February 1, 2022

Defining luxurious tourism (TravTalk 1st Feb Issue)- Prateek Hira at Dubi Expo

Filed under: News — admins @ 11:18 am

TravTalk 1st February 2022 issue carries a report on Prateek Hira’s address on ‘Luxury Tourism in India’  at Dubai Expo….


Defining luxurious tourism

India has a lot to offer as tourism destination with its rich heritage, culture and tradition. The country has also evolved into a luxury travel destination that is globally recognised.

TravTalk-1st Feb IssueIn the past decade, India has evolved as a tourism destination and the transformation continues in the form of luxury travel. Historical palaces, forts and boutique hotels in the country are full of stories and offer unique experience for guests, and adding to this is the luxury travel.

Speaking at the India Pavilion at Expo2020 Dubai about luxury tourism in India, Prateek Hira, President and CEO – Tornos, and Director, River Rhapsody, said, “In the past, luxury travel was understood to mean opulence, ultra-comfort and high-end services, but the definition has evolved. Authenticity and meaningful journeys are now at the heart of luxury travel.”

He added, “There was a time when there was a scarcity in India and in many other places, but not so now. Getting a deeper understanding of and immersion into local cultures are the main benefits of luxury travel. People like to travel, participate and learn, and that’s what luxury travel has become. Due to the increase in purchasing power and evolving lifestyles of consumers, what was considered a luxury yesterday has become a necessity today for most of us, a necessity for travel, and is available in abundance in this market.”

India has some of the best luxury properties for experiencing opulence and luxury stays.Homegrown brands such as Taj, Oberoi and Lalit have established themselves in the luxury conscious market. Globally, the market has fairly realised the potential India has in luxury. “India is a country where every 50 miles the history, the language, the culture, the cuisine and the crafts change, and each of them offers something unique. Today, luxury travel is about understanding the destination and being able to access places that are not as touristy or not readily available to mass tourists,” Hira said.


Full magazine available to download as PDF on : http://travtalkindia.com/pdf/2022/TTFeb1st22.pdf

 

 

 

Prateek Hira’s initial view about tourism in Union Budget 2022

Filed under: News — admins @ 10:35 am

“Unfortunately tourism industry was once again sidelined in the union budget 2022 as no direct benefit was passed on to it, in spite of the fact that this is the most ailing of all sectors due to the pandemic.” Said the Uttar Pradesh Chairman of IATO and FICCI’s Tourism Committee, Mr. Prateek Hira.

Hira added “the extension of ECLGS through 2023 is a welcome step and allocation of additional 50,000 Cr dedicated to tourism will bring in some relief for the industry”.

Prateek Hira is quite upbeat about the announcements regarding multi modal transport for convenient travel, introduction of new Vande Bharat trains and detailed projects of five river systems. In addition to that, the eight rope-ways and integrated connectivity between train stations and expansion of 25,000 kms of highways in the country is a thrust on creating a tourism ecosystem for the long term growth of tourism in India.

E-passport by 2023 will be a step that will place India among the developed nations’ and create a seamless foreign travel for Indians. Hira feels this would also enhance the credibility of the Indian passports.

“The renewed thrust on the development of infrastructure in the North-East given in this budget will also boost tourism in this highly potential region that has been neglected for quite some time” said Hira.

Prateek Hira adds: “As a business person we have to be greedy and always wanting more from the budget so it is justified to say that we were expecting much more, at least in direct benefits which we did not get”.  

January 22, 2022

Ayodhya-Deepotsav

Filed under: Home Product Box,Wow — admins @ 6:58 am

Deepotsav (also spelt as ‘Deepotsava’) in Ayodhya – An event that was planned and conceptualized by Tornos in 2016 is now a landmark event of Government of Uttar Pradesh since 2017. Ceremonial lighting of record number of earthen lamps is the highlight and then there is laser show and projection mapping detailing the return of Lord Rama along with his wife Mata Sita and younger brother Lord Laxmana mark the celebrations. 

Deepotsav celebration falls a day earlier than the actual Diwali (also called Deepavali) celebration and is a must visit. Tornos as a part of this package organises two days of tour to Ayodhya. The first day is about the visit to the temples of Ayodhya, curated lunch and stay at Ayodhya at a semi luxury home-stay and next day is for a morning visit of the Ghat, boating on the sacred river Saryu and finally privileged participation in the celebration Deepotsava. This includes VVIP access to our cars and guests and seating in an exclusive “Tornos Guests’ Enclosure” for best view and photography.             

Cost :

On request (info@tornosindia.com)

Starting Time :

2 days before Diwali or a day before if not opting for tour of Ayodhya and stay there. Pickup is from Lucknow at 9 am (a bit of flexibility in leaving time from Lucknow)

2022 – 22 October

2023 – 10 November

2024 – 30 October

2025 – 19 October

Expected Duration :

2 Days (44 hours) / 1 Day (12 hours)

Remarks :

This tour can also be taken only for Deepotsav participation eliminating the night stay and tour of Ayodhya. Deepotsav dates are :- 2022 – 23 October; 2023 – 11 November; 2024 – 31 October ; 2025 – 20 October.

Driving time from Lucknow to Ayodhya is 2 hours. 

January 21, 2022

Ayodhya Tour (Excursion Ex Lucknow)

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(same day return trip from Lucknow to Ayodhya. 11-12 hours, including driving time, visits and activities)

Post early breakfast we will leave Lucknow for Ayodhya (150 km / 2 hrs). En route a bio-break at an identified facility. (ideal time to leave is by 0730 hrs but we can shift it to another option with a bit of changes in the programme if we intend to leave at 1000 hrs) 

Upon arrival we will be met by our Ayodhya Tour Manager who will now lead the tour and get us a privileged access into the temples.

We will visit Hanuman Gari – the seat of Lord Hanuman who sits on a hilltop to guard the holy city of Ayodhya. We will later visit Kanak Bhawan where we will attend the forenoon temple closure aarti. 

We will then reach a 150 year old temple where we will lunch with the head priest. A special prayer will be performed at this temple and after the offering of Bhog (lunch to the deity), we will be served lunch in the temple on a floor level setting and on a dry-leaf plate (pattal) and earthen-pottery. This lunch has been prepared hygienically under supervision our expert team and is a very privileged and a blessed meal. Later spend some time with the priest to understand the ethos of Ayodhya, its people, lifestyle and connect spiritually with the city where Lord Rama was born.  

Post lunch we will visit Ram Janam Bhoomi, the place of birth of Lord Rama. Later we drive to the temple workshop where stones are being carved to be placed in the under-construction Rama Temple. 

Also visit Saryu Ghat and enjoy a short joy-ride on the sacred river Saryu. Tea will be served on the boat while you get to see Ayodhya’s temple facade and listen to the stories connected to River Saryu.

As an option visit a few temples at the Ghat and then if you wish you may attend the evening Saryu Aarti (this takes place at the sunset and time is subject to change based on the season which effects the sunset). This Aarti too is a privileged experience as not only it will give you a chance to perform Aarti but also that it will be for your well-being.   

ADD-On OPTION: Kanchan Bhawan the starting point of our Mokshdayani Walk. Walking through the stretch by the side of Saryu river we will finally reach Nageshwarnath temple, from here we reach the river-ghat to board our boat. – For an ADD-ON SPECIAL Cost INR 1000 per person (if along with this package)

We will now board our car and return to Lucknow, to reach by late dinner time.

Highlights : In Ayodhya visit of Ram Janam Bhoomi, A short motor boat ride on Saryu river and diya-offering (earthen lamps); Lunch at the temple with the priest.

Cost :

INR 9,000 per person (operates on minimum 2 guests) – SPECIAL PRICE (Limited Offer)

Starting Time : 

7:30 – 8:30 am (Flexible)

Expected Duration : 

11-12 hours

Remarks : 

This is an exclusive tour.

*Pickup time from city hotels.  Timings are flexible and may be altered after prior discussion.

Expect to return by dinner to Lucknow.

