The first saloon coach of the Indian Railways commenced its journey with six customers of a private tour operating company. The saloon coach consists of air-conditioned rooms, valet service and attached bathroom, and other facilities which one would associated with a luxurious coach.

 Indian Railways saloon coach - Bedroom

According to the IRCTC (Indian Railway Catering and Tourism Corporation), the saloon facility was reserved so far for those railway officials who were unable to reach certain places by road or air. However, the six VIP customers were the first passengers to enjoy the luxurious experience of traveling in a saloon car after the facility was opened to the public. This charter service, the first of its kind, was booked by six customers of a private tour company for a saloon traveling from Delhi to Jammu. 

 Indian Railways saloon coach - living & Dining Room

 The saloon car consists of a living room, two air-conditioned bedrooms (one twin bedroom and the other similar to an AC First Class Coupe with attached baths, dining area and a well-equipped kitchen). In addition, the saloon car also consists of a valet service, which will be chargeable in the future. An IRCTC official, commenting on the development, said, "This will be an all-inclusive tour where the guests will be offered all the comfort of a hotel. Exclusive staff will be available for services on board. Railway also provides one AC attendant and one saloon attendant for ensuring hassle free travel”. He also added that the cost of chartering this saloon would amount to almost Rs 2 lakh. 

 Indian Railways saloon coach -  Kitchen
A Press Trust of India report says that Indian Railway has a total of 336 saloon cars across railway zones. Among these cars, 62 are air-conditioned. It was in January 2018 after a meeting of Ashwani Lohani (chairman of the Railway board) with travel and trade associations that the decision to make the saloons available to the people was arrived at. The saloon, which was attached to the Jammu Mail at the Old Delhi Railway Station, completed its 4-day tour from 31.03.2018 to 02.04.2018. From now on, common passengers can also enjoy a ride in the saloon cars. Further details are available on the website.

The Intangible Cultural Heritage of India is an indispensable part of Indian culture, heritage and ethos. The cultural manifestation contribute to give a sense of identity to continuity from past, to present and further to the future. Understanding its worth, UNESCO has not restricted Cultural heritage to collections of objects and monuments, but also included the intangible elements of culture. These include - Performing arts, Oral traditions and expressions, Social practices, rituals and festive events, Traditional craftsmanship, Knowledge and practices concerning nature and the universe. 

Let’s check out the 13 traditions which are included by UNESCO in the list of Intangible Cultural Heritage of India.

1. Kumbh Mela

One of the major pilgrimages for Hindus, Kumbh Mela is celebrated 4 times over the course of twelve years. The fervor, passion and faith of Hindus is apparent from the statics of the head count attending the Kumbh Mela. Lakhs of devotees gather at a selected destination out of the four reserved locations where the mela is hosted after a span of 12 years.
The festival takes place along of the banks of river Ganga in Haridwar, Triveni Sangam in Prayag, Godavari in Nasik, and Kshipra in Ujjain. Going with the Vedas, it is believed that during the Kumbh Mela, the water of these river turns into nectar and taking a holy dip in them washes away all the sins. The 2000-year old festival is so spectacular that it ranks under the UNESCO’s List of Intangible Cultural Heritage of India.

2. Navroz

Spread across various countries, Navroz is known by different names in different accents. The festival marks the starting of the Parsi New Year on March 21st every year. Parsi community celebrates the fiesta for wealth, health, productivity and prosperity. The merrymaking begins by decorating houses, wearing new clothes and finally by visiting the Fire Temple – a place of worship for Parsi community. Post all the rituals, special prayers are offered and the fiesta proceeds with relishing lip-smacking delicacies. Children are bestowed with special tokens. All this lasts for over two weeks.

The highlight of the gala is gathering around the table which is adorned with objects symbolizing brightness, purity, wealth and livelihood. Street performances of dance and music, traditional sports, public rituals and handicrafts making are also the important part of the celebrations. The younger generation inherits these practices from their elders.

3. Yoga

Another practice which has made its way to the UNESCO’s List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of India is Yoga. Finding its mention in the religious scriptures of Hindus, the ancient practice helps in the unification of the body, mind and soul. With its values forming a major part of the community’s beliefs, Yoga boosts spiritual, mental and physical wellbeing. Various postures and asanas are the most apparent facet of this intense science of describing the countless potentials of human soul and mind. One can grasp the complete quintessence of the way of life by practicing Yoga.

The practice was introduced to the West by the Indian Gurus (masters). Meditation, series of postures, word chanting and controlled breathing are the essentials of Yoga. The knowledge was passed by the masters to their pupils in hermitage and yoga ashram which is still available till date in Rishikesh, also known as the Yoga Capital of The world. Attend the amazing event of the International Yoga Festival that is the biggest celebration of the ancient practice.

