Category: Travellogue


After a week of awesome time with my cousins and family, i went to Bangalore, to meet Mayur and Bhargav and Kaki. I reached bangalore from hyderabad on 4th December, in the morning at around 7 Am and went straight to Bhargav’s home at koramangala (near forum). It was a long time i had seen him, and i was really very excited to meet him. A few minutes later Kaki arrived and very soon we were lost in all the tech talk. Kaki had bought an DSLR (first one in our wing! :) ), which me and bhargav explored for a while.

We were to go to Jog falls and shimoga for 3 days, but had not planned anything so far. We decided to book an indica for the 4 of us (mayur,bhargav, kaki and myself) and get away without any plan. And to spend the rest of the day we decided to go nandi hills on bikes. Bhargav and me then went IIMB to meet Mayur and get his bike. Since it was already getting late around 1 in the afternoon, we decided to go to bannerghatta national park. After spending somme time at Mayur’s room ( which i was really impressed with), we had lunch and then again decided that the national park would be closed soon and there was no point going there. And hence we ended up at Lal Bagh!! :) We then started planning on where to go and what to see in the next few days and not surpsingly we decided against the trip (phew!!) (improper planning and the idea that jog falls had very little water because of a dam above!!). We then decided to get to coorg for 2 days and the end the trip with a trek to the top of coorg! :)


We started early in the day (6 AM — Thats way too early by our standards) towards mysore. The road from bangalore to mysore was amazing with the driver touching speeds in excess of 100 in an indica! After a small stop for break fast, we went straight to the KRS dam (Krishna Raya Sagar) in the outskirts of mysore. After a brief session of photography and admiration of the dam, we headed on our way to the district capital of the coorg region, Madikeri.

On our way to Madikeri we stopped at various spots of tourist importance. First amoung them was the Golden temple at bylakuppe, few kms from kushalnagar, enroute Madikeri. Hundreds of Buddhist monks live here. While the exterior of the new Zangdokpalri temple looks majestic with a majestic rainbow arch, the interior of the Golden temple next to it is awe-inspiring. The path to the Zangdokpalri temple passes through a sprawling garden. Around the garden are the residential quarters of the monks. A better write up of the temple for a good read: http://madikeri.org/bylakuppe

We then stopped for a late lunch near Cauvery Nisargadhama. Nisargadhama is forest resort just 3kms from Kushalnagar towards Madikeri off the state highway. Nisargadhama is a 25 acre island formed by river Cauvery with bamboos, teak, sandalwood trees streams and wild life(supposedly!! We could just find deers there :D ) covering it. It is also famous for its hanging bridge which connects the island helping us to cross river Cauvery.

After our lunch we took a small detour towards Dubare Elephant camp situated around 20 kms from the main road. It was supposedly an elephant capturing and training camp of the Forest Department of Coorg. Though we did not see many elephants there, we did some still water river rafting (I couldn’t find a better oxymoron). Never the less it was great fun as we went along the coast of the river dodging our way through the branches that grew low and perpendicular to the river. It was just like playing a dodging game on some video game console :) After a few minutes i took a plunge into the river where the water was deep. It was great fun to be in the water (thanks to the life jacket i had on me) The way up to the raft was again little tricky, but i eventually made it (not before i was scolded a couple of times! lol!! )

After i got myself into some dry clothes, we took off towards madikeri. It was close to 90 mins drive from there and we reached the town at around 7 PM. We wen’t straight to the hotel Hill View (Trust me — there was no great view at all!) and called it a day. We were all tired after the rafting and the journey and were soon asleep after we had our dinner.

Abbey Falls

The next morning we went to Abbey falls around 12 kms from madikeri. The waterfall is located between private coffee plantations with stocky coffee bushes and spice estates with trees entwined with pepper vines. An awesome path through coffee and cardamom plantations leads to the waterfalls. The roar of the falls can be heard from the road itself. There is a hanging bridge just opposite the falls which gives an awesome view to the tourists. We spent an good part of 2 hours and started on our way to Talakaveri

Talakaveri is around 50 kms from Madikeri and is considered to be the source of the Kaveri river. It is located in the Bramhagiri hill near Bhagamandala at an altitude of 1276m. A tank or Koneru has been erected on a hillside, at the place that is said to be the origin. It is also marked by a small temple. We trekked up to the top of the hill and then we were off back to Madikeri. In the evening we went to the Raja’s Seat and tried some sunset photography! (it was an awesome sunset, with the sun going into the mountains. We then went to some temple in Madikeri and took to bed early.


