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Category: Travel & Food (Page 2 of 3)

Chikmagalur_Travelogue

Travelogue: The Chikmagalur Chapter

When 5 of us decided to head up to Chikmagalur, it was definitely fun. This Travelogue on Chikmagalur is a testimony to just that. This one’s for my Chikmagalur Trip, or rather Chikmanglur, as I used to call it before.

Bus rides ain’t fun. Not for me. Hence, I was skeptical. But then, you’ve got to get rid of your fears, however, idiotic and silly they may sound, right ?

We boarded the KSRTC Volvo bus around 11.30 PM from Majestic and were supposed to reach by 4:00AM at Chikmagalur.

We planned to not waste time in the hotel and head out as early as possible. But first, it was time for breakfast. The guy at the reception suggested breakfast at the nearby Hotel Annapurna.

Our Breakfast comprised of IdliVada and one of the best filter coffee we’ve had in a while. We also added up the famous Chikmagalur Buns to our plates.

Chikmagalur_Travelogue_Coffee_Buns

Although what seemed like Hotel Annapurna to us in the early morning, it wasn’t. I’m not sure whether it was the hunger or they actually change their names every morning for tourists like us. Not complaining though, the food was good.

We booked a cab for 5 of us to head over to Mullayangiri, the highest point of Karnataka.

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And boy!! We were in for a treat. This was the best part of the whole trip. The trail towards the top in those curvy roads, where we got scared more than once, is still fresh. The view from the top after a brief trek on foot was simply amazing.

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After numerous photo sessions and admiring the beauty of what it was, we headed down for a series of stops on different locations. This, right here, was the point of surreal beauty.

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Although I must add, once you’ve seen Mullayangiri, the other “view points” just don’t impress you. And every hill-station has those aplenty.

Chikmagalur_Travelogue_Mullayangiri

We had plans to visit Hebbe waterfall as well, but due to the hired jeep, which was clearly over-charging, and time constraints had to skip it. Here are a few snaps of flowers around Mullayangiri.

Our next stop was the Bhadra Tiger Reserve. However, we stopped then and now in the forests to check out the Flower-blooming Coffee plantations, black pepper, cardamom among others. Even plucking out a few of them. This clearly is the place to be.

Travel Tip: Get a homestay in one of these Coffee Estates to enjoy your visit to Chikmagalur. Or any hill-station for that matter.

Chikmagalur_Travelogue_Coffee_plant

Chikmagalur_Travelogue_Cardommon_Plants

Only if we knew that our wish to explore the wild side would only end in disappointment. The close to 90 minute Safari ride which charged us 400 Rs each, only ended up making us sleep. We did see a peacock and a herd of deer though as compensation to our anticipated sous, who longed to see tigers there.

Travel Tip: If you aren’t a wildlife enthusiast, then you can simply skip the Safari or a visit to the Bhadra Tiger Reserve can be skipped without a second thought.

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Chikmagalur_Travelogue_Bhadra_Tiger_Reserve

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Chikmagalur had a lot of hills to trek, waterfalls to be seen and a variety of estates to explore, however we had to skip a lot of them. Considering most of the waterfalls were dry anyways, we decided to head over to Belur.

Belur is an old temple town and falls under Hassan District and is just an hours ride away from Chikmagalur in a local bus.

Belur_Temple

Renovation work was underway when we visited the temple. While it was still dark, before sunrise, and the temple doors were yet to be open, we roamed around town and came across this chariot.

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We returned back to the city to complete what we left for the last day: The Coffee Museum. Most of the Travelogues we read, rated this as a Must-visit place.

However, it was funny that not many in Chikmaglur knew about the place. And the ones who seem to know, It was always “somewhere straight”. This trail, made us walk. A lot. But good thing was, we loved the experience.

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We also feasted on few raw mangoes on our way and quite a few local sights.

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Coming across giant trees which we hanged onto, stopping in between to talk to locals, mostly in Kannada, which only one of us knew.

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After strolling around the area and finally getting to see that sign of “Coffee Museum”, we were elated. Like finding water in a desert!! Sadly, It was an oasis-situation in the end as well!

When we reached the Coffee Museum, it was closed. This place is only open on Weekdays which these travel blogs failed to mention.

The watchman allowed us inside and stroll, take pics and even recommended where we can get the best coffee in town to take back. Panduranga it was! The coffee we bought, along with Honey and lots of spices, were indeed good. (Late edit: Coffee was good, but the honey wasn’t)

We had to catch the bus, but before that there was lunch! Favorite part of any trip is the Food. Atleast for me. After having stuck to vegetarian choices on this tour, we finally had something else, something better.

Ohh yes!! Searched for this place called “Eats of Arab” which had some good ratings on Zomato, and it was worth it. More than anything, the menu itself was enough to create an appetite. Not that we were lacking any of it. Not only because of the variety of food but the menu card/booklet design as well.

 

It was a good end to the trip. Most of our time went into travel and perhaps that is what you end up doing when you visit a hill station. You either book a fancy hotel to relax and enjoy the view or drive around those trails and enjoy the same.

Leaving you with this picture of the road down the hill from Mullayangiri.

Chikmagalur_Travelogue_Roads

Chikmagalur is indeed a great place for a weekend getaway and the ideal way to enjoy is to stay at a lovely Chikmagalur homestay, head to Mullayangiri, visit coffee plantations and have good south Indian food. And of Course, Coffee!

Also, if you are planning a trip to Kochi, Varkala, Allepey, Mumbai, Pondicherry, Mangalore, Udupi, Chennai, Kodaikanal you can read my Travelogues by simply clicking on these.

Allepey_Travelogue_Backwaters_Cover

Travelogue: The Allepey Chapter

A good nights’ sleep, and a bus to catch for the most anticipated part of our trip, Allepey, or as it is now referred to as Alappuzha Our morning at Fort Kochi started off on an adventurous note. We ended up missing our bus stop and the wait to catch another bus literally took ages!!

