Sunday, 16 December 2007

Ministers, people and awards

Pic: Memento created by one of our artisans depicting the universal theme of eco-history of communities

Last month our community members working under the umbrella of Vayali Folk Group mentioned that they were planning a gathering of indigenous people of River Nila in Thrissur at the Sahitya Academy Hall. The idea was to acknowledge the work of great folk artists from Nila and appreciate them for the invaluable contribution to the unique river valley civilisation. When they told us that they also wanted to give a memento to The Blue Yonder for bringing in attention to River Nila and the efforts we have taken to revive and support art forms along Nila, we were not sure what was coming. It was after the Conde Nast traveller awards that they decided that our work needs to be acknowledged by the stake holders within our project area.

In front of a small gathering of people who shared the angst of a dying river, the Revenue Minister Mr. K. P. Rajendran handed over a beautifully crafted memento (in the picture )created by one of our partner artisans ‘Narayanettan’. We would have preferred to have that acknowledgment not from a minister who had no clue about what we do, rather through a smile that we exchange normally with our community members. In the quick gate crash he made to the stage, we could hear the Minister asking Vinod, coordinator of Vayali, "who, what, Blue Yonder?".

We can't blame the Minister for not knowing TBY or our work, but he should have at the least a courtesy to find out why he was requested to be there by the organisers before he stood upon on the stage. Just before giving the award, I could hear him talking about the contribution of TBY in Responsible Tourism and proud he is to see local initiatives like this ....(sigh!)

Well, since Ministers are busy running from one meeting to another and declaring one statement after the other across the state, one can't blame if they don't find any time to figure out why they are there. Minister's presence might be a media attention and he even came there because he genuinely wanted to support the initiatives of the organisers in documenting and reviving folk art forms in Valluvanad region of Nila. But we were aghast to hear the statements he was giving in his capacity as a Revenue Minister of Kerala. “Nila, as we all know is being abused and it is so much part of our culture, environment etc etc……and also considering the degradation that is happening we have decided to release Rs 5 crores (1,270,648.99 USD) from the River Management Fund." Then there was a flood of offers, about engineering departments and water authority of various levels being involved in many other projects.

After the Minister left we were wondering about the number of committees being set up and how many more dollars are passing hands before they all put the final nail on the coffin, which could be our Nila!.

Irrespective of the mumblings of the Minister, it was great to see many of our activity partners ( Thoni Cruise, Martial Arts experts, Folk artists, Potters, Ritualistic healers etc) being recognised in public for the first time and that too in the presence of people like Sankar of KFRI, who could connect with the people and understood why they were there.

Amongst other recognitions we have received in the last four years, we don't think there will be any other that will remain so close to our heart than this appreciation from our own people.

Tirur© GP 2007

Sunday, 2 December 2007

Our Native Village

I guess, Our Native Village is too futuristic for Bangaloreans to understand.

Yesterday evening, I was going through the feedback entered by around 300 guests at this unique resort which is also a TBY Associate. Out of this there were hardly 12 entries that appreciated the efforts the promoters had taken to make this an environment friendly property. Most of the comments were about food, facilities, ambiance ( all good!) and one desperate soul had even demanded and air-conditioner in his room!

Every time I go there, I just can't help noticing the care that has been given to ensure that the resort remains as eco-friendly as it's possible. This is also not done by compromising on any 'creature comforts'. Wind powered electricity, cooking gas generated out of bio-degradable waste, water harvesting and re-cycling and the innovative swimming pool, its simply an outstanding property. Efforts have been taken to preserve various art forms, construction style and even the door locks. You have options of using eco-friendly towels and hand made soaps and shampoos. It's quite impressive to see how much attention to details have gone in the making of this resort.

Hardly an hour and a half of drive from the maddening city, this resort is an ideal weekend getaway from Bangalore. Seeing the kind of insensitive guests who come there, I wish this place was somewhere else where they could receive appreciating and discerning guests. Why on the earth do they want to drive all the way from the city to shout and demand loud music in such a serene place? Probably living too long inside ivory towers of Silicon valley makes people care less about nature and even forget to respect fellow human beings!

