Fujiyama, Japan

Wednesday, 23 December 2009

Jaipur

Google Maps: Jaipur, Rajasthan, India
  • From Aamer at one end to Chokhi Dhani at another,  Jaipur is full of must go places.
  • Budgets boutique hotels are readily available here thanks to being a tourist hotspot. Decide based on where you want to go after Jaipur.
  • Don't miss the amazing top view of entire Jaipur from the window Of Madhavendra Palace. 
The two of us started at 10.30 AM on 23rd, December, 2009 from Delhi for a long drive. The road was smooth and the drive was fun. Somewhere on the way we decided that we should go all the way to Jaipur. Consequently we were standing in front of Aamer Fort at 4 PM. It is an old majestic fort stretched in few square kilometers. We walked on the walls of the fort before getting hungry.

Front View of Aamer Fort@Jaipur

Friday, 13 November 2009

Yercaud

Google Maps: Yercaud, Tamil Nadu, India
We were three of us. Sumeet, Ashutosh and myself. The summers placement was just over and with a 5 day break ahead of us, we planned to visit this little known hill station near Salem. We started on a fine November morning from Bangalore to Yercaud on my car. The distance was 240 kilometers.

Rainbow on the way@Yercaud

Starting at 8 in the morning, we were fast enough to enter the town around 1. En route I drove my car into a stray dog. The incident was going to upset a lot of our plans.

Road of 36 Hairpin Bends@Yercaud

We skimmed through few hotels. The luxury of own car allowed us to search far and it was sheer serendipity that we ended up with heaven. Sterling Resort was not a resort as such. Our first impression was that of a hanging paradise. Our room was valley facing. For 2700 a day, it was a great deal for the three of us.

Tickmark Tourism Hot Spots@Yercaud

We decided to have our lunch in the room only. By the time we were done, the clouds also parted and we could clearly see the magnificent view of Salem from our room. We spent the evening driving around the hills and boating in the Emerald Lake. Later we had our share of drinks sitting in the terrace and watching mist playing with our view of twinkling Salem at night.

Emerald Lake@Yercaud

Next morning we woke up late. We started with a high point from where the town was visible. The Monfort School has an expansive campus as visible from top. We then visited a string of so called hot spots including Pagoda Point, Bell Rock, Gents Seat and Tipperary Estate. The only thing we missed was Kiliyur Falls. The path to the falls is tricky and it takes 5-6 hours going and coming back.

View from Sterling Resort@Yercaud

We started at around 3 from our hotel rooms and reached Salem comfortably before I realized that the accident with dog had damaged car's radiator. We ended up towing our car some 100 miles back to Bangalore with the help of a local garage. I would call even that as some adventure.

Sunday, 20 September 2009

Nagothane

Google Maps: Nagothane, Maharashtra, India
Bhaiya is a regular member of Countryside Adventure (www.countrysideindia.com) treks. I was in Mumbai during my term break and so we planned to go for the Nagothane trek which was planned by this club for the coming Sunday. It was 20th September, 2009 - the last day of my term break. We reached Sion on our own. A 30 seater packed minibus was waiting for us. We found our seats at the back and started our journey. The weather was pleasant and I was thoroughly enjoying the greenery alongside the highway that goes all the way to Goa. Our destination was some 120 kilometers from Sion. We disembarked near a village and lunch-box was distributed to us. The trek was a short one with moderate gradient.


Nagothane waterfall was visible from a distance. It is a cascading one of moderate height and the surroundings are beautiful. Having a bath in cold water under the warm sun of Mumbai was pleasant. We then opened our tiffin-box and had a sumptuous lunch. While trekking back, bhaiya noticed some amazing miniature natural mazes  of which he took some pictures.


We came back to Mumbai by 5 PM and by the time I reached home I was dead tired. I had to wake up early for the 7 AM flight to Bangalore next day.

Monday, 17 August 2009

Shivasamudram

Google Maps: Shivanasamudra Falls, Karnataka
Trip: Bangalore > Shivasamudram > Bangalore

We planned the one day trip to Shivasamudram well in advance. It was an extended weekend so Kishore had no problem. Nidhi was the mastermind behind the planning. We started early morning on 16th August, 2009 for Kanakpura Road. The distance to cover was 160 kilometers ans we were expecting ourselves at the waterfall by 12 noon. Shivasamudram is one of the largest waterfalls in India in terms of throughput of water.

Gagana Chukki@Shivasamudram


Thursday, 18 June 2009

Kanheri Caves

Google Maps: Kanheri Caves, Mumbai, India
Trip: Delhi > Jaipur > Udaipur > Ranakpur > Ahmedabad > Mumbai > Davangere > Chitradurga > Bangalore

To have something like Kanheri in the middle of Mumbai is incredible. The place reminded me of Ajanta which by co-incidence I visited 5 years ago with Bhaiya only. It was a warm afternoon of June when we visited Borivali National Park. In terms of location, it is almost at the backyard of Bhaiya's home.


