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Friday, April 16, 2010

Edition 15- Will you see these places in 2020

If you are packing your bags for the next summer vacation trip, choose your destinations carefully. While the tourism is a growing industry in India, many places are falling prey to the growing number of footsteps of urban tourist. The trend, in line with the globalisation, is evident everywhere in the world. World famous Wanderlust Magazine in its second annual "Threatened Wonders List" has identified eight top travel picks on the earth that have been over-exploited. Most, including the haunting Jordan desert valley of Wadi Rum, made famous in the cinema classic Lawrence of Arabia, are plagued by tourists, poor planning and shoddy security, the magazine said. Closer home, we have the Khadakwasla dam, which provides water to the Pune city. Pollution at Khadakwasla dam, which supplies drinking water to Pune, continues unchecked, with hundreds of visitors to the famous “chowpati” dumping garbage, plastic waste and beer bottles in the lake. And now, with the Pune Municiapal Corporation deciding to develop the site as a chowpatty, there is little hope that civic officials might some day try to stop the degeneration. The dam is “damned” with bathing buffaloes, mounds of plastic cups, bottles, clamorous swimmers, people washing clothes, and some even defecating near the lake. Drinking water is supplied to Puneites from this very dam everyday. India has seen a significant growth in terms of foreign tourist arrivals in the last two years. World Travel and Tourism Council has estimated that demand for India Tourism will grow annually at 8.8 per cent over the next decade, which will be the highest in the world. The impact of urban activities, which include tourism, on the Western Ghat is a matter of concern for the government of India also. The Western Ghats, spread over a 1609 kilometers the states of Maharashtra, Goa, Karnataka, Kerala and Tamil Nadu, is a reserve of rare species of birds fish reptiles, mammals and amphibians. A comprehensive study on the Western Ghats has shown that each year 0.53% of forest is lost over a 20-year-period altering the ecosystem of the region. The study was a result of research conducted by Rabindra K Panigrahy, Manish P Kale, Upasana Dutta, Asima Mishra and Bishwarup Banerjee of Pune-based Geomatics Solutions Development Group, Centre for Development of Advanced Computing and Sarnam Singh of Forestry and Ecology Division, Indian Institute of Remote Sensing at Dehradun. It was carried out under Indian Space Research Organisation's Geosphere Biosphere Programme and has been published in the latest issue of Current Science. This concern lead to the formation of a panel for conservation of WG by government. Centre has set up a 14-member panel, headed by renowned environmentalist Madhav Gadgil, to assess the ecological status of Western Ghats which would enable it to demarcate sensitive zones. The panel will recommend measures for preservation, conservation and rejuvenation of region. It will submit its report to the Ministry of Environment and Forests within six months. As a tourist, one likes the places with clean environs - air, water and scenery which are most sought after by leisure seekers. According to the World Tourism Organisation ( WTO), 'tourism that involves travelling to relatively undisturbed natural areas with the specified object of studying, admiring and enjoying the scenery and its wild plants and animals, as well as any existing cultural aspects (both of the past and present ) found in these areas is Ecotourism.” Ironically, as most people prefer these sites, more people flock there thereby destructing the very reason behind attraction of that place. Mumbai's water fronts which include the Gateway of India, Marine Drive, Chowpatty, Haji Ali, Dadar Beach, Bandrastand and the Juhu Beach, have become mere dumpyards , with garbage and sewerage strewn all over these areas. The effects of these rampant activities can be seen in the Monsoon season.The Coral reefs of Andaman and Nicobar Islands were facing threat from unchecked human activities like siltation, logging and blasting. These coral reefs serve as a source of potential genetic and other raw materials and attract economically important tourism.

The Manali Case
During the last decade or so there has been a mushrooming of concrete buildings in the form of hotels, industries and lodging houses in eco-fragile areas, poaching of rare marine and wild life with little concern for the environment or aesthetics. This unplanned development activty has had an adverse effect on both environment and tourism. For example, Manali in Himachal Pradesh, an important tourist resort, and a long time favourite with domestic and international tourists. For the past six years, the hill resort has been subjected to unregulated urban expansion which has resulted in the mushrooming of numerous multi-storeyed buildings. The hotels have been discharging sewage into the Beas river causing water pollution. The green area of this township has diminished rapidly, destroying the natural landscape. The pedestrian path has become a regular vehicular road causing air and noise pollution.

