Sometime back, I went with my friend Sreekumar on a Cochin tour. We started on a motor bike in the morning. We went to the Madhavan Nair Foundation Art Gallery near Edappally first. It was a nice experience. So many originals and copies there. A must see.
We were not able to see the Kerala History Museum nearby due to the time limit. They have the historical incidents explained with statues, light and Sound shows. Unfortunately, the show had already begun when we reached there. So we left without waiting for the next show 3 hours later.
We went straight to Hill Palace, Thripunithura. Hill palace as the name suggests was the palace of the Kin of Cochin. Once the democratic republic started ruling, this place was functioning as the Office of the Cochin University of science and Technology. Later, this was converted to a museum. You can watch the old grandeur of the palace in full force here. A lot of exhibits are in place starting from the king's simhasanam(chair), dresses, swords, pallequins.
After the lunch, we went to the Subhash Chandra Bose Park for some rest. By around 3.30 PM, we started for Mattanchery. Went to the Mattanchery Palace (Dutch Palace). In addition to the palace, the main attraction here is the paintings on the walls.
The we visited the Jews Synagogue. Then we started for Fort Cochin. First stop was the St. Thomas Church. This is one of the oldest churches in India. This is supposed to be the place where Vasco De Gamma's remains were kept till they were taken back to Portugal.
We were close to the end of our journey. As the dessert, we went to the Fort Cochin Beach. Being in the beach in the evening watching the sun disappear in the red horizon is a sight to watch. Though I have seen it many times, it still fascinate me.
At around 7 PM, we started back.
Pookkodu is a place in Wynad in the northern Kerala. On the top of Wynad Hills, a little away from Sultan Battery, Pookkodu lake forms a nice getaway. The place if full of trees. And there is a path surrounding the lake, which gives you a full view of the lake and surroundings. And boats are available for the adventurous. And there is a small aquarium, which was closed on the day I reached there.
I went to Mahabalipuram twice. First time with Vineeth, Rajeev and Manu around 6 months back. Last week, I went with Vineeth and some of his friends. I will combine both and give the details here.
Mahabalipuram is around 50 Kilometers from Chennai(Madras). The road to Mahabalipuram is smooth and will offer a smooth ride. It is parallel to the beach and you can see the sea all the way. It will take around 45-1 hr by motor bike or car.
We went to the Old lighthouse and ....... temple. Below that there is the Mahishasura Mardhini Mandapa. Some rocks offer the opportunity for a small trekking. There 5-6 Mandapas to be explored around these place. Arjuna's Penance is a must see. The Pancha Pandava's Rathas are at walkable distance from here. An entrance fee of Rs. 5 is charged. There are 5 rathas in rock, one each for Yudhishtira, Bheema, Arjuna and Draupadi, Sakula and Sahadeva.
The Shore Temple is near the beach and is supposed to be one of the ancient stome temples of India. The ticket taken at the Rathas is valid here also. Many of the stones in the temple is crumbling, which should be due to the proximity of the beach.
Some nice restaurants and hotels are nearby. You can get good sea food here.
The road to Mahabalipuram has many other entertainments to offer. VGP Golden Beach, MGM Dizzy world(a Disney World imitation), Muttukadu(boating, crocadile bank) and Kovalam Beach are on the way.
Five of us started from Chennai in Vineeth's car on a Friday evening. Reached Pondicherry around 2AM in the morning. We went by the Dindivanam route and the journey was uneventful.
Next day we went to Abou's house. Abou was my Graduate classmate and Vineeth's roommate 1 year back. He was in US, but his family received us. His aunt prepared the food for us. After the breakfast, we went out. The beach was a nice one. We saw the Gandhi Statue. Went to the Government place, where many of the offices are put up. And a good park with Aayi Mandapam. We saw the War Memorial also. After the lavish lunch, we visited Handmade Paper Industry and Aurobindo Ashram. After a rest, we started for the Chunnambar Lake for boating which was around 5-6 KM from the heart of the town. Came back in the evening and went straight to the beach. Did some shopping in the beach side. I remember two shops in particular. First one is a Govt. sponsered and the second one a Auroville extension.
On the next day, went to the beach in the morning. Didn't do much otherwise. After the lunch, we went to Auroville. Unfortunately, being Sunday, we were not able to see much of the attractions.
And it was time for us to start the return journey. We started around 9.30 PM. This time the journey was through the East Coast road. The road is good and not much traffic is there. Mainly owing to these, we reached home around 12.30 AM.
The team comprised of Vineeth, Raj, Mari, Subhash and Myself. The entire
trip was fun filled and we enjoyed each and every moment of it. Abou's
family were just great. The trip was memorable for their love, hospitality
Other places to see : Musuem, Manakula Vinayagar Temple, Sacred heart Church( has magnificient Gothic architecture), Romain Rolland Public library, War memorial, Jeanned' Arc's statue, Church of Notre Dame de Anges, Mansion of Anantha Ranga Pillai, Botanical Gardens, Subramanya Bharathi Museum and Bharathidasan Musuem. Arekamedu and Gingee Forts are two nearby places which may be of interest.
Recently, I went with 4 of my friends to Coorg in Karnataka. We started the trip around 5AM on a Thursday from Bangalore. Went to Doddalmaram, around 25KM away from B'lore. It boasts of a huge Banyan tree covering a larger area.
We started from there around 8.30 AM via Ram Nagar on the Mysore route. Went to Randhanathittu Bird Sanctuary. A nice cool place to watch birds. After spending sometime there, we started for Madikkeri.Reached Kushan Nagar around 3 and went to Harangi Dam. A nice place to watch. Went to Nisarga Dhama from there. It is an island in the Cauvery river with deer park and bamboo forests.
Reached Madikkeri by 7PM. All the hotels were packed. Then a boy came and asked us whether we need place to stay. And we were taken to a hostilal turned Lodge. The hospital is doing bad busines, so they have started renting out the rooms to vistitors. Unofficially, of course. Had a peaceful(!) night there. In the early morning, we started for Thala Cauvery, the starting point of Cauvery. Winding narrow road through villages and towns started climbing up. The narrow road, steep hill on one side and deep valley on the other side. It was a remarkable journey. We reached there around 10 AM. Went around the origin of Cauvery. Climbed all the 300 feet steps to to reach the nearby hill to stand among the clouds. Seems some god has prayed here. Then we went to Abby Falls. It is a small fall in a cofee estate. After spending some time in the main fall, we went to the stream through a narrow road (!) among the coffee estates, fighting the leeches. Reached Madikkeri back around 6 and started the next leg of our journey - To Tellicherry.
It was getting dark and the journey continued among the hills, valley, turns, S and U turns.. We reached Tellicherry around 11.30 PM and checked into a hotel, Residency. We slept peacefully. Woke up in the morning. Around 9 AM, we found smoke coming out of the corridor switchboard. Slowly it spread to the other rooms. And it started to increase. Owner called Fire Service. In the mean time, we put some sacks and water and put the fire out. What an adventure!!
We started for Calicut, our next stop. Went to Kappad Beach where Wasco Da Gama, the Portugese Sailer laned in India centuries ago. The unspoil beach is nice to see. Later, wew went to one of our friends, Reghuraj's house. Started from there in th evening and reached home around 11 PM.
And thus ended our long long, adventureous journey!!
One fine saturday morning(around 5.45 AM!!!), we started our journey. Four of us on two bikes, on a bright chilly morning strode on the Chennai-Bangalore Highway. The road was good, once it crossed Poonamalli. We stopped in between to have tea. Reached Kaanchi around 8AM. Went to Kaamakshi Temple right away. The temple and the surroundings are superb. Went to Varadaraja Temple from there, which is around 3KM from Kaamakshi temple. The Kalmandapam there is a superb sight. Though the rest of the temple is of regular stature. Went to Ekambaranathar temple around 9.30. The carvings in the temple is marvellous. And there is a mango tree which is supposed to be very old.
We started from Kanchi around 12.30 PM. Reached Perumpudhur, the place where Ex-PM Rajiv Gandhi was assassinated by a suicide bomber. The place is well maintained and the memorial is fast coming up. Started from there around 1.45 PM and reached Chennai around 2.45PM
Thirukkazhukunram and other
Four of us started from Chennai early morning to Thirukkazhukunram. Thirukazhukunram is around 70KM away from Chennai. The place got the name from the myth that a sacrd vulture(kazhu) comes from the sacred city of Kasi everyday to the temple atop the hill. The climb up the hill is exciting. The view from the top of the hills is superb.
We went to Mahabalipuram and Kovalam beach from there. Since these places are already descibed earlier, I am not go to those details.
If you have been going through my pages frequently, you will notice that Kodai and Yercaud have gone up from my "Future Plans" to materialised ones. Kodai trip was sponsored by the company. Kodai is a Hill Station near Madurai.
The team of around 120 persons started in 4 A/C buses from Chennai in the evening. Reached Kodai the next morning. Checked into the Hill Country Resorts. Pretty cool place(literally as well). Went for outing after the breakfast. Went to see the Pillar Rock and Suicide Point. Latyer we went for a picnic lunch. Went to a small trekking immediately(on our own, not organized. Went to the Kodai Lake in the evening. went for Cycling, boating and other activities.
