Blue Flag tag for Lakshadweep beaches, Matheran toy train returns and more

Matheran's historic toy train is back with a Vistadome coach, and Odisha is offering heritage lovers the chance to delve deeper into the state's rich architectural legacy.

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The beaches that receive the Blue Flag certification are deemed as the cleanest in the world.

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Lakshadweep beaches get Blue Flag tag 

Two more Indian beaches—Kadmat and Thundi in the Union Territory of Lakshadweep—recently gained the prestigious Blue Flag certification. Prime Minister Narendra Modi tweeted the news, saying, “Congratulations, particularly to the people of Lakshadweep, for this feat. India’s coastline is remarkable and there is also a great amount of passion among our people to further coastal cleanliness,” in response to Union Minister for Environment, Forest and Climate Change Bhupender Yadav’s announcement of the news. Last year, Puducherry’s Eden Beach and Kovalam beach in Tamil Nadu had earned the accolade, and now the total number of Blue Flag beaches in India stands at 12. Spain, at 614, holds the world record for the highest number of Blue Flag beaches in the world. The eco-label is given to beaches, marinas or sustainable boating tourism operators by the Foundation for Environment Education in Denmark (FEE) for meeting and maintaining a set of “stringent environmental, educational, safety, and accessibility criteria”. The beaches that receive this certification are deemed as the cleanest in the world, based on parameters such as environment conservation, bathing water quality, ocean currents, disabled-friendly amenities, among others.

 

 

Famous Meghalaya festival is back on the banks of Umiam lake

A much-anticipated celebration of Khasi food, art and music in the recent years, The Hills Festival, organised by the state’s tourism board, is back in the capital city of Shillong. To be held on November 4 and 5, the festival will see not just art installations, music performances, and food stalls, but glamping facilities and bicycle trails for visitors. The theme of the fest is Spirit of Meghalaya, and will raise a toast to eco-tourism and the empowerment of local communities, reported EastMojo. As part of the festival, the region’s famous living root bridges, which made it to the UNESCO World Heritage tentative list a little while ago, will be recreated and presented on stage. For other details, check out the festival’s website.

 

Matheran’s mini train is back

The Neral-Matheran toy train has always been one of Matheran’s most cherished tourist attractions. In 2019, incessant rainfall resulted in the route suffering damages at multiple locations, and the train was forced to be discontinued. Now, after intensive infrastructural repairs undertaken by the Central Railway, the historic train that first commenced operations in 1907, is back with a Vistadome coach, gabion protection and grouting of stone pitching beneath the track, as tweeted by Minister of Railways Ashwini Vaishnaw. The 20-kilometre Neral-Matheran route takes passengers through the lush landscape of the Western Ghats. The line has also been equipped with side drains for rainwater, extra pipe bridges and box bridges as part of the revamp. Take a look at the ride, as tweeted by the Ministry of Railways.

 

 

Now, take guided audio tours in Odisha 

Travellers to Odisha now have the option of undertaking walking tours to several heritage sites all over the state. The programme, titled Odisha Walks, will take heritage enthusiasts to places such as the Udaygiri and Khandagiri caves, the Mukteswar and Lingaraj temples that were built during the 10th and 11th centuries respectively, and the Shanti Stupa. Odisha Tourism Development Corporation chairperson Lenin Mohanty said, “These five guided tours along the identified heritage circuits would help reveal the city’s rich architectural treasures, culture, traditions, rituals and customs.” These walks will be conducted from Friday to Sunday every week from 6.30 am to 8.30 am.

 

To read more stories on travel, cities, food, nature, and adventure, head to our web forum here or our new National Geographic Traveller India app here.

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  • Prannay Pathak dreams about living out of a suitcase and retiring to the island of Hamneskär to watch films in solitary confinement. He is Assistant Editor (Digital) at National Geographic Traveller India.

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