Fujiyama, Japan

Thursday, 27 December 2012

Ellora

Google Maps: Ellora, Maharashtra, India
Trip: Aurangabad > Ajanta > Lonar > Daulatabad > Ellora

We started our trip to Ellora with a pint of beer. It was available in MTDC Restaurant right at the entrance of Ellora Cave Complex. We were little drowsy as we closed in on the main temple building. The concept of this structure broke some of our lethargy as the entire temple is carved out of 125000 cubic metre of one solid rock.

Elephants, Ellora Caves


Daulatabad Fort

Google Maps: Daulatabad, Maharashtra, India
Trip: Aurangabad > Ajanta > Lonar > Daulatabad > Ellora > Aurangabad

  • A full fledged 7 tiered fort, Daulatabad is worth studying on the defense systems of forts used by early rulers of India. At worse its a healthy trek to the top.
  • Dont miss the bat cave, a set of staircases to the top only few hundred metres long but full of squeaking bats. You need to cross it to reach the top.
  • Within few miles of Daulatabad are the grand Ellora Caves and Grishneshwar - one of the twelve jyotirlingas, both dedicated to Lord Shiva.

Daulatabad Fort is impregnable by the look of it - a layer of seven increasingly difficult barriers from bottom to top. We arrived at the foot of this hill fort through a shared auto that runs frequently from Bawa Petrol Pump in Aurangabad City. The entrance is a massive wooden gate that opens to view of a high watch tower and the fort itself. The gate is not counted among the seven layers of defence.

View from Bharat Mata Mandir

Wednesday, 26 December 2012

Lonar Crater

Google Maps: Lonar, Maharashtra, India
Trip: Aurangabad > Ajanta > Lonar > Daulatabad > Ellora

Imagine a mile wide and 150m deep pit. Worth watching? Naah. Now add the fact that a meteor created it some 60,000 yrs ago. Geeks would be interested. What if I tell you that this is the third largest impact crater in the world and right in the middle of our backyard? I hope you will go have a look.

Lonar Crater, Lonar

Tuesday, 25 December 2012

Ajanta Caves

Google Maps: Ajanta, Maharashtra, India
  • Setup your base at Aurangabad. There is enough for five days. Ajanta Caves are a day trip from here. The system of transport created is to cater huge crowd so it takes a while to reach.
  • Photography is allowed. During or after Monsoon, a waterfall also comes alive in the middle of this U shaped masterpiece.
  • Paintings are still in good shape. Overall the facility is well maintained. Trek the hill in front of the caves for a bird eye view. 


We sat on the engine of the tourist bus for a 100 miles. Then we waited for pollution free buses that connect the base of Ajanta with the cave complex. All the efforts found their return in one turn of view of the knoll shaped hills of Ajanta.

Panoramic View, Ajanta

Monday, 24 December 2012

Aurangabad

Google Maps: Aurangabad, Maharashtra, India
Trip: AurangabadAjanta > Lonar > Daulatabad > Ellora

When we told friends that we will be in Aurangabad for Christmas the question we faced invariably was 'What's there in Aurangabad?' Any reply to that question would be an understatement. 

Chand Bibi's Tomb, Aurangabad

Wednesday, 7 November 2012

Savandurga

Google Maps: Savandurga, Karnataka
I managed to pull out a team outing. Savandurga was perfect because of its proximity. The four of us managed to reach the top after quite a series of discussions but when we did it was triumph. The reservoir view was waiting for us with a luxuriant slope of a place to enjoy. 


We had brought ample beer and snacks to spend a peaceful couple of hours facing a scenic view. A cloudy sky, cool breeze and absence of anyone else was helping the cause. It proved once again that high-point views never disappoint. Last time I had missed something.


We were lucky that day last time to have a holiday and a vehicle at our disposal on the same day. The opportunity was too good to leave. Hence on the Republic Day we were climbing the hill of Savandurga, a fort not more than 30 miles from the periphery of Bangalore.