We had planned to reach Alleppey before 11 AM, in order to catch the government-run-ferry. Time was of the essence.

From figuring out, where to stand in order to catch a bus for Alleppey by confirming multiple times with different people, we finally made it.

[Related: Travelogue: The Kochi Chapter]

 

Ferry boats, Shikaras, and colorful houseboats greeted us, along with hordes of boatwaalas asking us to take their boats instead.

On time for the Government boat, with a ticket costing 400 INR, we started off our ride. Alleppey to Kollam in nearly 8 Hours, with two stops for meals. Awesomeness was expected, and it was indeed what we got to see.

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The backwaters. If you’re wondering, what is a Backwater?

A backwater is a part of a river in which there is little or no current. It refers either to a branch of a main river, which lies alongside it and then rejoins it, or to a body of water in a main river, backed up by an obstruction such as the tide or a dam.

The Kerala backwaters are a chain of brackish lagoons and lakes lying parallel to the Arabian Sea coast.

 

From what I had imagined the backwaters in my head, the view definitely did justice to it. And yet, the feeling of being in the midst of the green serenity was just pure bliss.

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Our eyes turned into cameras, capturing the green and colorful.  Of course, cameras gave them company too. Waving to the street children along the banks and rushing around the deck to get the best view kept everyone in the boat busy.

The locals could be seen rowing their boats around like it was just another day. While the fishermen were busy in readying their ships as these fishing net gateways welcomed us.

 

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Along with this, one could see the birds scattered around our boats, as we moved along to our destination, Kollam.

This bird watching experience as they fly behind the boat was pure bliss. The video isn’t clear but the view is still fresh in my head.

In between, we stopped for lunch. Eating an all-vegetarian Kerala meal with its boiled rice, curries and vegetables,  was a unique experience. Definitely not my first Kerala meal experience, but eating it there was quite nice. A stamp of authority, maybe?

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By the time we reached Kolam, we were tired but the experience was inspiring enough to keep us upbeat.

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The trip didn’t end here but got extended to another day. How ?

Well, read about it, in this Travelogue here.

Kochi_Travelogue_Fisherman

Travelogue: The Kochi Chapter

The much-hyped tourist places usually fall short of what they have been crowned with. I expected the same with Kerala, and I’m glad to be proven wrong.

Kerala was part of my Travel-bucket-list for like, forever. I was spoilt for choice as to where this trip should actually begin from. With a travel time of around 10+ hours, finally, after much deliberations, we planned for Kochi and Alleppey. And included another location to the trip.

First Halt: Ernakulam junction.

Kochi_Travelogue_Ernakulam_Station

We reached in the early hours of a Friday morning only to notice everything outside the station was literally Green! We had booked a place at Fort Kochi via Airbnb. Those oblivious to this cool service, I’ll request you to check it out, instead of booking hotels. You stay with locals at reasonably good prices and with tips from the locals are something that goes a long way in helping explore the place.

Kochi_Travelogue_Ferry_Ticket

From Ernakulam, we boarded a ferry towards Fort Kochi for just Rs. 8 for the two of us!! We were surprised to get something this cheap. After a slow and yet comforting ride, we reached the lovely Airbnb.

Kochi_Travelogue_Ferry_to_fort_kochi

After our host offered us coffee, a quick bath, and a 30-minute nap, we headed out for breakfast.

Kashi art café was our breakfast point, we had to walk around a little around the neighborhood to reach the cafe.

The décor was artsy, and even though both of us weren’t the type, it still gave a good vibe. We treated ourselves to some good breakfast after a 10-hour journey in the general compartment, the previous night. YES, that was part of our adventure to travel as well as save on cost.

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We explored a little more of the neighborhood before we reached the Chinese fishing nets and subsequently the Fort Kochi beach.

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Meanwhile, it was time for the Friday prayers. It wasn’t difficult to find a mosque, although it was a new experience to listen the Takrir and Khutba in Malayalam. Something we weren’t used to. In our non-south-Indian heads, the perception of Urdu being a ‘Muslim’ language is falsely fed in, anyway.

The streets in Fort Kochi has a vintage feel to it. The buildings, street arts & Graffiti (there’s a lot of it) gives it a strikingly cool image.

The Travel guide picked up at the home-stay, suggested us to try out another café, for its amazing pizzas. Housed in a Veranda with trees for company, the locale felt perfect for us to drop by. The vegetarian pizza was ordered, as it just didn’t felt like the meat would be halal as they appeared quite hesitant to our question.

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Pizza, with spinach and basil, tasted real good. Bit different for our taste, yet we loved it. Although the drinks felt a little overpriced.

Post the Pizzas, we also treated ourselves to some Gelato in a vintage house turned ice-cream parlor.

Post lunch, we spent a little more time around the Fort Kochi Beach and fishing-net area. Wish it was a little cleaner, but most beaches in India are like this.

Our plan was to head to Allepey, the next day. But Ernakulam was yet to be explored.

We boarded the Jetty, again, for the city. Roamed around, offered prayers and with Easter eve, found most of the places closed. With a little help from Zomato, ended up at the food court of a mall. Who wants to end up in the Food court? Although our plan was to go to a proper restaurant for our Dinner. Luckily, the food wasn’t bad. A very differently cooked dry chicken meal along with rice was what we had.

Kochi_Travelogue_Dried_Chicken

 

We had to rush to catch the Ferry as we were about to miss the last one. A friend suggested viewing Fort Kochi beach at night. So, before heading back to the homestay, we did spend a few minutes there.

Kochi_Travelogue_Fort_Kochi_Beach_Sunset

This Kochi Travelogue might be ending here, but there’s more in Kerala, in these travelogues.

[Related: About the amazing Backwaters of Allepey] 

[Related: The Best Beach, I’ve visited in India]

Spreading a little Happiness

From all the trips that I’ve done till now, the one last year to Pondicherry has been the best yet. Reasons ? Well I have a lot of em.

