The mystery behind Shimla’s ‘Scandal Point’

News4u-Travel Desk- It is a famous address in a famous city and among the must visit spots for tourists. But exactly why Shimla’s ‘Scandal Point’ has been named so is still a tantalizing mystery.

The only thing agreed upon is that the place, situated in the queen of hills where the Ridge and the Mall (road) converge, got its name in the 19th century.

The story goes that the then Maharaja (ruler) of Patiala had eloped with the daughter of the British Viceroy. This had led to the Maharaja being banished from entering Shimla by the British authorities. He countered the move by setting himself a new summer capital - now famous hill resort of Chail, 45 km from Shimla.

But with the real sequence of events still a suspense, Chandigarh based author Manju Jaidka, a professor at Panjab University’s Department of English, has tried to unveil the history behind it.

In her historical fiction “Scandal Point” (Publisher: Rupa, Price: Rs.195), Jaidka has tried to get to the bottom of the mystery.

“It’s a place with which everyone has an associated memory. Since my childhood, I have grown listening to stories about how the Scandal Point came into being and how it got its name. But they were usually vague memories that passed on through ages. So I decided to go on researching about it. I might be wrong in my assumption of the story but this is what I could make out after looking into the facts of the matter,” Manju Jaidka said.

“The most common story told about the Scandal Point was that of the Maharaja of Patiala, Bhupinder Singh, eloping with the British Viceroy’s daughter in 1892. He was banned by the British from entering Shimla. So, he constructed a summer capital for himself at a small village called Chail. And the place of intersection of the Ridge and the Mall, where he eloped with her, came to be called as Scandal Point,” Jaidka said.

But according to the author, the story about Maharaja Bhupinder Singh cannot be true. While going through the archives at the Patiala palace and other places, she came across some facts which suggested otherwise.

“How could he (Bhupinder Singh) have eloped with a British lady and constructed a palace at Chail after being banished when he was just one year old at that time? Probably because of his colourful nature and many wives, he is mistaken by the people,” Jaidka said.

The author believes that the Maharaja in question has to be Bhupinder’s father, Rajindra Singh.

“It is on record that Maharaja Rajindra Singh had an English wife. According to the facts that I have gone through, she also had a son. But no one ever knew where the mother and son disappeared. In my book, I have kept them alive and the story is woven around their lives. I may not be correct in my assumption, but when I thought that this might have happened in my head over and over again, I felt as if it was all true,” she explains.

In the book, the author has tried to come up with what might have happened.

She leaves the reader saying: “The mysterious ambience the (Viceregal) Lodge has, it seemed the best to end there as even I am not aware what the real truth behind the Scandal Point is.” IANS


Shimla’s ‘Scandal Point’

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Seville

News4u-Travel Desk-Almost everything about Seville is different from Paris: the art, the architecture, the food, the streets, the trees, the music, the shops.

But it has all of these, and showcases them with the same passion and sensuality that has made Paris the world capital of romance. Orange trees line every central street, scenting the dry Andalusian air with their acidic fruit.

Flamenco music drifts from dimlit bars where locals and tourists sit side-by-side drinking good red wine at outrageously low prices. And best of all is the tapas, cooked in myriad bars and cafés, all crammed with customers ordering calamari and aioli or the local speciality of deep-fried eggplant drizzled in honey.

It has all the same pleasures as Paris, just done with an invigorating difference.

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Seville, Spain

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Malana -Little Greece

News4u-Travel Desk- Malana is a tiny unique village with about 100 houses and is situated to the north-east of Kullu Valley in Himachal Pradesh.

It is believed that one of the finest Charas or ” Malana Cream” is grown in this region. It is believed that Malana Cream is the most strongest and top-notch Charas till date.

This ancient solitary village in Malana is isolated from the rest of the world. The majestic peaks of Chandrakhani shadow the village and it is among the must visit offbeat places in India.

They are considered to be one of the first democracies in the world and do not follow the Constitution of India. They follow an indigenous system and they believe they are independent and superior.

Malana is also called as the “Little Greece in Himachal Pradesh” as the Malanis believe that they are the descendents of Alexander-The Great!

Malana -Little Greece

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Khajjiar – The Mini Switzerland of India

News4u-Travel Desk- Khajjiar, often called as India’s Switzerland, is a hill station in Chamba District of Himachal Pradesh.

The hill station is picturesquely set in the midst of magnificent ‘Deodar’ forests.

The clump of reeds and the green meadow add an exquisite charm to this place. A small plateau in its green turf of dense pine and Deodar forests along its fringes adds to the pastoral scenery.

This offbeat place in India has the rarest combination of three eco systems. The lakes, the pastures and the forests come together to make a visit to this place a unique experience.

Hence, it is also popularly called theMini Switzerland of Himachal Pradesh.

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Khajjiar – The Mini Switzerland of India

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Tracking world`s permafrost thawing

News4u-Travel Desk- A new data network has been developed to track the world’s permafrost meltdown.

In the data portal, the Global Terrestrial Network for Permafrost, researchers first collect all the existing permafrost temperature and active thickness layer data from Arctic, Antarctic and mountain permafrost regions and then make it freely available for download.

This new portal can serve as an early warning system for researchers and decision-makers around the globe.

Although the world’s permafrost is one of the most important pieces in Earth’s climate-system puzzle, to date it has been missing in most climate models.

The reason: data on temperature and the active layer thickness were neither comprehensive nor were they available in a standard format suitable for modelling. With the new Global Terrestrial Network for Permafrost (GTN-P), scientists from 25 countries have now filled this gap in the data.

Permafrost expert Hugues Lantuit from Alfred Wegener Institute, Helmholtz Centre for Polar and Marine Research (AWI) said that if researchers want to understand the extent to which climate change is causing the permafrost to thaw and the effect this thawing will in turn have on the climate, they have to closely observe these regions around the globe, and we also have to make our measurements freely available.

This can only work if it is based on international cooperation, which we managed to achieve comprehensively for the first time in this project, he added.

International climate research benefits from the database in two ways: Firstly, researchers are making global permafrost information available in a standard format, allowing it to be easily used in climate models and at the same time, they have also analysed the distribution of the measuring stations using statistical methods and can now say in which permafrost regions new stations for measuring permafrost temperature and active layer thickness are most urgently needed in order to make global climate models more reliable, stresses permafrost researcher Vladimir Romanovsky.

The study appears in an open access article on the Earth System Science Data portal. (ANI)

Tracking world`s permafrost thawing

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Top 10 European cities to see now

News4u-Travel Desk- With summer prices on the rise, everyone is eager to explore some places that are just starting to appear on many travelers’ radars. With up and coming spots in Europe as the focus, the editors and members of travel website VirtualTourist have compiled a list of the “Top 10 European Cities To See Now”.

1. Lviv, Ukraine

Lviv, a city in Western Ukraine that’s become a modern business hub, is the spot VirtualTourist members unanimously agreed is the top European city to see now. Many of its highlights are found in an incredibly compact central area, making it the perfect place to explore on a weekend jaunt. Start in Rynok Square, the center of city, which is surrounded by almost 50 unique architectural monuments including the Kornyakt Palace, a Renaissance landmark. Visitors can’t miss the Lviv Opera House, a Neo-Renaissance treasure that is often compared to opera houses of Paris and Vienna. In July, the city hosts “Night Lviv,” a festival that includes over 100 night tours and theatrical performances, like a fire show, late into the night.

2. Hamburg, Germany

Located in Northern Germany on the Elbe River, Hamburg has been overshadowed by Berlin for far too long. With the diversity of being Germany’s second largest city and the outdoor opportunities of a metropolis on the water, Hamburg is primed for a great tourism boom in coming years. Providing both small town qualities with big city growth, you can stroll along Jungfernsteig on Alster Lake just as families have done throughout history or check out the city’s concert hall-in-the-making, Elbphilharmonie Hamburg, in the buzzing neighborhood of HafenCity.

