatles’ 1968 tour in a hall.

Apart from transcendental meditation, the quartet heavily indulged in music, substance abuse and some serious fun during the Indian sojourn, and riveted global attention on the sleepy, spiritual township because of their antics.

The Beatles visit had a major impact on the holy township’s tourism sector too, with the flow of western tourists growing manifold. Even today, foreign tourists come here in large numbers to learn yoga, meditation and enjoy natural therapy.

But then the ashram fell on bad days, especially after the 15-acre land’s lease expired in 1981 after 20 years, and it is currently in the forest department’s charge.

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The boys from Liverpool had come to India with their friends and the trip did have a deep impact on their lives and creativity, though none of the Fab Four managed to complete the three-month course. Starr was the first to leave after 10 days, McCartney stayed five weeks while Lennon and Harrison left after seven weeks.

They suddenly decided to return home after a feud with the Maharishi, but the Beatles had composed – by one count – no less than 48 songs during their stay. Many of these songs became part of The Beatles (aka the White Album), while some other songs appeared on Abbey Road and solo records.

Lennon wrote I’m So Tired during the beginning of their stay in Rishikesh. It was influenced by the fact that he was unable to sleep, free of drugs as he was for the first time since 1964. “I couldn’t sleep; I’m meditating all day and couldn’t sleep at night. The story is that. One of my favourite tracks. I just like the sound of it, and I sing it well,” he later said.

When the Beatles were leaving Rishikesh, Lennon began singing the song that would become Sexy Sadie. Originally titled Maharishi, with the lyrics showing his discontent in ‘What have you done/you’ve made a fool of everyone’, Harrison poignantly recalled those moments: “Lennon had a song he had started to write which he was singing: ‘Maharishi, what have you done?’ and I said, ‘You can’t say that, it’s ridiculous.’ I came up with the title of Sexy Sadie and Lennon changed Maharishi to Sexy Sadie.”

Of the Beatles, only Harrison continued a spiritual connection with India, visiting the country a number of times. Later, in the 1990s, he apologised for the way he and Lennon had treated the Maharishi.

courtesy: India Today, photos from various sources

For your pilgrimage to the yoga capital of the world, Rishikesh tweet @Road2travel

The Undiscovered Kangra

Kangra is a region of Himachl Pradesh, India that is over 3500 yrs old and dates back to the Vedic Times finding mention in the ‘Puranas’ and the Mahabharata. The district derives its name from Kangra town that was known as Nagarkot in ancient times.

Sheltered by the Dhauladhar range of the lower Himalayas, Kangra District is a green and luxuriant paradise for tourists with interesting trekking trails, nature parks, heritage buildings, adventure activities, angling and a pleasant climate. Crafts like the exquisitely designed shawls and miniature paintings of this region are well acclaimed.

 

Kangra

KANGRA Kangra is the former capital of the princely state of Kangra. This bustling pilgrim town has the famous Brajeshwari Devi Temple, one of the 51 Shakti Peeths. The over 1000 year old formidable Kangra Fort, Maharaja Sansar Chand Museum and the Masroor rock cut temples are other interesting places to experience.

Pong Dam

 

pongMaharana Pratap Sagar, also known as Pong Dam Reservoir or Pong Dam Lake was created in 1975 building the highest earthfill dam in India on the Beas River in the wetland zone of the Shivalik Hills in Kangra. Declared a bird sanctuary in 1983 and one of India’s 25 international Ramsar sites in 2002, the reservoir is additionally one of the leading fish habitats in the Himalayan states, and provides vital habitat to a host of mammals including leopards, sambar, wild pigs, barking deer and oriental small-clawed otters.

