BANIHAL: The northern railways on Friday opened India’s longest railway tunnel piercing through the Pir Panjal range in Jammu & Kashmir.

The tunnel is part of the ambitious Udhampur – Srinagar – Baramulla rail link project of Northern Railways. At 10.96km long, the Pir Panjal Railway Tunnel is India’s longest and Asia’s 2nd longest tunnel, aimed at reducing the travel distance between Quazigund and Banihal to only 11 km and providing a hassle-free travel up to Baramulla.

The 10.96 kms tunnel, which is aligned straight from north to south, is 100 percent water-proof and is also equipped with fire fighting system throughout its entire length.

According to project manager Hindustan construction corporation S Yala, the construction of the tunnel started in November 2005 and was complete in 2011. The total cost of the tunnel was Rs.391 crores.

The train would take 6.6 minutes to travel this distance from Banihal in south side to Qazigund in north side of the mountain and thus would take passenger from Jammu region in to Kashmir region just six minutes.

The fascinating fact about the tunnel excavation is that the total excavated quantity was equal to one mountain, says Vikram Singh Tanwar, PRO HCC.

He said, 1500 workers, employed to excavate the tunnel piercing the Pir Panjal mountain would meet one another when they dig out last spade of the muck tomorrow.

Interestingly, this railway tunnel is below Jawahar tunnel- meant for vehicular traffic only- which usually gets blocked during winters owing to heavy snowfall in the region.

The tunnel day-lighting was witnessed by A.P. Mishra – Member of Railway Board, Mohan Tiwari, Managing Director IRCON, B.D. Garg, CAO – Northern Railway, H. Khanna, Director (Works) IRCON, Achal Jain, Chief Engineer – Northern Railway. IRCON International Ltd, an autonomous constructing agency for Indian railway, was given the task to construct the part of Udhampur – Srinagar – Baramulla rail link project from Dharam to Baramulla section.

The railway line from Quazigund to Baramulla (119 km) was already completed by IRCON and it is operational to public since October 2009. In order to accelerate the balance work, the total length between Dharam to Quazigund section was divided into 6 Zones and the contract for the Zone – IV & V was awarded to HCC, project manager Yala said.

Yala said , due to the changing geological strata of the young Himalayan rock, New Australian Tunneling Methodology (NATM) was adopted for the construction. During survey, eight different types of geological strata were found in the entire length of the tunnel.


IndiGo ready to soar

As Thailand becomes a hot destination for Indian tourists, Indian airlines are looking at the country in ways they have never done before. Some plan to use the country as their regional hub while also plotting routes now dominated by Thai Airways International.

The latest to enter the skies in Thailand is IndiGo Airlines, India’s best-known low-cost airline, which started operations to Bangkok last month after five years of domestic success.

The inaugural flight to New Delhi from Bangkok on Sept 8 had the president of the airline onboard to welcome his first guests from Thailand.

The airline will start flights from Bangkok to Mumbai this month, followed by new routes from India to Singapore, Kathmandu and Muscat.

“We’re looking 100% at the Asian market,” said president Aditya Ghosh in an interview at his office in Gurgaon, New Delhi. Excerpts follow:Why is the Asian market so important to your airline?

That’s where the business market is, as also the passenger capacity, and the growth in the airline business. There are not too many low-cost, high-quality airline in the Asian region.

What about AirAsia?

They’re a very good airline, very successful, and I respect them. But our reach in India is unbeatable. We fly to 29 destinations in India, and we will offer all these to our Asian travellers.

How have you fared in your five years of domestic travel in India, which is a very competitive market?

Yes, it’s a hugely competitive market, but we have flown nearly 33 million passengers in five years. Our market share today is 19.7%, making us the second largest airline in the country. Our technical dispatch reliability is 99.91%. These are pretty outstanding records, which is why we are sure of being as successful in Asia as in India.

What are your airline’s strengths?

Our strengths are our new, efficient aircraft, multicultural staff and superb timing. Our flights almost always reach destinations 15 minutes earlier than scheduled. Our philosophy is to make travel as hassle-free as possible — low-cost but high quality — and that’s why we are popular both with budget travellers and high-level corporations.

Is it true that you have tie-ups with many companies?

