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Id-ul-zuha

Tuesday, November 25, 2008
Id-ul-Zuha (Bakr-Id), is a festival of great rejoice, special prayers and exchange of greetings and gifts mark this festival of Muslims. Id-ul-zuha, the festival of sacrifice is celebrated with traditional fervor and gaiety in India and the world. It is called Id-ul-Adha in Arabic and Bakr-Id in the Indian subcontinent, because of the tradition of sacrificing a goat or 'bakr' in Urdu. The word 'id' derived from the Arabic 'iwd' means 'festival' and zuha comes from 'uzhaiyya' which translates to 'sacrifice'.

According to Islamic belief, to test Ibrahim, Allah commanded him to sacrifice his son Ismail. He agreed to do it but found his paternal feelings hard to suppress. So he blindfolded himself before putting Ismail on the altar at the mount of Mina near Mecca. When he removed his bandage after performing the act, he saw his son standing in front of him, alive. On the altar lay a slaughtered lamb. Joyous festivities and somber rituals mark this event. Every Muslim owning property worth 400 grams of gold or more is expected to sacrifice a goat, sheep or any other four-legged animal during one of the three days of the festival. This symbolises devotion to Allah and his desires. The sacrificial meat is then distributed and partaken of after the Id prayers.


The festival also marks the completion of Haj (pilgrimage to Mecca, Saudi Arabia).

Chhattisgarh

Monday, November 24, 2008
Tourist Centres Chhattisgarh situated in the heart of India, is endowed with rich cultural heritage and attractive natural diversity. The State is full of ancient monuments, rare wildlife, carved temples, Buddhist sites, palaces, waterfalls, caves, rock paintings, and hill plateaus. Chhattisgarh offers the tourists "A Destination with a Difference". Bastar, with its unique cultural and ecological identity, will come as a breath of fresh air. Chitrakote Falls, a spot where the river Indravati has an abrupt fall of 96 ft, which are like horse shoe curve, are often compared to the Niagara falls. Tirathgarh Falls, the picturesque waterfall of Kanger river cascades down from a height of 100 ft in the form of steps. Other important destinations are the Keshkal valley, Kangerghat National Park, Kailash caves and Kutumbsar caves, which are rich in natural beauty.

In Bilaspur, Mahamaya temple at Ratanpur, Khutaghat waterfall, Dindneswari Devi temple of Mallahar and the Achanakmar sanctuary, Udanti sanctuary near Raipur, Pali and Kendai waterfall of Korba district are important places of tourist interest. The Sabari temple of Kharod Janjgir Champa, Nar Narayan temple of Sivarinarayan, Vishnu temple of Janjgir are important religious places. The tourism policy is focused on creating a unique image for the State and to position it as an attractive destination for both domestic as well as foreign tourists. Some major objectives of this policy are: To promote economically, culturally and ecologically sustainable tourism in the State; encourage and promote private sector initiatives in developing tourism-related infrastructure; limit the role of Government to that of facilitator and provider of public goods; increase the contribution of tourism to the economic development of interrelated sectors. The state has set up a State Tourism Promoting Board as the nodal agency for translation of the policy into action for the sustained development of the sector.

Festivals

Chhattisgarh is famous for its festivals. Pola, Nawakhai, Dussehara, Deepawali, Holi, Govardhan Pooja are celebrated with gaiety and festivity.

Rajasthan-Desert National Park

Friday, November 21, 2008
The Desert National Park is an excellent example of the eco-system of the Thar Desert and its rich fauna. The Sudashri forest post is the most ideal place for observing wildlife in the Desert National Park. Sand dunes form less than 20 per cent of the park, which consists of craggy rocks, pavements and compact salt lake bottoms, inter-medial areas and fixed dunes.

Its inhabitants include the blackbuck, chinkara, wolf, Indian fox, desert fox, hare and desert cat. Flights of sand-grouse start coming to waterholes from sunrise onwards. One can also hear the morning call of the grey partridge. Blue tailed and green bee-eaters, common and bush quail and Indian rollers are birds, which are commonly found around waterholes. The park is also home to the great Indian bustard - the state bird of Rajasthan.