World Heritage Sites In India
• Taj Mahal (pollution from industries) • Ellora Caves (pollution) • Agra Fort • Ajanta Caves (pollution) •Mahabalipuram Monu ments (pollution) • Sun Temple, Konark (Erosion of structures) • Kaziranga National Park (pollution) • Keoladeo National Park • Manas Wildlife Sanctuary (pollution) • Churches & convents of Goa • Khajuraho Monuments • Fatehpur Sikri • Hampi Monuments (Erosion of structures) • Sunderbans National Park • Brihadisvara Temple Tanjore • Pattadakal Monuments • Elephanta Caves • Nanda Devi National Park • Buddhist Monuments at Sanchi • Qutub Minar and its Monuments (Tilting structure) • Humayun's Tomb, Delhi (construction of new road) • Darjeeling Himalayan Railway • Mahabodhi Temple, Bodh Gaya • Rock Shelters at Bhimbetka • Champaner-Pavagadh Park • Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus aka Victoria Terminus.

According to Wanderlust, travelers should avoid Stonehenge -- perhaps the world's most famous prehistoric site and a center for British pagan celebration -- unless they wish to see a carpark and glimpse the stone monoliths from a disappointingly remote viewing area, the magazine said. Avid trekkers should also rethink a trip to Peru's Machu Piccu, which is plagued by trash and encroaching minibus routes. Up to 2,500 tourists a day trample the mountainside ruins, making it impossible to protect against wear and tear. Timbuktu in northern Mali also gets a mention, with British diplomats last year issuing security warnings for the area after the execution of a British traveler by militant group al Qaeda. The river town of Yangshuo in China, beachside Tulum in Mexico and Jaisalmer of India also made the list, along with Australia's evocatively-named Bay of Fires, in south Tasmania state. The bay was Tasmania's "best-kept secret", but was threatened by a massive, recent influx of visitors, to the dismay of Aboriginal elders who claim the 30 km (19 mile) stretch of coast is dotted with sacred burial grounds. Wanderlust offered several alternatives to well-worn tourist tracks for 2010. Zimbabwe's newfound stability was encouraging and wildlife sightings a massive drawcard for the country, it said.Khmer ruins in northeastern Thailand and Madagascar, off Africa's eastern coast, were also hot tips for ecotourists looking for value-for-money, the magazine said.

Edition 15 : Eco Tourism Need of the Hour

Tourism development in any area invariably leads to economic growth of that area, which is manifested in terms of increase in income and employment opportunities, infrastructural growth, improvement in the standard of living, etc. Its impacts for the host communities are enormous, and have a wider distribution. However, tourism development is often accompanied with a host of negative impacts on ecology, environment, and socio-economy of the host communities/destinations2–5. The studies on tourism reveal its negative impacts in terms of loss of biodiversity, deforestation, congested settlements, landscape alterations, slums, pollution of air, water and soil, siltation of water bodies, loss of wetlands, loss of land titles, social alienation, change in lifestyle and traditions, etc. The much talked about economic gains are captured by a handful of people, while the social costs are borne by the entire host community. At times tourism also poses a threat to the host culture. The concept of eco-tourism gives a way of relief from this peril. Eco-tourism is more than a catch phrase for nature loving travel and recreation. It is consecrated for preserving and sustaining the diversity of the world's natural and cultural environments. It accommodates and entertains visitors in a way that is minimally intrusive or destructive to the environment and sustains & supports the native cultures in the locations it is operating in. Responsibility of both travellers and service providers is the genuine meaning for eco-tourism. Eco-tourism also endeavours to encourage and support the diversity of local economies for which the tourism-related income is important. With support from tourists, local services and producers can compete with larger, foreign companies and local families can support themselves. Saving the environment around you and preserving the natural luxuries and forest life, that's what eco-tourism is all about. Whether it's about a nature camp or organizing trekking trips towards the unspoilt and inaccessible regions, one should always keep in mind not to create any mishap or disturbance in the life cycle of nature. Eco-tourism is typically defined as travel to destinations where the flora, fauna, and cultural heritage are the primary attractions. Responsible Eco-tourism includes programs that minimize the adverse effects of traditional tourism on the natural environment, and enhance the cultural integrity of local people. Therefore, in addition to evaluating environmental and cultural factors, initiatives by hospitality providers to promote recycling, energy efficiency, water reuse, and the creation of economic opportunities for local communities are an integral part of Eco-tourism. Eco-tourism is considered the fastest growing market in the tourism industry, according to the World Tourism Organization with an annual growth rate of 5% worldwide and representing 6% of the world gross domestic product, 11.4% of all consumer spending - a sizeable market. If we want to sustain the growth of tourism and keept the tourist spots intact, it is mandatory for us to not only promote the eco-tourism, but also actively implement its impacts. This is question of preserving our past for the future generations.

