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When travelling through various climatic conditions and countries, people often face health issues, some of which they wouldn’t find at home. So even when you think you’re fine, make sure you do a regular health check-up and ask your travel health expert about each country’s immunisation needs before you finalise your plans. Swati Kapoor gives us a round-up of the essential vaccinations required when you’re travelling around the world!

make sure you do a regular health check-up and ask your travel health expert about each country’s immunisation needs before you finalise your plans

Make sure you do a regular health check-up and get vaccinated before finalising your travel plans

As stated by the United States Centre for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), you should ideally schedule an immunisation appointment with your travel doctor at least six weeks before the international trip. The need for immunisation shots depends on several factors, including your age, vaccination history, length of travel abroad, and current health status. The travel vaccinations can be divided into three categories: routine, recommended and required.

Here’s a list of the most popular holiday destinations, with the common health threats and specific immunisation required for foreign travellers:

1. Thailand

 

 Get travel vaccines and medicines because there is a risk of contracting the Zika virus

Get travel vaccines well in advance because there is a risk of contracting the Zika virus in Thailand

The Zika virus is a potential threat in Thailand and the country is currently categorised as a high-health-risk location. Pregnant women are advised not to travel to Thailand as the Zika infection can cause serious birth defects in the newborn. In certain parts of Thailand, Cholera and Malaria also pose a risk and other recommended vaccines include those combating Hepatitis A and Typhoid. Be sure to consult your doctor and inform them about the areas you’re visiting in Thailand before finalising your holiday plans.

Fact File Of Thailand

Location: Southeast Asia
Official Language: Thai
Currency: Baht
Food & Drink: Pad Thai, Khao Pad, Gaeng Daeng
Time zone: UTC+07:00

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2. Indonesia

Courses or boosters usually advised against Hepatitis A, Typhoid, Tetanus and Poliomyelitis in Indonesia

Courses or boosters are usually advised against Hepatitis A, Typhoid, Tetanus and Poliomyelitis in Indonesia

Similar to Thailand, Indonesia is included in the high-risk zone when it comes to the Zika virus. The routine vaccines advised are the Measles-Mumps-Rubella vaccine, Varicella (chickenpox) vaccine, Diphtheria-Tetanus-Pertussis vaccine, Polio vaccine, along with the yearly flu shot. Hepatitis A and Typhoid are other potential threats in this location. Some travellers may also be advised to take the Malaria and Japanese Encephalitis vaccines, depending upon the area being visited.

Fact File Of Indonesia

Location: Indonesia, Asia
Languages: Bahasa Indonesia (official Indonesian), Balinese, English
Time difference: (UTC+8)
Currency: The Indonesian Rupiah (IDR or Rp.)
Food: Betutu with Nasi Campur, Gado Gado, Babi Guling

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3. Vietnam

Take vaccinations to avoid typhoid through contaminated food or water in Vietnam

Take vaccinations to avoid typhoid through contaminated food or water in Vietnam

The regular courses or boosters are advised for protection against Diphtheria, Hepatitis A, Tetanus, and Typhoid when visiting Vietnam. The country experiences high rainfall and, therefore, water- and food-borne diseases are extremely common here. It is advised to choose healthier options when eating out and consider vaccines that fight Cholera, Hepatitis B, Japanese Encephalitis, and Rabies, after consulting with your travel doctor.

Fact File Of Vietnam

Location: Vietnam, Asia
Official Language:
Vietnamese
Currency:
Vietnamese dong
Food & Drinks:
Pho, Nem, Banh Chung, green tea, rice wine
Time zone:
UTC+07:00

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4. Cambodia

Avoid tap water in Cambodia so as to not contract Malaria, Typhoid, etc

Avoid tap water in Cambodia so as to not contract Malaria, Typhoid, etc

Cambodia’s tropical climate makes Influenza, Typhoid, and Hepatitis A and B most common diseases when it comes to travellers. For some itineraries, you may be recommended a shot to protect you against Japanese Encephalitis, especially if you plan to stay for more than a month and visit the rural areas of the country. The routine vaccinations advised before you take a trip to Cambodia are the Measles-Mumps-Rubella vaccine, Varicella vaccine, Diphtheria-Tetanus-Pertussis vaccine, and the Polio vaccine, along with the yearly flu shot.

Fact File Of Cambodia

Location: Cambodia, Asia
Official Language: Khmer
Currency: Cambodian riel
Food & Drinks: Try the Cambodian rice and noodles, accompanied by beer and tarantula cocktail
Time zone: UTC+07:00

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5. India

Beforetravelling to India, make sure that you are up-to-date with your routine vaccinations including Diphtheria, Tetanus and Polio and Measles

Before travelling to India, make sure that you are up-to-date with your routine vaccinations including Tetanus and Polio

Since India is a big country with diverse climatic conditions, the immunisation vaccinations required depend largely on your itinerary. Those visiting the country are suggested to take the routine vaccines, including the yearly flu shots and booster doses, along with vaccines that protect against Cholera, Typhoid, Hepatitis A and B, and Malaria (there are no anti-Malaria vaccines available here). India has successfully eliminated Yellow Fever. So, if you’re coming from a place that has this infection, the Indian government will require you to submit proof that you have taken the Yellow Fever vaccine.

Fact File  Of India

Location: India, South Asia
Official Language:
Hindi, English
Currency: Indian Rupee
Food & Drinks:
Dal, Roti, steamed rice, vegetable broth, tea,coffee
Time zone:
IST (UTC +5:30)

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6. China

Travelers to Shanghai and Beijing, China are recommended to get immuinised against Hepatitis A and Hepatitis B

Travelers to Shanghai and Beijing, China are recommended to get immuinised against Hepatitis A and Hepatitis B

Shanghai and Beijing are two of the world’s largest cities, with people from different nationalities staying there, which makes travellers susceptible to a number of diseases. Immunisations for Influenza, Tetanus, Pneumonia, Measles-Mumps-Rubella and Varicella are advised before travelling to China. In addition to these, vaccinations to combat Hepatitis A and B, Polio, and Japanese Encephalitis may also be required if you’re planning to stay for more than a month and travelling to the country’s rural areas.

