One of those big frustrations I have faced is to figure out the right way to get trains to far away holiday destinations in India. For one, you need to know the nearest railway station. And then you have to get a list of trains. And then figure out various timings….
So, in HolidayIQ we decided to cut through this nonsense and make everything available in one place. So, if you live in say, Chennai and want to go on holiday to Kanha National Park in Madhya Pradesh, here are the trains:
Train travel is funny. I spent almost 15 years trying to earn well enough so that I never have to travel by train. Only to find myself yearning to travel more by train, now that I can afford not to. Or is it that I am funny? Maybe neither is funny; it is just the nature of things. We want less of what we have and more of what we don’t. Maybe it is this new world we are creating; a world of professional malcontents.
HolidayIQ has now listed 6500 resorts, hotels, home-stays & guest-houses across India. About 40% of these properties have got reviews from actual guests who stayed there, which is amazing for our country. This is simply because of the consistent hard work so many travel-crazy folk have lovingly put into this over the last 3 years. I still remember early 2004, when this project started as India Resorts Survey – a travel-lovers initiative set up by a small group of holiday junkies. It has really grown up now and it cannot be easily replicated.
It was a summer in the mid-eighties. A 17 year old climbed into a train to undertake one of the longer rail journeys of the world – the 2 nights & 2.5 days needed to get from Thiruvanthapuram Central station to the New Delhi station. Sitting in the 2nd class, sleeper compartment was the usual motley crew of Indian travellers. But before the long journey was over, the 17 year old could see many of them as distinct human beings, who in one amazing moment, came together to save his life. It was a crazy journey on the 2625 UP, and the 17 year old was me. (sorry for the drama, but this is the 60th year of our independence and all that. Also, it is almost true.) Continue reading →
Just finished re-reading Bill Aitken’s account of his motorbike journeys across the Decccan plateau in central India. While I was keeping the book back on my shelf, I saw the other scotsman’s book on India – The City of Djinns by William Dalrymple.
Both Dalrymple and Aitken have the knack of looking at India from an open, honest and ultimately empathetic perspective. Among the multitude of tomes written on India by foreigners, their writings stand out. Is it a coincidence that both of them are Scots or is there more to it? Continue reading →
What is common to Basmati rice, Darjeeling tea, Kanchipuram Silk saree, Alphonso mango, Kolhapuri chappal & Bikaneri bhujia? Answer – these are all Indian products or produce closely associated with a particular place and are all patent protected as Geographic Indications (GI). Which means chappals made other than in Kolhapur or Silk sarees made outside Kancheepuram cannot pass themselves of as the real thing. Now, what does this have to do with tourism? Continue reading →
(The haunting notes of a flute – World Music in the Paris Metro)
Paris is an awesome city, what with its riverside walks, its pavement artists, its cafes, the sight of matrons wheeling trolleys filled with early morning bread and all the elegantly dressed people. But to me, nothing so personifies the idea of Paris as the street musicians down in the Metro. I found out recently that the riches of music down under is no accident. Apparently the Paris metro goes through regular auditions and only those selected by a jury gets the certificate to perform – there are over 100 places on the metro network where these musicians are allowed to strut their stuff.
There is this sub-genus among travellers that gets utterly fascinated by riding on large, moving lumps of metal. No, I am not talking about drivers & road trips, although they qualify too. Trains seem to hold this special intrigue for a certain kind of traveller – primarily old Brits with a strong colonial hangover, bespectacled Bongs with the same hangover and extraordinarily lazy travellers who love the soporific effects of rolling stock. In which last category, I find myself. Continue reading →