PUNE: The four-day-long weekend following Independence Day has prompted Puneites to pack their bags and head for popular getaway spots across the country and even abroad.
Goa, Kerala, hill stations like Lonavla, Mahabaleshwar and international destinations like Turkey, Singapore, Thailand and Malaysia seem to be the chosen locations.
The Independence Day on August 15 falls on a Friday, followed by Parsi New Year and Janmasthami that fall on August 18, a Monday. Back-to-back public holidays have given people the opportunity to take off to nearby destinations, away form the humdrum of everyday life.
The Malin tragedy or the recent Whats App broadcast messages predicting ?cloudbursts’ have failed to scare adventure-lovers who have made plans to visit the hilly terrains of Mahabaleshwar, Matheran, Khandala and Lonavla. All these places are currently booked to capacity, say travel industry sources. “Matheran is a destination with red soil and is generally not recommended during heavy rains as people have to walk on foot or hire ponies. Cars are not allowed inside. But the place is booked to capacity this weekend, which shows that people are adventurous and wish to explore,” said a travel company’s general manager.
Other destinations high on the tourist radar are Kumarakom in Kerala, Goa and Rajasthan. “Ayurvedic and spa treatments are highly recommended during monsoon to unclog skin pores. Kerala is popular for its pleasant monsoon and spa treatments. Hence, many are taking off to the land of coconut trees. Driving down to Goa is also an option,” the manager said.
G Krishna, chairperson of the Pune chapter of Travel Agents Association of India (TAAI), said that his company has received numerous queries for Mahabaleshwar, Goa, Kashid, Alibaug and Khandala. Hill stations are full, he said. His company has booked 16 adults for Goa, four clients for Khandala, six others for Alibaug and Mahabaleshwar each. “People prefer nearby destinations as for many Monday i.e. August 18 is a working day,” said Krishna.
However, a sizeable chunk of travelers is opting for international destinations like Turkey, Hong Kong, Macau, Thailand, Malaysia and Singapore. Sujit Katre, general manager at a travel company, said that international destinations are most favored when tourists manage to get visa on arrival or visa in a day or two. Travelling to these destinations for four days costs anywhere between Rs 35,000 and Rs 60,000 per person (including travel and stay), depending on the kind of hotels one selects.
“It is very rare that people get an extended-four-day weekend during July or August. Families are the ones making the most of this weekend as it is a low-rate season and children too have four days off from school,” Katre said. Travellers grabbed the golden opportunity, especially with airfares to these destinations low during the end of July, he said. Katre has booked around 90 people for this weekend for international destinations alone, he said.
Zelam Chaubal, director of a city-based travel company, said that most flights to international destinations like Singapore and Thailand are sold out. Among domestic destinations, Goa, Lonavla and Mahabaleshwar are the most popular ones.
A long weekend ahead
August 15 (Independence Day), a national holiday
August 16 August 17 (Saturday, Sunday)
August 18 Parsi New Year and Janmasthami
Domestic: Lonavla-Khandala, Mahabaleshwar, Kashid, Matheran and Goa
International: Turkey, Hong Kong, Macau, Thailand, Malaysia and Singapore
Long weekend ahead, Puneites get packing