Fact File Of China

Location: India, South Asia
Official Language: Chinese Mandarin
Currency: Renminbi
Food & Drinks: Dal, Roti, steamed rice, vegetable broth, tea,coffee
Time zone: (UTC+8)

Interested to holiday in China?
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It is advisable to consult your travel doctor regarding the specific vaccinations required and lock-in your prevention schedule at least four to six weeks before travel. Do keep in mind that the above-mentioned immunisations are general recommendations; please ask your medical practitioner for advice to understand the underlying health effects based on your individual body requirements.

Author Bio

Swati Kapooor

Swati Kapooor

Swati Kapoor is a qualified dietitian, with a Masters degree in Dietetics and Food Service Management. As a responsible dietitian, she believes in spreading the goodness of ‘nutrition through healthy eating’. However, as everyone has different requirements, Swati makes sure she examines her patients’ health history carefully before recommending a diet or workout regimen.

 

 

 

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India is a fascinating country and we all know that. With so many quirks and entertaining traditions that Indians follow, here’s something we bet you didn’t know about!

-By Aishwarya Menon

With more than 33-crore deities, India also has a huge number of shrines and temples dedicated to them. And with so many dedications, there are bound to be a few with the oddest of peculiarities. From temples dedicated to rats, and motorcycles, to those where toddlers are thrown from rooftops and caught for luck, one quirk that stood out for us was offerings and distribution of alcohol as prasad. Interesting? Read on!

Kal Bhairav Temple, Ujjain

Kal Bhairav is believed to have miraculous powers to gulp down the liquor that the devotees offer

Kal Bhairav is believed to have miraculous powers to gulp down the liquor that the devotees offer

Worshiped by many, the Kal Bhairav deity in Ujjain is known to be a guzzler who drinks a quarter bottle of alcohol in a matter of a few minutes. Known to form one of the five rituals of tantra, the five Ms; Madya (liquor), Maans (meat), Meen (fish), Mudra (gesture) and Maithun (copulation), Kal Bhairav is believed to miraculously gulp down the liquor that devotees offer.

Baba Rode Shah Dargah, Amritsar

Baba Rode Shah's dargah is meant to solve problems of childless couples

A visit to Baba Rode Shah’s dargah is known to solve problems of childless couples

Legend has it that Baba Rode Shah was once visited by a farmer who, despite being married for a few years, was childless. With the baba’s blessing, a male child was born to the couple. The couple then offered a sum of Rs 500 to the baba as a token of gratitude, which he refused to accept. Instead, he asked the couple to offer a bottle of liquor as prasad to his devotees. The practice continues to date where devotees who can’t bear children, line up with bottles of alcohol. These offerings are later distributed to the devotees as prasad.

Parassinikkadavu Madappura Temple, Kerala

prassini

At first glance it might seem like any other temple, where thousands of devotees jostle with one another to get a glimpse of the presiding deity. But look closely and you will see two sealed bottles of Old Port Rum as an offering to the 700-year-old Parassinikkadavu Madappura.

Legend goes that the upper castes tried to kill a strong Muthappan, a hunter representing the lower caste Thiya caste. Failing, they tried tricking him by offering him a huge quantity of alcohol, assuming he’d be easy to defeat in an inebriated state. Instead, when Muttappan consumed the liquor, it turned into nectar and he emerged more powerful. The temple till today is considered as a symbol of protest by the backward classes against the upper classes.

Kal Bhairav Temple, Ahmedabad

The liquor 'prasad' stall right outside Kal Bhairav Temple, Ahmedabad

The liquor ‘prasad’ stall right outside Kal Bhairav Temple, Ahmedabad

A recently established temple that has gained popularity rather quickly, the Kal Bhairav temple accepts only offerings of foreign liquor in exchange for blessings. Visit this temple and you will see bottles of fine liquor laid out near the statue of Kal Bhairav. In fact, there are people who compete in offering the costliest liquor.

Khabees Baba Temple, Lucknow

A basket of liquor, flowers and incense sticks as offerings to Khabees Baba

A basket of liquor, flowers and incense sticks as offerings to Khabees Baba

Khabees Baba was a local saint in the Sitapur district of Lucknow. A staunch devotee of lord Shiva, Khabees Baba was known to have healing powers and a deep fondness for liquor. Enter the temple and you see neither a priest nor a deity, what you do see are a pair of slippers symbolising the feet of the baba. Devotees pour liquor over the feet as an offering. The remains are then collected and distributed among the devotees as prasad.

Interesting, isn’t it? Have you visited any of these temples, if so let us know in the comments below!

Encounter beauty, charm and adventure in the land of mystery; India. It is here, where  deep-rooted traditions of hospitality and generosity come alive. Experience a milieu of experiences that are sure to leave even the most discerning travellers sated, yet hungry for more!

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Indian dance forms like Bharatnatyam, Kathakali, and Kuchipidi are fairly popular across the globe. However, the truth of the matter is that India is home to many different dance forms other than these. On this International Dance Day, let’s learn some more about the lesser known dance forms in India. Some of the ancient and cultural Indian dance styles that are seldom heard about are:

A popular dance form from Kerala – Kathakali

Kathakali is a popular art + dance form in Kerala

Sattriya

Introduced by Srimanta Sankardev in the 15th century, Sattriya is one of the oldest classical dances in India. It was originally used to tell common people stories of Hindu mythology in a manner that they would understand. Inspired by the Assamese folk dance, the Sangeet Natak Akademi of India recognized this dance form as a classical dance in 2000.

The ever graceful dance form Sattriya is also known as Ankiya Nat

The ever graceful dance form Sattriya is also known as Ankiya Nat

Kalbelia

Recognized by UNESCO, Kalbelia is an old folk dance of Rajasthan usually performed by the females of the namesake nomadic tribe. This tribe is a community of snake charmers, and in this dance form the females mimic the moves of snakes. The songs used in these performances are generally based on mythology and folklore. This tribe is well-known for its ability to improvise the songs and compose new lyrics in the middle of the performance. The rhythm of the Kalbelia songs gets faster and faster as the act progresses – and so does their dance.

Once a popular dance form, now it is typically performed as a tourist attraction in the luxury hotels of Rajasthan.