The first impression of this place is that of few remarkable structures carved out of rock. The is a giant statue of Budhdha in the very first cave. However this part is just a warm-up. What lies beyond these is unimaginable. There is a bridge which one needs to cross. A monsoon river flows below it during June-July. Taking a flight of stairs, the entire area is visible. The view is unthinkable. 


There is chain of small and large caves built up in ancient times for the 'bodh bhikshu' is visible. The planning is another amazement. There is a common mess,  a sitting place for the senior most monk, a series of wide caves possibly constructed as a guest house. Then there are 100s of caves of varying sizes built on both sides of a narrow gap.


At the top, there is large area with smooth slope where, I was told, people come at evening and find peace in the middle of the commercial capital city.

Saturday, 30 May 2009

Keylong

Google Maps: Keylong, Himachal Pradesh, India
Trip: Manali > Rohtang > Keylong

Tens of thousands of tourists visit Rohtang every year but only one in hundred ventures further. How eactly the view pans out beyond Rohtang? We were going to check. After a couple of hours stay at Rohtang Pass, we decided to move towards Keylong  It was a bold move. In the very first mile, our car was stuck in the ice. I can never forget those minutes when I walked through the thick layer of ice barefoot - wet shoes were of no use.

6th Milestone from Rohtang@On way to Keylong

However the other side of Rohtang was heaven and worth the pain we went through. A ravine was visible deep into the valley. The green slope on its side was not the regular green.

Valley view after crossing Rohtang@On way to Keylong

We drove another 4 hours before deciding to halt at a point where two rivers, Chandra and Bhaga were meeting. It took us another hour of drive to reach Keylong  The town was peaceful. Monasteries were visible at height. The place had a calming effect. We forgot all the pain we took reaching here. A room was booked for the three of us in Hotel Chandrabhaga.

Bhaga River@Keylong

Night at Keylong is an unusual mix of calm mountains and noisy river. We loitered around on not so busy streets while searching for snacks for our late night party. Next morning we visited Shasur Monastery. It was at some height and the view of Bhaga Valley from the top was surreal. We spent some time talking with young monks and then moved back to Keylong

Shashur Monastry@Keylong

By noon we were on our way back to Manali and then to Delhi. The return trip reminded us what we were going to miss. Although Keylong had little in terms of popular spots, the way this town exists in itself is worth a visit.

Thursday, 28 May 2009

Rohtang

Google Maps: Rohtang La, Himachal Pradesh
  • Rohtang is the most visited pass in India, only people don't actually pass it unless they are going to Keylong, Leh or Key. Its more beautiful beyond.
  • Maggi and a hot cup of tea are a must at Rohtang. Do take a picture while eating. It's a ritual.
  • Away from the crowd, the ice capped pass does expand further that an adventurous traveler may explore. Nobody stops you.

Rohtang, possibly the most famous pass in India, was on our way to Lahaul Spiti. Rohtang is the gateway to Leh via Keylong and also to the pristine natural beauty of Chandrataal region.

Beautiful Rohtang

Wednesday, 27 May 2009

Manali

Google Maps: Manali, Himachal Pradesh, India
Trip: Manali > Rohtang > Keylong

It was the regular group - me, Piyush and Prateek. This time we decided to go for a long one. Our last trip of Pithoragarh was fun. We wanted to continue from that experience. It was the night of 27th May, 2009 when the three of us started. We chose this time of the month because we wanted to go beyond Manali to Lahaul Spiti which opens up during the peak of summers only.


The last few miles before Manali are remarkable when the road moves along the river. Manali is not a very large town, most of the hotels and residential area being located in one side of Beas river. Fortunately we found an accomodation in Hotel Beas (an HPTDC hotel) which was just on the bank of the river. In fact our room was on the ground floor and we could distinctly hear the flowing water. In the afternoon, we paid a holy visit to Hidimba Temple.


We spent the evening roaming around the bazaar area. We packed some snacks and came back to our room as it got darker. After some drinks and all it was time for dinner. The restaurant named Chadrabhaga was impressive with old woodwork and a decent food.

Wednesday, 20 May 2009

Mussoorie

Google Maps: Mussoorie, Uttarakhand, India
Trip: Rishikesh > Mussoorie > Old Mussoorie

Mussoorie has always been close to me. Bhaiya completed his high school from boarding school here and I have pleasant memories of the trip we used to make to drop Bhaiya. The last time I was here I was alone. I wanted to know if I can enjoy it that way - and I did. This time, however, I was with Mom and Dad and it was much more fun as we explored places we used to go in old times. Mussoorie is the most accessible hill station to Delhi. A morning Shatabdi arrives at Dehradun around 12.30 and within 2 hours one can reach Mussoorie taking a taxi.


