Fujiyama, Japan
Showing posts with label Leisure. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Leisure. Show all posts

Tuesday, 20 June 2017

Tokyo

Google Maps: Tokyo, Japan
Tokyo is among the most sorted capital cities that you will find on this planet. You land at Haneda or Narita and you will start finding visual aids to help you in right direction. Displayed on floors, walls or electronic boards, you just need to have eyes and a mind to find these instructions and you can cover entire city. Google Maps is handy in a broader way. There are information centres at almost every busy node to help you out in case. We landed at Narita and took a Skyliner to Nippori. Another train to Kanda from Nippori and we were checking in at our hotel room within three hours of landing - which included immigration checks, baggage checks, collecting data sim & pocket wifi, getting our JR Pass and collecting our pre-booked Skyliner tickets from airport.

Tokyo from Metropolitan Building

Monday, 10 April 2017

Shivpuri

Google Maps: Shivpuri, Uttarakhand, India
  • Shivpuri is home to rafting. White sand river-side used to be perfect for camping as well although recently that has been prohibited by Green Tribunal.
  • Stay at a nearby resort or makeshift camps close to Ganges. It is better than Rishikesh for those who come to avoid the hustle of city.
  • Rishikesh is 20 minutes drive from here. You can plan for evening aarti and dinner at chotiwala and comfortably come back by 9.

We reached Rishikesh at 2 and immediately hit traffic. The way Rishikesh has developed, a bypass merges into the city right at the middle of the busiest road. We crawled and reached Shivpuri at 3. To our utter disappointment, the riverside camps were moved sideways away from the Ganges. Now it attracted mostly bachelors. We decided to go back to Rishikesh but found a good resort called Bull's Retreat close by.

View from near Bull's Retreat Resort

Thursday, 2 February 2017

Top 5 travel circuits from Delhi

Google Maps: New Delhi, India
  • Delhi-Agra-Fatehpur Sikri-Bharatpur-Mathura-Vrindavan-Delhi
  • Delhi-Sariska-Jaipur-Ajmer-Neemrana-Delhi
    • Delhi-Haridwar-Mussoorie-Kanatal-Tehri-Rishikesh-Delhi
    • Delhi-Jim Corbett-Nainital-Mukteshwar-Delhi
    • Delhi-Chandigarh-Kasauli-Shimla-Kufri-Chail-Delhi

    Delhi-Agra-Fatehpur Sikri-Bharatpur-Mathura-Vrindavan-Delhi
    • Can be covered in 2 days flat 
    • Includes 4 UNESCO World Heritage Sites 
    • Stay overnight at Bharatpur, near the gates of Keoladeo National Park

    Bharatpur Bird Sactuary

    Friday, 17 June 2016

    Darjeeling

    Google Maps: Darjeeling, West Bengal, India
    • You need to walk a lot given the traffic situation in Darjeeling. Tea estate will take a good half day. Toy train will take another half. Carry an umbrella for sure.
    • Glenary's is a complete food destination. A restaurant at the top and a bar at the bottom complement the bakery at the ground floor. Sit at the balcony and enjoy a pastry.
    • Avoid Tiger Hill. The itinerary is too tiresome - waking up at 3 and counting on a clear sky is too much for a cloudy Darjeeling.
    Darjeeling was once the queen of hill stations. The world heritage toy train was a marvel. The tea estates were part of many a travel wishlists. No more. Old buildings, dirty narrow walkways and congested roads support a crowd of tourist who come to see the glorious town of old but leave disappointed.