4. Traditional brass and copper craft of utensil making among the Thatheras of Jandiala Guru, Punjab, India

You might have heard of the benefits of eating in the utensils made up of brass and copper. But, have you ever imagined from where and how these utensils come? The answer to the query is Thatheras of Jandiala Guru. The traditional brass and copper craft of utensil making involves cooling of metal cakes obtained after melting the scrapes of copper and brass. These cakes are then rolled into thin plates of desired thickness. The plates are then purchased by Thatheras and molded into desired shapes by hammering it.

While molding, desired designs are etched onto them. Specific temperature is required to mold the plates into huge utensils and the temperature control is done manually using hand-held bellows. Cleaning and polishing also takes place manually using dilute acids and tamarind juice. The utensils so obtained are not only used for utilitarian purposes but hold ritualistic importance as well. The entire process is included in the UNESCO’s List of Intangible Cultural Heritage of India.

5.  Sankirtana, ritual singing, drumming and dancing of Manipur

Sankirtana is a form of performing art. Performed in the domestic spaces and temples of Manipur state, the art form involves drumming, ritual singing and dancing. Showcasing matchless vitality and religious faith, the performances depict many incidents from Lord Krishna’s life, often leaving behind the spectators with tears in the eyes.

A group of ten singers-dancers along with two drummers grab the center stage in a domestic courtyard or a hall. Included in the List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of India by UNESCO, the art form continues from generations to generations by traditional and formal education. Sankirtana brings people together and binds them closely to their community. Acting as the cohesive force between the Manipuri Vaishnavities, the performing art adds to the joy of festive occasion.

6. Buddhist chanting of Ladakh: recitation of sacred Buddhist texts in the trans-Himalayan Ladakh region, Jammu and Kashmir, India

Buddhist chanting of Ladakh is a form of reciting of sacred Buddhist texts in the trans-Himalayan region. Buddhist Lamas perform the chanting of the holy text and it acts as a prayer to the almighty. The practice is carried out to promote the spirit, philosophy and teachings of the Buddha. Also, it is done to seek the personal growth of the practitioner and world peace. The chanting style varies from sect to sect and from monasteries to monasteries. It is a trend to perform the chanting on important days of Agrarian and Buddhist calendars and during life-cycle rituals.

Chanting is practiced to enhance the moral and spiritual well-being of the people. Peace of mind and purification are also inevitable outcomes of the process. Further, the wrath of the evil spirits is appeased by the same. Chanting also invokes the blessings of the Bodhisattvas, Buddha, deities and rinpoches. The practice has also been defined in the UNESCO’s List of Intangible Cultural Heritage of India.

7. Chhau Dance

A way of dance storytelling, Chhau Dance is a tribal heritage predominantly seen in the states of West Bengal, Odisha and Jharkhand. The popular form of tribal dance in India also integrates elements of martial arts. Drawing inspirations from the mock combat, martial arts, acrobatics, semi-classical dance, story-telling and athletics, Chhau Dance is a part of tribal rituals. Derived from Sanskrit word ‘Chhaya’ meaning shadow, the dance uses grand and magnificently flamboyant masks.
Various episodes from Mahabharata and Ramayana are enacted in three distinct styles hailing from Purulia, Seraikela and Mayurbhanj. Male dancers from the local communities or families of traditional artists learn the dance form of Chhau. Making nights more beautiful, the dance is performed in open space to folk and traditional melodies. Musical instruments like Shehnai, Dhol and Dhamsa make the performance come to life.

8. Kalbelia folk songs and dances of Rajasthan

Finding mention in the UNESCO’s list of Intangible Cultural Heritage of India, Kalbelia folk songs and dances of Rajasthan is one of the most unforgettable experiences of the royal state. An important part of the Kalbelia culture, the dance marks a joyful occasion. The tradition is into practice since yesteryears when Kalbelia used to carry cobras in basket and their women used to sing and dance to the tunes to earn a livelihood.

The dance form imitates the movements of snakes. Poongi, a musical instrument is an important part of the practice. Kalbelia folk songs and dances are the efforts of the community to revive their cultural heritage. The flexibility and litheness of the dance is apparent from the glimpses of acrobatic movements. Women wear impressive and vibrant dresses though always in black to show the connection with the snakes.