 

The next day, we started very early for a trek that i would remember for a very very long time. After what i had during my previous trek, i was sceptical about this one. But since Bhargav kept saying it was fairly flat, i had the courage to do it! We reached Thadiandamol ( base village for our trek). We started our trek to the highest peak in the district and the 2nd highest peak in karnataka at an altitude of 1750 mtrs above MSL. For a start Kaki also wanted to come as far as we could. The gradient at the start of the trek was a bit too high, and kaki started to break down.

To make things worse we missed the main route and had to take another route which was more tough! But with some determined climbing by kaki we were able to make it to the main path in an hour. All along the way we came across many streams of very pure cold water trickling down the slopes of the mountain. We were treated to some awesome sceneries along the way of the valley and the mountains surrounding it. The path started to flatten out for one Km which we could cover very easily. The trail took us through pine trees and very beautiful streams. In another hour around 11:30 we reached the base of the highest peak. The base had an amazing stream of fresh water, where we took some rest and ate our lunch (chocolates and some biscuits :P ). Kaki decided to stop here, where as bhargav, mayur and myself carried along.

The next few meters of the climb was a very rocky terrain, which we covered in the next 20 mins. We took a small breather and carried along. The trails started to become more and more rocky with each step having to be a bigger stride upwards. I could hear my heart thumping very very fast, and my slippers (A big big blunder not to have shoes) started to wear out! The trail slowly lead us to a very dense forest. Ducking below low branches and climbing along the roots of the trees we were making some progress. The jungle got very dense and at certain places it was very dark and scary even at noon. We were literally running through the forest and in about 15 mins we were out of it.

Me and Bhargav enjoying the view of the valley

Another 15 minutes of painful trekking and we were in sights of the main peak. The very sight of it gave me a new lease of energy and i was in a flash mid way through the climb. I was going on and on frequently urging myself to push it till the end. in my anxiety i started pushing it too hard and in 10 minutes i reached the top only to realise it was a Fool’s Peak (A term coined by me for a local maxima if you assume the mountains were like a graph). The majestic peak stood in front of us, and we were all surrounded by green grass. We took to photography there for 30 minutes and then slowly went to the top. I was leaping in hapiness. My joy knew no bounds. All my pain vanished in a few seconds and was rejuvenated by the achievement.

After spending some time at the peak, we started our way down. We decided not to stop anywhere as some rain bearing clouds were glooming around the horizon. My floaters had given up on me and i was left to the mercy of the sharp stones all to myself. To add more troubles, i was cramping up, which hindered my muscle movement. Very soon i lost both bhargav and mayur who literally ran down the mountain and i was left all to myself. But that was not a point of giving up! I kept going urging myself not to break down. All my effort was having a good result.. we were now descending at a decent pace. We were down to where Kaki was in around 40 mins! After stretching my muscles for a while, we descended all the way to the cab.

We started back to bangalore at around 5 and after stopping for dinner at Mc Donalds on the banglore–mysore highway, we reached bangalore at 11 pm. That was one hell of a trip, something i was longing to do for a while now. It was far too great fun i had in the last 10 days and now i had to leave all of it behind and had to get back to some serious work back at office! :(

All the credit for the wonderful photography goes to KB and his awesome DSLR!
Special thanks to Bhargav for actually planning the trip and taking some critical time off work at some short notice! :)

Saturday, 14th November 2010, We (ravi and myself) decided to go to kashid and started from at 2PM. We took the ferry from Gateway of India to mandwe. We boarded the ajanta ferry, which was overloaded with people. The ride to mandwe was very scary and every time a big wave came by, the boat threatened to topple!!
15 mins into the ride, we saw a huge defense ship zoom past our boat creating huge ripples that started rocking the boat. I was literally praying for nothing to happen. The safety of the passengers is really a concern, given that there were no flotation aids on the boat.
Link to pics @ picasa
We were at the mercy of the waves for about 75 mins before we reached Mandwe. We then took the free bus to Alibagh and got off at a place called Chondi. It was a small village en route to alibagh, from where we took the auto to the Kihim beach. We reached chondi at around 6:20 and the sun was about to set. The view was too awesome and we desperately wanted to get to the beach by sunset. The auto wala tried his best in a 15 year old auto on a road that was very bad. We reached Kihim only to find out that the sun just set! A bad miss :|