Orissa Festivals

Wednesday, November 19, 2008
Every state has its own festivals and rituals. Orissa being a land of ancient and sacred temples, and a state where three religions flourished, is thronged by pilgrims throughout the year. There are a large number of fairs and festivals celebrated in the state. There are festivals relating to each religion, tribal festivals, festivals relating to Lord Jagannath, the presiding deity of the Puri Temple, and many seasonal exhibitions and fairs as well as special festivals such as the Konark Festival, the Rajarani Music Festival, the Puri Beach Festival etc..

RELIGIOUS FESTIVALS

Major Religious Festivals :Mahashiva Ratri, Durga Puja, Ganesha Chaturthi, Lakshmi Puja, Deepavali, Dusserah, Dola Purnima (Holi).

Minor Religious Festivals : Akshyaya Trutiya, Gahma Purnima, Makara Sankranti, Ashokashtami, Nuakhai, Basanta Panchami, Hingula Yatra, Prathamastami, Baseli Puja, Janmastami, Raja Sankranti, Chaitra Parba, Kartika Purnima, Rama Navami, Khudurukuni Osa, Savitri Brata, Dhanu Yatra, Kumar Purnima, Shamba Dasami, Sital Shashti, Magha Saptami, Visuva Samkranti, Viswakarma Puja.

SPECIAL FESTIVALS

Major Special Festivals :Konark Festival, Kalinga Mahotsav, Raja Rani Music Festival, Shreekstra Utsav, Ekamra Utsav, Puri Beach Festival.

Minor Special Festivals :Dhauli Mahotsav, Folk Dance Festival, Khandagiri Festival, Konark Dance & Music Festival, Parab Festival.

Devka Beach

Monday, November 17, 2008
The Long shore - line at Devka has always fascinated the tourists. The beautiful and well tended amusement park with its musical fountain and kid's corner has become very popular, attracting bus loads of tourists every weekend. When the park is illuminated on festive days, it provides an enchanting sight. Most of the food joints and posh hotels are just within walking distance. Taxis and auto rickshaws are easily available to take you to Devka.

Children enjoy the facility of a pony - ride on the sands. The traveler can beat the summer heat by taking a swim in the cool waters of the sea. Those who are not very familiar with the beach at Devka should kindly take note that rough rocky formations are there beneath the water level.

How to Reach :
It is just 5 kms away from the Taxi Stand, Nani Daman. Auto Rikshaws are available.

Mizoram

Friday, November 14, 2008
Land
Mizoram is a mountainous region which became the 23rd State of the Indian Union in February, 1987. It was one of the districts of Assam till 1973 when it became a Union Territory. Sandwitched between Myanmar in the east and south and Bangladesh in the west, Mizoram occupies an area of great stategic importace in the north-eastern corner of India. It has a total of 722 Km. boundary with Myanmar and Bangladesh.

Mizoram has the most variegated hilly terrain in the eastern part of India. The hills are steep and are seperated by rivers which flow whether to the north or south creating deep gorges between the hill ranges. The average height of the hill is about 1000 metres. The highest paek in Mizoram is the Blue Mountain (Phawngpui) with a height of 2210 metres.

Climate
Mizoram ha a pleasant climate. it is generally cool in summer and not very cold in winter. During winter, the temperature varies from 11ºC to 21ºC and in summer it varies between 20ºC to 29ºC. The entire are is under the direct influence of the monsoon. It rains heavily from May to September and the average rainfall is 254 cm, per annum. The average rainfall inAizawl is 208 cm, and Lunglei has 350 cm. Winter in Mizoram is rain0-free and is very pleasant; the skies are wonderfully blue, and in the morning the mist formed between the hills gives an enchanting view of wide stretches of a vast lake of cloud. Mizoram has great natural beauty and endless variety of landscape and is also very rich in flora and fauna. Almost all kinds of tropical tres and plants thrive in Mizoram. The hills are marvellously green.

Chandigarh Botanical Garden & Nature Park

Wednesday, November 12, 2008
Chandigarh, the 'city beautiful' situated in the foothills of Shivaliks is blessed with a climate that is suitable to accommodate number of species of flora of different climatic regions. It is worthwhile setting up a Botanical Garden here with a purpose to conserve the flora of the region as well as those exotic and near extinct species. With this background, Chandigarh Administration has established a Botanical Garden near village Sarangpur. This garden spreads over 176 acres of land.

