Finding rail connections for your next holiday

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:

Cool or what 🙂


Train Travel

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.

6500 Indian resorts, hotels, home-stays & guesthouses

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.

The count of accommodation options at the major tourism states are: Goa Hotels – 384, Kerala Hotels – 642, Rajasthan Hotels – 561, Himachal Hotels – 381

For the bigger cities, the count is : Delhi – 198, Mumbai – 176, Bangalore – 171

Out of this list, 1157 India hotels are in a mountain or a hill setting, 554 are Beach hotels in India, 161 are wildlife hotels and 92 give the traveller an inland waterfront experience.

Railway Protection

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

Aitken, Dalrymple..what is with these Scots and India?

bill_aitken.jpg william_d.jpg

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

Geographical Indications : a new destination marketing mantra

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

Music in the Paris Metro

(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.

If you want to know a bit more of the street music scene in Paris, here is an article.