 

January 18, 2022

Expectations from budget-2022 – Prateek Hira tells TravTalk for its January Issue

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“This financial year will pave the way for better times ahead. I hope for a three-pronged budget, focused on the revival of inbound tourism by way of free or low-cost tourist visas, short-term tourist visas on arrival (not e-visas) for select countries, and a temporary exemption of GST for inbound travellers. On another front, I wish to get a window of income tax exemption on businesses for three years to rebuild working capital and restart the businesses. At the policy level, I wish for a larger budgetary allocation for the MOT for a well-planned, researched, and structured marketing plan to revive the tourist traffic. The tourism industry, for the third time, is pinning its hope on the annual budget.” – Prateek Hira (President & CEO – Tornos).Prateek Hira talks on budget

January 17, 2022

Travel Trends – 2022 by Prateek Hira published in TravTalk

Filed under: News — admins @ 7:30 am

(TravTalk – 2nd Fortnight Issue – Jan’22. Prateek Hira’s inputs )

Watch out for travel trends in 2022 – “The exploration of lesser known places will be a dominant trend, with the kind of knowledge today’s travellers have gained” – Prateek Hira


TravTalk Interview of Prateek HiraPeople have learnt to spend on holidays much more and make it a part of their annual budget, which is encouraging for the industry. Prateek Hira, IATO Chapter Chairman, Uttar Pradesh; President & CEO, Tornos and Director, River Rhapsody said, “Indian travellers who were till now spending large amounts only on their foreign travel (outbound) have learnt to spend similarly large amounts within India too, thus domestic travel is no more a budget travel business. I foresee this trend growing further in 2022. This will make our travel economy more stable, self-reliant and also attract a lot of high-end travel businesses in the domestic travel segment”.

He further added, “Small and personalised travel companies will gain ground as travellers will have many more questions than they ever had and this new

class of travellers may not be so happy dealing with large tour companies that, in spite of their best efforts, may not be able to cater to this demand so well.” And the same will apply to B2B dealings in terms of dealings with large DMCs. This trend will bring regional players and small operators more prominently into the mainstream market.

The travel industry saw a change in 2021 when people went to places that were less crowded and less popular. This will continue in 2022 as people explore new destinations, which is one of the most expected trends. “Travel till now has been quite unevenly distributed in India. With the kind of knowledge that travellers of today have gained, the exploration of lesser-known places will be a dominant trend, and thereby, lesser known destinations will see an upsurge of tourists, “said Hira.

He continued, “The distinction between travel businesses such as inbound, domestic, outbound, and so on will become diluted, and the new-age tour operator will mean the ‘one who offers tours to travellers’ rather than in the area of descriptive geographical boundaries. “Operators will reinvent themselves and get into new travel verticals that otherwise they were resisting to ramp up their revenue sources.”

January 8, 2022

Prateek Hira, President & CEO of Tornos speaks at India Expo – Economic Times reports

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India is a luxury destination by virtue: Prateek Hira at Tourism Fortnight in Expo 2020 Dubai

Sharing his thoughts on luxury tourism in India during a session at India Pavilion : https://travel.economictimes.indiatimes.com/news/events/international/india-is-a-luxury-destination-by-virtue-prateek-hira-at-tourism-fortnight-in-expo-2020-dubai/88756088

January 1, 2022

The Week – “Fascinating facts about some of the most iconic buildings in Lucknow”

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(The Week – https://www.theweek.in/theweek/statescan/2021/12/19/fascinating-facts-about-some-of-the-most-iconic-buildings-in-lucknow.html) – By Puja Awasthi/ Photographs By Salil Bera Issue Date: December 26, 2021 

Monument, memorial, mausoleum or landmark -no building is ever just that. From the depth of their foundations to the sweep of their canopies, buildings are dialogues embracing geographical and human spaces. They tell tales; some forgotten, some readily remembered.

The restoration [of the Constantia] required “a sense of affection” apart from the more practical money and planning, said Carlyle McFarland, principal, La Martiniere College, Lucknow.

And many, like Lucknow’s Husainabad Clock Tower – India’s tallest mechanical clock tower – add to the script of some of the most important stories of the present. In January 2020, this tower became the backdrop to protests against the Citizenship (Amendment) Act. Standing at a height of around 220ft, it is referred to as the country’s Big Ben—a tenuous connect at best. It has a mix of various styles that influenced its architect Richard Roskell Bayne during his travels through Cordoba, Spain, and Marrakech, Morocco. (The Big Ben is in the Gothic Revival style).
In 2010, two Lucknow residents – Capt Paritosh Chauhan, who is serving in the merchant navy, and Akhilesh Agarwal, a mechanical engineer – volunteered to get the long-dead clock running again. They discovered that the original movement was gone; the bronze and gunmetal used in its six foot long and three foot wide clockwork was stolen. There were no original drawings and manuals to help. The best guide was the bench on which the clock rested, with holes for where the shafts of the movement had gone in.

Chauhan and Agarwal describe it as the “DNA of the clock”, from which they had to piece together a dinosaur-like being.

Since 2012, when it started ticking again, the machine has been patchily managed. It works only intermittently. The duo says that the upkeep requires “the right attitude, commitment and skilled craftsmen”—which they cannot ensure, as they are not part of the Husainabad Trust that manages the tower and other properties.

Somewhat better preserved is the Rumi Darwaza, a public gateway, which is the symbol most often used to depict Lucknow in travel literature. There is speculation that it is similar to a portal in Constantinople (now Istanbul)—in recognition of which the Darwaza was called Kustuntunia in the 19th century. Others have seen in it a resemblance to the Sublime Porte of the Ottomans. Regardless of its foreign references, behind the Darwaza’s construction by Nawab Asaf-ud-Daula lay a humane story. In 1784, as a great famine swept through the land, the Darwaza was conceived to give employment to some 20,000 people.

Some monuments have a better chance of speaking for themselves. The Constantia, one of the homes of Lucknow’s most popular European resident Claude Martin, is one such landmark. A Frenchman, Martin became a major general in the British East India Company’s Bengal Army. The French Baroque building today houses La Martiniere College, one of India’s best-known schools for boys, and is a popular destination for movie shoots and magazine spreads.

The centrepiece of this two-century-old structure is a tower crowned by a dome. Under this dome is a chapel, adorned with figures and frescoes in the Wedgwood style. In 2013, the school’s current principal, Carlyle McFarland, initiated a restoration, driven more by urgent concerns such as crumbling walls. On a property that was originally around 400 acres, repairs were not new. However, the triumph of this restoration lay most visibly in its ornamental aspects and staggering attention to detail.

McFarland said the stucco work was as close to the original as available information revealed. Gone, for instance, were the mango leaves that had replaced the original acanthus leaves of the decoration, simply because artisans who made the interim repairs had no ready references for original Greek ornamentation.

The restoration required “a sense of affection” apart from the more practical money and planning, said McFarland, who is an alumnus. In 2016, these efforts were recognised by the French government, which conferred a medal of honour for distinguished service on Ansaruddin, the painter who led the repairs.

The Château de Lyon, another home owned by Martin, has been put recently on the tourist map after the larger building it is part of was thrown open to the public. This Lucknow mansion is named after Martin’s birthplace in France.

Prateek Hira, the president of Tornos, a company that describes itself as an ‘experiential travel company’, said that the residence offered a “fuller experience” of the evolution of Martin’s architectural style, which was perfected over several structures in and around Lucknow. It is thus a template from which Lucknow can be better understood.
The wonders of the structure, better known as Kothi Farhat Baksh, are still being unravelled. Its unique feature was rooms that were submerged in the waters of the Gomti River; these rooms functioned as an automatic cooling system for the floors above.

Meanwhile, conversations about the schoolboys who walked Constantia’s hallways are carried on in one of Lucknow’s most visited landmarks—the Residency. The building was the official home of the British resident general at Awadh, and was besieged for more than five months during the revolt of 1857. It was here that the British suffered their worst losses, before recapturing the city on November 17, 1857.

This siege, the stuff of military folklore, also saw schoolboys being called upon to serve the British army—for the first time ever. The original Residency was a complex of 28 buildings, of which only six remain intact.
Its importance however remains unchanged.

“It is as significant to the besieged and the besiegers,” said Vipul B. Varshney, the convenor of the Indian National Trust for Art and Cultural Heritage, Lucknow.

Varshney, who has organised heritage walks around the complex, said that if there was just one monument in Lucknow that the British tourists had on their must-visit list, it was the Residency—especially its cemetery.
A different connection to the world is found at the Rauza-e-Kazmain, a replica of the mausoleums of the seventh and ninth Imams in Iraq. Unlike the city’s other, perhaps better known Imambaras, this one has two large minarets and four domes covered in brass—as opposed to the more commonly found stone. The ones in the original shrine are covered in gold.

Completed during the reign of Nawab Wajid Ali Shah in 1852, its building was initiated by one Jagganath Agarwal, a Hindu who upon conversion had taken the name Sharaf-ud-daullah. It is thus a fitting tribute to the city’s past of rich communal amity.

