Monthly Archives: December 2008

Cool Choices for this Republic Day

Friends advance wishes for the Republic day. Long Live the Republic! If you find a little time to look at your Desktop Calendar for 2009 you will find that there is a long weekend ahead for you around this Republic Day.

If you do not have had ready any plans yet do not despair, we at IndiaHotelReview.com-IHR have made our own list of ultimate places that have recently piqued our interest this winter. These places are not typically “high on the must-go list” but if you trifle inclined to break the rules and head for the places “Where the world is not headed to “try these cool places out. Its one month so you could plan it well, and trust us – you will not regret.

Delhi Weekend: Leisurely Kosi and Lansdowne

Just 100 kms from Delhi Kosi is an idyllic retreat in the Mathura district the Birthplace of Krishna. Drive there and earn the much deserved rest from the rigmaroles of daily life. A bit heavy on wallet but there is nothing like having a good time in Country Inn.

Lansdowne, the quaint hill station is around 250 km from Delhi this sublime place charmed Britishers to the hilt now it’s your turn. Just take a leisurely walk in the sunset and feel all the difference.

Kolkata Weekend: Discovering Chandipur

Hey Kolkatans give Digha a passe, travel 314 kms and you are in at Chandipur in Orissa. Miles of fine silvery sand dunes, unobtrusive beach, shells and driftwood that’s Chandipur on Sea for you. It will make you long for more and provide more reasons than than one to return. Just one piece of information that would make you a proud Indian this Republic Day, it was from Chandipur Interim Test Range that the Agni Missile was launched.
Chandigarh Weekend: Historic Paonta Sahib

Just 132 kms from Chandigarh, the historic City of Paonta Sahib is thoroughly entrenched with the memory of the Tenth Sikh Guru, Guru Gobind Singh. It does not matter whether you are a Sikh or not but the majestic Gurudwara, the pristine waters of Yamuna and the Sal forest is sure to elevate your spirits. Just one piece of advice book early if you want to stay in HPTDC hotel.

Mumbai Weekend: Expedition to the Chikoo Kingdom- Bordi

Mahabaleshwar, Lonawala, Matheran sounds clichés isn’t it head for Bordi instead. Unbelievable but true Bordi is just 145 kms from Mumbai. Bordi offers a peep into serene beaches and picturesque Chikoo gardens. Reach here, do nothing and just enjoy the breeze and the soft sands. We bet it would be the best Republic Day you had in a long time.

Banglore Weekend: Aromatic Chikmagalur

The Coffee town of Chikmagalur is just 250 kms from Bangaluru. Depending on your liking you could enjoy a bit of trekking, pilgrimage wildlife all rolled into one. Very high on fun quotient. Mysore, Ooty rest in peace!

Bhopal Weekend: Mystical Narmada

Jabalpur, on the banks of river Narmada is 336 kms from the state capital Jabalpur. A boat ride around the Bera against the silhouettes of small marble hillocks is sure to make you romantic, while the gushing sight and sound of magnanimous Dhuandhar falls make you appreciate the bounty of nature.

Hyderabad Weekend: Nagarjuna Sagar Where Civilizations Meet

Nagarjuna Sagar the world’s largest masonry dam is incidentally also an important Buddhist centre. At 150 km from Hyderabad explore centuries old Buddhist civilization, Nagarjunasagar Lake and waterfalls this Repupblic day Weekend

Ahmedabad Weekend: Make a Wish-Ambaji

Ambaji is just 198 kms from Ahmedabad, located on the Arasur Hills the famous temple of goddess Ambaji is a wish grating Tree. Pray for a prosperous and powerful India this Republic day.

Chennai Weekend: Look Beyond Pondicherry- Karaikal

Get off the beaten track, think beyond Pondicherry. Karaikal is the place to head to. This former French enclave is 300 Km from Chennai and 135 Km south of Puducherry. Temples, Churches, Darga you name it Karaikal has it, besides it is dotted with a crisscross of rivers and forms the delta of the Cauvery River system.

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When the Tempest Hit IHR

18th December and a thrill of exhilaration swept across India HotelReview- IHR premises soon after it was fêted with the coveted title of “Website of the Year”. The air overwhelmed with festivities and merry making at the office quarter was followed by an extravagant rave party at Ankit’s residence.

