Tuesday 29 September 2009

Children initiated into world of letters

The 'Mandapam' in Thunjan Parambu where the author was initiated into learning in 1976

'Vidyarambham' is a secular South Indian tradition of initiating children into the world of knowledge by wiring letters on sand or rice grain. Yesterday, more than four thousand toddlers were initiated into learning as part of the Navarathiri festival at Thunjan Parambu near Tirur, in Malappuram district in Kerala. Thunjan Parambu is a memorial of medieval poet Thunchath Ezhuthachan, revered as father of Malayalam literature, where children are brought to write their initial letters on sand and rice grains.

Writer C Radkahrishnan says, "It was in Thunjan Parambu that Ezhuthachan modified the Malayalam alphabets and wrote the Harinamakeerthanam to popularize them. Even after centuries people from various parts of the state come to take sand from Thunjan Parambu to initiate their children to the alphabet."

It was in Thunjan Parambu that Ezhuthachan taught and spent better half of his life. Here one can find the original stylus which Ezhuthachan wrote the Malayalam Ramayana, a Hindu epic. Legend says that the whole Ramayana in Malayalam was recited to the author by a parrot so that he could compose tirelessly without having to stop in between.

The literature park designed according to traditional Kerala architecture, has a beautiful bronze statue of the parrot and larger version of the Iron stylus and the palm leave in with which he wrote the epic. The legend says that the Nux Vomica tree with bitter leaves here has lost their bitter taste to sweet wisdom.

Thousands of children were initiated into the world of letters on Monday at public functions organised by religious/educational institutions, charitable organisations, cultural and media establishments across the state as part of the Vidyarambham ritual marking the conclusion of the Navaratri festival. More news here

a peaceful journey through Tirur river

Most of the trips that The Blue Yonder organises along the River Nila is initiated by a visit to Thunjan Parmbu followed by a serene country boat ride through the Tirur River that joins Nila before pouring into the Arabian sea at the estuary in Ponnani. Check out for more details here.

Symbols akin to Indus valley culture discovered in Kerala

engravings at the edakkal caves

According to
The Hindu newspaper of 26th Sept 2009, "A rock engraving, indicating clear remnants of Harappan culture, has been found in the Edakkal caves in neighbouring Wayanad district, linking the Indus Valley civilisation with South India.

“There had been indications of remnants akin to the Indus Valley civilisation in Karnataka and Tamil Nadu, but these new findings give credence to the fact that the Harappan civilisation had its presence in the region too and could trace the history of Kerala even beyond the Iron Age,” historian M R Raghava Varier said. "

Even before the latest findings, Edakkal Caves have attracted serious travellers for its pre-historic etchings and engravings. Brought to the attention of the world by an English officer Fred-Fawcett, the site was identified to be a habitat of Neolithic people (i.e. late Stone Age, c4000BC to c1700BC).

Except for the hue and cry that we hear when similar archeological findings are publicised, there is hardly any care being taken to maintain the sanctity of the site. If not for the interest shown by passionate individuals and responsible hoteliers nearby, the site would have been in doll drums long time back. Wayanad Tourism Organisation and some of the well-known archeologists in Kerala has been trying since 2007 to get the attention of UNESCO to declare the area amongst the World Heritage sites.

More information on similar sites are recorded in this website.

Wayanad: Where butterflies come home to. First advertisement on Wayanad from TBY

Rich in wildlife, Wayanad's mountainous terrain houses the best in wildlife and spreads the aroma of all possible spices found in Kerala. Situated in the southern region of the Deccan plateau bordering Karnataka state, this district is untouched by rail or air traffic and is approachable only by road.

The Blue Yonder organises responsible holidays in Wayanad which includes heritage and legend trails, rain forest trekking, bamboo rafting, spice tours, wildlife safari and walking tours. More information on our Malabar holidays can be found here.

Responsible Tourism Training Workshop in Kuala Lumpur

The Blue Yonder has announced it's participation at the Responsible Tourism Training Workshop organised by Wild Asia in Kuala Lumpur on the 29-30th OCT 2009. We will be presenting the trends and development of Responsible Tourism Partnerships and networks with a focus on India.

Wild Asia announcement says, "This workshop, which targets business owners, tourism operators and media, provides a background to sustainability principles in tourism and numerous case studies from the region. The workshop is an excellent opportunity to learn and share with your peers, as well as, an opportunity to take home ideas for your own businesses. For the media, the workshop will highlight areas where travel journalism can expand."

Check out the site for more details on venue, time, participation fee etc.

Wild Asia will also be partnering with The Blue Yonder and Traveltocare.com to organise the Responsible Tourism Networking at the ITB Asia (Suntec, Singapore) on the 22nd OCT 2009. We believe this partnership will be able to bring together many RT initiatives across South and South East Asia and share their experiences.

Thursday 24 September 2009

Responsible Tourism Networking at ITB Asia - Singapore

We are glad to announce the Responsible Tourism Networking to be organised on the 22nd OCT 2009 between 1800-2000 at Suntec City Singapore. The event is a continuation of RT networking initiated by TBY and YSP in London, and later organised with support from ITB in Berlin and SATTE in New Delhi.

The event in Singapore is co-organised by The Blue Yonder, Traveltocare.com and Wild Asia. Travel Mole's Vision on Sustainable Tourism also has joined us as official media partner.