Athar Abbas, a maulana who serves at the mausoleum, said that the replica in Lucknow, too, had wish-granting powers like the originals in Baghdad. “It is faith which makes it so beautiful,” he said. Faith being just one element of the rich dialogues that these buildings symbolise and sustain.

(The Week – https://www.theweek.in/theweek/statescan/2021/12/19/fascinating-facts-about-some-of-the-most-iconic-buildings-in-lucknow.html) – By Puja Awasthi/ Photographs By Salil Bera Issue Date: December 26, 2021 

Tornos sees potential in Kushinagar – Prateek Hira’s interview in Rashtriya Sahara

Filed under: News — admins @ 6:29 am

Kushinagar is being seen as a tourist destination with a huge potential. A place where Lord Buddha attained ‘Mahaparinirvana’ has much more than just the main excavation site and the main temple. A lot of work has been done by the District Administration under its District Magistrate Mr. Rajalingham and the Joint Magistrate Mr. Purna Borah. President & CEO of  Tornos recently visited Kushinagar for the second time and took stock of all the development work along with Mr. Tarit Roy and Mr. Himanshu Shekhar who are assisting Tornos to understand Kushinagar as an immersive destination and work around it to develop it as a minimum two to three nights destination. Prateek also gave an interview to Rashtriya Sahara on this visit….

  

December 31, 2021

Immense work done for Tourism in Uttar Pradesh – Prateek Hira addresses Times Conclave

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“The kind of work that has been done to develop Uttar Pradesh as a tourist destination is commendable. The biggest example is Kashi Vishwanath Dham. Earlier, excuses were made that not much can be done for the uplift of Kashi Vishwanath temple as there were hygiene issues in the narrow lanes leading to the temple. The construction of Kashi Vishwanath Dham has proved that nothing is impossible,” said chairman, tourism committee, FICCI UP state council, Prateek Hira.

“Kashi Vishwanath Dham has broken all previous records of tourist footfall. Ayodhya and Vindhyachal corridors will also be developed on similar lines,” he said.

December 24, 2021

Responsible Tourism

Filed under: Uncategorized — admins @ 9:29 am

RTSOI

SUSTAINABLE TOURISM CRITERIA FOR INDIA (STCI) – FOR THE TOUR OPERATORS FOLLOWED BY TORNOS

A.1

STCI PRINCIPLES

 

Implement a Sustainability Management System

POTENTIAL INDICATORS

1. A Sustainability Management Plan exists that is appropriate to the business’ size and scale

2. Sustainability Management Plan considers:

• Environmental

• Socio-cultural

• Quality

• Health and Safety Issues

3. Scales with point systems:

i) System is implemented

ii) Sustainability Management Plan is communicated internally and externally

iii) Plan is integrated at decision-making level, includes monitoring, analysis and evaluation and adaptive management

iv) Stakeholder input and progress reported

v) System is comprehensive

vi) Plan includes environmental,

socio-cultural, quality, health and safety issues

A.2

Legal Compliance

• Compliance with all relevant legislation and regulations

• Procedure exists for maintaining and implementation of up-to-date list of legal requirements, according to market  practices, specially where the country is a signatory to international treaties

A.3

Employee Training

• Scale: Literature on all critical issues is available and provided to management staff.

STCI PRINCIPLES POTENTIAL INDICATORS SUSTAINABLE TOURISM CRITERIA FOR INDIA (STCI)- FOR THE TOUR OPERATORS SECTOR B1

A.4

Customer Satisfication

• Average Customer Satisfaction rating

• Corrective action plan exists

• Number or type of complaints received as percentage of total guests

• Percentage of complaints received that have been resolved

A.5

Promotional materials are accurate and complete and do not promise more than can be delivered by the business.

1. Scale:

i) Materials are accurate in description of services

ii) Materials are complete

2. Customer and/or Tour operators survey questions

(i) Marketing materials complete and accurate and not exaggerated

(ii) Marketing materials set realistic

 

STCI PRINCIPLES

POTENTIAL INDICATORS

A.6

Design and construction of buildings and infrastructure

 

A.6.1

Comply with local zoning and protected or heritage area requirements

Land use is in compliance with local zoning and protected or heritage area laws and regulations

 

A.6.2

Design and construction of  buildings and infrastructure

i) Design and construction reduce heating, cooling, lighting and water consumption through passive design appropriate to local conditions, and technology

iii) Buildings with emphasis on visual compatibility with the natural environment

iv) Transportation and circulation with emphasis on minimizing fossil-fuel consumption

v) Utility systems with an emphasis on energy-efficient heating, cooling and lighting, water conservation, waste water treatment; and solid waste management.

vi) Reduction of on-site and off-site development impacts on air, water and sound quality.

A.6.2.1

Sitting respects natural and cultural heritage surroundings

i) Archaeological, cultural heritage, and sacred sites have not been disturbed

ii) Endangered wildlife has not been displaced or habitat destroyed

iii) Buildings do not destroy scenic beauty

 

STCI PRINCIPLES

POTENTIAL INDICATORS

 

 

iv) Earth movements have been minimized

v) Water courses including aquifers and subterranean links have not been altered

vi) Runoff from buildings, parking lots, and grounds is channeled and filtered and harvested and reused.

vii) Location of buildings not over water bodies and wetlands, whether seasonal or permanent

viii) Location of buildings and roads not in designated no-building zones

ix) Vegetation disturbance has been minimized and restored with endemic and not exotic species

x) Gardens, green areas, golf courses and sporting fields use local and endemic vegetation where ever possible or grasses that are adapted to local climate

A.6.2.2

Design respects natural and cultural heritage surroundings

i) Existing historic and cultural buildings and landscapes have been restored, in vernacular idiom

ii) Buildings use regional construction materials, as long as these are obtained sustainably

iii) New buildings reflect regional vernacular architecture, and include regional art and crafts

iv) Existing structures have been restored on set heritage norms

A.6.2.3

Natural and cultural impact has been assessed

i) Environmental and social impact assessment has been completed

ii) Plans are in compliance with recommendations and are checked for continued compliance Land acquisition is legal

 

STCI PRINCIPLES

POTENTIAL INDICATORS

A.6.2.4

Land rights and acquisition respect natural and cultural heritage

i) Land acquisition is in accordance with all protected area or cultural heritage regulations; action should take into account fencing and animal corridor blocking issues.

ii) Local Community have not been involuntarily removed from the land.

iii) Where local communities or indigenous peoples have legal, traditional, collective, or customary rights over the possession and use of the land, the Stakeholders affected have had the opportunity to accept or reject the proposed use

iv) Use for tourism has been authorized with the prior informed consent of stakeholders affected including Panchayats and NGOs with a redressal mechanism in place

v) Number of unresolved complaints by local communities

A.6.3

Design and construction of buildings and infrastructure use locally appropriate principles of sustainable construction

A6.3.1 takes due cognizance of the vernacular idiom namely, oral, natural and built heritage

A6.3.2 Cost of environment safeguards to be part of project cost

i) Construction plan follows sustainable site design, and the plan incorporates use of architects and designers specialized in the vernacular idiom, conservation architects, landscape designers etc.

ii) Construction plan documents meet all STCI, with specific emphasis on risk areas of impact associated with construction

iii) Minimize within acceptable norms areas of vegetation disturbance, earth grading, and water channel alternation.

iv) Reduce wastes and emissions

v) Incorporate local materials and crafts into structures, native plants into landscaping, and local community consultations for programs and operations.

vi) Safe and clean workplace provided

 

STCI PRINCIPLES

POTENTIAL INDICATORS

A.6.4

Provide access for persons with Special Needs

i) Facilities and services are accessible to persons with special needs

ii) Level of accessibility is clearly communicated to the customer

A.7

Information about and interpretation of the natural surroundings, local culture and cultural heritage is provided to customers, as well as explaining appropriate behavior while visiting natural areas, living cultures, and cultural heritage sites

i) Company has interpretation program

ii) Company has delivery mechanism for interpretations (i.e., collateral, tour guide, podcast)

iii) Staff training programs in interpretation for tourism

iv) Interpretive materials are accurate

B

Maximize social and economic benefits to the local community and minimize negative impacts

 

B.1

The company actively supports initiatives for the communities social and infrastructure development including, among others, education, health, gender equity and environment care and sanitation

i) Annual gross income contributed to local* community for public benefit through commercial, in kind, or pro bono engagement

ii) Plan developed in collaboration with community

B.2

Local residents are employed, including in management positions. Training is offered as necessary.

