Tag Archives: Travel

Travel Bug – once bitten, never shy! #AtoZChallenge

 

“Not all those who wander are lost.”
― J.R.R. Tolkien, The Fellowship of the Ring

Travel – is the food for my soul. A thing of joy which knows no bound. Given a choice, I am sure every one of us would be a traveler.  Travelling gives you a global perspective to the meaning of life. What’s common here, might be bizarre there.

My first memory of travel is when I as a child I travelled to my hometown for summer vacations.  For me, it was no less than a festive occasion, where I would get to meet my grandparents. The train rides were exciting – buying comics & snacks.  Trains passing through the serpentine rows of trees & paddy fields. occasional whistle blowing to alarm every one of the incoming train. These memories are forever etched into my brain.

The first plane ride is also equally special to me. The excitement of flying amidst the clouds, which looked like cotton candy spread across hectares of area. 🙂

My parents are travel enthusiast so there was never an end to exploring new places. As an adult, I have visited many of those place again. Travelling with friends or solo has added new twists to my travel experiences. Some funny experiences, some scary – but all of these has taught something new.

I have this idea of travelling across the length & breadth of India solo. Awaiting when I would be doing it. Maybe this year or next. But, still plans our underway for it. Idea is to travel afar to new places & meet random strangers. Learn their life stories & share some of mine.

Do you have some travel plans which are yet to fulfilled? What motivates you to travel?

Paradise tales – Visit to Kashmir! #AtoZChallenge

One fine summer, I had visited the paradise of Kashmir and smitten by it. I have shared a photo blog about my Kashmir trip earlier here. This post is in continuation of the Kashmir travel tale series.

I had taken a flight from Delhi to Srinagar and stayed there for 6 days.

Day 1 – Srinagar

For the first day of our trip we had stayed in a houseboat on Dal Lake.  Our houseboat had intricate wooden carvings and an astounding view of the mountains in background. The houseboats are well equipped with all the bare necessities & the luxuries.

We were welcomed with sumptuous meal & cup of customary Kahwah (Kashmiri tea). Each sip leaves you rejuvenated. To be honest, I had bought several packages of the Kahwah & also visited shops back home for the same taste. But nothing matches the tea I had in Kashmir.

Unlike, the Kerela houseboats, these boats stay stationary. In the evening the lake buzzes with activity of the local market and we had taken a trip in the lake to visit the floating market.  I was amazed by the variety that the market offers jewellery, food,photo studios, clothes and the list is endless.

The day was well spent on the houseboat & enjoying the breathtaking views.

Day 2 – Enroute to Pahalgam

On the second day we had planned to visit Pahalgam. It was approximately 2.5 hours drive. In between we had also visited ruins of  Awantipura.  It has ruins of ancient Hindu temples and maintained by Archaeological Survey of India.  Awantipura temple is dedicated to Lord Shiva. One can only wonder how such massive beautiful architectures were created in old times.

The evening in Pahalgam was relaxed and we did not wander out much for the day. Be sure to tune in to the blog tomorrow to continue with my Kashmir travel.

If you have visited Kashmir, then do share your travel experiences about it! 🙂

Joyful day at Nuwara Eliya, Srilanka #AtoZChallenge

This post is in continuation of my earlier posts about Sri Lanka trip. You can read last post of the day spent in Kandy here.  Second day of the trip was spent in exploring Nuwara Eliya and nearby Ramboda town.

View from the hotel room
Ramboda Falls

We had stopped at Ramboda Falls Hotel for our breakfast and the hotel overlooks the beautiful Ramboda Falls.

Tea Plantations in Nuwara Eliya

Nuwara Eliya is famous for its tea plantations and English countryside architecture. We had visited one of the Dilmah Tea Estates for the factory’s tour. They took us through the whole process of drying the leaves, separating them and finally processing it. We could not take any pictures of the whole process.

Next stop for the day was Sita Temple.

Sita Temple in Nuwara Eliya

It is believed that this place was part of Ashok Vatika, where Ravana had kept Goddess Sita after abduction. Lord Hanuman had met her here and folk tale suggests that there are footprints of Lord Hanuman on the nearby rocks. The temple is small and was not very crowded.

Sita Temple
Sita Temple
Lord Hanuman footprints
Lord Hanuman footprints

We also went to Gregory Lake, it has options for boating & pony riding. I found the prices were on a bit higher side for foreign visitors.

Evening at Lake
Evening at Lake

The evening was spent strolling in the city. The city has British influence and hence also named ‘Little England’.  It takes you back in time and one can imagine Britishers enjoying the cool summer breeze in the city and riding their horses. Makes a good picture!

Nuwara Eliya
Nuwara Eliya

The thing that I liked most about Sri Lanka was the cleanliness and traffic sense. Cities are well maintained and people abide by traffic rules. Something which I would like to see more in India! 🙂

Weekend Wanderlust – Bangalore & Kolar Highway

kolar 1.png

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. 

kolar 4.png
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

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.

andaman

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.

Mangrove forest

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.

Limestone caves

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.