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With 2015 taking over in a couple of days, most of us begin to plan our trips timing them with long weekends. Here is a list of standard holidays followed in India. This may wary between the South and North India and is marked by an asterix. So better start planning now if you want to get hold of good air fares and those popular resorts since they tend to sell out during long weekends.

2015 Holiday List
Sl No. Holidays Date Day
1 New Year’s Day 1st January, 2015 Thursday
2 Makara Sankranthi 14th January, 2015 Wednesday
3 Republic Day 26th January, 2015 Monday
4 Holi * 6th March, 2015 Friday
5 Good Friday * 3rd April, 2015 Friday
6 May Day 1st May, 2015 Friday
7 Ganesh Chaturthi 17th September, 2015 Wednesday
8 Bakrid 23 September, 2015 Wednesday
9 Gandhi Jayanti 2nd October, 2015 Friday
10 Ayudha Pooja* 21st October, 2015 Wednesday
11 Maha Navami 22nd October, 2015 Thursday
12 Diwali 10th – 11th November, 2015 Tuesday – Wednesday
13 Gurunanak Jayanthi* 25th November, 2015 Wednesday
14 Christmas 25th December, 2015 Friday
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Here are some pictures we took during a herpetology camp, deep inside the virgin, untamed forests of Agumbe. Interested in attending the camp, click here.

Agumbe is one of the most scenic places on the Western Ghats of the Southern  India. Situated 560 meters above sea level on the Sahyadri ranges (Western Ghats), a World bio-diversity hotspot is aptly called the Cherapunji of South India as it receives an average rainfall of 7000-8000mm annually.

Added to the lush green view all around, the attractions for the visitors is the spectacular sunset and vast opportunities it offers to the trekkers. However not many know that these pristine forests are home to the longest venomous snake of the world – The King Cobra. The renowned herpetologist, Romulus Whitaker called Agumbe the capital of King Cobra.

If you are looking for a peaceful break for a few days from the hectic city life, away from the crowded and commercialized attractions, then this is the place for you.

Ophiophagus Hannah - King Cobra

King Cobra

Dear readers, our next herpetology camp will be on 16-17 October & 30-31 October 2010.  Click here to get more information.

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http://www.the-golden-chariot.com/photogallery.html#

The Golden Chariot luxury train winds its way through the fascinating worlds of Karnataka. Worlds enriched with unique customs and cultures. Worlds frozen in time. Worlds that blend graciously the glory of the past with the magic of today! It’s Karnataka – after all. Here’s a brief run down on the escapes you’ll be visiting on your dream train sojourn.

Bangalore – A bustling metropolis
The silicon valley of India is unique. It’s modern; it’s traditional – at the same time. Historically, the city finds mention in an inscription as old as 900 CE. Technologically, there’s no city as advanced as Bangalore is. No wonder, the city boasts of third most populous city of India.

Explore Vidhan Soudha, the splendid structure used as legislative house for Karnataka assembly; Tipu’s Palace, the summer retreat of Tipu Sultan; Lal Bagh, the most romantic garden in India and MG Road, a bustling market street in the town.

Kabini – A wildlife park
Known as Rajiv Gandhi National Park, this retreat is wildlife enthusiasts’ paradise. Little streams, waterfalls, glens and glades make this heaven an ideal retreat to unwind. The sight of wild animals is only a bonus. You’ll get to see elephants, gaurs, sambars, chitals, wild boars and, of course, tigers. Ornithologists, bring extra batteries for your camera as the Park plays host to 300 species of birds.

Mysore – A royal city
Mythical connection of Mysore with demons and goddesses will surely make you hanker for the city. The royal city remained capital of Vijaynagar Empire. Today resplendent palaces, verdant gardens, tree-fringed boulevards, magnificent buildings and sacred temples grace the skyline of the city. Sights of interest? There are many: Mysore Palace, Chamundi Hills, Jagmohan Palace and Art Gallery, Lalit Mahal Palace, St Philomenas Church, Brindavan Gardens and Mysore Zoo.

Belur, Halebid, Hampi and Badami: World heritage sites
Belur is a little town in Hassan district. It was the capital of magnificent Hoysala Empire during tenth and fourteenth centuries. Hoysala Temple Complex and Chennakesava Temple are major attractions here.

Halebidu is a town close by and houses finest examples of Hoysala architecture. Must visits include Hoysaleswara Temple which is resting on a star-shaped base amidst lush lawns. The tourists of Golden Chariot will also visit Shravanbelagola, home to Asia’s largest monolithic statue of Gomateswara.

Hampi ruins narrate the fascinating saga of Vijayanagar Empire’s splendor and fabulous architecture.

Badami, also a world heritage site, offers breathtaking vistas of its embellished monuments. The 18-armed Nataraja in striking 81 dance poses is a must visit.

Goa: A World of Golden Beaches
Goa, the pearl of the orient, is gifted with everything you fancied in your dream travel. Serene beaches, magnificent architecture, lip-smacking cuisine, pulsating nightlife, you name it and Goa offers it on a platter.

The Golden Chariot luxury train travel reaches to its climax on the shores of this Tourists’ Paradise.

source: http://www.articlesbase.com/exotic-locations-articles/golden-chariot-five-great-escapes-1444625.html

Some of the other luxury trains in India are listed below:

1. Places on Wheels

Palace on wheels which covers the beautiful state of Rajasthan is a journey worthy of kings with its cream saloons, with a border of flowers, forbidding fortress, fairytale palaces, fully vestibule and centrally air-condition, truly a Palace on Wheels.

