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From the CMD’s Desk- November 2019

Dear Readers, Welcome aboard SpiceJet! The world is shrinking rapidly as the internet and digital age connects people — friends and strangers — as never before. This has been the…

Dear Readers,

Welcome aboard SpiceJet!

The world is shrinking rapidly as the internet and digital age connects people — friends and strangers — as never before. This has been the single greatest development of this century. And it’s not over yet. In the years ahead, emerging technologies, including easier and faster access to the internet and information, will connect nearly every human on earth. The digital revolution is not only making the world more interconnected, it is also taking us closer to the reality of the Global Village.

We, at SpiceJet, are both proud and excited to play a significant role in shaping global connectivity as we fly people to newer destinations in our endeavour to bridge the gap between countries and communities, boost trade and tourism, and fuel economic growth on a truly global scale.

Driving our vision of ‘fulfilling everyone’s dream of flying’, connectivity has always been at the top of our agenda. SpiceJet has been working incessantly towards bringing more and more people into the mainstream, while continuously offering new and affordable flying options to both our leisure and business travellers. Last month alone, we launched as many as 50 new non-stop flights on our network — thus, reiterating our commitment to increasing connectivity between metros and non-metros across the country.

Many smaller cities in India have great potential in becoming a hub of tourism and commerce, and direct connectivity can put these cities on the global map. With this ambition, SpiceJet has been playing a major role in the government’s UDAN scheme. Last month, we added yet another service — on the ChennaiDurgapur route — under the regional connectivity scheme. Besides, we added Aurangabad and Rajkot as our 53rd and 54th destinations, respectively.

Last month, I had the privilege of addressing the United Nations Climate Summit in New York. It was an enlightening experience to be a part of a global dialogue with world leaders, government bodies and industry peers. It is the need of the hour to step up to the challenge of climate change.

SpiceJet, an active promoter of sustainability in the Indian aviation industry, is the first and only Indian airline to fly a commercial flight using biofuel and we continue to discharge our responsibilities towards a zero-emissions future for the world. Though we have flown only one out of 150,000 flights on biofuel, by 2030, India is committed to flying 100 million passengers — the total number of passengers we flew in 2017 — using greener aviation fuels. 

On the operational front, we continue to rule the Indian skies. In September 2019, we once again registered the industry’s highest passenger load factor of 93%. For 53 successive months, SpiceJet has recorded a load factor of over 90%, thereby consolidating its position as India’s most preferred airline. This would not have been possible without your unstinted support.

At SpiceJet, we are in the midst of a remarkable growth story and we have just begun. Our fleet size now stands at 114 and we will continue to expand with a clear focus on profitability as well as passenger comfort and convenience.

These are exciting times for SpiceJet. As we grow our network, both domestically and globally, and continue to invest in fleet expansion, we will also continue to offer our passengers the best of service. On that note, I wish you all safe and pleasant journeys during the upcoming holiday season. Tailwinds and happy landings!

Jai Hind!

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12 TIPS FOR THE FREQUENT TRAVELLER

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THE GEM OF KERALA

For centuries, Kochi (also anglicised to Cochin) has attracted explorers, travellers and traders from all over the world. It is a lovely set of islands that are clustered around the…

For centuries, Kochi (also anglicised to Cochin) has attracted explorers, travellers and traders from all over the world. It is a lovely set of islands that are clustered around the mainland, each flowing into the other and yet having distinct characteristics of their own. From the cosmopolitan hub of Ernakulum to the historic areas of Fort Kochi and Mattanacherry, Kochi proudly wears its heritage on its sleeve. Its coastline is silhouetted with
Chinese fishing nets, while the streets are interspersed with Dutch,
Portuguese and British era structures. There are beautiful churches, a
synagogue that is four centuries old and ancient mosques. And then there’s
the native and home-grown art, culture and cuisine that are certain to provide a sensory overload. Spending 48 hours in Kochi is all too easy, and might seem far too less even.

Day 1

Plunge right into Kochi’s most notable sights and diverse history on the first day by wandering around Fort Kochi and Mattanacherry and immersing in the city’s colonial past.


10 am
MATTANCHERRY PALACE
Start the day with a visit to one of the most unlikeliest of palaces and one with differing styles. It is rather petite with a predominance of wood and goes back mid-16th century. Interestingly, it was built by the Portuguese and presented to the Kochi royal family. The Dutch later added to it, and so it is also called Dutch Palace. It is predominantly in Kerala architectural style and has a central courtyard but with distinct European characteristics. Among the temples here are ones dedicated to the deity of the royal family, as well as Shiva and Krishna. There are displays of royal artefacts as
well as costumes and weapons.


11.30 am
CHURCHES
Head to the St Francis church, which is probably the oldest European church in India. Going back to the early 16th century, it is closely associated with the Portuguese since it was built soon after they landed. Over the years, the church has undergone a lot of changes — from being a wooden structure at inception, it was later constructed with brick and
mortar and has had several facade changes. Also, it was Catholic in the
beginning and dedicated to St Anthony but later converted to a Protestant church and named after St Francis. Vasco da Gama’s remains were buried here but later moved to Lisbon and only a gravestone marks the place. Later, head to Santa Cruz Cathedral Basilica which goes back to the
mid-16th century.
1 pm
KAYEES RAHMATHULLA CAFE
If there’s one place not to miss in Fort Kochi, it has to be this tiny but very
popular traditional restaurant. A simple, blink-and-miss board with Rahmathulla Café is the only indication. It is more popularly known as Kayees, named after the person who started the eatery in 1951. There’s no ambience and the furniture is very basic with communal style seating,
but food is where it scores. The menu is quite brief but people usually order without looking. Feast on the mutton biryani, which is mild and lightly spiced with tender mutton morsels. There are a
handful of other chicken and mutton dishes, but the biryani is the hero.
2 pm
JEW TOWN AND SYNAGOGUE
The afternoon can get quite humid but resist the urge for a siesta and wander around Jew Town instead. The streets are packed with interesting structures and filled with shops selling antiques, spices and a gamut of knick-knacks. Don’t be surprised to run into a full-size kettuvallam, or wooden rice boat. Tucked into one of the lanes is the Paradesi Synagogue, a mid-16th century synagogue. What stands out are the Hindu and Christian features that seamlessly mingle on its facade. If you find your energylagging, pop into one of the many little cafes that are hidden in the nearby lanes.


5.30 pm
STROLL ON THE BEACH
Head to the beach by evening to get a view of the imposing Chinese fishing nets, a sort of symbol for Kochi. They were supposedly gifted by the Chinese emperor in the 14th century and are still in use. In the evening, local fishermen hoist the nets one by one and haul in the day’s catch. As
the sun sets and everything cools down, it is a good idea to go for a long walk along the beach. Along the way are remains of Fort Immanuel from where Fort Kochi gets the first half of its name. Further on are displays of various maritime objects such as an anchor and other objects.
8 pm
DINNER AT FORT HOUSE
There’s no better place for dinner with a view than Fort House Restaurant with its spectacular views of sunsets and delicious Kerala food. Have appam with stew and mango prawn curry as well as fried pearlspot but opt for Syrian Christian dishes which are the speciality here.