The garden consists of 15 Botanical Sections. The primary aim of setting up of Botanical Garden is to promote research, education, ex-situ conservation and to spread awareness about our floral heritage.This garden has been connected with the nature reserve known as Patiala-ki-Rao forest through a causeway. This garden when fully developed would be one of the biggest in this region. In addition, the garden would help promote eco-tourism in Chandigarh. Various sections in the Garden are:-

Medicinal Plants Garden: Medicinal Plants Garden/ Herbal Garden has been developed over 40 acres of land. More than 75 species of medicinal trees and 55 species of medicinal shrubs, herbs & climbers have already been planted in this section. Tree species like Harar, Bahera, Amla, Neem, Arjun, Maulsari, Bael, Kathal, Sandalwood, Kachnar, Camphor, Lasura, Gular, Rudraksha, Jamun, Sita Ashok, Guggal, Putranjeeva etc. have been planted alongwith about 55 varieties of medicinal herbs like Giloe, Akarkara, Gokhru, Ghritkumari, Ashwagandha, Sarpagandha, Tulsi, Mehndi, Kalmegh, Bhringraj, Mandukparni, Brahmi, Bansa, Vacha etc.

Chandigarh Bamboo Valley

Tuesday, November 11, 2008
About 27.5 acres of land along the N-choe passing through Sector 23-A between Children Traffic Park & Govt. High School was lying unutilized since inception of Chandigarh. This land has 15 species of trees besides bamboo groves along the seasonal choe, hence names as Bamboo Valley. The Bamboo Valley has a variety of rare trees which include 110 trees of Marror fail, 45 trees of Amla, 30 trees of Akash Neem, 15 trees of Silver oak, 8 trees of Inter lobium, 8 trees of Amaltas, 8 trees of Chakrassia, 7 trees of Acacia aurculiformis, 5 trees of Behra, 4 trees of Kathal, 4 trees of Mango, 2 trees of Pipa, 2 trees of Kankchampa, 2 trees of Mohagani, 2 trees of Dek.

More valuable and environ - friendly trees viz. Phoenix fishtail pal, Michlia Champa, Podocarpus, Aganthus, Golden bottle brush & Shurbs are being planted.

Chandigarh

Thursday, November 6, 2008
Introduction
Chandigarh is the best-planned city in India, with architecture which is world-renowned, and a quality of life, which is unparalleled. As the capital of the states of Punjab and Haryana, and the Union Territory of Chandigarh it is a prestigious city. The face of modern India, Chandigarh, is the manifestation of a dream that Pt. Jawahar Lal Nehru envisaged and Le Corbusier executed.

Serenity and a city are two diametrically opposite concepts, which however, get belied in the 'City Beautiful'. Chandigarh is a rare epitome of modernization co-existing with nature's preservation. It is here that the trees and plants are as much a part of the construction plans as the buildings and the roads. India's first planned city, is a rich, prosperous, spic and span, green city rightly called "THE CITY BEAUTIFUL ".

General information
LocationNorth India
Linking RoadsNational Highway 21 and 22
SignificanceCapital of Two States
Villages24 (As per 2001 census)
Population9.6 Lacs (As per 2001 census)
LanguagesPunjabi, Hindi, English
Best Season to visitThe best season to visit Chandigarh is autumn, i.e., frommid- August to November, when the weather is pleasant,neither too hot, nor too cold, prevalent Winds from the SouthEast in Summer and from the Northwest in Winter.

History of Chandigarh
August 15, 1947, the day of independence of India was also the day of division of a nation into India and Pakistan, this was also the day of division of State of Punjab (Punj+Aab) named so for being the land of five rivers being divided into two states West Punjab gone in Pakistan with retaining Lahore as its capital and East Punjab in India became a state without a capital. Shimla which used to be the summer capital of India and had the infrastructure was selected as the temporary capital of Punjab.

The Government of Punjab selected brilliant young engineer Mr. P.L. Verma to undertake the tasks of search for a permanent Capital City for the State of Punjab.At that time the Punjabis were very nostalgic about Lahore. Till the last moment they hoped that Lahore would remain with India. The loss was felt acutely and people were eager for a city similar to Lahore be built. So Verma and his team of engineers savoured the concept of a larger independent town, when most of the bureaucrats and politicians favoured the concept of a small settlement attached to one of the existing towns. Bureaucrats were conscious of the acute shortage of funds and the very small financial outlay for Punjab. Each politician was eager that this capital be built in the area from where he came. All politicians were trying to pull the capital towards their own constituency.

Under such circumstances Mr. Verma had to lobby intensively with the bureaucrats and the politicians. And it was essentially an account of his dedicated and relentless efforts and lobbying that this idea of a large independent town was finally accepted by Government of Punjab.

The Cultural ComplexSector 10

Chandigarh is the cultural capital of the region. Many artists and writers live in the city. The frequently held exhibitions, and performances by singers, dancers, musicians and actors have inculcated among city residents a desire for the best in performing visual and plastic arts besides literary encounters.

Le Corbusier earmarked a portion of Sector 10 as the Cultural Complex which would include an Audio-Visual Training Institute, a Museum, an Art Gallery, and a 'Miracle Box' ( which never got build ) and later replaced by the Science Museum.

At present there is the Government College of Arts, the Government Museum and Art Gallery alongwith a separate 'Pavilion for Temporary Exhibitions' - now converted into the City Museum. The 'Miracle Box' has been substituted by the Museum of Evolution of Life, not designed by Le Corbusier, but located in the Cultural Complex. The Theatre for Performing Arts was later realised as the Tagore Theatre designed by Aditya Prakash in Sector 18.

How to reach
By Air
The airport is 11 km from downtown. Taxis are available for Airport transfer. Indian Airlines, Jet Airways and Air Deccan connects Chandigarh with New Delhi the National Capital. Chandigarh Tourism has well maintained Tourist Information Centre at the Airport. Air Deccan recently started the Jammu-Chandigarh Air connection which is a great help for pilgrims to Mata Vaishno Devi.

By Rail
Chandigarh is linked with New Delhi, the National Capital by Rail. The Chandigarh Railway Station is 8 Kms from the city centre in Sector 17. The twice daily Shatabdi, Jan Shatabdi and Himalayan Queen connects New Delhi and Chandigarh. Paschim Express connects the city to Mumbai, Sadbhavna to Lucknow, Kerala Sampark Kranti to Kerala and Chennai Express to Chennai.

By Road
Chandigarh is well connected by road and buses provide an important transport link. There are services from various states such as- Haryana, Punjab, Himachal, and Delhi. It is a gateway to Himachal Pradesh as one can reach hill stations like Kasauli, Chail, Shimla etc within in a few hours drive. The hill stations Kullu & Manali with Rohtang Glacier are accessible from Chandigarh. The Union Territory of Chandigarh is well served by an excellent network of roads. The National Highways No. 21 (Ambala-Kinnaur) and 22 (Chandigarh-Leh) are the chief road arteries linking Chandigarh with the rest of the country. The city is within motorable distance from a number of popular towns and pilgrimage centres. Buses of several State Road Transport Corporations connect Chandigarh with many cities and towns of neighbouring states. Buses may be air-conditioned, deluxe, semi-deluxe or ordinary. The Inter-State Bus Terminus (ISBT) is located in Sector 17 (City Centre).

Uttarakhand

Wednesday, November 5, 2008
General Information
Area 53,484 sq km
Population 8,489,349
Capital Dehradun
Languages Hindi, Garhwali, Kumaoni

History and Geography
Uttarakhand finds mention in the ancient Hindu scriptures as Kedarkhand, Manaskhand and Himavant. The Kushanas, Kunindas, Kanishka, Samudra Gupta, the Pauravas, Katuris, Palas, the Chandras and Pawaras and the British have ruled it in turns. It is often called the Land of the Gods (Dev Bhoomi), because of its various holy places and abundant shrines. The hilly regions of Uttarakhand offer unspoilt landscapes to the tourist-pilgrim. The present State of Uttarakhand was earlier a part of the United Province of Agra and Awadh, which came into existence in 1902. In 1935, the name of the State was shortened to the United Province. In January 1950, the United Province was renamed as Uttar Pradesh, and Uttarakhand remained a part of Uttar Pradesh before it came into being on 9 November, 2000, the 27th State of India. Located in the foothills of the Himalayas, the State has international boundaries with China (Tibet) in the north and Nepal in the east. On its north-west lies Himachal Pradesh, while on the south is Uttar Pradesh.

Agriculture
About 90 per cent of the population of Uttarakhand depends on agriculture. The total cultivated area in the State is 7,84,117 hectares.

Festivals
The world-famous Kumbh Mela/Ardh Kumbh Mela is held in Hardwar at an interval of every twelfth/sixth year. Other prominent fairs/festivals are: Devidhura Mela (Champawat), Purnagiri Mela (Champawat), Nanda Devi Mela (Almora), Gauchar Mela (Chamoli), Baisakhi (Uttarkashi), Magha Mela (Uttarkashi), Uttaraini Mela (Bageshwar), Vishu Mela (Jaunsar Vavar), Peerane-Kaliyar (Roorkee), and Nanda Devi Raj Jat Yatra, held every twelfth year.

Tourist Centres
Prominent places of pilgrimage/tourist interests are Gangotri, Yamunotri, Badrinath, Kedarnath, Hardwar, Rishikesh, Hemkund Sahib, Nanakmatta, etc. Kailash Mansarovar Yatra can be performed through Kumaon region. The world-famous Valley of Flowers, Pindari Glacier, Roop Kund, Dayara Bugyal, Auli, and hill stations like Mussoorie, Dehradun, Chakrata, Nainital, Ranikhet, Bageshwar, Bhimtal, Kausani are the important places of tourist interest.

Transport
Roads: The total length of metalled roads in Uttarakhand is 19,543 km. The length of PWD roads is 17,545 km, while the length of roads built by local bodies is 1,998 km.
Railways: The main railway stations are Dehradun, Hardwar, Roorkee, Kotdwar, Kashipur, Udhamsingh Nagar, Haldwani, Ramnagar and Kathgodam.
Aviation: There are air strips at Jolly Grant (Dehradun), and Pantnagar (Udham Singh Nagar). Air strips at Naini-Seni (Pithoragarh), Gauchar (Chamoli) and Chinyalisaur (Uttarkashi) are under construction. From this year Pawan Hans Ltd., has started helicopter service from Rudraprayag to Kedarnath for pilgrims.

Christmas

Monday, November 3, 2008
Christmas originates from the word Cristes maesse, or 'Christ's Mass'. The first Christmas is estimated to be around 336 AD in Rome. It is celebrated on 25th December all over the world, to commemorate the birth of Jesus Christ, the Sun of God. It is regarded as one of the most important of all Christian festivals. It is a public holiday in India and most of the other countries.

There is the widely accepted Christian legend of the New Testament relating to the birth of Christ. In the story, God sent angel Gabriel to a girl named Mary, a virgin. Gabriel told Mary that she would give birth to the Son of God, and the child would be named Jesus. He would grow up to become a king, and his kingdom would have no boundaries.

The angel Gabriel also visited Joseph and told him that Mary would give birth to a child and advised him to take good care of her, and not to abandon her. On the night that jesus was born, Mary and Joseph were on their way to Bethlehem to get their names registered as per the rules then. They found refuge in a stable, where Mary gave birth to Jesus at midnight and laid him in a manger. Thus Jesus, the Son of God was born.

Christmas celebrations begin with a midnight mass, which is considered to be an essential part of the celebrations, it is followed by merrymaking. Children in brightly colored dresses, accompanied by an orchestra of drums and cymbals, perform group dances using gay-colored sticks.

St. Benedict, alias Santa Claus, is a legendary chubby oldie figure, clad in red and white dress, who rides the reindeer and forms a significant part of the celebrations especially for children. He loves kids and gets chocolates, gifts and other desired goodies for them, which he apparently places in their stockings at night.

People sing carols in the glory of the Lord during Christmas. They go from door to door preaching the message of love and brotherhood.

The Christmas tree is popular all over the world for its grandeur. People decorate their homes with trees and hang mistletoe in every corner. After the church mass, people engage in friendly visits and feast and by exchange of greetings and gifts, they spread the message of peace and goodwill.

There are some popular churches in India specially in Goa, where Christmas is celebrated with great fervour and enthusiasm. Most of these churches were established during the Portuguese and British regime in India.

Some of the major churches in India include St. Joseph Cathedral and Medak church in Andhra Pradesh; St. Cathedral, The Church of St. Francis of Assisi and the Basilica of Bom Jesus in Goa; St. John's Church in Wilderness and the Christ Church in Himachal Pradesh; Santa Cruz Basilica Church and St. Francis Church in Kerala; Holy Christ Church and Mount Mary Church in Maharashtra; Christ the King Church and Velankanni Church in Tamil Nadu; and All Saints Cathedral and Kanpur Memorial Church in Uttar Pradesh.



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