This happened to be my first solo trip. I was excited to finally get something off my bucket list. I loved the whole experience of what it brought along with it. Travelling around to explore something new. Meeting people, trying out new cuisines and spending time without having to worry about time itself. Interestingly, the Pondicherry tourism tagline goes by, “Give time a break”. And I did.

During my stay, I was roaming around the town on a bicycle as well as a Vespa on the two days. On the second day, when I had pretty much roamed around the place, was left with time and petrol to spare.

One person, a middle-aged man, was asking for lift to passerby. I stopped my bike close to him. Happily, he boarded the bike and said something in Tamil. After having established that I knew none of it. Except of course Tamil Terriyadu (which means I don’t know Tamil). We conversed in a little broken hindi which he knew, surprisingly. He thanked me for that and I moved on.

Although it was just a start. When you’re driving you can see a lot many asking for lift. In strange and peculiar ways sometimes. Some do the standard waving, while others excitedly wave around to catch attention.

I again met this young lad, clad in a lungi who asked me for lift. We talked a little where he was surprised as to why I was travelling alone. Yes, I get that a lot too. And due to some reasons, I’ve not been able to travel alone much. He enquired about my stay and whether I liked his town or not.

I was almost on my way back, where I met this teenager. Torn jeans and sadly not for his fashion sense, but actually torn, without any shoes or slippers walking along. Occasionally turning back to see if someone stops their vehicle to reduce his effort to walk back home. Or to wherever he meant to be taken to.

I stopped and he was almost expressionless at that time. I signaled him to hop on, which he did and finally put on a little smile. He knew a little English, so we talked. I asked him about what he does to which he replied that he was a daily wage labor and usually heads back home at this time. From what we could talk, it was not very clear because of the language issue. I took out my camera and told him to pose for it, which he was very reluctant to. He then offered to take a picture of me in my camera. Even though I had to teach him on handling the camera, he did take one.

This picture was clicked by the him..

This picture was clicked by him..

 

Having clicked me, he was happy. As if he has learnt something new. He returned me the camera and shaking hands he went away. I was waiting for the signal to turn Red,  while I saw him dancing happily and running into the lane.

I was smiling. It felt good. A different kind of good.

This Entry is part of the #LookUp Stories series by Housing.com in association with Indiblogger.

5 Things to do if living was Befikar Umar Bhar

5 Things to do, if life was Befikar Umar Bhar: Live The Life You Have Always Dreamed Of!

Everyone has their own share of hopes, dreams and aspirations that drive them to pursue their goals. Imagine a life without any constraints, nothing to hold you back.

I saw this very sweet advertisement from IDBI about #BefikarUmarBhar. I do agree that these sales people trying hard to push the numerous policies are a huge pain, but you got to see this ad!!

It just made me think how one can life a carefree (befikar) life, if at the right time, you make all the right decisions.

But well, the definition of the Befikr life might differ from one person to another. If, I had to jot down 5 things from my Bucket List that I would do if I was #BefikarUmarBhar , then they would be:
1. Travel :

To travel is to Live. Living Befikar.

Yes, that’s the first thing which comes to my mind when i think of my bucketlist. This can in itself start off a whole list of places I want to explore. And I don’t even mind even doing it alone. I’d love to even do that all by myself. FRom trains to boats, to motorcycles to cycles, I’d love to travel in anything. Just for the love of it. To raom around, to meet new people. Absorb the new experiences. Taste the different cuisines. Capture the beauty through camera. There are so many places to travel and so many things to be done.
If there wouldn’t be an office to attend, this would be that ONE thing I would definitely do without any fikar.
2. Get Caffienated:

 

 

Well, I love coffee. Truth is, I’m addicted to it. I want to try out all the different varieties of coffee from across the globe.My goal is to create an encyclopedia of just coffee, its different varieties and also learn to make the perfect coffee too.
I get a high from just thinking about it.

 

3. Cook it up: Well, I have found Cooking to be such a therapeutic experience. And this comes from a guy who hardly went inside kitchen back home. I had never even heated milk, forget about cooking!!

But after moving to this new place, I have found a certain liking to it. I won’t say I’m really good at it, but I love cooking. And yes, I’m getting good at it.

I want to experiment. Experiment a lot, without any fikar.

 

4. Build a small house near a hill/close to a calm serene beach:

A small house without the disturbance of the world...

A small house without the disturbance of the world…

This is something I wold do to live befikar. It would be just amazing to be in living in a place without the disturbance of the world. Simply sit in the open verandah/Balcony and be lost in my reveries. Yep, that’s what I want. No fikar.

5. Write, and Write a lot:

Write, write and write a lot!

Writing now is influenced by so many things. More than anything it is finding time to write something, just like this post. I don’t want all this. There shouldn’t be any worry to find time. I just want to write a lot. It doesn’t matter if they turn out to be something good or not. But what I would love to do is, write and express whatever my mind thinks without the fear of anyone. To put forth any of my views and be happy about it all, without worrying about what anyone else would think about it.

 

This post was written in association with Indiblogger for Indi-Happy hours for IDBI Federal

Mangalore_Travelogue_malpe_beach_Boat

Travelogue: The Mangalore Chapter

Mangalore Travelogue 1: October, 2015

There’s no better way to experience an Indian state than a Road Trip.  This travelogue is about places explored in Mangalore as well as the nearby towns.

Usually I prefer travelling via train. First because, its cheaper and second, I hate travelling in buses. This time we opted for a convenient option of hiring a Car for us. Expensive, yes, but convenient.

Our anchor point for this trip was Mangalore and that’s where we had booked our stay. A late-night start which allowed us to enjoy the view of the Ghats during dusk.

Breakfast comprised of sandwiches, omelette, Scrambled eggs and Coffee at Diesel Cafe.

 

We visited to the church of St. Aloysius, which is around 130 years old. Carved with intricate pictures explaining the life of Jesus Christ and other saints.

