Exploring Madikere

This morning we decided to explore Madikere a bit before we leave here tomorrow.

The closest place to visit and one in the middle of nature is Abbey or Abbi Falls about 20 minutes away from our resort.

Coorg Au Naturalé

A long winding road that always leads somewhere interesting…

It’s a jungle out there…isn’t that fantastic!

Serpentine and yet completely harmless..

Star and moon gazing through a Dobsonian telescope.

Road Trip: Day Three

We took in the sights around Mysore a bit and then drove to Madikeri in Coorg. Less pictures from the drive this time around since TO was in a *major* snit from being denied a Choco Shot at a place we stopped to refuel ourselves and get some caffeine. Apparently if you deny a child his chocolate, the world explodes in lava and misery and there’s no kernel of joy and hope left anywhere. *rolls eyes*

Take a look at the grandeur of the Mysuru Royal Palace.

Road Trip: Day Two

After spending a fairly cozy night in Bangalore ( I have to remind myself to say Bengaluru; it doesn’t come easy) we started out for Mysore this morning and the road was fantastic! While Google was showing us a shorter option, Red did his due diligence and found a route that was slightly longer but the roads were FAB!

National Highway 75

Most of us, me included, usually talk about corruption in governments or wonder where our tax payer monies are going but once you start traveling by road you’ll see how beautifully the infrastructure has and is coming along across the country.

With plenty of good clean places to eat in along the way, this route is one that has fairly heavy traffic even for a Sunday but given the wide lanes, it’s no difficulty to drive here.

Road Trip: Day One

Red loves to drive. The longer the distance, the better. TO luckily has his spring break starting today…and yes while it *is* a funny concept in Hyderabad where we have Hot, Wet and Cold as the primary seasons; it’s a good opportunity for us to plan getaways.

TO diving into the bag of snacks within minutes of starting from home.

Our destination this time around isn’t Goa. Not yet anyhow, although with us you never know. We just might get a hankering for the pristine beaches of Varca and end up driving there impromptu. Anyhoo…Coorg is where we’re headed in a few days with pitstops at Bangalore and Mysore. Or Bengaluru and Mysuru to be more precise.

We drove leisurely enough, packed to the gills with snacks, comfy clothes and just took in the scenery of hills and undulating plains which merged into flat ones within the blink of an eye.

With stops at good, clean places for breakfast and lunch and being pleasantly surprised at the quality of service, food and overall lack of rusticness, the first leg of the trip’s been just dandy so far. Stay tuned for more from the travel diaries. Ta!

Hyderabad Darshan: Sudha Cars Museum

If you end up restricting your visits to places outskirts of the city and avoid the semi-annoying and slightly difficult to drive in traffic of the Old City, you will miss out on this little wonder that’s tucked away amidst the constructions of the new flyovers and metro stations coming up all over Hyderabad.

Built with care and most importantly, love by Mr.K Sudhakar, this unique car museum has been featured in Ripley’s Believe It Or Not!, the Guinness World Records and our own Limca Book of Records. And while it could definitely be better maintained, it is still worth a visit to see the power of one man’s imagination, creativity and passion.

World Tourism Day

A Trip Down Nostalgia Lane

A year back on this day, I was standing in line to board a flight to Dubai. I would then catch another flight to Barcelona and in a day meet my closest pal in the whole world and do whatever the heck we felt like!

I wasn’t feeling like a child on the first day of school but there were some butterflies because I was travelling alone internationally for the first time and that too for a longish distance.

And for the first time in a while I wasn’t shooing along a child, managing more bags than I wanted to or promising junk food and artery-hardening gratification to a small human while I shooed him along.

The journey was blissful. Red had made sure I was traveling in more comfort than I usually do and I’m glad he did because I love my creature comforts and inside my head I revel in putting on a snooty voice saying, “Don’t mind if I do” when offered a glass of champagne from a stewardess.

My closest passenger was an elderly Arab gentleman who seemed disturbed that I was tucked up to the chin in a blanket, drinking alcohol and enjoying the gratuitous violence of the John Wick series. He kept clicking his tongue, shaking his head and probably praying for my lost soul.