IHRites in Full Steam

IHRites in Full Steam

The party began with grapevine and light chin wagging just when Priyanka, Team Lead, Sales, and wife of Ankit Rastogi, Business Head, India Hotel Review, announced a round of Dumb Charades. Half an hour later the show, inspired by some impromptu DJ-ing by Manish Sardana, Business Head, Vriti Interactive, it was time to hit the dance floors. Balls dropped and Champagne bottles ‘pop-opened’ at 8:30 in the evening, as the room scintillated with music. While some danced their hearts out to the rhythm others preferred to watch and enjoy. The dance commenced with English numbers, switching on to Punjabi Bhangra beats later, to which the crowd waved and danced wildly. Moreover, the party was livened up by the presence of CEO, Vriti Conglomerate Swapnil Shrivastava who shared the dancing floor with his little daughter. Dance session was followed by scrummy pizzas and loads of Beer. The party concluded with hurrahs and cheers for India Hotel Review by all invitees who sure were asking for more.

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Yes we can Yes we did

IHR won best travel website 2008 award

IHR won best travel website 2008 award

It’s celebration time folks. This is one post that I won’t soon forget. We DID IT !!! spoiled weekends, incessant ringing of the phones, pressure to convert leads, never ending list of change request, cancelled bookings due to blasts, terror attacks, attempting sanity amidst constant ranting of spouse, AAAAAAAAAAH! Finally, it all paid off. IndiaHotelReview – IHR has won the prestigious award of the BEST TRAVEL SITE put forth by MetrixLAB a leading Europe based online research company. You can check out for yourself at http://www.websiteoftheyear.co.in/winners.php

The criterion for the awards? Well pretty simple! As it looks now. The website has to score on in terms of Content, Navigation, Ease of use and Design along with the number of Votes a website receives from users across the globe. IHR scored on both the points beating some tough competition in the process that included the likes of YT, MMT, Air India, KLM, IRCTC ( ofcourse IRCTC won the popular website award based on votes).

We have won the place that we verily deserved.

What do the Winning mean for us?

Quite a bit actually, apart from getting all the media attention, accolades from peers, the win reminds us of the grind, discipline, resource investment and passion pay off.

Remember where we were …24 months ago!

It’s a great boost to do things that we wouldn’t have previously been able to do – winning makes all the difference

“Winning is the icing on the cake for us” because in spite of the meltdown it’s been brilliant the last few months. LTC North East Tour is going great, Kerala package is a runaway hit, Travel Guides are just in the offing – the going can’t be better than this. All this gives us a renewed confidence to book holidays for next year and years to come.
Kudos to all the members- Sales, Tech, content for making this happen. This is, by all means, a great team. Let’s keep IHR rocking! Last but not the least we want to make it a day to remember so so be in time for some great moments together with Pizza and Bears in toe.

By Ankit Rastogi

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Stats Does Matter Aint they?

As we wind down to another yearend of what could be best termed as an upheaval year of sorts, with global recession, terror attacks and what not, we thought it would be instructive enough to take a look at what does the web stats say for IHR’s performance.
“Stats are like weight loss”, if you are on a dieting schedule then just taking your weight every hour or day will hardly give you the bigger picture, similarly the stats will give you the real picture over a period of time say 3 months. Of course these stats can be interpreted in different ways but the traffic patterns portrayed here is interesting as 90% of the visitors coming to IHR are either organic or direct. We believe in the results to the fullest as it is a sign of growth, success and a solid reminder that hard work really pays.

Where did the visitors come from?
Here’s a summary for the year for the top ten cities vis-à-vis   domestic traffic.

IHR Top 10 Cities for 2008

IHR Top 10 Cities for 2008

The graph reflects our clout over the western circuit comprising Bombay and Pune( 25%) and the southern states (around 17 %). A whopping 31.87% traffic comes from the non metros. This speaks volumes for the IHR’s traditional popularity in comparatively smaller cities as well.
A look at the international traffic over the same period also corroborates our position as a dominant player in the Indian online travel community with traffic from India being around 84%.  Followed by United States  and UK with a sizeable chunk of Indian expatriates.

IHR International Traffic for 2008

IHR International Traffic for 2008

IHR’s Report Card
As “stickiness” is the buzzword nowadays in terms of how many pages a visitor looks at, we dared to do a comparison of how IHR fares with Raahi.com the community face of Yatra.com and Oktatabyebye.com the face of MMT.  Of course IHR is an integrated portal offering sales and community under one platform. For the 3 months October to December the figures seemed to be very bright. Take a look.

IHR Vs Raahi & Oktatabyebye

(Source: Alexa)

IHR is ahead of Raahi and from mid November to December we were there with Oktatanyebye.com.
These stats have been brought, in the efforts of showing some positives in times of despondent economy and the naked dance of terror.
Thanks for reading, and yes please don’t forget to chip in with your comments.

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Dehra: Himachal’s Best Kept Secret

My visit to Dehra, a small hamlet in Himachal Pradesh coaxed me to sing paeans for the title of a thought provoking essay that the English thinker Bertrand Russell wrote quite a few years back. “ In Praise of Idleness” is the most apt way to describe my weekend tryst with Dehra.

