Smarter audio guides for tourists

A tourist listening an audio guide at Mehrangarh Fort at Jodhpur in Rajasthan, India
A tourist listening an audio guide at Mehrangarh Fort at Jodhpur in Rajasthan, India

The Ministry of Tourism (MoT), Government of India as part of imparting and improving visitor experience through the help of technology will soon introduce audio guides. This is being done in partnership with a technology provider, Genesys International, an agency in the field of mapping and survey.

Smartphone enabled audio guides for cities like Hyderabad, Delhi, Mumbai, Ahmedabad, and Goa is ready for launch after due trials.This new innovation is coming close on the heels of  MoT introducing ‘Walking Tours’ with the help of Google (read: Get, Set… Walk with “Walking Tours”)

get-set-walk-with-walking-tours/). These features which could cost Rs 200 crore otherwise, is being introduced without incurring any cost for the exchequer.  The model is ‘advertisement driven’. The mobile phones of travelers will double up as audio guides with the introduction of the new system. The fine prints of this scheme are yet to be declared,

In India many monuments already have a walkman based audio guide facility. In this a tourist, while entering any monument can hire a walkman audio guide for a nominal fees. These guides take tourist on tour to a monument by directing him to a pre-designated route and points and then describing them. This facility is available in many international languages as well. The new smartphone based guides take this experience to a new level minus hassles of managing a walkman.

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Rail to Europe 60 metres below seabed!

Fatih Sultan Mehmet Bridge as seen from the Rumelian Castle (1452) Photo: KeRR at en.wikipedia
Fatih Sultan Mehmet Bridge as seen from the Rumelian Castle (1452) Photo: KeRR at en.wikipedia

A 13.6 km rail tunnel under the Istanbul Bosporus river connecting Europe and Asia has opened a new chapter in the world of travel & tourism and transportation. Turkey unveiled on Tuesday a three-billion-euro rail tunnel under the Bosphorus connecting Istanbul’s European and Asian sides, one of several mega projects driven by the Islamic-rooted government in the country’s main gateway city. Bosphorus strait connects Black sea to sea of Marmara.

The 8.5 miles tunnel includes an immersed tube tunnel which as claimed is the world’s deepest at 60 meters (nearly 200 feet) below the seabed. The inauguration of the ambitious project costing an estimated three billion euros coincided with the 90th anniversary of the founding of modern Turkey.

First Train
First Train

Turkey has realized a one-and-a-half century dream of a major rail tunnel project in Istanbul. The tunnel is part of a larger “Marmaray” project that also includes an upgrade of existing suburban train lines to create a 76-kilometre (47-mile) line that links the two continents. The idea was first floated by Ottoman sultan Abdoul Medjid in 1860 but technical equipment at the time was not good enough to take the project further.

However the desire to build an undersea tunnel grew stronger in the 1980s and studies also showed that such a tunnel would be feasible and cost-effective. Plan was revived in 2004 as one of his mega construction projects for the bustling city of 16 million people — which also include a third airport, a third bridge across the Bosphorus and a canal parallel to the international waterway to ease traffic.

Excavations from the project
Excavations from the project

Although these projects were also one cause for the massive anti-government protests that swept the country in June, with local residents complaining that the urban development plans were forcing people from their homes and destroying green spaces.  Japan Bank for International Cooperation was the main financier contributing 735 million euros ($1 billion) to the project. Construction of the tunnel, labelled the “project of the century”, started in 2004 and had been scheduled to take four years but was delayed after a series of major archaeological discoveries. These archaeological excavations delayed construction.

Some 40,000 objects were excavated from the site, notably a cemetery of some 30 Byzantine ships, which is the largest known medieval fleet. Transport is a major problem in Istanbul, and each day two million people cross the Bosphorus via two usually jammed bridges. New transportation axis between the east and west points of the city, might soothe the problem… with 150,000 passenger capacity per hour.

Exhilarating Ballet performance

Korean National Ballet had a splendid Ballet performance couple of days back in one of the biggest theatres in New Delhi. A capacity crowd of more than five thousand watched a spell-bounding show of classical ballet by Korean ballerinas. A glimpse of what was on show…