Prime Minister Narendra Modi launched UDAN – the Regional Connectivity Scheme for civil aviation, from Shimla Airport. Under this scheme, flights have begun today from Shimla, Nanded and Kadapa airports. The Shimla-Delhi flight will be operated by Air India.
The Prime Minister addressed the gathering at Shimla Airport, and also at Nanded and Kadapa via video link. He said that with this launch dreams of middle class will take flight.
Shatabdi Express between Guwahati and Dibrugarh flagged off
Union minister of State for Railways Rajen Gohain flagged off a new Shatabdi Express train between Dibrugarh and Guwahati.
Guwahati Shatabdi Express train would operate three-days-a-week from Dibrugarh and Guwahati. The train would have latest fully air-conditioned LHB coaches to provide safety and extra comfort.
The Shatabdi Express trains are among the fastest and most prestigious trains of Indian railways along with Rajdhani and Duronto trains which connect metro cities with other important cities from the point of view of tourism, pilgrimage or business.
Maharajas’ Express to begin its 2 new tour circuits
The Indian Railway PSU, Indian Railway Catering and Tourism Corporation (IRCTC) has decided to start two new circuits of their flagship luxury train Maharajas’ Express, this year. These two new trips have been named as ‘Southern Sojourn’ and ‘Southern Jewels’ which will cover prominent destinations in West and South India. The Southern Sojourn will cover Goa, Hampi, Mysore, Ernakulam, Kumarakom and Trivandrum. The Southern Jewels will cover Chettinad, Mahabalipuram, Mysore, Hampi and Goa.
1.46 lakh tourist arrived on eTV in March 2017
The number of Foreign Tourist Arrivals (FTAs) in March, 2017 were 9.05 lakh as compared to FTAs of 8.17 lakh in March, 2016 and 7.29 lakh in March, 2015.
The percentage shares of top 15 source countries availing e-Tourist Visa facilities during March, 2017 were as follows: UK (21.5%), USA (11.8%), Russian Fed (10.3%), France (6.4%), China (6.2%), Germany (4.8%), Canada (3.7%), Australia (3.7%), Korea (Rep.of) (2.2%), South Africa (1.9%), Malaysia (1.7%), Singapore (1.7%), Spain (1.6%), Netherlands (1.5%) and Japan (1.3%).
The percentage shares of top 15 ports in tourist arrivals on e-Tourist Visa during March, 2017 were as follows: New Delhi (46.5%), Mumbai (17.1%), Goa (13.8%), Chennai (5.5%), Bengaluru (4.8%), Kochi (2.9%), Kolkata (2.3%), Amritsar (1.8%), Hyderabad (1.7%), Trivandrum (1.2%), Ahmadabad (1.0%), Tirchy (0.6%), Jaipur (0.6%), Gaya (0.1%) and Lucknow (0.1%).
35-room Eastin Hotel opens in Darjeeling
Absolute Hotel Services India has announced the opening of Eastin Hotel Kurseong Darjeeling, the first International four-star deluxe resort hotel in Kurseong Darjeeling. Located on the foothills of the Himalayas, Eastin Hotel Kurseong Darjeeling will offer 35 rooms under Deluxe, Executive and Suites with views of the Himalayan mountain range, green woods and tea estate.
Other recreation activities include star gazing sightseeing, local dance and music, trekking, bird watching and tea tourism. Facilities include a signature all day dining multi-cuisine restaurant, specialty vegetarian restaurant, lounge bar, terrace café to relax and admire the scenic beauty, banquet and meeting centre
Novotel now in Lucknow
AccorHotels has announced the opening of Uttar Pradesh’s first Novotel in the capital city of Lucknow – Novotel Lucknow Gomti Nagar. The business hotel is located in the heart of the city’s commercial hub – Gomti Nagar, a short drive from Lucknow airport and railway station. The hotel features 106 rooms, including two suites, all equipped with modern in-room amenities, plush interiors and high speed Wi-Fi connectivity.