Mangalore_Travelogue_St. Aloysius

It was indeed a wonderful experience. The church complex comprised of  a college and nursing home.The chapel is an architectural marvel in itself, built by Italian Antonio Moscheni. We weren’t allowed to click photos inside the church and hence…

It was almost time for lunch, but the place we had bookmarked for our lunch was closed. Reason being “Dry day” (2nd Oct) and since the restaurant comes along with a Bar. Instead we ended up having our “lunch” in an ice-cream parlour, called Pabbba’s Ice cream, with only Ice-creams.

If you ever visit Mangalore, this is a not-to-miss place.

Evening was reserved for a trip down to the beach and enjoy ourselves.

The Day-2 of the trip involved a lot of travelling as we moved from Mangalore to Udupi, after finishing our breakfast. We opted for the nearby Diesel Cafe (again) but instead of the English breakfast, we delved for a little taste of Mangalorean food (Sort of). It was Neer dosa and rice rotis.

We also made a stop at the 1000 pillar temple.

Mangalore_Travelogue_Thousand_Pillar_Temple

as well as the nearby Neminath Basadi Temple in Karkala, overlooking the Gomateshwara statue. Post  and finally climbing the stairs to see the Huge statue.

 

The best part of the trip was yet to come, and like every trip you take, there remains that one place which stands out. Malpe beach was that place for me. I’ve never been on a beach with rain for company, but with this visit even that has been accomplished.

There were cocnuts lying around the beach, and one of my friend even broke it up for us to eat.

Dead fishes were thrown across with the incoming waves and so was garbage.

But we enjoyed the fishes. No, not those of course, but these. I always prefer the river ones over the Salt water fishes, but these were damn yummy.

While the fish was being fried, we indulged in some Gola and bhutta eating.

Although we went to Malpe beach with the hope of going over to St. Mary’s island, but thanks to timing, we just missed the ferry that takes people to the island. Sad part is, we had to watch the ferry leave in front of our eyes.

 

Consoled ourselves with the view of the dockyard and the crazy smell of fishes all over the place.

Finally it was time to head back to Mangalore and finish of the trip.

For me, the trip ended here at the beach with the taste of the fish still amalgamated in my mouth.

Must say, although I love travelling alone, this one with friends was very relaxing. Agreed that I missed out on lots of places to visit, authentic food to be tried, getting to know the locals or travelling in public transport while interacting with them. But this had a certain charm in itself.

 

Here is the youtube video of the Mangalore trip:

 

Also, if you are planning a trip to ChikmagalurKochi, Varkala, Allepey, Mumbai, Pondicherry, Chennai, Kodaikanal you can read my Travelogues by simply clicking on these.

Travelogue: The Mumbai Chapter

A 3-day trip to Mumbai, a city which is magical and perfectly fits as the commercial capital of India. There is so much to do in mumbai and I had so little time. Even Rain didn’t spared me. (Although, surprisingly I enjoyed that too there 😛 )!! From Travelling in locals, to being stuck in platforms, really helpful Taxi drivers, great choices for food, sight-seeing, hangouts and simply strolling around, it has it all.

Couldn’t take many pictures due to rain, but whatever have taken, posting them here in collages. I enjoyed my stay there, hope you enjoy them through these pics too.

Khandala

Khandala: Lucky enough to catch a few glimpses of the place before entering Mumbai. Pics taken while during running train, and hence doesn’t capture the full beauty that the place offers.

Gateway of india

Gateway of India. Visited this marvel during early evening, the crowd, the liveliness and just the structure is gigantic. Of course, you get to see The taj hotel just on the opposite side, horse-carts around for rent, a statue of Chatrapati Shivaji and photographers 😛

Bandstand!!

band stand, Mumbai

Things to see (apart from the creepy couples 😛 ), the Bandra-worli sea-link, amazing view, lots of bungalows of filmstars. I got one-clicked near SRK’s Mannat, although the security wasn’t allowing even that!!

Mohammad ali Road, Mumbai

Muhammad Ali Road!! The place to be! Street food: Awesome. This includes, kebabs, rolls, and all sorts of non-veg, also are places for sweets (Suleman Usman is a must), and all of this is dirt-cheap. Old bombay and the muslim food, makes this place amazing.

Racecourse, Mumbai

Racecourse: This was my first visit to a racecourse, and even though there were no race in progress, one in Pune was in progress and Live in the big screens over there. The best part was to see how people, bet ,get excited when they win and disheartened when they lose.

Haji ali, Mumbai

Haji Ali: Dargah of Sayed Peer Haji Ali Shah Bukhari, a place which is always crowded. Even though it was raining, and the pathway over the sea was continuopusly gushing waves, the numbers were still high. Just went there to take pictures, but the rains made it really difficult.

On the outside, there is the famous Haji Ali juice centre. Must say, this is one of the MOST hyped joint, I’ve ever visited. terrible service, juices are decent but really over priced!! Had two, for the sake of it.

Chatrapati Shivaji Terminus: One of the busiest stations in India

CST!! Chatrapati Shivaji Terminus, this Italian gothic-cum-mughal architecture inspired station, which runs long-distance as well as suburban station is a Sight!! The area in and around is even more amazing.

Dhobi Ghaat, Mumbai

Dhobi Ghaat: Very close to Racecourse road, a trip down to these lanes is sure to make you experience something different. This sure is bound to make you understand a lot of things, including being a little more humble.

Bade Miyan, Mumbai

Bade Miyan.. This place is famous for its non-veg food. Although general recommendations were to come here after midnight, I ended up going a lil early. Gives you the feel of old-muslim hotels, with a going-big approach!!

Art gallery, Near Jahangir art gallery, Mumbai

Art, Creativity and simply off-beat stuff. Along the Jahangir Art gallery, a place place the Kala ghoda festival takes place, these gems can be seen.

Near Colaba  causeway, Mumbai

Near Colaba causeway, away from the market, you get to see this sight. I’ve never seen ships, so close. Even noticed the helipad in between the huts, when one landed just in between them.

Fort Area, Mumbai

Fort area!! This area simply vows you with British era buildings sprawled around. Its classy, pleasing and Mumbai!!