3. Vilnius, Lithuania

Home to the largest Baroque old town in Eastern and Central Europe, Lithuania’s capital is a great destination for travelers interested in architecture. The Church of St. Peter and St. Paul is a Baroque masterpiece, with close to 2,000 stucco figures inside, and the pink façade of the Church of Saint Catherine makes it difficult to miss. Multiple VirtualTourist members recommend visiting St. John’s Church and its bell tower, and while Vilnius is famous for Baroque buildings, the gothic St. Anne’s Church is also a must-see. Another interesting spot, the Gates of Dawn, is a shrine within the sole surviving gate of the first original five gates in the city wall; it houses an exceptional portrait of the Blessed Virgin Mary.

4. Valencia, Spain

Only a short train ride from Barcelona, Valencia is finally coming into its own as Spain’s third largest city and a tourism destination in its own right. The city has a unique combination of historical sites and modern attractions. Near the Plaza de la Virgen, visitors can see a number of religious landmarks, such as the Catedral, which holds the Holy Chalice that according to tradition was used by Christ during the last Supper. Another historical site is the Llotja de la Seda (Silk Exchange), a UNESCO Heritage Site and a great example of Gothic architecture that illustrates the important role the city has in Mediterranean trade throughout history. Newer landmarks are Valencia-born “starchitect” Santiago Calatrava’s City of Arts and Sciences a complex which includes an IMAX theatre, the largest aquarium in Europe, an interactive science museum, and a four hall performance arts center.

5. Porto, Portugal

Built into the hillsides that rise above the Douro River, Porto has long been a favorite amongst VirtualTourist travelers. Its historic center is a UNESCO World Heritage site and its wine is renowned the world over. Favorite spots among VirtualTourist members include strolling the Ribeira district along the waterfront, visiting the Cathedral or the Sao Bento railway station to view the azulejos (ceramic hand-painted tiles), and stopping by the Lello bookshop. There are also great new buildings to see in Porto including Rem Koolhaas’ Casa de Musica, which hosts classical music concerts every Sunday at noon for less than 10 Euros.

6. Zagreb, Croatia

Croatia’s cities along the Adriatic Sea have long been in the limelight, but the country’s capital, Zagreb, is ready for its close-up. Members love riding the funicular to the city’s Upper Town, where the Zagreb Cathedral, St. Mark’s Church, and the Lotrscak Tower are located. The neo-gothic Cathedral is actually within a medieval fort making it a must-see for both architecture lovers and history buffs, and St. Mark’s Church is famous for the coat-of-arms on its colorful roof. VirtualTourist members also noted that the Oktagon, a shopping passage in the Lower Town, is a beautiful experience and a nice change of pace for sightseers.

7. Valletta, Malta

Only 93 km (58 miles) south of the Italian island of Sicily, Malta has historically had great strategic significance due to its location, and is finally coming into its own as a travel destination. Valletta, the country’s capital, is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and was recently named the European Capital of Culture for 2018. One of the most concentrated historic areas in the world, Valletta offers some truly remarkable landmarks including the Co-Cathedral of St. John with its exquisite Baroque interior and two paintings by Caravaggio.

8. Budapest, Hungary

Although it has long been on lists of European cities to watch, it seems Budapest is finally primed to be a destination unto itself. Originally two separate cities on either side of the Danube, the capital is noted for its romantic architecture, landmarks with panoramic views, and spa culture. The Buda Castle, Fisherman’s Bastion, and Matthias Church in Trinity Square are lie on the Buda side of the river, while the Parliament Building and the Gresham Palace, an outstanding example of Hungarian Art Nouveau architecture (now home to the Four Seasons Hotel) are on the Pest side of the river. Many VirtualTourist members enjoy photographing the sites from boat cruises along the Danube.

9. Riga, Latvia

While many Baltic cities are becoming more popular with tourists, the city of Riga undoubtedly provides an eyeful for every visitor. Known for its grandiose Jugendstil facades, the city is widely recognized as having one of the greatest collections of Art Nouveau architecture in Europe. Old Riga, the historical center on the right bank of the Daugava River, is also popular with visitors for its quaint squares and cobblestoned streets. Favorite spots of VirtualTourist.com members include St. Peter’s Church, the House of Blackheads, and the “Three Brothers,” a set of three buildings on Maza Pills Street which reflect the changing trends of Latvian architecture over time.

