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For Indians, falling into wanderlust for ‘unexplored’ destinations



Komodo Island
Komodo Island in Indonesia

New Delhi, Oct 14 : Following a country-wide survey, with over 2,200 respondents, conducted by Luxury Escapes India amongst its frequent travelling, high-net worth member-base, the following destinations cropped up on top of everyone’s travel bucket-list:

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Komodo dragons fighting on Island Rinca, Indonesia CREDIT: SERGEY URYADNIKOV/SHUTTERSTOCK

Komodo Island is one of the only regions in the world, a home to the elusive Komodo dragon and as awareness of this rare creature grows amongst Indians they are making their way to catch a glimpse of this real-life dragon.

More and more Indians are discovering their love for powdery slopes and ski holidays and choosing to head eastwards – to Niseko, in the Japanese northern island of Hokkaido.

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Andaman & Nicobar Islands India

Andaman & Nicobar Islands have long been the haunt of deep-sea diving fanatics but the islands now look forward to inviting luxury travellers to its pristine shores thanks to the resorts such as the Taj Exotica Andamans and Munjoh Ocean resort at Havelock.

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Relax at Ko’a Kea Resort, Kauai, Hawaii, with Luxury Escapes. Photo: Supplied

Hawaii – With work, travel to the US is increasing at a rapid pace for Indian executives, its natural for them to see what all the fuss is about when it comes to Hawaii. Luxury Escapes has noted a newfound love for the luau amongst Indians on a b-leisure trip to the US.

Faroe Islands – Technically a part of the Kingdom of Denmark, the unspoilt paradise of the Faroe Islands is being discovered by Indian travellers. Luxury resorts are hard to come by, but Danish hospitality at local Bed & Breakfasts more than make up for it.

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South America and Antarctica – South America & Antarctica

South America and Antarctica – South America & Antarctica are so remote that Indians who wants to explore it properly can just take a short sabbatical from work and cover the entire region at one go. Alpacas, Machu Pichu, Christ the redeemer, Pablo Escobar, Patagonia, Argentinian meat, Avocados… the list goes on. Add to that, a luxury cruise option departing from Ushuaia and heading to the far reaches of the southern-most continent all in five star luxury.

Bandhavgarh is the dark horse amongst India’s forest reserves and is only now showing up on wildlife enthusiast’s itineraries. With luxury resorts such as the Taj Mahua Kothi and Syna Tiger Resort catering to this discerning audience, it makes for a perfect weekend getaway.

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Khao Lak, Thailand

Khao Lak – While Indians have had their fill of Phuket, Koh Samui and the like in Thailand; Khao Lak is proving to be an undiscovered gem for most. Replete with luxury resorts, beach clubs and wildlife parks; there’s something here for everyone.

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Black sand beaches, Varkala

Varkala – A sleepy little beach-town located on a hill-top overlooking the Indian Ocean; Varkala is gaining popularity for its black sand beaches, hippy culture and for being the birthplace of India’s nascent surfing culture.

When visits to Serengeti and Kruger are par for the course, a visit to the land of silver-back gorillas in Rwanda and Uganda, is what separates the men from the boys.

(Arun Ashok is the Country Manager for Luxury Escapes India, an Australia luxury travel startup.)


Andhra Pradesh Govt puts plans to sell Tirumala Tirupati Devasthanam properties on hold




Tirumala Tirupati Devasthanam

Amaravati, 25 May : The government of Andhra Pradesh on Monday stepped in to put on hold the proposed sale of unviable assets belonging to the Tirumala Tirupati Devasthanam (TTD). The state government stepped in to control the damage following the rising resentment in several quarters over the recent move by the Board of Trustees of the TTD.

In an order issued by Praveen Prakash, Principal Secretary (Political), on Monday, the state government, keeping in view devotees’ sentiments, directed the TTD to re-examine the issue in consultation with the different stakeholders such as religious elders, opinion makers, section of devotees etc., to ascertain whether these properties can be used by TTD for construction of temples, dharma pracharam and other religious activities.

The state government headed by Chief Minister Y.S. Jagan Mohan Reddy has been at the receiving end of opposition parties over the move to dispose of 50 TTD properties located in Tamil Nadu and other places outside Andhra Pradesh. The state government has pointed out that the controversial decision was in fact taken during the previous regime headed by the Telugu Desam Party.

“It has been brought to the notice of the government that the Board of Trustees of Tirumala Tirupati Devasthanam (TTD), which was constituted by the previous government, approved the disposal of 50 properties of TTD through its resolution No. 253 dated 30.01.2016,” the order pointed out.