Dharamshala

DHARMSHALA Dharamsala is the headquarters of the Kangra district and a popular hill station lying on the spur of the Dhauladhar range about 17 Km north- east of Kangra town. This hill station is wooded with oak and conifer trees and snow capped mountains enfold three sides of the town while the valley stretches in front. The snowline is perhaps most easily accessible at Dharamsala than at any other hill resort . It is possible to make a day’s trek to snow-point after an early morning’s start. Upper Dharamsala area comprise of places with names which bear witness to its history like McLeod Ganj and Forsythe Ganj. Since 1960, when it became a temporary headquarter of His Holiness the Dalai Lama, Dharamsala has risen to international fame as “The Little Lhasa in India”, McLeodganj, is 9 Km from Lower Dharamsala. Other Interesting points include, Kangra art museum, St John Church, Kunal Pathri, Kotla Fort etc. Dharamshal is also home to the famous cricket stadium where IPL matches are held.

Palampur

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Palampur, also known as the ‘Tea Capital of North India’, is a not so popular hill station. It is known to a few for its scenic beauty but also for the beautiful temples and buildings built in the Colonial period. The town has derived its name from the local word pulum, meaning lots of water. There are numerous streams flowing from the mountains to the plains from Palampur. Behind this town stands high ranges of Dhauladhar mountains, whose tops remain snow-covered for most part of the year. Here, a nature lover can enjoy a quiet stroll while feasting his eyes on the natural beauty and an outdoor lover with a taste for adventure can enjoy long hikes and treks.

Pragpur

pragpur Pragpur is a small village, about 50 km from Kangra. It has been enlisted as the World Heritage Village in India. The pristine beauty and glorious historical background makes it a wonderful destination that showcases the traditional values of the local folks.

Baijnath

baijnathIt is a small town 51 km from Kangra and 16 km from Palampur. Famous for the over 800 yr old Shiv Temple of the same name. The temple is a beautiful example of early medieval north Indian Temple architecture known as Nagara style.

Bir

BIR Bir is situated in the foothills of the Indian Himalayas in the Kangra District, just 30 Km from Palampur and is a noted centre for ecotourism, spiritual studies and meditation. The greater Bir area includes Billing, the Tibetan Colony in Chowgan, Ghornala, and Sherab Ling in Bhattu. It is home to a diverse community of over a thousand Indian villagers, a Tibetan refugee settlement, and a small but growing international population . Bir is so charming that one of the joys of getting around is doing so slowly, out in the open. The many villages and fields of greater Bir are interconnected by webs of walking trails. Do yourself a favor by getting out and walking as much as you can . Paragliding is one of it’s biggest draws for outdoor enthusiasts and thrill seekers. Bir is regarded by international paragliding groups as the second best site in the world for paragliding (after Lake Como in Italy).

To discover Kangra contact Road2Travel for any information. You might want an extended trip to Himachal including Shimla and Manali. A number of Budget and Deluxe hotels are available like Hotel Kalpna by R C Hospitality at Manali. Road2himachal our Himachal division would be eager to help you out.

LUXURY HONEYMOON DESTINATIONS IN KERALA

WAYANAD

wayanaWayanad, the green paradise is nestled among the mountains of the Western Ghats, forming the border world of the greener part of Kerala. Clean and pristine, enchanting and hypnotizing, this land is filled with history and culture. Catch awe inspiring mountain views in this land of plantations where tea, coffee, rubber, pepper and cardamom gently coexist with the rich diversity of tranquil sub tropical forests and myriad waterfalls. Home to mysterious mountain caves, hidden treasures, tree houses, jungle trails and exotic wild life. This little known district of Kerala is the perfect setting for a romantic honeymoon.

ATHIRAPPALLY

ATHIRAPPALLY

The soothing sounds take you to the nature’s most relaxing, rejuvenating place, the Athirapally Waterfalls, in Trichur District, Kerala. The two picturesque and majestic waterfalls, Athirapally and Vazhachal are located just five km apart, on the edge of the Sholayar forest ranges. Athirappally is an 80ft high waterfall which literally takes your breath away. Starting from the high ranges, and crashing through gorges, this waterfall is one of the best places in India to re-capture a real sense of the classical idea of the “Picturesque” …not just calm and sweet, but something wild, natural and..romantic.