 

 

STCI PRINCIPLES

POTENTIAL INDICATORS

B.3

Local and fair-trade services and goods provided by Micro, Small and  Medium Enterprises are purchased by the business, where available.

i) Purchases of services and goods from local providers

ii) Purchases that are fair trade purchases

iii) Facilities built using local material

iv) Purchasing policy gives priority to local and fair trade suppliers that meet quality and environmentally friendly criteria

v) Checklist of available local, sustainable goods, services, and contract services

vi) Local, sustainable goods, services and contract services utilized

vii) Local owned restaurants, services, and shops utilized on tours

B.4

The company provides the first option to Micro, Small and Medium Service Providers to develop and sell sustainable products that are based on the area’s nature, history, and culture, including food and drink, crafts, performing arts, agricultural products etc.

i) Company provides access to enterprises, including handicrafts, food and beverage, cultural performances, or other goods and services, to sell directly to guests

ii) Promotion of local products in marketing activities and services

iii) Number of local enterprises promoted

iv) Number of local jobs created as a result of company’s intervention

v) Number of new local enterprises incubated

 

STCI PRINCIPLES

POTENTIAL INDICATORS

B.5

A code of conduct for activities in indigenous and local communities has been developed, with the  consent of and in collaboration  with the community.

i) Appropriate code of behaviour or any other scaling mechanism is integrated into the operations Consultation and dialogue with the community and other stakeholders

B.6

The company has implemented a policy against commercial and sexual exploitation, particularly of women, children,  adolescents and tribal communities. 

Number of incidents reported with host destination authorities

B.7

The company is  equitable in hiring women and local minorities, including in management positions, while restraining child labor

i) Women and local minorities employees on staff is reflective of local demographics, both in management and non-management categories

ii) Internal promotions, by gender and by local and non-local aspects reflects local demographics

iii) Incidents of child labor as defined by the ILO

iv) Wage equality between men and women

B.8

International or national legal protection of employees is respected, and employees are paid a mandated wage nationally.

Salaries and benefits meet or exceed local, national and international regulations, whichever are higher. Payment is made into national social security system for qualified employees. Overtime is paid for hours worked beyond the established work week hours

 

STCI PRINCIPLES

POTENTIAL INDICATORS

 

 

and working hours do not exceed the legal maximums or those established by the ILO. All employees have the right to annual paid vacation. Health insurance or the equivalent is provided to all employees. Employees receive training and capacity building. Training and capacity building is provided for local community non-employee residents to develop qualified local labor force.

B.9

The activities of the company do not jeopardize the provision of basic services, such as water, energy, or sanitation, to local and neighboring communities.

 

C

Cultural Heritage Maximize benefits to cultural heritage and minimize negative impacts.

 

 

STCI PRINCIPLES

POTENTIAL INDICATORS

C.1

The company follows established guidelines and a code of behaviour for visits to culturally or  historically sensitive sites, in order to minimize visitor impact and  harmonize with visitor satisfaction

i) Company policy includes established guidelines or code of behavior

ii) Changes in site management plan based on annual easement

C.2

Historical and archeological artifacts are not sold, traded, or displayed, except as permitted by law.

i) Incidents and reports regarding inappropriate use of artifacts

ii) Company policy exists

iii) Company policy is implemented and executed effectively

C.3

The business contributes to the protection of local historical, archaeological, culturally, and spiritually important properties and sites, and does not impede access to them by local residents

i) Monetary and in-kind contribution to the protection of important properties and sites per unit sector activity, for instance per guest-night

ii) Local population accesses properties and sites

C.4

The business uses elements of local art, architecture, or cultural heritage in its operations, sustainable design, decoration, food, or shops, while respecting the intellectual property rights of local communities

i) Incidents and reports of exploitation of local intellectual property

ii) B.3 Indicators are also applicable

 

STCI PRINCIPLES

POTENTIAL INDICATORS

D

Maximize benefits to the environment and minimize negative impacts

 

D.1

Conserving Resources

 

D.1.1

Purchasing policy favors environmentally sustainable products for building materials, capital goods, food and consumables.

i) Percentage of purchases of goods and services from green or sustainable sources for building materials, capital goods, food and consumables

D1.2

Purchase of disposable and consumable goods is measured, and the business actively seeks ways to reduce their use. 

i) Purchasing policy requires re-usable, returnable and recycled goods, where available

ii) Waste management plan exists

iii) Packaging minimization programme

iv) Number of types and quantity of products in disposable containers.

D.1.3

Energy consumption should be measured sources indicated, and measures to decrease overall consumption should be adopted, while encouraging the use of renewable energy.

i) Total energy consumed per tourist specific activity such as guest-night, tourists, etc. per source or renewable versus non-renewable fuel

ii) Percentage of total energy from renewable sources

iii) Monetary investment in energy saving devices, technologies and renewable energy as a percentage of total energy costs and investments or total turnover

D.1.4

Water consumption should be measured, sources indicated, and measures to decrease overall consumption should be adopted.

i) Water management programme exists

ii) Change to availability and access to potable water as a result of company activities

iii) Total volume of water in kilolitres consumed per source per specific tourist activity such as guest-nights, visitors, etc

iv) Percentage of water-using equipment

 

STCI PRINCIPLES

POTENTIAL INDICATORS

 

 

and activities that employ a water conservation technique and rain harvesting techniques

D.2

Reducing Pollution

 

D.2.1

Greenhouse gas emissions from all sources controlled by the business are measured, and procedures are implemented to reduce and offset them as a way to achieve climate neutrality and go beyond to mitigate climate change impacts

i) Reduced direct and indirect greenhouse gas emissions by weight

ii) Initiatives to reduce greenhouse gas emissions

iii) Carbon footprint, namely emissions less offsets, per tourist activity or guest-night

iv) Change in greenhouse gas emissions year on year

D.2.2

Wastewater, including grey water, is treated effectively and reused

i) Waste water plan, including treatment, exists

ii) Monitored water discharge by quality and destination

iii) Volume in liters waste water reused

D.2.3

A solid waste management plan is implemented, with quantitative goals to minimize waste that is not reused or recycled.

i) Total waste generated, in tones, by type and disposal method

ii) Kilograms of waste to landfill per sector specific activity, namely, guest-nights, visitors, revenue, etc.

iii) Amount of waste incinerated

iv) Number of incidents of hazardous spills

v) Percentage of total waste that is reused and recycled

D.2.4

The use of harmful substances, including pesticides, paints, swimming pool disinfectants, and cleaning materials, is

i) Hazardous materials not used

ii) Minimum Percentage of bio-degradable and low phosphate chemicals used to total chemicals

iii) low Pesticides in use per unit area

iv) Decreased usage of harmful substances

 

STCI PRINCIPLES

POTENTIAL INDICATORS

 

Minimized; substituted, when available, by non-harmful products; and all chemical use is optimally managed.

 

D.2.5

The business implements practices to reduce pollution from noise, light, run-off, erosion, ozone-depleting compounds, and air and soil contaminants.

i) See D.1.2- D.2.4 for indicators on air, water and soil contaminants

ii) Number and types of incidents and complaints

iii) Pollution management plan exists for emissions, effluents and waste

D.3

Conserving biodiversity, ecosystems and landscapes

 

D.3.1

Wildlife species are NOT harvested from the wild, consumed, displayed, sold, or internationally traded, as part of a regulated activity which ensures that these species remain  sustainably protected.

i) Company policy exists

ii) Company policy is communicated to staff

iii) Company policy is communicated to guests

iv) Sustainable management plan (see Criteria A.1)developed with scientific experts which includes strategies, current and future plans

D.3.2

No captive wildlife is held, except for properly regulated scientific activities, and living specimens of protected wildlife species are only kept by those authorized and suitably equipped

i) Sustainable management plan developed with scientific experts which includes strategies, current and future plans

ii) Conservation policies are included in employee training

iii) Existence of captive wildlife for uses other than breeding or rehabilitation

 

STCI PRINCIPLES

POTENTIAL INDICATORS

 

to house and care for them, where this is deemed scientifically necessary.

