Fujiyama, Japan

Monday, 29 December 2014

Rameswaram

Google Maps: Rameshwaram, Tamil Nadu, India
Trip: Bangalore > Kanyakumari > Kovalam > Trivandrum > Rameswaram > Bangalore

Rameswaram was long awaited and frankly it didn't disappoint us. In fact the trip that started from Kanyakumari to this pilgrimage via Kovalam had an almost perfect ending in Dhanushkoti. We arrived at this island by train early morning. Crossing Pamban bridge created enough excitement in fellow travellers that we woke up with the noise.

Main Entrance @ Rameswaram Pilgrimage

Sunday, 28 December 2014

Padmanabhswamy Temple, Trivandrum

Google Maps: Thiruvananthapuram, Kerala, India
Trip: Bangalore > Kanyakumari > Kovalam > Trivandrum > Rameswaram > Bangalore

  • Padmanabhswamy temple is the star attraction of Trivandrum. Dress code is sstrict so be prepared - full clothes and no western attire permitted inside the temple.
  • India Coffee House near railway station is a landmark and serves amazing dosas. The shape itself is uniquely spiral.
  • Kovalam is an hour drive from here. One should plan stay at Kovalam and visit Trivandrum on the way back. Kanyakumari is only sixty miles away. 

Trivandrum was a halt on way to Kovalam. There are not many things to visit but one that has come up as a superstar attraction is the Padmanabhswamy Temple. Few years ago, government became aware of gold worth $20 Bn lying in the basement of this temple all collected from devotees over hundreds of years.

$20 Bn Padmanabhswamy Temple @ Trivandrum

Saturday, 27 December 2014

Kovalam

Google Maps: Kovalam, Kerala, India
  • Best time to visit Kovalam is Dec-Jan. Christmas and New Yr celebration here is grand and looks exotic given the number of foreigner tourists.
  • Beach is shallow and among the most playful in India. Hotels are numerous so a deal is possible on last minute booking.
  • Dont miss top view from lighthouse. It closes down early. Dont miss the Poovar Island trip. It adds to the charm of Kovalam.

Last time I came to Kovalam was with college friends on the eve of new year of 2008. It was a short and not so sweet stay at this lovely beach town. The way foreigners, specially white people, are preferred by restaurants here will give you a pretty good feeling of how apartheid felt like in South Africa. This time around the plan was to stay longer and experience a little more. Kovalam is more of a landmark in the 5000 miles long sea shore that belongs to India.

Sea View from Lighthouse @ Kovalam

Thursday, 25 December 2014

Kanyakumari

Google Maps: Kanyakumari, Tamil Nadu, India
Trip: Bangalore > Kanyakumari > Kovalam > Trivandrum > RameswaramBangalore

Kanyakumari is like one of those beautiful Russian spies. Allow them to nudge you and you will bleed dry. Stay game and you will be allowed to play a little. Fate let us arrive at this southern most tip of peninsular India on a Christmas morning.

Vivekananda Rock & Thiruvalluvar Statue

Tuesday, 24 June 2014

Ajmer Sharif

Google Maps: Ajmer, Rajasthan, India
Trip: Bangalore > Pune > Lonavala > Mumbai > Gandhinagar > Udaipur > Ranakpur > Chittorgarh > Ajmer > Jaipur > Delhi

It was a whirlwind drive that took us out of the labyrinthine roads of Udaipur to the expansive hill fort of Chittorgarh, to the crowded Ajmer Sharif and finally halted at a modest accommodation in Jaipur all in one day. We drove close to 200 miles, spent decent time in each of the four cities and still managed a breakfast and a dinner.

Way to Ajmer Sharif

Friday, 20 June 2014

Jain Temple, Ranakpur

Google Maps: Ranakpur, Rajasthan, India
  • Ranakpur is 50 miles from Udaipur. A private vehicle will be handy to cover nearby Kumbhalgarh Fort as well in a single day. Start early.
  • The Jain Temple does not allow entry in shorts or half pants hence dress fully. The campus also offers delicious thali at bare minimum charges.
  • Do take an SLR to capture the intricate marble work. You need to pay nominal camera charges along with entry fee, all of which goes to maintain this magnificent structure.

The next morning we started for Ranakpur. It's 90 km from Udaipur through a tortuous but smooth road mostly into hills. The place is famous for Ranakpur Jain Temple which has exquisite carvings on marble. Whatever we had heard about this place was going to be dwarved by what we were going to witness.

Elaborate ceiling carvings @ Ranakpur

Thursday, 19 June 2014

Udaipur

Google Maps: Udaipur, Rajasthan, India
Trip: Bangalore > Pune > Lonavala > Mumbai > Gandhinagar > Udaipur > Ranakpur > Chittorgarh > Ajmer > Jaipur > Delhi

We reached Udaipur by noon and started searching for a suitable hotel. It was serendipitous for us to find Hotel Lake Pichola at such short notice. It is one of the hundreds of hotel adjacent to Pichola Lake but also has a view of palatial complex across the lake. Our room was modest in a royal fashion.

City Palace across Hotel Lake Pichola @ Udaipur

Wednesday, 18 June 2014

Gandhinagar

Google Maps: Gandhinagar, Gujarat, India
Trip: Bangalore > Pune > Lonavala > Mumbai > Gandhinagar > Udaipur > Ranakpur > Chittorgarh > Ajmer > Jaipur > Delhi

Gandhinagar was an unplanned stopover. We explored couple of hotels and settled in one that was on the far side. Actually nothing is far in this small diplomatic setup of a city twined to Ahmedabad.