Foiling The Environment
From Uttar Pradesh to Keral, the negative impact of tourism can be seen everywhere. A report on impact of tourism on tigers and other wildlife in Corbett Tiger Reserve was filed by Prerna Singh Bindra. The study was done on behalf of Ministry of Tourism, Government of India. The report concluded, “the tourist resorts have all but blocked the very crucial Kosi river corridor that links Corbett to the Ramnagar Forest Division. The kind of tourism practised is not in sync with conservation objectives in a critical tiger habitat. Corbett Tiger Reserve is getting crowded from all sides, and new tourism hotspots are now crowding other corridors i.e . Belpadao (or Bailpadao)-Kotabagh. Tourism inside the core critical habitat unis sustainable.” Current tourism activities and infrastructure is impinging on tiger and elephant corridors, and threaten to irretrievably block crucial links and isolate critical populations. The rapid growth of tourism –both in terms of number of tourists and infrastructure is unsustainable. It can be safely concluded that in its current form tourism is a serious threat to Corbett, recommended the report. In a study done on the’ Back Water Tourism in Kerala: Challenges and Opportunities’ by Prof.Siby Zacharias, Dr James Manalel, Prof. M.C. Jose and Afsal Salam, it was found that number of local people and foreign people who believe that there is no effect on environment is very small. But among the tour operators it is high. The local people are actually facing the problems such as waste, plastic deposit, increase in price of food items due to demand from the part of rich customers, decrease in the cultural and moral values perceived by them.

Edition 15- Bringing The Traffic On Road Manoj Patil

Even though the city of Pune is notorious for its chaotic and unruly traffic scene, there has been a marked improvement in the scenario since about an year. The net result of the instilled discipline could be actually seen when the crime statistics told us that the number of accidents in the city have come down. Without doubt, the reason behind this improvement was efforts taken by the traffic police department. Especially the man heading the department has received kudos from various quarters, not least the national award given the traff.i.cop scheme launched by the police. Maheh G. Patil, deputy commissioner of police is known for his dynamism, both in decision taking as well as implementing them.. Before coming to Pune in June 2008, he was a upper Police Superitendent in Solapur. He is from State Police Service. He began his stint by first focusing on signal jumping. The drivers stopping their vehicles on zebra crossings at traffic signals were taken to task by this campaign. The pictures of such offenders were taken.Many people, including some buses of publice transport PMPML were finedfor this offence. Then came making the fastening of seat belts mandatory even in the city limits.The four wheeler drivers who were till now used to drive without much care were upset and there were subdued voices of the protest. However, the department went ahead with its plan and today no four-wheeler driver in the city dares to drive without fastening the belt. The department assured action against state transport (ST) buses using Tilak road, which is out of bounds for heavy vehicles. DCP Patil held talks with the Maharashtra State Road Transport Corporation (MSRTC). Then came action against the errant auto rickshaw drivers, a sore thumb for the city. The drivers who refused to take passengers to nearby destination, those without proper documents were fined and given strict warnings. In the last three months, more than 350 drivers saw their licenses being suspended. Under Patil’s guidance, the Pune police started traff.i.cop scheme meant to bring some discpline in the traffic. Trafficop’, the hi-tech mobile governance system, bagged the national award for outstanding TBI (technology business incubator) and ISBA (Indian STEPs and business incubators association) instituted by the department of science and technology, government of India. After seeing the success of the scheme, regional transport authority has decided to implement it in thier own jurisdiction. The scheme in the RTO is in force on experminental basis from March 5 to April 5. Home ministry of the Maharashtra department has also given an extension of one month to the scheme. The scheme was originally for only three months. In these three months, more than one lakh 96 thousand offenders have been caught through this scheme. However, Patil does not receive only accolades. He braved a barrage of opposition when the decision to make Jangli Maharaj Road and Fergusson College Road one-way was taken. The proposed one-way traffic on these roads evoked sharp reactions from residents and shopkeepers in the area. The traffic branch of the Pune police decided to implement the one-way from March 5. According to the police, the decision was taken in a bid to decongest the traffic on these roads. After a month of experiment, the decision was made permanent. People and even PMPML had reservations about the plan. But the move paid off. According to DCP Patil, “Imposing fine on the offender is necessary to instill some sort of discipline in the drivers. With some of measures taken by us, a sort of methodical approach has come in the drivers. The response to our campaigns is also encouraging.”

