Monday 24 August 2009

50 Social Entrepreneurs - Outlook Business Sept 2009

Outlook Business (5 Sept 2009) has come out with an independence special edition on '50 Social entrepreneurs ' and 'how they are making India better'. The Blue Yonder is humbled to be amongst the 50 new wealth creators. Quoting Outlook Business, "Social entrepreneurs: The new wealth creators:They put society above self. They use entrepreneurial means to drive social change. These 50 entrepreneurs are enriching the nation. They're in different fields, doing different things. But each of these entrepreneurs has made a huge social impact with his or her enterprise"

What is even more exciting for us is to know that some of our friends and partners with whom, we have worked and interacted personally in the last few years in Community development, Disaster Management and Responsible Tourism are also among the 50 social entrepreneurs! They are Prema Gopalan -Sakhi/SSP, Ishita Khanna from Muse / Ecosphere, Vijay Aditya - Ekgaon, Ashok Khosla - Development Alternatives, Ela Bhatt - Sewa, Bunker Roy - Barefoot College, Gijs Spoor - Zameen Organic and Anshu Gupta - Goonj. To read fellow entrepreneurs check this link on Outlook Business. To read about the entry on The Blue Yonder follow this link.
To follow some other recognitions and awards we have won in the last 4 years, please check this link.

Friday 21 August 2009

Golden Triange - Delhi Agra Jaipur

Travellers in Agra with Sandeep Sinha (L - standing)

About an year back we got an enquiry from a Swiss NGO asking if we could organise a holiday after their volunteer work in North India " where our volunteers can discover India not as a simple tourist, but meet local people and be part of the Indian culture. Their goal is to continue enjoying India in simple but clean places, with local food, customs and visits".
On completing the holiday, we received an email from the trip coordinator as follows. "Thank you very much for all your work. It was a very good work which was appreciated by everybody. I saw one of the participants today, he was really amazed and in a way changed. They won't see the world again like before".
It's glad to hear that we have only improved our standards in Responsible tourism in the last five years, irrespective of us spreading our holidays in 6 different states of India. When we were asked initially to offer tours based on Delhi and Agra on the way to Rajasthan, we were a bit skeptical as our USP was not Golden Triangle tour;. We were approached by guests because we could offer our guests the most intimate and personal insight into an India that not many tourist don't get to see. This was the case in Kerala where we started, then later in Sikkim, Makrana in Rajasthan, Kaza in Spiti Valley, and later in Sunderbans in West Bengal and now in rural Orissa.
Even on their way to visit the most visited tourist sites like Taj Mahal, we have now started combining many small initiatives in rural tourism that makes positive difference to local people and environment.

To read more such experiences, check out the guest feedback here

The Real Rajasthan

page 330 : Rough "Guide's Clean Breaks - 500 New Ways to see the world"
The largest state in India, Rajasthan is also one of the most beautiful and exciting - home to colourful markets, welcoming cities, vibrant music and delicious cuisine. The royal palaces that pepper the state feature heavily o tourist itineraries: rich, decorative and intricate, they epitomize the luxury and decadence of the Raj. but for those who want to go behind the scenes, India-based travel company The Blue Yonder runs custom-made trips that allow you to explore what really makes Rajasthan tick.

A trip could kick off in the rose-pink city of Jaipur, famous for its magnificent sandstone Amber Fort. After staying for a night or two in an attentive, family-run hotel, you might decide to travel on to the semi-arid areas of Shekhawati or the desert city of Bikaner, where you'll meet artisans busy weaving Rajasthan's famous patterned carpets and making pretty tie-dye garments. You can even make your won bangles, like those you see dripping from most Indian's writs.

Elsewhere, you'll join the Makrana people, who practice puppetry not just to entertain tourists but, in conjunction with The Blue Yonder, to educate and inspire illiterate local children. You could finish your trip with a shopping expedition in a market-filled Udaipur. And in the evenings you'll sit among the community and listen to folk songs and stories, watching the whirling choreography of the richly bejewelled dancers.