A few mins later, we were joined by my old school friend Sam. The beach was quiet and there were hardly 15 people along the beach that was roughly half a kilometer in length. We sat on a small parapet wall close to the beach enjoying the awesome moonlight and the stars that you very rarely find in mumbai. We gossiped till there were no one on the beach and then slowly started our way back in search of some delicious sea food. Luckily we met an old lady who offered us some traditional fish fry for 80 bucks at her house. We had an awesome pomfret fry and then took shelter at Sam’s house which was a 15 min walk from the beach.
The plan was to get up early in the morning, go to kashid and return to alibagh by 4Pm so that we could get the ferry back to gateway. As usual, we got up late and by the time we reaches alibagh it was 10Am. We then decided to go to the nearest beach @ Nagaon. The sun was beating on us heavily and we decided not to spend much time in the waters. After a while Sam and Synti took to water sports which they thoroughly seemed to enjoy :P
We reached Alibagh by 3PM, had our lunch and started our way back home, which is should say was one of the memorable journeys ever. Once we were on the ferry, sea gulls started flocking behind the boat and when people started offering kurkure to the sea gulls, they startled everyone with their quick reflexes and wonderful display of catching skills! The scenes were amazing and were a photographers dream to capture. The setting sun, the golden waters, the beautiful sea gulls flying at a hands distance and the very costly designer boats were a treat to watch. Time flew by very fast and within an hour we were at the gateway of india once again.

It was a friday afternoon. Instead of working @ office i was busy dreaming about all the fun and joy i would be having over the next weekend. We (Rena, Vineeth, Bhargav, Mayur, Polls, Enthu, Actually, Tina, Praneeth and myself) decided to meet up in Panjim on 23th and have fun till the 26th of January. Me and Rena started off @ 4:30 and waited for the 5:30 bus at Goregaon. The bus was an hour late and we started off to Goa in midst of heavy traffic.

The bus carried on slowly, along the Western express highway and then towards Navi Mumbai. By the time the bus crossed Panvel (outskirts) we were 4 hours into the journey. Luckily i got to watch the Three Idiots movie, which i was longing to see since two weeks now. The bus tagged along the western coast, moving slowly through the ghats. After 3 hrs of delay we reached panjim at 10 AM.

We went straight to Hotel Ameya, opp St. Enez church, where we booked a dorm (10 beds) for all of us. The bus from banglore that was supposed to be coming at 9 AM was delayed due to some arbit strike on NH17. That meant me and Rena had to spend the rest of the day alone. We rented a bike (splendor) and started off towards the beaches in Panjim. We took turns as we drove on towards Dona paula, a good view point on the outskirts of the city.

I was a beginner when it came to handling geared bikes, and was slowly gaining in confidence as we zoomed past the outskirts. I was coping well with the first gear trouble. We took a few pics at Dona paula, caught a few glimpses of the aggressive movements of the shoal fish, and started our way back to the city. We then kept roaming here and there, before all the others reached the hotel at aroung 5 PM.

All of us then went in search of more bikes, and after a lot of struggle we got 3 pulsars and another splendor. Due to the 4 day break, there were a lot of tourists in search of bikes, and that meant we had to shell out extra cash for the bikes (400/day per bike). Not willing to waste even a few minutes we were on our way searching for beach side weekend parties (:D)

I was lucky enough to get hold of a pulsar, and after all the confidence i had gained during the day, I decided to give a shot at the pulsar. Thanks to Bhargav, who helped me out on the bike, we were out of the city in a flash, onto the NH17 towards Calangute beach, north of Goa.
Driving the pulsar was a thrilling experience, especially in the night. It was not that hard as i had expected and 15 mins into the drive, i was oozing with confidence that i could drive any bike (:P)

After a few stops, enquiring about our destination, we reached Calangute at 9 PM, where we had one of our worssst dinners EVER! We were tired and at around 11PM we decided to get back to our hotel (17 kms) and come back refreshed early in the morning. We drove back precariously, in the chill weather, with the fear of being run down by drunken drivers.

Day 2, started off quite early in the day (11 AM) when every one got ready and had breakfast. We decided to go to the Calangute beach, now in search of adventure sports. We reached Calangute at around 12 Am, not before enthu had a flat tire. We were interested in experiencing all the thrills and frills that the beach had on offer. We first took off on a jet skii. Padded with safety life jackets, all of us went on a ride one after another on a jet skii. It was an awesome experience as the jet jumped along the surface of the water whenever there was a wave. At the speed we were going the ski literally was floating in air just tapping the water as it flew across the raggid waves.