Edition 15: Pioneer of Agro Tourism

Being a son of the soil takes on a very different0 meaning for Pandurang Taware. Born into a farmer’s household, he chose to pursue a professional career in tourism instead. Today, the 39-year-old chief of the Agri Tourism Development Corporation has carved out a niche for himself by pioneering the concept of agri-tourism in India. Since he started this business four years ago, nearly 50,000 guests have flocked to his farms in Baramati, Maharashtra to spend a holiday, and learn a thing or two about rustic living. Besides other reasons, Pune is on the global map because agricultural tourism more popularly known as agri-tourism. A concept initiated by Taware has been recognised by the United Nation World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO). The organisation, Agri Tourism Development Corporation (ATDC), came up with the concept two years ago to celebrate World Agritourism Day. Today this concept has been included in the world tourism event calender of 2010 released by the UNWTO. The event will be held in the city on May 16 at Balgandhrva Rangamandir. Taware, who comes from a farming family in Baramati himself, says, “Agri-tourism is not all about staying in a village and relishing the food. This is an opportunity to see the life of a farmer closely. They make up more than 60 per cent of India’s population. If you live on a farm, for whatever short duration and observe the daily chores of the villagers, you will surely learn to respect a farmer.” Taware got groups of farmers to come together and start co-operatives. So far, seven such agri-tourism co-operatives have been formed and started the Maharashtra State Agri and Rural Tourism Cooperatives Federation (MART). Besides Baramati, MART-affiliated members operate from 124 dedicated sites across Maharashtra. This has benefitted over 400 farmers so far. Now ATDC plans to expand its business to the economically backward regions of Maharashtra so farmers here can benefit from agritourism. Taware has a farm at Baramati where he developed an agri-tourism site four years ago.As many as 22 agri-tourism sites have been developed around Pune. Agri-tourism gives guests a chance to experience activities like milking cows, picking fruits, visiting wineries, swimming in a pond or bathing near a well.

Edition 15 : Go Biking with Google Maps

Now find your way by Google bike routes. Google’s new gadget Google Maps for cyclists has been a great hit with riders across the world. Chances are high that many will make their best to lay their hands on this amazing device that would certainly redefine cycling. The good thing is that the Internet giant has already expressed its eagerness to offer customized directions for bicyclists. The company has earlier unrolled devices that helped people in driving, walking or riding public transit. But bringing out such a gadget for bicyclists was not an easy job. It took the company some time to bring it out. Talking about this product on Google’s official blog, product manager Shannon Guymon said: "We knew that when we added the feature, we wanted to do it right. We wanted to include as much bike trail data as possible, provide efficient routes, allow riders to customize their trip, make use of bike lanes, calculate rider-friendly routes that avoid big hills and customize the look of the map for cycling to encourage folks to hop on their bikes." Gathering trail-map data was not a cakewalk for the company. Insiders say that Google worked with the Rails-to-Trails Conservancy to produce it. "The demand for trail maps and information has never been higher, especially as more people recognize biking as a viable, inexpensive and healthy alternative to driving," Rails-to-Trails President Keith Laughlin said in a statement. The easy-to-use gadget comes with bike paths and bike lanes. Besides, it will also provide information on other recommended routes in the US.