Bangalore © GP 2007

Friday, 12 October 2007

TBY at the World Savers Congress 2007

Honourable mention for The Blue Yonder as Responsible Tour Operator from 2007 Conde Nast Traveler World Savers Awards . The person handing out the award is, Louis D'Amore, head of the International Institute of Peace through Tourism.The award was given on the 10th of October at the World Savers Congress 2007 held at Gotham Hall in New York City.

Bangalore GP 2007

Thursday, 11 October 2007

Rediscovering India II

"Captain Lukose Francis stands like a cocky rooster on the riverbank, life jacket puffed out over his already substantial chest, surveying with imperious authority the crowd that has come down to gawk at the light-skinned cargo now unloading itself, none too gracefully, from his ship."

This is how travel writer and friend David Stott shares his experience of three days he spent with us during Monsoon. The article is part of the "Rediscovering India" series he is writing for the M Magazine. It's so well written, and I feel how connected David was to the holiday we had organised for him.

" When your feet are braced against bamboo struts to prevent them being crunched by underwater rocks, and when even the gentlest rapid can sloosh up between the tubes to give your nether regions a good soaking, there's a strangely joyous sense of not just floating along a river, but actually getting down and dirty and in it..."

"It becomes evident over the course of the trip that the Bamboo Pearl would make a perfect raiding vessel. Several times we sneak out from behind a rock or a clump of trees to surprise a half-naked woman standing in the shallows beating her clothing; one woman reports that she's seen a raft like ours once before, when real-life pirates swooped in and stole all her ducks..."

He continues in a section called "Culture Cruising", "Torches flare in the dying twilight, casting an orange glow over the ferocious figure of the demon Dharika, dressed for a battle in black war paint, serrated brass moustaches guarding his cheeks, and spotting pointed bra cups that call to mind a Malayali Madonna. Squaring off against him, resplendent in a crown feathered with palm fibre arrows, frilly pink shoulder pom-poms and a metre-long beak, stands the mighty Kali..."

M Magazine is published once every two months and is available in leading book shops in India. You can also subscribe to it on their website.

Bangalore GP 2007

Saturday, 29 September 2007


After the short walk in the morning through the village, I came back to the campus by 7. Students and inmates were already in the middle of their work. A lot of them were running around cleaning up the campus, and by the time I sat down to run through the pictures we took yesterday, the campus was resonating with the "Omkara". It was so peaceful, so touching and thoughtful for me to see the gathering of the students and teachers offering prayers for global peace and self enlightenment.

some of the finished products designed and developed by the students:

From yesterday morning onwards we are in the "Namma Bhumi", an initiative managed by CWC. (The Concerned for the Working Children, India).Situated in Kundapura in Karnataka, this campus consists of students, teachers and the locals. Set in a 6 acres campus, Namma Bhumi supports more than hundred children to equip themselves with livelihood skills and education.

Founded by Nandana Reddy, "CWC has been working with local governments, community and working children themselves to implement viable, comprehensive, sustainable and appropriate solutions in partnership with all the major actors, so that children do not have to work. It empowers working children so that they may be their own first line of defence and participate in an informed manner in all decisions concerning themselves."

Sand mining in Kubja nadi. At least there were no massive machines, but small boats.

We were here to explore the option of working together. Since TBY is developing various travel initiatives in Karnataka simliar to the ones in Kerala(especially River Nila), it made all sense to work with people who have been functioning in the region for more than two decades now. We went around seeing a 900 year old mud palace, a temple with wooden idols depicting the mythological stories, and a two-hour consultation with the local elders.

It was quite eerie to go inside the 'palace' because of hundreds of bats and the 'haunted' look of the place in the twilight. We were guided by some of the local teachers who touched our heart by their passion and enthusiasm. Most of them spent their childhood in and around this palace and were quiet sad to see the palace far away from its old glory. We shared with them our experiences from Kerala about how heritage buildings like this were renovated with private public participation and how we could probably think of similar consultations.

Inner courtyard filled with bats!

Consultation with the local elders.

While leaving the village in the night, both of us were so overwhelmed that all we were thinking about was how we could work together with these people! Hopefully you will hear about these initiatives soon.

Kundapur GP © 2007

Saturday, 15 September 2007

World Savers Awards 2007 | Condé Nast Traveler

Was just observing the traffic to our website and realised that there were a lot of traffic since this morning and look at what I found!!