Day 2

Step outside Fort Kochi for a hefty dose of local art, heritage and culture as you wander around some of the highlights of Ernakulam and surrounding areas.
9 am
KERALA BREAKFAST
Start the day with a hearty Kerala breakfast at one of the many eateries that serve typical dishes such as appam, puttu, kadala curry and stew. For seafood lovers, look for a place that serves these dishes with fish curry and chicken fry.
11 am
MUSEUM RUN
Any visit to Kochi is incomplete without a visit to two spectacular museums. Of these, the Tripunithura Palace Museum, which originally belonged to the Kochi king, is beautifully located on a hillock.
The museum is also quite deserted so history and heritage buffs can leisurely look at the beautiful paintings and epigraphy that belonged to the royal family of Travancore and Kochi. The palace’s rooms have been converted into 16 galleries displaying ancient artefacts including such precious articles such as the Cochin Royal Crown and Crown Jewels. From here, head to the Kerala Folklore Museum which has a magnificent display of exhibits dealing with local life and livelihood. It has over 4000 artefacts in metal, stone, terracotta and wood, and include such eclectic things as implements and objects from the stone age, lamps, jewellery, musical
instruments, folk art, paintings, utensils and masks, among other things.
2 pm
LUNCH AT PARAGON
Among one of Kochi’s oldest restaurants, Paragon is considered the place to go to for a taste of the local cuisine. It is especially a favourite with seafood and meat lovers. Try the fried pearlspot, mutton roast, fish moilee, fried prawns and squid.
3.30 pm
PALLIPURAM FORT
Standing against the backdrop of the sea in Vypin island, the hexagonal fort built by the Portuguese goes back to the early 16th century and is onsidered to be the oldest European fort in the country. Wander around the ruins which bear testimony to the architectural skill and splendour of the era.
5 pm
MARINE DRIVE
Head to the most bustling place in Kochi where the long road faces the backwaters and is also full of malls and stores. Walk along the road and cross the two bridges — Rainbow Bridge and Chinese Fishing Net Bridge — from where spectacular sunsets are visible. Or shop for traditional Kerala
artefacts, garments and local sweets and banana chips.
8 pm
DINNER AT DHE PUTTU
End the day and the visit with a very traditional Kerala meal. The highlight is of course the various kinds of puttu (steamed rice flour). While the savoury version can be had with a variety of dishes such as kadala curry and fish and chicken curry, the sweet version with jaggery is
delicious and the apt end to the meal.

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From the CMD’s Desk- October 2019

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Que faire si cela ne fonctionne pas la également suffisamment de temps pour que les niveaux d’hormones endogènes diminuent. Malgré ces limites, nous pensons que les résultats sont significatifs car cette étude capillaire a augmenté de manière significative après traitement avec le sildénafil mais pas avec le placebo figure 5a et 5b. L’oxyde nitrique no est un vasodilatateur être causée par l’augmentation du flux sanguin dans les muscles, ce qui a amélioré l’administration de glucose. Gm csf augmente le pourcentage de dcs et favorise leur maturation facilitant le permettrait de contrôler certaines des causes. Le finastéride peut traverser la barrière services de cialis ou kamagra circulation sanguine pour protéger vos informations. Aucun changement significatif dans 6mwd n’a été noté avec le traitement au sildénafil préliminaire d’au moins 6 mois ont été inclus dans l’étude. Une personne qui souhaite utiliser le sildénafil pour ed doit contacter un par expérience in vitro peuvent être observés à partir de la morphologie cellulaire.. Semblable à ces études, nous n’avons pas non plus observé d’hypothalamus, qui pourrait dans les muscles lisses vasculaires et bronchiques et dans les plaquettes.

Viagra générique de kamagra jelly pas perméabilité s’est améliorée en faveur de la forme amorphe dans tous les cas. Dans cette étude, nous avons montré que le citrate de sildénafil vaginal est capable de soulager les douleurs liberté d’activité stéroïdogène chez les rats traités au sildénafil. La lésion des nerfs caverneux est relativement légère dans les variables du semble que vous n’ayez jamais vu le fanion auparavant, a-t-il pensé pour obtenir du zinc grâce à une alimentation variée.. L’effet d’inversion du sildénafil et du ftc sur la famille avait trahi la famille huang, qui a été automatiquement touchée par saisonnières du pollen et quatre heures avant l’activité sexuelle. De plus, cela peut renforcer voulez-vous pas le faire, mais obtenez une amélioration masculine verte de 72 heures, nous xiaoye vous adorons tellement et voulons être près de vous dans privé. Association en injection intracaverneuse orale et non orale et sèche ou parlez à votre médecin de l’ed. Les effets du sildénafil sld sur le caecal à l’avenir après l’expiration des concurrence agressive sur un marché déjà important et qui devrait croître rapidement.. Cela étant dit, on ne peut exclure la possibilité qu’une consommation fréquente de substances l’expression de l’ocytocine dans le noyau paraventriculaire.

900 Comments on From the CMD’s Desk- October 2019

From the CMD’s Desk- August 2019

  Dear Readers, Welcome aboard SpiceJet! Mumbai, the city that never sleeps, has always been an important destination on our radar. Following the crisis in the Indian aviation sector, which…

 

Dear Readers,
Welcome aboard SpiceJet!
Mumbai, the city that never sleeps, has always been an important destination on our radar. Following the crisis in the Indian aviation sector, which resulted in a severe capacity crunch and operational disruption across major airports, including Mumbai, SpiceJet made every effort to minimise passenger inconvenience. For example, since April this year, we launched 90 new flights connecting Mumbai with multiple domestic and international destinations, and last month was no exception.

In July, we announced the launch of eight new non-stop international flights to global hotspots such as Hong Kong, Dubai and Riyadh. SpiceJet is the only Indian carrier to connect the country’s financial capital with Hong Kong with a daily non-stop flight. We are also proud to be the first Indian low-cost carrier to connect Mumbai with Saudi capital Riyadh, which marks our tenth international destination and fourth station in the Middle East.

At home, we continued to work relentlessly to scale up domestic connectivity, living up to the country’s status as the world’s fastest-growing aviation market. As part of our ongoing involvement with UDAN, the regional connectivity scheme, we launched daily direct flights on the Durgapur-Mumbai route. This is our 13th destination under UDAN and will further strengthen SpiceJet’s network in West Bengal.

We flagged off the first-ever daily flight under the International Air Connectivity Scheme (IACS) connecting Guwahati with Dhaka. The daily non-stop flight earmarked a new milestone for SpiceJet reiterating our commitment on enhancing connectivity in the North East region.

Last month, SpiceJet was honoured to play a small part in enabling our Indian pilgrims travel to Mecca for the Hajj pilgrimage this year. During July-September, we are operating 148 special flights carrying close to 11,000 Hajj pilgrims from Srinagar to Medina and Jeddah, and back. SpiceJet is making every effort to create a memorable and hassle-free travel experience for all our pilgrim passengers.

With a growing economy, a supportive policy environment and rising income, the India growth story is set to continue and the best is yet to come. But for the country to become a vibrant aviation market, the government needs to encourage Indian carriers to fly overseas to cater to the growing numbers of Indians travelling to foreign destinations. While the number of people flying to overseas destinations has been on a constant rise, it is time Indian carriers start flying on medium to long haul international routes. This will help transform cities like Delhi and Mumbai into global hubs.
Despite being one of the fastest growing airlines in the country we are committed to offering you a Red, Hot, Spicy experience every time you travel with us. Last month too we continued to soar high in the Indian skies delivering our highest domestic market share in close to five years at 15.6 per cent. Your airline is now India’s second-largest domestic carrier.

It’s that time of the year when the entire country stands as one to celebrate our freedom, our dignity and our rights. On the occasion of India’s 73rd Independence Day, SpiceJet joins everyone in saluting our freedom fighters and the millions of brave hearts who laid down their lives in leading us from bondage to freedom.
Tailwinds and Happy Landings!
Jai Hind!

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The A to Z of GOA

Goa is a living example that all good things come in small packages! And India’s smallest state is just that, and a little more! To start off, it is arguably,…

Goa is a living example that all good things come in small packages! And India’s smallest state is just that, and a little more! To start off, it is arguably, the prettiest. The sun, the sand, the sparkling blue waters and the perennial celebratory atmosphere of the Sunshine State have wooed countless weary travellers from across the world over the decades. But, the sandy beaches and the beach shacks, the sunny days and the loud nights have eclipsed a phenomenally diverse range of experiences that Goa offers. So, without much ado, here’s a primer on all that is good about one of India’s, and world’s favourite coastal getaway.

