Friday, 29 August 2014

Majestic Mysore

Welcome to my next weekend destination.

Mysore, the city of Palaces has a charm which offers vibrant cultural heritage, temples and scenic picnic spots.

I had kept my list short to be able to spend reasonable time at each of the place. Mysore city has a royal aura and the essence can be felt in all its structures and culture. I had two days to live the life of this royal city.

Tipu Sultan palace was the first place i visited which displays the royal artifacts and antiques of that period. The palace has a vast lawn around it where people click pictures to take back the beautiful memories.

Next on my list was the Chamundi hills, which is named after the Goddess Chamundeshwari. The hill offers beautiful view of the city. The temple of Goddess Chamundeshwari on the hill has several images on Nandi.

On the second day I had planned to visit the Mysore zoo followed by the Brindavan Garden.

Mysore zoo is the major tourist attraction as it’s home to some of the rare animal species.

As the day proceeded, I had taken the full tour of the zoo. So I decided to take lunch and then move on to my next destination.

I reached Brindavan garden by 3:30 pm. I took the entry ticket and entered inside. I was mesmerized by the beauty of the garden and the adorable layout. The beauty of the garden was rising with every bit of darkness. As the sun was about to set, the lights on the flowers and flowing water and fountains start playing with the music. Everything appeared to be so magical.

Now it was time for the Musical fountain. Its a lifetime experience watching water dancing to the tunes of music ...and that too some of the best Bollywood songs. Every string of water coming out of the fountain was taking such beautiful twist and turns which was exactly in tune and creating a melodious experience for the viewer and amphitheater.
I would always and surely recommend everyone to visit Brindavan Garden. And as I talk of it, the memories still appear to be so fresh and mesmerizing.
Shopping: Mysore is famous for handicrafts designed by local craftsman out of sandalwood. Don’t forget to buy authentic sandal wood oil known for its healing properties. Mysore also attracts tourist for its hand woven silk garments and saris. The place gives you a perfect holiday destination to enjoy.

So that was my weekend getaway.

I am working on my next holiday plan. Super excited for it.

Keep touring.

Kaleidoscopic Kanyakumari

There had been a long time since I had gone out. So this time I planned a weekend getaway to Kanyakumari. The idea was to visit Kanyakumari, catch the sunrise and sunset and to visit nearby tourist places.  

Kanyakumari( Cape Comarin) , is the southernmost tip of India is the meeting point of three oceans- Indian Ocean, Arabian sea and Bay of Bengal. Standing at the southernmost spot of Kanyakumari, you see ocean everywhere which make it a unique experience. Kanyakumari has always been a popular destination among tourists. People visit Kanyakumari to see sunset and sunrise. It is considered the best place to see sunrise.

The journey starts ....
It was almost 9 pm on Friday when I started from Coimbatore. My plan to reach there in morning, enjoy the day visiting nearby places, watch the sunset and sunshine.
Since I had to travel during the night, I opted for the train journey to avoid disturbing my good night sleep. I had booked the hotel prior to get the preferred location. The hotel I choose was TAMIL NADU HOTEL which is run by state tourism. The hotel has an added advantage of location. They have both suites and cottages. The room on the first floor towards the sea provide beautiful sea view. Be reasonable in your expectations since it’s a government property. They have a restaurant which is open for limited time and have very limited menu. But you can always visit the nearby food corner and hotels. The tariff of the hotel is quite reasonable.
Day 1
After reaching the hotel and getting familiar with my surroundings, I started to explore the destination. On the very first day I visited all the temples and museums which are nearby in the city. To escape the noon heat I took a break and had lunch in a vegetarian restaurant. Then during the evening I was out to the sea. There is no beach as such in Kanyakumari. But the view of water everywhere makes you fall in love with that place. I saw sunset which was mesmerizing. Sun, slowly moving down to its cave and the whole sky becomes so dynamic with so many colors bursting out of it. I sat there for some time and enjoyed the sea breeze which tends to blow us away. Since the restaurant at my hotel was expected to get closed early, I had dinner and then moved in. At night also, I sat in my balcony till the time my eyes felt heavy. I had kept an early morning alarm so that i don’t miss the sun rise by any chance.

