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

Sunday, 25 June 2017

Miyajima, Japan

Google Maps: Miyajima, Japan
The ferry transported us to another world. The matter-of-factly Japan somehow vanished across half the mile of sea as we entered Miyajima. In front of us was a green island with lofty mountains that invited you for a trek. The foothills were not bad either - the gigantic orange coloured Grand Torii Gate being the crown jewel. We were told this was one of the top three most scenic spots in entire Japan. I believe it now.

Grand Torii, Miyajima


Tuesday, 11 April 2017

Devprayag

Google Maps: Devaprayag, Uttarakhand, India
  • Devprayag is a half day trip from Rishikesh although to be fair, it needs a full day to appreciate the drive and the point. 
  • Roads are in perfect condition and well managed. There are very few good restaurants and no petrol pump before Devprayag so plan accordingly. 
  • The river Ganges flow to your right all the way to Devprayag which throws multiple viewpoints to saviour. Take a break now and then and appreciate the work of mother nature on these hills.
Devprayag is one of those gems that are not hidden but surrounded by bigger gems and hence ignored. In itself it is worthy of a day trip as we figured while standing at the merging point of two distinctly coloured rivers. The holy incantations and energetic crowd only help create a captivating zone around this point which is in a shape of cake slice.

View of Devprayag from top

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

Sunday, 12 June 2016

Tsomgo

Google Maps: Tsomgo, Sikkim, India
  • Nathula is closed on Monday and documents are to be submitted (including passport size photographs) one day in advance so plan accordingly.
  • Better come with warm clothes else you will have to take reused ones on rent. The trip goes to a height of 14k feet. At this altitude even oxygen is thin.
  • Go for the bunker of Baba Harbhajan Singh beyond Kupup. There is shrine much before the bunker where most people go but thats not real.
A trip to Nathu La is expected when you visit Gangtok. We didn't take it. In fact we crossed Nathu La from a mile and didn't take it. We were told its overhyped - being one of the three motorable roads to China from India does not mean you will see something out of the world. Instead we went for the farthest village called Kupup beyond which lies the shrine of soldier Harbhajan Singh.

Tsomgo Lake

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

Friday, 14 August 2015

Rock Shelters, Bhimbetka

Google Maps: Bhimbetka rock shelters, Madhya Pradesh, India
Trip: Bhopal > Sanchi > Bhimbetka > Bhopal

  • Nestled in the deep forests, this place is a true jewel. Plan at least a half day excursion through the whole area. It takes time to cover and more time to appreciate.
  • The road is not in a good condition and there are not many road-side restaurants. Visit  after the monsoons if you like greenary. The month of August is ideal.
  • Read about the place before you go. You will appreciate the rich heritage more. It is one of the 32 UNESCO World Heritage Sites in India for a reason.

We reached Bhimbetka at noon from Sanchi. A slight detour on way to Hoshangabad from Bhopal and nestled in the Vindhyas is this ancient home to humankind that most of us are unaware. I guess most of those including me realized the special position this place holds in world history is when it was a declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Domestication of animals, Bhimbetka

Stupas, Sanchi

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

Sanchi was as calm and serene as we had left it in our Class IX history book. While in Sanchi one realizes why a secluded place built on a hillock suits the purpose of meditation and learning. The place is as picturesque as possible with a panoramic view of the Vindhyas.

Gateway to Stupas, Sanchi

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

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

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, 10 August 2013

Jog Falls

Google Maps: Jog Falls, Karnataka
  • Best time to visit Jog Falls is during monsoon but on a weekday. Weekends are generally crowded and security around the fall is enhanced.
  • There are very few options of accommodation around. Best way is to cover Jog Falls during a circuit of Gokarna and make a day trip to this place, Shimoga is nearest city with few hotels.
  • Visiting the Jog Falls from other direction is unofficially possible, We didn't explore it. Going down the fall is strictly prohibited.


We started our trip to Jog Falls without much planning.  It was a mistake. Although we had a blast in the eventful way this trip turned up, not to forget the super lush greenery of Konkan region, we did  learn few hard lessons on the way. To begin with the only good stopover on way is a CCD some hundred miles from Bangalore.

Behind a veil of clouds@Jog Falls

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.

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

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.

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

Wednesday, 8 December 2010

Antibes

Google Maps: Antibes, France
Trip: Paris > Nice > Monte Carlo > Antibes > Cannes

Antibes was a quiet and lazy beach town. We took an early train from Nice to Antibes as the day was long and we had to cover Cannes the same day. The train dropped us at the periphery of the town and we had to walk half a mile or so to stand in front of the beach.

Railway Station, Antibes


Sunday, 24 October 2010

Grindelwald

Google Maps: Grindelwald, Switzerland
Trip: Berlin > Grindelwald > Lucerne > Basel

A Harry Potter fan would expect something magical from a town that holds the name of Grindelwald. Hence when I was asked by a fellow passenger why I am going there I simply shrugged. I had to go.


A train from Interlaken took me to Grindelwald. The train route leads to the highest peak in Europe - Jungfrau. However the to-and-fro ticket to Jungfraujoch is too expensive at CHF 135 (INR 6000). A diversion on the same route will take you to Murren which is considered as a place of ethereal beauty during Swiss summers.


When I reached Grindelwald, the hilly town was covered with fog and small snow flakes were accompanying the rain drops. The youth hostel had closed for the season as were most of the other hostels. November onwards this area is close for about two months before opening up in the end of December for ski-lovers.


The surrounding sky high hills were mesmerizing - the most interesting part of the panorama were two peaks adjacent to each other overlooking the marketplace where I was standing. The Grindelwald village itself looked like coming directly from one of the JK Rowling's novels where wizards live.


There was a tourist information desk with an amusement centre near the station. Here for the first time in my life I saw a full length ice hockey field. Taking a walk around for a couple of hours I decided that I was there at the wrong time of year .


I took the train back to Interlaken at around 2 PM. From there I planned to go to Lucerne. The couple of hours were enough to leave a lasting impression about Grindelwald - definitely magical.

Monday, 18 October 2010

Jelling

Google Maps: Jelling, Denmark
They pronounce 'J' as 'Y' here in Denmark. My plan for the day was to visit the famous Runic stones, a UNESCO world heritage site at Jelling (pronounced as Yelling). One of my first excursion to Danish countryside affirmed the general opinion that indeed Denmark has a dull weather. It compliments the peacefulness that the country offers.

Runes on the rock, Jelling

Referred as the birth certificate of Denmark, these runic stones were carved by King Gorm and his son Bluetooth. I was not expecting the carvings to be comprehensible.


As the weather turned from sunny to cloudy and from still to windy within minutes, I decided to take shelter in the nearby Fakta store. Buying some bananas and a coke, I came out with little relief. The wind had slowed down. I decided to climb one of the large mounds in the area for a somewhat ariel view.


Settling at the top I finished off my bananas and coke and took  a few pictures. The stones were spread in a small area around a church which evidently has also become a graveyard.



Taking a cue from the minimal crowd present and a direct train for Copenhagen scheduled for 2.18 PM, I took leave from the revered stones and settled in the first clas compartment of DBS Tog thanks to my eurorail pass.