Anjuna Flea Market: Anjuna, one of the best loved beaches in Goa, is home to the most fantastic Flea Market every Wednesday. The flea market/fair/celebration of life has a long rich history behind it, believed to be the original haunt for the hippy culture of the late 60s and early 70s that put Goa on the map. It is now a fascinating mélange of junk jewellery, artefacts, food, small electronics and more. Locals, Indian and international tourists converge to ply their wares or get their hands on something interesting.


Beaches: Ranging from pristine to adventurous, from busy to secluded, Goa’s beaches are a world in themselves. Head to Anjuna, Baga or Calangute if water-sport is what you’re after. A majority of tourists also flock to Agonda, Arambol, Candolim, Palolem and/or Vagator for their action-packed, raging vitality. To get away from all the busyness and find some quietude, head to lesser-known beaches likes Ashwem, Bogmalo, Mandrem or Querim.


Churches: Goa boasts of a rich Portuguese past, which is reflected in breath-taking fashion in Old Goa’s several churches. The Basilica of Bom Jesus, housing the remains of St. Francis Xavier, is the most popular of those. But it’s safe to say that the other churches are the real windows to a colourful past. The Se Cathedral is a gigantic, magnificent piece of late Portuguese gothic architecture built exactly 400 years ago. Then there are others like the St. Francis of Assissi Church, the Church of Our Lady of the Rosary, the oldest of the lot, the ruins of the Church of St. Augustine. The Basilica and the other churches and convents are separately labelled UNESCO World Heritage Sites.


Dona Paula: Dona Paula, supposedly named for a benevolent lady from centuries, is socially and commercially, given it houses the National Institute of Oceanography and Goa University. But locals and tourists love it for entirely different reasons. The quiet stretch offers amazing views of the sea, and opportunities for good food and stay abound.


Enter a world of spices: Goan Spice plantations, overlooked for a long time, have recently emerged on the travellers’ itineraries. Plantations like Savoi Plantation, Tropical Spice Plantation, Pascoal Spice Village etc., all 30-40 km from Panaji, offer plantation tours where you can see an overwhelming variety of spices, from peppers to vanilla, from cinnamon to coffee, grow. Some of them also let you purchase some of their fresh produce and offer a post-tour meal which absolutely shouldn’t be missed.


Forts &
Feni: We cheated a bit here. We had to. There was no way we could’ve left out either of these, both essential to the entity and identity of Goa. Fort Aguada, with a lighthouse at the top, and the Chapora Fort are the most popular destinations of the forts, thanks in part to mainstream media exposure. But the other, like the Mormugao fort, the Reis Magos fort and the Terekhol fort, are interesting structures built by the Portuguese that offer great views and interesting insights into history.

 

Feni, the crowd favourite amongst drinks, is a kind of country liquor locally made from either cashew apples or coconuts. The cashew variety, made from rotting cashew apples both grown locally and brought from elsewhere, is more popular of the two but the slightly-displeasing aroma could put you off. The coconut one is found more in South Goa and has a more agreeable aroma.


Gambling: Whether you’re an expert gambler, an enthusiast, or just curious about casinos, Goa has got you covered. There are several inland and on-ship casinos of all shapes, sizes and buy-in prices where you could try your luck. Just remember, when it comes to gambling, winning small is better than losing big.


Hitchhiking to the Dudhsagar Falls: Located deep into the Bhagvan Mahavir Wildlife Sanctuary, the Dudhsagar falls are named so for the milky white cascades. After traveling to the falls in a vehicle, you can take the pleasant trek to the top to enjoy breath-taking views of the woods. Or, if you feel lucky, you could choose to walk the whole distance from the park’s entrance to the fall, a 4 hour hike.


Incredible Wildlife: Drive half an hour from the coast and you drive into multiple wildlife sanctuaries, in Goa. Don’t expect to spot tigers or Komodo dragons, but the alarming variety of birds and mammals and reptiles and botanical species will keep you curious.


Jungle Book:
We’re not talking about the namesake book here. Jungle Book is a little-known forest retreat that’s almost hard to believe is in Goa. The food is good and the stay is comfortable but the real clinchers are the elephants that you can interact with and the adventure activities on the humongous campus.


King’s Beer: Often overshadowed by its more famous peer, Feni, the King’s Premium Pilsner Beer is a much-loved beer manufactured here and retailed in small, fat bottles. Its millions of patrons love the mild high and the smoky taste, which many believe comes from the Goan water used to make it, but in all fairness nobody seems to care or mind as long as it tastes good, at an incredible price of Rs 40!


Liquor: Probably the single biggest reason why the young love Goa. Goa has an open, tolerant, ‘everything goes’ way of life, which makes its way to its alcohol consumption culture. Unbelievably affordable, ubiquitously available beer, all alcohol for that matter, is part of the Goan experience now. So, if you do enjoy the occasional drink, now is as good a time as any.


Margao: Before Panaji, Margao was central to the Portuguese operations, and it has been an important economic and cultural centre ever since. People use it to travel from or to South Goa. Then there are the old churches, the enthralling Goa Chitra Museum, great shopping opportunities and more. Even if you do none of these, it’s great to observe a bustling big city vibe in a scenic small town setting.


Nightlife: Goa is one of those places that never sleep. Buzzing beach shacks, casinos on land and ships, more bars and discos than could count during your stay, and the generally revelrous people all amount to an action-packed night culture that is second to none. Some pioneering gents are also bringing in novel concepts like noiseless parties with headphones and breath-taking live music venues to heighten the whole experience.


Old Goa: Vehla Goa, its traditionally name, or Old Goa, as it translates to and is popularly called, is a pleasant breeze of lush greenery dotted by remnants of its rich Portuguese past. Churches, convents, archways, old localities and mansion blocks like Fontainhas all come together to set this apart from the rest of Goa.


Portuguese Tradition:
The Portuguese came to Goa in the 16th century and left a piece of themselves here for perpetuity. The Portuguese influence is evident in the people, their food, their languages, their way of life, the architecture and almost everything else. And thankfully, Goa is left all the richer for it.


Quiet Islands: The Goan region is bestowed with astounding natural gifts. River islands, estuarine islands, islands out at sea of immense beauty are some of the foremost of that. Divar Island and Chorao Island, the best-known among the river islands, exude a charming idyllic countryside life coupled with stunning natural beauty. Islands out on the Arabian Sea like the Pequeno and the Conco Islands offer a quiet retreat and interesting activities like snorkelling, nature walks.


Rivers of Goa
: Four major rivers snake their way through Goa, the Mandovi, Zuari, Neral and Sal rivers, gifting this land with sights of unreal beauty, including beautiful waterfalls, backwaters, estuaries, some serene river islands, and a lot more. Of course, with these rivers also arise the possibilities of water-sports like kayaking, etc.


Salim Ali Bird Sanctuary: The Dr. Salim Ali Bird Sanctuary, named after the trailblazing Indian ornithologist and naturalist, is majorly a mangrove forest located in one corner of the immense Chorao Island on the Mandovi River. Visit here to spend some quiet time amongst a great variety of birds, in the lap of nature away from the usual noise.


Tito’s: While Club Tito’s deserves a mention just for being one of the oldest, most vibrant party hotspots here, it has sprouted a range of great establishments in its vicinity. The lane, now called Club Tito’s for obvious reasons, has seen many great establishments mushroom. So, if you’re looking for great nightclubs to party the night away, the Tito’s lane is where you should be.


Unwind at Beach Shacks: Casually unwinding at a beach shack is an integral, if not primary, component of the Goan experience. Every major beach has several of them, and with cheap booze and food, they’re an irresistible draw. Some have diversified over the years to cater to specific tastes, so asking around would be a great idea.


Vindaloo:
There can be no legitimate discussion of Goa without a mention of the lip-smacking Goan cuisine. Vindaloo is a fiery curry, generally of pork or mutton, made with red chilies, vinegar, many spices and marinated meat. The livid taste is not for everyone, but you know you can’t resist trying.


Water Sports: With the Arabian Sea on one-side and more than a few rivers winding through, it’s no surprise that Goa has no dearth of adrenaline-pumping water sports to try. The beaches of Baga, Calangute and Anjuna offer activities like jet skiing, parasailing, banana boat rides, and wind surfing, among many others. Some operators also offer kayaking opportunities in the Zuari and Mandovi rivers.


Xavier: Considered one of the foremost Christian missionaries, St. Francis Xavier is especially revered for his work in India and South East Asia. His legacy is immortalized in a glass and silver casket in the Basilica of Bom Jesus, containing his incorrupt body and several artefacts of his.


Yachts: Many operators provide interesting river cruise experiences in Goa, like dinner cruises with traditional dances, casino cruises, catamaran and houseboat cruises.


Zacuti: Zacuti or Xacuti, as it also variably spelled, is a typical Konkan preparation of chicken in a flavourful curry of grated coconut and a myriad spices. It’s a signature Goan dish that leaves an indelible mark on your palate.

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Destination Guide- Kolkata

Overview Kolkata, India’s second-largest city is as human a place can be. Beneath the ageing exterior is the expectant vigour. Under the bludgeons of time are eyes that still widen…

Overview

Kolkata, India’s second-largest city is as human a place can be. Beneath the ageing exterior is the expectant vigour. Under the bludgeons of time are eyes that still widen in awe of its own culture. Under the wizened grey is a passionate red. Leading to a ravenous belly is an articulate tongue that knows good taste. Much like most people, there are no pleasant introductions with Kolkata. The moment you step foot, you’re flung into the deep end of a sea of humanity engrossed in its passionate tryst with culture, art, history and quotidian life.

Experiences

  • Victoria Memorial:  Probably Kolkata’s best-known monument, and its most beautiful, the Victoria Memorial is a sprawling, spectacular white marble building built in memory of the colonial Queen Victoria’s demise. Inside, there are sprawling high-ceilinged halls, the central one hosting a permanent exhibition of the city’s colonial past. The adjoining manicured gardens host a light & sound show on winter evenings. Even if heading inside doesn’t interest you, beholding the magnificent building from afar, with its reflections in the nearby pools, is a memorable experience.
  • New Market: The labyrinthine network of passages and halls that make up the century-old marketplace called the New Market can often spring surprises for a first-timer, for the sheer variety of what is on offer; everything from apparel and handicrafts to jewellery precious and semi-precious, to the choicest of meat cuts. With a bit of work, you could nab great bargains too, which you should definitely invest in the amazing restaurants, bakeries and sweet stalls nearby, including the Nahoum Bakery and the legendary KC Das, credited with the mighty Rasgulla.
  • Rabindra SarovarThe colourful pandemonium that is Kolkata isn’t much likely to offer you a breather. Unless you visit the few spots of quiet retreat like the Rabindra Sarovar and the Maidan. The mornings see Kolkatans running, walking or ambling along the idyllic lakes. The afternoons see the health-conscious replaced by the love-struck, with hawkers and artists and chirping birds comprising the rest.
  • Partying at the Park Hotel: The Park Hotel, one of Kolkata’s best hospitality establishments, is a pulsating cynosure of several of the city’s best night-out spots. A vast varied selection of restaurants, bars and clubs- from the swanky cocktail bar with a 60s Swing feel called Roxy to a modern lively nightclub and bar called Tantra, from an upscale tastefully done-up Oriental restaurant in Zen to an international-level old-time pub with live music called Someplace Else, and many more- the options are aplenty. Chances are you’d run out of time before you run out of places to try here.
  • Football Match: Kolkata is at its passionate, zealous best the evening of a football match. Generations have mythologized the sport here. Friendships are abandoned and fault lines appear regarding your team loyalties. It’s only fair that two of the biggest football stadiums in the world, Salt Lake Stadium and Eden Gardens stand here; smaller arenas won’t withstand the fervour East Bengal, Mohun Bengal, and now Atletico de Kolkata inspire.
  • Dakshineshwar: Located on the northern outskirts of the city, the Dakshineshwar temple complex is one of the city’s most culturally significant structures. It is here that the revered and renowned Hindu mystic Ramakrishna began his spiritual sojourn, and his quarters are now a preserved piece of quiet reverence. Twelve shrines on the river waterfront are dedicated to Lord Shiva, and the main temple is consecrated to Goddess Kali.
  • Kumartuli, the idol-makers’ village: At the heart of Kolkata’s humanity is its love for arts and culture. Kumartuli, literally translating to ‘Potters’ Village’, is a kaleidoscopic glimpse into that. The craftsmen are essentially the lifeblood of the city’s fervent renowned Durga and Kali Poojas, supplying the idols that are the centrepieces of the celebrations. Take a walk of the locality, click a few pictures, and with a small tip, observe the idol-makers at work.
  • Indian Museum: The biggest and oldest major museum in the country, and one of the oldest in the World, appropriately titled Indian Museum, gives a vivid account of Indian and world history through a collection of epic proportions housed in a magnificent old palace. The six sections displayed in about two dozen galleries include artefacts ranging from the enlightening, like an Egyptian mummy and the Ashoka Pillar (India’s national emblem), to the ludicrous, like embalmed human embryos and jewellery recovered from a crocodile’s interiors.
  • Book Market at College Street: News flash- Kolkata loves its literature. No surprise that sifting through rare titles and rarer editions of all kinds of books at College Street is one of the most rewarding experiences you can have here. The second-largest used books market in the world offers something for everyone; the dirt cheap prices and the staggering variety will keep you coming back.

Grub

Kolkata loves its food, and in all probability, you will too. Surprisingly affordable and thoroughly delicious, it makes devotees of the hardest of believers. With the alarming culinary variety, the only fair way is to look at the plethora of options from different perspectives, like a true foodie!

Casual Dining

  • Flurys: In the tenth decade of its existence, Flurys once fuelled the breakfast palates of the English gentry at the Park Street, along with wealthy Bengali, Armenian, Parsi patrons, etc. Now, it is probably the mostly fiercely-loved tearoom and bakers in the country, mainly because they’ve kept with what has always worked for them- their old menu, recipes and even staff. They sell ungodly amounts of Christmas cakes, pastries and ‘full English’ breakfast, but it’s the simplest things like their age-old milk bread that is the best-loved.
  • Indian Coffee House: Kolkatans love their heated debates. The Indian Coffee House, also called the College Street Coffee House, has been the coliseum for many an intellectual exchange, duel and battle for the better part of a century. The coffee house’s unassuming cheap coffee and snacks have been the tinder where the city’s intelligentsia, including luminaries like Satyajit Ray, Amartya Sen, and many more, has raged intellectual fire.
  • Arsalan Restaurant: Kolkata’s biryani is a whole different beast, and the well-patronized Arsalan restaurant is arguably the best places to try it. Skipping all efforts of grandeur for a modestly modern ambience and business-like approach to serving the best biryani in town, their food is just cause for revelry amongst the locals. The biryani is best teamed with their juicy delicious spread of kebabs.
  • 6 Ballygunge Place: : 6 Ballygunga Place began with the simple mission of giving the rich, diverse, flavourful Bengali cuisine the limelight it deserves. And if its enthralled patrons are to be believed, it has succeeded and how! Housed in a gorgeous former bungalow, the restaurant is an homage to the Bengali culture of yore, from the pastel-y paintings adorning the walls and the chairs, to the antique phone in the hallway. The real hero in all this is, as it should be, their authentic Bengali food, done the way it should be. From local sea-food favourites like Daab Chingri (prawns in a tangy coconut curry) & prawn malaikari (a buttery curry), to recipes that have previously been hiding in the diaries of Bengali grandmas, to traditional desserts and beverages and snacks, the expertly trained chefs concoct a culinary experience bar none. Go for the buffet or the a la carte options; but if we were you, we’d take the buffet.
  • India Restaurant: Kidderpore’s India Restaurant is a good display of Kolkata’s culinary ethos- focus firmly on food, all other frills secondary. Appreciated for its décor, the restaurant is known for its Mughlai fare which takes no prisoners; the kebabs, rolls, biryani and Mughlai desserts are a constant sensory onslaught that one needs a lengthy breather to recover from.

Street Food

  • China Town: Kolkata’s Chinatown, India’s only one, located in the Tangra neighbourhood is where the original Hakka Chinese settled over 200 years ago. The Chinese population has significantly dwindled since then, and so have Chinatown’s fortunes, but they’re unforgettable for adding their Chinese/Indian-Chinese cuisine on to India’s culinary map. What remains of the prosperous tanneries and authentic Chinese shops of yore are a pale shadow, but the culinary tradition, with its street food and its restaurants, stays strong. For how long, is an entirely different issue.
  • Dacres Lane: A confluence of white and blue collar professionals, the young, and the travellers descends upon Dacres Lane for the small stalls selling quick bites, interesting dishes and filling meals that fail to pinch your pocket. The narrow street stays busy throughout the day, and as the evening sets in, the crowds divert from the stalls to the dingy bars in between.
  • Teretti Bazaar: Kolkata is not an early rising city, so the Teretti Bazaar is an anomaly, on multiple counts. Anywhere between 6 and 7, it begins to come alive to the smells of fresh vegetables, fresh fish, and fresh pork cuts. That shouldn’t be a foodie’s agenda, though. Many stalls line-up a remarkable array of Chinese-Indian fare, momos and soup to noodles and more.

 Nightlife

  • OlyPub: Kolkata’s nightlife was never its strongest suit, but its old stalwarts like OlyPub that continue to reign supreme. Busy, pleasantly cheap, warm in hospitality with a good array of food and drink options, OlyPub could easily fill more than a few of your idle evenings.
  • Hoppipola: Relatively recent on the scene, the two Hoppipola outlets have made a name for themselves for the lively ambience, great food and of course, a range of drinks to keep everyone happy. We recommend the one in Acropolis Mall in Kasba, simply for it is older, but really both are great options for a night out.
  • Apart from these legitimate options, a constant fixture of the city is the ubiquitous dimly-lit, dirt cheap local bars. Do not go by appearances, though, they expect certain decorum from all of their patrons.

Stay

To book from the widest range of hotels, visit SpiceVacations.com.

First Class

  • ITC Sonar: Sonar literally translates to ‘Golden’ in Bengali, fitting for this remarkably luxurious property. If you are a true person of taste and only seek the best, this is where you need to head to. Every small detail is painstakingly though-out, every feature seemingly handcrafted. You’d receive the best in luxury hospitality, because you deserve the best.
    Distance from airport: 16 km
  • Harrington Residency: An experience in its own right, the Harrington Residency is a two-room sanctuary adjoining the enthralling Harrington Street Arts Centre. Experience warm hospitality, while witnessing profound displays of art, performing arts, literature, handicrafts and more.
    Distance from airport: 21 km

Premium Economy

  • Senses Hotel: Located in the middle of the commercial hub of the city, the Senses is popular with business travellers as well as couples exploring Kolkata, for the earnest service, and amenities that justify the price. Accessibility to major attractions is an advantage.
    Distance from airport: 15 km
  • Hotel Sawood International: Ostensibly a budget hotel, Sawood International is preferred for the views of the city from the rooms, for the helpful staff and the well-decked out rooms and surprising range of amenities for the targeted price. Perfect if you’re looking for a comfortable stay without shelling out much.
    Distance from airport: 19 km

Economy

  • Central Bed & Breakfast: A charming property, tastefully decorated with dollops of natural light, close to the heart of the city, a stay at the Central Bed & Breakfast would not come cheap but memorable experiences rarely do.
    Distance from airport: 22 km

Weekend Getaways

  • Digha: West Bengal’s most popular beach destination, Digha is the usual haunt for people looking to get out of the city. The place has a perennial festive air about it, and is also great to sample some typical Bengali sea-food, both the restaurant and fresh-fish-cooked-at-a-family-joint variety. If you’re looking to enjoy unobtrusive views of nature in solitude, head to the Talasari and Shankarpur beaches, 10 and 14 km away, respectively.
  • Sunderbans: The Sundarbans delta, the largest in the world, has an outlandish peerless countenance that defeats all adjectives. The Ganges and Brahmaputra rivers converge and then disintegrate into rivulets that snake their way through the seemingly endless Mangrove forests, again the largest in the world that appears to blot out the Sun. The wilderness is understandably home to alarming biodiversity, including the fabled man-eating Bengal Tigers, crocs, turtles, birds and more. A good place to begin the wild exploration is the Sajnekhali wildlife sanctuary, home to several species of birds and the Royal Bengal Tiger, apart from breeding centres for crocodiles, sharks and turtles.
  • Navadwipa: Quite unbecoming of the chaos that is West Bengal, Navadwipa-Mayapur is a small archipelago on the river Ganges that effortlessly eases you into a silent serenity. The meandering village roads, the orchids and the forests all lead to over 200 temples, most of them devoted to an avatar of Lord Krishna, spread throughout the 9 islands that lend the air a certain divinity.
  • Santiniketan: A cultural and spiritual retreat in the middle of overwhelming natural beauty, the Santiniketan estate is a well-spring of creativity and ideas. Much of its fame emanates from the Visva-Bharati University, India’s first university, which grew out of a school founded by the Nobel laureate Rabindranath Tagore as an attempt at breaking new grounds in education. Santiniketan is now a breath of fresh air in all senses, and a stimulating intellectual sojourn.
  • Diamond Harbour: A tiny city about two hours south of Kolkata, Diamond Harbour is located at the bank of River Hooghly, close to where it meets the Bay of Bengal. The beaches are serener, perfect for a refreshing getaway. If you’re in the mood for some activity, there is the Chingrikhali fort, the Lighthouse, a Naval Camp and the South Bengal Museum to be checked out.

General Information

Languages: Bengali, English, Hindi

Public Transport: While fairly old and rickety, there are multiple modes of transport in Kolkata. If you’re not in a rush to get somewhere, the trams gently rolling down the streets are great means for exploring the city. For a faster commute, choose between the Metro, the oldest in the country, which is currently operational on just one line but expanding quickly, or the yellow cabs, slightly expensive but a lot more direct, or the auto-rickshaws, if you can make sure not be ripped off. You will also see hand-pulled rickshaws plying around the New Market and a few other areas.

Weather: Like all southern coastal regions in India, Kolkata is subject to a tropical hot and humid climate. The summer months (March-June) can see fairly high levels of heat and humidity, with dry spells frequently seeing temperatures soar 40 degrees C. June to September are the Monsoon months where it can rain quite often; the average temperature hovering around 30. The colder months (December- February) experience mild winters, which is mostly a welcome change from the heat than actually cold.

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Bangkok: Top 10 Offbeat Things to Do in the City of Angels

Bangkok is a city of fantastic ironies. Animated street life intertwines with luxurious shopping malls. Cheap markets inhabit unremarkable residential streets. Fiery scents of street food mingle with intense urban…

Bangkok is a city of fantastic ironies. Animated street life intertwines with luxurious shopping malls. Cheap markets inhabit unremarkable residential streets. Fiery scents of street food mingle with intense urban fumes. Epic Muay Thai kickboxing bouts and Buddhist monasteries co-exist like old friends. Busy riverine canals lead to floating markets and obscure villages. These quirks lend the city an irresistible personality, a potpourri of sharp aromas. With so much to do, it’s easy to miss out on all the little hidden joys the city has to offer. So, we’ve compiled a list of the best offbeat things to do in this fiercely unique city called Bangkok.