Edition 15 : See Europe And Spend Less

Plan to Visit the Cheaper Countries Cheapest countries in Western Europe: Portugal and Greece, although the Euro and European monetary policies are tending toward equalizing the price differential in these poorer countries. Transportation: Where to find Cheap(er) fuel. Last year it was Spain, where petrol was frequently found at less than 80 Euro cents per liter. Compare this with a cost over 1 Euro for many other destinations. Fuel in Europe is expensive, but the automobiles in Europe are generally more efficient, so a balance is achieved. Train Italy is still known for its extensive rail network and low ticket prices. If you are traveling around Italy, a rail pass may not net you much savings. Just buy your tickets as you need them at the ticket window or ticketing kiosks. Admissions: Card it! Most large cities in Europe have discount cards that allow you to visit many museums at a discounted price. Check them out when you go to the local tourist information center--and remember that many have a time limit which may make them less useful to folks who don't want to see lots of museums in a couple days. When you go up to the ticket window in a European train station, be ready to spout off your destination, whether you want a one-way or round trip, and the departure time of the train you've selected. If you're getting your tickets in advance, ask at the window if there are other trains that might be cheaper that day. Rent Cars or lease Diesel Specify a Diesel car when you rent or lease. In many countries, diesel fuel is subsidized, and costs far less than gasoline. It is also widely available, no need to worry about finding it. Many turbo diesels get great gas mileage as well, sweetening the deal. Leasing, or buy-back deals, can also save you money if you're renting for more than 17 days. Lodging Vacation rentals are becoming more popular. You'll get room to stretch out and a kitchen to cook in, saving tons of cash over eating out all the time. There are still some one and two star hotels in Europe with bathrooms down the hall. In countries like Switzerland, sharing a bath can cut the price of a room almost in half. Look for small, locally owned, one and two star hotels or a family hostel. Most of them won't have an Internet presence, so you might have to ask at the tourist information point in or near a train station. Of course, you can improvise some tricks of your own. Saving money comes naturally to us. So with these tricks, you can have a bon voyage any time!

Remember, Every Trip Is An Exploration
Before you embark on a travel with your family, there are things you should better heed at. These will not only help you manage the journey very well, it will also make the trip an unforgettable affair, in positive sense. When you travel with the family, especially kids, the first thing to remember is that attitude is everything. Expect problems, go with the flow and everything will work out great. Travel is hard and traveling with kids is even harder. But if you treat your trip like an adventure, annoyances, missteps and mishaps simply become small obstacles for your hearty band of explorers to overcome. If you get stressed when you cann’t find your hotel, your kids will get stressed too. When you think of it as exploring the neighborhood, everyone will feel better. Things to have * Don’t forget the drugs. It is always a good idea to travel with some children’s medicine so that you don’t have to worry about tracking down a drug store in a strange neighborhood at night. Depending on how much space you have, you might want to bring small containers of cough syrup or tabs. With long flights, giving your child something to help them sleep can make everyone a lot happier. Kids get dirty, especially when they’re traveling. Bring a small container of special travel detergent so you can use your hotel sink to remove the damage from your child’s meatball mishap. Bring a variety of sizes if possible. A small and sturdy nightlight can help you turn a scary hotel room into a cozy den. Leave at the right time. If you kids nap, use their schedules to your advantage. For example, if you’ve got a long car ride, see if you can’t leave an hour or so before their nap time.

Getting The Most Out of Your Flight
* Do a little pre-planning. Map out aisles, windows and think about where to place your family. Do you want everyone in the same row or would you really rather spread them out a little? You can get creative here. * Special meals. For the airlines that still serve food, most have Children’s meals. They tend to include more kid friendly options and often come with toys or stickers. * Lots of airlines have dropped special boarding for families with small children. If that’s an option for you, consider using it, especially if there is only one grown-up. Keep Mom or Grandpa or whoever in the boarding area until the gate agents physically force you onto the plane. This way your kids can run around and burn energy in the much roomier boarding area than in the 672 square inches they will attempt to occupy for the next four hours. * Choose your toys and books wisely. Toys with lots of small, moving parts are bound to end up as vacuum food. Things like a good set of portable art supplies with crayons, markers and some paper can transform into hours of amusement (or at least distraction). One school of thought is to bring your kids’ favorites. * A lot of the things can be said about trying to fit in with your baby's schedule. Try to book flights that will not upset your infant's routine. Many parents prefer night flights or early morning flights particularly for longer journeys. Try to avoid connecting flights where possible.