We had just crossed the beautiful Manchanabele reservoir and my motivation was to have a look at this lake from top of Savandurga. The climb started with the most pleasant weather that is trademark of Bangalore region.


The climb was steep and I regretted why I was not up for regular exercise. We had ample food supplies to take breaks and move again. However the late start meant we were not going to reach the top. It was a tough decision to make.


A fellow trekker returning from top suggested us to go for another 20 minutes where we will find caves to settle, take a break and return. It proved to be a good advice.


Our last settlement was just after the caves ended. We opened the last of resources which included a bottle of mazaa, cashew nuts, chips, snickers and few jokes to be cracked on Manoj. Another round of gossiping followed before we decided to leave for the day. The return was equally hectic because of the steep.

Thursday, 18 October 2012

Mahabaleshwar

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

The twelve of us had gathered from different part of country for a cool-down break. Mahabaleshwar was expected to be cold this time of year. We were prepared but our preparations were never tested thanks to the daily dose of alcohol and a milder than expected climate at this hill station.

View on way to Sydney Point@Panchgani

We stayed at Panchgani, our hotel window opening to a majestic view of Dhom Lake. Morning excursion included trek to Sydney Point for a panoramic view of the lake. Unfortunately I had to take this up alone as everyone was in lazy hangover state.

Waterfall on way to Pratapgarh Fort@Mahabaleshwar

We started for Pratapgarh fort late in the afternoon after brunch. Pratapgarh Fort was headquarters to none other than Shivaji. It has height and defense to suit the resume of great Shivaji's den. We took the nose-side view of this fort. The visibility was another proof why this fort stood tall under attack.

Pratapgarh Fort@Mahabaleshwar

On our way back we visited the Table Land - a large flat plateau in the middle of Panchgani. Sunset was beautiful from here. By the time we came back it was late evening. We refreshed ourselves for another round of merriment at a nearby roadside restaurant.

Ravine Hotel@Panchgani

Next day we had a brief business session before we started for Kate's Point. From here was a view to behold. I could pledge we were in some other world. It was the winner of this trip and the team really enjoyed watching the Balakwadi reservoir from as many different angles as possible.

View from Kate's Point@Mahabaleshwar

We spent a good hour here before returning to cosy hotel room. It was time to say goodbye to our little expedition of fun. The next morning we checked out early and took a flight from Pune to Bangalore.

Sunday, 30 September 2012

Nainital

Google Maps: Nainital, Uttarakhand, India
Trip: DelhiNainital > Pithoragarh > Delhi

We had an ideal start at 4 AM. By 6 we were half way on Moradabad Bypass and racing towards Nainital  Things took a u-turn at Tanda. The road was like a series of speed breakers.

View of Naini Lake@Nainital

It took us couple of hours to cross the bad patch to reach Bazpur after which the infrastructure improved. We entered Nainital through picturesque Kaladhungi route at 11 and were settled by noon.

Tanda route@Nainital

We quickly refreshed ourselves and walked out for a light brunch. Interrogating around for a good pub we were directed towards Manu Maharani. It has a beautiful wooden lounge. We ordered couple of pints and settled at the edge of this lounge from where Lake Naini was visible.

Naini Lake@Nainital

The view changed our plans. We took our car and drove to the lake area which was surprisingly crowded. We walked, shopped, chatted and ate. It was time to go back to our hotel which was offering complementary dinner. The dinner was supplemented with an exciting India-Pak T20 World Cup match which helped us relax.

Main market@Nainital

We slept a little longer than usual and woke up fresh. An uphill trek to Mall Rd warmed us. Later we checked out after a sumptuous breakfast. It was time to explore Nainital a little more and hence we started for the Himalaya Darshan point. It is on Mall Rd only but a little further.

Natural caves@Nainital

A tourist spot made of natural caves was on our way and we chose to visit it. It would have been magnificent  had it been left untouched. The commercialization has killed most of the charm this place had.