POOVAR

POOVAR

Poovar is one among the natural wonders where the Lake, River and Sea meet the land. A rare find in Kerala, the southern state of India Enveloped in serene Kerala backwaters, flanked by the Arabian Sea on the East and the majestic towering Ghats to the West, opening out to the ocean and a dream golden beach, Poovar is a tropical paradise. Swaying coconut palms, endless golden sands, the ultramarine of the ocean, emerald backwaters, crimson sunsets, lush green vegetation and floating cottages create a magical ambience around you. Poovar is the ideal remote getaway location for a quiet and romantic holiday in spectacular natural surroundings.

KUMARAKOM

kumarakomKumarakom, situated 13 Kms away from Kottayam, is a sleepy little village on Vembanad Lake in Kerala. It is relaxed, refined and romantic. Glide along on intricate web of lagoons, lakes and rivers on a private boat, or settle in at a cozy Resort for some well-deserved R & R. Spend your time enjoying the exotic landscapes , listening to the chirping of birds or delighting your taste buds with the local cuisine with fresh, rich flavours and a variety of spices. An Eden on earth just for the newly weds.

HOUSEBOAT AT ALLEPPEY

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A floating honeymoon on the backwaters of Alleppey is perhaps the most enchanting experience in the world. Step aboard and the native oars men will take you to an amazing world of tranquility with a blend of nature in its entire traditional splendor pampering all your senses and rejuvenating your body. You will set sail in a traditional Kettuvallom (HouseBoat), equipped with the State of the art luxuries and safety measures. Experience the simple joys of life amidst the delicate embrace of mist, enhanced by pleasant harmony of singing birds, Green stretches of paddy fields with long rows of swaying coconut palm trees, as time seems to stand still while you drift along. The lush green vegetation and the backwaters of Kerala together create a spectacular visual imagery for you to draw inspiration from nature itself.

Contact road2travel for more information on Luxury Kerala Packages

The Best Type Of People To Travel With

Are you one of the best types of people to travel with? Traveling can be one of the greatest experiences of your life, teaching you independence and knowledge of other cultures. A huge part of travelling is the company you keep – who you travel with can make or break the trip.

Check out some of the best types of people to travel with. Are any of these you?

1. The Internal Sat-Nav

This person can take you anywhere you want. Market stalls? No Problem. The nearest toilet? Easy. The awesome bar you went to five days ago? They remember the route perfectly.

And if/when you do get lost; they will guide you home safely and quickly. This is especially useful if you’ve sampled some of the local wine.

2. The YOLO-er

Travelling is all about letting your hair down and having new experiences. With this person, you will never forget that. Expect sky diving one day, hiking the next, and beer pong championships to round the evening off.

Guaranteed to make every day of your trip unforgettable, the YOLO-er helps you to embrace every moment of your trip. Let’s face it, you can sleep in when you’re at home.

3. The Food Fan

If you’ve ever traveled with people who don’t care about what they eat, then you will know how great the Food Fan is to have around. Swapping noodles from the (usually) delicious local cuisine every day, the Food Fan is on a quest to broaden both their mind and their pallet. Their food enthusiasm is infectious and you will with no doubt end up trying the weirdest local dish on the menu.

4. The OCP

Travelers often like to be spontaneous, enjoying the freedom of not knowing what they will be doing the next day. While this is fun for a while, the Obsessive Compulsive Planner can be a great addition to your trip.

Booking boat escapades and reserving tickets for a crazy beach party, travelling with an OCP means you never have to worry about what you’ll be doing tomorrow – which is only a downfall if the OCP gets overexcited and books a swimming with sharks trip.

5. The Photographer

While they probably aren’t professional, the Photographer will always act like the real deal. They will go above and beyond the average travelers photography efforts, always making sure there is room in their suitcase for a decent camera. On top of that, they will actually remember to take the camera out when you go exploring or partying.

While you might scowl as they try to get you to pose, sweaty and sun burnt atop a mountain, later when you get home you realize how happy you are the pictures exist.

6. The Culture Vulture

The Culture Vulture doesn’t just want to get drunk on every continent. They want to use most of their waking moments exploring all of the new and different towns and cities they discover.

