Category Archives: India

Changing colours of the City Palace : Shades of light and life!


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Shades of light are as mesmerising as the shades of life. How often they go hand to hand! I might seem like being too philosophical but often loss of somebody very close makes you so. Its not quite very often that you are able to watch the changing shades of light during the course of the day at an off-routine place, more so at a place worth a zillion images.

Morning view of the city palace of Udaipur. Its January but the winter this year is not so harsh.

It happened to be so with me when I was at Ambrai Ghat in Udaipur from morning to sunset for a stretch of more than ten hours at the same place. Udaipur is city of my birth and my education.

It gets brighter and bluer as the sun comes to the top. There are many boats taking tourists to small trip on the lake

City Place of Udaipur is one of the prime tourist attractions of the City of Lakes. This more than four hundred years old palace is located at the banks of Pichola Lake in the heart of the city.

Its the start of the second half of the day and light has started to make changes to the colours

The palace is best viewed from the side of the lake. That is where you get the panoramic view of the old city of Udaipur and the City Palace together.

The brightness of the sky gives way to softer tones

The Pichola Lake has got many ghats and these are the places where the old city of Udaipur exists. Ghats are the stairs on the banks of the lakes to let people have easy access to the lake. These ghats were often used by the locals to take bath.

The shades of white turn to yellow…

Ambrai ghat or the historically known as Manji Raj ka Ghat is one of such ghats around lake Pichola in Udaipur. This ghat has a temple of Charbhuja Ji which was originally stated to have been constructed as a palace for the queen mother after she became a widow.

…and the yellow turns to golden…

These ghats are also the reflection of the cultural heritage of the city. They are part of daily life, they are also place for rituals. They are deeply associated with the history and stye have been the silent spectators to the dramatic transformation of the city.

…and even the gold turns to copper, what we say as तांबई colour in Hindi

Be here and you will find small boats filled of tourists taking a round trip in the lake and amazingly clicking the pictures of life on the lakeside.

As the sun sets, the dusk gathers around, its going to be dark soon

Now most of the old houses around the lake have been converted into heritage hotels, catering to a wide range of tourists coming to the Udaipur. Many of them give fantastic views of the lake and city around. Many of the hotels have got lakeside or rooftop restaurants. There are also a number of souvenir shops around these hotels in the area alongside lake.

…its then the lights come to play and give altogether a new shade to the whole surroundings

The visit to Udaipur is often not deemed as complete unless you visit any of its ghats to feel the pulse of the city. Be there, see, interact and get amused! Its worth a lot, just like this interplay of lights on the City Palace during the course of a single day.

Have you been to Ambrai Ghat in Udaipur? Share your experiences in the comments section.

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Mangalajodi Ecotourism Trust wins UNWTO Award


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Turismo de Portugal I.P (Portugal), Mangalajodi Ecotourism Trust (India), Tryponyu (Indonesia) and SEGGITUR (Spain) are the winners of the 14th Edition of the UNWTO Awards for Innovation in Tourism.   Fourteen projects among 128 applicants from 55 countries were selected as finalists of the 14th UNWTO Awards for Innovation in Tourism. 

Read: A unique effort at Mangalajodi gets nominated for the UNWTO Award

Sanjib Sarangi and Reena from Mangalajodi with Tricolour

Sanjib Sarangi of the Indian Grameen Services (IGS) and Reena from the Mangalajodi Ecotourism Trust attended the award ceremony and were overjoyed with the announcement of the award. They accepted the award and unfurled the Indian Tricolour at the stage. Indian Grameen Services overlooks the Mangalajodi Ecotourism Trust project. Mangalajodi Trust was the only Indian nomination in this year’s UNWTO awards.

The winning projects, divided into four categories – Public Policy and Governance, Research and Technology, Enterprises, and Non-governmental Organizations –, have been announced at the UNWTO Awards Ceremony held Wednesday, 17th January evening in Madrid at the International Tourism Trade Fair in Spain (FITUR).