Yes, we’re the preferred airline of well-known companies like Tata, Wipro, and others. Some of our frequent flyers are bigwigs such as R.P. Goenka and Vikram Oberoi. Our record for impeccable punctuality has been responsible for our success with corporations.

Your airline is buying a huge number of new, state-of-the-art aircraft.

For our Asian routes, we will use 42 of our Airbus A320 aircraft, which are all less than two years old. By the end of the year, we’ll have 48 aircraft, and by 2015 we will have 100. These will include the new Airbus A320 Neo, for which we are the global launch customer. Between 2015 and 2025 we’ll acquire as many as 180 A320 Neo jets, making us one of the largest purchasers of the aircraft in the world.

How important is the Bangkok route?

Extremely important, because it’s our gateway to Asia. We have great support from the Department of Civil Aviation and hope to increase our flights to Bangkok, not just from Delhi and Mumbai, but from other destinations in India. There are huge numbers of Indian tourists coming to Thailand.

Will your current fares remain the same?

Our current fare of 6,727 baht return is not promotional but consistent. When the flying time from Delhi or Mumbai to Kerala is the same as to Bangkok, why should the passengers pay more? That’s why our Bangkok fare is the same as some of our domestic fares.

Do you have plans to launch any low-cost holiday-packages, together with low-cost airfares?

We already have. IndiGo recently started a new Get Packing website where we offer holiday packages, of varying categories, depending on the budget of the traveller. These include airfare, road transport, hotel and sightseeing. We target our customer database of one million a month and have already sold 1,000 packages in the low season. Our current packages are to Indian destinations, which I hope will bring more Thai tourists to India.

Which are your Indian routes that will appeal to Thai tourists?

Our inaugural flight had a big group of Thai tourists going to Srinagar, which I hear is very popular with them. We have three flights a day to Srinagar from Delhi, which will excite them. They can choose 28 other Indian destinations too.

Will Indigo Airlines try to fly to other destinations in Thailand?

Yes, we are trying to promote other Thai destinations to Indian tourists. Thailand is not just Bangkok and Pattaya. We are in talks with the Tourism Authority of Thailand, and also with the Singapore Tourism Board, as we plan flights to Singapore next month.

Are your bookings done online?

We have very user-friendly website and we plan to start a Thai-language website soon. But bookings can also be done through travel agents.

Do you plan to fly to the holy Buddhist city of Gaya?

Yes, we are keen to start flights to Gaya from Bangkok next year. This will connect us to other Buddhist destinations in the region, such as Japan, Korea, and we can spread our wings in Asia.

Tell us about your parent company InterGlobe Enterprises.

InterGlobe Enterprises, where I’m one of six people on the executive committee, manages 13 international airlines in India. Recently it entered the hospitality industry, through a joint venture with the Accor group. By 2015, we hope to have 95 hotels in India. The company has more than 8,000 employees in India and annual turnover of $2 billion.

The airline has various charity-projects as well, is that right?

We believe in corporate social responsibility, and have various children’s foundations, especially for cancer. Our best-known is the Good Karma Foundation. IndiGo Airlines is about chasing dreams, and we want to give a chance to everyone to chase their dreams.


Jagjit Singh

New Delhi: ‘Chitthi na koi sandes, jane who kaunsa des jahan tum chale gaye’…has been one of the greatest ghazals of the legend Jagjit Singh that moved people to tears. And the sad demise of the ghazal king Jagjit has once again made the world to remember these lines by him.

A singer, composer and music director, was the man who took ghazals to the common genre. The pain and melancholy in his voice gave vent to the feelings of many a lonely heart.

He has sung in several languages including Hindi, Urdu, Punjabi and Nepali.

Recipient of Padma Bhushan award, Jagjit infused a new life in the dying genre of music in the seventies and carved a niche for himself in Bollywood.

The man behind churning out the finest ghazals, Jagjit was also known for modern approach and infusion of technology in the traditional art of ghazal singing. He was widely credited for the revival and popularity of Ghazal. Prior to Singh, Indian ghazal singers were considered relatively lesser authentic than their counterparts from Pakistan.