The next ride we took to was called a “bumper ride”. We sat in pairs on circular round tubes and were dragged into the sea, with the help of a fast motor boat. We lay down in sleeping postures as we held on to the bumper by means of 2 handles. Every time the motor boat swayed we hit the waves hard, threatening to put us down into the sea. The entire ride lasted for 5 minutes before we were flung into the sea as the motor boat took a right angled turn.

The ride that followed was the “banana ride”. 5 of us were to sit on a banana shaped balloon and we were taken into the sea on it. It was highly unstable and everytime one lost his balance, he would take all the 5 down with him. We fell down 3 times even before we started off on our way into the sea. Few minutes later we were then down when the boat took a turn. As i slipped down the banana hit me hard on my head. I felt as if i was drowning. The fact that my feet can no longer touch the ground started to frighten me. Then later i realised instead of going down into the sea, i was rising to the surface. I had my life jacket on, and that meant there was no way i could drown. I then felt relaxed and slowly swam my way back to the boat. The way back to the shore was less frightening even though i was feeling very weak and tired.

We then took a 20 minutes break, before we took off roughly 3 kms into the sea on a speed boat. We were then transferred into a para sailing boat. Fitted to its back was a parachute. We took the ride in pairs, as it was a busy sunday evening. Me (back) and polls (front) were the last ones to take the ride. We were all strapped to the parachute and then the boat sped fast flying across the waves. As the boat gained speed we started flying gaining altitude as and when the boat accelerated. From the top we could catch a glimpse of the brilliant Goan coastline. We could see the waves and the rough sea clearly from above. Even before we were done admiring the beatutiful ride, we were pulled back towards the boat. The 2 minute ride was spectacular and thrilling!

We then took off towards Candolim after having our lunch at the Dominoes. We reached Candolim 5 minutes after the sunset. It was a spectacular view, with an old ship docked very close to the beach. We enjoyed the cool evening breeze and took to photography. As usual CR was the centre of attraction, and now with KAKI claiming to give away one of the most honorable gift of the wing to the best pic, there was hectic competition (:P). After the light faded away, we played a game of kabaadi and 2 games of wolf. After we were done we started our way back to the hotel. I was driving the pulsar constantly in excess of 60kmph, sometimes even touching 80 on a very chill night without a jacket on. It was a wonderful experience considering it was only my 2nd day driving bikes :D

The third day began with people voting to go south of goa to the churches and the museums. We started at 11 in the morning after having our brunch. We reached old goa in 20 mins. We saw the museum (not so spectacular) and the three churches. Basilica of Bom Jesus was a spectacular church that contained the body of St. Francis Xavier. We prayed there for a while and then took off further south all the way to Madgoa. We then went to one of the finest beaches south of Goa, the Kolva beach. The ride all the way to Kolva was exciting and fun. We had fun in the shallow waters of Kolva taking good group pics. Not to forget what rena was made on the beach (:D :D ).. ………… SENSORED …………..

We had an an awesome view of the sunset and then started our back to Madgaon. We went to a hotel called Tavir (opp KTC bus stand ) in Madgoan, where i was treated to goan delicacies. Never before i had eaten such awesome fish in my entire life. I strongly recommend people to try out the King Fish Rawa fry and the Irish fish pieces. After a very full meal and a plate of Gajar halwa with butterscotch ice cream, I was full !! and my wallet empty @@ (:D)

The way back was a 30 km ride on the NH17. The road was bad and frightening. All the vehicles with high beams added more problems to the already existing road woes and aweful bike lighting. No matter how hard or how many times i tried dipping the lights, i got no response from the other end. My eyes began to water, and the breeze threatening to blow me away. But me and enthu on the pulsar held on. It was an extremely challenging drive and i was glad at the end of the day that i made it. Just the third day of my life on the bike and i had experienced all sorts of driving conditions. 60 minutes after we started from madgoan we were back to our hotel playing an intriguing game of wolf.

On the final day, we decided not to strain ourself and visit a fort that was just 13 kms away from panjim. We missed the shorter route and then took to a longer route. We all reached Fort Aguada, a 16th century portugese fort. We then took to photography again, until we were tired of jumping around for pics. The view of panaji and the Mandovi river that goes along the city from the fort was awesome. Around 1 PM we decided to get back to panjim and lie down in the park on the banks of the Mandovi river. After lunch, we took a nap on the smooth and fine sands on the river bank.