Sanjib Sarangi and Reena from Mangalajodi trust accepting the award

“Today we honour the vision and commitment of individuals, administrations, companies and organizations that every day build a better future by harnessing the potential of tourism. The work of all the finalists of the 14 UNWTO Awards on Innovation is an inspiration to all of us”, underlined UNWTO Secretary-General, Zurab Pololikashvili, in his opening remarks.

Overjoyed Sanjib and Reena after announcement of the winner in their category

Attended by nearly 500 participants from different countries, the UNWTO Awards Ceremony, co-organized by IFEMA|FITUR, emphasized how the tourism community has embraced sustainable and innovative approaches.

Sanjib Sarangi of the IGS speaking at the event in his acceptance speech

The UNWTO Awards for Excellence and Innovation in Tourism are held annually to highlight and promote the work of organizations and individuals around the world that have impacted the tourism sector. Their achievements have served as an inspiration for competitive and sustainable tourism development and the promotion of the values of the UNWTO Global Code of Ethics for Tourism and the Sustainable Development Goals.

All the winners after the ceremony

The 14th Edition  of the UNWTO Awards was organized in collaboration with the International Tourism Trade Fair in Spain (IFEMA/FITUR) and supported by:

  • The Macao Government Tourism Office
  • The National Secretariat of Tourism of Paraguay-Itaipu Binacional
  • The Ministry of Tourism of the Republic of Argentina
  • The Ministry of Commerce, Industry and Tourism in Colombia
  • The Ministry of Tourism of Ecuador
  • Wonderful Indonesia
  • The Ras Al Khaimah Tourism Development Authority; and
  • National Geographic
Campus of Mangalajodi Ecotourism resort

In the Innovation in Enterprises category Conservation and Livelihoods: Community managed Ecotourism at Mangalajodi,  Mangalajodi Ecotourism Trust was shortlisted. Other nominated enterprises in this category were from Kenya, Italy and Philippines. Mangalajodi is one of the oldest village coming under Tangi block of Khurda district in Odisha, 75 km from Bhubaneswar towards Berhampur with a huge marshland along the northern edge of Chilika Lake. The area (about 10 sq.km) is primarily a fresh water zone connected by channels cut through the reed beds with the brakish water of Chilika lagoon. The numerous channels that crisscross through the greenery, harbour thousands of water birds, migratory and resident. Part of Chilika, 1165 sq.kms.brakish water estuarine lagoon of international importance. The wetland hosts more than 3,00,000 of birds in the peak season. October to March is the best time to visit this place. This region has is a significant global waterfowl habitat and is declared as an “Important Bird Area (IBA)”.

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Get rewarded for playing Golf in Amazing Thailand!

Wanna play some golf at some of the most beautiful courses in the world! Head on to Thailand to tee off. And, what more, you are going to get rewarded through some loyalty points. All you need is a Thai Golf Passport. It is often said that arguably Thailand is one of the greatest place to visit and play golf. It is already referred to as Asia’s most popular golfing destination. Golf has been played in Thailand for almost a century now. The game was recored at the Royal Bangkok Sports Club as early as 1905. No wonder that Golf Tourism is at a high in Thailand and it is one of the leading golf tourism destinations in the world. There are number of reasons to visit Thailand and play golf. Thai Golf Passport is newest of them.

Amazing Thailand also has Amazing Golf facilities. Ideally located more than 200 golf courses throughout the country, by the sea, by the mountains, by the lakes, inside the cities even besides the airports. Top quality courses, reasonable green fees, friendly caddies. From the beach resorts in the south such as Phuket to the mountainous surroundings in the north, or the bustling cities of Bangkok and Pattaya, there are golf courses to suit every preference.

Banyan-Golf-Course

To bring value to this offering, SLW, the leading Golf Management company has launched the first ever loyalty program for a country. ‘Thai Golf Passport has been launched in india to offer Indian golfers a seamless golf experience in Thailand. Indian golfers can be a part of this Amazing rewards program whenever they tee off in Amazing Thailand’ said Anil Dev, Managing Director SLW.’ A number of quality service providers like Thai Airways, Cox & Kings, Callaway and a number of Golf Courses, Resorts and hotels have come together to partner this initiative,’ he added.