With a career spanning over five decades, his music became popular in mass media through films such as Prem Geet (1981), Arth and Saath Saath (1982), and TV serials Mirza Ghalib (1988) and Kahkashan (1991). His silky voice ruled during recent Bollywood flicks like Dushman, Sarfarosh, Tum Bin and Tarkeeb.

Life in Bombay was hard and Jagjit eked out a living doing small musical gatherings and house concerts. He sang at several film parties hoping to get a break in the movies.

Jagjit Singh broke this myth by coming up with songs such as ‘Kaagaz ki kashti’, ‘Chaak jigar ke’, ‘Kal chadhanvi ki raat thi’, and ‘Shaam se aankh me name si hai’. Jagjit Singh was first offered to sing in a Gujarati Film. ‘Dharati Na Chhoru’ produced by Mr. Suresh Amin,

He gained acclaim together with his wife, another renowned Indian Ghazal singer Chitra Singh, in the 1970s and 1980s, as the first ever successful duo act (husband-wife) in the history of recorded Indian music.

Jagjit Singh is the first Indian composer, and together with his wife Chitra Singh the first recording artist in the history of Indian music to use digital multi-track recording for their (India’s first digitally recorded) album, Beyond Time (1987). He is regarded as one of India’s most influential artistes.

He was awarded India’s third highest civilian honour, the Padma Bhushan, in 2003.

He is the only composer and singer to have composed and recorded songs written by Prime Minister – Atal Behari Vajpayee, also a critically acclaimed poet – in two albums, Nayi Disha (1999) and Samvedna (2002).

On May 10, 2007, in a milestone joint session held in the historic Central Hall of India’s Parliament (Sansad Bhawan), Jagjit Singh rendered the last Moghul Emperor, Bahadur Shah Zafar’s famous ghazal “Lagta nahin hai dil mera” to commemorate the 150th anniversary of India’s First War of Independence (1857).

Often called the ‘Ghazal King’ by his fans and peers, Jagjit was born on February 8, 1941 in Sriganganagar, Rajasthan, to Amar Singh Dhiman, a government employee, and Bachan Kaur. He had four sisters and two brothers and was called Jeet by his family.

He was raised as a Sikh by religion. His birth name was Jagmohan but his Sikh father rechristened him as Jagjit following the advice of his guru.

It was his father, who first recognised his son’s talent. He sent young Jagjit to learn the nuances of music under a blind teacher, Pandit Chhaganlal Sharma. He later trained under Ustad Jamal Khan of Sainia gharana for six-years and gained knowledge in Khayal, Thumri and Dhrupad forms.

A few of his famous ghazals

There are many successful ghazals composed by Jagjit Singh. Some of them are listed below:-

• Yeh daulat bhi le lo, yeh shohrat bhi le lo
• Hoshwalo ko khabar
• Honthon se chhoo lo tum
• Bahut khoobsurat hai
• Kiska Chehera
• Kal chodvi ki raat thi
• Baat niklegi to
• Tera chehera hai aaeene jaisa
• Chitthi na koi sandesh
• Tum itna jo muskura rahe ho
• Koi fariyaad
• Kahin duur jab din
• Jhuki jhuki si nazar
• Tumko dekha to yeh khayal
• Jab saamne tum
• Tere aane ki jab khabar mehke
• Woh kaaghaz ki kashti
• Badi Najuk he ye manzil mohabbat ka safar he
• Der lagi aane mein tumko
• Patta-patta boota-boota haal hamaara jaane hai
• Tere baare mein jab socha nahin thaa
• Tere aane ki jab khabar mehke
• Tamanna fir machal jaaye agar tum milne aa jaao
• Ab main ration ki kataron mein nazar aata hoon
• Tujhse milne ki saza denge tere shehar ke log
• Din aa gaye shabaab ke aanchal sambhaaliye

(With inputs from Wikipedia, PTI)

India debuts World’s cheapest tablet today!

India’s finally got its much hyped ultra-low-cost tablet named “ Aakash”. The tablet runs onAndroid 2.2 (Froyo) and comes with a 7 inch resistive touch screen with 800×480 reolution and weighs 350 gm.

Aakash is a collaboration between the government and a British-based company DataWind. The tablet has a 256 MB of RAM, a 32 GB expandable memory slot and two USB ports.