110-room Golden Tulip Suites, Gurgaon opens doors
Louvre Hotels Group is all set to announce the launch of its fifth property- the 110-room Golden Tulip Suites, Gurgaon, in Delhi NCR region. Golden Tulip Suites Gurgaon is in close proximity to the main Gurgaon city and to the international airport. The location of the hotel provides easy connectivity to Faridabad, Delhi and Gurgaon. The hotel also boasts two meeting rooms well equipped with state of art technology and conference facilities for all corporate functions.
Jaisalmer Marriott Resort & Spa opens with 135 rooms
Marriott International has expanded its portfolio in India with the recent opening of the Jaisalmer Marriott Resort & Spa. The property offers 135 exquisitely designed rooms with 9 suites featuring breathtaking views of the magnificent Jaisalmer Fort & beautiful central oasis.
The resort has mobile Check-in/Check-out facilities to ensure that guests have a seamless experience. The resort is situated just3.3 km away from the Jaisalmer Railway Station, with Jodhpur being the closest airport at a distance of 284 km.
101-room Hyatt Place Rameswaram opens in Tamil Nadu
Hyatt has announced the opening of its Hyatt Place Rameswaram, the first Hyatt Place hotel in the South Indian state of Tamil Nadu and the fifth Hyatt Place hotel to open in India. The hotel offers 101 guestrooms and suites, 4,757 square feet of high-tech meeting space, free Wi-Fi throughout the hotel, 24-hour gym, and an outdoor swimming pool.
IHG’s 202-room Holiday Inn Chennai opens doors
InterContinental Hotels Group (IHG) announced the opening of the Holiday Inn Chennai OMR IT Expressway. The 202-room hotel marks the fifth IHG Hotel in Chennai and the first Holiday Inn in the city. Strategically located in Chennai’s IT hub (also known as Old Mahabalipuram Road, OMR), and only 20 minutes from Chennai International Airport, the hotel aims to cater to corporate and MICE travellers as well as leisure travellers exploring Chennai.
Park Plaza Noida relaunches as Radisson Noida
Park Plaza Noida has announced its rebranding as Radisson Noida, the first Radisson hotel to be inaugurated in Delhi-NCR. Strategically located, within proximity of Noida’s corporate hub as well as the central business districts of Ghaziabad and New Delhi, the hotel has completely reinvented itself to better serve its discerning guests with its signature.
AI’s non-stop flight between Delhi-Washington from July 7
Lufthansa Group has announced that it will deploy its latest long haul aircraft, Airbus A350-900, to Mumbai during the summer schedule of 2017. From April 16 onwards, Mumbai becomes the third destination worldwide to welcome the state-of-the-art aircraft. Flying on Lufthansa’s Munich (MUC) to Mumbai (MUM) route, the A350-900 will offer Mumbai area residents travel choices and better connections to Lufthansa’s vast global network.
Vistara introduces self-service check-in kiosks at airports
Vistara has launched self-service kiosk check-in at Delhi’s Terminal 3, Indira Gandhi International Airport and Mumbai’s Terminal 2, Chhatrapati Shivaji International Airport. Vistara is set to launch the same service across 17 other airports that it operates from by the end of June 2017.
Air Asia’s started Kuala Lumpur-Bhubaneswar flight
AirAsia will operate four-times weekly flight between Kuala Lumpur to Bhubaneswar. It is the first international airline to operate to and from Bhubaneswar. The flight AK-31 will depart from Kuala Lumpur at 2210 hrs (LT) and arrive Bhubaneswar at 2325 hrs (LT). On the return leg, AK-30 will depart from Bhubaneswar at 2355 hrs (LT) and arrive Kuala Lumpur at 0620 hrs (LT)
Jet introduces Chennai-Paris, Bengaluru-Amsterdam flights
Jet Airways will operate a daily service between Bengaluru-Amsterdam, while the flight between Chennai-Paris will be operated five days a week. These new flights will complement the airline’s existing direct operations from Delhi & Mumbai to Amsterdam and onwards to Toronto as well as direct flights from Mumbai to Paris. Commencing October 29, 2017, Jet Airways 9W 236 will depart from Bengaluru at 02:25 hrs (LT) and arrive at Amsterdam at 08:35 hrs (LT). On the return leg, Jet Airways 9W 235 will depart from Amsterdam at 10:50 hrs (LT) and arrive at Bengaluru at 00:40 hrs (LT). These flights will be operated in conjunction with KLM Royal Dutch Airlines and Delta Air Lines, with each airline placing their respective codes on the service. On the same day, Jet Airways 9W 128 will depart from Chennai at 01:45 hrs (LT) and will arrive into Paris at 08:10 hrs (LT). Departing from Paris at 10:10 hrs (LT), Jet Airways 9W 127 will return to Chennai at 00:15 hrs (LT). Both Air France and Delta Air Lines will be codeshare partners on these flights.
