A shade of celebration
Holi (11 March this year) in the cities tends to get a tad raucous. Wet colours, dry colours. Truckloads of thandai (a traditional cold drink) and platefuls of mithai (sweets). Afternoon naps and waking up feeling like nothing on earth. If you’re in the mood for a different sort of celebration, try the Haveli Hari Ganga, Haridwar. Located on the banks of the Ganga, about 500m from the Har ki Pauri ghat, the haveli is a 90-year-old structure recognized as a heritage property by the Union ministry of tourism. Now a working hotel under the Leisure Hotels flag, it’s offering “Holistic Experience” packages, inclusive of yoga sessions, escorted visits to the ghat during the evening aarti, Holi delicacies such as gujias and papris in its saatvik food restaurant and a tour of the Rajaji National Park. It even promises a “clean bathing ghat”, which would certainly be something to appreciate in perpetually buzzy Haridwar. For further recharge, you could also take cover in the hotel’s spa.
Peace and food: (clockwise from above) Lunching in Melbourne; splash about in Sri Lanka all year round; and a quiet Holi at the haveli. Gehan de Silva Wijeyeratne
Two-night, three-day packages cost Rs10,999-12,500 for two. These are available till 31 March. For further details, visit www.havelihariganga.com
Fun with the fishes
Did you know Sri Lanka is on its way to becoming a global hot spot for whale-watching? Located within the International Whaling Commission’s protected zone in the Indian Ocean, its waters are ideal for a glimpse and more of the blue whale and the sperm whale.
And the island is always in season. The western and south-western coasts are recommended between November and April while the eastern coast, off Trincomalee, is the place to be from June to September. The seas off Kalpitiya, in the west, are also a favourite with dolphins. The best time for whale-watching close to the shore, however, is December-April, when migratory patterns bring marine populations near the island.
Operators in Sri Lanka offer both boat and air cruises: One uses motorboats and trawlers; the other flies you out by seaplane or helicopter for incredible aerial views.
Nature Odyssey has specialized whale- and dolphin-watching tours off the Mirissa Fisheries Harbour for upwards of Rs4,750 per person (4 hours in a 35ft vessel) and Rs6,750 per person (6 hours in a 70ft vessel). Jetwing Travels, a Sri Lanka Tourism Board- approved operator, has a three-night, four-day package for $310 (about Rs15,000) per person, inclusive of two days at sea and sundry other tours.
For more details, log on to www.natureodyssey.com or www.jetwing.com
Merry in Melbourne
If you live to eat, you’ve got to be at the Melbourne Food and Wine Festival. Featuring 200 events over 16 days, this will be a true test of how much you can stomach. Our picks:
• The World’s Longest Lunch, Friday, 13 March, 12-3pm at the Crown Riverside: 1,200 people are expected to line up to lunch on a three-course meal, matched with Victorian wines, on the banks of the Yarra river. Vegetarian menus available. Price: A$115 (around Rs3,600).
• Connex Sizzle, Saturday, 14 March, 12-9pm at Federation Square. Eight super chefs convert the green expanse in the heart of the city into a giant backyard for Australia’s favourite dining-out option, the barbeque. Grab a spot on the grass—or just grab a glass. Entry’s free; four tasting plates cost A$35.
• Stars of Europe—The Dinner, 21 March, 7-11.30pm at Shed 4, North Wharf Road, The Docklands. Master chefs present a four-course meal with matching wines in a setting inspired by A Midsummer Night’s Dream. Price: A$185.
Besides, there’s Wicked Sunday (15 March), when you shop for artisanal chocolates, ice creams, cheeses and global coffee; Cellar Door (21-22 March), where you can sample and stock the best of Victoria’s boutique wineries; the Langham Melbourne Master Class (multiple dates), where the world’s best chefs—including The Fat Duck’s Heston Blumenthal and The French Laundry’s Thomas Keller—share their secrets over cooking demonstrations, and much more.
For the full schedule of the festival (7-23 March), log on to www.melbournefoodandwine. com.au. Event tickets can be booked through www.ticketmaster.com.au
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