A big hug to everyone! :)
TBY wins Condé Nast Traveler World Savers Awards 2007:

1) Spreading the Wealth
Luxury and poverty, face-face - embarassment or oppurtunity? These four pioneering high-end travel companies see a chance to make a difference. Instead of ignoring the problem, they are finding ways to train and employ local people - and pamper guests too
The Blue Yonder

2) World Savers Awards 2007:
Meet the Big Winners
Honourable mention: The Blue Yonder

3) World Savers Awards 2007:
To Serve and Protect
The Blue Yonder

Bangalore © GP 2007

Thursday, 13 September 2007

Ganapathi mess

Karnataka is a state that is not much explored. Though the state has immense potential for tourism, so far as a destination its been far behind places like Rajasthan or Kerala. When we were brain storming on one particular photograph that would tell a lot of story about the place, it was a struggling exercise. We were looking for images representing the culture, heritage, tradition, wilderness and what not? It was quite impossible to find an image that encompass what is Karnataka.

Then we ended up on the above image.

I am not sure if this encompasses all that is Karnataka, but many of us feel that this picture does connect with the rural Karnataka! Since we worked on a similar advert for the series on Kerala, probably it was more appealing for us. Wonder how others feel!

Bangalore © GP 2007

Wednesday, 12 September 2007

September newsletter is released

"'From the blue yonder..."September newsletter is released.

Kumbhalgarh - One wall standing up for the greener side of Rajasthan
Invis Multimedia: Capturing Kerala for the world
WTM London: Koder house and Kurumba Village resort joins TBY
“Responsibility beyond market”: Interview with Niranjan Khatri, GM Welcomenviron Initiatives - ITC Welcom Group
Spiti Valley : Travelogue from the middle land
News updates from the world

Enjoy reading!

Bangalore GP 2007

Thursday, 6 September 2007

Karnataka Adverts

Similiar to the adv. series we launched for our holidays in Kerala, we are launching a new series of adverts for Karnataka. TBY is just about to announce its entry to Karnataka. Even after being in Bangalore for close to four years, we were only 'just' head quartered in Bangalore. From Kerala to Sikkim, now we are in the process of finalising our itineraries and projects for Karnataka. It's been an exciting month looking at what Ekta is bringing out during our weekly meetings. Just can't wait to go and explore what Karnataka has to offer to a traveller! The way itineraries are evolving, I can definitely say that TBY holidays in Karnataka is going to be the talk of the travel industry.

Maintaining our focus of culture, people and wilderness, this is probably the first time Responsible tourism is taking its root in Karnataka. Shall keep you posted on this development asap.

Bangalore © GP 2007

Sunday, 19 August 2007


pic: rare, but the rain clouds were following us whereever we went to:
After stopping at the monastery for few minutes, we trekked down to the valley and then started the slow climb towards Langza. During the walk through the entire stretch, we saw several hundreds of fossils, which looked almost like a work of art. Considered to be one of the most fossiliferous regions of the world, Spiti Valley tells us the story behind the trilobites and ammonites that were formed after the collision of Indo-Eurasian sub-continent.

While observing the beauty of the fossils lying in the streams and nearby valleys, one can't just stop for a second and think, 'Oh my, how could I believe that this entire mountain stretch that we stand now at around 4,300 MSL was part of Tethys sea some 200 million years before!' Geologists say that the larger continent of Pangea started to split into various land masses as a result of which, the two main land masses of Indian and Eurasian subcontinent started depositing large amounts of sediments into Tethys. Further collision over the period of time helped form the present Himalayas and those marine animals that we see now as fossils including the ammonites used to be present in the Tethys at that time.

While we stood there breathless thinking about the entire process, we heard stories of local boys who collect the fossils to sell it to tourists from different parts of the world. What should be priceless is sold for as cheap as less than a US dollar! It seems there are tourists who proudly announces that this is their 3rd or 4th visit to collect fossils in the last couple of years!

The story wasn't much different even in the small town of Kaza where you can see the fossils kept amongst the antiques on sale for a dollar or two! It seems there are discussions of setting up a geological museum so that at least what is remaining can be preserved. With an un-patrolled area as vast as Spiti valley and irresponsible tourists searching for fossils, it makes more sense to have a museum where these fossils can be displayed.