My trip was eventful in many ways but the only thing that keeps coming back to me after a year is that I was supremely happy!

Walking along the streets of Barcelona and Madrid with one of the people I love the most; taking in the new sights, enjoying the crisp 6-7 degrees Celcius (44 F ) temperature and enjoying a semblance of winter for a change.

The food, the language of the people and the sightseeing just helped round off the most memorable trip ever! And I’m raring to go back!

Salut!

Always Choose An Experience…

For everything else there *is* Mastercard. Or Visa as the case may be.

Let’s start with a bit of a context for this statement to make sense to those it hasn’t. My father’s a career banker. He has hopped all over the country before retirement and taken us with him. And while many don’t like the gypsy life, if you’re born into it; you don’t know any different.

In every place we lived in, local sightseeing spots, some out of the way spots- nothing was left to be explored. And during holidays, we explored places which were doable (7-8 hours in usually a white Ambassador without AC) and that was not only an eminently acceptable way of spending time as a family- it was the norm. No place was left out- religious ones, historical ones, architecturally renowned ones…nothing. As a result, traveling was understood as what “one did” because something was out there and it was meant to be seen.

Haldighaati

After the initial bouts of motion sickness passed, we would sleep turn by turn. My mother would always be very strict about nodding off while sitting next to a driver, those being the days before airbags and seatbelt’s in India, and anyhow who needed to snooze would need to head to the backseat and another person would replace them up front.

If the terrain was unendingly dull and unchanging, I would be asked to play word games or just conk off till we reached the next rest stop. Stocking up on a list of junk food curated by the child was an unheard concept till our generation became parents and the kids became the ones who dictated how the holidays would be spent.

And while having money was an enabler then, is one now and will always continue to be one, the focus wasn’t ever on going to “good places”, staying in a posh hotel or having a pool to jump into at the end of the journey. It was all about the parents opening the eyes of their child to everything they could about the country they lived in because the knowledge could help them in a future geography test. Kidding…

Chhota Imambara, Lucknow

I remember very little about Lucknow- I think I saw it as a toddler. I have vague recollections of seeing goldfish somewhere and my mother said it was in the Chhota Imambara.

When we moved to Delhi, Appu Ghar was a favourite that I got to indulge in infrequently. But we went to Surajkund quite a few times and it was fun for a preschooler!

Surajkund, Faridabad

I remember skipping and jumping on the steps and being told to be careful and not fall into the dirty, stagnant water-yes..that was my mother’s worry. I don’t think she’d have minded a dunking in free-flowing water much.

Trek to the now-visible Shiva temple in Koliyak Beach, Bhavnagar

I have lovely memories of Koliyak in Bhavnagar as an 8 year old and even better ones as a 20 year old on a return trip to the place.

The Queens Botanical Gardens, the Orchid shows, the trips to The World Trade Center, Bronx Aquarium and of course Coney Island were par for course since those are outright sight seeing spots but those have been the kind we visited the least.

We would still hop in the car and take off for whichever river, dam, temple, palace was worth seeing-never mind how far. The further it was just meant the earlier you got out of bed to start off. And over the years indelible memories have been formed at Menal during the monsoons and at Bundi which we just swung by since it was “close by”.

Of course the memories of eating pipping hot mirchi bhajjiyas in the pouring rain, on the side of the road also stands out vividly. Our driver, Chhattarsingh ji used to drive a tank in the army before he retired and joined the bank and the car used to be a toy in his hands. He loved to take us around the different tourists spots and would never say no to a hot cuppa!

Palitana Temple

We’ve done pav-bhaaji picnics sitting near the Mahi River, eaten deliciously unique cold curd set in stone plates after climbing up 7000 steps to the Palitana temple. I’ve travelled through pouring rains on a Kinetic that clearly was more than up to the task to see the Champaner fort and then semi-trekked up to the extremely crowded Pavagadh hills. And it’s all been terribly interesting to say the least!

The ruins of the Narasimha Swamy temple, Hampi

The ruins of Dholavira, the terracotta temples in Bishnupur, the Gol Gumbaz up close, wandering around lazily in Bidar fort, crossing over on the ferry in Hampi and coming face to face with him- cannot be replaced!

Gol Gumbaz, Karnataka

In this year and in the months to come, any sort of travel may seem like an indulgence because of the risks associated with it and yet people will and are stepping out.

They are opting for road trips, choosing their next travel experience with more diligence and curiosity than ever before because traveling was never something that anyone was told they couldn’t do. Staying at home under duress was never a condition we had to wrap our heads around.

So when given the option to indulge- materialistically, gastronomically or whichever -ally it may be…try and choose an experience related to travel. It’ll stay with you always and you’ll be replaying bits and pieces of it in your head over the years to come.

Cannot put a price on that!

The Throwback Blog Post

I know the references to Corona-impacted travel have been overdone, but with no clarity in sight about future travels, modes of recreation etc people are harking back to the good old days. Sadly for some of us they were just a few months ago. Check out my posts on my last trip here and here.

Social media platforms and photo-sharing sites have cottoned onto the idea of ‘Memories’. What were you doing on this particular day in the past. Say 3 or 4 years ago. And since our smartphones are an extension of our hands these days, most of us were doing a heckuva lot and the pictures speak for themselves.

Our family had taken our first holiday together to the mountains of India. The Kumaon part of the Himalayas to be more specific. TO had done the entire trip via trains and road and was amazed at the amount of things he saw.

A flight ends up having an amount of sameness to it after a point. And so do the actions associated with it. Go to the airport, check-in, keep an eye on the kid to make sure he doesn’t wander off, buy him KFC stuff before boarding all the while promising that yes, once we board, he would still get his Cup O’ Noodles as well and possibly some juice too!

There’s rarely any drama on a flight. Loads of it while traveling by trains and right from the time you enter the railway station. It’s a different kind of world altogether. With everything from livestock to fresh produce to wailing kids to frantic people and in India, usually a yelling patriarch of a family herding everyone in the direction of the train which is about to leave.

Railway stations would make for lovely dioramas I’ve always thought. But enough of that later. Onto our journey and why I woke up feeling nostalgic.

My child has traveled in trains before. With people and prehistoric pets both, he’s not fussy, but he’s not landed in a mess of a station where people are pushing and shoving like it’s their goal in life (aka Nizamuddin in the rains and Delhi people doing what they do best!). Neither has he looked out a window and seen mountain tips in the distance and taken in cleaner, fresher air all around him.

In 2017 we took a very memorable trip to Binsar, Uttarakhand. Red and I had been around the area before but for TO it was really quite an adventure. The poor thing emptied out the contents of his stomach all the way to the resort because of a lengthy diversion we had to take due to some road repairs. And he bore it like a champ. Of course, I defy any child to be like a parrot on steroids after having puked continuously for 3 hours. That he was still semi-bright eyed was good enough for us.

The resort was lovely. With mists hanging off the trees, big-ass monkeys threatening us from disturbing their morning rituals and lush green views of valleys and mountain peaks. The local cuisine was quite different from what we were used to back home but both Red and TO have simple needs- their idea of soul food basically forms the foundation of all Indian meals across the length and breadth of the country.

We stayed in a hut on stilts and I had the camera set up on the tripod the entire time to take pictures of birds and long-tailed ancestors who kept dropping by to steal our food.

TO showed his chops by giving Red and I a thorough drubbing in Monopoly and the three of us cuddled together under the blankets while it rained and turned the whole area a bit gloomy but pretty nonetheless. He did zip lining from a fairly high point and yelled in joy just when he landed safe on his feet. I, with my usual aim and focus, used the rifled to pop balloons but possibly knocked a few leaves off their stalks. You know…the good stuff!

A family trip is rarely without drama. Especially with hyper people like myself in the mix. But every so often we stop to take a breath and look around us and just take it all in. And those moments are what you remember one fine day when you wake up under semi- house arrest and longing to hit the road.

Here’s to better times for everyone. May you have your travel dreams fulfilled!

Check out these links from my Insta feed for some images of our trip: