Archive for the ‘South India’ Category

Here are some pictures we took during a herpetology camp, deep inside the virgin, untamed forests of Agumbe. Interested in attending the camp, click here.

Agumbe is one of the most scenic places on the Western Ghats of the Southern  India. Situated 560 meters above sea level on the Sahyadri ranges (Western Ghats), a World bio-diversity hotspot is aptly called the Cherapunji of South India as it receives an average rainfall of 7000-8000mm annually.

Added to the lush green view all around, the attractions for the visitors is the spectacular sunset and vast opportunities it offers to the trekkers. However not many know that these pristine forests are home to the longest venomous snake of the world – The King Cobra. The renowned herpetologist, Romulus Whitaker called Agumbe the capital of King Cobra.

If you are looking for a peaceful break for a few days from the hectic city life, away from the crowded and commercialized attractions, then this is the place for you.

Ophiophagus Hannah - King Cobra

King Cobra

Dear readers, our next herpetology camp will be on 16-17 October & 30-31 October 2010.  Click here to get more information.

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Last week we got an opportunity to use one of them hotel vouchers in North Goa.. who can resist any opportunity to visit this lovely state. So with our backpacks we boarded a private Volvo bus which eventually left town around 10pm after a small pooja since it was a brand new bus. This driver was so careful that we reached Panjim two hours late at around 12noon, but can’t blame him completely cos parts of this road is practically non existent due to the heavy monsoon.

Not wasting any more time, we quickly grabbed a cab to Baga-Arpora (Rs 300 one way) and checked into our posh cute resort (Sun Village) which is about 2 kms from Baga. After having a very sad lunch (at the resort) we hired a Honda Activa scooter  (Rs200 per day) for the next three days and headed straight to Baga Beach – north end (where the backwaters begin) to catch the sunset. September being off season, most of the shacks are shut so our first exotic dinner was at Suza Lobo’s at Calangute which is known for its live music and tasty seafood.

Day 2 began early with a quick breakfast at the hotel (complimentary) after which we started to shop along the Baga and Calangute rd for people back home. From here we decided to travel all the way to south goa just to eat at the very famous Martins Corner. It was a good 1.5hr bike ride to this restaurant which is neatly tucked away from the main road very close to Majorda Beach (Pls get proper directions before you venture out looking for this restaurant). After having satisfied our appetite for goan food, we decided to chill at the Majorda beach which is free from people or hawkers. The weather was just perfect with mild rains every now and then, but the rain gods took mercy on us especially when we were out riding.

Another hour and half later we were back at our resort to freshen up and out before you know it. Time is of the essence and no point stayin indoors when u have this beautiful landscape all around you. Dinner was a bit different at one of the only 2 beach shacks that were open. We had a wonderful time interacting with the owner and cook of this shack until late at nite.
Our third and final day started with a positive note as we indulged in a full fledged breakfast at the resort followed by a quick dip in the pool (Be advised, its not safe to enter the pool right after consuming food). Must say that the pool was very well maintained even during off season. After exploring our resort from end to end (very few visitors do that) we headed out for some more last min shopping (wine, cashews) and for our last goan meal at Brittos. Sitting right at the beach sipping on breezers & munching on roasted prawns & fish fingers was the most relaxing moment and totally worth the trip.
Soon it was time for us to head back to the grind and our KSRTC volvo ride back was not exactly comfortable. The entire front end was rattling every time our bus went over a ditch and with the present road condition, our entire journey was sleepless. However, true to its track record we reached Bangalore bang on time regardless of the passenger comfort. This was the only sore point in our entire journey. Overall, a wonderful break especially during the monsoon.
Our 2N/3D trip cost us about 9000 Rs excluding hotel accommodation which would be worth another Rs 8000 or more for this duration.
ur escapist
This post is almost one and half yrs old and a lot has changed in GOA since. We are hearing stories of women being attacked, raped and teased on the once popular beaches of goa. Its sad to state that, this attractive holiday destination is not save for tourists anymore especially for women and young girls.
Pls read this news about a 9 yr old girl being raped by an Indian tourist here and the subsequent travel advisory by the Russian government here.
During one of our recent visit to Calangute & Baga beaches in North Goa, we observed a large influx of young males from certain central and northern states whose behavior was out of line. We saw them staring at women (foreign and indian) and hooting at them. Some even approached these women asking if they’d like to join them and tried to hold their hands.  Though we did intervene, the sheer number in their groups gave them the courage to rebel us.
The worst part was that not a single cop was in sight especially after 8pm while the beach is open all nite.
These incidences are happening more often but the government is still not waking up to this menace. Hope they get their act in place before its too late. Till then, let us all be careful when we travel to this state and always stay in groups.
Pls share your experiences here if any.

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Not sure how many of you got to travel out of town during the Independence Day weekend but we did get lucky and had an opportunity to visit Wayanad forest range and it was one hell of an experience.

After having checked with over 14 resorts and homestays, we finally managed to find a very decent resort just of the main highway NH 212 nr Sultan Bathery but completely covered with coffee and palm plantation. So the view from our Bamboo cottage was like right in the middle of the forest.

