• 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…

  • Food - People

    “You Are Most Welcome to Visit Our Kitchen”

    Have you ever been welcomed in a restaurant by a board that says “You are most welcome to visit our kitchen”? Perhaps, never. However, the Green Leafís restaurant in Kottayam, Kerala, is proud to welcome you to its kitchen. And the entry is not just restricted to the kitchen. The neatly maintained storeroom also is open to the curious diners. Not a fancy or fine-dining one, but Green Leafís serves hygienic food, prepared using quality materials. After a tasty dinner, we decided to accept the invitation to visit the kitchen. Seeing our interest, the owner Mr Biju came forward and…

  • 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  

  • Hotels - Places

    The Story Behind the Design of Fairmont Jaipur

    Not too often one goes behind the design story of a hotel. But this time, after a 4-day wonderful stay at Fairmont Jaipur as part of WPP Stream event, I took some time to explore. And the hotel team was more than willing to take me around and go beyond just telling the restaurant names. Fairmont’s philosophy says “guests should experience an authentic reflection of each destination’s energy, culture, and history.” Fairmont is also said to be the ‘world’s most storied hotel brand.’ Fairmont Jaipur also has its own story. A design story that is true to its philosophy. Themed…

  • Hikes - Nature's Wonders - Places - Treks

    An Unplanned Hike to Nowhere!

    The nephew and niece have a painting competition to attend at Pala, Kottayam. Mom wants to visit temples around Pala but could not go due to health issues so we decide to go. So, attired in clothes suited for visiting temple, we set out in the morning. And end up going for a hike, without reaching anywhere. That sums up our attempted hike to Ilaveezha-poonchira near Thodupuzha, Kerala. We finish the temple visits and reach back to Pala, pick the kids and their mother, and have lunch. Instead of driving back home, we head to Ilaveezhapoonchira, about 40 km from…

  • Heritage - History - Places

    Syracuse: 2700 Years of History & Heritage

    Four hours cannot do justice to 2,700 years of history for sure. One evening. That’s all we could spend in the historical city of Syracuse (or Siracusa) in Sicily, Italy, where Archimedes was born. The massive Greek Theatre, several palazzos and churches, and the Maniace Castle (Castello Maniace) in Syracuse represent the best of Greek, Roman, and Baroque architecture. The city’s architectural monuments have stood the test of time, surviving two earth quakes in 1542 and 1693 and bombings during the Second World War. Syracuse was bestowed a Unesco World Heritage Site in 2005. In the few hours we had…

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

    The Primates and Other Surprises of Hoolongappar Gibbon Sanctuary

    Our five-day trip to Kaziranga (by Nature India) had a day set aside for Hoolongappar Gibbon sanctuary. With so much being written and spoken about Kaziranga, the wildlife sanctuary remained the hero and we didn’t care too much about the Gibbon sanctuary near Jorhat, Assam. So very unlike of us, we didn’t do much research or reading on the Gibbon sanctuary. But nature has its own way of throwing surprises. ‘Pleasant’ is not the adjective. Enticing. Fascinating. Exciting. Surprising. What was originally a part of the vast forest ranges in the north east state of Assam and extending till Nagaland,…

  • Flora - Sanctuaries

    The Wild Wayanad

    The north-east of India with its unique mountain ranges, forests, flora, and fauna has always been in the travel lovers’ must-do list. Wayanad is Kerala’s own north-east. Literally. Nestled in the mighty Western Ghats, with dense forests, valleys, tea and coffee plantations, and paddy fields, Wayanad forms an important part of the Nilgiri biosphere. Once inaccessible forests with tribal hamlets, it is said that Wayanad forests have been inhabited for over 3,000 years. Situated at the tip of the Deccan Plateau and geographically at the confluence of three modern states, Kerala, Karnataka, and Tamilnadu, Wayanad once was also a part…

  • Hotels - People - Places

    Pugmarks Jungle Lodge: Nestled in the Wilderness

    Darkness had fallen by the time we were in Mananthawady. As we passed the road to Kattikulam, the village was getting ready to sleep. Night-time visitors (read wildlife) would have been getting ready for their night-out. We reached the electric-fenced resort and instantly got charmed by the wilderness around. There couldn’t have been a better choice of stay than Pugmarks Jungle Resort as we explored Mananthawady and the surrounding attractions. Templatised resorts rarely tempt us. There were plenty of them to choose when we were planning our Wayanad trip. But we wanted a place that is more grounded and closer…