 

D.3.3

The business uses endemic species for landscaping and restoration, and takes measures to avoid the introduction of invasive alien or exotic species.

i) Company policy prohibits use of invasive alien species in gardens, landscapes and other areas of operation

ii) Plan exists for removal and restoration, where required

D.3.4

The business contributes to the support of biodiversity conservation, including supporting natural protected areas and areas of any biodiversity value.

i) Annual budget allocated to support natural protected areas and biodiversity conservation

ii) Land restoration area

iii) Habitats protected or restored area

iv) Whether assessment plan exists

D.3.5

Interactions with wildlife must not produce adverse effects on the viability of populations in the wild. Any disturbance of natural ecosystems is prevented, and the company contributes appropriately to provision of requisite safeguards and conservation management.

i) IUCN Red List and national conservation list species and habitats affected by the company’s operations with levels of extinction risk

ii) Habitats protected or restored by the company, including as part of participation in partnership projects by area

iii) Protected and high value land use owned or managed by the company in area and percentage

iv) Annual budget allocated by the company to restore or rehabilitate natural protected areas or  biodiversity  conservation

December 21, 2021

‘Incredible India’ has become passé (Prateek Hira’s comments to TTJ)

Filed under: News — admins @ 7:48 am

Prateek Hira, Chairman, IATO Uttar Pradesh Chapter, shares his thoughts: “This is the most apt topic in the present times. Two years have been really bad and so bad that the brand India has almost diluted. I personally feel that the term ‘Incredible India’ has become passé in the travel world in the past two years even more. Not only that India as a brand has to rebuild and reaffirm its image, but also each one of us in the tour business has to rebuild from scratch. I have always advocated to my industry brethren, to think like a startup, taking baby steps, realigning and re-engineering businesses to re-establish them in the changed environment.” “If there has been a setback because of COVID-19, the positive side is that every country has to restart from zero. Whichever countries are able to market first and maintain all Covid protocols and safety measures successfully will get the benefit, and be able to capture good tourism business. Under the same endeavor and to build up the campaign, ‘BRAND INDIA – The Road to Recovery’ theme was chosen as the theme for IATO Convention,”

TTJ carries Prateek's interview

https://traveltradejournal.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/12/TTJ-December-2021.pdf

UP devising new avatar for Ayodhya?

Filed under: News — admins @ 7:27 am

TravTalk (December-2021 issue) interviews President & CEO of Tornos Mr. Prateek Hira on the subject:

Prateek Hira, Chairman, IATO Uttar Pradesh Chapter and President & CEO, Tornos, Director,River Rhapsody, stated that Uttar Pradesh, being a big state, has many lesser known destinations that till now have not been brought forth or valued by the industry. COVID-19 gave a lot of time to tour operators to rediscover the state and replan tours with new flavours, so coming up with new itineraries will be an evolution and a welcome one. Speaking of changes in the travel itinerary of Uttar Pradesh, he said, “‘Changed’ in my opinion is a wrong word; a better word would be ‘evolved’. Just as products get redundant after a time when they reach their optimum sales, so does an itinerary. Law of diminishing returns very much applies here too,” said Hira.

He added, “Ayodhya is the newest, so it obviously requires much more focus and investment, which the government is doing in order to bring it at par with other developed tourist destinations in the state. Agra is one of the inbound feeder destinations, not only for the state of Uttar Pradesh but also for many other states in India, so it has been and will always be at the top of the chart.”

He further added, “Agra is one such destination that in itself is the crown of India’s tourist destinations, what with a robust and well-developed tourist infrastructure that is constantly growing. The Agra metro is one example of it. The introduction of multiple flights to Agra is another. The smart city project in Agra is yet another example of the ongoing development of Agra, which will benefit Agra’s tourism industry. The Government of Uttar Pradesh has also taken up the mammoth task of training guides in Agra and Fatehpur Sikri, which is a welcome step as it wants to revive Fatehpur Sikri as a must-do excursion from Agra. similarly, Bateshwar is being taken up with all seriousness and so is Chambal Sanctuary and the Lion Safari, which are now a part of the eco–tourism circuit of Uttar Pradesh where the state forest department is doing a lot of work. All these places fall in close proximity to Agra and will surely help Agra to increase the average length of stay and offer much more than just the Taj Mahal.”

Prateek Hira's interview on Ayodhya in TravTalk - December'21

http://travtalkindia.com/pdf/2021/TTDec2nd21.pdf

 

 

TravTalk carries Prateek Hira’s opinion about 2021

Filed under: News — admins @ 7:16 am

The year 2021 is not a business year, but a better way to call it would be to call it a year of “rebuilding business”. We have been through rebuilding, realigning, and re-engineering in a bid to create a strong foundation that was on a sabbatical during the pandemic. The objective is to lower our accumulated losses as soon as possible, re-breakeven, and grow again. Practically speaking, not only our business but other businesses in the sector, I hope, will take as many as three years in order to come to the pre-pandemic level. To reduce our pain and suffering, we have started to think and behave like a start-up, analysing the changed business environment. The re-gestation period will be based on new benchmarks rather than the pre-pandemic (2019-20) benchmarks. It has been a year of hope, optimism, rediscovery and learning for us!

TravTalk carries Prateek Hira's interview

http://travtalkindia.com/pdf/2021/TTDec2nd21.pdf

December 11, 2021

Ayodhya an example of Hindu Muslim Unity

Filed under: Lucknowledge — admins @ 7:09 am

Long before the bitter Babri Masjid-Ram temple issue began to cause social fissures and trigger sectarian violence in India, Muslim rulers of Avadh region built, patronised and protected Hindu temples, a powerful Hindu priest and historians told Gulf News.

One of the 12 provinces under the Mughal empire, the Avadh region included Ayodhya and was ruled by Nawabs from 1722 onward from capital Faizabad. During the rule of Shuja-ud-Daula, the third ruler of Avadh, relations between Hindus and Muslims were harmonious and official gazettes and history books have recorded examples of rich bonding between the two communities. At a time when the dominant narrative seeks to widen fissures in the society, researchers and writers told Gulf News that the glorious history of Avadh Nawabs must be retold to fight attempts to divide people.


Credits (Originally published in Gulf News) : ‘Ayodhya flashback: When Muslim Nawabs built Hindu temples’ – by : Bobby Naqvi, Gulf News UAE. 


Mahant Gyan Das, the head of priest of Hanumangarhi, Ayodhya’s most important temple, is a strong proponent of Hindu-Muslim harmony. As the head of the temple since 1962, Das is widely respected by residents and his opinion and guidance is sought by politicians and high ranking officials on several issues. “This temple was built in 1774 on the 52 bigha [over 20 acres] land gifted by Shuja-ud-Daula,” he told Gulf News in an interview at his house on Monday evening.

“The nawab had once fallen ill and his representative Tikait Rai requested him to take blessings of Hindu saint Baba Abhay Ram Das. The Nawab recovered from his illness after the saint visited him for eight days. Shuja-ud-Daula then gifted the land and built a fortress-type temple that you see here today,” says Das. Later, his son Mansoor Ali also visited the temple on many occasions and donated generously, he says.

This donation was recorded in royal documents to avoid any disputes in future. Das presses a buzzer to summon an aid: “Bring the Taamra Patra.” “The documents were being damaged by termites so we have made copies to preserve them,” he says while fondly posing for photographs holding the copies of royal decrees written in Persian language.

Harmonious tradition

Since then, the temple has continued a tradition of promoting harmony between the two communities. “There is an old mosque built over the land owned by Hanumangarhi temple. Since a Muslim ruler had built the temple, a piece of land was given to Muslims to build a mosque. Two years ago, I received a notice from Ayodhya municipality asking us to demolish the mosque as the structure had become weak. I refused to demolish the mosque and offered to have it renovated. At that time, I faced resistance from some Muslim hardliners who said the mosque would become impure if Hindus’ money is spent for renovation. I asked them whether the mosque had become impure when we built it,” says Das recalling the events.

“Then I asked my friend Sadiq Ali to take charge of the renovation and I offered to pay for it. Still, when some Muslims continued to object, Sadiq Ali told me that he would get the mosque renovated by collecting funds from the community. Today, a grand mosque exists at the site,” he adds. The temple management remains the legal owner of the mosque.

“A few years ago during Ramadan, I organised an iftar for Muslims at my house. I invited 100-150 people but more than 1,000 Muslims showed up at iftar.”

The Muslims broke fast and prayed at the house located inside the temple compound. “Soon after, some Hindu politicians and hardliners accused me of violating the sanctity of the temple by inviting Muslims. I said you had no objections from accepting a temple from a Muslim Nawab,” adds Das. Not satisfied with his logic, some hardliners then dared Muslims to organise a Hanuman Chalisaa at the mosque. Sadiq accepted the challenge and organised a prayer chanted by hundreds of Sadhus at the mosque.