Day 2
I got up at 5 am. Sadly didn't check out the sunrise time and ended up getting so early. So when i came out it was all dark and breezy. I started walking and soon when i reached the main lane, many people started following me. I had planned to watch the sunrise from the view tower. I took the ticket and climbed up. Coming early paid its advantage as soon the entire circumference of the tower gets filled up and then you have no other option but to peep through people. You will come to know when it’s time for sunrise as the sky becomes radiant to welcome the sun. I took some really awesome pics there. 

So now it was time to come back to the hotel as the entire day was planned. The day was kept for the Vivekananda memorial for which I had to take a boat from boat jetty. Packed my bag for the day and reached the boat jetty which is at the walking distance from the beach. There was a long queue outside, so I started looking for the end of this tail. It reminded me of “Sanp-Seedi” game where you never know which snake is going to drop you to its tail. Till the time, I reached its end; I had walked a kilometre and knew that the same distance I’ll have to walk again but in mini- steps. So slowly the queue was proceeding. And you have no option other than watching the road side shops. I took a nariyal pani to quench my thrust. Finally I took the tickets and entered the hall which was meant to wait and was made like a snake to keep the rows separated. Finally the call came and we ran to jump in to the boat. It’s a small distance and you’ll soon reach the memorial. 

Rest of the day I spent at leisure, sitting and enjoying surrounded by water from all directions. The place is so windy and quiet at the same time. They have a hall structured for meditation and a book shop where you can get some really nice collection. I bought some book from there. In the evening while coming back to the hotel, I did some shopping of the local craft and shell artifacts.

Don’t Forget:
  •     Take sunscreen and sunglasses, you will surely require them.
  •     Try the “mirchi-pakoda” from some street side vendor, hot and yummy.

So now it was Sunday night and I had to return for a week to my office and plan the next weekend.

Keep Smiling ;-) 

Thursday, 28 August 2014

Chilling out in OOTY.....d journey continues

I hope you are ready to explore the chilling heaven. 
Since we had taken a scooty on rent, it provided us complete mobility to chill out. We had a wonderful time in Ooty enjoying all the delicacies it had to offer. And not to forget the wonderful Pizza at Dominos. So if you are pizza maniac like me, dont miss the hot and melting cheese pizza in the chilling evening while taking a walk on the cross cut road. 
Do look for the yummy momo shop which also serve delicious thukpa.

Places to visit:
Botanical garden: It is the primary tourist attraction in Ooty. Filled with greenery and different flowers and tree vegetation, this garden provides a beautiful view where you can enjoy the day and play games. The garden is at full bloom in the month of April – May. The garden has a 20 year old tree fossil which stands as the main attraction.

Rose garden in Ooty has terraces with rose tunnels, pergolas and bowers with rose creepers. The garden has the largest collection of roses with 3600 varieties of roses.

The Ooty Lake is beautifully spread for 2.75 kms in length in irregular “L” shape. The lake is surrounded with lofty eucalyptus trees and shrubs and boating in the calm water provides a scenic delight. Different types of boats are available at the boat house as per the number of people and preference. The lake and boat house have become the hub of entertainment for visitors.                                                                                        
                                                                                                He posed so well
Doddabetta peak is the highest peak in south India. It is 10 kms from Ooty. There is telescope house at the peak where people wait eagerly in queue to take a look. We also stood in the queue expecting a wow experience, but ended up laughing when saw through it. The view was set on the crowded street of Ooty market and you would have hardly a second to look at it and the person standing there will ask you to move.

Pykara Lake, amid the lush green valley surrounded by forests is a lovely getaway from Ooty. Don’t fail to visit the Pykara Lake as the isolated lake free from pollution and crowd gives ultimate comfort and peace to the soul.