Once a popular dance form, now Kalbelia is typically performed as a tourist attraction in the luxury hotels of Rajasthan

Chhau

The word ‘Chhau’ is a Sanskrit word that literally translates into ‘shadow’. Chhau dance is a tribal martial arts dance form that is usually performed during the festival of Chaitra Parva. Popular in West Bengal, Orissa, and Jharkhand, performers wear colourful costumes and don a mask. The stories that are portrayed in a Chhau dance are usually from Mahabharata, Ramayana, or the Puranas. This semi classical Indian dance form is of three types depending upon where it is performed – the Purulia Chau of Bengal, the Mayurbhanj Chau of Odisha, and the Seraikella Chau of Jharkhand.

This Chhau dance is enacting the story from the Hindu mythology where the demon Mahishasura is killed.

This Chhau dance is enacting the story from the Hindu mythology where the demon Mahishasura is killed

Ghodemodni

Representing a warrior leaving for battle, Ghodemodni is a folk dance performed during the Shigmo festival in some northern talukas of Goa. This warrior dance celebrates the victory of the Maratha rulers, the Ranes, over the Portuguese in Goa. The word ‘Ghodemodni’ means ‘dance movements like the horse’. On first glance, the costume may look like that of the Rajputs, however on closer inspection of the headdress, you will realize that it is that of a Peshwa. There are no songs, the performers dance to the beat of dholak and tasha.

'Ghodemodni' is a dance form wherein ancient legends of bravery are reenacted

‘Ghodemodni’ is a dance form wherein ancient legends of bravery are reenacted

Gotipua

Gotipua dance has been performed by boys for centuries in Orissa. These boys dress up as girls in order to pay their respects to Lord Krishna and Lord Jagannath. This folk dance originated in Raghurajpur, a village in Orissa. Perhaps the most fascinating part of this dance form is the ‘Bandha Nrutya’ – a dance that uses acrobatic figures and movements. The boys usually start to learn this dance form quite early because they need to execute acrobatic-like movements.

Gotipua is performed in Orissa by young boys who dress up as female to praise Lord Jagannath

Gotipua is performed in Orissa by young boys who dress up as females to praise Lord Jagannath

Cheraw

Also known as ‘bamboo dance’, Cheraw is a folk dance form in Mizoram. The bamboos are placed on the floor, and it is job of the male dancers to follow the beats and to move the bamboos. The female dancers step in and out of the bamboo sticks, sticking to the rhythm of the songs. According to Mizoram traditions, Cheraw dance is usually performed to ensure that the mothers who died at childbirth has a safe passage to the afterlife.

One of the popular dance forms of Mizoram, Cheraw is also known as bamboo dance

One of the popular dance forms of Mizoram, Cheraw is also known as bamboo dance

Dollu Kunitha

Dollu Kunitha is a dance form of Karnataka that is performed in order to please Beereshwara, a deity. This is a drum-based dance, which is performed during various religious ceremonies in North Karnataka. The drum beats keep alternating their rhythm in this folk dance of Karnataka, the leader is the one who changes the rhythm and the other follow him. The main purpose of this dance form is to ensure the spiritual well-being of the performers. Dollu Kunitha is a lesser known dance form that is generally only performed by males.

Dollu Kunitha is a major popular drum dance of Karnataka

Dollu Kunitha is a major popular drum dance of Karnataka

These are just a few of the lesser known dance forms in India, there is a whole lot more where these came from. Add a bit of India’s cultural history to your lives by watching these dancers in action if you ever get a chance.

Encounter beauty, charm and adventure in the land of mystery; India. It is here, where  deep-rooted traditions of hospitality and generosity come alive. Experience a milieu of experiences that are sure to leave even the most discerning travellers sated, yet hungry for more!

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When you visit Srinagar, expect to be blown away by its magnificent historic monuments and breathtaking scenic landscapes. The summer capital of Jammu and Kashmir is one of the most striking destinations in India, and attracts nature enthusiasts and adventure lovers alike. Is it any wonder then that it is called ‘paradise on earth’?

Srinagar is truly the epitome of the beauty of nature

Srinagar is truly the epitome of the beauty of nature

Srinagar is not just fun for the adults; there are a variety of ways in which you can make a holiday here enjoyable for your kids too. All you need to do is create an itinerary that keeps the interests of your children in mind. Here is a list of things that you can do to make the family vacation to Srinagar more enjoyable for your little ones.

Engage In Activities That Are Unique To Srinagar

Srinagar has several activities that are sure to make your summer holiday amazing for the kids. Here’s a round-up of the most memorable experiences.

Take A Shikara Ride Across Dal Lake

One of the reasons people visit the ‘City of Lakes’ is because they want to enjoy a shikara ride at Dal Lake. In fact, your vacation in Srinagar would be incomplete without this boat ride. Taking your kids along is one way to ensure that they enjoy all the things that the Dal Lake has to offer. You’re whole family is sure to love the attractions like Char Chinar, floating gardens and Kabutarkhana, all set against the beautiful backdrop of the Zabarwan hills.

Enjoy a relaxing ride in the glittering waters of the Dal Lake

Enjoy a relaxing shikara ride in the shimmering water of Dal Lake

Visit The Apple Orchards

Did you know that Srinagar is responsible for supplying around 80 percent of the apples that are consumed by the rest of India? This is why there are acres and acres of sprawling apple orchards in this city. A visit to one will let your children learn how apples are grown and harvested. Kids will love plucking ripe apples from the trees and crunching into them!

You want to pluck one, don’t you?

Apple orchards are full of such treats that will make you pluck one, don’t you?

Go To A Cricket Bat Factory

If your children love cricket, then Sangam is definitely a must visit. Located approximately 40 kilometres away from Srinagar, it is known for its cricket bat factories where bats are made from Kashmiri willow. Your kids will have the time of their life watching how normal wood is transformed into cricket bats by the workers. These factories also sell cricket bats, so be prepared to leave with your wallet a little lighter.

A cricket bat factory employee at work

A cricket bat factory employee at work in Sangam near Srinagar

Visit The Museums & Learn About Srinagar’s History

The best way to make visiting a museum fun for your children is to intersperse them with other enjoyable activities. Although there are a number of museums in the state of Jammu and Kashmir, Srinagar is home to two of the most important ones.