Food in Mumbai

Food!! YES, that’s one of the most important part of my trips anywhere.

Sadly, due to the rains, it was tough to explore the street food for which Mumbai is famous for, and the ones I did, couldn’t take pics of. Some of the lucky ones, which got clicked are here!! Must add, the options for food of all kind, are unlimited!!

Me, Rains and Nariman Point

Rains all around, wind cheater and a cap on, I strolled around!! This one is from Nariman point. Rains, Bhutta, sea-side and Me. Best moment of the trip.

Mumbai Police busy in their phones :P

Jokes apart, they seemed to be really helpful. I asked about a particular location and where I can get a cab, he told me in marathi (which i understood somehow :P), its near only beta, go take a walk!!

Security seemed pretty tight in most places, and just like you’ll see CCD’s at every nukkad here in Bangalore, you get Police station there!!

Magic of Mumbai

The magic of Mumbai, cannot be captured in just 3 days. It needs a lot of time to sink in, immerse and enjoy the whole of it. I’m pretty sure that this place will be visited again, very soon.

So, until my next trip, the travelogue will get a little rest now.

Pondicherry_Travelogue_Paradise_beach_Hut

Travelogue: The Pondicherry Chapter

‘Give Time a break’, says the Pondicherry Tourism tagline.

Pondicehhry_Travelogue_Rock_beach_bridge

Indeed a fitting tag to define the place far south, that once used to be a french colony and yet maintains some of that flavor from its past. A two-day vacation, all alone on my first-of-many travels, began on 15th August. Pondicherry happened to be my first solo trip and marked a start to my travels across the country. Being the first makes it even special. This travelogue on Pondicherry tries to capture the details of my 2-day stay in this beach town.

Rock Beach

On the one side of the town is the Rock beach. Also referred to as ‘Promenade’ or ‘Gandhi beach’. It’s clean, scenic and is rocky, as the name clearly suggests. Evenings are a place to relax by just sitting along the shores on one of these rocks. The sound of the waves bringing in a sense of calm along with their sound. I spent my first day cycling around this beach and exploring the food options available.

Auroville:

After waking up the next morning, it was time to start off towards Auroville and luckily I got my hands on a rented Vespa. Being a long-weekend it was difficult to get a bike. Hence, I was cycling around town in a bicycle on my first day.

Roughly around 10-km towards Auroville, with good roads and less traffic, it was an amazing ride. I was literally in love with the roads.

Pondicherry_Travelogue_Auroville

Auroville is quite the favorite of foreigners and tourists alike. Once you reach the place, there’s a long walk inside, amid trees and is sort of a respite from the hot-humid weather that is prevalent across the Pondicherry town. I tried one of the soda-based drinks and quite liked it.

Auro Beach

Located on the road leading to Auroville, this public beach is one which had quite a crowd. I drove further to get across to another section separated from the main beach which was like the secluded version of the main beach.

Boat ride, beautiful and Paradise Beach

This one takes the cake in terms of beaches in Pondicherry. Properly maintained and a boat ride takes you to the beach and is definitely worth going to.

Pondicherry_Travelogue_Boat

Best enjoyed with a group and comparatively cheaper water sports options are quite good. This was that time in my trip where I missed people. Only time, actually.

Ensure that you visit it during the early part of the day to avoid long queue at the ferry boat which will bring you to the island.

The road to this paradise is a long sweaty hell, and I was the unlucky one, to have arrived late in the day.

Food in Pondicherry

Understanding a place is incomplete without letting your taste buds take a dive into the flavour of the place. Pondicherry is quite tourist-friendly and is packed with eating options.

The first place I ate was the famous, La Cafe. The Sandwich and Burger were decent, but the coffee was terrible. So much for the range of  ‘reviews’ that this place boasted of.

My search for a good coffee took me to quite a few coffee shops and these two cappuccinos proved to be just right. I am not able to recall the name of the place as of now, unfortunately. But it goes to show that good coffee isn’t hard to find in Pondicherry.

On a friend’s recommendation, I tried this restaurant called Xtasy and their chicken Pizza proved to be my dish of the trip. Do not miss the pizza from this outlet.

Streets, Roads and the Pondy rides

The town’s architecture has a distinct French taste to it. Churches, Mosques, Temples can be seen everywhere. Some of the captured ones are here. But, the whole aura of the place is in experiencing it yourself. I even ended up visiting a mosque which claims to be one of the oldest in the country.

Pondicherry, apart from beaches, made me realize what effect travel can have on you. Apart from the tan, as a result of no-sunscreen, the town gave me quite a few lessons. Pondicherry, it was lovely being with you for two days.

I went there to get immerse in the town and I did.  The experience of exploring a place for the first time on your own is very distinctive. Sometimes, you’re scared too. But this place has such an influence that I didn’t find my fear getting the better of me. Instead it proved to be a wonderful experience.

Pondicherry is truly a place where you can give time, a break.

Travelogue: The Chennai Chapter

Technically, this was my third time @ Chennai.  in case you’re not familiar with my accidental trip to chennai, you can read it here 😛 . But then a city hasn’t been “visited” if you don’t immerse in it. So, on a Monday afternoon while returning back to Bangalore, a 5-hour wait for the next train turned out to be the perfect getaway to explore.

But then a city, whose language I didn’t knew, it was tricky to decide where to head. It was all thanks to the PMIT group (for the uninitiated this is the Put me in Touch Facebook group) which came to my rescue.

And hence the trail began.

Not the one that I boarded, just an illustration :P

Not the one that I boarded, just an illustration 😛

From Chennai Central Railway station to the electric train platform across the road and a ride towards Indiranagar  followed next. Met this young fellow, who didn’t understood English, yet tried making me understand in his Tamil about where to get down. Kept on saying, he’ll “solraa” (that he’ll tell perhaps).