The richest religious body in the country, the TTD has been in the news of late with reports of a cash crunch following the Covid-19 induced lockdown and the resultant freeze on contributions from the devotees. The TTD is headed by Y.V. Subba Reddy, who is also Jagan Mohan Reddy’s maternal uncle.

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Young adults more likely to die from epilepsy: Study





London, May 25 (IANS) A new study has claimed that young adults aged between 16 and 24 may have a six-fold increased risk of epilepsy-related death, a disorder in which nerve cell activity in the brain is disturbed, causing seizures.

The study, presented at the European Academy of Neurology (EAN) Virtual Congress, found that mortality rates for epilepsy-related deaths did not decrease between 2009 (6.8 per 100,000) and 2015 (9.1 per 100,000), despite advances in treatment during this time.

Young adult patients in their early 20s and 30s were found to be at the highest risk, with 78 per cent of epilepsy-related deaths under the age of 55 years classified as potentially avoidable.

The study, being conducted in Scotland, aims identify the burden of epilepsy-related deaths, what proportion of these are potentially avoidable, and ascertain the factors that may put patients at an increased risk.

“Epilepsy patients are at a higher risk of early death than the general population, but reasons for this are unclear,” said study researcher Gashirai Mbizvo from the University of Edinburgh in Scotland.

“We hope that we can use this data to learn lessons and reduce the burden of epilepsy-related deaths in the future, many of which we believe are likely to be avoidable,” Mbizvo added.

Epilepsy is a chronic noncommunicable disease of the brain that affects around 50 million people globally, making it one of the most common neurological diseases worldwide.

For the findings, the researchers collected anonymous data from healthcare settings for patients that died between 2009 and 2016, identifying 2,149 epilepsy-related deaths.

At least 60 per cent of these patients (1,276) had one or more seizure-related or epilepsy-related hospital admission in the years prior to death, yet less than a quarter (516) were seen in a neurology clinic.

The most common causes of death within the study were sudden unexpected death in epilepsy (SUDEP), aspiration pneumonia, cardiac arrest, congenital malformation and alcohol-related deaths.

The data will be compared with data from living patients with epilepsy of the same age and gender.

“Highlighting such risk factors, and identifying those that could be prevented, might lead to changes in epilepsy care and, ultimately, fewer epilepsy-related deaths in the future,” the researchers noted.

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Delhiites brace for an Eid at home amid Covid-19 pandemic




Lockdown Eid

New Delhi, May 24 : Observe Eid with simplicity, help your neighbour and feed the hungry. This seems to be the message this Eid ul-Fitr, at least in the national capital.

With assemblies prohibited and all religious places closed amid the nationwide lockdown due to Covid-19 pandemic, Delhiites are bracing for an Eid at home, and so do religious leaders appeal for.

Stating that Eid means happiness, Umer Ahmed Ilyasi, Chief Imam of the All India Imam Organization (AIIO), told IANS, “Happiness is possible only when others are happy as well. We are facing an unprecedented situation. I have appealed against buying new clothes and observing Eid by staying home.”

Every year visuals of thousands offering namaaz at Delhi’s iconic Jama Masjid showcases Eid. But this year the vast expanse of the mosque will remain empty. Shahi Imam of Jama Masjid Ahmad Bukhari have asked people to offer prayers at their homes.

“I appeal to all the faithful to maintain social distancing and stay indoors during the Eid festivities,” Bukhari said. He urged them to extend a helping hand to the poor, the destitute and the needy in this hour of crisis, as hundreds and thousands were staring at an uncertain future.

Despite relaxations, footfall in most markets have been minimal due to the fear of infection. With restaurants not allowed to serve food, most traditional Mughlai eateries in the bylanes of Jama Masjid are likely to either remain shut or open only to provide home delivery.

One of the biggest Muslim festival, Eid ul-Fitr marks the end of the holy month of Ramzan. It’s normally celebrated with exchange of greetings, hugs, feasting and bonding. But due to the lockdown and corona scare, this Eid is likely to be muted.

Union Minority Affairs Minister Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi tweeted that though for the first time he would offer prayer and celebrate Eid at home due to the pandemic, it would not affect the festive spirit.

Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leader Shahnawaz Hussain, known for organising sumptuous Eid feast in the Lutyens Delhi, which is attended by top politicians cutting across political affiliations, journalists and other dignitaries, will also be observing a quiet Eid.

“I have been doing this Eid luncheon for 21 years. But this time things are different. No invitation has been sent. I will spend Eid in a simple way by distributing food among the poor,” said Hussain.

While the grandeur will be amiss this year, religious leaders insist it’s the intent that counts. They say, new clothes or a grand buffet is not what makes Eid special, it’s the happiness that counts, which increases manifold when shared with others.

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