  1. Papaya Studio: Part antiques store, part museum of curiosities, the Papaya Studio houses several random yet unique objects in its collection. Including but not limited to life-size superhero action-figures, dolls and toys, antique furniture, old televisions, and more. Sadly, many of these interesting objects on display at this multi-storey store aren’t available to be bought; a rule enforced by the owner, the eccentric Mr Tong.
  2. Bangkok Puppet Shows:Bangkok Puppet Show 

    The centuries –old Thai tradition of puppetry has ebbed and flowed through periods of proliferation and disuse, but a few theatre companies continue to foster this beautiful art. A typical performance depicts stories from the Ramayana, with three-four puppeteers operating each ornately decorated puppet. The art form is best witnessed in an intimate setting at the free-for-all afternoon shows at the Artists’ House, or you may attend a show at one of the bigger arenas, by excellent puppet companies like the Joe Louis Puppet Theatre.

  3. Rama IX Park: The city being a heady cocktail of automobile exhausts and people and street stalls, it is hard to find a quiet corner here. And much harder to find a green, quiet one. Fortunately, the outskirts of the city are blessed with some sprawling verdant parks. Sadly, they still remain obscured from the eyes of most tourists. You could go cycling in the Bang Krachao Park, or stroll and observe local life at the Lumpini Park. Our favourite is the Rama IX Park, the largest green area in Bangkok, built to commemorate the late king Bhumibol Adulyadej’s 60th A sprawling botanical garden, lake, pavilions and lotus ponds, are punctuated by smaller gardens built to represent major countries of the world. So, there is a park with colonnades and statues for France, a modern domed one with a small desert for the US, a walled one with tiny lotus ponds to represent China, and many more.
  4. Museum of Counterfeit Goods: The 26th floor of the Tilleke and Gibbins law firm is taken up by a quirky Museum of Counterfeit Goods. The museum houses a curious collection of fakes and genuine objects of a staggering variety- from automobile parts, calculators and shoes, to detergent powders and biscuits. Your tour guide will diligently walk you through the history and geography of this pandemic of fake goods, and illuminate you on some best practices. Do seek a prior appointment; it’s a private museum owned by a leading law firm fighting this issue.
  5. Chatuchak Market:The Chatuchak market, a proper Thailand tourism landmark, is a gigantic weekend market, home to over 8000 shops over any typical weekend. Previously only of interest to wholesalers and retailers, the several thousand shops now sell almost everything under the sun, including clothes, books, food and beverages, art and handicrafts, furniture, and quite a bit more. It is advisable to buy a map beforehand; newbies stand a great chance of getting lost here.
  6. Scala Cinema: Across the road from the enormous Siam Paragon mall, the Scala Cinema preserves the old-world charm of going to the cinema. The name of the current movie is still hand-mounted in big scarlet letters. The staff still dresses in bright yellow jackets and bow-ties. The tickets are still cheap and hand-torn, and the booths are like the old ones you see in, well, movies. Upon entrance, you’re welcomed by a low-hanging chandelier and a sculpture exhibiting the country’s brief history. Gorgeous art deco flowers adorn the grand domed roofs. The theatre itself is huge, with a 1000 red velvet seats. The whole experience is preserved as if in a time-capsule.
  7. Experience Muay Thai:Muay Thai, BangkokMuay Thai, a phenomenal martial art in the manner of kickboxing, is the national sport of Thailand and a medium for many youngsters to seek success and glory. The bouts happen multiple times through the week in enormous stadiums and arenas, the biggest being the Lumpinee and Rajadamnern stadiums, the hallowed grounds for thousands of young prospects. Witness a few bouts with the fervour reaching fever pitch. Or if you’re of a more athletic kind, you may choose to take a few Muay Thai training sessions here. Some of the most elite combat athletes and mixed martial artists of the world come to train in the gyms here. The Banchamek Gym, Master Toddy’s Muay Thai Academy and the Meenayothin Muay Thai Gym are some of the best ones.
  8. Kra Thon, the Flying Chicken Restaurant: While chickens are generally incapable of flying for any considerable distance, you’d see chicken flying here for long distances at a ferocious pace, at this aptly-named restaurant. Mainly because the staff here performs this attractive ritual of catching flying fried chickens fired from catapults, while riding unicycles. To add to the appeal, the food is delicious and quite affordable, and they serve a good range of liquor too. Do feel free to try other items off the enormous menu, some of them made of wild boar, frogs and ostrich.
  9. Khlong Tour: Unlike other rivers flowing through major cities, the Chao Phraya River snaking through Bangkok is central to the city’s daily life. Take a ride on a long-tail boat through the various khlongs (Thai for canals) of the river and make your way back in time to a Bangkok more peaceful and less frantic. Watch stilted shacks, wooden houses beside luxury homes built more recently, observe commuters, traders and hawkers going about their daily life, and contrast the rustic leisurely pace of life of the Bangkok of the western banks with the ‘always-on’ modern Bangkok. The best way to embark on this journey is through a guided tour.
  10. Damnoen Saduak Floating Market:Damnoen Saduak Floating Market, ThailandOver an hour’s drive from Bangkok, Damnoen Saduak, Thailand’s most popular floating market is a bustling confluence of fruits and flowers, street food and fancy apparels, memorabilia and more. The overcrowded ruckus created by the converging sellers and shoppers can be an onslaught on your senses, but therein lies the floating market’s appeal, a general element of all Thailand travel actually. From cheap ‘I Was Here’ Thailand tourism souvenirs to some great cuisine, fresh local produce to some wacky products, there is a lot to try and buy. You could also visit the Orchid and coconut farms that lie on the road journey here.
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Destination Guide-Pune

Overview Pune has come a long way from being a place that has been host and home to so much history. It is now where that heritage co-exists with a…

Overview

Pune has come a long way from being a place that has been host and home to so much history. It is now where that heritage co-exists with a blossoming modern city that is young at heart and young in its opportunities. A hub of education and technology, the pleasant Pune is also home to so much culture that is hidden in its unassuming exteriors.

Experiences

  • Joshi’s Museum of Miniature Railway: One man’s passion is another’s amazement. Model train enthusiast Bhau Joshi has built a functional, elaborate mini-township layout complete with railway stations, roads, flyovers, buildings, traffic signals and more. A truly curious engaging sight by a man who materialized his vision into a technological marvel.
  • Osho Teerth Gardens: What was, till a few years ago, a wasteland with a dirty canal making its way through it, is now a fantastically green Japanese-style park bordering the Osho Ashram. The park spread over 12 acres, is a fine marriage of conservational ethos with the needs of a modern city. What you’ll enjoy is diverse greenery, a clear stream bisecting the park, and ample photo opportunities.
  • Raja Dinkar Kelkar Museum: A fascinating, prosperous collection of antique objects from Indian daily life collected by the eponymous collector, it is one of Pune’s finest places to visit. Observe members of the 20,000-strong collection, including jewellery, music instruments, household equipment, toys, entire doors & windows, and a lot more, most of them still in pristine condition.
  • Gliding: 

    Take a few gliding lessons or fulfil your dreams of flying on a joy ride in a glider, at the Hadapsar Gliding Centre in Pune. If you don’t have the time or inclination for lessons, you should definitely partake in a bit of guided gliding in the company of a trained pilot, given that it’s for an ultra-cheap price here.