Sri Pratap Singh Museum

Housed in the former summer palace of the Maharajas of Kashmir, this museum was established in 1898. The Sri Pratap Singh Museum is famous for its rich collection of archaeological artefacts and handicrafts from all over the state. Some of the manuscripts displayed in this museum date back to the 17th century! The textile section, on the other hand, displays Kashmiri shawls that showcase Kashmir’s exceptional weaving styles.

You will find plenty of vendors selling Kashmiri shawls in Srinaga

You will find plenty of vendors selling intricately woven Kashmiri shawls in Srinagar

University Museum of Himalayan Archaeology and Ethnography

The Department of Ancient Indian History, Culture and Archaeology at the HNB Garhwal University opened this museum in 1981. It is well-known for its enormous collection of ancient relics from different ages.

University Museum of Himalayan Archaeology and Ethnography is located inside the campus of HNB University.

University Museum of Himalayan Archaeology and Ethnography is located inside the campus of HNB University, Srinagar.

Spend An Entire Day Exploring The Gardens At Srinagar

With the number of scenic gardens in the city, it won’t be a stretch calling Srinagar a ‘City of Gardens’. This city is home to some of the most beautiful Mughal gardens in the country and are worth a visit.

Indira Gandhi Tulip Garden

There is no need to travel all the way to Amsterdam to see tulips when we have our very own tulip garden in Srinagar. Covering approximately 90 acres of land, it is located at the foothills of the Zabarwan Mountains and is home to over 70 different varieties of tulips. Your children are sure to have a grand time running around these amazingly colourful flowers. The only thing to remember is that this garden is open during a specific time of the year (generally in April), so plan your trip accordingly.

Nishat Bagh is arguably the most appealing garden in Srinagar

Nishat Bagh is arguably the most appealing garden in Srinagar

Shalimar Bagh

The largest Mughal garden in the Kashmir valley, Shalimar Bagh is located on the banks of the Dal Lake. This three-terraced garden covers 30 acres, and every terrace is lined with Chinar trees. If statistics are to be believed, this garden has more than 400 fountains. Built by Mughal Emperor Jahangir for his wife Nur Jahan in the 17th century, this garden got its name from the Sanskrit term Shalimar, which means ‘Abode of Love’.

Sit back and take in the beauty of this Mughal garden

Sit back and take in the beauty of this Mughal garden

Nishat Bagh

Nishat Bagh is yet another popular Mughal garden in Srinagar and is the second-largest garden in the Kashmir valley. Nestled between the Dal Lake and the Zabarwan mountains, it spans an area of 46 acres. Built by Asif Khan, the brother of the Empress Nur Jahan, the garden currently boasts nine terraces. ‘Nishat’ is an Urdu word for joy, so the name roughly translates to ‘Garden of Joy’ or ‘Garden of Delight’.

Do not forget to click a family photo amidst the greenery!Do not forget to click a family photo amidst the greenery!

Do not forget to click a family photo amidst the greenery!

You can have a hassle-free holiday with your children if you plan things well in advance. When making your itinerary, be sure to include some of these amazing experiences and you’re sure to have some happy kids and incredible memories!

Fact File

Location: On the banks of the River Jhelum in the Kashmir Valley
How to Get There: Srinagar Airport or Jammu Airport
Official Language: Urdu
Currency: INR
Time Zone: IST (UTC+5.30)
Climate: Humid subtropical climate
Food & Drink: Srinagar is renowned for the Kashmiri Kahwah Tea, Wazwan and Tujji (Mutton Seekh Kebab).

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More and more people are consciously trying to lead an environment-friendly life all over the world, including in India. But did you know you can do your bit towards the environment by ensuring that your vacation is eco-friendly too? You can actually enjoy a vacation that is comforting and exciting, and yet sustainable.

Nature makes our vacation more pleasurable without any surcharge

Nature makes our vacation more pleasurable without any surcharge

In simple terms, an eco-friendly vacation is where you do not create any disturbance to local culture and the sylvan nature at your destination. So how exactly do you go about planning an eco-friendly vacation? Here are seven ways to get you started.

Your Eco-friendly Vacation Starts At Home

Ensure that all the switches are off when you leave.

Ensure that all the switches are off when you leave.

When you are on vacation, one of your major concerns may be your house getting robbed. Many people think that keeping up the pretence that someone is at home will scare the burglars away. If you want to do this, ensure that your lights are on a timer – no use wasting electricity throughout the day. You should also check your air-conditioners and turn the main switch off before leaving. Open your refrigerator and get rid of all the items that would go bad by the time you come back, compost them if you can. If you are someone who gets a newspaper or a magazine delivered, tell your delivery guys to stop the subscription for a while.

Select Eco-Friendly Transportation

Train travel gives you the opportunity to enjoy the natural surroundings

Train travel gives you the opportunity to enjoy the natural surroundings

Out of all the different modes of transport available to you, air travel is the most harmful to the environment. We understand that there are some destinations where you cannot travel by train or car, and you have no choice but to take the airplane. In such cases, choose an airline company that is contributing towards making the earth healthier again. Trains are perhaps the most eco-friendly transport method on offer for you. So if you don’t mind spending a bit more time travelling, choose this method over the others.

Choose Green Accommodations

Here is a card from a green hotel explaining their process

Here is a card from a green hotel explaining their process

When you are booking hotels at your destination, choose a green hotel. Most hotels boast about what they do to reduce their impact on the environment on their website, so be sure to have a look there. An eco-friendly hotel does its best to control the carbon emissions, has several recycle procedures in place, and creates less waste. Some of these hotels also give you tips on reducing environmental impact while you are staying with them.

Try To Use Public Transportation

BEST bus – a mode of public transport in Mumbai

BEST bus – a mode of public transport in Mumbai

The ideal way to travel during an eco-friendly vacation is on foot or by bike. Not only does it help the environment, but it helps in keeping you fit too. But there are some places that are too far, in such cases, public transportation is your best option. Try to avoid rented cars and rickshaws whenever you can – they create a larger carbon footprint.

Buy Locally Sourced Goods And Products

Live like a local by buying things from a local vendor

Live like a local by buying things from a local vendor

Boosting the local economy is one of the major elements of an eco-friendly vacation. Whenever you are buying anything on vacation, be it vegetables, fruits, or souvenirs, ensure that you are buying from local vendors and artists. By doing so, you are strengthening the local economy. You are also reducing the carbon footprint because the item is not packaged and shipped from somewhere else.

Respect The Rules And Guidelines

Following the guidelines is extremely crucial on an eco-friendly vacation

Following the guidelines is extremely crucial on an eco-friendly vacation

No matter where you go on vacation, it is important that you strictly follow the rules and guidelines mentioned. The main purpose of these guidelines is to ensure your safety. So see to it that your respect the rules and follow them. For example, when you are hiking, do not wander away from the marked trails or litter outdoors.

Spread The Awareness Of Green Living

Coming together to clean the beach will make the entire process faster

Coming together to clean the beach will make the entire process faster

Just because you are on vacation doesn’t mean it is ok for you to litter or forget about your eco-friendly ways. Find out what the locals are doing to clean the environment, and if possible, volunteer your services. It can be something as simple as donating some money or you can even choose to head out to the beach and participate in cleaning drives. Taking some time off vacation and joining such a cause will make you feel good about yourself. And the locals will definitely appreciate your efforts!

Every single time you go on a vacation, you come back feeling rejuvenated. Going on an eco-friendly vacation lets you enjoy this enriching experience while giving something back to the environment as well. If more people start going on such vacations, the world will truly change for the better – lead the way!

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Dubbed as British India’s summer capital, Shimla is a cool haven, and the capital city of Himachal Pradesh. It is a popular summer holiday destination in India as it provides visitors with some much-needed respite from the heat. Located amidst lush oak and pine forests, Shimla has rightly been nicknamed as ‘the queen of hills’.

‘The Queen of Hills’ in all her glory

‘The Queen of Hills’ in all her glory

While travelling, a well-planned itinerary is important to ensure that your kids have fun and don’t end up getting bored. If your kids aren’t enjoying themselves, there’s no way you’ll be enjoying your vacation either! Take into account the interests of your kids and plan your Shimla holiday accordingly. Here are 12 kid-friendly places in Shimla to start with:

For the Little Adventurers

River Rafting on Sutlej

This is definitely going to be a bumpy ride!

This is definitely going to be a bumpy ride!

The Sutlej River in Shimla offers you plenty of river rafting opportunities. Your kids are sure to enjoy this two-hour journey over Grade I to Grade III rapids that stretch for 12 kilometres. It’s important to remember that the river is strictly off limits during the winters and monsoons.

Sledging at the Kufri Ski Resort

Fun on the slopes

Fun on the slopes

The Kufri Ski Resort is renowned for its slopes, and attracts people who are passionate about skiing from all over the world. The Himachal Pradesh Tourism Development Corporation (HPTDC) also offers you skiing lessons in case your kids are interested in learning. If not, they can always opt for sledging instead, which is just as much fun. If you are travelling during the winter months, your kids can enjoy a unique ice skating experience at the open-air ice rink.

Hip Hip Hurray Theme Park in Kufri

Kids will have plenty of opportunities to ride horses here

Kids will have plenty of opportunities to ride horses here

Once a school park, the Hip Hip Hurray Theme Park has brilliant rides and activities on offer for your little ones. Plan your trip so that your children can spend at least half a day here. The little adrenalin junkies will definitely have a good time rock climbing, riding ponies, playing indoor golf, and climbing commando nets!

For the Nature Lovers

Ride a Toy Train

Kids will be busy marvelling at the beauty of nature on this train rideKids will be busy marvelling at the beauty of nature on this train ride

Kids will be busy marvelling at the beauty of nature on this train ride

If your kids love nature, then they are definitely in for a treat when you ride a toy train from Kalka to Shimla. This route is well-known for the picturesque sceneries that it offers travellers. On this journey, you will be riding through 102 tunnels and over 864 bridges.

The Himalayan Nature Park in Kufri

Spot some of the rare and endangered species at this sanctuary

Spot some of the rare and endangered species at this sanctuary

Spanning over 222 acres, the Himalayan Nature Park must be included on your itinerary. Kids can spot some amazing animals such as the sambar, snow leopards, bears, barking deer, and yak here.

Stroll through a Forest at Annadale

Discover how beautiful nature truly is when you are on a forest walk

Discover how beautiful nature truly is when you are on a forest walk

If your kids are nature crazy, then a forest walk at Annadale isn’t something you’d want to miss. The feeling of being totally lost in nature, surrounded by lush, green trees and the sound of the winged creatures of the forest is an experience to cherish for life. Give your kids the chance to experience tranquillity by taking them for a walk here.

Shimla Reserve Forest Sanctuary

Get a unique opportunity to gaze at leopards here

Get a unique opportunity to gaze at leopards here

Take your kids to the Shimla Reserve Forest Sanctuary if they are wildlife enthusiasts. Apart from offering you spectacular views of the surrounding areas, this sanctuary gives your kids a chance to see animals like leopards and jackals, as well as birds such as the Himalayan eagle and partridge. You will also find a wide range of trees at this sanctuary, including silver oak, horse chestnut, and pine.

For the History Geeks

Rashtrapati Niwas on the Observatory Hill

Step back into time at this beautiful lodge

Step back into time at this beautiful lodge

Dating back to the 1800s, the Rashtrapati Niwas was the former residence of the British Viceroy of India. Today, this lodge serves as the home of the Indian Institute of Advanced Studies. Take a guided tour of this building to learn more about its history and architecture.

Himachal State Museum on Mall Road

Pahari painting, a form of Indian painting, on display at this museum

Pahari painting, a form of Indian painting, on display at this museum

The Himachal State Museum can be found in a colonial house that sits atop a hill. Although you will have to hike for about 1,500 metres to get here, the impressive collection makes your trip worthwhile. You will find numerous historic items like 19th century Pahari paintings, bronze idols, oil paintings, as well as deity masks on display here.

The Army Heritage Museum in Annadale

Learn more about the history and traditions of the Indian Arm

Learn more about the history and traditions of the Indian Arm

If your kids want to learn more about the history of the Indian Army, pay a visit to the Army Heritage Museum in Annadale. At this museum, there are weapons, ammunitions, uniforms, and flags on display. You can also learn more about the life of some of the greatest Indian warriors.