Edition 15-: Vacation To Mama's Village

Summer vacations are round a corner with a very small business of annual exams to care of. With IPL as distraction all school going readers and mainly their parents will have tough time to chose between studies and watching people like yusuf pathan going beserk with six of very ball faced. It is a difficult choice for me as well. Most of us have made plans for vacations. Some must have planned at exotic foreign or domestic locations. Some must have planned for beaten domestic/abroad tracks. Some will plan after series of entrance exams. But i am sure there will be a plan. But amidst this holiday galore and economic freedom to achieve that, have we lost upon an institution called as "Mamacha gaon". Till say about mid to late eighties (or say liberalization) most of my friends had single agenda to run across to relative's place: be it near or inside Pune or be it out of town. Famous songs have been written to depict that excitement. This stay at the relatives place was mostly for a week or in some cases month. Families of the past never lacked in numbers. We had cousins pouring in at same time and used to have gala time. My own uncle and grand parents used to stay in Dombivali. We children in Pune had great fascination for Mumbai and its suburbs. Reasons: Different life style, local trains, crowd, famous landmarks, food, and most importantly cricket (to play, watch on TV and discuss). Dombivali is a unique concoction: Open gutters, haphazard buildings, mosquitoes, sultry climate; seemingly not so good place. But due to people there, fun they used to have, it created a unique place. We have some great memories of my own 'Mama's Gaon'. We used to count our days before going to the place.Have we lost out on this institution? Some people may not agree. But many will I suppose. There can be many reasons. • Increase in Economic Power: Only way of bringing about change as expected during vacations was to travel to place where there was no need to spend on hotels and food. Thus public transport was only mode. With high disposable incomes as a result of economy this constraint was removed. With international and domestic airfares going south it became more fashionable to travel to holiday locations. Nuclear families: With lack in relations either resulting out of less siblings and more complicated intra family relations, it became difficult to justify 3-4 guests for whole long duration. • Advent of private transport and better roads : With larger number of families having access to Cars, traveling to mumbai /konkan/western maharashtra became matter of hrs , so need to stay was removed from any vacation plans. • Alternate modes of occupation: Vacation camps, interest groups eat a major pie of vacations. I see some kids getting busier in vacations than during academic year. It’s out of peer pressure or out of parental pressure for kids to excel in everything. • US migration: At least one member of a family has migrated to US . These people holiday mainly in December. Reasons can be numerous, but i am sure, like many institutions in Society, this institution is on decline. Its worthwhile to revive this. There are many wonderful memories there. Is anyone planning vacation to his or here Mamache gaon. Do comment. Author runs a blog

Edition 15: Why do i love to travel

Why do I love travelling? Well, I guess it’s because I’m addicted - and have been since I was a teenager. I’m now a recycled teenager, retired, but still hooked on all things foreign! My addiction started at secondary school, where I thoroughly enjoyed being taught French by a Welshman (alas, like Mark Twain, when I’m in France I still fail to make those idiots understand their own language!). My favourite lesson was always geography, where Mr King brought to life the wonders of the world. One day, my English teacher mentioned that she spent her summer vacations travelling abroad; in the lunch break, she proudly showed me her passport with every page covered in immigration stamps bearing exotic names that I’d only seen in an atlas. The seed was sown. On leaving school in the early-sixties, when overseas travel was still very much in its infancy, I started work as a clerk in a holiday company. My first journey, at the age of 17, was to the Aegean Islands of Greece: by train to Athens - three days there and four days back - and then by ferries to Mykonos, Delos, Tinos, Paros, Naxos and other islands whose names probably ended in ‘os’ too. The seed had germinated. Over the next 35 years, that seed grew into something which filled every part of my being. I couldn’t wait for my next ‘fix’ of foreign air - and still can't. I've been fortunate to visit countless countries; how fortunate was only brought home to me recently while preparing for my seventh visit to India (India - again?). Every country has its own character, language, food, religion, even smell. And, on the way there, while there, and on the way back, I can spend time with interesting people and see wonderful things that others might only ever see in books or on television. I’ve experienced the hospitality and sometimes hostility of the local populous, shared their joy or sadness, and learnt as much about myself as about them. Travel has opened doors to my knowledge, showed me that my comfortable life isn't shared by everyone on this planet, and it's given me some great tales to dine on for years to come!

