Fujiyama, Japan

Thursday, 8 December 2011

Patna

Google Maps: Patna, Bihar, India
A campus recruitment trip to my home town proved to be another opportunity to revisit the golden memories of  childhood. I started with a walk to the Zoo just to remind how I used to run or cycle to this place every morning with bhaiya.


The Zoo was crowded for Tuesday morning which was unexpected. Watching closely I realized most of the crowd was couples who found the controlled wildness more suited than polluted high streets. Moving out quickly, I took an auto that took me directly to Gol Ghar. It is as representative to Patna as Jantar Mantar or Hawa Mahal is to Jaipur.


The view from top of Gol Ghar is worth mentioning. The spread of city along the banks of river Ganges is clearly visible. After taking few pics I descended and walked to Gandhi Maidan area which has most of the cineplexes and eating joints. There I took a bus to my school, walked a bit around and then moved to Station area.


My plan was to visit Patna Sahib but it was thwarted by the short winter day which meant it was dark after 5. Instead I settled for samosas and chandrakalas at my favourite joints near the station.

Tuesday, 29 November 2011

Pavapuri

Google Maps: Pawapuri, Bihar Sharif, Bihar, India
Trip: Gaya > Rajgir > Pavapuri > Gaya

Pavapuri was a short while from Rajgir - a drive of two hours. The first glimpse was enough to leave an impression. We parked our car on the roadside and took the only bridge for the majestic marble structure that was visible at the middle of a large lake.

Pond@Pavapuri

The bridge itself was made of carved red sandstone. The fishes in the lake had been allowed to grow large. The     Mahavir Temple, as it grew larger to sight, was a spectacle to watch.

Bridge to Pavapuri Temple

The temple is famous for being the place where Lord Mahavir was enlightened. It is a remarkable coincidence that the two places where Lord Buddha and Lord Mahavir each were enlightened is not more than 50 miles apart.

Marble gates@Pavapuri

Sitting on the cool marble stairs of the temple was pleasant with the lake view in front. The lukewarm winter weather of late November morning was complimenting the overall atmosphere. We simply sat and chatted for a  while before starting back for Gaya.

Rajgir

Google Maps: Rajgir, Bihar, India

  • Rajgir has two major tourist spots apart from ruins of the great Magadh capital that Rajgir once was. One is the Peace Pagoda atop a hill and other is the famous hot water sulphur spring.
  • Rajgir is a one day trip from Patna. Gaya is even closer and with an early start one may cover Rajgir, Pavapuri and Bodh Gaya on the same day.
  • Take or rent your own vehicle. Go on a Monday if possible. Don't miss the ropeway. Don't miss to take a holy dip in the hot water spring.


Early morning drives in the fad end of November under the warmth of rising sun is a luxury that Bihar didn't know of until Nitish Kumar happened. So now the road between Gaya and Rajgir is wide & smooth and only an hour affair. We were in Gaya for a cousin's wedding and decided to take advantage of our location.

Four corners of Shanti Stupa@Rajgir


Wednesday, 9 November 2011

Kolkata

Google Maps: Kolkata, West Bengal, India
Trip: Delhi > Kolkata > Delhi

Kolkata was a brief official stay but that was never a stopper to explore its riches. From the roadside food to rumbling Howrah Bridge, anything and everything is recommended at Kolkata. More you explore more it intrigues you.

Tram system@Kolkata

The slow tram system, unique to India, fairly represent the casual approach of native Kolkataite. Travel fares are probably the cheapest in world.Our walk to and back from office brought us face to face with the college street area. Poor here are not very poor but their number is significantly more than other cities - an evidence of communist influence in their socio-political life.

Prices are dirt cheap@Kolkata

The other end of this spectrum was Victoria Memorial down south of Hoogly. Placed adjacent to a man-made lake adds to the charm of this massive marble structure. Our early morning expedition (which was an effort given we were around Park Street last night at 12 midnight) bestowed riches here.

Victoria Memorial@Kolkata

Next on list was of course Howrah Bridge and we made sure to cross the entire stretch end-to-end for some experience. The busy cantilever bridge was huge and even shaky. This engineering marvel has stayed the test of times and so we were not to worry.

Howrah Bridge@Kolkata

We were recommended Park Hotel area for dinner plans. Park Street is home to modern food joints and pubs in Kolkata while several areas like Esplanade and College Street have plenty of small restaurants serving local delicacies. We ended up at Barbecue for Chinese and it was worth the money.

Thursday, 24 March 2011

Coonoor

Google Maps: Coonoor, Tamil Nadu, India
Trip: Bandipur > Mudumalai > Ooty > Coonoor

Ooty lake was not as promising at 11 noon. We decided to move quickly towards Coonoor  En route we saw a beautiful valley view and later on found that it is one of the famous viewpoints. Sims Park in Coonoor had its share of treasures. For the first time I saw such rich fauna including a Rudraksh tree.


Coming back to Ooty we started off for Bangalore at around 3. Lunch was planned at a typical Tamil roadside dhaba which offered lots of rice, two vegetables and papad at 35 per plate.