For the Architecture Buffs

Christ Church on Mall Road

 A view of Christ Church lit up at night

A view of Christ Church lit up at night

For budding architects, the neo-Gothic architecture of Christ Church in Shimla is a must-visit. Known to be the second oldest church in North India, Christ Church looks spectacular at night when it is all lit up.

The Town Hall

The on-site library is renowned for its rich collection and attracts quite a lot of book lovers

The on-site library is renowned for its rich collection and attracts quite a lot of book lovers

Located in the city centre, Town Hall is one of the buildings in Shimla that displays the splendour of British architecture. Take a look at this well-preserved example of British architecture.
With so many kid-friendly attractions on offer, your entire family is sure to have a lot of fun in Shimla.

Fact File

Location: Located in the Himalayan foothills in Himachal Pradesh
How to Reach: Shimla Airport – approximately 23 kilometres from the city, National Highways connect this city to all the major Indian cities.
Official Language: Hindi
Currency: INR
Time Zone: IST (UTC+5.30)
Climate: Subtropical highland climate
Food & Drink: Authentic Himachali food like a traditional thali, chaa ghosht, and murgh anardana are popular here.

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Lord Rama is the protagonist of the Hindu epic Ramayana. The revered deity, Lord Rama is worshipped all over India and is considered as the seventh avatar of Lord Vishnu.

This Hindu deity is referred to as MaryadaPurushottama, meaning ‘The Perfect Man’

This Hindu deity is referred to as MaryadaPurushottama, meaning ‘The Perfect Man’

Most people are familiar with the legend of this mythological figure being banished in exile for 14 years, the kidnapping of his wife Sita by Ravana, the war in which he kills Ravana, and ultimately his return (which has since been celebrated as Diwali, the festival of lights). After being crowned the emperor, Lord Rama ruled over his kingdom for a period referred to as Rama Rajya. When it comes to the Ramayana and things related Lord Rama, legends abound far and wide. Therefore it is said that the popular King’s visits were not limited to places in India alone. Here is a look at four countries where Lord Rama’s stories emerge from:

India

India is the very place where Ramayana is set. India has several places that were visited by Lord Rama. Here are a few important ones:

Ayodhya

This is where Lord Rama was born to King Dasharath and Queen Kaushalya. Located in present-day Uttar Pradesh, it is now a major tourist destination and a sacred site to the devotees of Lord Rama.

Ram ki Paidi in Ayodhya, bathing ghats constructed along River Sarayu for Lord Rama’s devotees

Ram ki Paidi in Ayodhya, bathing ghats constructed along River Sarayu for Lord Rama’s devotees

Prayag

Located in Allahabad, Prayag played host to Lord Rama, his wife Sita, and his brother Lakshmana when they visited the ashram of Rishi Bharadwaja after crossing the River Ganga. After this, they left for Chitrakoot.

Panchavati

A part of the Nasik district today, Panchavati was an important place during Lord Rama’s exile as this is where Sita was kidnapped by Ravana. This place is also home to Tapovan, where Ravana’s sister Shurpanakha attempted to kill Sita, leading to the cutting of her nose by Lakshmana.

Rameshwaram

An aerial view of the Rama Setu, also known as Adam's Bridge

An aerial view of the Rama Setu, also known as Adam’s Bridge

Rameshwaram is a major place in the trail of Lord Rama’s exile as this place in Tamil Nadu is where he, along with Hanuman and his monkey army, began constructing the Rama Setu—the bridge with floating stones to reach Lanka, where Ravana had held Sita captive.

Fact File

Location: India is located in South Asia, bordered by Pakistan, China, Bangladesh, Nepal, Bhutan, and Myanmar.
How to Reach: Several international airports in Indian cities; massive rail network which connects all its cities as well as countries like Nepal, Pakistan, and Bangladesh; well-connected by road with buses from Bangladesh, Pakistan, Bhutan, and Nepal.
Official Language: Hindi and English
Currency: INR
Time Zone: UTC+05:30
Climate: Tropical
Food & Drink: Try a thali (meal platter) to experience the local cuisine of different places. Chai (tea), samosa, and jalebi are snacks to try when in India.

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Sri Lanka

The country plays an important role in the epic of Ramayana, and there are several sites that are mentioned in the narrative.

The Seetha Amman Temple in Sri Lanka is believed to be where Sita prayed everyday while being held captive

The Seetha Amman Temple in Sri Lanka is believed to be where Sita prayed everyday while being held captive

Ashok Vatika

This beautiful garden was where Sita was moved to from her initial captivity in Sita Kotuwa. It is said that she was moved here as she refused to stay in Ravana’s palace, and the chariot path they had taken is still visible atop the mountains. The Sita Tear Pond is also located close to this route.

Talaimannar

Located at the other end of the Ram Setu, Talaimannar is where Lord Rama first stopped in Lanka and began his lengthy battle with Ravana. Dunuwila is said to be the place where Lord Rama fired the Brahmastra at Ravana, thus killing him and ending the war.

Fact File:

Location: An island country in the Indian Ocean, close to India’s south-eastern region.
How to Reach: Bandaranaike International Airportis the only international one; being an island nation, there are no rail or road services to Sri Lanka, but one can travel via sea with ferry services from India.
Official Language: Sinhaleseand Tamil
Currency: Sri Lankan Rupee
Time Zone: UTC+05:30
Climate: Tropical
Food & Drink: Rice and curry is the staple food, with sea food and coconut milk being prominent ingredients. Try appam (hoppers) and Maldive fish-laced dishes. Fresh coconut water and toddy are popular beverages.

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Pakistan

There was a controversy about the actual place where Lord Rama was born, as a new book claimed Pakistan, and not Ayodha, to be the Hindu deity’s birthplace. Stories like these will perhaps keep cropping up from time to time, but there are certain places in Pakistan believed to be related to Lord Rama:

Hinglaj Mata Mandir, Balochistan

This well-known temple is known as one of the Shakti Peeths of Goddess Sati, but this place has also found mention in ancient Hindu scriptures as being one of the places visited by Lord Rama. It is said that Lord Rama visited this place during his exile, accompanied by Sita and Lakshmana. There are several legends associated with this Hindu temple in Pakistan. One such story goes that after Lord Rama killed Ravana, he got affected by ‘Brahmhatya’ dosha (since Ravana was a Brahmin and an ardent Lord Shiva devotee). To atone for his act, Rama meditated at Hinglaj.