“I am a Sadhu who left his home, loved ones and I have remained a staunch opponent of hardliners and strongly believe in humanity,” he says, adding, “You call Him Khuda, I call Him Ishwar.”


Credits (Originally published in Gulf News) : ‘Ayodhya flashback: When Muslim Nawabs built Hindu temples’ – by : Bobby Naqvi, Gulf News UAE. 


I cried when Saddam died

Mahant Das is well traveled and visited Dubai, New York, Washington and other cities. But he has a lot to say about his visit to Saudi Arabia and Iraq. He fondly remembers a meeting with Saddam Hussain in 1992. “He warmly hugged me and when I presented him a copy of Ramayana, he kissed it,” says Das. “I was very upset when Americans caught Saddam Hussain and cried when he was hanged.” Das also recalled his visit to Saudi Arabia and Brunei.

What historians say

Gulf News spoke to Lucknow based historian Roshan Taqui who said the Avadh Gazette is replete with instances of Muslim Nawabs building and donating money for upkeep and repairs of Hindu temples. “The Hanumangarhi still has a Persian plaque proclaiming that the temple was built by Shuja-ud-Daula who ruled Avadh region from 1754 to 1774,” says Taqui. “The history of Avadh is replete with examples of Ganga-Jamuni tehzeeb and all the Nawabs had Hindu administrators for smooth governance,” he says.

“During my research on conservation of old buildings, I had seen the royal decrees kept in Uttar Pradesh state archives. The royal decree recorded gifting of the land and construction of Hanumangarhi temple,” he says. “Moreover, during the rule of Nawab Wajid Ali Shah, an attempt to take over Hanumangarhi and Sita Rasoi by some Muslim hardliners was crushed by the Avadh ruler’s soldiers. The hardliners led by a Muslim cleric Amir Ali were killed by the Nawab’s Muslim soldiers during an assault in Bhelsar, near Rudauli. Over 300 Muslim soldiers of the Nawab also died in the assault,” he says, emphasising that Avadh rulers provided protection to Hindu temples.

Author and researcher Yogesh Pravin says Shuja-ud-Daula’s father Saadat Ali Khan also patronised Hindu temples. “All these examples are well recorded in government archives and libraries and available for reference,” says Pravin. “The rulers of Avadh worked for harmonious relations between the communities and their work is well recorded in history,” he adds.

November 28, 2021

Nihari in Lucknow

Filed under: Lucknowledge — admins @ 8:52 am

When Umrao Jaan was being shot in the early 1980s, the cast and crew of the Rekha-starrer film would visit Raheem’s regularly. “I was too young then, so I don’t have any memory, but my father told me that the entire cast ate at our restaurant on more than one occasion and Farooq Shaikh had loved the nihari,” says Bilal Raheem Ahmad, one of five brothers who run the restaurant now.

At 8 pm in old Lucknow’s Chowk area, Raheem’s hotel is one of the busiest spots in the area. Most customers thronging the restaurant, in a basement near the Tehseen mosque, are there for the nihari kulcha — meat stew with baked flatbread. The nihari, which is traditionally a breakfast dish, is available all day at Raheem’s. In the alley leading to the restaurant, one can smell the kulchas being baked on the tandoor from a distance. After entering the basement, the aroma changes to that of slow-cooked meat.

Bilal says the delicacy has always been the bestselling item at his restaurant, which was started by his great grandfather Haji Abdul Ghani in around 1920. The family belongs to old Lucknow’s Chowk area. The restaurant started selling the nihari kulcha in the 1940s under Haji Abdul Ghani’s son and Bilal’s grandfather Haji Abdul Raheem, after whom the restaurant is named. “It was Raheem sahab who invented the ghilaf kulcha which is served with the nihari,” says Bilal, 48, who generally sits at the restaurant’s counter every day from 5.30 pm to 11 pm.

After Haji Abdul Raheem, who ran the restaurant till 1983, the restaurant was taken over by Raheem’s father Fakruddin, who managed it till 2000, after which Bilal and his four brothers — Manzoor Ahmad (60), Mohammed Usama (47), Mohammed Shuaib (40) and Zaid Ahmad (37) — run it.

“The word ghilaf means a cover. The ghilaf kulcha has two layers which makes it so special. The upper layer has flour, ghee and creamy milk, while the lower layer has flour and yeast which makes the kulcha rise. The nihari is cooked overnight, for 6-7 hours, on very low heat over wood,” says Bilal.

He says, one of the most important aspects of his restaurant is the tehzeeb (etiquette). “We never return a customer without serving them. There are several madrasas for the poor near our restaurant. My grandfather Haji Abdul Raheem had written two points in his will — one was that we must always serve the poor and, second, that we will never ever compromise on the quality of the food. We are doing everything to follow his orders and hence, did not open a single branch,” says Bilal with a smile, while he returns change to 14-year-old Owais, who studies at the Furqania madrasa next to the Tehseen mosque.

The madrasa student says he comes to the restaurant almost every second day. “I get my own tiffin box and get one kulcha and some nihari for Rs 20,” says Owais, who belongs to neighbouring Barabanki district and stays at the residential madrasa.

The mutton nihari and two kulchas are priced at Rs 148, while the buffalo nihari and two kulchas for Rs 83. The paaya nihari, both mutton and buffalo, comes for an additional Rs 20. In between serving the evening crowd karara (crispy) kulchas, Habib Ahmad (62), who has been working at Raheem’s for the last 45 years, says, “The paaya nihari is mostly made with meat from the calf area.” The restaurant also sells mutton biryani for Rs 300 with four “big” pieces of mutton. Another bestseller is pasanda. A plate of nihari and two kulchas used to be sold at Rs 1.40 in the early 1980s when Habib started working there.

Bilal says, till date, the restaurant buys raw spices and uses them only after getting them cleaned and ground. “Our nihari has around 95 types of spices. We put them in a potli (bundle) and drop them into the nihari when the cooking starts. The recipe was given to us by our father, who got it from his grandfather Haji Raheem sahab,” says the co-owner. The meat used to make the nihari is bought daily. No artificial ingredients are used, and “it is only cooked in a copper deg (cauldron) with kalai (a layer of tin) on the outside. The kalai is a must for slow cooking. It doesn’t let the food burn,” he says, with a wry smile, before adding, “I can’t tell you what our spices are.”

Waiting for their “wholesome meal” at the restaurant are childhood friends — Umar Raza (44) and Azam Hussain (42) — both tailors. but Raza is getting annoyed by the delay, their order — two plates of steaming hot paaya nihari with a sprinkling of green coriander and chilli on top and one kulcha each — finally arrives and they start guzzling the food. They say they have been coming together to the restaurant for the past 15 years. “It is a filling meal which is the secret to our great health,” says Hussain, pointing to Raza’s bulging tummy.

Bilal says, people from “far-off” places come during Ramzan, when the restaurant remains open from iftar (meal eaten to break the fast) to sehri (pre-dawn meal before the fast). “Ramzan is when Lucknow and Chowk has the highest number of visitors. All the tables are occupied through the evening and nights,” says Bilal, adding that the next generation will continue to serve the food the way it has been served for almost a hundred years.

November 25, 2021

Prateek Hira hosts Thai Delegation

Filed under: News — admins @ 11:22 am

https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/lucknow/ficci-discusses-indo-thai-biz-ties/articleshow/87877036.cms

The UP State Council of FICCI organised a programme to host minister counsellor (commercial affairs), royal Thai embassy, and hold an extensive discussion on bilateral trade, export-import and Indo-Thailand business opportunity.

Saithong Soiphet, director of Thai Trade Centre, New Delhi, an overseas office of the Department of International Trade Promotion (DITP) under the Ministry of Commerce of Thailand, spoke about the cultural connect between India and Thailand and how the two countries go back in age of Buddhism and the Ramayana.

Chairman, tourism-sub committee, FICCI, Prateek Hira spoke about the tourism potential of Thailand and UP. “To encourage Thai companies to invest in UP, FICCI must host a virtual webinar initially and invite progressive exporters and sector-specific entrepreneurs to meet with the industry base in Thailand and discuss opportunity areas,” he said.

Sarvesh Goyal, representing the construction sector, enquired about best practices and environment-friendly construction practices from the Thai representatives.

Assistant director, FICCI UP State Council, Divjot Singh Anand spoke about UP’s strengths and business-friendly policies in various sectors. He also spoke about various statistics that make UP the best investment destination.

Hassan Yakoob, who represented e-commerce sector, said like ODOP in UP, there was the concept of OTOP in Thailand.


Report in Hindustan Times….

Mr. Prateek Hira being honoured by Thai Embassy Delegation

November 17, 2021

Ayodhya Tour for Govt of Uttar Pradesh Curated by Tornos on Deepotsav

Filed under: News — admins @ 5:42 am

Travel Trade Journal (November 2021 issue) covers Ayodhya Deepotsav Familiarization tour hosted by Government of Uttar Pradesh in travelogue style :  https://online.fliphtml5.com/opbnh/qnro/

Quote by Prateek Hira (President & CEO – Tornos)

“Tornos was delighted to curate this familiarisation tour of Ayodhya for the Government of Uttar Pradesh on the occasion of Deepotsav and run it quite closely on the lines of what it offers to its guests in Ayodhya including the welcome chants by children of gurukul and privileged access to the temples. Having our industry colleagues over and being able to serve them on this tour was a blessing of sorts in itself and what better way to send out a message that we are in Ayodhya too and in a big way,” 

 

Tornos Curates Ayodhya Familiarization Tour on Deepotsav

Filed under: News — admins @ 5:35 am

Travel Newsy Reports : https://travelnewsy.com/2021/11/10/with-mega-development-projects-underway-ayodhya-preparing-to-evolve-as-a-major-tourism-destination/

With the construction of Ram Temple and UP governments mega-development plans, Ayodhya is well on its track to be developed as a Vedic and cultural heritage city.

Also known as Ram Janam Bhoomi, the city has been hosting pilgrims for centuries, however, with the state government’s renewed efforts to bring it to the world map for tourism, it is seeing increased interest not just within India, but from all around the world.

The recently organised Deepotsav was attended by Ambassadors of Kenya, Vietnam and Trinidad and Tobago.

On this occasion, the Tourism department of Uttar Pradesh invited 50 prominent tour operators, travel writers and bloggers from all over India on a familiarisation tour of the city. The group visited Kanak BhavanHanumangarhiRam Janam Bhoomi, and Saryu Ghaat to experience the city first hand.

In his interaction with media, Mr Mukesh Kumar Meshram (I.A.S.), Principal Secretary, Department of Tourism, said that in addition to the infrastructure development projects such as luxury hotels, well-connected roads, river cruise and caravans etc.. the state government is also working on projects like setting up of “Ayodhya Research Institute”, developing “Cultural Centres” to promote and generate employment for regional folk artists, “Development of Riverfront” and “Planting of Trees” that find a mention in Ramayan.

Elaborating on the programme, “Discover Your Roots” he mentioned that under this programme, we welcome people from all over the world who have their roots in India. They can visit the state, and authorities will track their records and assist them in locating their villages or homes where their forefathers had once lived before migrating to different parts of the world. 

He also shared that there are plans to develop a world-class theme park inspired by Ramayana and its characters.

Prateek Hira, CEO Tornos, said that although there is a lot of hype created with the building of Ram Temple, Ayodhya has always been a  tourists destination. People visit the city with a lot of devotion. The city has great potential, with places like  Maharishi Patanjali’s Birthplace Gonda which is not far from the city, and the presence of  Swaminath Temple in Chhapaiya, Birthplace of Swaminarayan, Guru Nanak also is believed to have visited Ayodhya. The city also has a famous Mazaar.

Ravi GosainVice president of the Indian Association of Tour Operators said “We have been promoting Ayodhya for a long time now, Once the quality infrastructure is ready, the city will start getting more tourists from all over the world.  It is important that the charm of the old city is maintained. Any old shops, houses & structures must be retained in their original form, that’s what tourists would love to experience”.

November 16, 2021

Prateek Hira’s Comments on Ayodhya in Times of India

Filed under: News — admins @ 5:46 am

Times of India News Ayodhya

https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/lucknow/hotels-better-connectivity-will-propel-ayodhya-tourism/articleshow/87496360.cms

Neha Lalchandani reports / TNN / Nov 3, 2021 Lucknow:

The construction of the Ram Temple has generated immense interest in the ancient city of Ayodhya but it may take a few years before it joins the league of heritage and spiritual destinations like Varanasi, Prayagraj and Mathura. Tour operators visiting the city at the behest of the state government ahead of the Deepotsav have pointed out that the development of hotels, better connectivity, regulated temple visits and sanitation are crucial in propelling Ayodhya as a city of repute on the tourism map.

On Tuesday, a team of 40 tour operators and travel bloggers visited Hanumangarhi, Ramjanmabhoomi, Kanak Bhawan and Saryu Ghat to get a sense of what Ayodhya has to offer to tourists. The state government has elaborate plans of developing the city as a major tourist attraction.

“We have already been promoting the sector among tourists for a while now. Till now it was a city for pilgrims and devotees but now tourists also want to visit. However, it is important to retain the old world charm of the city. Old structures should not be demolished to modernise the city. People don’t want to just visit the temple but also experience the old world charm, the local culture, its people,” said Ravi Gosain, the vice-president of the Indian Association of Tour Operators.
RK Arora of Sona Travels in Delhi said that several more hotels were needed in the area, since people had to otherwise stay in Lucknow and travel 2.5 hours to visit Ayodhya. Proposing that Ayodhya should be made into a two-night destination, Arora said that a sector incorporating Lucknow, Ayodhya, Varanasi and Prayagraj should be developed, especially as Varanasi and Prayagraj are also linked to Khajuraho.

Relating how a lot of queries regarding Ayodhya had started pouring in from south India, from where a massive number of donations have also come for the construction of the temple, Ramananda of Hammock Leisure Holidays from Bengaluru said that it did not matter to people that the Ram Temple was still under construction as they believe in the sanctity of the city. Manoj Matta of Oriental Vacations and Journeys Pvt Ltd said that stepping foot in the Ramjanmabhoomi was more important than actually seeing the temple since there were several temples already present in the city.

Prateek Hira, CEO of Tornos, said that Ayodhya has always been a tourist destination and not dependent on the Ram Temple. A festival is celebrated in the city, he said, 365 days of the year. “Now because of the hype around the temple, even normal tourists and not just devotees are getting attracted to it. There is massive scope around here like the presence of Chhaapia, the birthplace of Swami Narayanan of the Swaminath Temple, which is 40km away. Patanjali was born in neighbouring Gonda. There is a famous mazaar here and Guru Nanak is believed to have visited Ayodhya. Swami Vivekanand has also stayed here,” he said.

October 17, 2021

Baghs of Lucknow

Filed under: Lucknowledge — admins @ 7:47 am

Ever wondered how there seem to be no end to the baghs in Lucknow? We bring to you the untold stories behind some of the city’s landmarks.

Wander through the streets of Lucknow and you are bound to find a number of areas with a suffix bagh meaning garden, attached to its name. Though the suffix may have no relevance today but there was a time when the city of nawabs was known to be home to no less than 400 such royal gardens.

Says city based historian Anwer Abbas, “In those days huge gardens and orchards dotted the city’s landscape. It was customary to name areas by flora that grew there.

For example Martinpurva used to be known as Lakhpeda as it had more than a lakh trees of guava and mango. Similarly, Hussainabad area was formerly called Jamuniya Bagh as this area was covered with jamun trees.”

Avers Yogesh Praveen, another historian, “Lucknow was called the city of palaces and gardens. A number of these localities were erstwhile residential colonies for the royalty, with kothis and huge gardens.

Once stripped of their titles it became difficult for the nawabs to maintain such huge gardens, so most sold them off. But the names remained.”

SECUNDER BAGH: Nawab Wajid Ali Shah fell in love with a lady named Secunder Begum but married her only when she was on her death bed, suffering from an incurable disease. He constructed a palace, a masjid and garden pavilion for the begum in the area which is now with the National Botanical Research Institute. The garden extended till the Gomti banks and was called Secunder Bagh.

MUSA BAGH: Huge gardens laid by Nawab Asaf-ud-Daulah existed in this area located near Hardoi road. Legend says that the nawab killed a rat (mushik) here hence the name. Some also believe it took its name from a French word Monsieur during Lord Martin’s period.

ALAM BAGH: This garden was named after Alam Ara, the first wife of Nawab Wajid Ali Shah. The young couple harboured a love for ghazals, and used to compose couplets sitting in these gardens.

CHAR BAGH: The area got its name from the four huge Mughal style gardens here during the time of Nawab Asaf-ud-Daulah. A garden called Bagh Sher Jung named after his uncle Sher Jung, Governor of Kashmir, existed where the city station stands now, built along with Buland Bagh laid near Rakabgunj.

KAISER BAGH: Set up by Nawab Wajid Ali Shah, it was a huge complex with small gardens dotting the area. It got its name from Urdu word qaiser meaning king, hence Qaiser’s Bagh.” Another story goes that the nawab was besotted with a beautiful lady, who was referred to as qaiser pasand (the king’s choice). He laid the garden for her and called it Kaiserbagh.

BADSHAH BAGH: Laid by Nawab Naseer-ud-Din Haider for his wife Kudsia Begum, it was a ladies garden, where even the gardeners were all women. The nawab visited this garden on a steamer which cruised from Chatr Manzil (CDRI) to Badshahbagh (Near Kailash Hostel). It was the badshah’s garden hence its name.

VILAYATI BAGH: Historians believe this garden, situated near Dilkusha gardens in present day cantonement area, got its name because of the two foreign wives, one of whom was a Christian and another, an Armenian (vilayati begums) of Nawab Ghazi-Ud-Din Haider. According to another story, the varieties of flower planted here were of foreign origin, hence the moniker Vilayati Bagh.

September 17, 2021

Things you hear when you tell someone you are from Lucknow.

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I belong to Lucknow. Thats where I have spent most of my childhood. I did my school and college from Lucknow. I stepped out of Lucknow to persue my career in technology. When I joined work there were people from all over India. After a badinage you often end up asking the other person “Where are you from ?” I have faced this question too and I have had a variety of responses to my answer which is “Lucknow”.

Things you hear when you tell someone you are from Lucknow:

  • Lucknow mein “MAIN” nahi “HUM” kehte hai, hai na ? : This is most common thing that you would hear the moment you tell that you are from Lucknow. Till the time I was in Lucknow I never realised this but this is true, we do say “HUM”instead of “MAIN”. Coming from the city of tameez and tehzeeb it came from within we never really worked towards speaking “HUM” in place of “MAIN”.
  • Lucknow ka chicken toh bahut famous hai : After empahasizing on your choice of words they would straight jump to the craftsmanship of Lucknow. When I say chicken I meant Lucknow’s famous embriodery not the edible chicken. Initiallly I used to think what is this fuzz all about. I have grown up seeing chicken all aruond me so it wasn’t a big deal for me but now I realise the beauty of it. If you are from Lucknow you must have definitely bought chicken clothings for your friends atleast once in your lifetime. If you haven’t yet, you will soon.
  • Tum toh Tunde mein roz khati hogi: Lucknow is the undisputed king of kebabs and Tunde has a reputation worth bragging. Being a vegetrian I have never had a kabab from Tunde. Yes go ahead Judge me. But I still know it must be sumptuous and mouthwatering courtsey all my non vegetarian friends and their love for Tunde. It has happened time and again that I have been asked to get Kebabas from Tunde but so far nobody has been that privileged.
  • Mayawati has made a Marine Drive in Lucknow, is it true ?: There is huge transformation done by Mayawati near the Gomti Nagar area. It has been very artistically desgined and it’s beauty is worth watching for hours. You would happily visit this place almost everyday. Nowadays it has become a popular destination for photography. So the answer is “Yes” we do have a Marine Drive in Lucknow.

If you are from Lucknow I am sure you must have heard at least one of the above from your friends or colleagues. Say yay if you have. I am sure you must have smiled reading this post. Do comment if I have missed anything which is worth mentioning here. Would love to hear your views on this, so drop your comments below.

January 21, 2020

‘Prasad’ – Ayodhya Dining Experience

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– by appointment

A meal often narrates a lot about the society, its beliefs and the people. In Ayodhya temple culture is most prominent and life revolves around it. Lunch in Ayodhya every afternoon begins with a ‘Bhog’ – offering to the deity with prayers being recited for health and wellbeing and then the distribution of ‘Prasad’, where guests are seated on the floor and a hearty meal which consists of a vegetarian fare without onion and garlic is served on dry leaf (pattal).

Tornos guests can experience this Temple Lunch at a 150 year old temple with the head priest, ‘Mahant’ and his family in Ayodhya. After this blessed lunch the Mahant will engage in conversation with the guest sharing not only some intricate facts about Ayodhya’s ethos but also his interpretation of an episode from the holy Ramayana.

 

Cost :

On request – info@tornosindia.com

Starting Time :

Winters / Summers – 1 pm (Lunch) – time flexible 

Expected Duration :

1 – 2 hours

Remarks :

This is an exclusive and privileged temple dining experience at a temple that operates every day by appointment and pre-booking.

Live dance / Bhajan (devotional songs) performance is at a supplement and not a part of general product (Add half an hour extra if this activity has to be included)

This activity is in a temple thus maintaining decorum and basic religious etiquette is of utmost importance.   

January 11, 2020

Bells, Beats & Ballet – Kathak Workshop

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Kathak is one of the eight classical dance forms of India. Its famous three ‘gharanas’ or the schools are Lucknow, Jaipur and Banaras, where Lucknow is considered to be the most superior of these all, due to its distinctive style that includes intricate hand, foot and eye movement and above all, intense facial expressions that make the story come alive. From love stories of Lord Krishna, to description of Lord Shiva’s personality, from entertainment evenings at the royal courts of Mughals and the Nawabs of Awadh or for that matter a devotee’s love for God as part of Sufi belief, Kathak is about visually narrating a story through a dance. Kathak dance form is in fact the most secular of all dance forms in India, living up to Hindu-Muslim unity, in line with secular principles of Awadh, particularly that of Lucknow, which is a part of its social fabric.

Under our product, ‘Bells, Beats and Ballet’ – (Kathak Workshop), we at Tornos bring to you 3 exciting options to choose from:-

Cost :

I – Watch Kathak Students Learn : INR 2500 Per Guest

(Includes : A visit to a Kathak school to watch students learn and perform, also  a 15 min lecture by a Kathak teacher for better connect. Also includes soft-drinks and light refreshments. Duration is about one and a half  hour) 

IA – Learning and Appreciation Kathak Session : INR 4700 Per Guest

(Includes : A visit to a Kathak school to learn and appreciate the dance form in a two and a half hour session under expert teachers along with other students. A bit of hands-on fun-class too. Also includes soft-drinks and light refreshments)

IB – Intensive Understanding of Kathak : INR 12000 Per Guest

(Includes : Two days of five hours each a day rigorous Kathak learning sessions along with tea/soft-drinks and light refreshments)

Starting Time & Duration : 

This experience is available every day except on Sunday, National and Festive holidays. First two options:‘I’ and ‘IA’ are available at 1800 hrs, while option ‘IB’ is available to be opted as a post-breakfast or as a post-lunch session.

Remarks : 

Venue in the above mentioned package is a ‘Kathak Training School’ and visits are with special arrangements and prior permissions. Should there be a requirement of any other venue, such as a hotel banquet etc., there would be an additional charge for that. Venue cost, other than a Kathak School on request.

 

Ayodhya Darshan (Ex Lucknow)

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(Same day shared, no-frills group tour from Lucknow to Ayodhya. 09-10 hours, including driving time & temple visits)

Post breakfast at 0900 hrs you will be picked up from city hotels (except from Ramada. Pre-booking is important Call 24X7 : + 91-9935538105) and we will leave Lucknow for Ayodhya (150 km / 2 hrs). En route a bio-break at an identified facility. 

Upon arrival we will be met by our Ayodhya Tour Manager who will now lead the tour and get us a privileged access into the temples.

We will visit Ram Janam Bhoomi, the place of birth of Lord Rama. 

Later we will break for lunch at a temple eatery (Optional Lunch/Refreshments on your own – it is not covered in the cost)

Thereafter we will visit Hanuman Gari – the seat of Lord Hanuman who sits on a hilltop to guard the holy city of Ayodhya.

We will now visit Kanak Bhawan and then visit of Kaale Ram Temple and Nageshwar Nath Temple and the Saryu Ghat. (Optional boating on the river – it is not covered in the cost)

Later we drive to the temple workshop where stones are being carved to be placed in the under-construction Rama Temple. 

We will now board our vehicle and return to Lucknow, to reach Lucknow by late dinner time. (Drop-off at hotels from where guests were picked up).

Cost :

INR 3,000 per person  – SPECIAL PRICE (Limited Offer)

Starting Time : 

*09:00 – 10:00 am (will change depending on hotel. It will collect guests from different hotels)

Expected Duration : 

09-10 hours

Remarks : 

This is a shared group tour.

*Pickup time from city hotels.  Exact time will be communicated to you a day (12 hrs) prior 

Expect to return by dinner to Lucknow.

 

Experiences