Phuket golf course, blue canyon golf club, canyon course

The Thai Golf Passport was launched in New Delhi by Isra Stapanaseth Director Tourism Authority of Thailand, New Delhi Office, Vani Kapoor, the leading Indian Lady Professional Golfer, Gajendar Panwar, Vice President Indian Golf Travel Association, Rohan Prakash, Associate Vice President Cox & Kings and Prashant Singh, General Manager, Callaway Golf India. Also present were a number of Golf Travel professionals from the travel and tourism trade. Already 30 golf courses in Thailand have joined this programme. The dedicated website of the ‘Thai Golf Passport’ would be launched on 1st February. India is first market to launch a golf passport.

Indian golfer Vani Kapoor

“While Thailand is an Amazing destination, India is the leading market for us. Keeping this in mind and ensuring value added services we have launched Thai Golf Passport in association with SLW Golf Management. This will help golfers to enjoy golf in their favourite destination and help us in connecting with the golfing fraternity in India”, said Isra Stapanaseth. “The initiative will also keep the Golfers here updated on new golf venues, special offers and various events”. Vani Kapoor, the leading Indian golf pro said that, “Thailand is my favourite destination and I travel a number of times every year. I love the hospitality, food, facilities and of course Golf. Thailand is truly amazing.”

“Golf has long been the game of corporate and business people who are also avid travellers. Thai Golf Passport creates a membership that shares common values and interests, and at the same time provide an engaging golfing and networking platform for all stake holders-members and sponsors alike. We are excited to partner with this innovative initiative which helps us reaching our customers directly,” said Prashant Singh, General Manager, Callaway Golf India.

Sanitburi course at Koh Samui

“Thai Golf Passport is a great initiative for golf tourists to enjoy seamless service. We believe in providing quality service to our customer and this will also help in validating this claim. We are proud to be associated with Tourism Authority of Thailand and it would be our endeavour work towards successful implementation of the project,” added Rohan Prakash, Associate Vice President,Cox & Kings.

Grand Prix Golf Club

Gajendar Panwar, Vice President Indian Golf Travel Association said that, “Our association welcomes this move which is a program unique to India. While hotels and airlines have loyalty programs this will be a first of its kind where a Country has created such a program. We support all golf tourism initiatives and are sure that this will really encourage golf travel.”

Alpine Golf Course at Bangkok

When it comes to hospitality no country comes closer to perfection than Thailand offering something for everyone of diverse interest, every age and every budget. From pristine sandy beaches to lush jungles, bustling busy cities to traditional villages, Michelin star menus to roadside noodle stalls, historic Buddhist temples to 21st century sky scrapers Thailand is truly amazing! Don’t wait, just add golf to this fun.

 

Hanuwantia can be the change you need this new year!


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A bird’s eye view of the Hanuwantia island in days of Jal Mahotsav

On the lines of Rann Utsav of Kutch, Madhya Pradesh tourism has dared to do the unthinkable of bringing tourists to a location as remote as Hanuwantia with nothing to lure them. Now Hanuwantia is a hub for air, land and water adventure activities. Jal Mahotsav is in its third year now and gradually increasing its time span. For ten days two years back, it increased to one month last year and now 80 days. This year Jal Mahotsav specially targets the year-end tourists. So, if you are looking for any new destination this new year eve, why not try Hanuwantia. This year festival started on 15th October and will continue till 2nd January 2018.

One of the clusters of the tent colony

The vision of Hanuwantia Festival was actually inspired by Sentosa island of Singapore. Although these are very early days for Hanuwantia to climb to any comparable league half as good as Sentosa. The main attraction of Jal Mahotsav is water sports in its huge reservoir which will often look like a sea. But there are aero activities too, like paramotoring, parasailing and ballooning. Swiss tents have been put up for the tourists at the Jal Mahotsav. There are houseboats as well. An exhibition focused on Narmada river besides food zone, craft bazaar is being organised.

For all those who have been to Kutch, they will find quite a similarity between the tent colony at Hanuwantia and the tent colony at Rann Utsav of Kutch in Gujarat. Few clusters of tents and every cluster having a tents surrounding an artificially levelled ground.

