• Hikes - Nature's Wonders - Places - Treks

    Keep Walking: Naina Range and Naina Peak Trail

    Its only after 3 or 4 days into our Uttarakhand stay (Shyamkhet), we had the wisdom to search Google for ‘trekking trails near Nainital’. We had initially dismissed Nainital as a crowded tourist destination. While it might be true, there are a few trekking trails one can enjoy away from the crowds. Naina Peak (earlier called Cheeni Peak) trek was one such. The trail starts from a point at the Nainital–Kilbury Road, which itself is a narrow road that leads to Kilbury and Pangot Wildlife and Bird Sanctuary. The forest department team issued an entry ticket at the entrance and…

  • Hikes - Places

    Keep Walking: Walking/Hiking @Bhowali Range

    (Most often, a good part of our vacations or breaks are spent walking and hiking around the places we stay. Keep Walking is a series of posts about our walks and hikes.) March 2024 was another month in the hills, with two days for remote work (WFH – Work From Hills) and remaining five days for trekking, hiking, and long walks. Himalaica website had some details of nearby trails and the caretakers were also familiar with the area (though they were a little surprised with our appetite for walks). On the day we reached, we had only half a day,…

  • Adventure - Hikes - Nature's Wonders - Places - Sanctuaries - Treks

    Glenmore Forest Trails

    The welcome and information board at Glenmore Forest Park visitor centre says ‘Ancient forests, high mountains and golden shores’. We had just returned from the not-so-high mountains (Cairngorms Trek) and was now looking forward to a forest trail walk. Glenmore is one of the largest forests within the Cairngorms National Park. Forest parks are well maintained by the ‘Forestry and Land’ division of the Scotland government. And there are many trails for hikes and treks. Scotland, interestingly has the ‘Scottish Access Rights’, which gives the individuals the freedom to go anywhere and enjoy the outdoors in Scotland. This is completely…

  • Adventure - Hikes - Nature's Wonders - Places

    Trekking @Cairngorms Mountains

    “In every walk with nature one receives far more than one seeks” – John Muir John Muir, adventurer, explorer, naturalist, and considered to be the Father of National Parks (his life long efforts are behind the conservation of many a National Park in the United States), was a Scottish national. At the age of 11, in 1849, he migrated from Scotland to Americas along with his parents and siblings. It was a fitting tribute when in 2003 Cairngorms was declared a National Park, it was inaugurated by his great-great-grand daughter, Liz Hanna. “For all its tempestuous nature, the Cairngorms is…

  • Heritage - History - Places

    The Flying Scotsman @ Aviemore

    Aviemore was, without a doubt, the most memorable part of our Scotland trip. Our pre-travel research with Google Maps as the starting point and National Parks as the destination turned out well this time too. Cairngorms National Park covers almost the central part of the Scottish highlands. At over 4,500 sq kms, it is the largest National Park in the United Kingdom and is also rated by National Geographic as one of Top 20 Places to Visit in the World. The Cairngorms National Park website is the best resource that will help anyone planning their trip. It certainly helped us.…

  • Beaches - Heritage - History - Hotels - Places

    Tarangambadi (Tranquebar) – The Place of Singing Waves

    When the Danes landed in the east coast near Tarangambadi, admiral Ove Gjedde perhaps felt a sense of tranquillity. With a rhythmic, but soothing sound of crashing waves, the endless blue sky and fresh air, it could not have been otherwise. The origins of the name ‘Tarangambadi’ is not known, except that it means ‘place of the singing waves’. Well, tranquillity might not be the reason why Ove called it Tankebar. But that’s what we felt when we reached there on a December afternoon. Clear skies (which remained for most part of the 3 days we stayed there), the constant…

  • Homestays - People - Places

    Beyond Basics @Kuflon Basics

    Let the name Kuflon Basics not deceive you. It is anything but basic. Its rich. Rich in fresh air. Rich in greens, berries, and wilderness. Rich in spaces for relaxed reading, strolling, or doing nothing. Rich in taste (of the amazing home-cooked food). And above all, rich in the warmth of the consummate hosts—Anil and Shree, and Shifu, their 5 year old daughter. Everything that needs to be said about Kuflon has already been said. Every single soul who has stayed at Kuflon Basics so far has been touched in some way or other. Since 2004! The three large volumes…