Dehra basks in the glory of idleness. This and a few other things were my discovery when I went there a few month’s back to get over the rigmaroles of managing a corporate entity. Dehra is well concealed from the glare of overzealous tourists who head for the more “touristy” Dharamshala(63 Km) or Mcleodganj (73 Km) the “in” destination for the who’s who of Hollywood.
Getting to Dehra is easier than I thought of. I hopped on to a HPRTC Luxury Volvo bus meant for Dharmashala at around 9 pm from ISBT Kashmiri Gate, but getting out of Delhi was not. Much to my exasperation and to the motley crowd of foreigners of all size and hues, the Bus did an extended “conducted tour of Delhi” picking up passengers in between for almost two hours. It was around 11.30 that we finally managed to reach the outskirts of Delhi. I asked the conductor to sound me as soon as the bus reached Dehra. It was around 6.30 am and after traversing around 537 km I was asked to get down. The bus drops you just at the gate of the solitary hotel at Dehra the Riverview Resort.

Riverview Resort

Riverview Resort

Dehra is a Tehsil under the Kangra district of Himachal Pradesh, on the bank of the legendary Beas one of the famed “Five Rivers of Punjab”.
The main USP of Dehra is the Beas Bridge or DeraGopipur Bridge as the locals call it. It’s a massive concrete bridge connecting Dehra to Gopipur on the other side. A whole day could be spent just gazing at the shallow green waters of Beas against the backdrop of lower Shivaliks with vehicles whizzing past you across the bridge at 80 kmph. I was there during October when Beas fresh from receiving the full feed of monsoon rains presents a lively appearance.

Beas Bridge

Beas Bridge

Coming back to the resort, I took a first floor room and from the balcony the view is fabulous, the quite river, the lush green surroundings, the chirping of the birds everything looked so idyllic and serene and the feeling I got was nothing but divinity personified.  I was told that the resort follows a differential pricing because of the balcony view so First Floor Accommodation is priced more than the ground floor.
The mornings, I did nothing but loitered around the river banks. The expansive waters seemed like a sea with no sight of the other shore.

Beas River

Beas River

I did not feel like moving anywhere but some other nearby places of interest includes the Chintpurni temple, Pong Dam, Bird Sanctuary or heading where the whole world heads- Mcleodganj. For the devout’s, the Dusshera festivities here are considered best after the Kullu Dusshera.
A few points before I sign off Dehra is not exactly a “foodies” paradise except for the roadside Dhabas,  so if you are a hygiene freak  it is better to have the food in the hotel itself. The package for the River View resort includes food and if you have not booked the return tickets its not a problem the hotel can arrange you for that.
Dehra may not be your ideal chock a bloc tourist destination but trust me you it is the best weekend getway I ever had in recent times. So this winter pack your bags and start Friday night, savour the freshness and drop in at Delhi in the Monday morning better equipped to tackle the Monday Blues!

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Join our Tribe and make it happen together

IHR is growing so is the network. If you are passionate about what’s happening at IndiaHotelReview.com, have a say about our features, what you find best or what pesters you a lot – join our growing list of community. Its never too late!
So join us in Facebook, Linkedin, Orkut and Travelconnect and let the world wonder about what you and IHR are up to.

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Cheating, Inspiration and the Rest: A Time to Reflect

“Passing off somebody else’s ideas as your own is like trying to pass off vomit as food”
– From the Internet
Now what Joy -Travels.com did on 2nd December 2008 with their press release at PR-inside.com only proves the age old Hindi adage “ Nakal Karne Ke Liye Bhi Akal Chahiye”. You can see for yourself that they had even failed to detect the obvious – replace IndiaHotelReview.com with their own name.

IHR content copied by joy travel

IHR content copied by joy travel

A blatant plagiarism like this only corroborates our growing stature that IHR as a premier Online Travel Agency with Budget Travel as a niche has “arrived.” As a pioneer of sorts in the online Travel segment we are actually making the world take notice and unsuccessfully replicate our model.

Having said that, it also throws up two very pertinent points, a) If Joy Travels even fails to write a genuine PR it would be difficult to believe the genuineness of their packages whether they actually make you travel or take you for a ride instead!
b) This shortcut method is often adopted by “fly by night” Offline travel operators who desperately want to enter the online segment.
In retrospect we are not oblivious to the rising instances of efforts to imitate us. We are quite aware of it but often ignore the transgressions.
Finally one piece of Biblical advice to Joy Travels: “If ye are prudent enough to cheat right, ye shalt not need to cheat” Good Luck.!

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