Saturday, July 31, 2010

Technopark @ Kerala - A Visual Sojourn

Birthday time for India's first technology park, the TECHNOPARK, which is also one of the biggest of its kind in India. Twenty years has passed since its foundation stone was laid in 1990. Ever since, Technopark saw a phenomenal rise with more and more multinationals opening its shop, providing employement to the ever growing number of IT professionals.

Implementations of great visionaries seldom go wrong. The story of Technopark is no different as it was the brainchild of the founder chairman, Mr. K P P Nambiar, who also has been instrumental in development of many other establishments.

Geographically, Technopark is strategically positioned as it is away from the busy city life of Thiruvananthapuram, the capital city of God's own country, Kerala. Its proximity to the International airport and the National highway adds to its investment potential.

Let us travel together to the beautiful Technopark campus, enjoying the architecture of the buildings. To reach here let us first get to Kazhakkoottam and then take the Bypass route. As is the typical Kerala roads, the bypass also is blessed with lots greenery on its sides.

A little into the bypass, the big sign board pointing to left leads us to the this gate of Technopark.

A quick glance from here reveals no sky scrapers or those big buildings housing the IT Giants. Where are all those. Let us get inside and take a look.

Well here is the first round about and there is a sign board listing all the building names and the route map. 

Towards the left there are two major buildings. The NILA and Leela Infopark.

Nila is one of the oldest buildings in Technopark, and just like the magnanimous Nila river, is really big and signs of oldness is very well visible from the external appearance.

From this point it seems that this road will end up in NILA building, but it is not so. On the side of this building another big one has sprung up which has got a perplexing design. This is the Leela Inforpark.

The architect seems to have got a confusion on the theme of external appearance. The traditional Kerala style wood work extends to 6 floors after which it suddenly ends. Neverthless those 6 floors are quite exquisite to glance at.

Watch it closely and we can see its perfection.

Now its time to move back to the first round about and take the upward route. This campus has got a hilly terrain. All the roads are well maintained and the tree cover on both sides gives it a greeny touch as well as providing much relief for the techies to walk around in the neat pavements keeping the Sun out of picture.

One of the most innovative architecture is on display as we move up. Watch this beautiful building which belongs to the man who told that " I don't want India to be an economic super power, but I want to see more and more Indians living a happy life".

This building eventhough huge gives an illusion of a well built home and I wisht that the techies working there also feels at home.

Keep looking at it again and again and enjoy the lovely piece of artistic architecture.

This also is one of the oldest buildings and is the first one owned by a single company. The design for sure has stood the test of time.

Right opposite to this magnificient creation another rounded biggie is coming up and for the first time a Govt major R&D centre is going to set up its shop in Technopark.

Wonder how it will look like upon completion.

We are still going upward and soon too superlative structures are awaiting us. The one on the right is the "Thejaswini" meaning the "Beautiful lady". This is a very latest addition to Technopark, and easily the one with most square feet under its belt. The multistoreyed parking facility feature is first implemented in Thejaswini, which also house the one and only food court in Technopark. 

What you see here are the floors above ground level and there some below ground level too.

Just opposite to Thejawsini is the building which Thejaswini defeated for acheiving the numero uno spot for most built up area - The Bhavani, the meaning of which is "source of creative energy". Quite an apt name for the souls whose creative talents are critical for the betterment of their company and the industry in general.

We are now in the top most part of the whole area and cool breeze are flowing across even in the middle of a hot day. A huge guy is sitting adjacent to Bhavani gazing the sky, holding his head high, but his face seems to have a story to tell.

Is he a symbolic representation of the people who has been stripped of their homelands for the construction of the huge park complex or is he representing the techies who are striving day in and out achieving a lot in terms of monetary gains, but sadly missing out on something.

Adjacent to Bhavani, there are two more buildings with the names of two more major rivers of Kerala, the "Pampa" and "Periyar". Seems like the earlier buildings of Technopark were christening the buildings with the beautiful and glorious rivers of Kerala.

Well who ever has been to Technopark will never forget this huge structure which seems spitting fumes to the sky in the form of cloud.