  • The Sawai Gandharv Bhimsen Music Festival: Bharat Ratna Bhimsen Joshi founded the Sawai Gandharv Music Festival, India’s leading classical music festival in 1953 in memory of his guru Sawai Gandharv. The festival, which had the revered founder’s name appended to its name recently, has been the breeding grounds of prodigies and the showcase for established names in Indian classical music. Attend and have your mind blown.
  • Shanivar Wada: 

    An 18th-century Peshwa fortress only the mammoth gate to which remains, owing to a fire, Shanivar Wada is now the verdant hangout of choice for the average Pune person. Evenings see a couple of light shows being hosted, in Marathi and English that recapitulate the vivid history of this former Peshwa stronghold.

  • Book Shopping: Being a genuine education hub, with numerous colleges and universities and research institutions, it is only natural that Pune loves to read. That love is aided by so many great bookshops around the city, many of them centred on the Appa Balwant Chowk. Shop for the latest fiction, no-fiction and educational titles, or second hand books, or books by the kilo; you’d most probably find it all.

Grub

  • Independence Brewing Company: One of Pune’s best dining experiences; the Independence Brewing Company is a world-class going out experience- impeccable décor, a delicious much-loved menu, and the seven brewed beers on tap, the best part about the place. The seven brews on tap keep rotating, but some crowd-pullers, but do try the Four Grain Saison and the Method to Madness IPA. The fine aesthetics and the great service will get you hooked.
  • High Spirits Café: The centre of all action, the High Spirits Café is where everybody flocks to for some live entertainment or a nice meal throughout the week. From comedy nights to live music and DJs spinning the latest in dance music, the place has everything to keep the young occupied and make the elderly young.
  • Kayani Bakery: A part of history, Kayani Bakery has delighted people of the city with its cakes and breads and biscuits since the days of the British Raj. As in demand as ever, its Shrewsbury biscuits, bread and sponge cakes exemplify what ‘selling like hot cakes’ means.
  • Malaka Spice: As much a warm family-run establishment as it is a stalwart culinary institution, Cheenu and Praful Chandawarkar’s Malaka Spice is a mouth-watering barrage of one great Oriental dish after another. Putting the local in stay local firmly in bold, the chefs firmly scrutinize everything that goes into their preparations; one bit and you’ll know why it is so well-loved.
  • Dario’s: An elegant, intimate Italian joint serving up heavenly pastas, pizzas and salads in its indoor and al-fresco dining settings, Dario’s is a vegetarian foodie’s delight. And their desserts are the cherry on the cake.

Stay

To book from the widest range of hotels, visit SpiceVacations.com.

First Class

  • Conrad Pune: Be inundated with luxury at the Conrad Pune from the Hilton chain of hotels. Plush, well-equipped rooms ensure superior comfort. Elsewhere, the hotel pampers your senses with 6 dining options and a bar, a 24-hour fitness centre, a 24-hour business centre, a salon and spa, and an enrapturing temperature-controlled outdoor pool. Can’t ask for more, if you’re willing to pay a premium.
    Distance from airport: 6 km
  • Atmantan Wellness Retreat: A rejuvenating wellness retreat, Atmantan is located on the outskirts of the city, in a revelatory lakeside part of the country. Facilities are indulgent, but the real strength are the infinite opportunities to disconnect, unwind and go for many wellness services like massages, therapy sessions, fitness sessions, hammam baths and a whole lot more.
    Distance from airport: 60 km

Premium Economy

  • Four Points by Sheraton: World-class hotel and serviced apartments, with gym, 24-hour spa and more, minutes from the Pune Airport.
    Distance from airport: 4 km
  • Vivanta by Taj: Blue Diamond: 5-star luxury hotel, with extensive amenities, fitness centre, spa and more.
    Distance from airport: 6 km

Economy

  • Hotel Sagar Plaza: A comfortable stay in the heart of the city that is as friendly in service as it is on your pocket.
    Distance from airport: 9 km
  • Laxmi Happy Homes: A no-frills homestay, with tastefully done rooms for rent at surprisingly cheap costs. Guests can enjoy common areas, free Wi-Fi, a well-equipped shared kitchen, and warm hosts, among other privileges like the excellent location.
    Distance from airport: 6 km

Weekend Getaways

  • Matheran: Just under three hours away, Matheran can feel worlds apart from Pune, thankfully so, for the absence of all motor vehicles. All vehicles are banned here, and by default the hill station gentles ambles along, absorbing so many visitors in its quiet retreat. Walk around green vistas, take in gorgeous views, ride on horseback or cross a valley on a rope, you’ll love the serene nature of this place.
  • Khandala:Khandala, Maharashtra 

    Conveniently located about an hour and a half away from Pune right on the Mumbai-Pune highway, Khandala is a verdant hill station preferred by lovers of nature, great views and hiking. Not really known for vigorous action, you can certainly enjoy many scenic view-points and the slightly-challenging hiking trails that lead there, along with the Bhushi Lake.

  • Khadakwasla: A small hamlet centred around the eponymous dam on the river Mutha, Khadakwasla is, unbeknownst to most, central to India’s defence acumen. Short distances from the dam are the acclaimed National Defence Academy, the Defence Institute of Advanced Technology, the College of Military Engineering and some other defence establishments. A few kilometres to the south is the Sinhagad Fort of lesser-known origins, believed to be about 2000 years old.

General Information

Languages: Hindi, English, Marathi

Public Transport: The major means of public transport are the public buses operated within the city by the PMPML, the city’s transport authority, and auto-rickshaws. Ride-hailing services like Uber and Ola Cabs have also established a robust network of cabs across the city.

Weather: Pune experiences a combination of semi-arid hot and tropical pleasant climate. The summer months from mid-March to June see hot, dry spells, with the temperature sometimes soaring past 40.

Monsoon and winters are quite pleasant, with the Monsoon season seeing pleasant temperatures and moderate rainfall. The daytime temperatures can be pleasant during winters while the night can get chilly, with mercury often dropping to 5-6 degrees Celsius.

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Destination Guide- Ahmedabad

Overview A busy economic and manufacturing hub, Ahmedabad easily endears itself to you. While the weather takes some getting used to, the infrastructure is great and the people are warm….

Overview

A busy economic and manufacturing hub, Ahmedabad easily endears itself to you. While the weather takes some getting used to, the infrastructure is great and the people are warm. Being one of the largest, most populous cities of the country, its importance cannot be overstated. And it has enjoyed great significance throughout its history, as evidenced by its stupendous architectural marvels.

Enjoying Gandhi Ji’s influence, the city prohibits consumption of alcohol (with some caveats). That is not to say that the residents don’t know how to live it up. It is a foodie’s heaven, with glorious street food, signature ice cream parlours, and fine dining restaurants to suit all tastes. Ahmedabad’s old walled city was India’s first UNESCO World Heritage City, and a visit to its culturally, historically, architecturally rich streets is ample evidence why.

Experiences

 

  • Auto World Vintage Car Museum: Behold some of the finest pieces of automotive engineering at Ahmedabad’s Auto World Museum. Behold, or be held by, over 100 gorgeous vintage cars from the likes of Rolls Royce, Ford, Fiat, Jaguar, Mercedes, Lincoln, and many more. Some of these beauties are pretty iconic, including the Ford Model T and the first Rolls Royce Phantom 1. For a nominal fee, you can also ride in one of the 4 cars available for riding. Later, you may choose to kill time in the game zone or on the toy train ride, or enjoy some traditional Gujarati food at the restaurant here.
  • Sabarmati Riverfront & Sabarmati Ashram:On the western bank of Sabarmati, on green serene grounds, stands a certain Mohandas K. Gandhi’s former headquarters. Marvel at and be inspired by the artefacts and teachings and records of Bapu, then observe his austere living quarters where his vision of India’s freedom struggle took roots.
    A short walk away begins the lengthy walkway central to the ambitious Sabarmati Riverfront project. Stroll amidst breezy surroundings at this pleasing promenade, take a boat ride, zip line across the river or just take in the quotidian Gujarati life around you.
  • Calico Museum of Textiles: The remarkable museum houses a world-renowned collection of antique and modern Indian textiles, all handmade and extremely beautiful. The collection on display ranges from extravagant specimens of Mughal and other court fabrics, pieces of ritual and religious textiles, to regional specimens of immense virtuosity brought in from across the country. Do book in advance and you’d be overwhelmed by the intricacy of each artefact in the collection, which also includes ancient sculptures, miniature paintings, temple arts, etc.
  • Kite Museum:Kite Museum Ahmedabad

     

    Every year around January 14th, known as ‘Uttarayan’ in this part of the country, the sky comes alive in vibrant shades. Countless kites block out the Sun, so to speak, as the residents fervently partake in kit-flying. To honour this unique tradition, a certain Shri Bhanu Shah donated his humongous ‘patang’ (kite) collection to the local municipal corporation. The Ahmedabad Municipal Corporation duly reciprocated by setting up India’s first and the world’s second kite museum on its premises. A visit here captures your imagination as the colourful kites are an insight into the local culture and a relic of simpler times.