2. Heritage On Wheels

No other region in India, or perhaps, even in the world, has such a large concentration of high quality frescoes as the region of Shekhawati. The Heritage on Wheels, a luxury tourist train on meter gauge enroute to the unexplored regions of Bikaner and Shekhawati, famous beholders of the Heritage of Rajasthan. Heritage on Wheels is a prefect royal treat for all those on board organized with restaurant and shopping facility.

3. Royal Orient

The Royal Orient train is one of the world’s most exotic trains where you get to explore two of the most fascinating and culturally rich states of India, Gujarat and Rajasthan. The journey by the Royal Orient takes you back to the times of Rajas and Maharajas which is fitted with all the modern conveniences you would expect in five star hotels like clean, comfortable and furnished cabin with spacious bath equipped with running hot and cold water and multi-cuisine restaurants, bar and library.

4. Fairy Queen

The Fairy Queen starts once in a month from October to February renowned for its oldest working engine in the world with the capacity of 50 passengers starts from Delhi to Alwar. The train stops at every major destination and the ambience inside the Fairy Queen makes you feel like a Maharaja as you take on the royal journey. The comprehensive two-day tourist package includes on-ground catering, lodging, boarding, transfer facility, visit to Sariska National Park, cultural programmes etc. In the package, the tourists would be taken to Alwar and would be lodged in Hotel ‘Tiger Den’ at Sariska.

5. Deccan Odyssey

The Deccan Odyssey criss-crosses the Indian Deccan Plateau over 2400 km in Eight days covering beautiful beaches in Goa and Maharashtra, the grand forts and palaces of the Marathas, the Osho Ashram in Pune, the historic sites of Ajanta, Ellora, Aurangabad and the modern city of Mumbai. The 21 coach Air-Conditioned Deccan Odyssey offers combination of richly furnished Deluxe Cabins and Presidential Suites. There are two Dining Cars, One Bar Saloon with smoking lounge area, Conference Area/recreation saloon with small Business Centre, Spa Saloon with mini-gym. Each passenger Saloon has four Deluxe Cabins and is serviced by a private attendant/butler, who looks after tea/coffee service and housekeeping.

6. Konkan Train

Konkan Railways, one of the lesser luxurious trains compared to the list above but this journey offers breathtakingly beautiful sights to the commuters, unexplored destinations with natural charm covers the length of 760 kms, with 1,798 bridges and 88 Tunnels on the route. Konkan Railways offers a mesmerizing picturesque from Mumbai to Thiruvananthapuram via Veer-Khed-Chiplun-Ratnagiri-Rajapur Road-Sindhudurg-Mapusa Road-Goa-Udupi-Mangalore-Kochi.

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Every one looks forward to Christmas, the colorful festival on the 25th of December which heralds the birth of Jesus Christ in a manger. This is one festival which is celebrated by almost everyone who takes pride in putting up a Christmas tree and decorating it with lots of lovely bells and stars. Gifts for the entire family and friends are packed and kept under this tree and given away on the 25th. This season also brings out many small and large choir groups who sing songs and carols at public gatherings across the city.

st-marks-outside1

This year, Christmas season is special for Bangaloreans with St Mark’s Cathedral, the landmark building on MG Road celebrating its bicentennial year. This striking building built in Victorian style was founded in 1808 was modeled on the lines of London’s 17th century St. Paul’s Cathedral and was consecrated in 1816 by the Bishop of Calcutta. The church is named after St. Mark, one of the 12 disciples of Jesus Christ, who was believed to have been the first Gospel writer. It was initially meant for worship by high ranking British officers and later civilians were allowed. Even today, a joint service is held every November by chiefs of staff of the Army, Navy and Air Force on Remembrance Day and this is a very colorful and solemn service.

glass-painting3

As you enter this beautiful colonial structure, you will find a graceful dome over a semicircular chancel that transports you almost immediately into tranquility. The stained glass windows, marble altar, imposing pillars within and the porch of grand columns, richly carved doors and gilded stars decorating it on the inside, make for a perfect place for worship. The compound also boasts of numerous plants and fruit bearing trees along with a small fountain which adds to the beauty of this place. If you haven’t visited this place yet, you are missing something.

Rev Vincent Rajkumar, the Presbyter of the cathedral, says that the cathedral, which started out as an Anglican church, had become part of the Church of South India (CSI) in 1947 and in 1961 it became the Mother Church of Karnataka Central Diocese.

St. Mark’s Cathedral with its stylish address of #1, MG Rd, has become quite a draw among the city’s musicians too, thanks to its fabled pipe organ which is the largest in South India. Installed in 1920, the magnificent instrument was in a state of disrepair for several decades. The cathedral started using it again after a team of Swedish experts repaired it at a cost of Rs. 50 lakhs. Churches like St. George’s Cathedral and St. Andrew’s Church in Chennai have taken inspiration and have started restoring their pipe organs too!

pipe-organ1

The church is processing a proposal with the Postal department for Commemorative stamps. The Reverend is planning big, hoping the President will grace the culmination of the celebration. For more information, please visit the Cathedral’s website at www.saintmarks.in

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