Latest in Travel: Palace on Wheels is back, grand plans for Lonar lake and more

Exciting railway developments at home and abroad and new expressways to shorten travel time are among this week's major travel news.

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Palace in Wheels, Rajasthan’s beloved iconic luxury train, will resume operations next month.

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Lonar Lake to be developed as a tourist site

In a bid to boost tourism around Lonar Lake, the Maharashtra government has allotted ₹370 crore for the development of the awe-inspiring national Geo-heritage Monument nestled in Buldhana district. The funds will be utilised for the preservation and conservation of the pink crater lake and surrounding flora and fauna. Officials have revealed that the development activites will include the construction of a footpath around the water body and a rehabilitation centre within reach for the convenience of tourists and trekkers. The oval-shaped saline lake is among the most prized natural wonders in the country and one of the four known craters in basaltic rock on Earth. In 2020, the lake drew attention from all corners when its water turned pink due to the presence of “salt-loving” microbes called Haloarchaea. Read more about the origins of Lonar Lake here

 

France, Mauritius and New Zealand latest to shed travel restrictions

As countries all over the world continue to reopen after two years of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic—three other tourist favourites have taken down more of their travel restrictions. In Europe, France has opened borders for restriction-free entry for all international tourists. A proof of vaccination, travel intent letter or a negative COVID-19 test will no longer be mandatory to visit the country. 

Meanwhile, no quarantine, test or self-isolation will be necessary to enjoy a Mauritius holiday. The subtropical island country has lifted all pandemic restrictions after a successful vaccination program, inoculating over 90 percent of the population. New Zealand, too, is geared up to welcome overseas travellers despite a steep rise in numbers. With a nod to maritime borders reopening and submission of international visa applications, the country bid its final goodbye to pandemic-era restrictions.

 

Palace on Wheels to make a September comeback

Rajasthan’s beloved luxury train, the Palace on Wheels is gearing up to resume operations after a two-year pause due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The Rajasthan Tourism Development Corporation (RTDC) revealed in a meeting with the Federation of Hospitality and Tourism of Rajasthan (FHTR), the organisation’s intent on bringing the treasured heritage ride back on tracks in September on a public-private partnership, as the pandemic continues to ebb. Launched in 1982, the lavish train gives passengers a taste of the opulent coaches of former rulers. Each coach comprises separated chambers with royal furnishings steeped in local heritage.

 

Euronight—London to Stockholm In a Day 

Operated by the Swedish railway company SJ, Euronight is set to start a route between Stockholm and Hamburg beginning September. To be operated along with the Eurostar, the journey is expected to take passengers to London in under 24 hours. Euronight’s service will cover a distance of 1,080 kilometres, with a stop in Copenhagen. Travellers on a budget can avail the services with standard seats or shared four-to-six-berth couchette car. To add a touch of extravagance, opt for the private deluxe sleeper compartment inclusive of breakfast services, sink, shower and toilet—not to forget a generous, guilt-free swig of the scenic Swedish landscape. What’s more—as opposed to fuel-guzzling flights, the trains will employ renewable electricity to cut down on carbon emissions.    

 

Also Read | The Night Train to London

 

Lok Sabha Clears the Wild Life (Protection) Amendment Bill 

The Wild Life Protection Amendment Bill was passed by the Lok Sabha on Tuesday. The bill intends to implement the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Flora and Fauna (CITES) and increase the number of species protected under the law. CITES checks the regulation of permitted trade of listed species and possession of live animal specimens in a way that does not threaten their survival. The revised bill further vests increased control of the government to appoint Management Authority and Scientific authority and regulate the trade of invasive species. The amendment also empowers the government to declare areas adjacent to wildlife sanctuaries and national parks as conservation areas to safeguard surrounding flora and fauna. Revised fines upon violation of the act come with increased fines. The general violations fine was increased to ₹10,000 from ₹2,500 and that against specially protected animals from ₹10,000 to ₹25,000.

 

New Green Expressways to Slash Road Travel Time

In an effort to revamp the country’s road connectivity, the government has announced a construction project involving 26 green expressways over the coming three years. The expressways are expected to cut down on travel time exponentially between Delhi and other major Indian cities. Travellers will be able to reach Meerut in 40 minutes, a massive drop from the current four-hour drive. Delhi to Mumbai will be rendered a 12-hour distance, and travellers from the capital will make it to Chandigarh in two and a half hours and Srinagar in about eight hours. Transport Minister Nitin Gadkari acquainted Rajya Sabha with the project plan, along with the bold claim to bring the Indian road infrastructure at par with that of the U. S. by 2024.

Also Read | Elevators and EVs Soon at Ellora Caves

 

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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  • Sudrisha Goswami hopes to connect people with engaging stories from spectrums of art, culture, design and communities. She can be spotted sipping a cup of hot chocolate on any given day with a book in her hand and her eyes scanning crowds for different journeys.

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