A 15-minute walk, an auto towards Besant Nagar beach and a long walk along the beach. There’s something with the beaches that a walk along the horizons, on the sandy shores just makes you lost in it.

besant nagar beach

besant nagar beach

Took some time out to take the gun and shoot some colorful balloons. The lady probably forgot to count and ended up shooting more than 20 rounds. Got a lot of them busted too. 😛

Shot a few rounds and couln't resist a selfie in the coulorful background :)

Shot a few rounds and couln’t resist a selfie in the coulorful background 🙂

What followed was a hasty trip to Murugan Idli, where I had one of the softest idlis ever. But the best part were the chutneys over there. I’m not a big fan of chutneys as such, but surely these were amazing to say the least. Even before the idlis arrived, I had licked half of the chutney. Although the coffee at this place wasn’t that great to my liking, compared to other times, when I’ve tried the filter kaafi.

Murugun Idlis: The chutney's were the best, while the Idli was on the expected lines.

The other end of the beach had many more outlets for food. But as time was short, could only go to one. One of them was Amma’s Athho noodles. The name sounded interesting, so tried the noodles, but it wasn’t that great. More so, cos the weather and food, both were really hot.

Attho's noodles: The guy said, it's a burma dish. Was hot for sure, didn't suited my taste buds though.

Attho’s noodles: The guy said, it’s a burma dish. Was hot for sure, didn’t suited my taste buds though.

A direct bus back to the Central station wasn’t available as I would had hoped. Had to shell out a lot for the auto, but the road towards the station was filled with many of the notable spots that I had heard of. The MGR memorial being one of them and well, it looked great from outside too.

Apart from the heat, there was hardly anything that I didn’t enjoy even in such a short time. Even the auto-guys were really polite and when verified, didn’t charge me that high too.

Hope to visit Chennai again soon, and this time with more planning and for a little more time.

5 places to experience in Malaysia

We had an International tour last year around this time and believe me it was the best thing that happened the previous year. Not only it was worth travelling with a bunch of your classmates and friends alike, the locations and travel had its own joy attached to it. We had a three-nation tour consisting of Thailand-Malaysia-Singapore. Although each of them had it’s own distinct flavor, yet for me Malaysia was the best of the three. There were quite a few places we travelled, of course on a very strict schedule, yet almost having non-stop fun in whichever opportunity we could get.

Having said that, there were many places which we couldn’t touch upon, or rather the tour schedule didn’t permit us. But believe you me, given a chance there are some amazing places that I’d like to visit. So, for now I’ll just give out the top5 places that are a Must visit.

1. First on the list is the beautiful Langkawi Island in Kedah.

It is a cluster of 99 islands scattered among them are beautiful beaches, world- class infrastructure, mangroves rich in flora and fauna. Not just this, many of the islanders are actually farmers, fishermen and entrepreneurs, which actually gives a unique culture experience.

Lankawi island

Lankawi island

Lankawi island

One can enjoy the country side with the calm paddy field by just simply renting away a car. From experiencing the village life by not just passing along but even by Heading up to the thrilling new cable car to the summit of Mount Mat Cincang, which will give the entire island’s ultimate view. One can even enjoy trekking through the rain-forest.

2. The next stop should be the nearby Dayang Bunting Lake or ‘Tasik Dayang Bunting’, Langkawi, Kedah

One can come here on a boat tour from the Lankawi Island, Tasik Dayang Bunting (Lake of the Pregnant lady), which has legends attached to it.

The island, which is about 20 kilometres from Kuah town, is modestly populated on one side and virtually uninhabited on the other where the lake is situated.

dayang bunting lake

dayang bunting lake

3. Mosques in Malaysia: Malaysia has some of the most beautiful mosques, and the architecture speaks for itself. Understanding a country’s cultural fabric requires understanding the value system on which it is based on. The mosques in Malaysia are a perfect example of how co-existence of religious teachings coincides with the development which the country has achieved.  Some of the notable mosques include the National mosque or the previous national mosque which is also called the Jamek Mosque in Kuala Lumpur, this mosque was Built in 1909. The Masjid Jamek, as is called among the locals is the oldest mosque in the city. The mosque sits at the meeting point of the Klang and Gombak rivers, which is also the birthplace of Kuala Lumpur. Its architecture is inspired by Mogul influences of northern India. In 1965, it was officially declared as the National Mosque.

Blue Mosque

Blue mosque

Blue mosque

Blue mosque

Another beautiful mosque is the Sultan Salahuddin Abdul Aziz Shah Mosque in Shah Alam is one of the most stunning structures in the country.  This mosque is commonly referred to as the ‘Blue Mosque’. This mosque has one of the tallest minarets, while also showcasing its beautiful blue dome as the visitors approach towards it.
Decorative Islamic calligraphy in the dome and prayer halls and the interior architecture exhibits ethnic Malay design elements. Sunlight filtering through the blue stained glass of the mosque renders a bluish ambiance to its interior evokes a sense of peace and serenity.
They not only provide a place of worship but also as symbols of maintained peace and harmony through their presence.

 

4. The next stop should be the famous Batu Caves

Even though, Malaysia happens to be an Islamic nation, it supports the minority religions and their beliefs, and that is something which is ingrained in the cultural fabric of the nation. The batu caves, and even the annual Hindu festivals, where it is said that roads are kept blocked just so as to let the processions pass, all of this in a country with a minority Hindu population.

Batu Caves is no doubt an iconic and popular tourist attraction, which attracts a huge inflow of tourists especially during the annual Hindu festival, Thaipusam.

Batu caves

A limestone outcrop located just north of Kuala Lumpur, Batu Caves has three main caves featuring temples and Hindu shrines.
As you may have noticed from the pictures, it has a large statue of the Hindu God at the entrance, besides a steep 272 climb up its steps to finally view the stunning skyline of the city centre. Of course the climb up the stairs is going to make you sweat a lot. But don’t worry, you’ll have monkeys to give you company. But beware of carrying valuables just inviting them to be at their mischievous best. It is a popular spot for rock climbing enthusiasts. Paintings and scenes of Hindu Gods can also be seen in the Ramayana Cave.