We started from Bangalore at 6.30am and NICE road took us straight to Mysore rd within no time and by 8am we had reached MTR Shivalli beyond Chanapatna town for our breakfast. After a couple of Lotta Iddlis (this guy is really famous for these iddlis) n vadas we were on our way to Mysore. Stopped for fuel at 9.15 outside Mysore town and back on the road towards Nanjangud & Gundlepet. You have to be careful to turn right at Gundlepet town else u’ll head towards Bandipur. The moment you hit kerala border, the entire landscape changes and becomes compeltely green. Trust me, the greenery and fresh air hits you and you slowly start getting used to it.

Day 1: After a simple lunch at our resort (with fried fish ofcouse) we decided to explore the popular Edakkal Caves. We had an option to take a 1km jeep ride which would take us almost upto the caves and save on time. The last stretch up was quite an experience with heavy downward traffic and the continous drizzle. Soon we made it to the caves on top and was worth the climb. On our way back as typical tourists, we shopped for Tea powder, Masala Coffee & palm jaggery (good for diabetics) at the local shops.

Our evening at the resort was quiet and relaxed with a sumptuous dinner and a stroll within the resort property.

Day 2: After a heavy breakfast we pushed ourselves out of the resort to checkout the largest waterfall in this area called Soochipara Falls. After driving thru narrow roads and across tea estates we reached the end of the motorable road from were our trek to the base of the falls began. Took us a good 30 mins to get there and about 45mins to get back up but it was totally worth it. The only sad part was to see people washing their clothes and undergarments here.. Dont’ know wat gets into people when they see a river or stream.. its not like they don’t get to wash their clothes for days together. Why come so far and spoil the environment completely..

After a quick lunch we were back on the road again to visit the famous Pookot Lake and Likkidi View point. This lake is just like any other – a bit cleaner though but the view point at Likkidi was just awesome. Spent a lot of time just gazing into the valley below before we started to head back to our resort. Day 3: After another simple but good breakfast with hot tea we spent time at the small stream which runs thru the resort. Did manage to get a quick kerala style massage and started our journey back to bangalore aroun 11.45am. With stopovers for more pictures we said good bye to this wonderful place known as God’s Own Country.

We stopped over at Royal Orchid Metropole in Mysore for buffet lunch in the ancient palace hall and continued on our journey back. Reached bangalore at around 6pm loaded with memories of our short but releaxing trip.

Quick facts:
Total distance covered: 680 kms
Travel time (one-way): 5.5 – 6 hrs
Total cost of fuel used: Rs 2800
Accommodation: Rs 6000 per couple for 2N/3Days
ur escapist

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We have seen Bangalore change over the years & thought that we shud put together a list of tips for those who visit this city. Hope this will help you save on money, time and a whole lot of headaches the next time u’r in Bangalore. And when u’r here and have the time to travel around, do look us up incase u need assistance related to your stay or travel.

Finally managed to get this hyper link working. Pls share your views on this doc.
Traveler Tips for Bangalore

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Weekend was here again and to keep ourselves busy we decided to ride with the rotarians of Dist 3190 to Dobaspet which is a small town just before Tumkur about 65kms from Bangalore. This wasn’t an execptional ride considering the distance but just a simple get-together of some biker fans who love to ride no matter the weather or the route.

So at 7.15am we met up at Jindal Naturopathy on Tumkur Rd outside the city limits and started off exactly at 7.25am. These guys are really puntual and if u’r 5 mins late u’r left behind. So all 13 bikes mostly single riders with a few pillions (wives) started towards tumkur negotiating the heavy traffic on one of the most popular route (NH4 which connects Mumbai) which forms a part of the golden quadrangle. Once we crossed Nelamangala junction it was smooth sailing rite until Dobaspet. Only during this ride did i realise that bikers don’t need to pay any toll.. so was quite thrilled to save on a few pennies ;o)

By 8.30am all the riders managed to reach our breakfast spot – Kamat. Yup, that’s the only decent place on this highway where almost every tourist halts. Now the task ahead was to find a table big enough to seat all 18 of us… with a few arrangements we were all seated and delicious food (kotte iddly, vadas, Rava masala dosas, shavigae uppmas, ragi dosas…) started to flow until we couldnt’ eat no more. After a small meeting it was time to click some pictures and boy did we did we click pictures ;o)
http://www.flickr. com/photos/ greatescapes/ sets/72157605637 941968/ (Check them out) We even had visitors taking pictures of us.. certainly felt like a celeb for a moment.

Started to head back by 9.45am and this time i decided to take the NICE road while entering the city since i’m based in South Bangalore and didn’t want to spoil my mood by getting into the heart of the city. This was one amazing ride with the weather being just perfect. NICE road is new and well maintained and the best part is that its empty and no traffic lights. So before u know it, i was home at exactly 11.05am which meant that i had covered a distance of 75kms in just 1hr 20mins which includes city traffic (kanakapura rd) and that too on my 37 yr old Jawa.

Some quick facts
Total Distance covered: 145kms
Total Time with breakfast: 4.5hrs
Average mileage on my bike: 31 kms/ltr
Top speed: 95kms/hr
Average speed: 70kms/hr

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Day break and the alarm went off failing to get me out of bed, it was only when my fellow escapist called that I realized I was running late. Jumped out of the bed & got ready – all in 15mins and rushed out on hearing the patar – patar of my friends Jawa (it’s a 1970 model bike in excellent condition) handed down to my friend by his dad. Had to rush else would miss the group (IFMR India Chapter- International Federation for Motorcycling Rotarians). This Sunday there was only one other group member riding along unfortunately even he opted out, but we were greeted by Rtn. Zarryl on his Honda Steed. He wished us a pleasant ride and the both of us took off on a lone ride (not the way it usually works at IFMR). We headed towards the newly constructed Bangalore International Airport at Devanahalli. We reached our destination of about 35km only to be disappointed that we would not be let in without prior permissions. We had to move on and continued our journey as planned to the Nandeeshwara Temple at the foothills of Nandi hills which is about 55kms from Bangalore. It’s a master piece of Dravidian architecture built in the 9th century, but unfortunately could not take pictures as photography is prohibited inside the temple premises. After savoring the architecture and feeling sad about the way this historic monument has been kept we got out to have a cuppa tea in one of the many stalls erected for the weekly fair. Wondering what to do with the additional time we had (considering we didn’t visit BIA) we decided to ride up to the top of Nandi hills which is about 14kms from the temple. Spent some time at the top savoring the morning breeze & fresh watermelons before checking out the Tippu Drop. Also discussed what could possibly done to avoid the use of plastic on top of the hill. A quick solution that stuck was something that my friend had earlier initiated as a part of a campaign at the Bannerghatta National Park (unpack the contents of the plastic packaging into paper bags before dispensing it to the customer, thus avoiding the litter of plastic bag). Some photographs here and there and we started our journey back to Bangalore. Overall, it was a crisp trip starting at 6.30am from home and back by 11.30am with a total distance of 160kms and an average mileage of 28kms/ltr. Until later


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Had been quite a while since I had planned an offbeat trip, last i remember having been to Jodhpur around the time of the infamous Gujarat earthquake in 2001. This time around it was a day trip to Chennai to satisfy the desire of visiting aquaculture farms, experiencing firsthand the journey of those lovely colourful pets that add life to the décor of our living rooms, offices etc… the whole trip was planned on short notice.

Beginning the day at 5 in the morning on a Saturday, (come to think of it I generally end up waking early on weekends, nothing shakes me out of bed till 8.30am on week days…) got ready and hit the road to catch the Shatabdi at the Cantonment Station. My first stop was to get an auto-rickshaw & was surprised to find a kind rickshaw driver who spent time exercising before he could get his first customer for the day. We broke into a conversation & I figured Shivprasad doubled up into a chef during the day for a leading chain of hotels in the city called Shanti Sagar and rendered his services as a auto driver during his breaks to make an additional buck. Life in Bangalore has changed so much with the high cost of living that one has to do double jobs to make a decent living.

I was dropped at the Cant. Station and after a 10 min wait and the train chugged into the station. 10 mins of travel and a voice spoke over the speaker system. At first I was irked as it stopped a Hindi classic to give the message; the passengers were welcomed onto the train and wished a pleasant journey in 3 languages by the train superintendent Mr. Arul Richard in a lovely voice, the classics continued once he was done.

I spoke to Arul later to compliment him on the collection he was playing, he told me that earlier he used to play old tapes and the quality was bad. A frequent traveler gifted him with a CD system and a set of CD’s for the benefit of passengers thus the lovely quality of music. This was something I would have never thought of doing. The staff in the train were very courteous & kept the snacks & beverage flowing making you feel at home. I got down few stop before Chennai at Prerembur thanking the train staff for making my journey comfortable.

Here began my mission for the day, first I packed some food at a good restaurant then moved on to hire a rickshaw to look around the place, not really knowing where to head to find these farms I first visited many of the shops dealing with live fish & related products, most of them were not comfortable to direct me to their farms, my broken Tamil didn’t help my cause either. I managed to talk to one of the dealers to take me to his farm and to show me around, it was a wonderful experience to see how those huge tanks are maintained, fish at its many stages before they hit the store, the different kinds of feed. Surprisingly the time taken for these little ones to grow into a marketable size is much lesser when compared if it were to be done here in Bangalore, no wonder we don’t have any farms here and most stuff to the Bangalore market comes from Chennai.

I got to photograph a whole lot of varieties of both sweet water and marine fishes, got to see that the banned corals were openly traded. Just about a month ago most dealers of live corals in Bangalore were raided and sent behind bars – does Tamil Nadu have different wildlife rules (let me not kick the dust). It was a pleasant outing thanks to the sun god who was merciful to make my trip comfortable. Time just flew in the activity and I headed back to the railway station en-route packed some special food for the train superintendent to encourage him to keep up the good service.

I was totally refreshed and ready to take on the hectic week that was ahead but not before completing the bike ride that was planned for the following day got back home and hit the sack waiting for day break to hit the road…

Until later


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