It will be sad if this happens as I personally prefer to see these fossils in its natural ambiance where responsible travellers and the locals understand the importance of the existence of these fossils to the evolution of the entire mankind and the earth itself. Close networking between NGOs like Ecosphere and locals have created certain level of understanding and now there are restrictions on tourists wandering through the place on their own.

pic:aster flaccidus can be seen all over Langza
Bangalore © GP 2007
PS These are from notes that I maintained while travelling as I didn't have access to internet to blog.

Friday, 10 August 2007

Geu Mummy

pic: Geu mummy which is 675 years old
2 hours of drive from Kaza to Geu goes through narrow roads along the impressive gorges of Spiti Valley. Geu is a sleepy mountain village hardly three hours of trekking distance from western Tibet and is under the constant vigil of the intelligence agencies and ITBP (Indo Tibetan Border Police). Compared to the eastern borders of India with Pakistan, there is no tension on the borders and it seems people some times even cross borders for pasturing. Geu came into global attention when ITBP officials discovered a mummy after the 70's earthquake that created extensive damage in various parts of Spiti Valley. It seems the ITBP officials hit upon the 'body' of the mummy while excavating and was surprised to see a mummy in a sitting position with all body parts intact.

pic: bridge under construction on the way to Giu village

Carbon dating of the mummy has scientifically proved that it was the body of a 45 year old Lama from the last quarter of 15th century. Historical research has proved that this mummy was part of several others that existed in Western Tibet. It seems this mummy was of a monk from Gelugapa order who were practitioners of "Zogchen", the highest form of meditation to find a solution to the destructive drought and famine that had hit the western part of Tibet. (Spiti was part of the larger Tibet at that time). The Lama along with several others used 'Gomthak' to tie his neck to his knee in order to free the body and transport his mid to a higher plane.

pic: Apricots offered by our host in Geu village

Continuous meditation and fasting before attaining 'nirvana', the body was probably devoid of all juices and any bacteria, which preserved the body with no chemical embalming. Natural mummification has preserved the body of the Lama for more than 675 years!

Upon a small hill in the village of Geu, you can see the mummy kept safely in a small hutment. Prayers are offered daily by locals and the key to the monument can be collected from the soldiers posted in the station. It's a bit surreal to see gunmen 'protecting' the mummy and the surrounding areas. Separated by a glass pane, it was quite a breathless moment to see the mummy in a sitting posture. The small frame of the mummy even has its hair intact above the forehead.

Research findings from rest of the world has shown several other mummies in Tibet, which were destroyed by the Buddhists monks themselves fearing the onslaught of the Chinese after the Cultural Revolution. It seems 'Geu Mummy' is the only one that is remaining. As a local mentioned, it survived probably only because it was in India.While leaving the 'shrine', I bowed my head in a silent prayer to the Lama who made the supreme sacrifice for his land and his people.

Kaza© GP 2007

Thursday, 9 August 2007

Spiti Valley

pic: vulture sighting soon after the Rohtang pass

Eventful? Don't know if this is the word that I should use to explain the last two days! On the climb through Rohtang pass (almost 13,000 ft above sea level) we got stuck almost three hours in the middle of the nowhere. It's seems there's been a traffic block for last one week on a regular basis. Bad weather and total mis management on the road leads from one block to another. Finally where the authorities failed to make any difference, we saw a bunch of travellers who got out of their vehicle to clear the traffic by literally pushing trucks and jeeps on their own. When the command control of the administration collapses, the public always takes care of things in India. Simply fabulous! Once we got out of the mess, it was just breath taking views for another 10 hours! In company were a team of Tibetans including a monk who were chatting non stop. All sounded like hymns to subdue the tough terrain we were driving through.I would have loved to write in detail, but we just came back from a 10 kms biking in the mountains of Spiti and all I want is a shower and sleep. Just posting short notes below pictures to give an idea. Connect with you all soon!

pic: Road constructions at an altitude of 13,000 ft above sea level!

pic: a road to nowhere? the entire stretch through the Rhotang Pass was similiar to this!

pic: An India post box in an Buddhist monsastery above 13,000 fr. In the background is Gulshan and Sunil. Fellow travellers. We also managed to find another companion in Bansuri. Gulshan leaves tomorrow for Mumbai and we continue our journey through Spiti Valley for another week at the least.