9. Mudiyettu, ritual theatre and dance drama of Kerala

The ritualistic art form of Kerala, Mudiyettu is based on mythological tale of fight between the demon Darika and Goddess Kali. Entire village participates in this community ritual. A day is selected after the harvesting of the summer crops and everybody reaches the temple early on this day. A huge image of Goddess Kali is drawn on the floor of the temple by performers who have purified themselves by fasting and prayers. The image is named as ‘Kalam’ and is drawn with organic powders.

It is believed that the spirit of Goddess is imbued by the process. Post this Kali-Darika myth takes place. The demon is eventually vanquished by the Goddess. The dance performance marks the beginning of a prosperous and peaceful New Year. Mudiyettu rejuvenates and purifies the entire community. Temples of Kali also known as Bhagavati Kavus in Kerala host the dance performance.

10. Ramman, religious festival and ritual theatre of the Garhwal Himalayas, India

Come, April and the twin villages of Saloor-Dungra in Uttarakhand become alive. Ramman, a religious festival is celebrated with great enthusiasm and zeal in the honor of the tutelary God, Bhumiyal Devta. Featuring in the UNESCO’s List of Intangible Cultural Heritage of India, the fiesta in the form of theatre is an important form of heritage of only 196 families.  Total 1800 people of both the villages take part in the ceremony without considering the cast and the creed.

The number 18 plays a major role in the gala. As there are 18 people wearing 18 masks to play 18 characters and dancing on 18 beats to celebrate the 18 puranas. As per the traditions, Lord Ganesha is worshipped first and foremost. Bhumiyal Devta and Nar Singh Devta are pleased thereafter. The theatre then takes place after offerings are made to the almighty.

11. Kutiyattam, Sanskrit theatre

Earlier a part of the temple rituals, Kutiyattam is now practiced in the province of Kerala. Also known as Koodiyattam, the historic classical dramatic art form actually means ‘acting together’. Musical instruments, elaborate costumes, dramatic make-up and jewelry help to showcase infinite moods skillfully. This helps the art admirers to get transferred into a different world altogether and enable the ancient living theatrical tradition to grow.

Kutiyattam is performed by the Nangiars women and reflects the local traditions of Kerala and a confluence of Sanskrit classicism. Hasta-abhinaya (hand gestures) and Netra abhinaya (expressions of eyes) are the vital aspects of the 2000-year old practice. A myriad of emotions and expressions, the art form requires rigorous training of ten to fifteen years. Various scenes from the famous epics are enacted by the performers. The entire performance can lasts from hours to days.

12. Tradition of Vedic chanting

Originating in the ancient Indian subcontinent, the Vedas are the oodles of texts of knowledge. Philosophical dialogue, Sanskrit poetry, ritual incantations and myths are beautifully inscribed in these religious textbooks. Hindus hold a strong faith in Vedas which are primarily four in number. The Rig Veda consists of ancient Indian Vedic Sanskrit hymns. The Yajurveda inscribes ritual offering formulas. The Samaveda features melodies and chants. The Atharvaveda is collection of procedures for everyday life.

Vedic chanting is the traditional way of reciting the Vedas. The cantos of Vedas were enchanted during the sacred rituals and a few were intoned daily in Vedic communities. Finding a place on UNESCO’s List of Intangible Cultural Heritage of India, the tradition of Vedic chanting comprises of several ‘paths’ (ways of chanting the Vedas). Special attention is paid to the manner of recitation of each and every word to keep its pronunciation intact.

13. Ramlila, the traditional performance of the Ramayana

Ramlila actually means Rama’s Play and is the traditional performance of the Ramayana. Narrating the life story of Lord Rama, the entire performance lasts for 9 days. Effigies of demon Ravana are put to fire by the actor playing the role of Rama to mark the victory of good over the bad on the last day. This event is celebrated with great zeal and is known as Dusshera. Dialogues, songs and narrations make Ramlila complete and worth watching. Ramnagar, Ayodhya, Vrindavan, Benaras, Sattna, Almora and Madhubani are the leading destinations for being a part of the most illustrative Ramlilas.

The play helps people to understand the persona of Lord Rama, the ideal man and to apply his thoughts and deeds into their lives. Based on Ramacharitmanas, the staging of Ramayana is amongst the popular forms of storytelling in North India.

Indeed, India is blessed with so many cultures and traditions that it becomes mandatory to witness these Intangible Cultural Heritage of India.
Train journeys from Delhi to Jaipur is about to get an upgrade’ now you can cover the distance in 90 minutes. In recent reports available, the Ministry of Railways has signed a MoU (Memorandum of Understanding) with an Italian company FS-Italferr, for the proposal of building a high-speed train track, which will make it possible to cover Jaipur from Delhi in a 90-minutes.