Away from concrete cities, this is welcome change to be besides an artificial sea of water. Hanuwantia is besides the Indira Sagar Reservoir which is said to be the biggest such inland water body in Asia.

A paramotor at Hanuwantia in evening lights
Closer look of an airborne paramotor
Two paramotors in the sky at sunset, best time to enjoy
You can have fun riding a bicycle around the tent city

But being here is fun, only if you are planning to indulge in some air or water activities. Otherwise it could be boring after some time. Since Hanwantia has got no other activities, therefor the experience of coming to Hanwantia had to be a packaged one with everything under one roof. Hence came the idea of a tent colony and all sort of land, water and air activities.

Jet scooter on waters of Indira Sagar

Water sports is a genre getting immensely popular among Indian tourists and Hanuwantia has plenty of water to play upon. You can find a host of water activities here.

Jungle trek on Boria Mal island
Smaller cruise boats to take you to ride in the lake

Besides, you can also take boat trips to other islands in the reservoir. Some of these islands like Boria Mal has even got tents to stay overnight. Even forest department has pitched some tents on its own for the tourists. These islands can be explored even on non-festival days. Some of these islands have also developed wildlife due to reserved forest land. You can also enjoy trekking in these islands. Some other islands are haven for migratory birds in the winter.

What would have been a top dome of a big temple in its prime is now a testimony of the submergence alone in this huge waterbody!

Hanuwantia is popular as Hanuwantia Tapu among locals, named after a village of same name in Malhargarh tehsil of Mandsaur district in Madhya Pradesh. Foundation stone of Indira Sagar project on Narmada river was laid way back in 1984, but the work on project started in 1992. This was the earliest project on Narmada river and later the downstreams of the project paved way for more projects like Omkareshwar, Maheshwar and Sardar Sarovar projects. Indira Sagar project reached to its full capacity in May 2005.

Locals in their boats near Boria Mal island

For a reservoir that big, it can be easily estimated that how huge would have been the submerged area. All islands in the Indira Sagar reservoir would have been little hillocks in the past. These islands have been named on nearby submerged villages. A history got submerged in the lake.

Where to Stay:

Inside the Swiss tent
Tents besides the Indira Sagar reservoir!

All tents are Swiss tents, with minor difference in facilities as per the package one opts for. Tents are undoubtedly good, with attached toilet and shower. Beds are comfortable. Tents are spacious, there is a sitting area inside the tent and a covered sitting area, outside the tent giving you the full view of the cluster. Tents also have air conditioners. The ground outside the tents work as a activity ground or playground where you can enjoy cycling. Teas can be served at the tents but dining area is separate, where all guests have to go for breakfast and meals.

Outside the tents

Be watchful to keep you tent door nets zipped, specially in evenings as there can be mosquitos around as there is ample water everywhere. Food is good if not exceptional. Try to taste some local delicacies of the Malwa region. The existence of this tent city comes only during the duration of Jal Mahotsav. SO if you plan to be at the Jal Mahotsav, than this tent city is perhaps only mainly available accommodation in Hanuwantia.

MPTDC Cottages at Hanuwantia

Hanuwantia also has a Madhya Pradesh Tourism resort with beautifully designed lake facing cottages but during the time of the festival these cottages mostly remain occupied by officials and politicians. But if you go outside the festival dates, you can certainly stay in these cottages.

House boats at Hanuwantia

There is another stay option during the festival time and also afterwards and it is Kerala style houseboats, a couple of them at Hanuwantia. These houseboats have three rooms on the lower deck and an open upper deck sitting area. There is a kitchen as well. These houseboats can also take you on a trip inside the lake.

How to Reach:

Islands near Sailani on the Indore-Hanumantia route

Hanuwantia  Tapu (island) is in Khandawa district of Madhya Pradesh. Indore is the nearest airport which is almost 140 kilometres away. Road to Hanuwantia from Indore passes through Omkareshwar and Barwah. This road journey takes around three to four hours, depending on road as well as vehicle. If you prefer train to reach here Khandawa is the nearest railway station on the Main Delhi-Bhopal-Itarsi rail line. Hanuwantia is 48 kilometres from Khandawa. Barwah on the Indore-Hanuwantia road also has a railway station but this is a metre gauge section line coming from Mahu.