I finally went back to the hotel at around 6 PM. I was feeling terribly sad, now that i had to leave my friends and go back to work the very next day. We returned our bikes and all of us met at the bus stand. Surprisingly all of us had our busses starting at 7:30 (Whatta coincidence). It was a bad moment for me, leaving all my friends. I was almost in tears, wishing and hoping we stayed back for another couple of days. That was not to happen and 10 minutes later all of us were on our way back to our respective places.

Next day morning we reached mumbai at 7:30AM and when i saw myself in the mirror i was shocked what i had done to my face, I couldn’t recognise myself at the first instance. I had put on so much tan, that all of my friends at mumbai struggled to identify me (:P). It was an awesome 4 day (23- 26th JAN 2010) adventure on the roads and beaches of goa.

I would want to thank everyone (Mayur in particular) in making some time out of their busy lifes and making this a memorable and an exciting trip. Hoping and longing for more trips with you guys in future, I continue my daily life again in mumbai.

Ps: We all missed you, your photography and your comparisions KAKI.

Finally after a very long time i have again started to blog! As a part of my new year resolution to pursue seeing new places and picking up photography i have been to many places in the last couple of months.

Frustrated sitting at home on Saturday, not doing anything we, the three idiots (Synti, Rena and myself) wanted to go to Matheram, a hill station on the outskirts of Mumbai for a day’s trip on sunday. We bought the toy train tickets from Neral (Railways Central line) to Matheram and decided to do the trip on Sunday.

After stupendous support from Rena (who got ready in half an hour!), we could start from home at 7 Am in the morning to catch the 10:15 train at Neral. The journey went on fine till we reached Kalyan Jn from Dadar, where we had to take a different train to Neral. After some struggle and some asking we finally got to the right platform. The train to Khapoli came in a few minutes later, with a typical Mumbai-ish crowd. There was no space for even the back pack to fit, forget myself. We then took a very wise (!!) decision to stay for the next train as we had an 90 minutes to catch the train. None of us actually knew how long it would take us to Neral from there.

We waited on for the next train only to realise that it would not go till Neral and it was to an intermediate place. Upon enquiry we realised there was a next train an hour later. We decided to go to badlapur and then catch some auto to Neral. After reaching Badlapur at 9.30 we enquired about the auto and realised that it costs us 200 bucks and it did not have a direct road access. But there was a train at 10:06 leaving us 9 minutes to catch the train at Neral. Since there were 2 stations between Badlapur and Neral we assumed we could reach there by 10:20 and then we would give it a mad dash hoping the train @ Neral started according to IST (:P)

Unfortunately the train that was supposed to come at 10.06 came at 10:09, that meant we were 3 minutes late already to the revised plan. The toy train does the 21 km trek into the mountainn in 2hrs. So we were still confident of somehow catching the train even after it left by running along side the track (Atleast we kinda hoped so :P ). To all our surprise the distance between the stations was too long that even at around 100 kmph the train took 20 mins to Neral.

We were 15 minutes late to Neral and the train had left, nor was it in our sights so that we could run to catch it. We went to the station master who told us to try taking an auto and chase the train to the next station (jummapatti). We had an outside chance because the train takes 30 mins to reach there and the auto (supposedly) could do it in 15 mins.

Not having any other choice we took an auto and started for jummapatti!! 5 mins into the journey we came to the ghat section where the auto literally started to plead mercy!! The auto at the least gear with full throttle was doing no better than people jogging! Thanks to synti who kept saying more negative things like what if the Auto fell of the cliff! or what if we start going backwards instead of forwards!, we started worrying as to what would happen if the auto started to roll backwards instead of worrying whether we would catch the train.

Link to pics @ picasa

The poor auto decided not to give up and tagged us along the awesome road to jummapatti. 15 mins later as promised by the auto wala, we reached the station right on time before the toy train started its way up the mountains. We were glad we made it to what was an awesome journey up the mountain.

We reached matheran at around 12:30, and after paying 25bucks ! (tax to enter matheran) we set forth for a trek to various view points on matheran. The motor vehicles are not allowed to enter matheran and have to stop about 3 kms away from the hill station. The only mode of transport available other than using one’s legs were the horses. We chose to trust our legs this time and started on our trek.

The roads were full of loose red soil and they smelt bad because of all the horse sh** along the way and when ever a horse galloped past us we had to block our nose to prevent the dust entering the nose. After 30 mins we got tired of all the dust and the horse **it and decided to take paths that led us into the wild. Since we were three we decided to use the rules of democracy when ever we came up to a bifurcation in the path. As all of us were so frustrated to find the wild we took the road not taken unanimously and reached an old bungalow that was locked.