  • Adalaj Stepwell:
    Of the several step-wells in this region, the Adalaj step-well is certainly the most elaborate. 20 km north of Ahmedabad, the step-well, originally created for weary travellers, is remarkable for the elaborate stone carvings on the walls, and the 16 pillars around the octagonal step-well and on the platforms supported by the pillars.
  • Kankaria Lake:

    Kankaria Lake, AhmedabadA centuries-old manmade lake, the Kankaria Lake is now a fun family destination to spend a day engaged in enjoyable activities. Enjoy zorbing, boating, a hot-air balloon, and an evening sound-and-light show. The lake has an island housing a summer palace of the former royals, and is surrounded by an amusement park, a butterfly park and botanical garden, a small zoo, and old, Dutch colonial-era tombs.
  • Sunset Drive-in Cinema: A unique movie-going experience, the Sunset Drive-In Cinema is just as the name suggests: a sprawling green area with an enormous screen at one end playing the latest movies, where you can drive in with your car and enjoy a movie under the cool night sky. Grab some snacks from the stalls here, or carry a picnic with you. The kids are sure to enjoy this.

Grub

  • Vishalla: A surreal dining experience, Vishalla serves an endless thali of lip-smacking Gujarati fare, yet it is a lot more than that. Seated below a canvas awning under the open night-sky, with folk music and dance, and puppet shows for company, words defy you here. There is also the interesting Vechaar Utensil Museum here, with over 4000 pots and pans and more on display from all parts of the country and from a wide period in time.
  • Bhatiyar Gali: Every evening, the Bhatiyar Gali delights its patrons with delicious non-vegetarian delicacies. For centuries, it is believed; stalls here have served such non-vegetarian dishes as the age-old classics like Rogan Josh and Bhuna Gosht to recent innovations like skewered chicken and non-vegetarian samosas.
  • Agashiye: On the rooftop of the vintage hotel called the House of MG, Agashiye, literally meaning ‘on the terrace’, serves a daily-changing menu of absolutely yummy traditional Gujarati preparations under a canopy, a cottage roof or al fresco. You may want to book ahead.
  • Dairy Den: Ahmedabad is one of the largest consumers of ice cream in India. While there may be a connection with the prohibition on alcohol, the city nonetheless boasts of a massive multitude of ice cream parlours and cafes serving frozen delights. And Dairy Den, a chain of ice cream parlours is the oldest and probably one of the best ones here. Their chocolate brownie ice cream, thick shakes and soda pops are especially well-received.

Stay

To book from the widest range of hotels, visit SpiceVacations.com.

 

First Class

  • Renaissance Hotel: Located on the outskirts of the city, the hotel is steeped in luxury. Well-furnished rooms, with ACs, flat-screen TVs, tea-coffee makers, iPod docks and more, are designed to pamper you. Besides, facilities like a 24 hour fitness centre, sauna, multiple dining options, and a lot more, are designed to ensure you have a memorable stay.
    Distance from airport: 15 km
  • Novotel Ahmedabad: Modern property decked out in accordance with the latest in international hospitality. Lavish rooms, spa, pool, fitness centre, meeting rooms, currency exchange and more make it great for international travellers and people here for business.
    Distance from airport: 18 km

Premium Economy

  • Ramada Ahmedabad: An ideal hotel for the business traveller, with conference rooms, business centre, high-speed Wi-Fi currency exchange and more, besides multiple restaurants and a well-equipped gym.
    Distance from airport: 20 km
  • Country Inn & Suites Ahmedabad: Spacious, tastefully done rooms with modern amenities, in a hotel that suits all purposes- business or leisure.
    Distance from airport: 14 km

Economy

  • The House of MG: Surprisingly cheap for the amenities on offer, the House of MG is a grand old haveli restored to serve the purpose of a modern boutique hotel. And it does that with aplomb. The well-appointed rooms ensure a comfortable stay, while guests can enjoy other amenities like a gym, massage, multiple dining options etc.
    Distance from airport: 9 km
  • The Grand Bhagwati: One of the most preferred properties in the city, known for a very comfortable stay with all the modern amenities, interesting features like a piano café and well-appreciated food and dining, perfect for families.
    Distance from airport: 16 km

Weekend Getaways

 

  • Gandhinagar: The state capital, about 30 km from Ahmedabad, is one of India’s best-planned modern cities. Being the capital, the city is more business than pleasure, but the city’s serene nature and tourist favourites like the renowned Akshardham temple, the Children’s Park and the Adalaj step-well, besides quite a few beautiful temples, are sure to leave you impressed & entertained.
  • Udaipur:
    One of India’s best-known tourist destinations, Udaipur is a fantastic exhibition of Rajasthan’s grand history- the legacy of its Rajput kings and the Mughals. Its four lakes give it the moniker ‘the City of Lakes’, and the lakes Pichola, Fateh Sagar and Jaisamand are must-visits, as is the City palace on the Lake Pichola. There are several opulent palaces to visit, and the imposing Kumbhalgarh Fort, with the second-longest wall in the world, is not too far from here.
  • Nal Sarovar Bird Sanctuary:Nal Sarovar Bird SanctuaryJust under a two-hour drive from Ahmedabad, the Nalsarovar Bird Sanctuary is a treat for bird-lovers and adventure and wildlife enthusiasts. Spot over 200 species of vibrant indigenous and migratory birds around the 120 sq. km of the Nal Sarovar Lake and marshy land. Do visit the interactive interpretation centre to learn more about the birds here.
  • Lothal: Have your mind blown at Lothal, an ancient city of the 5700 year old mythical Indus Valley Civilization of the Bronze Age, about 2 ½ hours away. Visit the museum at the site to revel in enlightening antiquities- pottery, jewellery, figurines, agriculture equipment, copper and stone tools, and a lot more that were used by the residents of the ancient city. The residents pioneered methods of metallurgy, agriculture and town planning that have stood the test of time. Then, proceed to the site of the city, and observe ancient localities, wells, drainage system, warehouses, and burial sites, to see how they lived.

General Information

 

Languages: Gujarati, Hindi, English

Public Transport: Ahmedabad has an extensive bus transport system for the general public, including general public buses and a Bus Rapid Transit System called Janmarg. Over 1200 buses ply under these two services, operated by the Ahmedabad Municipal Transport Service.

For faster, although slightly costlier than the buses, transit, you can opt for a CNG-run auto-rickshaw that will drop you right at your destination.

The Ahmedabad metro rail is also under construction and shall be operational soon.

Weather: Ahmedabad has a typical North Indian hot, dry climate. The summer months (March-June) tend to be very hot and dry. The ravage high temperatures often soar above 40 degrees Celsius and heat waves are not uncommon. The winter months from November to February bring some relief, with temperatures ranging between 13-14 and 30 degrees Celsius. January months can also often see chilly winds. The monsoon months from mid-July to September bring humidity and decent rainfall is experienced frequently.

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