FS-Italferr, the infrastructure and engineering company based in Italy will prepare a feasibility study, keeping its focus on the creation of a semi-high speed rail corridor between Delhi and Jaipur. The train track will be built with the aim of increasing the speed of the train and reduction of travel time. The proposed track will be aimed to achieve the speed of 200 km per hour from the now the maximum speed of 110 km/hr. The time saved will be drastic as the train track will complete the journey in 90 minutes from the prevailing 4-5 hours train journey.

Delhi and Jaipur are located at a distance of 309 km. In current scenario the distance is traveled by train is a span of 4 hours 30 minutes. The average speed being 75 km/hr on an average, and maximum speed at 110km/hr.

Reports state that the Ministry of Railways has written to Northern Railways, Delhi, and North Western Railways to help and support the Italian company, to complete the feasibility report for the proposed high-speed Delhi-Jaipur train track. Authorities are compiling information on: the pattern of operation among two stations, passenger's load, freight trains on the route, their speed and length, feature of the tracks double or single, infrastructure including bridges, platforms, signaling, etc. and number of level crossings between Jaipur and Delhi. The compilation will aid in the feasibility report.

The Indian Railways initiative once implement will be a game-changer. It will not only join two cities but provide easy access to famous Golden Train Circuit of India (Delhi, Jaipur & Agra), quite famous among travelers from all over the world. This high-speed train initiative will foster growth in tourism, business and also make luxury trains more affordable for tourists.

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The Indian Railways have introduced luxury on tracks, with the Mumbai-Delhi Rajdhani Express. Refurbished under Indian Railways' Operation Swarn, a host of new features have been added premium train plies between two major cities of India- Delhi and Mumbai and its new look at the same fare is good news for train travelers.

From comfortable and clean seats, LED lighting to swanky and more hygienic toilets, well-trained on board certified staff has been deployed in the coaches to help passengers. 
Improved Interiors
Starting with the changes in its interiors, all coaches are covered with vibrant blue and orange anti-graffiti vinyl wrapping that brings in color and brightness. Also, LED lights have been provided in all coaches which has helped increase illumination by 25% while also reducing the energy requirement by 50%. As a tribute to the cultural heritage and monuments of Delhi, Mumbai and Gujarat, a number of amazing photographs have been displayed to improve the d├ęcor, look and feel of the train. Glow-in-the-dark berth indicator boards, retro-reflective destination boards and coach numbering plates have been added to help passengers to face no hassle in the dark as well. The connecting coaches have also been fitted with hollow mats of superior quality. Also, the vestibule doors (doors connecting coaches) have been refitted with an easier operating mechanism. Even the seating area have been made "squeaky clean" and enhance the experience of traveling.
Hygiene & Cleanliness 
The premium train now revamped has made a number of changes in the toilet for improved hygiene and cleanliness. Anti-graffiti vinyl wrapped interiors with floral design grace the walls and ceilings. Fittings like better quality taps, health faucets, LED lighting, two way taps, scrapper mats on the floors, improved dustbins, premium quality mirrors and bio-degradable paper seat covers have also been provided in the washrooms. The Indian-style toilet has also been given a modular revamp. Auto-janitors have been installed in the washrooms to control foul odour and ensure fresh-smelling toilets.
Luxury services 
Adding to the luxury feel, Mumbai-Delhi Rajdhani Express train guests traveling in the First AC coach will not be given wide pillows, printed bed sheets, premium quality line to blankets with washable covers. New design curtains change the entire appearance while digital watches also indicating temperature and humidity have been added. Stainless steel dustbins, wooden stools, vibrant LED lighting will enhance the experience. Even the toilets and shower area in the First AC coaches has also been improved. Automatic biodegradable personal seat dispenser has been provided in the toilets. Yet another feature that has been introduced for the First AC coaches is a new design food serving trolley to keep food safe and hygienic. 
Other improvement in the premium Delhi-Mumbai Rajdhani Train include that information related to the safety of passengers and services available on board has been put on a single notice board in each coach. Also, modular doors have been provided over electrical panels as per an improved design by RCF. 
The new and improved loaded with luxury train Rajdhani Express will change the experience of traveling from Delhi to Mumbai and vice-versa. Ready to give it a try?

A visit to Singapore is sure to leave you surprised the first time round. It’s one of the few countries in the world where you find a perfect balance between nature and modernity. The city also offers immense opportunities for entertainment, especially for children. There are several things to do in Singapore with kids that keep them thoroughly entertained.