When we climbed up all the mountains, this is how Spiti Valley invited us! Prayers flags at the monastery.

Pic: typical Spitian architecture. It seems Spiti is not really Spiti but, Piti. The 'S' before Piti is a contribution from the Tibetans. Piti means the middle land or middle Kingdom. More on stories of the places later!

Pic: I never expected to do a biking tour considering my health. Looks like, health is fine and knee didnt crack :)

Kaza Spiti Valley © 2007

Tuesday, 7 August 2007


Considering the sweltering heat and 'power-cut' in the Capital (New Delhi), it was literally an escapade to the cooler heights of Manali even if the over night journey took around 15 hours by bus. It's been almost 8 years since the last visit and I wasn't sure what to expect from Manali. Was worried if it has also become another Shimla or Ooty two of the most famous hill stations in the country. Unplanned 'growth' and 'politician-land mafia' nexus has destroyed these once beautiful hill stations. (Imagine drought and traffic pollution up in the mountains!).

Contrary, Manali for some reasons remain clean and I did'nt see that much of infrastructure development to the scale of what has happened in Shimla and Ooty. Even when Delhi and surrounding regions are braving heat, there were not many domestic tourists. There were quite a lot of foreigners though.

In a nut shell, Manali still looks beautiful, it's clean and the market still has its uniqueness. It's still a pleasure to walk around even within the town, and not to talk about the immediate vicinity with it's breath-taking mountain and river views! With a wonderful company in Gulshan, we went around tasting some mouth watering local food! (BTW, after not being in touch for almost 5 years, we met each other through facebook and decided to travel together in an impulse!)

One of the difference from last visit to Manali was the absence of polythene bags in shops. All the shops we went were giving bags made out of old newspapers. That's quite an achievement considering the fact that the initiative has failed in many places including Kerala and Tamilnadu. Though the city looks cleaner, many picnic spots out in the woods were littered as you can see from the photographs. Frankly to my surprise, I was impressed to see some boys taking back their garbage after their picnic. After all, albeit slowly, we are becoming sensitive to the environment.

So far the trip has been fabulous and I hope I will be able to keep everyone posted once in a while. Like in many other trips, we ended up meeting couple of people and made instant connections. I can see that we will be working together with some of them in the immediate future.

All excited about the 12 hour driver by jeep to the mountains tommorow.

Manali © GP 2007

Monday, 9 July 2007

July newsletter

pics: tby project with 'people and places' in alathiyoor

July newsletter 'from the blue yonder' is out today. For those who have subscribed, you should be getting it in the next three days in email format. Otherwise, you can check it out here:

July issue is covering Tootha river trails, TBY partnership with People and Places, an interview with our new manager Sandeep Sinha, destination introduction to Sikkim, along with some interesting news updates from around the world.

Thanks once again to Lotte and Asha for keeping up with the release date. Let me know what you think about the contents at gp AT theblueyonder DOT com

Bangalore © GP 2007

Sunday, 8 July 2007

The Final call

Bantam press has come out with an excellent book on travel. Leo Hickman who writes regularly for The Guardian has researched extensively across the world to provide a sketch on the social and environmental cost of holidays. Just finished reading the un-corrected proof. The book will be available soon through Sankars in India. If you are serious about travelling and love it, then please don't miss it.

Those who are worried about the un-controlled growth of tourism in destinations like Kerala should re-read sections on the impact of house boat based tourism in the backwaters!

Bangalore © GP 2007

Wednesday, 4 July 2007

Folk-art forms from Nila

pic: 'mudiyaattam'

The last four days spent along Nila with our guests culminated with the time spent in Aarangottukkara. A quaint village bordering Palakkad and Thrissur districts is now one of the hotspots of responsible tourism in River Nila. The local community initiative to revive folk-art forms and traditional skills is now supported by The Blue Yonder and promoted as one of the highlights of Nila holidays.

pic: 'dhaarika vadham'

What our guests had to say about the last few days they spent along Nila.
"This visit to Nila is definitely the highlights of my India experience so far",

"Because of our previous interactions and especially the interview with Arun for the newsletter, I had come with high expectations, but let me be frank, what I experienced here has crossed all those expectations. The musical trail and the folk expressions you designed are far beyond anything that I have experienced!"..

pic: welcoming 'kuda chozhi' to 'valluvanad'

pic: reviving folk songs

Once I settle down in work, may be I should find some time to write more in detail on the background of the above pictures and related folk-art forms. Having stayed away from work means piled up office work!