A fisherman in the Indira Sagar lake

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Paradise regained : As beautiful as it can be!

With the perils of trekking in rain quite exposed on second day, third day turned out to be an absolute beauty. It started with a dose fog and ended with a light drizzle, but in between it was bright, sunny and extremely picturesque. After having completed the Kashmir Great Lakes trek, I can safely say that out of the six days of this arduous trek, third day’s trek from Vishansar (or Vishnusar) camp to the Gadsar camp is arguable the best- in both the respects- ease of trek and beauty of the trail. As a icing on the cake, the weather also remained favourable throughout the day.

Also read: Kashmir Great Lakes- Romancing the rains at Nichnai Pass

Kishansar lake in full glory!

It is only after the Vishansar or Vishnusar camp that we actually get to experience the lakes part of the Kashmir Great Lakes trek. This third day’s trek takes us from Vishansar camp to Gadsar camp. Passing through twin lakes of Vishunusar and Kishansar and to the Gadsar Pass which at an altitude of 13,800 feet is the highest point of the whole trek. There is an steep ascent till the Gadsar Pass and than a descent on the other side. After descending we pass through beautiful meadows laden with blue and pink flowers. Trek takes us alongside other two lakes Yamsar and Gadsar and through an army check post to the campsite.  A paradise regained on the 3rd day.

Also Read: Kashmir Great Lakes- First day trek to Nichnai

It was so charming that it is worth saying just through the images. So lets take the day’s journey through the images.

It all started with dense fog all around, when we got up in the morning. With memories of last day still fresh, this fog was a mood dampener. Vishnusar Lake was bit away from the camp. Many of us who were late to reach the last evening were not able to go the lake as it had got dark. So in the morning many of us went to the lake but it was still misty around, as you can see in the image below.

But only satisfaction was that there was no rain. Hence there was hope that as soon as sun get bright, fog will vanish. And, it happened so. There was a small hillock between the campsite and the lake. Campsite was along the stream which originated from the Vishnusar lake. Here are the three images (below) of the campsite – first one in dense fog, second when it starts getting clear and last one when it is sunny, just before our departure.

While on the other side, mist also started clearing over the Vishnusar lake. As if a dream was taking shape…

Also read: Thajiwas is a perfect acclimatisation for great lakes trek

So finally group moved on the trek with national anthem (below)

With sun shining everyone one was like in a dancing mood (below)

We had to cross the stream flowing along the campsite and then climb upto the other side of the Vishnusar lake. The lake had by now taken the majestic view (below)

One could feel the feet being reluctant to move ahead. The nature was taking another hue every minute and we always felt like looking behind and capturing the moment. As was this another look of the Vishnusar lake from bit high up (below).

After a brief climb there was a meadow just before the Kishansar lake which is roughly half kilometre from the Vishansar lake.

Kishansar Lake is equally beautiful. Both lakes are connected through stream. Kishansar lake is bit higher by almost 500 feet. This is also a glacial lake and water from this lake flows to Vishnusar lake through a stream. Kishansar lake (below) is at the base of the Kishansar peak.

Colours of water of lakes change as per the light and time of the day. As we cross the lake, the climb to the Gadsar pass starts. You can see the trail taking us to the top of the pass, but it in’t as easy as it looks from below.

As we were on our climb, suddenly there were hundreds and hundreds of sheeps following us up to the Gadsar pass and then to he meadows on the other side. These sheeps and the shepherds had camped close to our campsite in the night. Sheeps were in long queues on every trail leading to the pass (below).

While on other side, you can see the mighty peak shining with moon in the background in bright daylight (below)

Roughly after 45 minutes to one hour in the climb from Kishansar peak, you turn back and see the view which is one of the highlights of this trek- Vishnusar and Kishansar lake together. A frame which is photographers’ delight.