Sightseeing in Ooty: 
The sightseeing in Ooty can fit in a two day itinerary or more luxuriously in three days. On the first day you can plan for Rose garden, Botanical garden and the Ooty Lake. All these are at the city centre so you won’t be spending too much time in travelling. Second day can be kept for Pykara Lake which is at around 35 kms from Ooty. The third day you can plan for Doddabetta peak. On the way to Doddabetta peak, you can also visit the tea factory where you can buy some flavorful tea to take home.

Shopping: Do not forget to take home the home made chocolates and range of tea with different flavors.  

Do plan to visit Ooty, if you have not been there yet and share your experience. 

Keep touring
               Keep sharing :-)

Monday, 18 August 2014

Shivering Shimla

Shimla, the summer capital of British, is not a new name for tourists. People have been visiting Shimla and many popular places that surround it. But my visit was different as for the purpose and duration. I was there for a month, so got a chance to explore the unexplored parts of it. It was April end when i left for Shimla. I usually prefer to travel by train so booked my tickets from Mumbai to Delhi and Delhi to Kalka. Mumbai to Delhi was a normal travel. And after a buffer time of 2 hours, I came to the platform from where i was supposed to board my next train. As and when i reached the platform, it was a sight which made me feel so awkward. The platform was full of couple who were probably going on honeymoon. I forgot to tell you that I was going all alone. I don’t know why i got such a coach filled with honeymoon couples, just busy with themselves and behaving in a very subtle way (that’s obvious I guess). So i decided to sleep early. I reached Kalka the very next morning, went to the waiting room which was unexpectedly nice because I thought it would be a small station.Ahead journey was booked in train which got confirmed after a lot of waiting. I waited to board the “toy train”.
The train came and everybody jumped inside. I somehow managed to accommodate my luggage as I had to be there for entire month and the train doesn't have much space inside. With a long siren, the train started and  everybody started screaming but soon after some time it became low when they realised they will be inside it for next 6 hrs. The train started climbing uphill and temperature started dropping down. There are around 5-6 stoppages on the way, where I had tea and some snacks and some photographs of course. It was such a entertainment seeing other people giving funny pose to get clicked. That was actually my effort to convert a bad luck in blessing in disguise as didn't have anybody to click it for me. After some time I was surprised to see everybody sleeping and it reminded me how they had started the journey.

So finally train arrived at the station. I had a prior hotel booking so took a cab and went down to my hotel, had my lunch and slept. I was in no hurry to explore the town as I had to be there for the next one month. 

My experience of the next one month is yet to come. 
Do write to me for any details you want.
Till then keep touring.

Saturday, 16 August 2014

Admirable Alleppey

Alleppey is one of the most important tourist centres in Kerala. It’s the headquarter for backwater tourism and has a large network of inland canals. We were travelling by train and I can assure you that while travelling itself you will get to know why Kerala is called the “god's own country”. The landscape, architecture, greenery... all falls in place to give it a picture perfect view. The pattern is very different what we see in normal cities. Each house had a hut structure and was surrounded with a large garden. To me, it felt like the first landscape I had ever drawn in childhood......with a hut ...path... coconut trees and a river. And it just completed the picture for me.

How to Reach:
By air: the nearest airport is Cochin(64kms). Thiruvananthapuram is the nearest international airport at 159 kms.
By road: Alappuzha is on the NH47 highway and is connected to all the major towns in South India.
By train : Alappuzha is linked by rail to cities like Cochin, Chennai, Bangalore etc. 

If travelling by train, prepaid auto stand is just outside the station. The people at prepaid counter are very helpful and are always ready to serve you. You can book auto from there if your hotel is not very far.
For accommodation, there are two options available. You can either book a hotel or experience living in a houseboat. There are hotels located at the lake side having magnificent view. But most of the people coming to Alleppey opt for houseboat because it’s a onetime experience and is what Alleppey is famous for.

In-fact : A fascinating fact of this land is the region called Kuttanad" The land of lush paddy fields" also called the rice bowl of Kerala and is one of the few places in the world where farming is done below sea level.