The tablet comes with a 12-month replacement warranty and supports formats like DOC, DOCX, PDF and PPTX etc. Aakash has standard 3.5 mm headphones jack.

The tablet has a 2100mAh battery which can reportedly last for 2-3 hours depending on the usage. The device is also said to be completely made in India, as according to a review, a sticker at the back emphasises the fact. Aakash also reportedly packs some preloaded apps, however, lacks the Android Market Place.

The tablet will be commercially available from November for Rs 2999. The commercial version of the tablet would have no duty waivers or subsidy, as in the government’s version and come with added features like an inbuilt cellular modem and SIM to access internet.

The government will be acquiring the tablet for Rs 2250 from DataWind which will be supplied to the students across the country. The device will initially be made available to post-secondary students.

India lags behind fellow BRIC nations Brazil, Russia and China in the drive to get its 1.2 billion population connected to technologies such as the Internet and mobile phones, according to a report by risk analysis firm Maplecroft.

The number of Internet users grew 15-fold between 2000 and 2010, according to another recent report. Still, just 8 percent of Indians have access. That compares with nearly 40 percent in China.

Some 19 million people subscribe to mobile phones every month, making India the world’s fastest growing market, but most are from the wealthier segment of the population in towns.


Holiday Inn Resort Regent Beach Cha-Am

The Cha-Am/Hua Hin area is famous for its kilometers of white sand beach along the sunrise side of the Gulf of Siam. Located only within two and a half hours drive from Bangkok or 10 minutes drive from Hua Hin International Airport. Hotel transportations are available between Bangkok International Airport and Hua Hin International Airport Holiday Inn Resort Regent Beach Cha-Am offers a diverse range of accommodation styles. The Main Wing comprises 367 rooms surrounded by the lush gardens. The Regency Wing and Anavana Villas offer a more up-scale accommodation and consist of 160 Regency Rooms and Suites and 33 units of Thai designed Anavana Villas in the gardens at the beachfront. It is located close to the Cha-Am and Hua Hin night markets, and has 6 Golf Courses located within 40 minutes drive from the Resort. The Resort has a 24-hour coffee shop, 2 specialty restaurants, a lobby bar and fun pub. 24-hour room service is available. Recreational facilities are available in the form of 2 swimming pools & kids pool, kids’ club, outdoor Jacuzzi, tennis courts, squash courts, table tennis, snooker room, bicycling, etc.. The Tea Tree Spa offers a range of therapies including reflexology. The Resort comprises one of the largest convention and meeting centre in Cha-Am/Hua Hin with 16 meeting rooms. The largest Ballroom with a capacity up to 2,00 people. The Lakeside Pavilion is an ideal location for exhibitions and banquets., We are pleased to inform you that as part of our beautification program, the Regency Wing which is separated from the Main Wing building will undergo refurbishment from 1st Ap

Check in from 2:00 PM, Check out prior to 12:00 PM


Room Service, Restaurant, Pet Friendly, Bar / Lounge, Air Conditioned, Non-Smoking Rooms, Mini Bar, Refrigerator, Cable / Satellite TV, In Room Movies, Kitchenette, Coffee / Tea Maker, Hair Dryer, TV


Fitness Room/Gym, Swimming pool, Tour Desk, Tennis Courts, Sauna, Bath / Hot Tub, Spa bath / Jacuzzi, Garden, Steam Room, Massage, Barber/Beauty Shop


Business Center, Concierge, Elevator / Lift, 24 Hour Reception, Babysitting / Child Services, Banquet Facilities, Conference Room(s), Currency Exchange, Safe-Deposit Box, Security Guard, News Stand, ATM / Cash Machine, Porters, Laundry service, Direct dial phone, Ballroom


High-speed Internet is available at this hotel. Internet via modem/data port is available.


Parking is available. There is an airport shuttle that runs from the hotel.

Salman Khan with Sanjay Dutt who are the hosts of Bigg Boss 5

Salman Khan and Sanjay Dutt, who have been behind bars, shudder at even the possibility of participating in a show that would lock them up.

