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Getaway from Bangalore -Bandipur and Wayanad

Getaway from Bangalore -Bandipur and Wayanad

After an exchange of several hundreds of messages on our WhatsApp group, it was decided that the destination for our weekend trip was Wayanad. As we were 6 of us, we rented out a Scorpio from  Zoom car and set out from Bangalore on Saturday, at 3 O’clock in the morning. We stopped at a Cafe Coffee Day just before Bandipur get refreshed at around 5:30 AM.

We reached Bandipur by 6 AM. The road to reach the national park opens at 8:15 AM and there was a long queue of vehicles waiting. We slept off in the car waiting for the Gates to open.

About Bandipur: Bandipur is one of the most well managed National Parks in India. Together with Mudumalai Wild Life Sanctuary, Tamilnadu and the Wayanad Wildlife Sanctuary, Kerala and the Nagarhole national park Karnataka, this makes the India’s biggest Biosphere reserve known as Nilgiri Biosphere reserve.

We opted for Van Safari in Bandipur hoping to see some tigers. The price per person is 300 INR and takes 45 minutes. Sadly enough, we only found few deer, buffaloes and few elephants during the safari.We captured some amazing shots of the sunrise.

The baby elephants at Bandipur
The deers
The Van Safari
Sunrise Scenes
Random Capture

After this, We had our brunch at a restaurant in Ooty Road at around 12:30 and then we left for Wayanad.It was actually a 3-hour ride. As luck would have it, one wrong turn and we ended up on top of a hill in Ooty :P. The weather was cool and pleasant. We were welcomed by the tea estates when we entered Kerala, God’s own countryFinally, we reached our hotel apartment in Kalpetta( Wayanad cliff hotel apartments) at around 2:30 PM. After freshening up, we left for our first destination- Edakkal Caves.

About Edekkal Caves: Timings: 8:30 AM- 4 PM

Entry fee: Indians INR 20, Foreigners: INR 40

Edakkal means a stone in between. The place is not actually a cave, but a boulder wedged between two others. Edakkal is the only place with stone age carving in South India that back to as old as 7000 years. The carvings belonging to Neolithic and Mesolithic Age include ancient stone scripts, ancient weaponry figures, symbols, figures of various animals and human beings etc.

The writings at Edakkal Caves
Some incomprehensible writing

We had to trek 4000 Feet up a mountain to reach the Caves. We were not aware that the caves were on the top of the mountain. The trek never seemed to end. It was one hell of a trek to reach the mountain caves and then get back. Although we saw the neolithic carvings and the view from the top of the mountain was beautiful, I personally felt that the trek was not worth it. Instead, we could have visited the waterfalls or an island that was situated nearby.

By the time we reached back, it was already 7 PM. We explored around the city a bit and then went in search of dinner. We were famished by that time. We did not find a vegetarian restaurant in Kalpetta. (We have vegetarian friends). We had to have our dinner at a non-vegetarian restaurant. We reached our room at around 9:30 PM and called it a day. We had planned to visit the Idukki falls, but we were too tired for it.

Pro tip: Most of the shops close before 8 PM here and many of them do not accept cards (Well, that was before demonetization. 🙂 I do not know the current situation).But it is always advisable to keep some cash handy.

Our second day in Wayanad started with the breakfast at our hotel apartment. We left for our trek to Chembra peak at 7 AM.

About Chembra Peak:

Trek timing: 7 AM to 2 PM.

Entrance: On the spot permissions from the forest department.Costs 750 for a group of 10. Trek guide charges are also included in this. However, we can tip the guide if we are happy with the services.

Total ascent of the trek: approx 4000 ft.

The height of the Chembra peak: 6900 ft above sea level.

The Chembra peak is the highest peak in Wayanad. The forest department doesn’t allow for trekking till the peak but one can trek till the heart lake. The trek is really tedious (considered 6/10 on the rate of difficulty level) and it took us three hours by foot to reach the heart lake. We saw several people returning without going to the Heart Lake as the last leg of the trek is very steep and requires a lot of stamina. Several stops and one pack of glucose later (that was for me, the rest of the group was fine), we made it to the top. The view from the top was breathtaking. The fresh and clean air was very refreshing. We stayed there for an hour and took some snaps and were back to the base.