This fascinating view of both lakes together will last till we reach the top of the Gadsar Pass. So after the ascent is deep descent on the other side, but the view only gets better and better with many small lakes visible with meadows on one side and peaks on other (below)

The climb for the day is over and now it is a leisure walk upto the campsite. Just a shortwhile in the descent and we can see a lake which is called as Yamsar lake (below). 

After some descent, we reach the meadows and the entire topography changes. We feel like having reached to the valley of flowers. You can see the entire stretch carpeted with small flowers- blue, purple, yellow, pink, white and all. These flowers growing out of green grass make it a fascinating sight as in images below

There are few more small unnamed lakes after Yamsar, but they all are connected to each other by a stream flowing down from one lake to another.

Looking back you can see the trail from where we came down from the Gadsar Pass and even the mules coming down with the bags and camping equipments (below)It is a trek worth enjoying each and every moment as these two fellow trekkers below are trying to soak themselves in

Even the mules are having some time of breathe before start of another descent to the lake belowFor trekkers, it is time to have some refreshment and packed lunch by taking rest alongside the stream connecting different lakes on the way

After lunch and some well deserved rest, it is time to make final push towards the camp, but wait… there is something else on the way. This is one of the most beautiful lakes on the trek- Gadsar Lake (below). Our next campsite is named after this lake, although campsite is another few kilometres ahead.

After spending some more time in the company of this lake, we move ahead towards the camp.

See the way, the stream is passing below the small glaciers on the way (below)

The valley widens as we move ahead (below)

It is like nature’s playing field, as vast as it can be (below)

Then there is final descent to the campsite. You can see the tents far down in the valley (below). First come few shepherd huts. Just before the campsite is a small army checkpost, where every person has to register themselves with full identities and a proof of identity. This place being close to Pakistan border, is considered to be highly sensitive. Besides authenticated identities, trekkers also need valid permission to trek in the region from authorities in either Sonamarg or Srinagar. Don’t forget to get it before you leave Sonamarg, although normally your trek operator will arrange that for you.

You can watch a video of the day’s trek on my YouTube channel by clicking on the link below-

Have you been there? Please share your views in comments section below.

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Its now Dualfie time with Vision 3

Smartphone makers are getting as obsessed with selfie features as are the smartphone consumers with their phone selfies. Just a few months back ASUS tried to widen the selfie with a 120 degree FOV (field of view) ’wefie’ and now InFocus mobiles have gone a step further with their Vision 3 smartphone which gives you a ‘Dualfie’, where you can capture in a single shot image from both the from as well as the rear camera. Thus when you are taking a selfie, you can also show what is happening in front of you, i.e. behind the camera! What more, this front camera also gives you 120 degree FOV.

Only catch might be that the rear camera is 13MP and 5MP dual lens and front camera is 8MP, which some people might feel as just OK with current industry trends. But what needs to be considered is that this camera also gives class leading 5.7-inch full vision screen and 18:9 or 82.4% HD High-resolution screen ratio display. When all this comes with just a price tag of 6,999 INR than it is worth a bargain. The phone goes on sale from midnight today i.e. 20th December exclusively on Amazon.

Phone was launched in Delhi today by Dr. Luo Zhongsheng, Global CEO for Sharp & InFocus Mobile. With this launch the US company has put some big goals in front of it for the new year. This company has all its phones manufactured by Taiwanese company Foxconn. Production and assembly is placed in the hands of Foxconn while InFocus handles global sales and marketing teams around the world. Company this year also launched some low cost high performing smartphones like Turbo 5 Plus and is now trying to catch up with other competitors like ASUS and Oppo.

Phone is equipped with a powerful 4000mAh non removable battery tempting enough to enjoy videos on a bigger screen. Supported by a full screen Vision 3 also sports single key split screen to work on 2 apps simultaneously. The larger screen makes this feature more viable to use. Front camera also comes loaded with industry standard beauty features and allows up to 7 levels of beauty modifications. The front camera also sports background blur feature to blur out unnecessary background and give more sharpness to the subjects. Another interesting camera feature of the InFocus Vision 3 is that is allows users to click and share photo stories in a grid. Grid photography allows users to take photos creatively, which can be directly shared on social media and with peers.

