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A Travel Blog from India: April 2013

Friday, 26 April 2013

Skywatch Friday - The Tower and The Boulder

I was browsing through my album and this picture taken in Hampi in 2007 caught my eye. The temple tower, the boulders and the monsoon sky made an excellent setting.

If you want to know more about exploring Hampi, you may please look at the following post in this blog.

Hampi Wonders and Sandur Splendours


Chattisgarh Chronicles 1 - The Drive from Bangalore to Bastar

We did this road trip in March 2011. It was six months after we got our Scorpio. As soon as we got the delivery of the vehicle, we had done a road trip to Maharashtra covering Kolhapur, Pandharpur and Ellora. This time we wanted to go longer. After brainstorming on the places to go, we zeroed in on Chattisgarh, which still remains unexplored. This was a fascinating journey of 5000 plus KMs.

Ride on with us to experience it.

We left early in the morning on 05 March 2011 around 5 AM. The merit of leaving early hit us when we crossed Mulbagal, 100 KMs from Bangalore. The four-lane road ends at this place. Starting early helped, we did not encounter trucks. We could see early morning sun caressing the brown hills of Tirumala when we reached Tirupati around 8.15 AM. It was a lovely sight. A quick breakfast and we were back on the road. When we reached Naidupeta, we were welcomed by a lovely tarmac of NH5.

The green expanse at this time of the year was a big surprise and soothing to tired eyes!! These lovely roads have spoilt all of us as we could comfortably cruise at 130 KMPH. Miles and Miles of Lush green fields, streams and rivers makes drive on NH 5 very pleasant.

The green expanse on either side of National Highway 5
.............And the lovely tarmac
Our Initial plan was to stay in Vijayawada. Driving on excellent road, we reached city at 2.30 PM. It was then that we decided to continue to Vizag and spend night there. This would help us leaving comfortably the next day morning to Jagdalpur. Vijayawada looked a clean and good city. River Krishna is wide and there was not much of water. We had good Biryani lunch in Hotel Ilapuram recommended by a friend who is from Vijayawada.

The best part of driving on these Golden Quadrilateral roads is that you don’t encounter any villages or towns as most of them have bye pass, which will help you to maintain the speed. Vijayawada to Vizag drive was again without hassles. As we neared Rajahmundry we were excited to see sun setting over Godavari. But we were disappointed as the span of Godavari is small here as the river splits creating islands unlike while travelling by rail over the country’s longest railway bridge. Nevertheless the sunset over Godavari was still good. 

Sun setting over Godavari
We reached Vizag around 8.30 PM and were ready for a well-deserved rest.

Breakfast done, we started the second leg to Bastar from Vizag. We had read about the train journeys on the famous Vizag – Jagdalpur train by well-known travel writer Bill Aitkin that is supposed to be an experience in itself as tribals extensively use it. Though we were driving, we were expecting to get a firsthand experience of the region ourselves. As we crossed Vizianagaram – any cricket lover will remember this city as Maharaja of Vizianagaram was a great cricketer and Vizzy trophy is named after him - the mountains appeared. Winding roads with beautiful valleys greeted us. The valleys here are quite long and wide unlike the Western Ghats, which are smaller. The land looked brown and dry and must be stunningly beautiful if you come here after rains.

First views of valley as we climb
The winding road through the mountains
This is the tribal heartland of Orissa and we could see them attired in colorful dresses at many small towns and markets. Being Sunday, there were many village markets thronged by people. Overloaded jeeps bring them to markets as we saw this one in Pottangi. These tribals looked happy and contented lot. On outskirts of Koraput, we were greeted by this large expanse of clear water from Kolab Reservoir. The setting looked beautiful.

We reached Jagdalpur by 3 PM in time for Lunch. 

Bastar jungle Resort is a new resort, which was opened six months ago. Spread over 15 acres next to forest – in fact one has to go through forest check post – it gives one a serene feeling. The rooms are well laid out and really big. The food is good as well. Checked in and lunch done, we ventured out to see Jagdalpur town.
Bastar Jungle resort
Jagdalpur used to be the headquarters of the largest district in the country – Bastar – before it was split to create four more districts. This is the heartland of tribals in Bastar. The Dasara in Jagdalpur is celebrated over 70 days when tribals from remote areas come to town to celebrate and enjoy the festival. We missed the weekly market in Jagdalpur as it is held on Saturdays.

This is a well laid out clean town with colorful roundabouts featuring statues different tribes. There is nothing much to see in the town except for the Dantedevi mandir – the name Dantevada takes after the name of this goddess – and so called “Jagdalpur Palace” which is more like a huge bungalow than a palace.
Bastar Palace
As we returned to the resort to enjoy a quite evening under the skies, we were excited to what was in the offing on the next day– Chitrakot Falls, Tiratgarh falls, Kutumsar caves and lal chinti ki chutney or red ant chutney!


Friday, 19 April 2013

Skywatch Friday - Barlacha Pass, Manali - Leh road

Driving on Manali - Leh road is nerve-wracking experience. Once in a life time adventure. At the same time, the sheer beauty of changing landscape with clear skies is a joy to behold.

When we were crossing Barlacha pass - 15,000 feet - the landscape was mesmerising. The road with snow on either side, miles and miles of white layers of ice, snow capped peaks playing hide and seek behind the clouds...........

It was a a treat to the eyes.

If you want to now more about travelling to Ladakh, please click on this link in this blog.

Ladakh Diaries

If you want any help, please drop a email to poorna62@gmail.com. Happy to help.

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Wednesday, 10 April 2013

Getaways from Bangalore for Summer Holidays

Summers in India is always hot and unbearable. Bangalore, our city which used to have a salubrious climate is seeing increase in the levels of Mercury over the years. Fortunately few good spells of summer rain in the last week has brought the heat down. We hope the rain continues.

Summer time means holiday time. Time to take the family and kids on an outing. Naturally, everyone heads to hill stations to soak in the cool climate. Here are the five of our favourite destinations you can take your family this summer


Naturally, the queen of Hills stations is the best bet to escape scorching south Indian summer. But don't make the mistake of staying in the crowded town which will be be chock a bloc during summer. Head to outskirts and stay in either Red Hills or Avalanche area. Other excellent options are Coonoor and Kotagiri.

Please read this post on Ooty in this blog

Beat the heat - Escape to Red Hills, Ooty


Kodai is a quaint hill station. Over the years, it is getting crowded but has not lost the charm. Again, try and stay on the outskirts and not in the town.


We are partial to Malnad. Coorg and Chikmagalur is saturated. You must be wondering as to why this place for summer vacation. This is not a hill station. But there are lot of stuff which you can indulge in and around Tirthahalli with your family. You can spend quiet evening on the sandy banks of Tunga river seeing the sun set in the horizon. Get up early to watch spectacular sunrise in Kundadri or Navilukallu gudda. Make your kids play with elephants in Sakrebailu elephant camp. Trek up the stairs of Kavaledurga for a beautiful view of the Malnad. Enjoy the famous sunset of Agumbe. Take a dip in the Sirimane falls or Barkhana falls. Do river rafting over Sita river. Go for boating on the back waters of Sharavati. If you are a die hard trekker, trek to the summit of Kodachadri. What else can one ask for?

Check out the following post on exploring Malnad

Exploring Malnad in Monsoon - An Itinerary

The Forests

Best time to see wild animals if you are a wild life buff. The tiger sanctuaries of South India may provide you an opportunity to get a chance to meet the big cat. Nagarahole/Kabini, Bandipur, Mudumalai, B R Hills and Bhadra are the places to be. Go there before it rain.

Check out this post on B R Hills in this blog

B R Hills - wilderness Paradise

Bandipur - Tale of a big cat!

The West Coast

You must be wondering if i have gone insane. Yes, the West Coast will be hot. No doubt about it. But it is only between 12 Noon and 4 PM. Stay indoor during this time and enjoy the sea rest of the time. The evenings are pleasant with breeze. The sea will be safe and sunsets gorgeous. Go for surfing. The places we love on the west coast which are still unexplored are

a) Byndoor  - Beautiful beach, unexplored. 30 KMs from Kundapur.

b) Kapu - Lovely beach with a beautiful light house - 15 KMs from Udupi

c) Cannanore - Explore the beauty of backwaters of Malbar

d) Bekal - Seaside fort and lovely beach - 60 KMs from Mangalore

e) Bengere and Mulki - Surfer's paradise - 15 KMs from Udupi

If you need more information on planning a trip to any of these places, please write at poorna62@gmail.com. Happy to help.

You may also look at the following related posts on options from Bangalore during summer.

17 Cool Options to beat the Heat in South India!

Driving Holidays from Bangalore 5 - Hill Holiday in Coorg, Wayanad & Ooty

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