The view on the way to Chembra Peak
The Greenery was a treat to us city folks
The Trail. We had a local guide who showed us the way
The view, half the way through the trek. The Greens and the blues are Love.
View from the base!
The Chembra Peak
Yes, the place is a plastic Free Zone!
The view from one of the Resting Points.
A tiny pond before we reach the heart lake. We named it the lung lake!LOL
The Heart Lake
Us at one of the photo points
On our way back
The trail

We had our lunch at a local restaurant there and got back to our room. We had to get back to Bangalore the very same day.

Since many places had to be reached by trek and we had only two days to explore the place, we missed out few places. Here is a list of places which we are planning on covering on our next trip.If you are staying in Wayanad for three- four days; these places can be included in the itinerary.

– Banasura dam

– Soochipara falls

– Kuruvadweepa

– Meenamutty falls

– Wayanad Heritage museum.

So that is it. A group of friends and a car is all that is needed to go for an adventure. We are definitely going to Wayanad again to enjoy the lush greenery and have fun.

Bekal -A visit to my native land

Bekal -A visit to my native land

Bekal is a small village situated in the northernmost district of Kerala, Kasargod. This place happens to be my native too. We visit here to attend the functions at our family temple every year. Bekal is famous for the Bekal fort, which is the largest fort in Kerala. There is also a famous Shiva temple on the way to the fort.

Getting here: One can visit Bekal by train or by road. The train Mangalore–Coimbatore passenger departs from Mangalore Central at 7:35 AM. The journey is of 45-50 minutes. But we usually travel by our car. It is around 75 KM ride from Mangalore city.

We started at around 7 AM from Mangalore by our car. The NH66 road is in excellent condition now.Our first stop was the Anantapur Lake Temple. This temple is built in the middle of the lake in Ananthapura Village. Legend has it that the cave near the temple is connected to the Ananta Padmanabha temple of Thiruvananthapuram. Unfortunately, I had not clicked any pictures of the temple during my visit there ( as our phones were switched off)

Anantha Padmanabha Temple, Kerala Source:Wiki

The temple is also famous for the vegetarian crocodile, Babiya who is said to be the guardian of the temple. The temple has a really amazing architecture. After visiting this temple, we reach Thirkannadu in Bekal. This is a famous temple of the region and is dedicated to Lord Shiva. The temple is situated right in front of the beach. After visiting this temple, we left for our ancestral home in Bekal for lunch.

Thryambakeshwara Temple Source:Wiki

Pro tip: If you are a vegetarian or do not prefer food with coconut oil, it is better to carry your own food. As most of the restaurants serve beef here and use coconut oil for all the dishes.

After a sumptuous lunch prepared by my granny and a bit of rest, we went on to visit the famous Fort.

Timings: 8:30 Am -5:30 PM

Entrance: INR 5 and INR 25 for the camera and INR 20 for car parking

There is a Mukhyaprana temple ( Hanuman temple) at the entrance to the fort and an ancient mosque nearby which are a proof to the religious harmony that prevailed in the land. The fort was built by Shivappa Nayak of Ikkeri dynasty and later captured by the Hyder Ali, the ruler of Mysore in the year 1763.

The fort was very well maintained and the gardens were in full bloom too. My most favorite part of the fort was the one end jutting to the sea. One can feel the sea waves splashing at your place from the point. Also, it was one of the best sunset view points that I have seen. Also, the famous song “Tu hi re” from the movie Bombay was shot here, in this fort.

The main structure and the well-maintained gardens
The View from the top is awesome!
One more
The View
The stairs to the underground storage space
The exterior walls of the fort
My favorite place !!

Later we decided to visit the Bekal beach, which is adjacent to the fort. There are rides and a park for the kids. We spent around 15 minutes there as it was very crowded.

We left for Mangalore at around 5 PM and reached home by 7 PM.

