Tuesday, February 11, 2014

The Houseboat Experience at Kashmir - Odyssey to Paradise on Earth: Part 6

 

The guy whom we met just 3 days ago is leading us. Our driver. This place looks like the back yard of some house. But no people around. The natural light is fading. 2 hours earlier we were in paradise and now..

We are cautiously treading through the slippery path. Another guy appeared from nowhere. Slim, tall, protruded cheek bones, small bits of white hair in beard. Talked in Kashmiri to our driver, smiled at us and he walked in the direction of our vehicle.

A bridge in front of us. Not a big bridge. Its made of wood. A make shift one. Looked really flimsy.

"Come on, walk over this and we are home !!", Driver ji announced

"But where is the lake", two concerned voices sounded.

"Lake, Can't you see it, right in front of you. Under the bridge"


The heavy growth of green weeds make the lake look like a well laid out lawn. Foul smell is emanating. " Are we conned again". My better half was already looking dejected. The very same look she had after the Gulmarg episode (Read it here).

Sunday, February 2, 2014

Pahalgam - "The Valley" of valleys: Odyssey to Paradise on Earth (Part 5)


The late start yesterday cost us dearly. (Click here to Read Part 3). So no risks today. Time is 8 am now. We are having the last breakfast from Hotel Pamposh. We will be checking out of this hotel before we embark on todays journey.


The trip scheduled for today is to Pahalgam. A beautiful valley. Home to many film shoots. But we are not too excited. Kids too learned from yesterdays episode. We were calm. Today evening we will be checking into a Houseboat, another most anticipated event.

The stay at Hotel Pamposh was "OK". Food was good. Rooms: big, neat, basic facilities only. Located in the heart of the city, this is one the best options in a budget, if staying in Srinagar.

Signature green tunnels, vehicles covered in dirt, cloudy skies on view now.

Sunday, January 19, 2014

Parimahal & Royal Botanical Garden: Odyssey to Paradise on Earth (Part 4)


Four minds - all dejected souls. The most anticipated event of the Kashmir trip failed miserably. As reported in Part 3. (Click here to read part 3).
 
We are again back at the signature gardens of Srinagar. We had visited two yesterday (Click here to watch those).

Will it be boring to visit more today? The entry to PariMahal has nothing to write about.
A big wall. Protuding rocks. Lots of vehicles. All drenched in dirt. Blowing horns for no reason. Our taxi also disappeared in the wave of vehicles by the time we got inside.

The last leg of the road journey to this garden was a steep climb. So this must have some altitude.
The climate was just perfect. 20 degree Celcius. No sweat.
A whole new world is opening before us. We are on the first level of the multilevel garden.

Sunday, January 12, 2014

Gulmarg - A failed attempt : Odyssey to Paradise on Earth (Part 3)


Read Part 1, Part 2 of this odyssey

High expectations, Excitement, more excitement, frustruation, agony, cool off, excitement again, lost in dream land and reality check. Pretty much sums up our emotions on the highly eventful third day of our Kashmir odessey. Started learning lessons on how to plan a trip, the dos and don'ts of Kashmir trip. More on that after todays journey.
 
Today we are going to see snow for real. Gulmarg. the place which boasts of Asias highest cable car ride. Expectation galore. Kids rose up pretty early. Parents also did not fall behind.
 
Our driver told us yesterday (part 2) that its a 2 hour drive and a start at 9am is enough. Day already set in. Time is just 6.30am. 

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

"Kashmir, First Impressions & Gardens ” : Odyssey to Paradise on Earth (Part 2)

 
Seldom will you get excited by scene from the window of an airplane during a flight. Mostly the view will be monotonous and it’s either the clouds or the never ending seas. But this time it was different. We were literally screaming !! Screaming in excitement.
 
The majestic Himalayas, kissing the clouds, embracing each other. The kind of sight we needed to rejuvenate ourselves after the Delhi episode (Read it here)



The snow cover on the top was enough to keep our kids excited. The primary purpose of this tour was to experience snow, which we had never seen in our lives. This being the month of May we had an apprehension about the availability of snow.
 
We soon touched down the PARADISE ON EARTH and all of sudden we felt a lot happy as the temperature was about 15 degrees celcius, making us forget the horrid heat in Delhi. As we were inside the taxi a “Chevrolet Tavera”, eagerly watching the sights around, we got a first impression on Kashmir.



This place is not metro, not even a non metro city. It was calm, the people around does not seem to be in a hurry. Military presence is everywhere. Thanks to the numerous terrorist strikes in this region.
 