May be it is time that I request guest writers to share their expertise.

Bangalore © GP 2007

Monday, 25 June 2007

Heavy weights

When we were asked to prepare a proposal highlighting the uniqueness of River Nila by department officials, we started jotting down few things. When we started looking at some of the writings that came from the banks of river, the list went on like this:

Scientific works like "Drikanita" of Vadasseri Parameswaran (Astronomer),
'Dasadhyaayi' of Thalakulathu Bhattathiri(Astrologer),
'Goladeepika' of Trikandiyoor Achyutha Pisharadi(Mathematician),
'Maathanga Leela' (on Elephants),
"Manushyalaya Chandrika"a work on architecture,
"Prakriya Sarwasam" of Melpathur Narayana Bhattathiri (on Sanskrit grammar),
"Tantra Samuchaya" by Neelakanda Somayaji on Tantric practices

the list goes on...

When we opened The Hindu newspaper this morning, there was an article in the Kerala section about sixth century mathematician and astronomer Aryabhatta (India's first experimental satellite was named after him) that he was born in Ponnani!! (Estuary and old harbour where River Nila joins the Indian Ocean). Trikandiyoor and Alathiyoor near Ponnani has been traditionally known for its mathematicians.

We have been told by scholars from this part of the world that Aryabhatta was from Alathiyoor gramam (village) and not from Bihar as it is commonly believed.

K. Chandra Hari, senior geoscientist at the Institute of Reservoir Studies of Oil and Natural Gas Commission, Ahmedabad now says that "Aryabhata lived precisely in the modern Ponnani-Chamravattom area (latitude 10N51 and longitude 75E45) in Kerala in 6th Century AD. " Birth place of Aryabhatta has been a debate.

In any case its quite a list of famous people who came from the banks of river nila!!

(It's just a tragedy for all these geniuses that
Arun and I were born in these villages (Trikandiyoor and Alathiyoor) and have absolutely no clue of mathematics, forget the fact that we can't keep counting straight;)! Arun, sorry, I didn't really mean to let the world know of our struggles of clearing maths exams in school!)

© GP 2007

Friday, 11 May 2007

Delhi Metro

New Delhi without a traffic bottle neck in a forty-minute long drive was only a dream even couple of years before. My drive from the Chanakyapuri to East Patel Nagar and then back to the airport didn't see a single signal where we had to stop for more than few seconds. Flyovers and wider roads have done the magic. What is more effective though is the fabulous metro network.

Launched five years before, this new mode of transportation is a blessing for the citizens who were used to travelling in dilapidated buses and three wheelers that charge cut-throat prices! Initially launched to carry around 2 million passengers a day, the metro once completes all the four phases will be carrying close to 4 million passengers a day by 2012!

It seems by the launch of Delhi Metro, the savings is to the tune of Rs 40 lacs per day in terms of road maintenance and wear and tear! That's a hell lot of money for a poor country.(or even for the trillon dollar economy that we had just become last month!).

Consider the amount of pollution that comes out from badly maintained transport system otherwise?! Definitely an environment friendly option that makes economic sense as well to all the stake holders. It is also heralded as one of the few Metros in the world, that is making excellent profit as well.

For any one who had travelled across the cities of India, this well maintained metro, its cleanliness, efficiency and the entire smooth functioning will be a culture shock. This is something that Indians can be really proud of! Even after the 5th year of launch, the system only seems to be getting better.

Now, Bangalore is going through a similiar process and I really wonder how efficient that would be. Considering the terrible infrastructure developments so far in Bangalore, the efficiency that is promised by "Namma Metro" is to be taken with a pinch of salt.

There was a time, whenever I get a chance that I used to move out of Delhi to places like Bangalore because of polution and congestion on the streets. After few days in Delhi in this trip (especially on the metro!), there were moments when I really thought of moving back to New Delhi from Bangalore.

Why not? May be work from Delhi considering the expansion plans The Blue Yonder has in Rajasthan and Eastern Himalayas?