Viewpoint@Nainital

On the way, we stopped at a viewpoint which had a grand view of Naini Lake. We had Maggi & tea standing here. Himalaya Darshan was disappointing as clouds spoilt our view. We moved back quickly and started towards Kaladhungi. On the way we halted at Himalaya Botanical Garden.

Himalaya Botanical Garden@Nainital

Returning to Delhi via Haldwani was a bad idea as Haldwani-Rudrapur-Rampur road is worse and longer than Tanda route. Hence we were able to reach McDonalds @ Gajraula by 7 only. Thankfully we had an extra day to relax tomorrow and so we arrived home happily.

Monday, 30 July 2012

Kasauli

Google Maps: Kasauli, Himachal Pradesh, India
Trip: Delhi > Chandigarh > Kasauli > Shimla > Delhi

A digression from Parwanoo lead us on a bumpy curvaceous drive towards Kasauli. Evidence of early Monsoon were everywhere as we passed through the lush green Lower Himalayan Range. As we moved up, the clouds would play hide and seek with us making it all the more difficult to drive on the lonely MDR.


Kasauli is a sleepy town in the middle of nowhere. We asked people walking by for a good accommodation. Some dwellers were surprised that we came from Parwanoo instead of Dharampur as the former was supposedly dangerous. With little guidance we managed to reach an HP Tourism Hotel and settled for a brunch.


Post brunch plans were simple - trek around the town-market to burn some fat and cover few landmarks as part of the tickmark tourism. We had two days and Kasauli is not more than a mile from one end to another.


The highest point in Kasauli is Manki Point. It is in the middle of an Air Force camp. Lord Hanuman had put his feet at this place before jumping towards Dronagiri mountain to fetch Sanjivani according to mythology. There are several restrictions to enter the area but it is worth the view from the top. Clouds turn kaleidoscopic here and the ever-changing landscape mesmerizes.


Two days of leisure that was intermittently disturbed by small treks, trip to market to grab eatables and once a customary visit to nearby pub, completed an extended weekend escapade. We returned by the wider roads through Dharampur and managed to have our breakfast at a roadside McDonalds.


Return to Delhi was quick through the newly made bypass expressway from Parwanoo to Pinjore. The roads are really good in this part of Himalayas - not to forget that it links two capital cities - Chandigarh and Shimla.

Friday, 18 May 2012

Coorg

Google Maps: Madikeri, Karnataka, India
Trip: Bangalore > CoorgBangalore

Coorg happened at the end of a most entertaining team offsite at the Golden Palms. We gathered few more, booked an Innova and started off for a weekend at the hill station. The seven of us made sure the noise never die inside the vehicle.


We stopped at a crowded CCD on Bangalore Mysore Expressway for late dinner before taking a diversion from Srirangapatna for Hunsur Road (a radial road from Mysore  which would take us to Coorg  We slept for a couple of hours each. A Home Stay had been booked in advance. The host was prepared with a sumptuous home-made breakfast for the seven of us.


After a good long sleep which was followed by equally filling lunch, we started for Madikeri which is the central district of Coorg.  It had a view point and a toy train taking round a small hillock. We managed to find things of our requirement and started back to our Home Stay.


The arrangements for our night long party was done by our hosts in a fashion that exceeded our expectations. There was a variety of regular as well as regional snacks arranged around a bonfire that complemented our drinks perfectly. The Champions League Finals was due late in the night. It was already a perfect set-up for a highly entertaining weekend.


We woke up with a hangover and quickly settled for another round of awesome breakfast before starting back. Our next halt was Dubare which is famous for elephant rides. There was a shallow river to be crossed on foot which proved to be more than adventurous as many of us slipped and got wet.


It was not before 1 that we reached by that time the lunch-time had started. The several Dosas were to be blamed which we gulped down at the bank of Dubare. We were able to reach back at Bangalore at 10 in the night.