  • Adventure - Nature's Wonders - Places - Treks

    Irpu Falls: Crowded but Charming

    Going to Irpu Falls was one of the spur-of-the-moment decisions that occur far too often in our trips. As with most of them, this too turned out to be a good one. Wayanad has plenty of waterfalls, so we did not consider Irpu in Coorg, Karnataka (close to the border of Wayanad) as a to-do destination. But we had time to kill till the safari starts at Tholpetty Wildlife Sanctuary, and Irpu is just about 10 km from Tholpetty. The road turns narrow and bumpy as we approached Irpu and contrary to our expectations, the parking lot was full. But we did not feel the crowd during the…

  • Hikes - Places

    Makkimala, a Hidden Gem of a Hill

    Travelling with no pre-fixed itinerary leaves you with opportunities for impromptu visits to interesting places that are mostly known to locals only. We got a few such opportunities during our one-week in Wayanad. Makkimala hike was suggested to us by Gopa Varma, owner of Pugmarks Jungle Lodge. He and his friends had visited the place previous day and had a nice time. Thomas, our guide for the hike, waited for us at the roadside. He had taken half-a-day leave from his job as a driver to be our guide. The unremarkable mud track at the beginning does not give any…

  • People - Places

    The New Face of ‘Migration’

    (This post was originally published at The True Pretender) We met Manoj at the Pugmarks Jungle Lodge in Wayanad during our stay there. As the service staff, he served us food, cleaned the rooms, carried our luggage, and was available on call all the time. His broken Malayalam made us a little curious. But he understood whatever we said in Malayalam. Manoj represents the new face of migration.  For a state whose people have been migrating to the Gulf since early 70s, this is like coming a full circle of sorts. Increased money flow to the state resulting in a consumer…

  • Places - Treks

    The ‘Hartal’ Hike in Wayanad

    One week in Kerala. There has to be a ‘hartal’ or ‘bandh.’ During our one-week Wayanad trip, there was a ‘hartal’ in the district, to mark protest against Kasturi Rangan Report and/or Gadgil Committee Report on Western Ghats conversation policies. (More on this later.) Since this affected our travel plans, we were a little disappointed at first. But not for long. Our resort owner Gopa suggested a walk through the forests, paddy fields, and tribal villages to get a sense of the real Wayanad. He and his friend George, resort manager Shinoj, and a local farmer Karunan chettan took us…

  • Adventure - Nature's Wonders - Places - Treks

    Mighty Harischandragad and Magnificent Konkan Kada

    We have heard a lot about Harischandragad and Konkan Kada. The former is a temple and hill fort at over 4,500 ft above sea level. At one end of the Harischandragad plateau, the land suddenly drops to over 1,800 ft. This semicircular cliff, Konkan Kada, offers an unhindered, spectacular view of plains all the way to Konkan. Sunset at Konkan Kada is a view to behold, so we were told. Harischandragad has been on our trekking bucket list for a few years. Last time when Nature Knights organised this trek, chickenpox stood in our way. This time, we did it!…

  • Places

    Circumetnea: Around Mount Etna

    The little train chugs along the slopes of Mount Etna, one of the active volcanoes in Sicily, Italy. Passing quaint villages, you are treated to beautiful sights of orchards and vineyards flourishing in the fertile volcanic soil. As you climb up, it’s the grim site of black, hardened lava. But you can’t ignore the stark, somewhat frightening beauty of the terrain. Ferrovia Circumetnea (FCE) is a narrow-gauge railway line in the outskirts of Catania, Sicily. Starting from Borgo and ending in Riposto, it almost encircles the volcano Etna. Armed with Lonely Planet – Italy and a couple of words of…