This is innovation at its level best, and when we finds that this is a simple water tank, we should salute the creativity of the guy who thought of constructing this utility structure in this form. It is quite an engineering feet with all the mathematical calculations on weight distribution being worked out correctly to enable this one to be up in a single pillar. It is a treat to watch this one touch the clear blue skies.

The "Park Center" building is adjacent to the beautiful water tank tower and is aptly names because it has been the centre of all activities related to this park, with the brains behind creating this into a major IT destination being stationed here. The park center houses the technopark management group.

As already mentioned the founder chairman was a visionary, those followed suite were not bad either. Mr. Vijayraghavan, Mr. Satheesh Kumar and co form an elite panel of CEOs who were true brand ambassadors of IT development initiatives of Kerala and were successful in bringing many top IT firms to Technopark viz TCS, Infosys, UST Global, Alliance Cornhill, Toonz Animation etc and a host of others currently getting ready to step in.

The park centre also houses a Business incubation centre, an incubator for facilitating start ups to take up all business challenges without having much to worry about the infrastructure development cost. Once the start ups are ready to stand in their own feet, they can move to other buildings around. A really nice gesture to promote technopreneurs in a state were professional education is completely focused on building followers or obedient workers rather than developing entrepreneurs or promoting creativity. Only the IITs seem to break this monotony and tries to create entrepreneurs. Nevertheless these kind of incentives added with attractive loan schemes for brilliant ideas may form the perfect launching pad for those with an entrepreneurship potential.

A little ahead of Park center, there is an open air theater, where the techies are given a chance to polish their art skills during the annual technopark festival.

One look at the theatre and we feel like this is another place nicely blended with nature and all the big structures around seems to be long away.

Two more oldies of the park are stationed here.First the Chandragiri, which also is showing signs of its age.

The Leela is the last building on a deserted corner of the park.

This building normally figures in the horror stories of the creative techies who has framed many stories of ghosts prowling around this building and is prominently known as the haunted house of the park. The building in flesh does not look haunted at all and it houses one of the success stories of Technopark, a company with lot of values and is constantly in news because of the social causes it initiates.

Now we have covered almost the entire park. So it is time to venture out and see a lot of expansion happening outside the park premises. Very near to the gate there is a technopark club, which offers all the basic games facilities, which unfortunately are never fully used up, thanks to the virtual grills of the IT domain.

Well a beautiful vehicle is coming towards us, gliding through the beautiful roads, under the shade of the greenery. 

These low floor buses gives excellent comfort for travel and is a right step ahead in promoting the usage of public transport for daily travel. 

Taj Ginger is just outside the technopark campus, a truly budget hotel which offers best value for money and the compromise is lesser number of support staff.

A Taj is a Taj, be it Ginger or chilly.

We are now out in the bypass road traveling southwards.

A lot of area are getting ready to be developed for big structures and lot of construction activity is going on.

Well what is that, A giant boat or is it ship parked on land. Just watch this

A marvelous piece of work, let me stop here for sometime and enjoy its beauty. Entrance is prohbited, but who cares, it is brilliant to watch this work of art from the road side. The clouds are moving in the backdrop gives a perspective of the boat moving ahead.

Afterall this one belongs to the Bill Gates of India, one of the most successful home grown software set up, the Infosys, the design of the structure has the stamp of innovation, one of the reason whey they are different from others and the simple reason why they succeed, just put that extra effort and thought, apply right brain oriented thinking, and create extraordinary outputs when others think of ordinary outputs.

New schools have sprang up in this bypass route, thanks to the large number of techie families living nearby. The MGM public started only recently, but is on a faster growth path thanks to increasing number of enrollment each year.

This school has the potential to be one of the major schools in town, provided the authorities and staff learn to keep their feet firmly grounded amidst the rapid growth and can guard against complacency.

Another one nearby is the Good Sheperd school, which is stationed at the foot of one of the hills around.

The exponent of low cost construction Larry Baker seems to have a great influence in the construction of the International convention center here.

Many more buildings are coming up in and around. Thanks to the free space available around, these building are not crowded together.

The architecture range from most modern to the traditional ones, to the most expensive ones to the most cheap ones, to the most ordinary shape to the most extraordinary shape.

The companies housed in these buildings ranges from the start up to the well established ones, the home grown ones to the multinationals.