IndiGo to now fly daily to Doha
Strengthening its position in the Middle East, IndiGo has introduced its first daily non-stop flight connecting Doha to Delhi and Mumbai. Doha is IndiGo’s 7th international and 46th overall destination. With Doha as a new destination, IndiGo is all set to enhance connectivity between India and the Gulf region after Dubai, Muscat and Sharjah.
LH’s Airbus A350-900XWB from Munich debuts at Mumbai
The Chhatrapati Shivaji International Airport (CSIA) witnessed the fly-in of the Airbus A350-900 XWB by Lufthansa German Airline, making it the only airport in India to handle daily operations of two Airbus A350-900 XWB, the world’s most advanced premium passenger aircraft. The newest addition to the Lufthansa fleet will embark on daily 8-hour flights to Munich, which is also one of the airline’s hub location. With a maximum seating capacity of 293 passengers, the cabin has 48 passengers in Business Class, 21 in Premium Economy Class and 224 in Economy class.
RAMADAN (27May-26June) All Over India
The holy Muslim month of Ramadan is a fantastic opportunity to feast on fresh street food. During Ramadan, Muslims traditionally fast daily from sunrise until sunset. In the evenings, the streets in traditional Muslim areas are flooded with people and the tantalizing aroma of meat being freshly roasted to feed the famished. The revelry continues all night. Ramadan concludes with he festival of Eid-ul-Fitr, with more feasting and shopping.
UPCOMING EVENTS & FESTIVALS
PURI RATH YATRA (25June-07July) Jagannath Temple, Puri, Odisha
The exuberant 12 day Rath Yatra festival sees Lord Jagannath (a reincarnation of Lords Vishnu and Krishna), along with and his elder brother Balabhadra and sister Subhadra, venture out of their abode in Puri’s Jagannath Temple. The gods are transported on massive towering chariots.
KOTTIYOOR UTSAVAM (6June-02July) Kannur, Kerala
The annual 28 day Kottiyoor festival takes place at two temples – Akkare Kottiyoor and Ikkare Kottiyoor – on opposite sides of the Bavali River and surrounded by dense forest. The Akkare Kottiyoor temple is only open during the festival. There’s no formal structure. Rather the idol of the deity, a swayambhoo lingam (self-created idol of Lord Shiva), is seated on the ground and formed by a small heap of stones called manithara. The Neyyattam ritual on the first day and the Thirukalasattu ritual on the last day attract the most spectators and devotees
SAGA DAWA (9 June) Gangtok and other monasteries throughout Sikkim and Darjeeling
Saga Dawa is the fourth month of Tibetan lunar calendar and the holiest month for Tibetan Buddhists. The most important celebration falls on the full moon day of the month, when the birth, enlightenment and death of Lord Buddha is honored. In Gangtok, a procession of monks carries the holy book from Tsuklakhang Palace Monastery around town. It’s accompanied by the blowing of horns, beating of drums, and burning of incense.
AMBUBACHI MELA (22-26 June) Kamakhya temple, Guwahati, Assam
An usual Tantric fertility festival, the Ambubachi Mela marks the menstruation period of the Goddess Kamakhya. The temple is closed for three days while the Goddess menstruates and reopens on the fourth day, with a rush of devotees who come to receive bits of cloth that are supposedly soaked with her menstrual fluid. It’s considered to be extremely auspicious and powerful. The festival attracts numerous Tantric sadhus (holy men) from India and abroad. Some of them only appear in public during the four days of the festival. They perform unique rituals and exercises that are widely photographed. The festival is also popular for its rural crafts fair.