There were no high risers around and no shopping malls. This place is a mystery for us who come from southern part of India as the news which we see and hear about this place is completely about attacks, arson, looting etc. This mystery combined with the hearsay about the beauty of this place had kept our mind preoccupied with lots of thoughts and made us forget the fact that we didn’t have the breakfast and time was already well past 11 am.

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

“Delhi @ 47 degree” : Odyssey to Paradise on Earth (Part 1)


“Sir, there is no electricity. The AC won’t be working for another 10 minutes” said the front office person, after giving the keys of our room. This wouldn’t have been a problem in normal circumstances. But, what if the temperature is touching 47 degree Celsius. It was the first “jolt” for us. 

New Delhi got the maximum recorded temperature this year, exactly on the day we landed. We means my wife, son, daughter and myself. The rooms were booked in Hotel Walnut Castle at Karol Bagh as advised by a travel agent back in Thiruvananthapuram, who sounded quite knowledgeable then. 

Once we stepped into the room we got second “jolt”. A mint sized room, sufficient for a single person occupancy is allotted for a family of four. We even had paid for an extra bed and the only place extra bed could be placed was in the bathroom. 

Made a call to the agent who booked this for us and after spending some time on phone,

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Aruvipuram - A trek following the footsteps of a Social Reformer !!


1000 m / 1Km, is a distance which one can walk in about 15 to 20 minutes, even if going at a real slow pace. This very same thought must have prompted the better halves of my friend and mine, to venture into this short walk along with kids, the eldermost one aged just 10. 

 Little did we knew that, even this short distance could be so taxing, when one considers the slopeness of the surface, inclines which amount to an angle of more than 60. We were in Aruvippuram, a place with a historical significance, a place which came into more prominence with the visit of the most popular President India has ever got - Dr. A P J on Jan 2013, a place which saw history being written when the great Sree Narayana Guru, against the convention, did the idol laying ceremony of Lord Siva, a practice which only the upper caste people only was supposed to do in those black era, marred by the feudal caste system. Over the years the caste system went into oblivion even though traces of it reappear during certain occasions (read vote bank politics, matrimony, job reservation). 

Friday, January 25, 2013

Chitharal - A blissful experience


The final turn was really a sharp bent where a cemented surface formed the parking lot to a historic place located in a remote hamlet of Marthandam - a township in Tamil Nadu, very closer to the Kerala Tamil Nadu border. The three cars were parked in the scorching sun and the 15 member gang alighted from the chariots. All our eyes fell on the magnanimous structure standing with its head high. It is not yet another man made concrete high rise. It was a natural rock formation. 



One of the boulders precariously perched on the slope of the rocky mountain soon became the topic of our discussion. I was still in an investigative mood and was looking everything with suspicion, thanks to the famous detective stories of Satyajith Ray christened Feluda.(I got to know about this book from one of the most intellectual bloggers around who writes just like columnist of leading newspapers - Roshmi Sinha). One such boulder was used to kill a character in a story which I read just previous night. My argument with my co-brother was that someone might push that big stone down and it will come down heavily on our steeds. He echoed my sentiments and began calculating the path which it might take if pushed down. Soon better sense prevailed when his father in law intervened and asked us to use our brain for other good things in life. 

A little ahead lies, umpteen number of steps to climb up to reach the Chitharal Jain Temple - a rock temple which is still maintained in its original shape untouched by humans, in the name of modernisation. The smell of sunscreen lotions was soon felt and I could see that all lady folks including my 4 year old little girl applying loads of it. Heights of beauty consciousness !! 

The team slowly started climbing up even though several deterrent thoughts were being aired on the logic of climbing uphill in this kind of burning climate.

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Ramakkalmedu, Unwinding the windiest paradise


Quick Facts given at the end of this post

"Blistering Bernacles!! What am I doing? The vehicle is just going sideways when I am pressing the accelerator". It was a spurt of the moment decision and it seemed to be turning bad. I am struck". 

The journey had started early in the morning for attending a friend's wedding, which was happening at a beautiful hamlet in the Western Ghats, lying between the popular tourist destinations Thekkady and Munnar. Beautifully maintained roads made the journey to Nedumkandam from Thiruvananthapuram, the capital city of Kerala, a breeze. It was surprising to note that how neat roads can make the travel less tiresome and one feels like the roadside scenaries just got a touch up to enhance the beauty.

The travel upto Changanacherry was through the Main central road, from where an eastward deviation was taken to take the Kumily road. From Mundakkayam, the real upward climb with lots of twisties happen. In between Mundakkayam and kuttikkanam as we were unwinding the twisties, we had a quick stop when we saw a sea of white animals standing amidst the picturesque mountains. It was a cattle market.