  • Places

    Running in Dehradun

    We had one day in Dehradun, before we proceeded up the hills for our Dayara Bugyal trek. And our request to our friend and host in the city, Tapas was to take us some place where we could do long walks or even run. He didn’t have to think much and soon we landed at the sprawling campus of the Forest Research Institute (FRI). A 450-acre campus with many long stretches of internal roads/pathways and a huge lawn (where PM Modi once did a massive Yoga event) is a runner’s/jogger’s dream. The central building in itself is massive, which combines…

  • People - Places

    Handmade Homes and Homemade Meals

    First, identify the place/area to go. Then zoom into Google Maps to see the homestays, hostels, and hotels around. Shortlist a few and check for their websites and reviews, if any. This has been our way of finding stay options for a while. David Scott Trail trek was a key item in our Meghalaya itinerary. And we scoured the Google Maps to find a stay option in and around Mawphlang as it’s the starting point for the trek. Thus MaplePine Farm Stay happened to be our stay for two days in our week-long Meghalaya trip. James, the owner of MaplePine,…

  • Hikes - Nature's Wonders - People - Places - Treks

    Augustin’s Question

    ‘Sir, do you think we are expensive or cheap?’ When Augustin asked this question, we thought it was a generic question about the cost of food, travel and stay. And we said it is neither, but reasonable and moderate. We were on our seventh day of our trip to Meghalaya, and Augustin, our taxi driver and self-appointed guide, was leading us through a short trek to yet another stunning waterfall, the Prut falls. He then explained what he meant was about the entry fees to all these magnificent natural locations, which combines natural beauty and potential adventure. These fees ranged…

  • Adventure - Hikes - Nature's Wonders - Places - Sanctuaries - Treks

    Travel in 2020: The End

    (Also read Travel in 2020: The Beginning and Travel in 2020: The Middle) We often hear in literature or in general about how insignificant we feel as a tiny speck in this vast cosmos. Travellers speak about that especially in the context of the Himalayas or other mountain ranges. One doesn’t need to go that far to feel our cosmic insignificance. All one needs to be at any spot by the banks of the huge Shivsagar lake, the backwaters formed by the mighty Koyna dam. More on Koyna later. The final trip of 2020 was the perhaps the most looked…

  • Beaches - Hikes - Hotels - Places - Sanctuaries

    Travel in 2020: The Middle

    (Before The Middle, there was a beginning. Read Travel in 2020: The Beginning. After The Middle, there is also an end. Read Travel in 2020: The End) In September, we made the first outing. Sometime in August, many hotels and resorts in nearby places in Mumbai had started to open. After a lot of deliberations, we decided to go to Lonavala, which otherwise wouldn’t have been in our consideration at all, unless it is a base for a trek. A first time visit to Upper Deck Resort and a 2-night stay was worth it, after locking up for months together…

  • Adventure - Heritage - Hikes - History - Nature's Wonders - Places - Sanctuaries

    A Hampi Itinerary – Something for Everyone

    Never perhaps in the history of the world has such havoc been wrought, and wrought suddenly, on so splendid a city, teeming with a wealthy and industrious population in the full plentitude of prosperity one day, and on the next seized, pillaged, and reduced to ruins, amid scenes of savage massacre and horrors begging description. –Robert Sewell, A Forgotten Empire. History and mythology intertwines effortlessly as local guides narrates the story of Hampi,  once a world class city and trade centre of 14th century, built and ruled by the kings spanning four dynasties starting with Harihara and Bukka. The mythological…

  • Places

    Monsoon trips around Satara – Thoseghar, Urmodi, Sajjangad

    (This is slightly modified version of one of our articles originally published in Mid-Day, Mumbai edition) . The past few years have witnessed an exodus of tourists to Satara’s famous Kaas Plateau. As a result, other scenic parts around Satara like Urmodi, Thoseghar etc tend to go unnoticed. During and post monsoon, this region, like most of Maharashtra, is painted in different shades of green, with multicoloured flowers, gurgling streams, and roaring waterfalls. We chose to take the lesser-driven roads around Satara that were in good condition, thanks to the work done by the Pradhan Mantri Gram Sadak Yojana (PMGSY).…