Many celebrities may have been keen to be part of a reality show hosted by Salman Khan and Sanjay Dutt. But the star hosts themselves wouldn’t want to be locked in the house, no matter how much money is offered to them. Says Sanjay about staying in a place with 24/7 camera surveillance, “The contestants are getting paid. But even if any one pays me R 50-100 crore, I won’t be part of it. Aur main toh bina paise ke andar gaya tha (And I landed inside without any monetary transaction).”

In the same vein, Salman pointed out, “Hum dono toh aise hi andar gaye hain. So the question of us going in the house for any money doesn’t arise.”

Jokes apart
Even though the friendly hosts of the reality show are joking about getting inside a locked house, with cameras following you night and day, one can imagine their predicament. More so because both of them have spent considerable time behind bars — Sanjay for illegal possession of arms in connection with 1993 Mumbai bomb blasts case and Salman for the black buck hunting case near Bhawad in Rajasthan in 1998.

“I pray to God that the case gets over soon and I am set free,” Dutt has been often heard saying Khan’s cases are also on in the courts of Rajasthan.

For more news, photos and videos on Bigg Boss 5, click here

Source: Boss hosts Salman and Sanjay are claustrophobic!

The Ministry of Cultures is drafting a strategic plan to transform Thailand into Asia’s hub of Asian films.

According to Permanent Secretary for Culture, Somchai Sianglai, the meeting among film-makers over the second phase of the transformation plan was focused on 8 areas which include establishing an organization that supervises film making process, improving movie production and human resources, promoting domestic and foreign film market in Thailand, stamping out pirated movies, promoting Thai films and attracting foreign film makers to the country.

The majority of participants agreed to the proposal of the strategic plan. The result of the meeting will be proposed to Culture Minister Ms Sukumol Khumpluem who will later propose to the National Film and Video Committee for considetation. Deputy Prime Minister Police General Kowit Wattana, who is the vice president of the committee, will deliberate on the draft proposal and, if approved, it will be enforced on 30 September 2011.


Thai tourism entrepreneurs are avoiding from being impacted by the European economic slump by placing more emphasis on Asian markets, according to the Tourism Council of Thailand (TCT).

Although the overall number of foreign tourists coming to Thailand has been on the rise this year, TCT Chairman Kongkrit Hiranyakit indicated that the proportion of European visitors was expected to shrink in the fourth quarter with a growth rate of only 5 percent year-on-year, as opposed to the previous target of 10-15 percent. He then urged entrepreneurs to keep a close watch on the expansion of the tourist number next year as well as the strength of Thai tourism.

Amid the current volatility in European economies, the TCT Chairman pointed out that a number of tour operators had decided to shift their interest to Asian markets while many had already set up offices in Asian countries like China, India and South Korea. The move is aimed at avoiding risks from European markets and compensate for the lower number of European customers.


Deepika, Salman To Star In Farah Khan's Film

Bollywood star Deepika Padukone has bagged a role opposite Salman Khan with Farah Khan as director, says a Bollywood report.

The film will go on floors next year. Farah denied having cast anyone at the moment, but admitted that she is almost done with the script.

While sources from the industry confirmed Deepika’s presence in the Farah Khan venture, the actress herself chose not to reply.

Deepika after being launched by Farah Khan in the 2007 hit Om Shanti Om, fell out with the filmmaker. The actress had apparently developed an attitude and refused to acknowledge the filmmaker’s contribution in her instant stardom. Determined to mend bridges, Dippy has been sending Farah’s prawn curry to the filmmaker’s home. And the seafood seems to have worked,, says the report.

Farah seems to have forgiven the actress’ earlier conduct.

Looks like Deepika seems to be getting all that she ever asked for. The actress, who in a recent interview mentioned that she would love to work with her ex-boyfriend Ranbir Kapoor, got her wish fulfilled in the form of Ayaan Mukerji’s forthcoming film.

The project, which was initially offered to Katrina Kaif, fell on Dippy’s lap after the former refused due to date problems.

The report quoted a source: “Deepika has it all – beauty, grace and talent. All she needs is that little push which would propel her into the big league. She got overnight stardom with Om Shanti Om. This she consolidated with another winning performance in Bachna Ae Haseenon. Thought outwardly she remained calm, inwardly, the end of her relationship changed her attitude to love and fidelity. Deepika lost a lot of professional ground because of the relationship. But she is now determined to get back where she belongs.”