    Happy Valley Tea Estate

    Tuesday, 14 June 2016

    Namchi

    Google Maps: Namchi, Sikkim, India
    • Take a cab to cover Samdruptse and Char Dham. They are in opposite directions so it will take couple hours each to cover them. We paid 10$ for this.
    • Stay in Namchi although its a small city. A better plan is to move to Darjeeling or Gangtok and spend the evening there. Both are three hours away from Namchi.
    • Start early if you are not staying at Namchi. Late in the evening the availability of transport options to move out of the city simply dry up.
    Namchi came up on tripadvisor as one of the top five destinations within Sikkim. It was roughly on our way from Gangtok to Darjeeling so we went for it. How wrong we were. Not that Namchi disappointed us, but the road from Namchi to Darjeeling is so much in tatters that we were jittery all the way.

    Shiva Statue, Namchi

    Saturday, 11 June 2016

    Gangtok

    Google Maps: Gangtok, Sikkim, India
    • Book an early flight to Bagdogra and take a cab from there for Gangtok. Else you will reach late and tired and the day will be lost. Cover Banjhakri Waterfalls on first evening. Its refreshing.
    • Cover the three viewpoints and MG Road on second day. You may want to cover one of the monasteries (Rumtek, Ranka) the same day.
    • Sikkim Rum is a local brand which has become quite famous. Numerous shops sell it on MG Road. Try it with pastries from Baker's Cafe.
    As we settled on our table in the restaurant located on the top floor of a hotel, hunger became secondary. Across the window the clouds were playing with mountains and our entire span of view was filled with this landscape. It was our introduction with Gangtok and I immediately fell to it.

    View of Gangtok from Ganesh Tok

    Friday, 1 January 2016

    Kanatal

    Google Maps: Kanatal, Uttarakhand, India
    • Kanatal is less than 30 miles from Mussoorie via Dhanaulti. Start from Mussoorie after lunch so you don't miss the sunset.
    • Its good for an overnight stay with and a short trek in the morning, covering both sunrise and sunset.
    • Tehri dam is another 30 miles and is a must visit. Stay at Rishikesh on the way or take a holy dip in Haridwar if you are returning to Delhi.

    It was dusk when we reached Kanatal. The setting sun was throwing vibrant colors across the horizon and to add to that beautiful hue were snow capped mountains on one side and deep valley on the other side. One can come to Kanatal just to spend the evening.

    A view from Kanatal

    Saturday, 15 August 2015

    Bhopal

    Google Maps: Bhopal, Madhya Pradesh, India
    Trip: Bhopal > Sanchi > BhimbetkaBhopal

    • Most of the spots are around the lake, be it the museums, the mosques or the magnificent Van Vihar. So better stay somewhere near the lake.
    • Weekends are crowded specially near the lake and at Sanchi so plan for a hectic Friday and an easy Saturday before leaving on Sunday.
    • Bhopal can be hub for visiting Sanchi, Bhimbetka and Panchgani. Bhimbetka and Panchgani are in same direction but not possible to visit in one day.

    We reached Bhopal early morning and quickly settled for breakfast at the Shahnama restaurant of our grand stay - Jehan Numa Palace Hotel. By the time we finished, our plan had been formulated to cover both Sanchi and Bhimbetka the same day.

    Upper Lake,  Bhopal

    Thursday, 1 January 2015

    Bangalore: 15 Things to Do

    Google Maps: Bengaluru, Karnataka, India
    Here's the list of top things to do in Bangalore.

    1. Vidyarthi Bhavan: Near Basavangudi, at the heart of old Bangalore serves amazing crispy dosas with loads of ghee in it, for which people line up and wait for up to half an hour. Coffee here is strong and good, the essential. The shop opens at as early as 6.30 AM but is closed on Fridays.

    Dosa @ Vidyarthi Bhawan

    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, 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

    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


    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

    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

    Saturday, 14 December 2013

    Om Beach, Gokarna

    Google Maps: Gokarna, Karnataka, India
    Trip: Bangalore > Jog Falls > Gokarna > Murudeshwara > Bangalore

    • The landlocked Om beach is the place to stay in Gokarna. Two more beaches are adjacent although less fun - Kudle beach & Gokarna main beach.
    • Namaste Cafe is famous for seafood and fresh juices although everything else is equally tasty. The place even has few rooms for stay although you need to book in advaance.
    • Murudeshwara and Jog Falls are a day trip from here. Both can be covered if one starts early. Mudureshwara holds the largest Mahadev statue while Jog is the tallest waterfall in India.

    The bright morning sun was blazing in front of us when we reached Namaste Cafe Hotel in Gokarna. Earlier we had booked SRS Travels Sleeper bus from Bangalore and the journey was not disappointing. Namaste Cafe is located right on the Om beach but to reach here either you have to trek 3 miles or pay 150 bucks to the autowala.

    Gokarna Main Beach

    Saturday, 12 October 2013

    Ooty

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

    At 8 we started afresh for Ooty. Road till Mysore was heavy on traffic possibly due to long weekend and the famous Dasara celebrations in this royal city. We hit Bandipur at 2. First 10 miles were the scenic National Park territory through which NH67 passes. At Masinagudi we took left for Ooty. Although it' a steep ghat road, it is still shorter than the alternate Gudalur route.

    View from Dodda Betta peak

    Thursday, 20 June 2013

    Pondicherry

    Google Maps: Pondicherry, India

    • Pondicherry can be covered as part of circuit that starts from Bangalore and goes through Kanchipuram & Mahabalipuram.
    • Stay near the beach and enjoy the French architecture that is reminiscent of the alien occupation of this beautiful beach town.
    • Beach near the main area is stony. Go for nearby Paradise beach or sit near Gandhi statue with a pint of beer. Pondicherry University area also has a beautiful sandy beach.
    The decision was so whimsical that I was typing my leave application in the middle of journey sitting at a McD some 40 miles before Krishnagiri. Road between Krishnagiri and Tindivanam is in tatters. Hence we reached Pondicherry by 2 only.

    Sand Coast near Senghazunir Temple, Pondicherry

    Friday, 18 January 2013

    Mudumalai

    Google Maps: Mudumalai National Park, Tamil Nadu, India

    Mudumalai is the Tamil portion of a large forest reserve that spreads in hundreds of sq kilometers at the foothills of the Nilgiris. The part falling in Karnataka is more famous - known as the Bandipur National Park. There is Kerala too in the frame with Wayanad being at the centre.

    Elephants on the Highway, Mudumalai

    We started from Bangalore at 8 AM and were comfortably seated at the lunch table of Jungle Hut Resort. Food was great and gave the right kick to start for a jungle safari. We moved back to Theppakadu for the hour long minibus ride into the forests. I had already done it with Vivek and Sumeet when I was last here at Bandipur. Still it was fun with a 33 people strong office crowd.

    Nilgiris in the morning, Mudumalai

    We reached back at resort at 7. Our rooms were good. There were deers grazing at the backyard which merged with the reserve. The room itself was large, clean and utilitarian. All possible luxuries were made available here. The Nilgiris loomed large from our window and made the whole ambiance marvelous.

    More elephants, Mudumalai

    The six of us planned for a treasure hunt for the rest while others enjoyed the various recreational activities available at the resort. Treasure Hunt proved to be entertaining and was the fitting start to a long merry night. Bonfire was alive. People seated themselves around. Someone started playing a guitar.

    Bonfire @ Jungle Retreat Resort, Mudumalai

    Then started Antakshari and we all submerged to the tunes of half memorized hindi songs. Booze was flowing wide and soon we were all dazed. There were snacks of different variety pouring in. It must be around 2 that we dispersed to our respective rooms.

    Coimbatore sky, nearest airport to Mudumalai

    I had to wake up early at 6 as with a colleague of mine, I had booked a cab to Coimbatore. We were not sure but it all ended well as the driver took exactly 3 hours to take us through scenic Ooty to the airport. We were well in time for the 11.45 direct flight to Delhi. At 4 I was home and was still dazed with what happened in the last 24 hours.

    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.