Edition 15- Beaches of Maharashtra

Maharashtra is one of the coastal states of India with a good number of seaside resorts and beach resorts. If one has a special interest in forts and their history, the costal fort sites of Maharashtra offer the perfect place to start on an enlightening heritage tour. Juhu Beach : one of the largest and frequently visited tourist beaches of India on the shores of Arabian Sea, mostly famous as the best hangout zone of Mumbai city, famous Mumbai Bhelpuri and Kulfi. Marine Drive : Chowpatty Beach, situated in the heart of Mumbai, rich historical link with the freedom movement, the spot where Lord Ganesha's images are immersed after the conclusion of the Ganesha Chaturthi festival. Madh Island Beach: a popular picnic spot, dotted with exquisite bungalows and an urban aura, the most lavish beach parties held outside Mumbai. Marve-Manori-Gorai: three beautiful and serene getaways. Marve is a quaint little fishing village, the nearest and the quietest of the three. Gorai and Manori, a little further away popular for all night beach parties. Ganapatipule Beach: a beach with a religious flavour, one of the 'Ashta Ganapati' pilgrimage sites of India. Murud - Janjira: a convenient base for the nearby beaches, former capital town of the Siddis of Janjira, popular for its alluring and spacious beach fringed with palm trees, two new beach sites of Kashid and Nandgaon nearby. Baseein - served as an important shipbuilding center, the site of the Portuguese defeat at the hands of the Marathas, a similar backdrop to that of Goa, one of the best choices to take some time off from the hectic schedule of city life. Dahanu-Bordi Beaches: a beautiful seaside in Thane district, vast stretch of unspoilt beach, coastline 17-km long, Chickoo (fruit) orchids. Harnai Beach - A very secluded beach site usually the most visited hotspot for the people of Mumbai and Pune. Kihim & Mandwa: a beautiful and clean beach, unspoilt and isolated ambience. Vijaydurg: Sindhudurg - once naval-bases of the Great Chattrapati Shivaji, picturesque beaches, Vijayadurg fort built by Shivaji in the 17th century. Shriwardhan: Harihareshwar - an irresistible beach site blessed with gentle winds, soft sands and inviting waters, attracts beach lovers in large numbers, a splendid place for seafood lovers Tarkarli: a secluded golden beach with aquamarine waters. Velneshwar : beach is clean and natural and is lined with coconut trees, swimming and other water sports, beach is free from rocks. Vengurla: Malvan - a beach famous for its long stretch of shimmering sand, thick cashew, coconut, and jackfruit and mango groves, Vengurla rocks, known as Burnt Islands. MTDC’s project Konkan Diving Dreams was inaugurated two years ago at Tarkarli beach. Blue water, golden sand, coral reefs, dolphins and abundance of endangered underwater animals sound like features of an exotic destination in the Pacific Ocean. Exotic marine life has been found along the Konkan coast after the MTDC’s initiation of eco-tourism. Tarkarli, Vengurla rocks and Sindhudurg Fort, has natural treasure of marine life. The rock formations have maintained marine life and one can find here amazing corals, colourful fishes and Sargasum forest. State Government has laid the foundation stone for Scuba diving in training centre and also inaugurated water sports activity in Karli river of Tarkarli village.

Edition 15- Alapuzha : Age Of Shikkari Boats

C G Vasan/UNI Alappuzha: It is the age of ''Shikkari'' boats in Alappuzha, which is famous across the world over for its houseboats. Experience the true life of local people and enjoy the serene beauty of backwaters rowing the ''Shikkari'' boats, which has become an increasing trend in the Alappuzha backwaters. Till some years back, both foreign and domestic tourists depended mainly on houseboats, the main tourist attraction in the lake city of Alappuzha. But, with the introduction of ''Shikkari''boats, the foreigners are now opting for this open boats, as their favourite mode of water transport. ''The main reason for switching over to the ''sikkhari'' boats from the houseboats is, of course, its cheaper charges, as a family of four or five members had to spent about Rs 10,000 if they wanted to spent one night on the waves of lakes in house boats,'' said Sudheer, who manages the AKG house boats and motor boats. About the popularity of these kinds of crafts, Sudheer said the tourists who did not have advance booking for house boats could hire the boats easily. Even they could go through small canals and enjoy the true village life in the back water. ''In the past, there was little demand for such boats but now the demand is very high as 60 boats are operating in Alappuzha alone,'' he added. The seating capacity of the boats, converted from fiber fishing boats with fitting outboard engines, ranged between six to 14, and the rent for one hour had been fixed between Rs 200 to Rs 350. ''The boats have been equipped with sufficient security systems like life jackets and fire extinguishing systems,'' Sudheer said. The AKG society was now operating about 20 boats, most of them owned by local people, he said.

