Kazan Cathedral, Saint Petersburg

Sunday, 27 June 2010


Google Maps: Hogenakkal, Tamil Nadu, India
We started early morning for the Hogenakkal Falls. Recently released Raavan was the source of our motivation to invest a Sunday for some experience. It took us a good 3 hours which included a filling breakfast of omellete dosa at a roadside dhaba.

Hogenakkal was crowded and humid. We started from a hanging bridge which took us to the other side of the fall. We wanted to execute the most important of our plans - a ride on the round shaped 'dongi' which was a popular feature of this place.

We fixed up a boat and were taken to a nice long ride through different corners of the sprawling waterfall before being dropped at a river bank. There with a smoothly flowing water we had a playful bath and returned back on the dongi after a couple of hours.

We had another round of bath at a regular waterfall reshaped to make sure more people including ladies can have fun. We were hungry when we came out and immediately attacked a cane juice shop for some fructose laden energy.

We were back to Bangalore by 5 PM although I was feeling sleepy all the way. I was driving by the way.

Sunday, 13 June 2010


Trip: Delhi > Jaipur > Udaipur > Ranakpur > Ahmedabad > Mumbai > Davangere > Chitradurga > Bangalore

We started early from Davangere. A delectable bene-dosa (butter dosa) at a famous restaurant gave us the right kick and we drove the 40 odd miles to Chitradurga in an hour. Although I was here twice before, the agenda for this time was very clear - we had to reach the top.

We reached the foot of the hill we targeted to climb. Small steps were carved on the rocks to help us although the hill was steep enough to generate fear as to how we will climb down without tumbling. We reached the top after three rests and were welcomed by the city entirely visible from there. The ground of fort was chequered with grey rocks and green grass. It was richness in abundance - a treat for eyes.

We decided the climb down from the other side. It turned into an adventure after we realized midway there was no route further. It took some jumping, skidding and falling before we saw the ground. It was time for a break. Unfortunately the bottle of drink we bought was picked by one of the monkeys and we satisfied ourselves with water.

Walking to the other side of the fort we realized that there is a staircase made to the top of another hill which was still higher that the one we were on. We decided to take that one. The nature started conspiring in accordance with our plans.

As we reached the top of the Chitradurga Fort it started drizzling. We were tired with the climb and hence welcomed the rain and the wind with open arms. Standing at the top of the fort in rain and enveloped by clouds was really special. I don't remember many occasions such as this one.

Saturday, 12 June 2010


Google Maps: Panchgani, Maharashtra, India
Trip: Mumbai > Mahabaleshwar > Panchgani > Bangalore

Leaving the city of Arthur Road Jail and Mahalaxmi Race Course, I went straight to Panchgani  Being alone as its advantages. I was at my whim as to where to turn the steering wheels. Panchgani as accessible and inviting.

Just stopped and clicked the orange on way@Panchgani

The only problem was that it was a weekend of peak season and finding a hotel room proved to be a mission impossible. Ultimately I checked into a hotel off the main road that led to Mahabaleshwar.

Hotel view@Panchgani

The main attraction at Panchgani is a bustling hill station and seclusion from Mumbai. Businesses have sprouted here in the form of high altitude go-carting, boating and forest treks. The moment I checked into the hotel, it started raining hard. The butler told me it was the first hard rain of the season and would last for a while. 

View from Parsi Point@Panchgani

The hotel room had a balcony large enough to sit and have dinner while rain poured incessantly. The winds would bring sprinkles of water to me and would leave me with goosebumps now and then. The next day I started early at 6 and stopped my car at Parsi Point. It boasts of a majestic view and a nice restaurant right at the edge.

Ridge view from Harrison's Folly@Panchgani

Moving further towards Mumbai-Bangalore Highway I stopped at a place called Harrisons Folly. It is a huge plateau of a land where one can drive to the edge. The sunbeams were trying to cut across the heavy clouds and the entire panorama was mesmerizing - all the more as I was standing there alone with my car.

Sunrise at Harrison's Folly@Panchgani

Satisfied with my morning excursions I decided to move ahead quickly as I had to reach Davangere by evening. By 8 AM I was already back on the Mumbai-Bangalore Highway. The next stop would be Highway McDonalds at Kolhapur.

Mumbai-Bangalore Road trip

The return trip from Mumbai proved to be more than an experience. I started early on 11th June. The deadline was 14th when I had to attend a class at 10. The first stop was yet not decided. It took so much time exiting Mumbai that I was in Pune at 1. It was a bad sign. 

I was planning to stop at Kolhapur although decided otherwise when I saw the Mahabaleshwar road sign. Deciding to digress, I reached Panchgani at 4 and checked in to a hotel.

Within an hour it started raining and I was hotel bound. It rained the entire night. I woke up early at 5 and started at 6. The first stop was Parsi Point. At 6, the view of the valley below was calming. 

The next point was a plateau large enough to take a hour to cover in entirety. I was alone with my car. As the sun rays broke through the cloud I felt like a proud eyewitness to the beautiful act of nature.

It took some effort to convince myself to leave the place and I reached Kolhapur at 10. The McD at highway was not to be missed. I intended to drive non-stop to Davangere hence rested for an extra half an hour at McD before beginning at 11. 

The journey to Davangere was uneventful except that I stopped at Ranebennur to buy the famous Dharwad Pedas for all my friends at college. The next day I started late for Bangalore and reached my hostel at night with a few rests in between.

Saturday, 5 June 2010


  • Private vehicles are not allowed. Park at the army barricade and walk the scenic mile to the pristine Kalatop.
  • Kalatop is a halt on the way of the famous Dalhousie - Chamba trek in case you are a trekking enthusiast. The other halt on this trek is Khajjiar.
  • There is no staying facility. Either go back to Dalhousie or drive ahead to Chamba town via Khajjiar. There is a canteen which serves delicious parathas.

We were staying in Dalhousie Club, courtesy Piyush, and decided to go for Kalatop as a one day excursion. It proved to be a helluva trip beyond what we were expecting. An egress on way from Dalhousie to Khajjiar goes to Kalatop. The name is because of barren black rock of hilltop which opens up a windy window to the Himalayas.

A view from Kalatop

Tuesday, 1 June 2010

Old Mussoorie

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

Landour - the crown of the queen - thats what they call the older part of Mussoorie  While most of the urban tourists to this Queen of hill station indulge themselves to casual walks of The Mall Road or an extensive trip to Kempty Fall via Company Bagh, they actually miss the real charm of Mussoorie.

Night view of Mussoorie@Landour

To explore the Old Mussoorie  we took the Kulri End and walked all the way up to the Ghanta Ghar. There is a series of valley facing hotels the view from where is never disturbed by the wires. We chose the one right at the end of a ridge. It was a one day stay hence we refreshed ourselves quickly and found our way through a trecherous path to a rock cliff near the edge of the ridge.

View of Dehra Valley@Landour

A full view of Dehra was visible and it was like a fantastic secret being shared by the two of us. Bhaiya's school was visible and we took pictures and discussed about life.

Wynberg Boarding School

As evening approached we started on the more difficult walk to Laltibba. It is the highest point in Mussoorie.  The play of sunlight on the horizon at dusk is amazing at Laltibba. We ate our evening snacks and came back to our room to have our dinner. 

Horizon at Laltibba@Landour

The next day we started early for the Ropeway. It was a Monday morning, the ideal time to visit the Gun Hill through a ropeway. At the top, the view is hardly restricted in any direction. We had our Maggi and tea in mild sunlight and a beautiful view of The Mall. After half an hour we decided to walk back through stairs and to have another round of beverages at Cafe Coffee Day near Camel's Back.