We then got the idea of taking an horror thriller movie starring rena and syntax with me playing the suspense role. 2 hours passed by as we tried various angles and various takes and retakes with synti providing all the action by his awesome stunts!! After some thought we named our movie “EVADER” and very soon we were done with the trailors. Don’t ever be surprised if in the near future a hollywood movie named evader turns up at the theatres. :P

The bungalow had awesome swings where i spent around half an hour while synti was busy climbing what ever he could find. After a maid came and started shouting at us, we finally decided to leave, what was an amazing bungalow. We then trekked all the way to a lake and had some fun there for about an hour. Rena and synti tried some luck on a few games which they lost terribly (:P). I then tried my hand in it and won 2 Dairy Milks.

@Synti: lol max the way you tried those games !!!

After our stomachs started complaining we decided to call it a day and reach matheran. Another 30 mins trek and we were at a restaurant eating our lunch !! After the 90 mins lunch (thanks to rena) we started again for a 3 km trek to catch the road to find a ride back to Neral. Assuming it was just a 30 min walk we started our way back at 6. We dragged our bodies along the train track in search of the road. 30 mins passed by and the sun set leaving us in total darkness. We had no one in front of us, but we kept going on in some hope. Another half an hour passed by and still there was no sight of any habitation.

We started imagining the worse. After sometime we heard a few footsteps and looked back to see some more people. I got a new lease of life, was so happy to see some one behind! We were then guided to the destination in about 15 mins!! Within 5 mins we got a taxi back to Neral, from where we returned home at 10:30, with legs aching bad. All in all it was an awesome experience visiting a place that I hope will remain pristine untouched by vehicles.

I dunno the exact reason why Kerala is considered as “Gods own country”. It could be because of the almost equal populations of Muslims, Hindus and Christians; or it could be because of what you are realize as you read through this post!
Taking my first break from work at Morgan Stanley early December, I decided to take a holiday with my parents to the Andaman. As the air tickets were too costly and we did not plan way ahead, we decided to take a 5 day tour of Kerala. Now that sis, mom, dad and I stayed at four different places, we decided to meet at Chennai. We all flew to chennai on 12th Dec’09. I got the oppurtunity to see IIT (where i had fun for the past few years) again! We had an early morning flight on 13th morning to catch to Kochi/Ernakulam/Cochin.
We reached Kochi at around 10:00 Am in what was my first bi-plane looking flight. It was my first flight with the Mallya’s brand. We were treated with a mildly warm sun rays and a rush of cool breeze so gentle that you instantly fall in love with it! Dad had arranged for a vehicle for our entire trip. Surprisingly the driver spoke good English unlike at any other place in India. I then realized  i am in the state with 100% literacy rate.
We started off towards the nilgiris to munnar. We drove for about an hour and still there were houses all along the road! I asked the driver whether we were still in Cochin and to my surprise we were 100 kms away from kochi. Village after village, town after town, there was no end to this continuous line of houses on both sides of the road. Half an hour later we reached the foot hills of the nilgiris, from where the number of houses slowly started to dwindle.

The roads started to get narrower as we climbed up the mountains and the driver started to drive even faster. My heart was in my mouth every time he took a hair pin curve at 40kmph. The Scenery was awesome with lush green forests and many waterfalls along the way to Munnar. We stopped at every waterfall we could possibly see and finally reached Munnar in the afternoon. We then went to a resort 40 km away from Munnar, where we decided to call it a day and take rest.
The resort was awesome and was located on the top of a hill. You get an awesome view of the valley from the balcony. Pretty soon the sky was filled with vibrant colors. The view was spectacular.

After having my supper, i dozed off. I was woken up pretty early the next morning. We had breakfast and started off on a road parallel to one of the three streams (MUN-NAR) that converged at Munnar. On the way we came across a flower nursery, to take a quick tour we went inside the nursery. The flowers in the early morning dew were a photographer’s dream. I set off enthusiastically taking pics of each and every flower, until my family got bored and decided to leave without me.