As for built, phone is powered by MediaTek MTK 6737H quad core 1.3GHz processor and the Android 7.0 Nougat operating system. Vision 3 comes loaded with 2GB RAM + 16GB variant which is expandable up to 64GB memory (through micro SD). Infocus has also introduced its latest UI with new-look icons and design and named it Smile UX. Vision 3 is a dual SIM smartphone that accepts Nano GSM SIMs in both the slots. On connectivity front, options include Wi-Fi, GPS, Bluetooth, USB OYG, FM, 3G and 4G LTE networks.

The smart Fingerprint sensor allows the users to save up to 4 sets of fingerprints and access multiple applications at the touch of a tip. It also has standard gravity sensor, ambient light sensor and proximity sensor. What can be a game changer for InFocus is that it plans to bring face detection ID to Vision 3. This technology was much talked about recently with launch of Apple’s iPhone8 and iPhoneX. If InFocus is able to put it together in its low priced Vision 3, than it can certainly catch a many eyes as it would be first in class and category.

A mission drives a unique collection

‘It’s the newspaper number 3191,’ Shashanka said gleefully as I handed over to him the latest issue of my tabloid travel magazine- Awara Musafir. He had requested me to bring a copy for him before I left Delhi for Bhubaneswar. This is one of the ways he uses to enlarge his collection, by asking friends and well-wishers to get a copy of a newspaper for him from wherever in the world they go.

Shashanka Sekhar Dash with his collection

A journalist, writer and social worker Shashanka Sekhar Dash is fondly known as ‘Paper Boy’ for his this very unusual hobby. What started just as a passing thought in 2001 slowly developed into a passionate hobby and now he has taken this as a journalist mission. At that time Shashanka was working with a small newspaper. He noticed that newspaper was printed in Delhi but there was no copy available in the Odisha market. He though it was better to preserve a copy. Than it crossed his mind that there might be more such newspapers whose copies are not available in the market, he started collecting them as well. Slowly he kept widening his collection.

Hence in last 17 years till now, he collected more than three thousand newspapers and tabloids representing 59 languages from 69 countries in the world. This accumulation has already earned him a place in Limca Book of Records and India book of records in 2012 and now he is in process of finding  place in Guinness Book of World Records, which he is quite sure of.

Shashanka belongs to Arangabad village in Bari block of Jajpur district in Odisha. Now he is working as COO of the Mangalajodi Ecotourism Trust which is a community livelihood project at Mangalajodi Wetlands in Khurda district of Odisha. Shashanka also purchases the newspapers whenever he finds one which he does not have in his collection. He also writes directly to newspaper offices for a souvenir copy.

Shashanka Sekhar Dash with his collection

Obviously housing such a huge and ever increasing collection and preserving it is no mean task. It requires space also. So what Shashanka does is that he puts a sticky note on every newspaper with a brief sketch. He then carefully wraps them in a poly bag and then stores them carefully in shelfs and almirahs. They will then be brought out whenever he has to show them for an inspection or display them for an exhibition, which he already has had a few. Newspaper collection is not a usual hobby, but Shashanka has come across some other couple of persons with this passion, although there collection is very small still in comparison to Shashanka’s.

With such a long journey already completed, Shashanka doesn’t want to go it as a waste. He now plans to convert a portion of his family home in his village as the museum and research centre, where budding journalists and students can come and have a glimpse of newspaper journey around the world. May be in couple of years from now, he will fulfil this dream. With lot of digitisation going on, life of newspapers is getting smaller. With many newspapers closing their editions, this collection will have an eternal value. Shashanka already has many newspapers in his collection which have closed down. Now they are of enormous value.

Shashanka has also written six books in Odia which include poems, short stories and also a book on journalistic essays. In the year 1999 he also published Odisha’s first children’s newspaper.

Shashanka lives with this passion. In past week since we met, he has received six newspapers from New Zealand through a friend who just returned from the country and three other in Chinese via another source. His count now stands 3203.

Do you know of any such other collection! Please share in comments section below.

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