Bandipur

Google Maps: Bandipur National Park, Karnataka, India
Trip: Bandipur > Mudumalai > Ooty

The famous National Park at the foothills of Ooty was our first stop. The road to Bandipur from Bangalore is good and we managed the 150 miles in some four hours. Finding a resort at decent cost is not difficult on a weekday here.

Highway through Bandipur

Friday, 11 March 2011

Nandi Hills

Google Maps: Chikkaballapur, Karnataka, India
The last time we visited Nandi Hills, it was an impulsive decision. We were chit-chatting at around 3 AM when it was unanimously decided that we should go for some outing? But where? Nandi Hills was the closest we could think of so we started at around 4 AM for the spot.



Vivek, Sumeet and Shri sat comfortably on my car and we started with a google map to help us on the route. By the time we reached MG Road, we were lost and had to wake up auto drivers to find way to the airport road.



Nandi Hills is accessible through a diversion on this road at around 10 kilometers from airport. We reached Nandi Hills at 5.50 AM. It was critical since the sunrise is the most attractive proposition of Nandi Hills.


It took us no time to realize how wrong we were. Not only the sunrise was not visible but the mist was so dense that few steps here and there and we would have difficulty to retrace our own track. We started in a particular direction based on our instinct. The blowing winds were making scary noises.


Nandi Hills is actually a plateau. There is a restaurant besides a temple to which everyone reaches whichever direction he takes. We enjoyed a Manali weather in the vicinity of Bangalore that day and enjoyed hot cup of tea at the very top. By 9 AM we here back to our campus in time for breakfast and then a sleep which was bereaved from us last night.


This time our plans were clear and the weather was supportive but not Bangalore Police. There was a barrier waiting for us near the entrance to top which was supposed to open only at 5.45 AM. Thankfully we rushed as it opened and were finally able to see the famous Nandi Hills sunset.


We were back to hostel before 10 and realized that Nandi Hills never disappoints.

Monday, 28 February 2011

Fatehpur Sikri

Trip: Delhi > Agra >  Fatehpur Sikri > Delhi

A trip to Agra is not complete without visiting the capital of Mughal Empire during Emperor Akbar's reign - Fatehpur Sikri  The drive to this small fort town is partly rough partly smooth.


Monday, 14 February 2011

Kozhikode

If you want to go to Kozhikode, go through Wayanad. The tortuous road that starts from a few miles off Kalpetta will take you down the Western Ghat so quickly that you won't even have time to feel dizzy. We started on a whim for this beach town and in no time the gigantic wall of western ghat was looking at us from above.

The serpentine road, Kozhikode



Saturday, 12 February 2011

Wayanad

Google Maps: Wayanad, Kerala, India
The 250 km drive to Wayanad was as pleasing to the eyes as was exploring this hill station of Kerala. We reached Wayanad early morning after a strenuous night drive which meant we needed a nap before beginning. A well spaced hotel right at the back of the bus stand at affordable price made us settle quickly.

From Kuruva to Wayanad

Monday, 10 January 2011

Mysore

Google Maps: Mysore, Karnataka, India
Trip: Bangalore > Ramnagaram > Srirangapatna >  Mysore >  Bandipur >  Mudumalai >  Ooty >  Coonoor >  Bangalore

The royal city of Mysore awaited us in its splendour. We had covered Ramnagaram and Srirangapatna the same day. We knew that special lighting is arranged for the Mysore Palace on Sundays and we were right on time. Staying at Prateek's cousin's place we started for the Palace at 7. By the time we reached the place was buzzing up with an amalgamated crowd of locals and foreigners.

Mysore Palace is lighted on Sundays

Ramnagaram

Google Maps: Ramanagara, Karnataka, India
Trip: Bangalore > Ramnagaram > Srirangapatna >  Mysore >  Bandipur >  Mudumalai >  Ooty >  Coonoor >  Bangalore

We were on our way to Mysore when we realized that the famous Ramnagaram is just 30 miles from Bangalore. For the uninitiated Ramnagaram holds the Sholay point where the immortal dialogues like "Ye haath humka dei de Thakur" and "Naach Basanti Naach" was spoken by Gabbar Singh.



Saturday, 1 January 2011

Yelagiri

Google Maps: Yelagiri, Tamil Nadu, India
1st Jan trips are becoming a ritual. We were boozing hard late night on 31st and slept for not more than 2 hours before starting for Yelagiri early morning on 1st. Yelagiri is a small hill station on the way to Chennai from Bangalore - some three hours drive. 


There was a YMCA establishment in the outskirts which we visited. Rooms were economical at 500-800 a day. 


A small lake and a botanical garden are the major attractions of Yelagiri.  We walked around in the pleasant warmth of January sun. As we were hungry since morning we settled at a restaurant near the lake and ordered a massive lunch.


We learned from the locals that there is a waterfall nearby - Jalagamparai Waterfall was five miles by trek or 50 miles by drive. We chose to drive. It proved to be worthy. We had a bath in fresh cold water and then settled near a temple for chit-chat. An hour or so passed by quickly before we decided to return. It was another memorable 1st Jan with friends.