Link to pics from Kerala on PICASA
We then stopped at a small dam (Mattupetty Dam) along the way. The view from the dam was amazing with the clear skies, the lush green mountains in the background and the pale blue water. The road ahead of the dam started to get more picturesque as we progressed up the hill. We were surrounded by tea estates all along the way. Very soon we came to the end of public road, a place called the top station. It was named because it was the highest point on the railway route for a very very long time. The SH18 from Munnar to Kodaikanal was closed as it went along one of the most treacherous jungles in south India. It is incidentally the highest motor able road in south India. It was built by the British as an escape route in case Japanese invaded south India.
On our way back we had to stop in the middle of the road as a rain bearing cloud was passing by. The visibility was as worse as 1 meter. The cloud was trying to get past the mountain peak. We could feel the water droplets gently as the cloud passed by. After a while it started to get dark, as early as 4 PM. We started back to our resort. By the time we reached Munnar it was close to 6. We went straight back to the resort, as it was getting very very cold once the sun set.
The next day we set off towards Alleppey. We wanted to spend a night on the house boat. On the way we went to the Vaikom Shiva temple. It is one of the oldest temples of Kerala built in a typical Kerala style by the Travancore kings. We were allowed inside the temple only after we removed all the clothes on the upper body. After a while we were on our way to Alleppey. The driver suggested we take the house boat at Kumarakkom instead, as it was a holiday season and all the house boats would be costlier.
We somehow managed to get a decent sized house boat for 6500 rupees (for a day, all meals inclusive). We got to eat freshly cooked fish and traditional Kerala food. We set sail along the back waters of Kumarakkom along the river completely surrounded by lush green paddy fields. As we sailed along, we saw many other house boats (some of them very very huge) along the way. We sailed for more than 2 hours and somewhere in the middle, we ventured into the fields and had fresh coconut water. It was soon sunset and a few minutes later we docked our boat close to the paddy fields.
The night was kind of miserable with all sorts of insects, flies and mosquitoes. We had to get our boat covered by a thick sheet of canvas to survive these insects (:-\). This meant we were locked inside with an old TV. Luckily it had a few movies loaded up on the VCD player, which we watched as we had dinner (yummy vegetarian Kerala food). We were all tired travelling throughout the day, so we were fast asleep.
Early in the morning my mom woke me up for a picture perfect sunrise. The sky was all orange and the water standstill. I could easily see the reflection of the coconut trees in the river water. Early in the morning, one could see the fishermen set up their nets with hope of a good catch. We could also see some divers collecting valuable shells and precious stones from the river bed. We set sail back to where we started and enjoyed a good breakfast along the way. We were treated to awesome idly along with sambhar and chutney. The entire backwaters were gleaming like gold thanks to the early morning sun. The weather was warm and we were treated to gentle winds as we sailed along. Along the way we saw amazing resorts built by the backwaters, including the Taj resort.

Soon after we landed at Kumarakkom, we started off towards Guruvayur to see the very famous Krishna temple there. We reach guruvayoor around lunch. Since it was lunch time also at the temple, we had to wait 2 hours before we could get the darshan. The temple looks very very grand from the outside and with the sabarimala tourists coming in large numbers, the temple was crowded. In the evening we went to a nearby beach, but failed to get a glimpse of the sunset. Later on we had dinner and left to Cochin, where we had booked our night stay at the presidency hotel.
The final day of the trip was spent roaming on the streets of Cochin/Ernakulum/Kochi. We did some shopping and then hopped onto a boat ride near marine road. We got a good glimpse of the Port there and the naval ship building yards. After some fun time at sea, we retired back to the hotel, and were on our way back to the airport. By night we reached Chennai and from there we were on our way back to Vijayawada.

Just two days after I underwent one of my toughest day both mentally and physically in the hills of Nagala, I was tempted again for the next challenge, a cycling trip to Mahabalipuram and back with Chennai trekking club. I always loved cycling and ever since I heard that a group of seniors at hostel went to mahabs on cycle, I always wanted to do that.

I was pretty confident about the trip as i had enough experiences with cycling trips unlike the trek last week. The plan was to leave chennai before we got struck with the city traffic especially the annoying engineering college buses that literally go in a parade on the OMR every morning. Mayur, Bhargav and me decided to go ahead with the trip until Mayur decided to drop the idea 2 days before.

Well aware of the troubles we were to encounter during the course of the long trip, I wanted to make sure I had the perfect cycle and gear to make it through without much damage to myself. I was lucky to find a junior with the perfect bicycle for the trip. With a few trials the previous night i was all ready to leave the next morning even though my thigh muscles were still complaining of pain from the previous trekking experience.

I got up the next morning only to find that Bhargav was again lazy enough to drop at the last minute. That meant i had to be alone again. I was lucky then to find that one of my junior, Sritej, was also eager about the trip and decided to come along. So my trip had finally begun when i started from my institute @ 6 in the morning. We took the OMR (Old Mahabalipuram Road) to Mahabalipuram because we thought it would be more habitable all along just in case any one of us wanted some help along the way. I was accompanied by 3 more guys and 2 girls with one more guy following us on his bike.