5.  Gunung Mulu National Park

A huge underground chamber and one of the largest networks of caves, which are apart from being immense in size, are a scenic beauty. It also houses the world’s biggest cave passage, Deer Cave. Another key attraction is Clear Water Cave which is the longest cave in Southeast Asia. The caves are filled with a number of bats, which come alive post-dusk.

Gunung Mulu National Park

Gunung Mulu National Park

Gunung Mulu National Park

Razor-sharp pinnacles, deep-cut canyons, appropriately named The Pinnacles, is what is formed as a result of weathering.  If one is interested in hiking, one can even do so.

Gunung Gading National Park

Nearby, one can even go to the Gunung Gading National Park, which has the famous mountainous rainforest. This place has spectacular Rafflesia, the largest flower in the world that can grow up to one metre in diameter.

Reflesia Gunung Gading National Park

Initially, the park was a closed conservation zone, but now is open for the world to  see the treasure. Jungle trails lead to streams, cascading waterfalls and the mountains, with one path taking trekkers to the summit of Gunung Gading (906m).  The rugged mountains within the Park provide a scenic backdrop to the nearby town of Lundu, and the beaches at Pandan and Siar, which are just amazing sights to be a part of.

And with it, I end my Wishlist of 5 places to visit in Malaysia.

Feeling excited and want to know more about the events happening in Malaysia and planning to book a trip , visit Tourism Malaysia website for more information or the Malaysia Tourism’s contest.

I am participating in the MalaysiaJao Blogathon Contest in association with BlogAdda.com

 

The trip where I learnt…

Early morning. December’s early morning. Infectiously cold. I walked down to the auto stand to catch hold of one to drop me at the picking point. Going out had mixed emotions shadowing me and running away to contribute something to the social cause.

Reaching the centre where I was supposed to pick them up in a Tata Safari, which looked quite new to my surprise. After having the customary greetings and exchanges, the Car was filled up. Not knowing anyone else over there proved to be very odd, but yet meeting new people and the experience that was on the cards, was something that gave me a kick.

Maybe it was the cold or the initial hesitation that kept most of them to be quite, but as the sun woke up by slowly removing the blanket covering itself that started vanishing. I comforted myself in the front seat along with the driver, before we stopped midway to have our breakfast. A couple of Jalebis and lots of puris down the stomach, put on a big smile on all their faces, which were all silent and dull all this while. Words started pouring out from their end, as if the food was all that did the talking for them. I was munching away my jalebis, savouring the taste along the way, before the eldest of them came and enquired as to how this was actually made. I wondered at the mere thought as to how someone, not know about the magic of jalebis. When I turned to answer him with slight astonishment flashing across my face and a smile of sarcastic indulgence garnishing it, I noticed it was the partially blind Ravi, who was asking that question.

Somehow, I couldn’t straightaway answer him back. My answer wasn’t depended on the question that was asked, but the person asking the same as well. Just out of curiosity, folded with the polite tone, I retorted back with, “Aapne jalebi nahi khayi kya kabhi? “ to which there was a chuckle of rememberence and “Oh!! Jalebi hai ye”.

There was realization on my part, that this was not just any other person asking it, but Ravi who had asked the question. For some strange reason, I didn’t ask anything else but the thought of being the “guide” had just materialized. I thought of the fact that I should make this trip, not just productive for them but also make them enjoy through my eyes as well.

Hopping back on the extremely big Safari, instead of seating myself in the comfort of the front seat, I sat at the back along with Ravi, Harish, Kiran and Kalpesh; while Jeetu, the youngest of the lot gave Raheem, the driver company in the front seat.

With one topic to another, experiences being shared and laughs being echoed inside. On a particular song that the driver put on, they all ganged up on Kalpesh and his story of how he met his wife. A love marriage back there was still a new thing and his story was something very filmy or philmy as they put it. The story wasn’t anything really over the top, but the sheer joy they all shared in laughing at Kalpesh’s “misery” and the subsequent endeavors.

We stopped midway, almost 1 hour away from our destination to soak in some pan frenzy (beetle) as suggested by our Driver. Now, these people had never tasted that before. It’s not like there in Siliguri they don’t get these, but never got to chew in these leaves before. For first timers, it’s always preferred to start with a meetha pan, and this being one of my personal favourites pestered them all with this only.

Now with the size that filled their mouth with the reddishness of the pan flavor and making them blister out parts of it, even to the extent that spitting some of it on others along the process, and again laughing it off on each other again. I stood there admiring how life is so uncomplicated for these souls, whose vision is hampered by no fault of theirs. Yet the simple joy of togetherness is mastered through the bonhomie being visible all across their pan laden faces.

Although splitting with laughter had gave way for spitting it out among each others, still at the end of it, the customary spitting it out procedure was carried out near a dust-bin placed nearby instead of just doing it anywhere as Rahim suggested. This particular act of theirs, to keep the place clean even though they cannot soak in the visual pleasures, is an example of what these guys were.

Zooming ahead with the team while talking through about the descriptions of the notable things that came across and at the same time listening to their co-relational conversations among themselves, we had almost reached Mosaboni. The talk about their own culture was interesting for me and enjoyable for them. After having reached the venue, and greeted with the refreshments, which they enjoyed after a long ride from Jamshedpur.

The reason for the meet was to get them acquainted with the necessary working knowledge of how the Disability wing of Jharkhand works, so that they could use the experience to help their own wing back in Siliguri. A lot of positives came out of the meeting, with involved discussion from everyone, sharing problems and their solutions. Journalists had also gathered along to help promote this meeting and highlight the social issue.

Although there was a plan to stay back and be a part of another meeting, but it was cut short due to the postponement of the meeting, and we needed to wrap it all up on that day itself. So returning back, we went in to one of the roadside restaurants and ordered food. I must add here that the food was terrible to my taste buds and I left half of it.

After washing my hands, I stood there waiting for others to finish their food plates. It’s amusing that how these people had so much of understanding affection between them. Ravi and Harish, the visually impaired were being fed by Kalpesh and Kiran, who had a physical disability due to their legs. While Jeetu, who was partially blind, ate his way through the plate without any sort of complaints offered to anyone. Like most of the things that I saw, I again wondered as to how, they could adjust to each and everything that was thrown their way.

While returning back, I was calm and soaked in the time and experience of just one day of being with these wonderful people. Wonderful as they were, gave me a lot to think about. I exchanged my  numbers with them, and assured them that if I ever happen to visit Siliguri or any place near North Bengal, should call them up.

Good bye it was then. Leaving them with the other guide, who was to arrange for their train tickets to return back to Siliguri, I returned back home. It started raining, while I was almost nearing my home. Getting out of the Safari at that meeting point itself and taking an auto back home and then finally getting drenched in the rain to enter my home. There is a certain amazement associated with the rain-walk when you are happy. You just want to let it go and soak in the awesomeness coming from above.

Coming back home to my Ammi’s surprise and scolding of getting wet, which might make me bimaar, I changed up soon. She dried my hairs and made me a coffee. Sipping it down, while looking out through the window on the movements of droplets along the panes, I kept on thinking about the fact that this was the best trip of my life. Even now, when I remember that time and the experience I had, add to it the learning I still feel the same.

The happiness that got generated post the trip and the things I learnt, i would someday take others to experience the same joy which i became a part of.

This entry was written in association with Indiblogger for Yatra.com.

 

 

An Accidental trip to Chennai..

uth jaa re… kitna soega? Roz subah aake uthana padta hai” was what was beamed into my ears, early in the morning. Every morning, with an accustomed reply of, “bas aur 5 minute ammi”. The 5-minute of course got snoozed across to many more wake-up calls by Ammi and with each call, the frequency mixture of irritation and anger on her 21-year old son was more and more visible. And finally, it was Morning for me. Although the clock on the wall, said the otherwise by resting both the hands close to the number 12.
This was how the last leg of my vacations at home was being spent. Early morning sleep and an afternoon wake-up. Being at home, without any sort of time-table to take care of is one of the many perks that one can get.
It was time to do the most dreaded of tasks at the end of a long vacation at home. Packing. Arranging stuff back onto your luggage is an art of its own of which I am a novice. Somehow, with Ammi being there, it was done.
Had booked my tickets long back, 29th June was the day and here it was. With all bidaayi sessions completely done with , where no matter how long your vacations seem to be, on your way towards the station your eyes do get moist, thinking of those tears at the doors of your home.
Anyways, it was time for the train. Yes, I was on time. But the train was not. How consistent of Indian Railways to be always not be on time!! After all, coming late is so in vogue.
And finally it came. The train.
With loads of luggage, thanks to Ammi filling it up with excessive snacks and achaar’s so that I may not become dublaa again, I entered into S1 looking for seat number 71. Ended up entering from the first gate, and had to go to the other end to reach my seat. With this entire luggage, it was a task in itself. But finally it was seat number 71!! Phew!!
But.
There was already a couple sitting over there, reading a telugu magazine and seemed lost in their own world. On enquiring about the seats, first they gave a surprised look and then took out a printed ticket from their bag. Even I opened my e-ticket. Same coach, same seat.
The TTE came in only to check my ticket, of same coach and same seat and same train. But. A date which was different from that of today. It wasn’t 29/6/2013 but 29/7/2013!!!
WTF!!!
I somehow got off the train, only to find that there wasn’t any other train directly to Bangalore that day!!
Epic!!
Time stood still, even when the train on the platform did not. The train moved and I stayed still for a moment, and then for moments. With no idea about what I need to do, I just stood there.
I felt helpless. An absent on day 1 of the new session isn’t taken well in college, and the prospect of getting a tatkal reservation for the next day is even scarier.
But there was my best friend Avi, being there to console me. Times like these you feel blessed to have people like these in your lives. A mere thank you is not enough for them, an d I didn’t said that as well.
With train timings for the day being checked upon, and the dreaded bus schedule also looking a possibility, I wondered whether I was almost unsure of what to do, and then it struck, how about a train to Chennai and then Bangalore?
Checking on with the train timings, there were some of them on the same day, but the issue was the chart for them would have already been prepared. With luggage of the size of monsters, I was confused as to whether to take this journey or not. Finally, I decided to do it.
Chennai it would be.
Chennai mail was to be boarded, with the normal tickets and a faint promise by the TTE to be there in s10 (which was the best news that I’ve had that day) somehow the journey began. The first task was to place my luggage securely under some seats and then search a place for myself. having done both of them( wasn’t easy asking people to keep my stuff under their ass, but with having “trained” myself into selling stuff for the last two months, did it).
A day long journey marred with the heat and excessively filled compartment, even being a reserved section and the TTE even after charging me for the entire train journey from Howrah to Chennai couldn’t provide me with a seat, eneded at 4’o clock the other day in Chennai!!
Yes, my first accidental trip to Chennai!
With a confused look and heavy luggage, making my way towards the ticket counter to purchase the tickets for Bangalore, then looking for ways on how to keep my belongings safe, I dumped them in the cloak room and moved out after a while to look up to Chennai, after all I had some 2 hours left for a Bangalore train (2 hours were spent looking out for waiting rooms, wash room and the Cloak room 😛 ).

Chennai ka Masala dosa The subway led me to a series of eateries; with the smell of filter coffee along with the morning eased my nostrils, a glass of hot filter coffee, Chennai style was had, followed by the Masala dosa. Having enjoyed the coffee and somehow the dosa not meeting my expectations, it was already time for the return journey. Just immersed my eyes with the images around, to soak in the magic of a city, which I visited accidentally, and then rushing back to claim my baggage and return where I was supposed to.
It was one of the many crazy journeys that I’ve ever been part of, lots of learning followed by lots of scolding by the near and dear ones on my stupidity. But, it was worth it.

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