 Theinner sanctum of the Hinglaj Temple, where the Goddess is worshipped

Theinner sanctum of the Hinglaj Temple, where the Goddess is worshipped

Shri Panchmukhi Hanuman Mandir

This temple in Karachi is a much revered one, where devotees come to worship Lord Hanuman. It is said that the statue of Lord Hanuman appeared naturally on a stone surface in 1882. Many people believe that this is another holy place in Pakistan visited by Lord Rama.

Fact File

Location: Pakistan is located in south-west Asia, bordered by India, China, Afghanistan,Iran, and the Arabian Sea.
How to Reach: Quaid-e-Azan Airport in Karachi, Islamabad International Airport, and Lahore Airportare the major ones; buses connect Pakistan to India and Iran; the Samjhauta Express connects India and Pakistan via rail.
Official Language: Urdu and English
Currency: Pakistani Rupee
Time Zone: UTC+05:00
Climate: Diverse climatic conditions, ranging from tropical to temperate.
Food & Drink: Pakistani cuisine is usually spicy and contains meat-based dishes with vegetables. Try Biryani, Chappali (beef kebabs), and Halwa (a sweet dish). Sweet or savoury Lassis are the most popular beverages.

Nepal

This Hindu nation is home to a significant number of Lord Rama’s devotees, and there are some important places of the Ramayana here as well.

Janakpur

It’s located about 135 kilometres away from the Nepali capital, Kathmandu. Janakpur is regarded as the birthplace of Goddess Sita, the wife of Lord Rama. It is also believed that this is the place where she met Lord Rama, the then Prince of Ayodha, and the two got married. Janaki Mandir is an important landmark where devotees visit to pray to the revered couple, with festivals like Ram Navami and Vivah Panchami drawing thousands of devotees.

 The Janaki Mandir presents a spectacular sight with its architectural beauty.

The Janaki Mandir presents a spectacular sight with its architectural beauty.

Dhanushadham

Now a municipality district, Dhanushadham is another important site in Nepal for Hindus. The story goes that this place is home to part of the Shiva Bhana, the bow that Lord Rama broke to win the hand of Sita in marriage during her swayamvara.

Fact File

Location: Nepal is a landlocked central Himalayan nationbordered by India on three sides and China to the north.
How to Reach: The Tribhuvan International Airport in Kathmandu is the only one; a narrow-gauge railway line connects Nepal to India, while buses and cab services are available to Nepal from various cities in India.
Official Language: Nepali
Currency: Nepalese Rupee
Time Zone: UTC+05:45
Climate: Varied climatic zones that range from tropical to Arctic.
Food & Drink: Himalayan cuisine, marked by dishes like steamed momos. Dal-bhat-tarkari is the staple food, which consists of rice with lentils and vegetables. Sweet lovers should try the Juju Dhau, a sweetened yogurt preparation.

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One of the best preserved medieval Islamic cities, Fez, popularly known as the ‘Athens of Africa’ because of its stunning architecture and artistic flair, was founded in 859 AD. Fez is divided into three parts: the eighth century Fes-el-Bali, the 13th century Fes Jdid and the 20th century Ville Nouvelle (built by the French).

Explore the marvelous architecture of Athens of Africa- Fez

Explore the marvelous architecture of Athens of Africa- Fez

Historical Capital Of Morocco

The bustling cultural and historical capital of Morocco is enclosed by huge walls and is accessible only through any of the twelve city gates. A car-free zone, only pedestrians and donkey carts are allowed in the city. Although not as glamorous as Marrakech, Fez, with its winding alleys, colourful souks and mosques, has an old-world charm. Here, it is hard to miss the ornate and colourful doorways.

Marvel at the aerial view of theFes-el-Bali, Morocco

Marvel at the aerial view of the Fes-el-Bali, Morocco

Best Time To Visit

For Sufi lovers, the best time is mid-summer during the Fez Festival of World Sacred Music. It’s a 10-day long celebration that takes place in the imperial city of Fez. In October, one can look forward to visit the Tissa Horse Festival, which is filled with music, dance and loads of mint tea.

Climate

The weather can be variable. It can be stiflingly hot or very cold and windy. The cooler months are from October to April, when day temperatures hover around 30 degrees and nights are cool at 15 degrees.

Accommodation Options

In Fez, why choose a regular hotel when you can stay like a king? Tourists in Fez prefer to stay in Medina, which is situated close to the main tourist spots. Besides luxury hotels, villas and small palaces, Fez has a growing list of chic restored riads (traditional Moroccan mansions) that have marble courtyards and private, interior gardens.

The interior view of a traditional riad in Fez

The interior view of a traditional riad in Fez

Travel Guide For Fez

Since medieval times, Fez has attracted several artisans, craftspeople, chefs, scholars and travellers. In modern times, the city has become a top choice for tourists who want to experience the French-Arabic culture. For solo travellers and backpackers, a trip to Fez is like playing out a Lawrence of Arabia-type fantasy. Your stay can vary from restored riads to enjoying some local food and walking the blind alleys. For solo women travellers it is advisable to avoid venturing out late at night.

Below Is A List Of Sites You Cannot Miss:

1. Old Medina

Fez has an endless labyrinth of lanes and by-lanes (some even large enough for one person to pass) that make up the Medina. Medina is overloaded with its winding alleyways crammed with stalls on both sides is a walker’s delight. The intoxicating sights and sounds of the Medina are hard to miss. In Medina you will be surrounded by the braying of donkeys, the screams of children, butcher’s shops with its hanging meats, the colourful spice souks and rug shops selling Berber carpets. Be careful of the tricky turns as no alley is a straight line. Even for navigationally gifted travellers, getting lost in Fez is normal and if you are unsure take the help of a local guide from the riad.