  • Adventure - Nature's Wonders - Places - Treks

    Adventure of the Season − Siddhagad in Monsoons

    A couple of years back when we did the Gorakhgad trek, we thought it was a mighty mountain. (Read about the Gorakhgad trek here – The Motely Crowd and Mighty Mountain). Mighty it was then. At that time, we had set our eyes on Siddhagad peak, seen at a distance, engulfed in dark clouds. Little did we realise then that Siddhagad (3223 ft) was taller than Gorakhgad (2137 ft). If Gorakghad was thrilling, Siddhagad was beyond that. Rains lashing with vengeance and water gushing down through the trail added to the excitement. Siddhagad is in the Malshejgat region, but along…

  • Birdwatching - Flora - Food - Hotels - Places - Sanctuaries

    stay @Jupuri Ghar

    During our travels, more often than not we have seen that the state tourism resorts/hotels tend to be the best place to stay—they get the advantage of being an early mover and hence access to a prime location in the area. Though often not so luxurious or fancy, they tend to be very spacious—rooms as well as the property. Jupuri Ghar by Assam Tourism at Kaziranga too lived up to this promise. Tucked behind a small tea estate and abutting the forest is Jupuri Ghar with its 8 cottages and a nice restaurant. The cottages are laid around a central…

  • Adventure - Nature's Wonders - Places

    Romancing Rainforests: Never Enough (Dhoni Waterfalls, Kerala)

    This monsoon, the craving to relish the nature’s magic goes up a notch every passing day. With no major trips planned, we try to make use of all possible weekends. Khodala happened like that. So was the trek inside the Sanjay Gandhi National Park to Mumbai’s highest point (more about it later). We manage to squeeze in a short getaway while on a 3-day trip to Kerala for a family function. A lazy Sunday morning at Palakkad. We get up late; relax with tea and newspapers; enjoy breakfast; and then comes the irresistible urge. The low ranges of the vast…

  • Airports - Places

    The ‘Leisure Airport’ at Koh Samui

    (Also published in Skift) Like hotels/resorts are classified as ‘leisure,’ ‘spa,’ etc, if there is a classification for airports, then the Samui airport in Koh Samui might well be called as a leisure airport. Right from the time we hit the tarmac, the airport amused us. With thatched roofs, well-manicured green lawns and gardens close to the runway, it seemed that we landed in the midst of a resort. The next surprise was the electric- powered buggies that ferried the passengers from the flight to some of the thatched roofs, which happened to be the terminal. After that, everything we…

  • Adventure - Fun - Places

    The Road to Khodala

    The road to Khodala is not paved with gold. Neither Khodala is a city of gold that awaits you. But for over 4 months in a year, when the sky brims with monsoon clouds, when the parched earth soaks up the rainwater and turns vibrant green, and when the hills and valleys are adorned with tiny streams and roaring waterfalls, the road to Khodala becomes much more than that. The best thing that can happen to someone itching to get out of the city on a Sunday morning while the clouds waiting to burst is perhaps Khodala!! Not known to…

  • Adventure - Nature's Wonders - Places - Treks

    Triund: Walk Above the Clouds

    It’s time to get ready for monsoon treks. What better time than now to reminisce one of the awesome monsoon treks we did! Triund in McLeod Ganj is a popular trek in all seasons. It was pouring when we did this trek. About 4 hours of walk and climb, peering at the path ahead through raindrops, trying to admire the beauty of the misty valley below, listening to the guides explaining how seasons change the look of this wonderful landscape—painting it red when the rhododendrons bloom, spreading a white sheet when it snows, and of course turning it all green…

  • Heritage - Hotels - Places

    Baruah Bhavan – A Charming Villa; a Non-Hotel Hotel

    There was no doorbell to ring. So we peeped into the narrow walkway and spotted a boy having tea. Acknowledging us with a smile, he came swiftly, took charge of our luggage, guided us to our room. That warm smile was the first of several we were offered during our stay in Assam. Soon, the manager, Mr Kalita, too came to us with an even broader smile. We landed at Guwahati a day earlier for our trip to Kaziranga. At first, we had thought of staying at one of the regular hotels at Paltan Bazaar. Then Baruah Bhavan’s listing on…