As well as looking behind Rajasthan's cultural scene, you could choose to go on a jeep tiger-siger in Rathambore Park, visit the Karni Mata Temple, where thousands of rats are worshipped, or hop aboard a camel for a bumby ride among the sand dunes of the Thar Desert. Allowing visitors a large variety of ways in which to meet the local people and to see little-trodden areas of the state, Blue Yonder's trips give a vibrant taster of the real India.

Thursday 20 August 2009

River Life in Kerala

The following is text copied from page 322 Rough Guides "Clean Breaks - 500 new ways to see the world" co-authored by Richard Hammond and Jeremy Smith.

"To really discover the heart of Kerala you need to leave the beach, jump off the houseboat or troop down from the hills to the banks of the River Nila, where a variety of traditional activities are on offer with The Blue Yonder. You could spend a day river-rafting with former smugglers, help out an elephant rehabilitation centre for admire the spectacular kicks and dives of Kalari payattu, Kerala;s traditional martial art.
The Blue Yonder works with local artisans and communities to promote and preserve their culture; as such they encourage you to earn how to play Kerala musical instruments, visit villages along the river and watch traditional Kathakali(Theater) and mohiniyattam(dance).

The accommodation is also much more than just a place to lay your head0 it's integral part of the experience, especially if you opt for the homestay option with local families in preference to a stay at River Retreat, a former summer palace of the Maharaja of Cochin. You could stay with Praveen, retired early from the Merchant Navy to run a homey stay with his wife-they both also manage the local school. Or with the Namboodiris in their calms and elegant 200-year old home.

Pillars of their local rural community, the Namboodiris are well-travelled and erudite companions(he's a water engineer and expert on international development; she's an excellent guide to India's spiritual traditions.) you're free to wander round their beautiful, herb-filled garden and say hello to the resident - and cherished -cow. In the evening, you'll dine on delicious, home-grown vegetarian food while conversation drifts easily between the relevance of the Vedas to the adventures of the Namboodiri's daughter - India's first female elephant trainer - and her husband, a snake priest. "

Thursday 13 August 2009

The Blue Yonder to support WTM World Responsible Tourism Day

WTM World Responsible Tourism Day, the only global day of action of its kind, is being supported by the UNWTO and leading industry associations. The day is vital – for business, for profitability and for our planet. It means taking care of a world that we seek to promote, preserving our heritage and cultures and taking into account the views and needs of local communities.

The Blue Yonder
has been supporting this initiative for the last three years and has once again shown our commitment to Responsible Tourism. Our role doesn't stop by celebrating the Responsible Tourism day, but in sustaining our initiatives to promote and build Responsible Tourism as the way to travel.

For more details visit the official website.

As in the last 4 years, The Blue Yonder will also be exhibiting at the WTM. Details of attendance are being finalised and we will announce the details at the earliest.

Tuesday 11 August 2009

Offering holidays in West Bengal - India

West Bengal, a state in eastern India, stretching from the Himalayas to the Bay Of Bengal in the south, is a popular tourist destination for its art, culture, history and natural beauty. West Bengal is an agricultural dependent state. Rice and fish are traditional favorite foods. West Bengal offers everything for a discerning tourist. From wild life tours, himalaya expeditions, exotic beach holidays to waterfalls, coffee and tea plantations.

The Kolkata city, also known as 'City of Joy' is well known for Howrah Bridge, local Bengali sweets and the world famous Shantiniketan (Visva-Bharati University) - set up by renowned poet and Nobel Laureate Shri Rabindranath Tagore.

Near the coastal region is the world's largest delta covered with 10,000 of mangrove forest, popularly known as Sunderbans. The wild life of of Sunderbans offers a fascinating diversity of terrain, flora and fauna.

On the eastern side, lies the Darjeeling, 'Queen of Hills, well known for Sandakfu, the highest peak of the state, Khangchendzonga hill ranges, Tiger Hills and heritage railway station. Kalimpong, Dooars valley and Siliguri are quite close by to Darjeeling city and make the visit a worthwhile experience for nature and adventure sport lovers.

With a combination of holidays in nearby Sikkim, we are now offering some unique and of course responsible holidays in West Bengal. Check it out here for more details.