On the first day we settled in the familiar Jain Guest House. We were to stay here for a good four days and hence there was nothing to hurry about. Our purpose was to breath fresh air for a while. In the evening we strolled on the Mall Road as slowly as possible. The next day we went for Gun Hill. Dad was already complaining about the 9 times price rise since he last bought the tickets to the ropeway. We avoided Kempty Fall in our trip. We couldn't bear to see what commercialization had done to once a pristine waterfall.


Next day we walked to the other end of Mall Road known as Library End. Most of the new hotels and restaurants were coming up in this end of Mussoorie only. We had our lunch and then we walked around. Coming back to our abode, I decided to go for Laltibba. It is the highest point in Mussoorie. I wrote a blog there and posted it. It goes like:


"Writing a blog on my mobile at 7000 ft above sea level with a stunningly colourful view of himalayas in the background and bun-butter-tea in front of me. Can life be any better? Unfortunately yes :( and thats cos I am missing good company ..."


The next day our train was scheduled late night and so all the three of us wake up late and paid a final visit to Mussoorie. Ma spent time in a temple on Mall Road. The height at which it was made kept the place windy. We were in Dehradun by 2 and had to wait for an hour for our train.

Sunday, 19 April 2009

Neemrana Fort

Google Maps: Neemrana, Rajasthan, India
It was one of those regular outing for the three of us - me, Surbhi and Arpita. This time, however, we really went out of Delhi to try something different. Neemrana is an old fort, now converted into a five-star hotel, on Delhi-Jaipur Highway some 110 kilometers from Gurgaon border. We planned to start early morning. Yet the best we could manage was 11 AM. It was the beginning of summer - the date was 19th April, 2009.


We reached Neemrana around 2 and just missed the lunch buffet. It was not bad considering that the buffet was priced at 1000 bucks. The entry itself to the castle was 500 each. However exploring the fort was worth an experience. To top it all the first person I see entering the fort is my ex-boss. That was some co-incidence.


We first comforted ourselves with snacks and juices. The fort exists at various levels all interconnected to each other at various joints. It was easy to find the way us as we wanted to see how it looks from the top. There was an open swimming pool at one of the middle levels. Walking through the corridors of this royal fort generates a feeling of grandiose.


We sat at a lawn which was on the upper half and chatted or took pictures. Coming back down to the lower levels we found a hall which was full of swings. We couldn't have asked for anything better. We spent another hour swinging ourselves and feeling like royal kins. It was a 4 hour journey to Noida and hence we started by 5 PM for the return.

Saturday, 21 March 2009

Matheran

Google Maps: Matheran, Maharashtra, India
Trip: Mumbai > Matheran > Mumbai

I was going to Mumbai for my Nitie interview and hence came up with this trip. Bhaiya and Vikash agreed and we were on. Thanks to IRCTC, tickets were booked well in advance for the toy train that leaves Narel for Matheran and offers amazingly panoramic view. The three of us reached Matheran by noon hungry and sweating.

Toy Train, Matheran


Sunday, 1 March 2009

Triund

Google Maps: Triund, Dharamsala, Himachal Pradesh
Trip: McLeodganj > Triund

Our plan for next day was ambitious. We were supposed to wake up by  8 to start for one of the difficult treks of Triund  We woke up at 10 AM. Still we started for the ridge. Because we were little late we decided to cover the first two miles by hiring a car along the motor-able road.


Lower Dharamshala as visible midway on Triund trail

The initial climb was steep but we were fresh with a long night sleep - or so we thought. It was a 4 hour steep trek and within 15 minute we realized that  our lungs were all ready to burst out. Thankfully at one viewpoint we saw the whole McLeodganj / Dharamshala which was heartening for our hard work.

Triund ridge in the background

Soon the Triund ridge was visible. It was time to take rest and a few pictures. Settling at a small hut-shop we ordered Maggi and soft drinks. We had earned it. Slowly we started again and reached the top of the ridge all sweating.

Stony steps@Triund trail

At the top however the view was a fairy tale stuff. Green meadows were looking at white peaks. Lying down there relieved me of all the pain.

View atop Triund

We returned back quickly and were able to reach McLeodganj by 6.30 PM. I decided to leave as some urgent work at office wanted me to be there next day. I took a 7.30 PM bus for Delhi. It would have been a painful ride had I not taken with me a bottle of coke with vodka mixed in it.

Sunday, 1 February 2009

Humayun's Tomb

Google Maps: Humayun's Tomb, New Delhi
Bhaiya was in Delhi. We had to go somewhere. We thought why not Humayun's Tomb. Its close. Its a popular heritage site. Most importantly, in our more than 10 years of stay in Delhi we never visited the place before. So I called upon my cousin Animesh and the three of us ventured on a short exploration.

Isa Khan's tomb