For the last twenty years, this park has transformed the IT outlook of the state of Kerala, almost all the IT success stories has been linked to the Technopark, the red tape of the other wise lethargic Government machinery seems to have taken a break from the normal routine when it come to Technopark affairs. 

The park is awake always, thanks to the 24 hour work schedule of the companies, the park has seen the metamorphosis of 10 member company in the incubator to 2000+ strong workforce IT major, the park has seen the happy faces of those who pass the interviews, the dejected face of those who don't qualify, the park has seen the excitement of the new recruits, the park has seen the growth of individuals, the park has seen the tears of those who got the pink slip, the park has seen the unfortunate and untimely demise of techies, the park has got techies from all over India, people who come in bicycles and people who come in limousine, the park now completes twenty glorious years and is already a part of the history of IT Saga of India. In future, if historians coin a term IT age, then this park will surely have its place when it comes to the IT History of India.

Happy Birthday to TECHNOPARK, and wishing many more wonderful years ahead, I am signing off from Technopark sojourn, quietly cherishing the dream of trying out the incubator facility once in my life.

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Team Day Out @ Ashtamudi Resort

God's own country surely is in the eyes of those in the resort business, because of its tourism potential. At times it feels that these resorts which are coming up in every nook and corner will eventually eat up the beauty of the place as it is sure to disturb the eco system. But such resorts also has helped in enhancing the image of the state and also in bringing up more and more tourists, whom otherwise will never know about such beautiful places. These resorts also has given a lot of options for those strangled in the IT grills of the corporate world to have a solace in the name of team outings which sure helps to renergize, revitalize and strengthen bonding, all of these eventually leading to more productivity (in most of the cases!!).

Well, yours truly had a chance to be part of a team outing of a very vibrant team of one of the companies from the first Technopark of India, which happened to be in God's own country. The chosen destination was the Ashtamudi resorts at Quilon (Kollam), Kerala managed by the resort giant, Club Mahindra. All those who might have travelled in train from Thiruvananthapuram via Kollam might have seen the numerous amount of bridges, the train will pass through, most of them over backwaters, many a times which we will think of how great it will be to have a life in those lake sides enjoying the brilliant landscape and calmness around. This resort which has been built up on the banks of ashtamudi lake surely helps to quench this passion.

It was a day outing and we had a early morning start from Thiruvananthapuram. The route is

Thiruvananthpuram -- (NH 47,72km) --- Quilon (Kollam) --- Neendakara --- (turn right after neendakara bridge) ---- Club Mahindra resort

The National Highway 47, was in bad shape thanks to the heavy downpour. Still it can be termed as one of the best maintained roads considering the pathetic road condition in many other parts of the state.

Passed quilon in about 1 hour, after which the distance to Neendakara felt much more than the 10kms, due to the really bad roads. The arrival of Neendakara is signified by the fish market and this beautiful church just before the bridge.

Just after the bridge turned right through a narrow road. We have to travel 4 kms through this road. A little ahead, we approached a bridge and the first sight of it made me stop the vehicle.

Stood on top of the bridge enjoying the vast lake and the chinese fishing nets. Soon we saw huge dark clouds approaching us from a distance.

The dark clouds soon engulfed the bridge and it was a sight to enjoy.

Waited for the rains to lash across and the vast view ensured that we could see the rains approaching us from a distance. Watch the rains at a distance.

The sound of rain falling on water was slowly increasing as it was coming more and more closer, still we stood there coz it was a real sight to enjoy and we do love rains. Finally it lashed on the bridge.

Needless to say we were drenched in water, by the time we were able to get inside the vehicle. I did not start the vehicle, but enjoyed the rains from one of the best locations to enjoy natures fury.

Soon we proceeded with our journey and reached the resorts. On a first look we could not see any buildings around even after we passed the gate. The reception was a small traditional kerala house. There was a small club house also nearby with some indoor activities. Kids were soon inside the club house.

The rest of the team were still on their way. I could get a glimpse of the lake from inside the club house. Seems very promising, but the clouds were still looming large.

Games of foosball took centre stage followed by carroms, after which the entire team arrived. We all moved to the party hall which was housed in a separate building. This type of construction surely, has helped in not disturbing the naturality of this place. Most of the houses seemed to be traditional ones already exisiting the area, which has been spruced up by good interior designing.