Singapore has numerous family-based attractions including zoos, theme parks, sunny beaches and botanical gardens. While some activities are meant for pure entertainment, there are others that teach the kids a thing or two while letting them enjoy all the while. If you have not been to Singapore, or are looking to have a gala time with the top things to do in Singapore with kids, then this blog is for you.

Visit S.E.A Aquarium on Sentosa Island

S.E.A Aquarium, on Sentosa Island, apart from being a topmost Singapore attraction, is one of the top places in Singapore to have a gala time with your kids. If you have always wanted to watch the marine life at close range, then this is the place to head to. The size of the aquarium will blow you away and the variety of marine life contained in it, ranging from stingrays to jellyfish, will leave you absolutely stunned. To enhance your experience, stay at the Ocean Suite room with underwater aquarium views.

In the Gardens by the Bay

In the Gardens by the Bay is a fulfillment of Singapore’s vision of a “city in a garden”. It covers an enormous size – spanning across 101 hectares of reclaimed land. The Far East Organization’s Children’s Garden, with its interactive playgrounds and water gardens, is the place to head to with your kids. A kids’ favorite is the Cloud Forest which is covered in cool mist and contains the world’s largest indoor waterfall. A walk along the elevated boardwalk gives you splendid views of the Singapore Skyline, Singapore Flyer and Marina Bay Sands (all of them incredible pieces of architecture).

Enjoy the Marina Bay Sands Light and Water Show

One of the top things to do in Singapore with kids is enjoy the Marina Bay Sands Light and Water Show. The Marine Bay Sands Light and Water show lasts around 15 minutes, and consists of colorful lights shooting up in the sky from the rooftop of the Marina Bay Sands. The lights are accompanied by lively music, making the entire show even more entertaining. With its dancing water fountains and colorful visual arts, this show draws crowds in large numbers.

Take a Singapore Night Safari

Take your kids for a Singapore night safari, your kids will thank you for it. The safari consists of a 40 minutes tram ride which lets you, and your kids, watch the wildlife and gain a better understanding of their habitat. A unique experience is experiential dining, which allows you to enjoy dining in close proximity to fire-eating tribal dancers or dine abroad a tram which traverses the park.

Have fun at the Adventure Cove Water Park

Water parks are always enjoyed by both kids and adults alike, and Adventure Cove Water Park is no exception. Whether it’s dashing down the water slides, swimming in the wave pool or taking on the challenge of high-ropes course and maze, it’s all about fun, adventure and excitement. An added attraction is the snorkeling experience provide by the park.

Try local food at the Hawker’s Stalls

If, after all the fun things to do in Singapore with kids leaves you hungry, head to the Hawker’s Stalls for some cheap and tasty local food. The best part is that, you will find a hawker center at every shopping center and community. Some of the popular ones are Gluttons Bay (on Marina Bay), Satay by the Bay (Gardens by the Bay) and Chinatown’s Maxwell Food Centre, among others.

                                        [Book your Singapore tour with]  

Take a Duck tour on Marina Bay and Colonial Area

Taking a Duck tour is fun because of the excellent sightseeing it provides, and the added commentary teaches you a lot about the history and culture of Singapore. The Duck tour, which lasts about an hour and takes you on the waters of Marina Bay after passing the Singapore Flyer, Gardens by the Bay, Merlion Statue and Marina Bay Sands. You are also taken through the picturesque old colonial area, which is home to beautiful pieces of architecture.

Take a trip to the Art Science Museum

Museums are always great places for visiting with kids, and the Art Science Museum is no exception. Its architecture (the building resembles an outstretched hand or a bunch of bananas) itself is quite interesting. The entire building, like so many others in Singapore, has been built in an eco-friendly manner. There are several theme or idea based galleries. The multimedia room inside the museum focusses on important discoveries like Leonardo Da Vinci’s Flying Machine. You also find artefacts from Titanic, Harry Potter film sets and other such curious items.

Explore Chinatown

Exploring Chinatown is one of the best things to do in Singapore with kids. It has a happening vibe and is a great place to just hang out, engage in some shopping and enjoy the delicious food. Walking and exploring the markets is really fun and convenient here, because there are pedestrian-only streets available. As much as it is crowded and bustles with activity, Chinatown is also quite clean and beautiful.

Go in circles with Singapore Flyer

Singapore Flyer is a noticeable presence in Singapore’s skyline. It is Asia’s largest observation wheel, and takes you almost 165 meters above the ground. From one of the 28 air-conditioned glass capsules, you are provided magnificent views of historical landmarks like the Marina Bay, Singapore River, Raffles Place and Padang. It’s interesting to know that the Singapore Flyer featured in the reality TV show, The Amazing Race in 2010, as well as The Amazing Race Australia in 2011.