Houseboat: The houseboat has two options. Either you can take one day package or half day. They serve you meal on the boat. It is advisable to book the boat after reaching there. There are many options available and that way you can also check the design and cleanliness on the boat. Weather travelling couple or in group, there are houseboats with one to many number of rooms. So, you can all enjoy together. If booking a houseboat, don’t worry about the luggage. Some of the boathouse packages also include complementary room booking.

The journey of houseboat starts in the morning and ends up the next morning. The houseboat takes you through many interior backwaters and also gives an opportunity to get a close view of the local tribal lives. You also get an opportunity to buy some really inexpensive local craft works (jewellery, art piece, coir artifacts etc) being sold by tribal people.
I also got a chance to try my hand on the local boat. It was really exciting and must say I did quite well.

Alleppey is famous for coir industry. You will find handicraft shops in the local market. People also like to buy spices from Alleppey which have an indigenous aroma and makes food more flavorful.
Alappuzha Beach: This is a very popular picnic spot and you will always see a lot of people standing on the beach. The beach is very near to Alappuzha market. But it is advisable to visit in the evening as the day time is very hot.
I was there on a weekend to take a break from the hectic schedule of office. So, now I was all geared up for the next week and of course planning for a next eventful outing.

Tell me what is your idea of weekend gateway.  Waiting for your ideas to include in my itinerary.Till then keep talking and keep touring.

Thursday, 14 August 2014

Ravishing Rishikesh

The yoga capital of the world, Rishikesh might sound more like a spiritual destination. But be assured that there is much more unexplored about the city. Rishikesh is a small town which attracts a large number is pilgrims from across the country along with tourists across the world.
How to Reach:
By road: Rishikesh can be easily reached by road from all the locations. From New Delhi, you can get AC delux buses to rishikesh which are pretty comfortable and take 7-8 hrs to reach rishikesh. Be cautious if you travelling during the peak tourist season or pilgrimage time (Sawan). The traffic is pathetic and be ready to get stuck even for a day. The prices of transportation and accommodation shoot up during the season.
By train: There are very limited trains to rishikesh. There are numerous trains till Haridwar & Dehradun. From there you can reach Rishikesh by road transportation with frequent buses plying between both the stations.
By air: The nearest airport is Jollygrant airport. But the air fare could be slightly high, since limited numbers of flights are designated for the place. New Delhi airport is the nearest international airport.
When to Visit:
As Rishikesh is located at the Himalyan foothills, it provides a cool escape during the hotter months. Therefore, the best time to visit is between March and April, and September to October. May starts to get quite hot there. Rishikesh is best avoided during the monsoon months from July to August, as it receives heavy rain. Rafting and other adventurous activities are also closed during this time. Winters, from November until February, are cold but pleasant, so bring woollens. The couple of months just after the monsoon is considered to be the best time to visit, as the landscape is alive, green, and soothing.
Rishikesh is a delightful place to wander around and 
explore on foot. Cross either of the two suspension bridges( Ram jhoola & Laxman jhools) and you'll be rewarded with spectacular views of the town and river. Venture down to the ghats fronting the river and relax for a while amidst the daily goings-on. You can also take a boat across the river near Ram Jhula as an alternative to walking. Every evening, people gather at Parmarth Niketan ashram (in the Swag Ashram area), to experience the Ganga Aarti (worship with fire). Adventure lovers also have two good reasons to visit the town -- the excellent trekking and rafting opportunities in the area.

Adventure: You can experience many adventurous activities which include trekking, white water rafting, bungi jumping and many more. There are many such organizers and agents who will do the arrangements for you.
Accommodation: There are many hotels in Rishikesh with all kind of tariff range. During peak season, expect the tariff to be on higher side. Besides there are some really good Ashrams which provide accommodation at very nominal rates and are very comfortable.

Not to Miss:

  • The very popular Chotiwala Restaurant serves some of the best Indian food in town. You will always find the restaurant fully occupied with a very diverse crowd from all over the world.
  • Sitting besides river Ganga and enjoy the plentiful and fresh breeze. It takes you to an entirely different world.
  • Ganga Aarti can be witnessed at various locations in Rishikesh. As a ritual people offer diyas and flowers in river Ganga which can be bought from the roadside vendors. The evening time gives a spectacular view of river Ganga filled with lights of diya(lamps) floating all across the river.
  • White water rafting and camps alongside the river give a trilling experience.
  • CLOTHES: Bring clothes as per the season you are travelling in. Besides this, cold wind blows alongside the river especially during early morning and night time. Do keep some handy wrap around for the time. If planning to engage in some adventurous activity like rafting or trekking, keep comfortable clothes for the event. Do keep sunscreen as the sun besides the river can cause severe sunburns.
  •  Rishikesh is a great place to shop for religious items, books, clothes, and handicrafts. Do bargain for a fair price.
  • Food won’t be a problem in rishikesh as there are lot of eating places ranging from street side vendors to high end restaurants serving all kind of foods from south Indian to Chinese. Don’t expect non vegetarian food in rishikesh as the city is vegetarian by law. You won’t find the famous fast food chains in Rishikesh like McDonalds, Pizza hut & KFC. Please bear with that. You can surely enjoy the food available. 
  • For couples, it is highly advised to take walk along the riverside. Share beautiful moments together.  These moments will become your lifetime memories.
  • Call cabs are not available. So you have to either hire a taxi or auto for local travel. Sharing autos are available.

      How was your trip to Rishikesh. Did you enjoy it? or are you planning to explore? 
                                                        Keep talking                
                                                                     Keep Touring

Chilling out in OOTY

OOTY, also called Udaghmandalam has it all required for a wonderful and chill out experience. It is a perfect location for a relaxing holiday. And a must mention for people who have a sickness of travelling to hills, because Ooty gives you a heavenly experience of hills, without going through the entire trauma. Ooty is one of the four hill station which is connected with loco train. The train experience is worth experiencing even when the train runs at a speed of 9km/hr. It stops at many small stations in between and that gives you an opportunity to enjoy the breathtaking view of the hills. 

The train has only 4 coaches with both first class and 2S being almost similar. So don’t worry much if you are not getting reservation in a preferred class. Take some woollen clothes even if it is not cold in plains because, as the train moves uphill, the temperature starts dropping. There is something romantic and so refreshing in the air which makes you feel wow. It was a decision well taken. So let’s start the journey:
We took a cab from Coimbatore to Mettupalyam. The cabs charge around 1000 rupees from Coimbatore to Mettupalayam.  The loco train runs from Mettupalyam to Udagmandalam....dats ooty btw. Remember that because that’s the name that shows up on irctc. If you don’t want to take the cab, the best option is Nilgiris express that runs from Coimbatore to Mettupalyam at 5:15 am. The ooty train leaves mettupalayam at 7:30 am. And that’s a beautiful time to start the journey. There are 4-5 stations in between and the train reaches ooty at 1:00pm.
For accommodation there are many hotels ranging from budget to high end and suite to cottages. Do check for hotel location as some of the cottages are at secluded place which make local travel a bit difficult. We had booked a hotel which was at a walkable distance from the market. To reach the hotel, there would be many auto and cab drivers who will jump on their toes to serve you. Do bargain for some fair price.
Most of the hotels in ooty have their travel desk which will help you in arranging sightseeing. You can book a cab to visit all the locations in ooty in a day. But for the people who are adventurous and want it a bit different, they can hire a bike or scooty. I assure you that you are not going to regret it. A hired bike/ scooty charge Rs 200-400 per day. A bike ride gives the real pleasure of the chilled breeze and a real experience of beautiful surrounding you are in.

There is a lot more to share with you. So, we'll continue with the journey. 
Please share your experience of Ooty. 
You can also write to me for any query or any more information you want about Ooty.

Waiting to hear your chilling experience.  Keep Touring :-)