Saturday, July 14, 2012

Vismaya Water Theme Park, Truly magical, BUT .....


(This travelogue is based on a trip to Vismaya water theme park, Kannur, Kerala, India on Oct 2011)

Onam, a festival which all Malayalees celebrate, irrespective of the religion, caste or creed is truely an occassion for families to get together and to have a fun filled times amidst the chaotic lifestyle of today.
Come another Onam, and we found ourselves at my Wife's native place at Calicut, in the central part of Kerala. This time our joy knew no bounds when the pookkalam (a flower arrangement) made by us looked really good and all the strain, our legs and backs suffered during the making of this pookkalam went to oblivion when we saw this.


Frankly speaking it looked more good on photos than in real.

The pookalam thing and the grand feast for lunch and gossip sessions kept us entertained during the first day of vacation.

At this time a plan was charted out to visit a water theme park at Kannur owned and managed by one of the leading political parties in Kerala, which is currently in the news for all the wrong reasons.

The gang comprising of 8 people including 2 kids started the journey pretty early, Kannur being distant from Calicut by about 90km, we expected to reach their in one and half hours time. But all our hopes were laid to rest, when we took around 1 hr to reach the outskirts of Calicut.

Wednesday, February 29, 2012

UB City, Bangalore: A Hangout for good times


In India there are n number of religions, caste, creed etc. Each set having their own customs, cultures and traditions. Most, if not all the groups have been formed on the basis of whom they worship. The subcastes were originally created based on the nature of the work people did, which does not have any relevance as on today, since none of them is currently doing what each subcaste originally did. Another religion is slowly evolving based on their work and it is high time that we accept that as a caste or religion whatever it may be. No, I am not a fundamentalist, trying to create a new religion.

The new religion is 'IT' (Information Technology), the God can be a "Computer", (ENIAC seems a better choice) and the human gods can be Bill Gates, Richard stallman etc under whom subcastes can also be formed.

There is a place in India whose culture, traditions etc has been completely transformed over a period of a decade or two by the invasion of people from all over India, with different backgrounds, but united only to do the same kind of work. This happened in the IT capital of India, Bengaluru (erstwhile Bangalore).

Just visit Bengaluru and you can understand what I mean. The Bengaluru localites are no where to be seen. Only tie clad gentlemen and formally dressed up ladies are seen during day times. Cabs ferrying IT workforce zooming around as if there is no tomorrow.

Stay and work in Bengaluru and you will also start to look like one among them, whatever be your previous cultural, religious or territorial background. The good thing is that the people who live here loves this place just as much they love their homeland. Here people are not conservative anymore. Ladies can move around during night with no fear (This is not possible in most of the places in India, thanks to the great respect for woman).

All this has resulted in propping up of lot of avenues for entertainment too. Pubs, malls, multiplexes, eateries and other hang outs are seen everywhere. Resort people saw a business oppurtunity and many new ones sprang up with lot of aritificial landscaping and wave pools in an attempt to make up for the lost landscape and the absence of coast line. Club Cabana, Confident cascade (Click here to make an virtual tour), Guhanthara etc being the favorite among the techies. Then there is the film city (Click here to make an virtual tour), wonderla etc to make your day full of fun and enjoyment.

The beautiful Leela Palace Hotel also has a hang out place with gaming malls, antique shopping centre etc and is open to public. (Click here to make an virtual tour).

During one of my visits I chanced upon to see a beautiful building, standing out from the rest of cult. It was structurally marvellous, innovatively engineered and was really standing tall.

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Dukes Forest Lodge - In the Lap of Nature !!


Fog clad mountains, beautiful stream with crystal clear waters, lovely woods spread over green veiled valleys, modern amenities with isolated - traditional cottages, virgin forest, if all these provides you ecstasy, then here is a gem of a place which offers all this and much more. The addicitive quotient is scaling new heights after a visit to this destination - " The dukes forest lodge" located at the foot of Ponmudi (Golden peak), one of the highest peaks in Western Ghats.

Come new year 2012 and a dilemma starts on how to kickstart the new year. Last new year it was pure bliss, in the company of like minded friends and their families, the effect of which had an impact through out a joyful 2011. The dilemma paved way for some excitement when my wife's cousin invited us for an overnight stay at the little known Dukes forest lodge on the way to Ponmudi.

The ponmudi hills already owes a special place in my heart and when ever I visit this place I feel grateful to be living in a city very close to this pristine hill station (Watch my earlier blog on the beautiful hills here). I have lost count on how many times I passed through the winding roads, on two wheels and four wheels, with the former mode being my favourite. Some hectic work at office and some last minute shoppings ensured that we started pretty late than the scheduled check in time at the forest lodge.

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