Our desire to leave the city before the traffic starts was short lived when most of them prefering to break every 5 kms. We had just done 20 kms in the first 2 hours, nearly 27 kms more to go. It was near 8 and the sun threatening to come out any moment. And then after some inspirational words we decided to take the next stop only at mahabalipuram. Me and sritej started out ahead trying to set the pace.

The weather was luckily awesome for the next 2 hours with the cool breeze blowing across from the sea. The sun mostly behind the clouds but the occasional peep from the dense clouds was never a problem. We kept moving along with a good pace doing 25 kms in the next couple of hours with no one complaining of a break. At nearly 10 we were at the outskirts of mahabalipuram.
We had done nearly 47 kms in 4 hours thanks to the good tailwind that blew along. After reaching Mahabs the entire team was very happy. None of them had actually thought of making it through to Mahabs.

We then had Brunch at Dhabha express. I was very hungry after the continuous cycling for near 2 hours. The food there was really tasty especially the fish which they nearly cooked for an hour :D . After we finished eating it was nearly 12. We then had a photography session at the Panch Rathas and then at the Shore temple, not to mention all the various the various angles tried out by Nidhi :)

http://picasaweb.google.com/enidhi/MahabalipuramCycling?authkey=DRpV4LdRC7E#

We wanted to reach chennai early before it got dark and before we were at the mercy of all the lorry drivers who drive with their high beams on, making it impossible to see. We started from the Shore temple at 1pm along the ECR (East Coast Road). After cycling for an hour or so on the ECR, we reach the tiger cave where we decided to take a nap for an hour. With the cool breeze I dozed off underneath the shade of the pine trees. It felt like heaven sleeping on the smooth grass with the breeze tickling you.

I had no mood to get up and get back to chennai,but my team decided to start our way back. We started again at 3 with nearly 40 kms to go to reach chennai. The breeze started to pick-up so did the sun as we threaded along. Very soon i realised everyone other than me and sritej were finding it difficult to cycle along the heavy headwind that was strong enough to push you back every time a bus or lorry went by. I had to literally apply the breaks every time a bus went by. After an hour of continuous cycling i then realised i just had done near 6 and half kms. I also realised that my team was now finding it difficult to catch up with my pace. I slowly started to loose every one other than sritej who was also struggling with the new 8700 bucks cycle that the trip organiser had bought. It was too heavy for her, so Sritej had to do all the donkey work trying to get the cycle home.

After another half an hour into the trip me and sritej were way ahead of the team with them not in our sights anymore. We did not want to stop risking cramps if in case we did. We kept going along with our slow pace fighting the wind much more than anything. Slowly my muscles started complaining and Sritej who was now comfortable with low gears of the costly bike started to pull off. Very soon he too was out of sight. It then started to get too lonely with no one in sight and the wind now punishing me than ever before. But I kept on going with all the determination of making it. I was now sweating terribly even with all the high winds that were blowing along the ECR. I had no other way but to stop every now and then to buy water and prevent me from dehydrating.

Every now and then I could see Nidhi transporting my team on his bike one by one way ahead of me. But I used to catch up with them in a few minutes and then proceed along. After some determined 2 hours of cycling now i was near the chennai outskirts, with nearly 17 kms to go. I had finally caught up with Sritej at Mayajal. We decided now that it was not sensible to wait any more but to carry on the tempo riding that we were doing. All my muscles had literally given up by then, luckily so had the wind. As soon as we entered the City there was no more wind which enabled us to pick up our pace. The only things to trouble us were the frequent stopping due to traffic hold up near kottivakam and Tiruvanmyur.

In the next one hour i had done nearly 16kms and i was in sights of Tidel park. All of my body was starting to ache by the time i had made to the Tidel park. I then got to know that the entire team was nearly one hour down the road. I decided to call it a day without waiting for them and dragged my body all the way back to insti. After a couple of stretching exercises that were suggested to me by my friends I could get a peaceful night sleep. I was terribly afraid that i would get up to see myself in a disdainful state. Nothing of that sort had happened, thanks to all the exercises that i had been doing. All in all it was a wonderful trip with finally only three of the initally 7 making it without using Nidhi’s bike. All along the journey I kept wondering why people kept staring me every now and then. Later looking into the pics I realised what the reason was.. LOL :P