  • Places

    The Nilgiris you wouldn’t want to see

    This May, Indian Express carried an article on Shimla’s worst water crisis. In many ways, it represented the state of affairs in all our hill stations. We could replace Shimla with Mussoorie, Darjeeling, Manali, Mahabaleshwar, Ooty or Coonoor in the Nilgiris. And, perhaps soon Leh-Ladakh as well. More of us are taking to the roads now. Many once-remote areas are now connected and accessible. More of us are sharing photos and stories online, inspiring many more to travel. All at the cost of natural resources in all these places. In May itself, Arre, an online platform, featured an interesting and…

  • Birdwatching - Hikes - Hotels - Nature's Wonders - Places - Weekend Stays

    Atwood at Coonoor

    ‘Ooty or Coonoor‘ and ‘Ooty vs Coonoor’ seem to be a common search phrase on Google. And the advice is predictable. Preferably stay away from Ooty city and stay in the serene, calm environs of Coonoor. This probably was the not the case a few years back—before Ooty became city—one that can match even Coimbatore, as mentioned by a local guy. We did not have to choose since our trip was to Coonoor, based on recommendation from Rustik Travel. Atwood at Coonoor was the picture-perfect, serene, and calm place to relax for a few days. Nestled among tea plantations on…

  • Cityscapes - Places

    The Turia River Bed Walk, Valencia, Spain

    The ancient river of Turia, right through the Valencia city, would have gone down the history for all the wrong reasons, if the city administration had gone ahead with its initial idea of converting it into a giant highway system through the heart of the city. A river getting converted into a highway, a mistake history would never have pardoned. Thankfully, that did not happen. Turia, the river that ran through Valencia city and drained to the Mediterranean Sea, had a devastating flood in the year 1957 (The Great Flood of Valencia), which changed its course, and well, the course…

  • Places

    One-and-a-half days in Valencia, Spain

    So what should you do in Valencia if you have one and a half days at your disposal? This is what we did. Since we love exploring cities, we planned our stay closer to the historical city, so that we can walk around. We reached Valencia, just before lunch time on a high-speed train from Barcelona. Day 1 – Half day – We explored the historical city covering some of these places: Placa-de la Reina is a town square, with a small, beautiful garden at the centre and many coffee shops and eateries around.   Valencia Cathedral and La Miguelete…

  • Cityscapes - Places

    Valencia Oceanografic, Spain – In Pictures

    (Read the post ‘Turia River Bed Walk‘ and ‘One and half days in Valencia‘ before this post) The Oceanografic in Valencia, Spain is part of the larger City of Arts & Sciences. An marine/aquatic museum, the Oceanografic is the largest marine aquarium in Europe. To say that this is one of the most fascinating science & entertainment destination might be an understatement. The Oceanografic has multiple sections, housed in different buildings, with each section representing a different eco-system or habitat. Mediterranean, polar oceans, islands, tropical seas, wetlands, red sea, mangrove swamps, marshland areas etc.  The aquarium houses over 500 species…

  • Cityscapes - Places

    The City of Arts & Sciences, Valencia – In Pictures

    (Read the post ‘Turia River Bed Walk‘ & ‘One and half days in Valencia‘, before checking this out.) The City of Arts & Sciences is an architectural complex with multiple buildings at the  eastern end of the Turia river bed. The complex includes L’hemisferic – a planetarium and laserium, an interactive science museum spread across three floors, a landscaped walk, an opera house for performing arts, a cable stayed bridge and Oceanografic – a marine aquarium, the largest in Europe. If you want to cover all the buildings, provide for a little more than a half day. Tickets for different…

  • Nature's Wonders - Places

    The Night Life In Amboli – With Herpetofauna In Company

    Amboli has vibrant nightlife. Or so we heard. And we were looking forward for a glimpse of it. The wettest place in Maharashtra has its charms during the day, too. In 3 days, we could enjoy both. The term biodiversity has become a well-worn expression, used by all and sundry without really understanding or appreciating its intensity and depth. For some, it means wilderness or a patch of greenery. (What about our precious deserts?) We even have senior forest officers thinking of building artificial nests for birds displaced out of their natural habitat when trees are cut for widening highways.…

  • Birdwatching - Flora - Hikes - Nature's Wonders - People - Places

    The Renegades of Jilling

    (Originally published in The Indian Express Sunday Magazine, 21st May 2017) “What if you two drive off a cliff and die? All business is now done through internet and smartphones; and I have hardly learned to send an SMS,” Steve Lall said aloud with wonder. Apparently, he put this question to his daughter and son-in-law, to whom he had handed over the reins of Jilling Estate. A self-described renegade with 72 summers behind him, Lall still laughs like a child and one can’t resist his infectious energy and warmth— never mind that he’s in a wheelchair, just off a three-month…

  • Cityscapes - Places

    Running in Ahmedabad – Sabarmati Riverfront

    It was day 1 of our 15-day Mumbai–Rajasthan road trip. Our planned overnight stay was at Palanpur, Gujarat, a good 2.5 hours drive from Ahmedabad. But like in any trips, some things had to go wrong. Most often, such twists end up being good. The construction of a mega-bridge over the Narmada at Baruch meant a huge traffic snarl and a loss of more than 2 hours. So plans were redrawn and overnight halt became Ahmedabad. A good deal from Makemytrip and the prospect of a riverfront hotel landed us in LemonTree. We had heard a lot about Sabarmati Riverfront…

  • Arts & Culture - Cityscapes - People - Places

    A Slice From A Weekend Break in Delhi

    “So will you relocate to Delhi?” Our friend asked before seeing us off after our three-day stay and attempt to explore the Delhi urban sprawl. The trip was no means a recce of Delhi, though we were relatively open to re-look at Delhi with a fresh pair of eyes. (But relocation is not in cards for sure.) The Delhi versus Mumbai question has been a good fodder for profound debates and bar sprawls. From as profound as ‘Delhi has History, Mumbai has Civilisation’ to as mundane as ‘the size of my toilet in Delhi is same as the total size…

  • Places

    Glimpses From the ‘Come-Back Year’ of Kala Ghoda Arts Festival 2016

    We haven’t missed Kala Ghoda Arts Festival (KGAF) in the last 11 years. At least a couple of visits to this 9-day festival is a must for us ever since we came to Mumbai. There was a talk of KGAF getting cancelled due to the local residents’ complaints about noise pollution and safety. But we guess the art lovers did all they can for that not to happen. Increased security and fewer loudspeakers became a norm. Wish noise pollution during religious festivals also is handled the same way. Also, after Hindustan Times became the title sponsors, the festival had lost its charm…

  • Cityscapes - Places

    One thing your travel planner will not tell you about Port Blair

    Port Blair is the base for exploring other parts of Andaman & Nicobar Islands. Port Blair has its own attractions apart from the trips to the nearby islands. But while in Port Blair, there is something that you could do, which your travel planner will not tell you. Running. Undulating terrain. Well-laid roads and even better footpath by the sea and minimal traffic. Runners’ dream. The road from the water sports complex till Corbyn’s Cove beach is approximately 5.5 km. A good 11 km if one does up and down. If running by the sea is not your cup of…

  • Flora - Nature's Wonders - Places

    Kuttyadi & Kakkayam – The Dam Tour

    One full day in Kozhikode. Nothing planned. Western Ghats always in mind. So we hired a taxi and set off with a rough idea of where to go but not much about what to expect. Our first stop after an almost 2-hour drive through bad traffic in Kerala’s ‘rurban’ roads was Peruvannamoozhi. This small village has a dam, which is part of the Kuttyadi Irrigation Project. That the dam was open made the visit worth it. It was giddying to watch the water gushing down. The village is beautiful but like any other such villages in Kerala. A small, neglected…

  • Places - Weekend Stays

    Weekend Stays From Mumbai #02 – Mahua Bagh

    Weekend Stays From Mumbai is a series on places to stay for a weekend away from Mumbai. It focuses on the place of stay. Details about the destination are very limited. Note: These are NOT sponsored posts. We paid for these stays and travel 🙂 Mahua Bagh, Nandgaon (Near Murud, Raigad) Mahua Bagh is between Kashid and Murud, 10 km before Murud. It is a farm resort by the sea, on the Konkan coast.  The beach is nothing to write about and is at a short walk from the resort. It is more rocky than sandy. Fairly a large farm…

  • Flora - Nature's Wonders - Places - Sanctuaries

    The Magnetic Dangs

    Our last trip to Dangs district in Gujarat was unplanned. So was the last weekend’s trip. Two consecutive 3-day weekends. A much-longed trip to Bhandardhara in monsoon was planned for the first one. But work commitments came in the way and we had to cancel it. It was too late plan for the second weekend long weekend. So we just packed the bags and drove lazily along the Mumbai–Ahmedabad Highway until evening with a stopover at Dandi. Thus, Surat became the destination of the day. The tidy town deserves a separate post. Next day, we drove to Purna Wildlife Sanctuary/Mahal…

  • Places - Weekend Stays

    Weekend Stays From Mumbai # 01 – Forest Village

    Weekend Stays From Mumbai is a series on places to stay for a weekend away from Mumbai. It focuses on the place of stay. Details about the destination are very limited. Note: These are NOT sponsored posts. We paid for these stays and travel 🙂 Forest Village, Khanvel Forest Village is on the Khanvel–Jawahar road, about 4 km from the Khanvel junction. It is a quiet resort with around six units, and each unit has two self-contained rooms, a central living room, and a very spacious sit-out area. There is a nice lawn just outside the sit-out area. At a…

  • People - Places

    Inventing Destinations: Jana Water Falls, Himachal

    There was a time when tourism began and ended in Manali. Tourists travelled to Rohtang Pass to see snow and do skiing. Rest of Kullu, as or more enchanting as Manali, remained untouched. As Manali became crowded and less charming, nearby villages quickly moved in to use the opportunity. They started promoting tourism in their own villages. One such village is Jana, near Naggar, the former capital of Kullu. The waterfalls was nothing much to admire at the time we visited Jana (in October). However, the drive to the village is picturesque, with deodar, pine, apple trees flanking the meandering road,…

  • Flora - Places

    Sarovaram: A bio-park and some nostalgic thoughts

    The name Sarovaram Bio Park piqued our curiosity, as this is a recent addition to the tourist map of Kozhikode. With a little skepticism about this conservation effort, we decided to check Sarovaram out. In no time, our skepticism vanished as we admired the commendable work. Sarovaram is aimed at protecting the mangroves and green cover in the city. As we moved around inside the park through well-laid pathways flanked by tall trees and thick undergrowth, a stark realization struck us. Sarovaram looks and feels exactly like the places around our homes where we grew up in the 70s and…

  • Places

    Beypore: The Birthplace of Urus

    Even the narrow mud tracks would have myriads of stories to tell. How people of the distant land of Mesopotamia visited this then-buzzing port town and established trade relations as well as personal relations with the natives. How the dhows made by experts of this land, Beypore, an ancient port town near Kozhikode (erstwhile Calicut), was used by Arabs for trading and fishing in the medieval times. We grew up learning about Beypore as part of Kerala history but never visited the place until last year. The trip to Kozhikode was not meant for sightseeing but to visit a friend.…

  • Places - State Tourism Boards

    Maharashtra for Monsoon-Tourism

    (This article was originally published in Mid-Day, June, 11th 2015) Make a big splash for Maharashtra With the rain gods knocking at our doorstep, it’s a matter of time before Maharashtra’s parched landscape comes alive in different shades of green. Undoubtedly, it’s also the best time to explore its forts, valleys and stunning topography. Experts share what our state tourism department can do to showcase our treasures in the best way possible. It’s an open secret that the monsoon is the best time to explore and enjoy Maharashtra. The manner in which the landscape transforms from a dry, dull brown shade…

  • Beaches - Nature's Wonders - Places

    Lombok: Go Beyond Bali, Indonesia

    Indonesia for most travellers begins and ends in Bali. Little do they realize that the Indonesian archipelago has several other stunning islands, too, and Bali’s scenic beauty may fade in comparison to these. Staying away from the crowded Bali was what we wanted, and a friend living Jakarta suggested Lombok. Thus we discovered this fabulous island, and it was worth it.  The 5-hour public ferry to Lombok starts at Padang Bai in Bali. There is also a fast boat service and there are speed boats, too. The ferry comes at a fraction of the cost of other options. Tickets are…

  • Cityscapes - Places

    MarketWatch: The Catania Market, Sicily, Italy

    Catania is the gateway to Sicily as it has one of the international airports in Sicily. Our final destination was Taormina, which is about 55 kms from Catania. However we managed some time to explore the Catania market during our 3-4 day stay in Taormina. This is unlike any other market we visited earlier. We did not buy anything at all, let alone touch a single item on sale, walking and watching the wares (dead and alive) was fun. Here’s a walk through the clean and odourless fish market in Catania. Adjacent lanes have shops that sell groceries, vegetables, and…

  • Arts & Culture - Heritage - History - Places

    The Jain Temple at Sultan Battery, Wayanad

    We had earlier written about the Jain temples in Kerala and Wayanad in particular and also about the connection with the Hindu temples. So, this time when we heard about the Jain temple in Sultan Battery, we decided to have a quick look. The Sultan Battery Jain temple is right at the middle of the town and is maintained by the ASI. After many Jains and Buddhists left Kerala between 800 and 1000 AD, some families seem to have stayed back in Wayanad. Also, it is said that in the 15th century, many businessmen and merchants in the region were of…

  • Birdwatching - Flora - Heritage - Hotels - Places

    Edakkal Hermitage and India’s only Cave Restaurant

    Hermitage, by definition is a remote, small dwelling for living in solitude. Down the the slopes of Ambukuthy hills in Wayanad and near the pre-historic caves of Edakkal, Hermitage seems to be the right name for this resort. Cosy cottages built around boulders and nestled among coffee plants and under the foliage of large trees, the wilderness has a homely feel to it as well. May be because, we grew up in Kerala. Or may be it was the absence of the typical resort like setting with far too many artificial props and service staff running around. The non-intrusive service…

  • Birdwatching - Nature's Wonders - Places - Sanctuaries

    In the Land of Jungle Book – Kanha National Park

    (This article was originally published in Mid-Day Travel section) Wildlife safaris are always full of expectations, surprises, and disappointments. The feverish anticipation and wonderful surprises are what that makes these safaris special. Exploring Kanha National Park, the backdrop of Kiplingís Jungle Book, was no different. First of our five safaris in Kanha was in the evening. Unexpected rains in the afternoon, though offered a cool evening, dulled everyoneís expectations. But as it turned out, we had a few memorable sightings before we wound up for the day. It started with a jungle fox, a few minutes into the Kanha zone.…

  • Hikes - Nature's Wonders - People - Places - Treks

    Hike to Goshal – Losing Ways and a Happy Ending

    The friendly hotel owner suggested we take a rickshaw to Old Manali. We insisted on walking the 3-odd kilometres from new Manali (model town). Most of the route was uphill but we had no specific plans for the day, so we walked leisurely. A small bridge connects Old Manali and new Manali. A left turn from the bridge takes you to a narrow lane that goes up to the Manu temple. Restaurants and cafes flank the lane, offering a range as wide as Israeli to Korean food. We walked up to Manu temple; the last stretch was a stiff climb.…

  • Hotels - Nature's Wonders - Places

    Stay: Hotel Iceland @Solang Valley

    As we got out of the bus in Manali, the October chill enveloped us. It was pleasant. But not for long. We travelled further up to Solang Valley, to our chosen place of stay. The trip was hastily put together. So we didn’t do any research but opted for the hotel a good friend suggested. That it is away from the bustling Manali helped. It did not cross our mind that Hotel Iceland would live up to its name in October as well.   The chill hit us the moment we stepped out of the vehicle. The sun was up…

  • Flora - Food - Places

    A Farm Worth a Visit @Kintamani, Bali

    Agritourism, farm tourism, and the likes have become gimmicks to mislead the unsuspecting tourists to pay money and view someone’s mediocre farm. The loot is usually shared with the driver who takes the tourists there. A driver from Kerala shared this secret with us, who said tourists who throng Munnar are often preys to this scam. So we were skeptical of visiting one of the agritourism centres on our way back from the Mount Batur trek at Kintamani to Ubud, Bali. Our co-passengers in the vehicle were from Canada, and they were keen to visit a farm as well as…

  • Flora - Nature's Wonders - Places

    Monsoon Secrets of Maharashtra #1 – Roads to Nowhere Around Urmodi Dam

    The landscape of Maharashtra gets a makeover every monsoon. As the parched earth soaks up the rainwater, the brown plateaus, hills, and valleys change to varied shades of green. That it’s such delightful scenery is an understatement. Urmodi was no different. This monsoon, we chose to explore around Satara. One of the routes we selected wound around the Urmodi dam, a magnificent waterbody fed by numerous waterfalls from the surrounding hillocks. Urmodi is around 17 km from Satara, via Parali village. The dam was commissioned in late 2000s as a major irrigation project. There are a few villages around the…

  • Adventure - Hikes - Nature's Wonders - Places - Treks

    The Sunrise Trek to Mount Batur Volcano and Other Adventures

    After exploring Lombok for a couple of days, we reached Ubud, Bali, with no definite plans. We only had a day left before flying back to India. On the way from Padang Bai, our vehicle got caught in the traffic jam in Ubud town. As we inched ahead, a small hoarding caught our attention. Sunrise trek to Mount Batur volcano. Wow! Plans for next day started taking shape. Soon, we reached our resort amidst paddy fields in a village in Ubud. The first thing we did even before completing the checking-in formalities was to register for the sunrise trek. The…

  • Birdwatching - Nature's Wonders - Places - Sanctuaries

    Thattekad Bird Sanctuary – The richest bird habitat in the peninsula

    When we mentioned to a friend that we were visiting Thattekad (Salim Ali Bird Sanctuary), she declared there were no birds in Thattekad. So it is likely to be if you visit Thattekad or any other bird sanctuary on your own. If you have an experience guide with you, you will be enthralled to see and admire many avian beauties in one place and in a very limited time. Though closer home, a visit to Thattekad Bird Sanctuary never happened until 2012, as is the case with most of the treasures that are near to us. From the many blogs…

  • Adventure - Nature's Wonders - Places - Sanctuaries - Treks

    Hiking Through Kerandangan

    A trek to the Rinjani volcano peak was in the original plan. Soon we were to realise – sadly, that it requires a minimum of two nights and three days. Beach hopping, snorkelling and long walks did its bit to quell the disappointment of giving up on Rinjani. Yet there was something amiss. Until we heard the call of the wild. Not far from the Holiday Resort at Senggigi, where we were staying, was the Kerandangan Nature Reserve. Hardly mentioned in the regular tourism destinations in Lombok, we stumbled upon this natural treasure while browsing a local magazine. During the…

  • Adventure - Beaches - Places

    Why Go to Gili Trawangan?

    Gili Trawangan is the largest of the three islands off the north-west coast of Lombok. One can reach Trawangan crossing the blue, alluring sea in small or big boats like these.. Trawangan is a melting pot of all kinds of people (though mostly backpackers) from all parts of the world. And inviting them is a bunch of hotels, motels and homestays. Some offering yoga, meditation and a pool – even if it is 5ft by 5ft. while many others are full.. Motor vehicles are banned in Trawangan. Cycles and horse carts provide the best alternative.. to roam around the street…

  • Adventure - Nature's Wonders - Places

    The Other Meenmutty Waterfalls in Wayanad

    For some strange reason, ‘Meenmutty’ seems to be a common name for many waterfalls in Kerala’s western ghats. We have heard of at least three—two in Wayanad and one in Thiruvananthapuram. “Meen Mutty’ roughly translates to ‘fish blocked.’ However, we did not know that there are two Meenmutty falls in Wayanad till we reached the picturesque Banasura Sagar dam. We were earlier told that the famous Meenmutty falls near Kalpetta, a three-tired waterfall and the second largest in Kerala, has been closed for safety reasons. And we had reconciled to it. As we drove into the parking area of Banasura…

  • Cityscapes - Hotels - Places

    Photo Feature – In & Around Marina Bay Sands, Singapore

    Marina Bay Sands, an integrated resort with the iconic hotel towers opened in Singapore in 2010. Considered as the most expensive building in the world (incuding land costs), this complex has hotel, convention & exhibition facilities, entertainment venues, restaurants and luxury retailers. A walk around the hotel and a birds eye view from the top – the Skypark.                       Marina Bay Sands has become a major tourist attraction. For more details on Marina Bay Sands, check the following links: Wikipedia, Marina Bay Sands