Life, my way

Keeping it simple !

Category: Travel (Page 6 of 7)

Land of Pokemon Currency – Niue !

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Niue island is one of the world’s smallest independent nation, located in South Pacific Ocean. It lies in the middle of triangle formed by Samoa, Tonga and the Cook Islands.
Also known as ‘Rock of Polynesia’ or simply ‘the Rock’. Its one of the largest coral islands in the world.

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You can reach there only from Auckland, via an Air New Zealand flight. Currency is NZ dollar. English & Niue are official languages. Alofi, is the capital city & the population stands at approx. 1200.

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Visit Niue to dive into crystal clear water & go snorkeling. You can enjoy swimming with spinner dolphins (April to December) and humpback whales (June to October). Discover the world of coral reefs. It’s not crowded and you get to be away from the city traffic for a change. Explore the limestone caves.

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It has strong cultural society. Sunday is used for going to church & boating, fishing are prohibited by law. Some of the traditions followed are –

  • Hair-cutting and Ear Piercing Ceremony – Boys get their long tail of hair cut for the first time after birth & girls get their ear pierced for the first time since birth.
  • Annual Village Show Day – It’s an annual event where the host village hosts different stalls for food & entertainment.
  • Takai – Everyone will decorate their vehicles or transport fancy items & roam around beeping the horns/ sirens. Residents left behind in villages to watch Takai are given special lollies.

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n1.pngn2.jpgNiue is also said to be the first nation to offer free WiFi services across the country. The most interesting thing about this country is that if offered legitimate Pokemon Currency in year 2001. Five such coins were issued with value of $1 each. Each coin featured one of the five Pokemon characters – Pikachu, Bulbasaur, Charmander,Squirtle or Meowth. Niue also released coins with Doctor Who & Starwars character. I would love to get some of these coins & never have to spend them !

Next holiday season I will surely think about Niue. Do you find it interesting enough to visit ? Also, share your favorite holiday destinations.

 

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Niue_Utuko

PS. Written for Indispire Edition 116: #DiscoverACountry

(All images sourced in from google & all credit goes to their respective owners.)

Short visit to Taj Mahal

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The eternal symbol of love – Taj Mahal, white beauty across the bank of Yamuna is a treat for eyes. Majestic, resplendent, awe-inspiring and the list or words to describe it are endless. I got a chance to visit Taj Mahal in last September.

Let’s revisit the history of Taj Mahal. It was built by Shah Jahan in memory of his beloved wife Mumtaz Mahal , completed in 1648 AD. Build by thousands of craftsmen, inspired by Indian, Islamic & Persian Architecture.  All this makes it one of the wonders of the world & also a UNESCO world heritage site.

There are three types of entry tickets depending upon your nationality –

  • Indian citizens
  • Citizens of SAARC and BIMSTEC Countries
  • Foreign national

I am not sure why but the person at ticket window was very suspicious of me being an Indian & was satisfied only after checking my photo id twice.

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I had visited it early in the day to avoid too much crowd & the blazing heat. They give you shoe covers to wear at all times. No words can do the justice to sight you see. The Taj Mahal changes colors as the day goes by. From red glow in early morning to the glistening white in the sun shines.  The best of all is how Taj Mahal looks on a full moon night. You need to books your tickets beforehand for it. One should notice the delicate designs on the monument. Each flower is carved out minutely, the holy verses are inscribed. The Grand Gate through which you enter or the red sandstones mosques on the either side. All of these combined leaves you wondering about the excellence used in designing the Taj Mahal.

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I was there for around two hours. We walked around the beautiful gardens, clicked some compulsory pose pictures.Visited the central dome where the tomb is placed. The photography is forbidden inside. Spent quiet time looking at the river Yamuna flowing in background. It was a short visit to Agra & time for us to be home bound.home bound.

For the next trip I already have plans to visit Fatehpur Sikri & Agra Fort. Have you visited Taj Mahal yet ? How was your experience ? Do share your story !

 

 

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Weekend Wanderlust – Bangalore & Kolar Highway

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Deccan Plateau of India has astounding views. I am amazed by every nook & corner that I travel here. Last Saturday I went for a long drive on the Bangalore-Kolar Highway. Soon enough we were greeted with open roads & minimum traffic on the national highway.

kolar3.pngFor all the romantics out there, I would insist for a drive on this highway. The distant hills in the background give it a picturesque look. It gives you all the pleasures of the Indian countryside.You will pass through small villages and communities at certain intervals.Farmers working in the fields, coconut trees along the both sides. Flocks of sheep grazing the grass & group of kids running along with them. 

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Let’s go to those hills !

There is also a resort Amoon Glamour Resort along the way, but its closed for renovation now.After about an hour drive we came across a Cafe Coffee Day outlet. Nestled in a cozy spot on this highway, shadowed by a hill in background & small lake on opposite side. Just the perfect place to plan a date!

We had spent some good time sitting there & admiring the beauty with a sip of coffee. As the sun set, we also took leave and started our drive back home. Next time I plan to visit it with a picnic planned – basket of sandwiches, fruit juice & the view of sun rising above the horizon.