Edition 15: Can Internet Win Nobel peace Prize

Ker Than/ If some people have their way, you could be the winner of this year's Nobel Peace Prize. "You" in this case being used broadly to mean the billions of people who log online daily. Yes, the Internet is one of a record 237 nominations for the coveted prize this year. Some groups have been advocating the Internet for the prize for months, but the nomination was officially accepted only this week, during the first meeting of the Norwegian Nobel Committee on March 9. Nominations for the Nobel Peace Prize are not open to the public. Only a select group of people, including previous laureates, members of national governments and select university members and scientists, can nominate candidates for future prizes. The Nobel Institute, which awards the annual prize, does not release the list of nominees, but nominators sometimes announce their selections. According to the BBC, the Internet submission was backed by Shirin Ebadi, who was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 2003 for her human rights work, and by Nicholas Negroponte, founder of the $100 laptop project, One Laptop per Child. The Internet nomination is also heavily backed by the Italian version of Wired magazine, which last November launched the Web site "Internet for Peace" to raise awareness for the campaign. A statement on the Web site calls the Internet "a tool for peace." Anyone who uses it "can sow the seeds of non-violence. And that's why the next Nobel Peace Prize should go to the Net. A Nobel for each and every one of us." The prize will be awarded on Oct. 8, and will include a cash award of $1.4 million. If the Internet were to actually win this year's Nobel Peace Prize, it would not be the first non-human winner. The 1965 prize went to the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF); the 1985 prize was awarded to the International Physicians for the Prevention of Nuclear War; and the 2007 prize was split between Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) and Al Gore for their efforts to counteract global warming. The Internet nomination for the Nobel Peace Prize is similar to Time magazine's dedication of its Person of the Year issue to "You," in honor of the millions of users of online sites such as Wikipedia, YouTube, and Facebook.

Edition 15 : Indira Gandhi Yearned For A Daughter

Vijay Satokar/PTI The letter by Gandhi is among several by the former prime minister to Singh, published by the former diplomat,author and parliamentarian in a new book.Blessed with two sons, Indira Gandhi, however, always yearned for a daughter. "My heart has always yearned for a daughter, so I can imagine your joy in Jagat's having a baby sister," Gandhi wrote to former diplomat K Natwar Singh, congratulating him on having a daughter. The letter by Gandhi is among several by the former prime minister to Singh, published by the former diplomat,author and parliamentarian in a new book. Brought out by Rupa, the 206-page book "Yours Sincerely, K Natwar Singh" also contains letters Singh wrote to and received from E M Forster, Rajaji, Lord Mountbatten, Dalai Lama, President Nyerere, Vijayalakshmi Pandit, M F Husain, Rajiv Gandhi, R K Narayan, Nargis Dutt and Dev Anand among many others. In another letter written in 1981, Gandhi wrote she felt depressed and isolated by the widespread cynicism, hypocrisy and hatred. "I have read some of the interviews in the book you left and I am depressed," she wrote. "I feel isolated, not because of policies, the correctness of which will be seen in time as it has been before. But while the earth spins on the beauty and with method, the world of men is a hollow one, where words have no meaning and sentiments, no feeling, the young have lost wonder, elan and even hope. Can a flame of idealism or avision of a better man be protected from all this cynicism, hypocrisy and hatred?" she wrote to the author. A year before she clamped emergency, Gandhi had written to Singh that she was engrossed in the domestic scene, which was extremely unpleasant and full of dangerous portents for "our democracy and for all the ideals for which India had stood" and which she had espoused in international forums. In 1980, after her re-election she wrote that the campaign was tough and hectic. "The real problems begin now. The economy is in a mess and beyond our border the dark clouds of cold war have gathered with rumblings of worst to come". On April 14, 1975, in another letter saying that shehad given in to a part of Morarji's demand about the Gujarat elections, Gandhi wrote "Our difficulties are acute and varied enough without having a dead Morarji haunting the scene.

Edition 15 :Germans Are Travel Champions

Tamsin Walker/Deutsche Welle If there is one title the Germans appear unwilling to relinquish, it is that of travel world champions. Figures released this week show that no nation's feet itch like theirs, even in these times of economic hardship. Wanderlust is alive and well, Klaus Laepple President of the German Travel Association (DRV) assured delegates attending the annual conference in Egypt. He said that "almost as many Germans had been on organised holidays (in 2009) as in the previous year," and that the industry had only suffered a three to four per cent loss as compared to 2008. He attributed this slight drop into sales volume to lower prices brought about by the global economic slump. But it is not only organised foreign vacations that are thriving, short trips, tailor-made trips and sejourns on home turf are also popular with the German public. So why, when other traditionally travel-happy nations are forced to trade their holidays for closer to home, are Germans still trotting the globe? Setting priorities Part of the answer is money. Although Germans have also been hit by the financial crisis, their general antipathy towards overspending means they have more money stashed under their mattresses to pay for things they really want. According to DRV spokeswoman Sybille Zeuch, “The average worker gets six weeks of leave per year. she And they want to use it to travel."