Watch the roof of the party hall, a typical Kerala style tiled roof.

Inside party hall everything was neatly arranged.

Club Mahindra surely keeps with their ad campaign of having great holidays, as they arranged a game organizer who took over the mantle of keeping us entertained.

A loosening up session soon followed which made all the 30 member team to be on the centre dancing to the tune of music along with using their minds to tightly compete in an interesting team game. 

More and more team games followed soon all the members got involved and the host was successfull in giving us a quality time together and in no time it was 1pm and we soon had a good lunch. I took a stroll out just to have a feel of the sprawling resort.

There are different kinds of cottages around. All of them were small traditional kerala homes.
This is a premium double storeyed cottage facing the lake.

Another one which was also on the lake front.

But the most interesting cottage here is the one which is floating in the lake. This one is sure to give one a floating experience right through out their stay

The floating restaurant was a pleasing sight too.

Tourists are transported around in an ecofriendly battery powered vehicle.

How about reading a novel or a just relaxing in the swing right besided the lake enjoying the cool breeze.

There was a neatly maintained swimming pool too.

Saw this beautiful and bright colored passenger boat disturbing the calm waters by sounding a weird horn passing across.

The view of the beautiful fishing nets was waiting to be shot again and again, and I did take around 20 snaps of the same frame at different times of the day.

Meanwhile the team had completed lunch and it was time for a boat cruise through this lake.
Not only the elders but kids also found new friends and could be seen engage in animated conversation.

Our ride for the lake cruise was ready. The sight of it stationed in lakeside was a beauty.

The clouds was cleared and sky became blue. The color of lake also followed suite.
Got inside the beautiful house boat.

Another guy from Club Mahindra soon took over and more games was arranged along with the cruise.
The cruise gave another dimension to the beauty of this place.

The view of the floating restaurant from inside the boat.

Watch the lakeview cottages amidst the trademark coconut trees of Kerala.

But the most beautiful sight was this floating cottage.

As we moved further deep in the lake, the number of cottages on the frame increased. No doubt, it would be a great experience to be in one of these cottages.

We enjoyed the cruise in the sprawling lakes as much as we enjoyed the games inside the boat. It was already 4pm in the evening we retuned to land.

Immediately we moved on the swimming pool and kids park.

There was a big air filled ball near the pool. Out of curiosity we asked one of the staff on its purpose and he immediately responded by giving us a demo on its usage. These pictures tells the story of what happened next.

Soon another game started and it was fun at pool.

Once the pool session ended, kids were off to the park and needless to say they tasted each of the equipment.

A game of badminton near the lakeside is a different experience alltogether.

There were lot of activities happening, but the coolness of the place ensured that energy levels are not drained out.
Eventhough it was almost dusk, kids were wanting more and they got really happy when they found this jumping board with lots of colored balls.

What followed soon was a series of jumping, diving, falling and whatever they can do on board the jumping board. It was fun watching them enjoy, eventhough Club Mahindra was charging separate for all these small small amusement items in addition to the day out rate.

The sky had almost cleared up and the lake scene became just more superb.

The fishing nets again got into my frame, but this time it was the clouds which made me click this.

All good things have to end and today was no different. It was time to move on, but we have no complaints as we had an excellent rejuvenating day when everyone enjoyed.

Slowly but steadily we began our return journey. The dusk presented us another opportunity to stop at the bridge where we stopped on our onward journey.

It was a hectic day, but a day which surely helped us rejuvenate. Thanks to the organisers at Club Mahindra for coordinating the activities and to all the guys and gals for giving a good company.

Quick Facts

Name of place:
Club Mahindra Resort @ Ashtamudi

Quilon, 75 km from Thiruvananthapuram International Airport.

Beautiful lakefront cottages and floating cottages.
House boat cruise through the sprawling Ashtamudi Lake
Lots of Indoor and outdoor games.

Any time seems to be enjoyable. Even rains are a treat to watch from these cottages.

The resort houses a floating restaurant which serves food.

Other nearby attractions
1. Aquaserene - amidst backwaters
2. Golden Isle - Varkala


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