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An Ancient Land Called Mahabalipuram

An Ancient Land Called Mahabalipuram

Mahabalipuram, also known as Mahamallapuram is situated in Kanchipuram district of Tamilnadu.  It is famous for the monuments built in 7th -8th centuries by the rulers of the Pallava dynasty.  The monuments are listed on the world heritage sites list.

Mahabalipuram is around 30 minutes far from Shollinganallur (the place we stayed). We, a group of friends took shared auto from Shollinganallur to Mahabalipuram. The entry ticket is 30 INR for Indians and can be used for visiting other monuments around Mahabalipuram. Visiting time: 6 AM to 6 PM.

Places to visit:

The Shore Temple:  It is one of the oldest stone temples in India and is made entirely of granite stones. There are three temples, one large and two small. If viewed from a Nothern end, the temple appears like Dharmaraja Ratha. This pyramidal structure is placed on a 50 feet platform and is approximately  60 feet high.

5 Rathas: Built during the 7th century by the Pallava ruler, the 5 rathas are architectural marvels.  The Rathas are excellent examples of Dravidian Architecture and are monoliths ( each Ratha is chiseled out of single rock). The five rathas are named as ‘Dharmaraja Ratha’, ‘Bhima Ratha’, ‘Arjuna Ratha’, ‘Nakula Sahadeva Ratha’, and ‘Draupadi Ratha’ after the five Pandava brothers and their common spouse Draupadi from the great Indian epic ‘Mahabharata’. This place is listed in UNESCO world heritage site.

Arjunas Penance:  It is a monolith wonder  43 feet tall. One can see intricate art on the rock depicting the scenes of the natural and the celestial world. These carvings are a treat to the history buffs 

Arjuna’s penance

Caves and Mandapams: there are various mandapams or halls all through the monument complex. Some of them are Krishna mandapam (the largest cave), Varaha mandapam, Ramanuja mandapam. And several caves like  Mahishasura Mardini cave temple and the tiger cave( this is situated several KMs outside the Mahabalipuram monument complex).

Varaha Mandapam-source-Wikipedia

Krishna’s butter ball:  It is a gigantic ball shaped rock that is inclined at 45 degrees without rolling down. The massive rock weighs several tons and has been standing that way for over thousands of years now.

Krishna’s butter ball source:wikipedia

 Tip: There are a lot of refreshments like raw mangoes, fried groundnuts, water bottles and juices available nearby, that is sold by the locals at a bit higher prices. It is advisable to take your own water bottles and some snacks.

Mahabalipuram lighthouse: One can visit the top of the lighthouse after paying a nominal entry free. One has to walk a lot even to reach near the lighthouse.

Raya Gopuram: It is an unfinished tower, yet it was worth visiting. It was supposed to be the entrance to all the monuments on the hill.

Raya gopuram -source-Wikipedia

One can visit the seashore and enjoy the breeze and get back to Shollinganallur ( good hotels are available for stay) by evening.


Beach Hopping in Mangalore

Beach Hopping in Mangalore

I am a Thalassophile-Lover of the sea. The infinite sea never ceases to amaze me. Having spent my entire life near the coast, the sea is something that always soothes my soul. This article is about the beaches in Mangalore.

Mangalore is a coastal city in Dakshina Kannada district of Karnataka. It is approximately 350 KM from the state capital, Bangalore. One can visit Mangalore on weekends for a dose of Vitamin Sea. Beaches are one of the major attractions of the city along with numerous temples, churches, and parks.

To reach Mangalore from Bangalore, There are plenty of government and private buses from Bangalore (VRL, Sugama, SRS etc) that start from various locations in Bangalore. One can also take a train (new Kudla express) or a flight to Mangalore.

There are private buses available to travel within the city( Bus numbers 45,56 15 from Mangalore). There are plenty of Ola cabs and autos available too.

Visiting the beach is preferable during the evening because Mangalore is really hot!!! To start off, visit the famous Pabbas ice cream parlor in Lalbagh (near KSRTC bus stand) and savor the yummy and delicious ice creams(Gadbad, Tiramisu, Chocolate dad and what not !!)