 

Do you have a similar experience of a random drive which had left you spellbound ?

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Mystic Baratang Island,Andaman

Baratang Island – part of Andaman Islands is a place just out of the Nat Geo & Discovery documentaries. Andaman Islands are one best place to visit in India. Best time to visit would be from October to April. I have been there twice, but the second time was marred by sudden cyclonic disturbances. As excepted the beaches are one of the best ones. My favorite place for the whole trip was Baratang Island. It is like nature’s hidden secret which someone accidentally stumbled upon.

We had left 04:00 am from Port Blair to reach the Baratang. Journey is divided into three parts –

  • Port Blair to Jirkatang
  • Jirkatang to Nilambar Jetty
  • Jetty to Baratang Islands

We had hired a private cab for one day. Government run buses are also available for the journey.

First part was covered in approx. 1.5 hours. We reached Jirkatang where Forest Department officials have a check post. To be honest, I was sleeping for this part of journey. At Jirkatang Check Post, the refreshments are available. So wake up yourself with a sip of tea. There is an old temple on the roadside which reminded me of all the Bollywood movie temples with bells ringing. 🙂

The second leg of the journey is interesting. You have to pass through the Jarawa Reserve Forest. The vehicles are only allowed to move in convoys, heavy vehicles in front with policemen accompany them. This area is inhabited by the Jarawa Tribe, native of Andaman Islands. Stopping on the way & photographing is strictly prohibited. Even talking or giving any food items to Jarawa is forbidden. The road passes through patches of dense forest. Tall trees on both sides of the road & scattered sun rays all along the way. Pictures wont to justice to this beautiful sight.

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It leaves us to ponder about the strange ways of life – some are busy with all the modern amenities & then there are tribes still untouched by all this fuss.

The third leg of the journey is a short distance covered by Jetty boats to reach Baratang Island. You are welcomed by loud voices of tour guides promising you the best services. Places to cover in Baratang –

  1. Mud Volcano
  2. Limestone caves
  3. Parrot Island

I did not visit Parrot Islands as they cannot be covered in single day trip.

We took motorboats to visit Limestone caves. I was left awe-struck by sheer beauty of Mangrove forests. Mangrove trees have formed a natural path which leads to the caves. At places the mangrove trees have covered the area as if to form tunnels. This was the highlight of the day for me.

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The limestone caves take you back to the geography lessons about stalagmites & stalactites. The water seeps through the rocks crevices and forms amazing structures. Well, the guides there would show you all the possible figures in those structures – fountains, humans & even holy deities. Even though we understand the science behind the cave formation, it is a natural wonder.

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The Baratang Island did not have many options for food. Better to be prepared & carry light snacks. Remember to wear covered clothes to avoid mosquito bites & a big no to open toed shoes. We took return Jetty from the islands at 4:00 pm & followed back the same route to return to Port Blair.

After visiting this place, I often find myself thinking about the inhabitants of North Sentinel islands. They are one of last known tribes in the world with no contact. They have discouraged all attempts to be contacted by outside world & remain a mystery till date. People about whom we know nothing, unheard & unknown. Does anyone else also wonder that some more secret tribes would be existing today?  Do let me know to assure me that I am not alone with all these weird thoughts.

 

A day at Shivasamudram.

With the holiday season in sight I was looking for places to wander around Bangalore. The last minute plans at a long weekend to find reservations don’t always work.  Well, that’s a lesson learnt for me.

After spending the Christmas with friends, I went for a day visit to Shivasamudram located in Mandya district, Karnataka. There were two ways to reach there, first via Kanakpura – NH209 and second via Bangalore-Mysore highway. Its located at approx. 130 kilometers from Bangalore.

We had left early morning around 7, via Kanakpura Road. My original plan was to spend the day at Bheemeshwari Fishing Camp located in Basavana Betta Forest. The drive included passing through the Forest Reserve Area.

To give you a glimpse of the wonderful ride – we passed through a very narrow strip of road on the mountains. Cauvery river by the side at times & occasional spotting of deer. But, beware of the monkeys on the way who will jump at car windows to snatch your camera !

Unfortunately, the Bheemeshwari fishing camp was all sold out for the day & we were unable to stay there. Not to be one to be disappointed we moved towards our final destination “Shivasamudram” to enjoy the waterfall. You should be prepared to walk down some 250 steps to reach the waterfalls or you can enjoy the not so cool view from watch towers. We could easily spot people climbing up the rocks to go and bath. That’s bit risky and I would advise not to try it at all. The water is shallow near the corners & you can easily enjoy there.

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Best time to visit would be just after the rainy season in October, when the mighty Cauvery river is filled with water. After spending half of the day in lap of nature it’s time to head back home. For return journey we took a detour through Bangalore- Mysore highway and stopped at Rasta Cafe for refreshments. And headed onto the NICE Road to avoid the evening city traffic.

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A word of advice – we could not stop many restaurants on our way, so do keep a stock of food items and water with you for the journey…

Happy Reading & a Happy New Year !

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