To feature seminars organised in cooperation with ITB Berlin
P Krishna Kumar | New Delhi

The Knowledge Sessions at the second edition of Goa International Travel Mart (GITM) this year will focus on the emerging niche segments in India. The high powered conference programme of the Mart, which will be held at the Grand Hyatt Bambolim from October 21-23, will be bolstered by two seminars organised in cooperation with ITB Berlin, world’s leading travel exhibition organiser. ITB Berlin will be hosting seminars on Responsible Tourism and LGBT Tourism. The other international tie-up of the Mart is Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT) coming on board as Wellness Partner. Apart from showcasing Wellness offerings, TAT will also fly down an expert from Thailand to speak on Spa and Wellness in Thailand.

Other sessions are on niche segments like Adventure Tourism and Spa and Wellness Tourism besides important topics like Branding and Reinventing a Destination, Marketing and Innovation in Tourism and the Role of Public-Private-Partnerships in Tourism and Destination Development. An impressive line-up of speakers comprising of Ministers, top government officials, CEO’s, industry experts, association heads etc. is being put together by TravelBiz Monitor and will include names such as Subodh Kant Sahai, Union Minister for Tourism, Government of India; Rika Jean-François, Sales Director for South Asia & Pacific and Commissioner for Corporate Social Responsibility, ITB Berlin; Thomas Bomkes, Managing Director, Diversity Tourism UG based in Munich, Germany; Rajeev Duggal, MD, Kuoni India; Amitabh Kant, CEO, Delhi-Mumbai Industrial Corridor Development Corporation; Ashish Kumar Singh, Principal Secretary to Chief Minister of Maharashtra and former MD of MTDC; Dilip Puri, MD of Starwood Hotels India; P Manoharan, Director-India, Tourism Malaysia; Neelu Singh, COO, ezeego1, etc. GITM is organised and promoted jointly by Department of Tourism, Government of Goa and Goa Tourism Development Corporation (GTDC); Tourism Association of Goa (TAG) and Goa Chamber of Commerce and Industry (GCCI).

Announcing the tie-up with ITB Berlin at a press conference during the PATA Travel Mart which concluded in New Delhi earlier this month, Swapnil Naik, Director, Goa Tourism said that the support from ITB Berlin will help take the Mart to the next level. He added that Goa Tourism wants to build synergies with neighbouring states like Maharashtra and Karnataka on the Western coast to create wholesome tourist circuits.

Melwyn Vaz, who took charge recently as Managing Director of GTDC, said that although Goa has a unique place on the global travel map, there is always scope for improvement and GITM is a major step in that direction. “GITM will bring better and greater opportunities to the travel and tourism trade in Goa. We are confident that GITM 2011 will be bigger and better,” stated Vaz.

Francois said that as the leading travel and tourism exhibition organisers, ITB bestows lot of importance to regional and local travel and tourism fairs. “We look at the destination and the seriousness of the organisers before supporting any of the local fairs. GITM fits in on both the counts,” stated Francois when quizzed about the decision to partner with GITM. She informed that ITB will bring in eminent panelists for both the seminars at GITM. Commenting on the LGBT market, Francois said that it is a niche market and if handled sensibly, can reap rich dividends to destinations and businesses.

Giving a brief preview of the Knowledge Sessions, Sheldon Santwan, Editor and COO, TravelBiz Monitor, said that “two out of the box” seminars by ITB will add value to all the deliberations at this year’s GITM. “There are plans to put together knowledge sessions around new and emerging sales segments and how these segments can be tapped through innovative marketing,” he added.

The theme of the Mart this year is ‘Unearth the Hidden Treasures of Goa’. Goa Tourism will be hosting around 450 buyers this year compared to 130 last year. In terms of the sellers at the exhibition, GITM organisers are expecting around 150 sellers against 80 last year. Leading travel companies like Kuoni, LPTI, TBI, etc. have already signed up as partners for the annual event. Air India will be the official carrier of GITM. Moreover, all the industry associations TAFI, IATO, TAAI, ADTOI, ATOAI, IAAI etc. are supporting the Mart and will be sending delegations to participate in the Mart.


The Style Souk