Pabba’s icecreams
Tiramisu and Chocolate dad

The first beach is the thannirbhavi beach. This beach can be reached directly by road or by a ferry from sultan Battery. The ferry charge is Rs 40 per person (to and fro). It takes around 10-15 minutes by the ferry. You are greeted by the canopy of shore pines and food shacks on the way to the beach. This beach is one of the silent and less crowded beaches of the city. One can either take some fun rides (banana ride, quad bikes) or enjoy the pristine beach and spend some time taking pictures :). You can also try seafood and charmuri from the shacks.

ticket counter for the ferry
Gurupura river
Sultan Battery
Shore pine trees-source: wiki

Return to Sultan battery by the ferry to visit the next beach -Panambur Beach. It is the most popular beach in Mangalore and always crowded. The famous kite festival and the airshows happen here. One can go for parasailing or a horse or camel ride at the beach. If you are a crowd friendly person, this beach is the perfect place to be. The sea is calmer here and it is easier to play in the water.

Panambur beach on a weekend. Source:
Kite festival 2016: source:

The next beach in the beach hopping series is the Sasihithlu Beach. This beach is a bit secluded and a hidden gem. Not many visitors come here. This is the best beach to unwind and let the child in you out. 🙂 . Relax and enjoy the tranquillity of Sasihithlu beach. Although travelling from Mangalore to Sasihithlu, NITK beach comes first, I would suggest visiting the Sasihithlu beach first and then visit the NITK beach for the sunset.

Last but not the least is a visit to the famous NITK beach and the lighthouse. It is situated on the highway NH 66, towards Udupi. It is famous for the Sadashiva temple, the lighthouse, and the beach. The Sadashiva temple has been featured in some movies too. Also one must visit the lighthouse to view the 360-degree panoramic view of the city. The view from the top is breathtaking. The lighthouse closes at 6 PM. So make sure you get your tickets (INR 10) and visit it.

Virgin beach NITK

Ariel view Source: the internet

Watch the mesmerizing sunset on the shore. On the way back, visit the Sadashiva temple and get the blessings of Lord shiva.

Mangalore-My City

Mangalore-My City

Mangalore is my birth place. The city where I completed my schooling, college, and my Engineering. In short, it is more of an emotion. Each and every aspect of my life is linked to this wonderful place.

So I dedicate my first blog to this wonderful city 🙂

Mangalore some facts:

Geographically Mangalore is situated between the Western Ghats and the Arabian Sea. It is about 350 KMs from the state capital, Bangalore. It is district headquarters for the Dakshina Kannada district. The total area of the city is 132.4 SQ. KM

Mangalore got its name from the deity Mangaladevi.This city is also known as Mangaluru in Kannada, Kudla in Tulu, Kodial in Konkani, Maikala in Beary and Mangalapuram in Malayalam. It is probably only one city with so many different names.

The city has all 4 ways of transport. It has an International airport, a major sea port and well-connected roadways and railway.

Mangalore is also the Education Hub of Karnataka, with over 15 Engineering (NITK, Surathkal being the rank 1 engineering college and MIT (Manipal) being second), 8 Medical, 3 Dental, 12 MBA, and 58 Graduation colleges in and around the city.

It is one of the fastest developing cities in recent times and has been included in the Smart city mission of the Government of India.

Specialties of Mangalore

Mangaloreans are famous for the friendly nature. We are very helpful and hospitable when it comes to our guests. Mangaloreans are foodie people. We love our cuisines and would choose them over any other food in the world. Cuisines like Fish Rava fry, Kori Rotti and Chicken Sukka, Chicken Gassi, Pathrode, Pundi are all worth dying for. 🙂 (Aah! My mouth is watering already).

The traditional art form of Yakshagana has originated from our city. A typical Yakshagana performance consists of background music played by a group of musicians (known as the himmela); and a dance and dialog group (known as the mummela), who together enact poetic epics on stage. Also, the Buffalo race in dirt track known as Kambala is our traditional sport.

Temples, Beaches, Cathedrals and Chapels, Lighthouses are key points of interest in Mangalore.One can easily travel to the main tourist attractions in Dakshina Kannada, Udupi, and Kodagu and Chikmagalur districts from Mangaluru. I will be covering these places in my upcoming blogs.

Hope you enjoyed your read!! Cheers!