The beautiful by-lane of the Blue City Street, Fez

The beautiful by-lane of the Blue City Street, Fez

2. The Impressive Gateway Of Bab Boujloid

This is one of the first landmarks you can witness as you enter the bustling old Medina. It’s a monumental gateway that was built in 1913 by the French in Mauresque- Andalusian architectural style. The iconic gateway has three symmetrical horseshoe arches and is richly decorated with floral patterns and geometric shapes in blue Fassi tiles (ceramic mosaic tile).

The Bab Boujloid is always full of people looking to shop

The Bab Boujloid is always full of people looking to shop

3. The Shrine Of Zaouia Moulay Idriss II

The mausoleum of Moulay Idriss is situated near the Nejjarine Fountain and is the holiest shrine in Fez. It has a mosque on its grounds and a tomb for funerals. The shrine is believed to bring good luck and fortune. The site is the resting place of Moulay Idriss II, who founded Fez and ruled Morocco in the ninth century. Non-Muslims are not permitted to enter the tomb but can enjoy the ornate tile work of the facade.

Do visit Zaouia Moulay Idriss II, one of the holiest shrines in Fez

Do visit Zaouia Moulay Idriss II, one of the holiest shrines in Fez

4. Sacred Destination Of Kairaouine Mosque

It is the second largest mosque in Morocco (the first being the new Hassan II Mosque of Casablanca) founded in 857 A.D. by Fatima al-Fihri, the daughter of a Tunisian refugee from the holy city of Kairouan in Tunisia. A cedar wood screen hides the main prayer hall from non-Muslims.

The Kairaouine Mosque is the second largest mosque in Fez

The Kairaouine Mosque is the second largest mosque in Fez

5. Tanner’s Quarter

Suuq Dabbaghin (Tanner’s Quarter) is one of the main attractions in Fez. The tanneries have stone vessels filled with a vast range of dyes where the hides are soaked. Men stand waist-deep in the dyes tending to the hides. The tanneries process the hides of cows, sheep, goats and camels turning them into high quality leather products. Machinery is not involved as work is done manually and the process has not changed since medieval times. The Chouara tannery (20-30 minutes by foot from the Blue Gate) is the largest, and was built in the 11th century. A word of caution for tourists: be careful of the pungent odour coming from the tannery.

Suuq Dabbaghin (Tanner’s Quarter) is one of the main attractions in Fez.

Suuq Dabbaghin (Tanner’s Quarter) is one of the main attractions in Fez.

6. The Royal Palace Of Fez

The impressive palace is closed to all visitors but nonetheless the outside facade is worth a visit. The palace has seven golden gates with brass knockers and is surrounded by fine zellij tile (mosaic tile) work and carved cedar wood. Beyond its gates are landscaped gardens, small mosques, and a 14th century ancient madrassa. The king (currently Mohammed VI), still stays in the palace when he is in Fez.

The Royal Palace of Fez is closed for visitors but the exteriors of the palace is a wonder to see

The Royal Palace of Fez is closed for visitors but the exteriors of the palace is a wonder to see

7. Merenid Tombs

For the best views of the bustling Medina, walk up to the steep hill outside the city in the daytime to visit the 14th century ruins of the Merenid Tombs. Not much is known about the tombs except for the fact that it was built by the Merenid dynasty. The walls of the tombs still retain some detailed carvings.

8. Relax In A Moroccan Hammam

After all the walking and sightseeing, pamper yourself in a traditional Moroccan Hammam (a traditional bathhouse). Public baths are located in every Moroccan city. But one can enjoy a relaxing scrub in a luxurious spa in a riad.

Pamper yourself with a traditional Moroccan Hammam for a relaxing experience

Pamper yourself with a traditional Moroccan Hammam for a relaxing experience

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About The Author

Sushmita Biswas

Sushmita Biswas

Sushmita Biswas is a media professional and loves meeting new people and doing creative things. She is all game for good food and great interiors. A mountain lover she plans to do Leh-Ladakh someday with her family. When she is not decoding lifestyle trends she keeps a tab on Bollywood and interviews well-known personalities.

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Kanha Tiger Reserve is the largest national park in Madhya Pradesh. It is also the first tiger reserve in India to introduce an official mascot named ‘Bhoorsingh, the Barasingha’.

Come meet Bhoorsingh at Kanha Tiger Reserve; hindustantimes.com

Come meet Bhoorsingh at Kanha Tiger Reserve; hindustantimes.com

Bhoorsingh the mascot, is a creation of award-winning wildlife cartoonist, Rohan Chakravarty. ‘Bhoor’ means tawny/golden and ‘singh’ means antlers. Kanha is famous for its tigers and its Barasingha (swamp deer). The Barasingha, a deer species, is the state animal of Madhya Pradesh and the Kanha Tiger Reserve, spread over Mandla and Balaghat districts, is the only place in the world where the species exists.

According to Sanjay Shukla, Field Director of Kanha Tiger Reserve, it would have been easier to simply choose a tiger as a mascot, but they chose Barasingha instead, as it would help to present the hard ground swamp deer as the spirit of the reserve and spread awareness towards its conservation. This mascot will give Kanha Reserve a unique identity. In an innovative move, the forest department also plans to have selfie points with life-size cutouts of Bhoorsingh at key locations.

So plan your trip NOW to meet Kanha’s new mascot!

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PM Narendra Modi inaugurated India’s longest road tunnel on the Jammu-Srinagar National Highway on 2nd April, 2017.

The all-weather tunnel is equipped with world-class safety features; www.hindustantimes.com

The all-weather tunnel is equipped with world-class safety features; www.hindustantimes.com

Jammu-Srinagar National Highway recently inaugurated the longest bi-directional highway tunnel in Asia. Built in a record four years, it has cut down travel time between Jammu and Srinagar by 2 hours and the distance by 41 kilometres. The tunnel will save fuel worth nearly Rs 99 crores a year, so nearly Rs 27 lakh is likely to be saved per day.

The all-weather tunnel is equipped with world-class safety features. It is an excellent alternative to the highway which is closed during heavy periods of snow and rain fall. It will ensure safe and swift passage for commuters, even in adverse conditions. A control room monitors the movement of vehicles and will come to your immediate rescue in case of any emergency.

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