The previous editions of networking in Berlin and New Delhi and fringe events in London saw many Responsible tourism operators and stake holders sharing their unique experiences. The events helped operators talk about their initiatives, find partners to do business in originating and destination markets and build partnerships across various countries. 'Green Travel Circuit' initiated by Social Tours which is now run between 4 different operators based in Nepal and India (Social Tours, Help Tourism, Grass Routes, The Blue Yonder) is one such example that saw partnership developed within the travel industry.

We invite you to attend the presentations, discussions and networking followed by cocktail sponsored by ITB Asia at Suntec Singapore on 22nd OCT 2009. If you wish to attend the event or give a presentation on Responsible Tourism initiatives please get in touch with the organisers through info@rtnetworking.org or RSVP on facebook.

This will be a great opportunity to network with like-minded people and continue to promote Responsible Tourism.

Attendees for the 2 hour networking will be given a free pass to enter the trade show on 23rd OCT 2009

Tuesday 22 September 2009

TBY in Brussels

The Grand'Place in Brussels pic copyright www.lescinqsaules.be
The Blue Yonder exhibited with other 5 operators in Brussels as part of Kerala Tourism Road series. It was for the first time Kerala tourism is organising a Roadshow in Belgium. Good response and interesting buyers!

Friday 18 September 2009

TBY Rajasthan holidays "10 Incredible Eco Travel Destinations"

One of The Blue Yonder's Rajasthan itinerary (explore the kingdoms of India) has been reviewed amongst the "10 incredible eco travel destinations" by Green Living. The selection is a further shortlist of 500 eco destinations and experiences selected by the authors of Clean Breaks (August 2009), Richard Hammond and Jeremy Smith, from around the world.

"To see the true Rajasthan, the largest province in India, The Blue Yonder tour company facilitates a program that avoids the tourist traps and takes visitors to family-run hotels, artisan-based communities and lesser-explored regions".

The following text is from Amanda Rappak of Green Living:

"These days, so-called ecotourism or green holiday options are advertised everywhere, but what makes for a truly legitimate eco-vacation? The authors of
Clean Breaks (August 2009), Richard Hammond and Jeremy Smith, have done the digging for you and selected 500 eco destinations and experiences from around the world. "We studied the green claims made by many hundreds of operations worldwide before selecting those that we felt both offered the best experiences combined with genuine environmental and social commitments," says author Hammond. "We show how you can see the world in a responsible way through minimizing your environmental impact on your journey and at the destination - by choosing carefully how you travel and the nature of places that you stay at. We also hope to show how you can have a positive impact in other ways - by contributing to the conservation of wildlife and local heritage and supporting local economies."

We suppressed our wanderlust to pick just 10 of their incredible sustainable vacation ideas to share with our readers. Here's a snapshot of what's awaiting you, so start packing and get out there.

Wednesday 16 September 2009

The Lavaux vineyard terraces & Lausanne Roule!

St Saphorin in the back drop of Lake Geneva

Beginning of this month, I was travelling through Lausanne, the Lavaux vineyard terraces and Montreux in Switzerland. The distances were covered through scenic train journeys, biking and hiking.

Listed amongst the UNESCO's World Heritage in 2007, The Lavaux terrace stretches for about 30 kilometres along the shores of Lake Geneva, from Lausanne to Chateau de Chillon, south of Montreux.The best way to explore these regions however would be on a cycle.Lausanne Roule is a non-profit association that makes bicycles available in Lausanne, Renens and Vevey. This project is based on the principles of sustainable development, promoting soft mobility, social integration and health.

View of the village Rivaz from Chebrex

In collaboration with the 'Etablissement Vaudois Accueil aux Migrants', asylum seekers are incorporated into the taking care of the rental service. About thirty asylum seekers are working at the three stations during each seasons.

With the help of the Oeuvre Suisse d'entraide ouvrière, school-leaving young adults are also involved in bicylce maintenance as part of professional integration especially in Vevey. Local people are entrusted with the supervision of the asylum seekers . The team of Lausanne Roule consist of a group of professionals, a subsidised post intended for an unemployed person and a committee of volunteers.

Vevey in the back drop of Lac Léman

Itinerary from Lausanne to Vevey or vice versa: 20 kms. The same distance can be covered on a return journey by the ferry in 60 minutes. The bike rental is free until 2100 with a refundable deposit amount of 20 CHF .

Thursday 3 September 2009

TBY to support 'Shanti Deva'

"Born in the late seventh century monk Shantideva was an Indian Buddhist philosopher of the famous University of Nalanda.

Praised throughout the Buddhist world for his writings on the Bodhisattva path and philosophy of the Madhyamika, Shantideva remains one of the authors most read and discussed today.

Beyond the qualities of scholarship and poetic power of his work, Shantideva urges all people to pursue the path of wisdom and compassion."

A Tashi Lhumpo monastery - TBY promoted Calendar

Continuing its long term association with the monastery of Tashi Lhumpo in Bylakuppe in Karnataka state, The Blue Yonder is supporting the initiative of several volunteers and supporters to set up 'Shanti Deva' - an association to preserve and promote cultural and spiritual heritage of the Tibetan monastery of Tashi Lhunpo restored in southern India in 1972.

Besides learning of Tibetan language and Buddhist studies, it allows its members to frequent visits to the monastery of Tashi Lhunpo, as well as the discovery of the Himalayan regions of Ladakh, Zanskar, Spiti, Lahul, Sikkim and Tawang through cultural travel.

For more details visit the official site here: