Monday, December 5, 2011

Holiday in Kodaikanal

It was last week of November and we planned to go for Kodaikanal for a holiday though it was winter. Being in hill station in winter is all together a different experience. We got train reservation in Tutikorin express which departs at nine thirty in night from Bangalore. It reached to Kodai Road station in morning at seven. Weather was pleasant and drizzling was going on. We had a car booked in advance from there so we started for Kodai hills soon which is eighty KMs from the station. After half an hour, we stopped at a restaurant for breakfast. A beautiful lake was in front of restaurant and a series of hills in background was making it a picturesque place. After that, car went through ghat section and views on the way were pleasant. In between we stopped at Manjalaar dam view point for having some photos. Thalaiyar falls can be seen from here too. Just six KMs before Kodaikanal, we stopped at a falls called Silver Cascade. It was a nice waterfalls on road side. By nine'o clock we reached to our resort "Kodai Resort Hotel". The resort was built on a British cottage and very near to Kodai lake and other local attractions.

After getting fresh and a short rest we came out to have walk on so called Coaker's walk which was very nearby. It was a one KM pedestrian path running along the edge of hill and provide a panoramic view of the valley but we could not have a clear view of plains due to fog and mist. Snow like clouds were roaming beneath us. It was still drizzling, thanks to resort which provides umbrella for each room. After coming out of the Coaker's walk, we went to Bryant park which was again near to our resort only. After spending some time there we came out and reached to Kodai lake. Sun was little out but it was still cold. People were cycling which was available on some nominal charge. We had a look on the beautiful lake. It was a misty view of lake under the fog and mist all over. After that we went back to our resort and had lunch in their restaurant called as Overdane. Restaurant had the resort garden view and food served by them was delicious. After few hours of rest we came out from our room. It was raining again. We went to lake but it was complete fog and weather was very cold so we came back to resort quickly. In night we had a good dinner again. We enjoyed the fire chimney in reception which is more than hundred years old.

Next day, plan was to go to the Berijam lake, for which permission is required in morning from forest department. As it was raining heavy last night, there was no permission to go there. We had a car booked so we went for a local sight seeing. We went to Green Valley view, previously called as suicide point but could not got a view due to mist. We could only see a memorial there. From there we went to Guna's cave called as Devil's kitchen but could not go deep in forest to see it. We went to pine forest nearby and it was a nice place with nice surroundings and flowing natural water, whispering sound all over. After that we reached to Pillar rocks, one of the most popular attraction of Kodai. We were in front of giant stiff but could not catch a view due to very thick mist. Then we went to Bear Shola falls before going back to resort for lunch. After lunch, we went to Kurinji temple. Kodaikanal is famous for Kurinji flower which blossom once in twelve years. We stopped at the beautiful Chetiyar Park then but could not spend some time there as it was very cold outside and drizzling was going on too. We reached back to resort. In evening we went to Kodai lake and had a short walk along lake side. In night, a candle night dinner was arranged by the resort and that was great with the delicious buffet.

On third day, we went for another local sight seeing as permission for Berijam lake tour was not available. We went to La Salette Church first. We went to Moer point and then moved to Pambar falls. Car went through variegated paths of deep valley and unblemished hills. After passing the lush green jungle it stopped at a place from where we walked on steep slippery path to reach Pambar falls. This falls is more famous for the  well popular old Liril soap advertisement shooting place. This was surprisingly beautiful. Water rushes down heavily and surrounding low level trees make its aura magnificent. We had some beautiful photos here. Our next stop was Dolphin's nose. For reaching this point we had to trek 2KM downhills. Moving in forest along with mist and rain was a wonderful experience. We went through uneven passage on hills, passing the chilling water and got tired while reaching. Somehow we reached to this terrific point which is a big rock coming out of the cliff. We went on the top of the rock but could not dare to go up to the edge though our guide tried to convince us. We had some breath taking view at this location. After seeing the Eco point we moved back to the top. In between we had special Kodai tea on a small shop en route. After this tiring but memorable trekking we reached back to resort and had lunch. We still had few hours left which we spent in playing carom and chess in recreation room of  resort. Our stay in Kodai resort hotel was very comfortable. Staffs were courteous; delicious foods, the big garden and comfortable room with all facilities make it worth to stay. We had a walk on Kodai lake before we left for bus stand.  We started back for Bangalore in late evening and reached to home early morning. Fortunately we had booking in sleeper bus of KPN travels to make our journey comfortable.

Memories of  pleasurable beauty and enchanting journey across the green valley of Kodai will be remeembered for a long.

Monday, November 7, 2011

Patna Revisited

It was an early morning Indigo flight from Bangalore which took four hours to reach Patna. I was going to my hometown on the occasion of Chhath festival. My hometown Dalsinghsarai is about ninety kilometers from Patna and takes around three hours. As known to most of the people, runway of Patna airport is one of the shortest in the country. Plane fly low here for landing and the landscape of Patna can be easily seen form your seat. From my window I could see a clear picture of the long Mahatma Gandhi Setu and Golghar, the landmark of Patna.

First time I visited Patna was in the year ninety six to attend a marriage of my relative. I was fifteen year old and just finished my matriculation examinations. It was the best time to visit the capital city though it was the summer of June. I with my number of cousins reached to my relative's house and on the very first day we went for a city ride. In one day we covered most of the major landmarks except Zoo. We first went to Sri Krishna Science center, Patna museum, Planetarium, Biscomaan Bhavan -the tallest building, Gandhi maidan and of course Golghar. Next day we went to Kumhrar site and Patna Sahib Gurudwara. One thing we missed on that trip was to see an aeroplane, otherwise it was the complete trip. After that I traveled to this city a number of times on the very bad road of Dalsinghsarai to Patna. 

I lived in Patna for more than two years between ninety-eight and year two thousand, about eleven years back. I still remember those days when I was staying in Rajendra Nagar and Musallahpur Haat areas while preparing for the engineering entrance. Those days were busy with attending coaching classes and just reading your course books; and of course listening songs from Vividh Bharti on my old radio set. One intersting thing about those places was; one can get very cheap food and breakfast. I remember three samosas in a Rupee and four puris & sabji in two Rupees. Same for litti & chokha and tea. Not sure if it is still that much cheaper. Kali Ghat and Patna Library are few most visited places. On one occasion I visited Patna zoo. I believe it is one of the best zoo of this country, after Kolkata. In the end of my Patna stay, I used to spend my evening in cool and quiet Gandhi Ghat. I always thought that this place can be a perfect place for tourism or a great park can be developed around. Recently I heard that a floating restaurant is started here and whole Ganga ghat is planned to develop with a nice drive on its bank. Not only this, a revolving restaurent and Budha smiriti park are also already started in the city. Patna have seen a lot of changes for sure, in last few years.

Since long time I could not visit the city but went through various roads of it while going to my hometown and saw very welcome changes. This time I went to see Golghar, but unfortunately renovation work was going on this place and could not get a best shot of this landmark. I hope, the ongoing renovation will change its appearance same as what Bihar have seen in last few years. Yes and while going to my hometown I found that roads are good and some alternate new roads are constructed which I always found on google map only. Happy to see things getting better.

Friday, October 21, 2011

First Day Ride in Bangalore Metro

My meeting was going long and I started looking at my computer clock as I had to leave the office to go for a ride on Namma Metro on the very first day of its opening. At last meeting ended at eight thirty and I left from my desk in hurry. In next fifteen minutes I was at my home. Quickly I left home with my wife to reach Baiyappanahalli metro station, which is about ten kilometers from Marathalli. When I reached it was quarter after nine of night but still there was good crowd. We parked our bike there and entered into the station. It is a jumbo metro station and will take minimum five to seven minutes to reach platform as you have to walk a little on footbridge. It took around ten minutes to get the tickets as a modest queue was there. The station was decorated with flowers and an atmosphere of fest was there. We took some photos and everyone there was busy with this only.

In next five minutes, the purple color train arrived and we boarded. The compartments were very comfortable but I was feeling little hot as it was packed with fun riders. Bangalore metro looks similar to Delhi metro in way of design of train, platform, terminal, information system and all other ways. The only difference I found was that here announcement happens in three languages. So in next fifteen minutes we reached to M G Road after crossing four stations. This is not a long distance, hardly seven kilometers but it takes up to one hour if some one travel by bus in peak time. Also it cost fifteen rupees only to travel in air-condition whereas you have to bargain with auto guy and he may ask for a hundred bucks. As it was more than ten 'o clock when we reached there, we directly went to ticket counter to buy return tickets. We looked around M G Road station which was decorated like a marriage function. Then we took a return metro and came back to Baiyappanahalli station. Ride on its opening day was a wonderful experience.

Though metro was late in coming to Bangalore, I was able to make it on first day. Bangalore, which is not a well planned city and not having good basic infrastructure of roads, where people struggle with huge traffic daily, metro will make the life easy for sure. My rating for Namma Metro is ten out of ten. 

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Kaifi aur Main

Last night I with my wife went to watch a play "Kaifi aur Main" based on the life of Kaifi Azami. This was organized in Good Shepherd Auditorium, which is one of the good auditoriums in Bangalore. This play was not actually a play but a beautiful way of story telling. Idea of theatrical way to present Kaifi in the mix up of story,  his nazams, gazhals, poetry and songs; was brilliant. Shabana Azami and Javed Akhtar shared the life of Kaifi in a very beautiful way. The play narrated the love between Kaifi and his wife Shaukat in a very romantic way. The social and cultural activism of Kaifi was well shared in this story. Shabana tried to live in her mother's image and Javed tried to create kaifi's portrait. The act of Shabana Azami was fabulous. Javed Akhtar as an actor disappointed me a little bit and that can be undestood as Shabana worked in the theater for a long whereas Javed was always a lyricst first. Jaswinder Singh who sung some of the best ghazals and songs of Kaifi was just fantastic. The songs were well aligned with the rhythm of story. His voice was really melodious and music played was superb. He got the best applauds from the crowd which he rightly deserved. The best part was the narrative style of Shabana, which will be cherished for a long time.

Saturday, August 6, 2011

Short Trip to Chikka Tirupati

This Sunday was again a good day for us as we could go for a short bike trip to Chikka Tirupati. In Kannada, Chikka means small and so it’s a small temple for lord Tirupati. This temple, also called as Sri Prasanna Venkateshwara temple is hardy 30 kms from  Marathalli. I with my wife and in-laws started at eight in morning. About 5 kms from hope firm circle, we touched the NH207 which took us up to the temple. Road throughout the trip was very decent except for few small patches. Drive in morning was excellent and it’s about nine when we reached to the temple. This place was small and very quite. We parked our bikes and car near to the entrance gate which is a colorful gopuram with a pillar. We took the pooja stuffs from a small shop there and entered into temple. There were not much people around and I like a temple at most if there is no rush inside. The temple is small as its name suggests but you will feel very pretty inside the premise. A metallic bronze pillar in front of the entrance of the temple makes it more beautiful. We entered the temple and had the darshan and pooja. After that we spent half an hour inside the premises and started back. Driving back was again good. In between we stopped our bikes and had the home made breakfast. We reached back to our home in next one hour.

Friday, July 29, 2011

Bike Trip to Nandi Hills

It was a Sunday again and I wanted to make it to good use. I had an idea of going to Nandi Hills since couple of weeks and finally last weekend we could go there. We started at one pm from Marathalli by bike and after fifteen minutes we could hit the Hebbal flyover. After that there was very less traffic. Roads were wide but construction was going on for most of the drive up to airport. After crossing toll, road was very nice and decent. We crossed Jain temple which was at hills and scenic. After some distance from there we left NH7 and entered Nandi road. In next fifteen minutes we reached to the checkpoint. Road was bend after that and went through number of curves before we reached to the top of hill. The drive to the top was exciting. Climate during the complete drive was good and a drizzling was going on always. In between we stopped twice due to rain. It was a total seventy kilometers drive and watch was showing three pm now. We took entrance tickets and entered inside which was Tipu's summer palace once. It started raining again and we went to nearby stilt area, waited for some time and fortunately rain stopped soon.

 We roamed on hills and reached to the cliff where we could see the panoramic view of valley. Sky was cloudy. We could have some great shots from our camera at that point. After spending some good time there we came down to parking area. We left early from there as weather was rainy. Drive back to home was amazing too. In next two hours we were back to home. On Nandi road we saw ladies of local villages selling grapes, not sure if there are grapes  farms nearby but whole area near to Nandi hills is awesome and it deserve to visit a number of times. 

Monday, June 6, 2011

A Day in Majestic Mysore

Last Monday was a majestic day for me. After being in Bangalore for last four years, I got a chance to visit Mysore now. It was a fantastic day roaming in this majestic city with my wife, mother, sister and her family. Actually I was waiting for this day that someone will come to Bangalore and I will take him to this place. Mysore makes a perfect one day gateway for Bangaloreans. We started in an Innova little late in morning at seven and half and faced the traffic. We took the Nice road to come out of the city and after two hours of drive, stopped at a Kamath hotel for breakfast. We all had Masala Dosa and Idli-Vada and it was delicious. It took another one hour to reach Tipu's summer palace in Srirangapatna. This was not very impressive but good to look back into history. From there we went to Rangnathaswami Temple. Temple was an ancient one and devoted to Lord Vishnu. We had darshan after a decent queue if not very long. Prasadam served there was very good. My nephew had a horse ride after coming out before we started for Mysore.

In next twenty minutes, we reached to Mysore Palace and the first view of the Palace was awesome. One of the best Palaces I ever saw. When we went inside, we were quite amazed with the architecture and the interiors of it. The ceilings are carved very creative and colored so beautiful that your eyes will start glittering. The paintings of royal family on exhibition look just livid. We took a number of snaps here before coming out. After having lunch, we went to Mysore zoo as I promised my nephew to take him there. He was really very happy to see lions, tiger, elephants and other animals live for the first time. He could see those in real now and relate them to the characters shown in the cartoons on TV. It was more than five of evening now when we came out and then we started heading towards Chamundi hills. Roads to Chamundi hills temple was very scenic and a panoramic view of Mysore could be seen from here. When we reached to the temple it was the closing time. Somehow we entered from exit gate and performed the puja to the goddess Durga. While returning to Mysore, we could see a huge Nandi statue on one hill. We started for Vrindawan garden now though it was very late. When we reached there it was five minutes to eight and closing time of garden. Musical fountain was ended up and people were coming out. I bought the tickets in hurry and entered in garden. Even in the dim light of bulbs, the view of garden was fabulous. I  can only imagine, how beautiful this garden must be. After having a short walk in the garden, we came out and started back for Bangalore. In between we had late dinner in Kamath and reached to home at one in morning. Completely tired, we went to the bed with remembrance of the day, just to make a majestic sleep.

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Temple trip to Thanjavur

Yesterday I spent one good day in Thanjavur. On Thursday night I started from Bangalore by bus with my wife and mother. It was a heavy rain when we started and was tough to get a taxi. The auto we got, struggled a lot amidst rain and traffic chaos for reaching the bust stop in Majestic on time. Bus journey was comfortable but late in reaching Trichy. We hired a car there for Thanjavur and in between I picked my cousin at SASTRA. We reached to hotel Ramnath near new bus stand at late morning and get ready in next one hour. After having dosa and sambhar in breakfast we were set to visit the town.

First we went to the famous Brahadeeswara temple also known as Big temple which is dedicated to Lord Shiva. The temple built by Chola kingdom is an exemplary of architecture. The wall of this temple is a gallery of art in itself. We had darshan in the temple of lord Shiva and goddess Paravatee. Hundreds of lingams are in the pillared cloister and Nandis on the Wall top make this temple special. After the temple darshan we moved to the Palace. It was about the closing time of Palace tower and Art gallery. Even the person on ticket counter insisted us that we can not make it in fifteen minutes left to close; but we bought the tickets and went inside in rush. Going up to fifth floor and coming down by stairs in hurry ended leg pain. Palace tower view form outside was good but there was nothing particular on top of Palace tower. We made to the art gallery in hurry too and could see the bronze statues of Chola periods and exposition of natraj statues. It was hot noon now and so we were back to hotel. After having a sleep, we went to SASTRA university campus in evening. It was good to see the college campus after a long time. Now we hurried to station to catch our train. The train journey was very comfortable and we reached Bangalore back in early breezy morning.

Friday, March 25, 2011

A Walk on New York Streets

After staying for ten days in Albany, it was time to go out for a break. So on last Saturday I planned for a visit to New York City. Early morning I had taxi from my hotel Extended Stay to reach the Greyhound bus station in downtown Albany. It was easy to book a ticket but surprising to know that there is no allotted seat and you have no other choice than to stand in the queue and wait for the bus. Any way I got a good seat near the window and so was enjoying the outside view . It was a comfortable three hours bus drive to New York City. In between I had a sleep for one hour otherwise I was looking outside for the beautiful houses, architecture, roads, infrastructure and people around. After reaching to the Port terminal in the city, I had to wait for my friend Gautam, who live in Bethlehem and promised to come to city to give me a company in roaming around. Bus station was really big. Though we both had phones it took half an hour to locate each other. Finally we met and came outside of the bus terminal.

Times Square was on a walkable distance so first we went there. Huge tall beautiful buildings, busy streets but smooth traffic, no chaos, cleanliness and enthusiast tourists were few things that impressed me the most. Tourist buses were roaming around but we decided to have metro or so called subway there, to go to other places. Best thing was that all the point of attractions of New York City were in nearby locations only. This is the busiest part of the city called as Manhattan. We went to Subway station to take the metro train to go to the Statue of Liberty. If I compare metros of New York and Delhi; believe me Delhi metros are better. But there was another surprise for me. I was shocked to see a bunch of beggars there. They were in good attires, singing on the platforms and expecting some money. Even a lady came to me and asked a dollar for food. I always thought it would be in India or in developing countries only but  I was so untrue till now. Any way we reached to the nearest station and than walked up to ferry station to have a ferry to go to Liberty Island. We got a first view of the great Statue of Liberty from here.

It was a long queue and after half an hour we could get the tickets but crown ticket for going inside the statue were limited and sold out. By ferry we went to the island and had couple of pictures there. I could see the unique Liberty bike and a great view of New York City from island, which is spectacular. This is what I saw in a number of movies and American sitcoms. Statue is giant and located on a beautiful location. You really need a very good camera to capture its beauty. After spending an hour we came back by ferry and had subway to reach the Wall Street. It was chilly roaming out there. We reached to the big Bronze Bull statue and New York Stock Exchange building. From there we went to the Ground Zero. Some construction was going on that point where few years back the great twin towers of World Trade Centre were located. It was saddened to see this. From there we came back to the Port terminal and had bus to Bethlehem city. We reached there late in night at around nine and had dinner in a restaurant. The restaurant was crowded as it was weekend and so we were late in reaching home. As this was the day of Holi so I called my family members and relatives back in India before going for a good sleep.

I woke up late in morning and had a good tea after a long time. Gautam took me to the city. He also took me to the campus of University of Lehigh, research labs and his office there. From the top of the university building, there was a magnificent view of Bethlehem city. Then we went to a nearby shopping mall before going to an Indian family for having parathas on the occasion of Holi. From there we went to a casino. It was the first time I ever went to a casino. It was nice to see the colorful lights and ambience there. It was two in afternoon now and so he dropped me at the nearby bus station to get the bus for New York and take a connecting bus for Albany.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

A Beautiful Week in Europe

It was the last week of February of last year. This week was really a very long for me. Seven towns in Europe, six flights, six airports, five hotels and fourteen thousand miles of journey took me to Austria and Italy from Bangalore and finally plunged me in United States for next four weeks. I never ever travelled so much in my whole life but it was also an exciting moment in time of mine. From Bangalore, I started my journey for Austria and first landed in Paris airport. I believe this airport is as big as Paris itself. It has train connectivity to go from one terminal to another one. My next flight for Vienna was after four hours. I had the Schengen visa stamped there but due to a lot of confusion on immigration I could not thought of going out to get a glimpse of Paris. In stead I waited at Paris airport for four hours. Next flight took two more hours to reach to Vienna.

When I came out of the Vienna airport it was a frightening chilling weather. I started shivering due to ice-cold wind. Temperature was merely four Celsius. Here I had bus to go to the nearest railway station for getting train for the town St Polten. In Vienna city, there was no traffic like Bangalore, no chaos, and it was an easy drive. At station I found that all the information was in German only and ticket counter clerk can not understand English. After a confused look, I saw a Chinese there and checked if he knows English. Luckily he could help me in getting the ticket and directing me to correct platform. It was a local train which looks better then our best luxury trains. During the bus and train journey I got a feel of Austria. In simple words, it was simply beautiful. Train journey was very smooth. I could see the beautiful villages and pretty landscape from the train window. In next forty minutes I was in St Polten, had a taxi and reached hotel Metropol. After having a small rest, I came downstairs to the restaurant for dinner and met my colleagues Mr. Andrew and Mr. Bart who came from Schenectady and were my companions for next four days. Here I got a flavor of completely different food, but a fortunate surprise was to see the Basmati rice in their menu.

Next morning was freezing cold. It was minus four Celsius and massive for me. I realized that the jacket I had, was not good enough for this weather. The good thing is that all the offices, cars or buildings are warm enough to take care of you. We went to Traisen for our work. After a long meeting we went to a restaurant for lunch. I adopted the western food very quickly so it was trouble-free for me. Mostly lunch or dinner includes some meat but without any bread or rice items, which is very unusual for Indians. Also their salads are green and raw vegetables, a difficult for me. In evening we moved to Linz an hour-long drive from there. We stayed in Courtyard Marriot, which is a splurge and very comfortable. Next day was full of meetings again. Lunch was again very good and I was surprised to see that wine is part of lunch menu. In late evening we moved to the railway station to have a train to Vienna. From station we had a taxi to reach NH hotel in airport. The driver charged us forty-five Euros whereas bill was thirty Euros only and even he asked me if I need a bill of fifty. I was thinking if we should have bargained with him, something like India.

Next day we had a flight to Venice. At airport our host was there to receive us. We had a two-hour drive to reach Cividale. This was a very small town but very beautiful. It was the lunchtime when we reached and went to a restaurant in downtown. We walked through narrow streets, which were mostly void. Our host was a very funny person and a very good host too. He guided us in selecting the food for us. I had the best pasta ever in my life there. Waitresses were very friendly and it was a very delicious fish lunch served with white wine. After a heavy lunch, we had the similar meetings and visits before we moved to another town Maniago. I could see the snow peaked mountains range from car and can imagine deep and far ended Himalyan. I still had a picturesque drive of this in my mind. We reached to Euro Hotel after one and half hour but an untiring drive. This evening, we came out of hotel and had a walk on the streets. It was very cold but I was getting habituated of it. We had pizzas there in a European style Pizzeria before we went back to our room to retire for rest of the day.

Now it was the last day of my Europe trip. We were busy with our business but got free early and moved to Venice by car. It was two and half when we checked in to Courtyard Marriot in Venice and so had a time to go out for the first time in the week. We went to the great canal by the bus. A number of glimpses from Hollywood and Bollywood movies refloated when we got down from bus and saw it in front of us. It was an amazing and breathtaking beautiful moment. One of my best evenings I ever spent. We could roam around the streets of old Venice. It was very cold out there but the enthusiasm inside us kept us warm. Hot wine was on sell in every corner, which kept us warm too. The churches, the St Mark’s square, San Giorgo and number of important architecture; we could see the marvelous heritage and palpable culture of Venice in this old part of city. We had a glimpse of the great canal from Rialto Bridge. I had a picture on Rialto Bridge to capture this moment. An amazing experience I have for my lifetime and this made my Europe trip a truly beautiful in all sense. Next morning I took the flight to Atlanta but vowed to comeback very soon to see some more colors of the beautiful Europe.

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Amidst the Ruins of Hampi

It had been a while since I was planning a trip to Hampi, the famed ruins of Vijayanagar Empire. After reading a number of blogs on Monuments, Boulders and Hills of Hampi, finally on last weekend I visited the land of this great world heritage site with my wife Seema and my in-laws. We started with a comfortable journey by train which suits most for visiting this place. We had a car from Hospet railway station to Hampi riverside where we had a ferry boat to cross the river to reach our resort ‘Kiskindha Heritage’. I booked this resort based on suggestion of one of my colleague and we found it a true gem. Our cottages were very clean, spacious and comfortable. The resort has privately held park, lake and pools which make it worth of money. I believe this is the best resort of Hampi, little far from town but a relaxed and calm place to stay.

Before starting for a trip, we had a good lunch in the resort. As we had a plan for few hours only for the first day we have an auto only to roam around. We started with Pampa sarovara, Durga temple and other places on another side of river Tungabhadra and reached to Hanuman temple. This is the place which believed to be the birthplace of god Hanumana. We went up to the top of the hill with five hundred and seventy steps. After reaching there we all were tired but view from there was a breath-taking including the Hampi ruins. Somehow we came down and returned to our resort with tired muscles. Then we had enjoyed the water-park and swimming pool in the resort. Before going to sleep, we had a birthday party with the help of resort guys. 

Next day was a big one. We hired a Tavera for roaming in Hampi and a guide to help us in knowing the ruins. Day started with Virupaksha temple, the only temple of Hampi where still worship happens and nearby Ganesha images. Everywhere there are ruins or boulders in Hampi, the guide can explain some story and tell you that how rich the Hampi was before Mughals destroyed it. From there we went to other sites where important structures and ruins are located. We visited Lotus palace, Elephant stables, Queens’s bath, Vijay Vithala temple and many more. It was also astounding to see the Stone Chariot and Musical Pillars. Going inside the base of Musical pillars was not allowed but guide claimed that if you hit the pillars it will create music around. After roaming around for a long, it was late for lunch and so we went to the famous Mango Tree Restaurant. Ambience was cool and food was good. We again visited few places like ruins of Lakshminarsimha temple before departing for Hospet. In evening we reached to Tungabhadra dam, roamed in the beautiful garden and left before the musical fountain show got start as we had to catch our train to reach Bangalore and go to the office on next morning.

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Great weekend in Goa

Last weekend was a long one and so I planned for the Goa trip. I and Seema both left our office early on Thursday. I had bus booking for this trip with Paulo travels. Though their service was not good but bus journey was comfortable. We started at ten in night and reached Panjim at eleven in morning. It took another half an hour by auto to reach our resort ‘Castle house’. Castle house is a budget resort near Calangute beach but it’s a very pleasant one. This resort has everything to make one comfortable. Room was very clean and nice. Resort had a good swimming pool and restaurant. We became fresh and had lunch in restaurant. Food was overall good. Staff of the resort was also very helpful.

After a good lunch and rest, we headed towards Calangute beach which is the most famous beach of Goa. This was really a striking one but little crowded. It was sunny day and we sat on the sunbed there. A number of agents were roaming around for water sports and I talked with one boy for eight hundred bucks. We started with water scooter and other boating. Next stuff was the parasailing. I have seen this in movies and very tempted to go for this one. A speedboat was taking people in deep sea for this and so we gave our bag to the boy and went for parasailing. Other people in boat were making noise as everyone was excited and petrified. The sky was colored there with a number of parachutes in air. People were doing parasailing and after some time our number came. When we were up in sky, it was an amazing experience. While returning back to the beach we were anxious as we could not see the boy there. Suddenly he came and we felt relieved as my camera and wallet was in the bag only. We paid him and then had a beach walk before we sat and had some snacks there. It was sunset now, music was loud and people were sitting near the beach. A complete festive mood everywhere and Goa on a high beat always.

Next day we hired a scooty for rest of the trip for three hundred bucks. In morning, we started roaming on streets of Goa and first reached to the Baga beach. This was early morning and beach was not crowded. Here we hired a speedboat to watch dolphins. After fifteen minutes we reached in deep sea and pleased to spot dolphins. As number of boats was noising around so dolphins were coming out for few seconds only. I was unable to capture this moment but happy to see dolphins for the first time. We started again from here and visited Anjuna beach. We bought hats as sun was up. After this we were back to our resort, enjoyed in swimming pool and had a delicious lunch. After lunch we started roaming again. Having a scooty was very handy. This time we started for Fort Aguda, where a shooting of ‘Dil chahta hai’ movie was also done. We sat on the wall of Fort Aguda, watched sea from there and had some good photos. From there we started for Panjim and stopped just before of Mandovi river bridge. I bought two tickets for Sunset cruise. A number of cruises were roaming in sea at sunset time. Watching sunset and folk dance on cruise deck was a distinguished experience. The cruise also had a disco in downstairs, which we visited. After this we returned to our resort. Fortunately this was a Saturday and time for weekly Goa market. Nothing special but we found it interesting. I visited a number of beaches but Goa is a different one. You will get a fill of a different country in the same country. On each step, you will see a pub. Streets are full of foreign tourists. Markets are open late night and people roaming around. We also roamed in late night before going to resort for sleep. This day was a complete in all ways. 

Third day we went to Calangute beach again. Crowd was not there as it was early morning. We had beach walk before we entered in water. We visited Candolim beach today and I must say that this one is the best beach of Goa. Less crowd, clean sea shore and awesome ambience make it must to visit and hang out for long hours. We also went to Sinquerim beach which was close to Fort Aguda. After this we had lunch outside and had rest in resort for few hours as bus was in late evening. We had car to reach the bus stand in Panjim. From windows of car it was wonderful to watch the landscape of Goa and packing up of sweet memories before we left Goa for Bangalore.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Excursion to Mahabalipuram

This Sunday I was on a business trip to Chennai. I started in early morning and it was an excellent journey by Shatabadi train. The hotel Ambassador Pallava where I checked in was a splurge and very comfortable. There we had a rest of few hours and a very delicious lunch. As we had rest of the day as leisure, I thought of visiting Mahabalipuram which is about fifty five km far only. So I booked a Tata Marina by hotel travel desk and started after one in noon. The route to Mahabalipuram is parallel to the sea shore and very picturesque. In city it goes along Marina beach and after that it goes along sea on one side and backwater on another side. I was enjoying this scenic route and got slept in between. The driver just make me awake to know that we are now going to pass Crocodile bank if we wish to have a glimpse. This crocodile bank was about fifteen km before Mahabalipuram and there were thousands of crocodiles lying inside. From there it hardly took fifteen minutes to reach Mahabalipuram.
Mahabalipuram, also known as Mamallapuram is the world heritage site declared by UNESCO and all its beauty is in its architecture and rock sculptures. A number of temples are made out of rocks and these were built by Pallava rulers. Major attractions of this place are Pancha Rathas and Shore temple and we visited these two. In Pancha Rathas, each of the five temples was carved out of single stone and that makes it fascinating. The shore temple is just on the beach and nice to visit. You can sit here for a long time, enjoying the cool wind and noisy waves.  There were other temples and caves which we did not visited as all are nearly same but portraying the best sculpture illustration of the history. We started back for Chennai after spending two hours to have rest before a busy next day.