  • Places

    The Accidental Sculptor of Kamakhya Temple

    There were not too many ‘must-do’ things in Guwahati, barring the walk we wanted to do by the mighty Brahmaputra. Kamakhya temple was a reluctant addition—suggested by some web sites and the enthusiastic staff of Baruah Bhavan, where we stayed. Getting around Guwahati was anyway easier with plenty of local buses. Perched on a hilltop (Nilachal or the Blue Hills), Kamakhya temple is the main temple among a group of temples scattered across the hill. Considered to be a place of Tantric worship, the temple dates back to 10 BC and survived the attack of Mangols and later the Mughals.…

  • Arts & Culture - Culture - Fun

    Kala Ghoda 2013 Diaries – #3: The Auto Show

    Decorated or redesigned vehicles are part of KGAF every year. Of all the vehicle installations at this year’s KGAF, “Birth Story of Vespa” stood apart. This installation represents the famous Vespa scooter. It brings out the similarity in form that the Vespa shares with wasp. Vespa is Italian for wasp. A good option to reduce pollution and consumption of natural resources but cycling on Mumbai roads can be suicidal Artist Hetal Shukhla says the “poor artist syndrome is oudated, boring and uncool. The new artist wants CHANGE.” Eleven-year old Dev Mehta reflects the ever-changing colours of Mumbai on this car…

  • Arts & Culture - Fun

    Indikaleido: A Cultural Kaleidoscope

    This year’s Kala Ghoda Arts Festival got over recently. While blogging on that, we realised that we forgot to write about Indikaleido, another cultural festival that delighted Mumbai’s music and dance lovers in November 2012. This 3-day festival, an initiative by Horniman Circle Garden Trust, featured a few really good performances. We could attend only the ones on the last day. One part of the Horniman Circle Garden was dedicated to stalls of NGOs. Stall of Trishul, an NGO involved in slum sanitation, teaching less-privileged kids, and women empowerment. A colourful collection of bags at one of the stalls Pottery…

  • Arts & Culture - Heritage - History - People - Places

    Mummy: The Inside Story

    Nesperennub, a priest at the temple of Amun-Ra, had severe dental abscesses, which would have given him terrible pain when he was alive. He had a small cavity on his skull, above his left eye. He was a man of high status and belonged to an influential clan at Thebes, a city in ancient Egypt. Nesperennub lived in ancient Egypt, around 1550–1069 BC. He passed away when he was middle-aged. But he has come to India and will be here for one more month. The mummy of Nesperennub in its cartonnage case The mystery of Egyptian mummies has always puzzled…

  • Arts & Culture - Fun - Places

    Kala Ghoda 2013 Diaries – #2 Danger Art

    Skulls, skulls, and more skulls. This year’s KGAF  was dotted with skulls, most of them made of electronic waste.   This is one of the seven Kapala’s totems installed at KGAF 2013. These totems by Sukant Panigrahy invoke awareness of the dangers of electronic waste. Of the seven, six were made using electronic waste. One totem was made of organic materials or natural waste.  

  • Arts & Culture

    Kala Ghoda 2013 Diaries – #1 Cardboard Creations

    We haven’t missed one Kala Ghoda Arts Festival (KGAF) ever since we came to Mumbai. This time around too, we were there, braving the crowd and enjoying the artistic side of maximum city. KGAF, in a way, symbolizes Mumbai’s motley crowd. It offers so much variety–be it music, dance, literature, drama, street plays, workshops, artful installations, movies, heritage walks, or stalls offering a great potpourri of products–that we really get lost. Literally too, as the Art Plaza where the installations, stalls, puppetry, and surprise shows attracts a lot of crowd, especially in the evenings. It is not possible to attend…

  • Arts & Culture - Food - Fun - History - Places

    Goa Carnaval 2013: Fun, food, and Much More

    Goa Carnaval 2013 is almost here! The 4 days of fun, frolic and, feast is set to open on February 9 and will last until February 12. But for foodies and cultural buffs, celebrations begin a day earlier. Food & Cultural Festival, to be held parallelly with the Carnaval (Portuguese for carnival), is slated to be from February 8. Goa is known mostly for its beaches. All these years, tourism as well as all celebrations happened in and around beaches. But this time, there is going to be a conscious effort by the department of tourism to remove the focus from the beaches and…

  • Places

    Lavasa: First Impressions: Planned Hill City or Planned Destruction

    Disclaimer: We are not experts in ecology, architecture, or town planning. This critical view is to be read as a layman’s perspective. First impression, unfortunately, is not the best impression in this case. Lavasa has aroused our curiosity when we heard about it first—especially as the ‘first planned hill city of India.’ For Indians, there cannot be any hill station without colonial baggage. So this sounded pretty interesting, but we never managed to visit Lavasa. When controversies erupted on this project, we were keenly reading all the news and reports. Finally, we managed to get a glimpse of Lavasa. While…

  • Places

    The Unassuming Panshet

    Outlook Travellers’ guide on weekend trips from Mumbai notes Panshet as one of the places around Pune. A place where you can’t do anything. Just be there. That’s what we did indeed. That Panshet has an MTDC resort made it an easy choice of destination. But the real sweet spot was not that, but dams—which always held our fascination and never fail to arise within us mixed feelings:  fear, awe, delight, and many more. The MTDC resort is conveniently located on a hillock between the two dams—Panshet and Varasgaon. Backwaters of both lie almost parallel and run into kilometres. And…

  • Adventure - Heritage - History - Places

    The Cliffhanger @Takmak Tok

    Hang at about 1000 ft and have a 360-degree view of the landscape down. Thrilling and spine-chilling! Slowly move down until you reach a ledge at 300 feet. One misstep and it is a straight drop of 700 feet. Carefully trudge along the ridge and trek back to the top. That’s all about rappelling at Takmak Tok, Raigad. Raigad Fort, near Mahad, Maharashtra, was Shivaji’s capital. It was at Raigad that he was titled Chathrapathi. Attacked and destroyed by the British, the fort is now in ruins. The queen’s quarters, durbar hall, and marketplace are still discernible among the ruins.…

  • Flora - Nature's Wonders - Places - Sanctuaries

    An Impromptu Journey to Wild West(ern Ghats)

    When Western Ghats tempts you with its grandness, it’s a challenge to resist it. We happily give in almost all the time. Once spread across a good part of Kerala and host to many endangered species of flora and fauna, Western Ghats is now dwindling, forcing UNESCO to tag many parts of it as natural heritage areas. This Diwali season’s Western Ghats delight for us was Athirapally Waterfalls and beyond. After the Nilgiris, the Western Ghats take a break at Palakkad gap, the natural plains that cuts the mountains and connects Kerala and Tamil Nadu. And beyond the gap, toward…

  • Flora - Nature's Wonders - Places

    The Ethereal Kaas

    Lalu’s ears. Sita’s tears. American softhead. Coat button. Mickey mouse—funny they may sound but these are some of the ethereal beauties of Kaas Plateau, near Satara in Maharashtra. Lying underground for most of the year, these plants pop their heads up as soon as monsoon drenches the red laterite soil with elixir of life. Home to more than 400 varieties of plants, Kaas is one of Unesco’s World Natural Heritage sites where nature works overtime to weave a carpet of oft-changing colours. As the monsoon recedes, the plateau gets carpeted with a million flowers—blue Sita’s tears, purple jambhala, white pan-gend,…

  • People - Places

    So What if the Water Pipe Leaks

    At Keylong Mall Street, a kid enjoying playing with the water jet that leaks out of pipe line. On our way from Sarchu to Rohtang, we had a night’s halt at Keylong, the head quarters of Lahul Spiti district. In the evening we decided to take a stroll through the mall street. This was just outside a cloth store.  

  • Places

    Goa, but not the Beaches

    Go to Goa. Spend a week. But not a single beach. Then that could have been the new definition of Original Sin. But that’s a sin worth committing. This time we didn’t spend a week. And we did go to many beaches. But we also explored the other side of Goa a little bit. The one that most tourists give a skip. Unless he or she is fascinated with hills and forests. Overlooking Goa’s large coastline and covering a good part of the state is its share of the Western Ghats eco system. Bordering Maharashtra and Karnataka, these lush rainforests…

  • Heritage - History - Places

    Traipsing Around Taormina

    A building at the top of a hill by the coast of Ionian sea. Sitting on its balcony or verandah, the likes of D H Lawrence, Guy de Maupassant, John Steinbeck, and Francis Ford Coppola would have delighted in the sight of the mesmerizing blue sea below. For, this air seemed to have refreshed many a creative souls. And, it is not surprising. After taking over the control of this small town in 200 B.C., the Romans seem to have discovered its quaint beauty and made this a holiday destination. Taormina is a small town in coastal Sicily. Being ruled…