You may find the Culture Vulture annoying after five hours sleep, as they try to get you to hike four miles to a church, but once you get there you will always realize it was 100%, totally worth it.

7. The Survivalist

If the Survivalist was seven miles away from the hostel, with no money, no map and no language skills, they would still somehow be back within the hour. Nothing is a problem for the Survivalist – just an obstacle to climb around. From missing flights, lack of transport or full hostels, the Survivalist will save the trip at least once when everything looks bleak.

8. The Linguist

With a genuine interest in the locals, the Linguist is never far from his guide book – in the local language. They are picking up important words and phrases for every place they visit. This is one of the best types of people to travel with – especially when it comes to complicated food orders at your favorite restaurant.

9. The Light Traveler

While most people can’t wait to buy fun clothes for their trip, the Light Traveler brings only the essentials. After all, who needs three pairs of shorts when you can just re-wear the same pair?

While the Light Traveler is baffled by all the trinkets and souvenirs most people buy, there is always room in their backpack for you to store a few things.

10. The Small Spender

Travelling doesn’t have to be expensive’ is this person’s motto. This person’s ability to seek out the cheapest bars, restaurants and clubs will save you money on a daily basis.

Continuously getting you and your friends great deals for hostels and flights, you marvel at the ridiculous amount of money you spent on your last trip, while working out how to get the Small Spender to travel with you forever.

By Amy Johnson for Lifehack.org

Workaholics Welcome: The Co-working Holidays

In the age of smartphones, social media and cheap international calls, the perfect holiday for a growing number of people involves taking a complete break from the digital world. But a new travel phenomenon turns this concept on its head. It’s called the “co-working holiday”.

The concept is simple: solo travellers visit a beautiful location, and work in a shared space while they’re there. Though it might go against the very definition of what a holiday is, these breaks are proving attractive to those who don’t like the idea of switching off while abroad. Location-independent bloggers and early-career entrepreneurs (especially in the tech industry) are prime candidates for co-working holidays, according one such operator, Livit Spaces in Bali.

“We offer entrepreneurs a space where they can focus on their work, and immerse themselves in a super-productive environment with a network of like-minded, passionate people,” says community manager Nick Martin.

His Indonesia-based company offers all-inclusive packages with accommodation, meals, daily cleaning, office space, networking events and excursions from around £48 a night.

A network called Coworking Visa lists 450 independent co-working spaces across the world, including 15 in the UK. An increasing number of their members are starting to offer residential options in addition to on-the-move office space for those working and travelling. Their clients include writers, bloggers, artists and designers as well as businesspeople and entrepreneurs.

Bethany Wrede Peterson, founder of consultancy and events club The Rocket Factory, is currently on her first co-working holiday in Bali. “As an entrepreneur, you never really switch off, no matter where you are,” she says. “But I discipline myself during the week so I can take weekends to hit the beach, explore the island or chill out. I still feel pressure here, but it’s hard to be too stressed when you’re working barefoot on a beanbag in the sun, a beautiful rice field view just beyond your laptop screen. Balance is an all-too-elusive feeling, and I’ve found it here.”
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Some co-working holidays, such as US-based Hacker Paradise, which launched in summer 2014, run for a specific period annually, offering structured packages. Last year this company – which despite its name is open to artists and creatives as well as tech developers – was based at a hotel in Costa Rica. This year it is spending a month each in Vietnam, Bali, Thailand and the Philippines. Travellers can join for a week or up to three months. A month’s stay costs from £400 in a shared room, or £1,000 for a private suite. Breakfast, dinner, 3G SIM cards and office space with Wi-Fi are included.

Other operators such as Sun Desk, based in Taghazout, a surf haven in southern Morocco, and 47 Ronin, in a residential area of Kyoto, Japan, take bookings throughout the year, charging around £16 a night for accommodation, workspace and breakfast.

Surf Office offers co-working stays in Santa Cruz, California, and the Canary Islands, and is planning two new destinations this year. A private room by the beach in Santa Cruz will set you back £62 a night, including on-site office space, a shared kitchen and weekly lifts into San Francisco, as well as yoga sessions and supplies of water and organic coffee.

In the UK, 4.6 million people, or 15% of the workforce, are now self-employed – the highest number since records began. While co-working holidays won’t be for everyone, the need for alternatives to traditional holidays may well see growth that matches the rise of self-employment. But whether that’s a good thing for overburdened modern workers remains to be seen.

Courtsey: The Guardian

MASROOR ROCK CUT TEMPLES KANGRA

The Masroor Rock Cut Temples are a little known architectural wonder in Himachal Pradesh. Just 38 km from Kangra town on the Nagrota Surian link road, is this amazing monolithic rock cut temple complex of 15 temples, carved out of a single rock. The complex is surrounded by deodar trees and along this complex is a small pool of water giving it a surreal feel of an era gone by. These are the only rock cut temples in north India.

masroor3In the centre of the complex stands the principal and most elaborately carved shrine – the Thakurdwara. This temple is carved inside and it enshrines black stone images of Ram, Lakshman and Sita facing east. The rest of the 14 temples (7 on either side of the central temple) are carved only on the outside. The entire theme of the temple carvings revolve around the festivity and coronation of Lord Shiva who is the centre of the Hindu pantheon. Locals believe that the Pandavs built the Masroor Rock Temples during their period of exile and pray in the temples even today.

masroor2The remote location of these temples protected them from the invading army of Mahmud Ghazni and their stone construction prevented severe damage in the 1905 earthquake. But now only a few of the original shikhars stand and some of the beautifully carved panels are in the state museum at Shimla. As such one is well aware of the neglect of most ASI monuments and The Masroor Rock Cut Temples are no exception.

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masroor4Surprisingly this exceptionally beautiful monument does not form part of any popular itinerary of Himachal Tourism. Road2Himachal plans to set this right…

You can see a detailed walk through by Google at http://goo.gl/WDrTY1

The must see crazy castle before the summer of 2015

It may not be Scotland’s biggest castle, but Kelburn Castle – 35 miles west of Glasgow – is certainly the country’s brightest. Forget the traditional grey or brown facade you see on most castles. An array of vibrant colours and oversized, abstract characters cover Kelburn, bringing a thoroughly modern veneer to the 13th-century building.

The Graffiti Project started in 2007 when the castle’s owner, the Earl of Glasgow, learned he needed to remove a cement render that had been added to the building in the 1950s. At the urging of his children, the earl, Patrick Boyle, agreed to have the cement painted before it was removed, so he invited a group of four Brazilian street artists to adorn the castle’s turret and walls with their unique style of graffiti art.

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Artists Nina Pandolfo and Nunca, as well as the twins known as Os Gêmeos, used more than 1,500 cans of spray paint to complete the design. The murals depict playful, larger-than-life cartoons in the surreal and imaginative style that the artists are known for in their native Sao Paulo. Their work quickly gained recognition as one of the best examples of street art in the world, mentioned alongside works by Banksy and Keith Haring.

The artwork was meant to be removed after three years, but because it drew visitors from around the world, the earl appealed to Historic Scotland, the government agency responsible for preserving historic buildings, to make it permanent. However, a 2012 inspection revealed that the cement was severely damaging the original castle walls, and the agency urged its removal.

Plans are now in place to remove the graffiti and underlying cement by the summer of 2015. The castle’s owners say they’ll hold a contest for architects and designers to find an equally unique design to take the artwork’s place – one that doesn’t damage the castle walls.

David Boyle, son of the earl, told HeraldScotland in July: “It could be anything, audiovisual elements, maybe, or lighting…we just want to put it out there and see what ideas we get back.”

While the graffiti has gotten most of the attention lately, the interior of the castle reopened to the public in April after a major renovation, with castle tours available in June, July and August. The surrounding grounds, which include forest trails and an animal park, are open to the public year-round, so anyone who wants to see the unlikely artwork firsthand still has time.

Courtsey: BBC