Akshardham Temple @ Gandhinagar

Sunday, 15 June 2014

Lonavala

Google Maps: Lonavala, Maharashtra, India
Trip: Bangalore > Pune > Lonavala > Mumbai > Gandhinagar > Udaipur > Ranakpur > Chittorgarh > Ajmer > Jaipur > Delhi

Last whole day we were driving from Bangalore to Pune and it had taken its toll. We wanted to relax today but fate had other plans. By the time we entered Lonavala, it was 2.

Lion Point @ Lonavala


Sunday, 25 May 2014

Baijnath

Google Maps: Baijnath, Uttarakhand, India
Trip: Delhi > Nainital > Kausani > Baijnath > Delhi

We reached Baijnath at around 10 from Kausani. Breakfast on the way was complimented with a breathtaking morning view of Nanda Devi range from our table and that made our day. Baijnath was the bonus.

Fishes in the flowing river @ Baijnath Temple


Saturday, 24 May 2014

Kausani

Google Maps: Kausani, Uttarakhand, India
Trip: Delhi > Nainital > Kausani > BaijnathDelhi

Kausani is a secluded hill station in Uttarakhand famous for comprehensive view of Nanda Devi range on a clear day. Trip to Kausani was eventful. We booked an overnight bus for Nainital from Kaushambi Metro Station. Direct bus to Kausani was not available and Nainital being less than 75 miles, we thought we will find something to hop from there.

Nanda Devi range @ Kausani

Thursday, 1 May 2014

Madurai

Google Maps: Madurai, Tamil Nadu, India
Trip: Bangalore > MaduraiKodaikanal > Bangalore

We started for Madurai early morning at 7 and as has been the ritual, we broke our fast at McDonalds Krishnagiri. Road from Bangalore to Krishnagiri is under construction. The slow pace was covered up by the fantastic stretch from Salem to Madurai. The 300 miles were covered in 7 hours. Heritage Madurai proved to be an excellent choice for hotel, thanks to Manish who booked in on cleartrip. The stay was royal. We unpacked and refreshed ourselves.

Highway to Madurai

Friday, 18 April 2014

Gwalior Fort

Google Maps: Gwalior, Madhya Pradesh, India
Trip: Delhi > Gwalior > Khajuraho > Raneh Falls & Delhi

Gwalior was a quicky. We were on our train to Delhi from Khajuraho when we saw the fort palace and decided to pay it a tribute. We had to look for a hotel or take Shatabdi @ 7.

View from right flank @ Gwalior Fort

Thursday, 17 April 2014

Raneh Falls

Google Maps: Raneh Falls, Madhya Pradesh, India
Trip: Delhi > Gwalior > Khajuraho > Raneh Falls > Delhi

We reached Khajuraho by overnight train and booked a comfortable room in Ramada Hotel. The day had begun well but temperature was soaring. We were told about a majestic waterfall and we quickly went for it. Although the choice was simple, the route was deserted. We were in MP for the first time and it did scare us. The last part of road is dark into a jungle.

Raneh Waterfall near Khajuraho

Khajuraho

Google Maps: Khajuraho, Madhya Pradesh, India

  • Khajuraho can be planned as a weekend getaway from Delhi. Overnight trains at convenient time run but travel need to be planned at least a month given limited seats.
  • Temples should be visited early morning or in evening. Noon is hot unless its winter. Be ready for couple of miles walk around the complex.
  • Raneh Waterfalls and Pandav Cave are nearby attractions that one may cover. Hotels are aplenty and affordable. There is an airport also under construction.


Khajuraho happened to us so quickly that we were neither ready with appropriate duration nor with a camera fitting for the occasion. One fine morning we were just there. We reached this legendary temple city by train one morning. Hotels are in abundance near main temple complex. We settled in Ramada Khajuraho and freshened up quickly. Plan was to have a brunch near main temple and then start off.

Poses, Khajuraho

Monday, 10 February 2014

Hampi

Google Maps: Hampi, Karnataka, India
Trip: Bangalore > Chitradurga > HampiBangalore

Hampi offers such bizarre backgrounds in such quantity that it can easily be declared a photographer's haven.  From flowing river to ruined city,  from ancient temples to high hills it has everything a remarkable photoshoot demands.WereachedHyatt Hampi from Chitradurga by taking a diversion from Kudligi. This proved to be a big mistake as the 35 miles stretch can hardly be called a road. By the time we checked in we were good for nothing. Hungry and tired, we settled at the restaurant and ate a mouthful.

Stone Chariot @ Vitthala Temple Hampi

Sunday, 26 January 2014

Kanchipuram

Google Maps: Kanchipuram, Tamil Nadu, India
Trip: Bangalore > Tiruvannamalai > Pondicherry > Mahabalipuram > KanchipuramBangalore

Kanchipuram was a bonus and a surprise on our way to Mahabalipuram.  We decided to cover it on our way back. It was a decision I rue since the architectural richness of this city begs for more than a day to spare - not to forget the market of famous silk sarees which has developed its own brand.

Sri Ekambereswarar Temple @ Kanchipuram

Saturday, 25 January 2014

Mahabalipuram

Google Maps: Mahabalipuram, Tamil Nadu, India
Trip: Bangalore > Tiruvannamalai > Pondicherry > Mahabalipuram > Kanchipuram > Bangalore

Mahabalipuram offers an interesting combination - archeological monuments beside a beach. Hence on a bright Saturday morning we were on  Bangalore - Kanyakumari highway. The road has one of the most picturesque settings in south India.

Carved pillars @ Five Rathas Temple