  • History - Places

    Daman – A Weekend by the Beach

    Covering 150 km in just about 2 hours was not something we planned for. We didn’t expect our impromptu driving trip to Daman to be such a cool drive.  The Mumbai –Ahmedabad highway has been made six-lane with flyovers at every possible junction. It’s almost 4 years since our last road trip through this road and at that time, pot holes in every possible shape decorated the road. This was meant to be a laid back trip. Drive to Daman, find a decent beach-facing place to stay. Have a relaxed evening. Read something. Also attempt to write. In between, do…

  • Nature's Wonders - Places

    Chill Out at Sarchu

    A popular camping site, Sarchu lies at the border of Jammu & Kashmir and Himachal Pradesh and belongs to HP. It is also the preferred overnight stopover between Manali and Leh. Lying between the snow-clad mountains and by the side of the Tsarap Chu river, the Mulkila campsite was spectacular, to say the least. We landed in Sarchu very late in the night after a long journey from Tso Moriri via the Moray plains. It was freezing cold and pitch dark as the place is not electrified. After a dinner of hotsoup, rotis and vegetables, we snuggled under the heavy…

  • People - Places

    Anandwan – The Forest of Joy

    Travelling around, seeing new places and people is certainly joyful. But it has another remarkable aspect as well as impact. At times, we are reminded of the mightiness of nature, the timelessness of the universe, and how insignificant we human beings are in this grand play. At other times, there are instances when we stood in awe at the immense capabilities of human beings in dreaming, creating, and inspiring generations to come. A reminder that all of us have the power to create and change the world for better. And a sharp nudge to some of us who often crib…

  • Arts & Culture - Heritage - History - Places - Publications - the great driving challenge

    Pick Your Escape Route (Mid-Dday Feb 02, 2012)

    If you choose to do one trip a month for the whole year, that is 12 short trips in an year. When Mid-day asked us to give us an all-year itinerary in Maharashtra for travel lovers to explore, we were only happy to do so. It was late January and so we came up with a 11 month schedule. Here it goes. The full text February: Koyna Valley (Koyna Nagar) Why should be here: Far away from the maddening crowd. Without the trappings of any hill station. Spend a quite weekend in the MTDC resort or a couple of other…

  • Food - Fun - Hotels

    The Dosa Effect

    The Dosa Effect is not as profound or complicated as those in the science—the Doppler Effect, Raman Effect, Faraday Effect and the like. The Dosa Effect is simply the impact Dosa lovers can create on your website traffic. We wrote about the Pai Thattukada of Cochin and its famous 36 varieties of dosas. Pai Thattukada is a famous eatery in Kochi (Cochin) for the past few decades. Of the 36 special dosas they make, one of them is called the Thattil Kutty dosa. We don’t know whether this is a unique recipe or this is available in other eateries as…

  • Arts & Culture - Heritage - History - Places

    The Red Town of Karnataka – Pattadakkal

    In the middle of nowhere in rural Karnataka is the remains of (perhaps) a glorious past. Where nicely chiseled stones and beautiful sculptures tell you million stories. Hundreds of unnamed craftsmen with their skillful hands and genius minds lived and died for their kings and queens, while building and leaving behind stupendous architectural marvels that will remind us not of their glories, but of their rulers. As we wander through the wonder that is Pattadakkal, we imagined the scene where hundreds of workers in the rumble and tumble creating poetry out of shapeless rocks. Pattadakkal (Pattadakalu in Kannada), also known…

  • Arts & Culture - Heritage - History - Places

    In Search of the Hidden Kadamba Gods

    What excites us most in our trips is the last-minute additions or diversions in the plan. At Belgaum, through a common friend, we met a businessman who has interests in history and architecture. And he suggested that we check out Halashi and gave the directions to reach there. Obviously, not many people have heard about the place. Halashi is a small village about 42 km from Belgaum. At 27 km from Belgaum city, on the Belguam-Dandeli road is Khanapur town. Halashi is about 15 km from Khanapur. With the western ghats as backdrop, the road to Halashi is scenic. Halashi…