New Delhi © GP 2007

Sunday, 6 May 2007

Flying monks and Orchids

Was supposed to be in Wayanad today for the Responsible Tourism workshop on destinations. Unfortunately fell ill and considering the phone calls, some people are wondering about the absence, considering that fact that we were so much part of the process initiation in Kerala!

Well, it is becoming more and more difficult to even post a short message on the blog considering the working hours I am keeping again. One good thing that happened was that we managed to upload the site for Sikkim with a lot of support from Asha. Still awaiting comments from our regulars.

"For any destination that we operate, The Blue Yonder has its focus on our people, culture and wilderness. In a land that is so tiny but rich in its biodiversity and cultural heritage, Sikkim is blessed with people who are known for their hospitality and warmth. Like the fresh mountain air that you soak in on arrival, the evocative and sometimes mysterious ambiance of the surrounding would hook you on to the place in a way that you might never have experienced in a life time!

This is Sikkim. The land of mystic mountains! A mountain region that has touched the nerves of spirituality in its deep rooted Buddhist traditions; this is also where you meet graceful people with the penchant for legends and folklore. From "flying monks" to "wishing lakes", Sikkim is so inviting that you feel that you wouldn't want to go back. As if you are being invited into The Blue Yonder!"

Bangalore © GP 2007

Tuesday, 6 March 2007

Incredible India!

One of 'Incredible India' print campaigns

It is just India everywhere in Berlin. Right from the flight magazines , Airport, Buses, Cabs and streets, Its Incredible India campaign. Just landed and all knackered after the flight from London-Stansted.

Whethere you are here to attend the ITB Berlin or not, there is no way one can ignore that India as a partner country this year is ruling the show this time! The show begins tomorrow, but the buzz about India is simply amazing. The huge cut outs showing the print ads of Yoga in India was just covering the heights of some 20 flats all together near Tegel!

In an event organised by GTZ and Messe Berlin tomorrow, The Blue Yonder has been invited to speak on sustainable tourism in India for a ten minute presentation. The other speakers are Taj group of hotels, ITC Welcom Group and Ibex Expeditions.

It's been a surprise for many that we are exhibiting this year with Karnataka Tourism and not Kerala tourism. Considering the fact that we are expanding slowly to Karnataka Tourism and to rest of India, it makes sense to exhibit with them especially looking at what Kerala tourism charges their trade partners!
Berlin © GP 2007

Friday, 23 February 2007

Spreading RT

"three years before when we went to explore the backwaters of central kerala"

"Without a doubt, The Blue Yonder is committed to fostering tourism that is environmentally and socially responsible. Although their tour operation clearly benefits the local people with a focus on preserving the environment, the most powerful impact of our experience at the Blue Yonder was how it shaped our own understanding of responsible tourism. "

"As frequent travelers, The Blue Yonder helped us to understand how tourism (when responsibly managed) can be a powerful agent for environmental protection and local economic growth. We value all the work that The Blue Yonder is doing within the communities along the River Nila, but we also believe their impact is more than on the local level."

"Now that we have seen how powerful an experience traveling can be when it is organized in a way that benefits the environment and the local people, we will search out more experiences like this in our future trips abroad! "

"The Blue Yonder certainly deserve the accolades that have recently received for their commitment to responsible tourism. "

The above is a feedback from one of our guests Allison after her trip through Kerala with us!

There were not many takers when I started talking about "Taking Responsibility" for many things that is actually possible for -very normal- individuals like us.

Those working with The Blue Yonder are people you see in your daily lives. Nothing special about them, except that they believe they they are change makers! They believe that they can be part of a process (and even to drive that process) that can make changes in a world that is growing sceptical about every single thing that we see around.

We have been practising "responsibility in travel business" even before the term, "Responsible Tourism" became popular in a cliche market in India. Those who thought that I was out of my mind to set up a business based on transparency and accountability, probably all the feedback from our guests this month itself might be an eye-opener.

Like our friend and activity partner Lukose once said in Wayanad, "If I can bring in a smile on to another person's face, that make my day!" This is all what we have been doing in the last three years as a business enterprise.

But, for me what is more striking about the above feedback from Allison is her statement "we will search out more experiences like this in our future trips abroad! "

This definitely brings in a big smile on our faces today! Irrespective of the constant struggles we had to go through until now, this mail from Allison makes a world of difference to us.

More guest feedback available here

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