10. Sarajevo, Bosnia and Herzegovina

While many are aware of the city’s ethnic struggles in the 1990s, far too few know of Sarajevo’s cultural history and successful rebuilding. The city’s position made it directly in the middle of Roman, Ottoman, and Austro-Hungarian influences throughout the years, all of which are now evidenced in its diversity and its neighborhoods. Bascarsija, the Turkish area of the old town, includes the Sebilj Fountain, built with Moorish details and positioned in front of the Bascarsija Mosque. Other landmarks of note include the Serb Orthodox Cathedral, the Academy of Arts housed in a former Evangelical church, and the Latin Bridge over the river Miljacka. It was on this bridge that Austrian Archduke Franz Ferdinand was assassinated, inciting the World War 1.Reuters

Top 10 European cities to see now

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Coorg, a green escape in Karnataka

News4u-Travel Desk- If you find Ooty, Kodaikanal or Munnar a bit too touristy and crowded a destination in southern India, Coorg is that perfect holiday spot in Karnataka that is sure to please toddlers, youth and the old alike.

Not that this hill station needs to be chosen for a sojourn by eliminating other similar destinations in the vicinity. Just a three-hour drive from Mysore, 150 km away, Coorg district on its own has much to offer, beyond its coffee, cardamom, pepper and beetelnut estates.

There is much to see, admire and soak in at this hill station, which the locals call Kodagu, on the slopes of the Western Ghats, what with some pristine trekking trails, picnic spots, waterfalls, wildlife, woods, forests, valleys and some mouth-watering cuisine.

Situated at a height of 1,525 metres, Madikeri or Mercara is the capital of Coorg, with a nice bazaar, quaint houses with red-roofs and liberal use of teakwood reapers for doors and furniture, so common among homes and clubhouses in Indian hill stations.

It may come as a surprise to some that Coorg has one of the largest settlements of Buddhists in India, just about 30 km away from Madikeri, with their own Namdroling Monastery built in 1963, which the locals call the Golden Temple.

Once you enter the monastery, you feel transported into some other world in the Orient, packed as it is with some 5,000 monks in bright yellow and red robes, with some soothing Buddhist chants, smell of incense and breathtaking sights of pagodas.

After seeing those large golden statues of the Buddha and Tara, the intricate murals and Tangkha paintings, don’t forget to taste some authentic Tibetan food here, especially the delectable momos and the subtle thugkpa, their noodle soup.

One is told it is the largest teaching centre of Nyingmapa - a major lineage of Tibetan Buddhism in the world - and the present Dalai Lama gave its shorter name, as opposed to Thegchog Namdrol Shedrub Dargyeling that this mesmerising place was called originally.

Before dwelling further, where to stay is a question that is bound to crop up. While there are plenty of hotels and resorts, including the Orange County, that can even set you back by as much as Rs.25,000 per day, it is best to opt for a home stay.

There are some 35 of them in and around Medikeri in a range of Rs.1,000 to Rs.5,000 per day where one gets not just to retire but also taste authentic Coorgi food and take some refreshing strolls on their plantations that grow coffee and other cash crops.

As far as the season goes, October to March — like most places in India — are the best months. The weather is pleasant with that welcome nip in the air. But Coorg during monsoons can be equally mesmerising and enchanting.

There are also plenty of places one can go to. There is Abbey Falls, not far, where one has to make his or her way through some dense woods, dotted with coffee bushes, trees and creepers, to suddenly find a cascading gush of water.

Then about 80 km away is the Iruppu Falls, right next to the Rajiv Gandhi National Park, also called Nagarhole, which is famous for its elephants, with a lot of other game and some 50 species of birds.

Children, especially, are certain to enjoy a visit to Dubare Forest, around an hour and a half from Medikeri. A ferry there takes you across to an elephant camp where one can see the pachyderms being bathed and fed, after which they are ready for a joy ride.

Talacauvery, around an hour away, is the source of the river Cauvery, with a temple to pay homage to this main source of water for some parts of Karnataka and Tamil Nadu. Not far is Bhagamandala, the confluence of three rivers: Cauvery, Kanika, and Sujyothi.

Another must-see is Tadiyendamol, which is the tallest peak in Kodagu and gives a breathtaking view of the entire Coorg, apart from the distant Arabian Sea. There is also the Naalkunaadu Palace built by Kodagu king Dodda Raja Veerendra in 1792.