Evening consisted of games, campfire, and dance. Had a nice dinner late in the night. Was talking with friends till 2 AM. Woke up very late next morning. Some more games followed. By 3, we started back from Kodai. Reached Chennai back in the morning.
I have been planning to visit Yercaud for a long time. And one day, everyone in the team was tired with work and decided that a break is necessary. After heated discussions, surprise, Yercaud was selected as the destination.
Once we decided on the destination, we didn't wait. We made travel and accomodation arrangements. And started on a clilly Friday night by Yercaud Express. We reached Salem around 5 AM. In the vehicle sent by the Hotel, we started our ascend. We reached Hotel Shevaroys around 6.15 AM. Everyone was thrilled at the though of having a thrilling holiday. Some were seen playing cricket on the corridor.
We started for Kiliyur Falls. It is a 300 feet high waterfall is situated amidst picturesque surroundings. It took us nearly 1 hr to reach there. The path combined of tarred roads, then to mud roads, leading to narrow one-person wide jungle paths and rocks. We forgot all our troubles in between once we reached there. It was a serene atmosphere. The only voice we sould here was the water flowing and some birds. Since it was not rainy season, the water level was less. We didn't know how the time flew. By the time we recognized that, it was 1.30 PM! we started back to the Hotel and had lunch. After some rest, we left to a nearby park for some outdoor games. Few went for boating. The rest played cricket and frisbee.
Later, we went to pagoda point, one of the seats from where we can see the Salem city below. After spending sometime, we started for Lady's Seat. However, heavy rain prevented us from reaching there. So we had to return to the hotel. And the rain destroyed our plans for acampfire. We had to satisfy with some dumb charades(what else!), and cards. Everyone was disappointed.
Next morning we went to see what we missed - Lady's seat and Gent's seat. Both offered nice views of the valley below. Then we went for boating. Some roamed around in the park in the island in the lake. After lunch, we came back to the Hotel. And it was time for us to start back. All have to resist the tempation to stay back to get into the van. We reached Salem by 4 and we reached Chennai back by 9.30 PM.
I recently visited United States of America for business purposes. In the few weekends I got, I squeezed in some siteseeing trips. I visited California(Santa Clara, to be exact) in April. Spring was just starting up. So it was a mixed weather.
Mystery Spot, Monterey, CarmelWe started around 11 AM. Went to Mystery Spot
in Santa Cruz. The road was among the woods and looked so cute. We were tempted to stop at
many places in between.We reached around 12 PM. And waited till 12.45 PM to get in. Mystery
Spot is one of the few places where the materials do not follow the normal gravitational
laws. So you see (and feel) weird things(like ur height being shortened, being pulled
sideways and not down.
We then went to Monterey. Went to the Aquarium. I have no words to describe it. It is the best aquarium I have ever seen. And we reached there in time to see the feeding. We didn't know how fast the time flew as we wandered around the place. I don't want to say more, you just have to see it.
We started the 17 mile drive from there. It is a scenic beach side drive. You have to pay 7$ toll to enter. Pebble Beach, Lone Cypress etc are some of the attractions on the way. We continued the journey to Carmel Beach. Carmel beach was superb. I didn't feel like leaving there. The beach with white sand was so inviting.
The next one was to San Francisco. We started late in the after noon. Hence we didn't get a chance to see all the places. We went to the Golden Gate Bridge. Went up the hill for a great view. Then we took Highway 1 to drive through the Scenic Drive.
California Caverns is located in the foothills of the Sierra Nevada mountain range. We started around 12.30 PM and reached the caverns around 3 PM after a memorable journey through different highways along farms, mountains and hills. The caverns were beautiful. And according to the guide, it takes 300 yrs for the calcite to grow one inch. For more details on the caverns, visit this site. Once we were out we went to the nearby stream and had fun. Then we played football. Started back around 6 PM.
Napavalley, Calistoga, Bodega Bay, Muir Woods was the next one. We started around 8 AM. Reached Napa Valley around 11.30 AM. Went to the Napa Valley Wine Train Station. Unfortunately, we didn't get tickets and hence continued on our journey through the scenic road. We reached Calistoga and Santa Rosa. After a heavy lunch in Santa Rosa, went to Bodega Bay. Bodega bay lies on Highway 1, north of San Francisco. The Highway 1 winds through with Hills on one side and sea on the other. After spending sometime there, we started for Muir Woods. Located 156 feet above sea level at the visitor center, Muir Woods is a 560-acre national monument in Marin County, California, about one-half hour drive north of San Francisco. Muir Woods is a unit of the Golden Gate National Recreation Area and is surrounded by Mt. Tamalpais State Park. You can see centuries old Redwood trees here. For more details, please visit the Muir Woods Site.
I missed a lot of places. May be sometime soon, I will get a chance to see them as well.
My near future travel plans include
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