After all this exploring, a bungalow at the plantation is perhaps the best place to retire. Toddlers can chase butterflies, and a hammock and freshly brewed coffee are sure to be at hand!

How far: Around 150 km from Mysore and 260 km from Bangalore

How to reach: By bus or car from Mysore. Closest airport is in Bangalore; the airport in Coimbatore in neighbouring Tamil Nadu is another alternative.

Cost: Around 35-40 home stays in Coorg ranging Rs.1,000 to Rs.5,000 per day.IANS


Coorg, a green escape in Karnataka

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Geneva voted Europe’s Leading City Break Destination at World Travel Awards

News4u-Travel Desk-For the second year in succession, Geneva has been named Europe’s Leading City Break Destination at the World Travel Awards.

The honour came during a Gala Ceremony at Forte Village in Sardinia.

In the face of stiff competition from cities such as Paris, London, Rome, Istanbul, Madrid, Lisbon, Venice and Dublin, as well as new nominees Porto and Lodz, Geneva becomes part of the new trend of “city break” trips, i.e. short weekend breaks.

The many players in the tourism industry present at the ceremony acknowledged not only its touristic assets and appeal, but also the high quality services in terms of accommodation and experiences that Geneva offers its visitors as a destination.

It should be noted that thousands of participants took part in the online vote that awarded Geneva this highly coveted distinction.

With its magnificent location on the banks of Lake Geneva and close to the Alps, Geneva is extremely accessible, being well served by air and land. Its hotel offering is exceptional and particularly attractive at weekends.

Once there, the visitor can take advantage of a great many innovative and tailored services to make them comfortable during their stay: free public transport, customised tours, a guide of recommended places to visit, including one tailored specifically by and for women and the Geneva Pass, offering a host of free and discounted activities – to name but a few.

The attention paid toward visitor satisfaction has enabled Geneva to stand out as a destination from other cities and win Europe’s Leading City Break Destination award for the second consecutive year.

“Geneva is a lively destination, full of surprises, which is worth exploring during a business trip as well as over a weekend,” commented Philippe Vignon, director of Geneva Tourism, on being awarded this major accolade.

Geneva

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British Airways launches Sao Paulo codeshare with TAM Airlines

News4u-Travel Desk-British Airways and oneworld partner, TAM Airlines, a LATAM Airlines Group company, will forge closer ties from October this year when they begin a codeshare agreement on flights to Sao Paulo and beyond.

In the new arrangement British Airways customers will be able to book seats on TAM’s Heathrow to Sao Paulo service via ba.com and other sales
channels, when the BA flight code is added to TAM’s daily flight.

British Airways currently flies once a day between the two cities. At this time, TAM customers will also be able to book onward connections on British Airways’ domestic services from Heathrow to Aberdeen, Belfast, Edinburgh, Glasgow, Manchester and Newcastle, all on a single booking when the Brazilian airline’s code is added to flights to these UK cities.

Both TAM and British Airways will offer reciprocal benefits to members of their loyalty programs, enabling members of the TAM Fidelidade and British Airways’ Executive Club to earn points and redeem tickets when flying on the partner airline.

Sean Doyle, British Airways’ head of alliances and joint business, said: “We are very pleased to be working more closely with TAM, our oneworld partner, and offer our customers more choice when flying to Brazil.”

British Airways

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India confirms UK tourists eligible for e-Tourist visa

News4u-Travel Desk- The High Commission of India confirmed that, from Saturday, UK tourists will be able to apply for the e-Tourist visa.

This will undoubtedly simplify the process for UK applicants as visitors can now apply online for a 30 day visa.

At around £40, the e-Visa is a fraction of the cost of the original print version with a simplified application process; leaving customers with extra spending money to enjoy their trip.

John Telfer, product director at India-focused tour operator Explore commented: “This is absolutely excellent news, I’m sure this change will boost tourism to India amongst UK tourists.

“I am delighted that the High Commission took on board tour operators’ concerns – not only will it be faster and less hassle for travellers to get a visa, it will also be significantly cheaper.”

Tajmahal

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