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A Travel Blog from India: December 2013

Tuesday, 31 December 2013

Wish you all a very Happy 2014!

As the Sun rises in the horizon and brighten the sky at Dawn......

Let the road ahead in 2014 be without any hurdles ......

May you have a smooth ride and travel more in 2014.......

Let the sun shine brighter and bring joy and happiness in your life in 2014.......

Wishing you all a very Happy, Successful and Peaceful 2014!

( This picture was taken on foggy Grand Trunk Road - NH 2 - at Dawn yesterday as we left Bodh Gaya to Bhubaneshwar)


Sunday, 29 December 2013

Post Card from Bihar!

While going to Gangtok on our road trip, we reached Bihar when it was getting dark. During winter, it gets dark in the eastern parts of the country by 5 PM. We were expecting green expanse to greet us all along in Bihar. But darkness killed that chance.

We were greeted with lovely vistas of yellow all along the drive in Bihar on our way back today. The mustard fields in bloom is a treat to the eyes. It was in the morning around 8 AM. The fog was thick but the yellow and green fields were just beautiful.

Take a look at this one.


Saturday, 28 December 2013

Skywatch Friday - Peace Pagoda @ Darjeeling

As we step into 2014........let peace and prosperity prevail all around the world!

This picture of Peace Pagoda in Darjeeling seems apt for this Friday.

A tower of this brilliant white - but small Pagoda built by Japanese - in the middle of tall juniper trees  seems to be reaching out to sky with a similar message from Lord Buddha, the foremost apostle of peace.

Wish you all a very happy, prosperous and peaceful 2014 in advance........as we hit the road on our return journey to Bangalore.

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Friday, 27 December 2013

Post Card from Sikkim!

It was a day after Christmas. We are in Sikkim.

We are driving to Nathu La. The pass which connects India to China (Tibet). A place Indian Army has one of its highest posts @ 15,000 feet.

The weather was fantastic. The sky was crystal clear blue. The snow was not heavy but right. The cedar trees and small bushes providing lovely contrast to white all around!

The complete route was picture perfect. Apt for the Yuletide!

Only thing that was missing was a Santa and his Reindeers!


Wednesday, 25 December 2013

Merry Christmas from Darjeeling!

It is freezing here in Darjeeling. We are here as part of our road trip to Sikkim.

The Christmas fervour in this hill station is sober and not like the ones we had seen in the last trips during this time in Sri Lanka or Goa.

The place retains its erstwhile British legacy and St Andrews Church is a lovely testimony for that.

Built in 1883, this is a small cute church on top of a small hill in a prominent place in the city.

Wishing you all a "Merry Christmas" from Darjeeling!


Sunday, 22 December 2013

Skywatch Friday - Landscape near Vizag!

We are on a long road trip from Bangalore to Sikkim.

We just missed out the lovely green and yellow landscape of coastal Andhra Pradesh as the paddy crop has been harvested few days back. If you drive on this road around October it is a treat to eyes.

However, when we wee nearing Vizag (Visakhapatnam), we chanced upon this lovely vista. The mounds of hay stacked in the middle of the field under a cloudy sky was a good contrast to green and yellow fields around. The thin line of palm trees in the background added to the beauty of the frame!

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Tuesday, 17 December 2013

Where is this? - Calling all Cricket lovers!

Calling all crickets lovers........

Just check out this picture. Can you guess where is this displayed?

What is this place known as?

Where is it located?

This is an iconic place no Cricket lover visiting the country would ever miss.

Let us know your answers........


Sunday, 15 December 2013

Sri Lanka - Masks Galore!

Your blog is turning a bit International. 

As we move into the spirit of Yuletide, we thought that it would be good to expand our horizon and share some of our experiences outside India as well. The blog will continue to stay India focussed with bits from our travel experiences outside the country. It is like adding spices to a well made curry!

Last year we were in Sri Lanka during Christmas and we had a lovely time. Being road trippers, it was a driving holiday in a self drive car! More about in this blog later. Before we share our experience, we thought of sharing this picture, which speaks a world of how charming the small little island is.

If you need any help in planning a trip to the emerald isle, please write to us. Happy to help.


Friday, 13 December 2013

Skywatch Friday - Stone pillar in Ellora

Ellora floors you. The UNESCO World heritage site is just unbelievable. You will wonder how anyone could have done such a thing. Complete temple carved out of a mammoth manolith!

Kailasanatha Temple is the pinnacle of Rashtrakuta style of architecture and took 100 years to complete it! The carved stone pillars are epitome of such refinement.

This picture was taken in the morning when the sky was clear which provided a good contrast to grey surroundings.

For more details on Ellora, please click on this Link in Wiki



Winter Holiday Destinations in India!

Have you planned your Winter holiday in India? If you haven't, it is the time for you to get cracking!

Winter is the best season to travel in India. Except in the Himalayan region, the temperatures across the country is cool and pleasant. The North Indian winter nights may turn colder but this is the best time to visit the country.

We were browsing through the different experiences we had shared in this blog and felt it may be worth providing the important links in one post which we feel is useful while planning your travel during this season. Whether they are beaches or the jungles or the mountains they are all here in one post. 

With Christmas holidays around the corner, we hope these links - arranged alphabetically - may be useful for you to plan your trips. Many of them off the beaten track and are still unexplored. If you need any help, just ping us. Happy to help.

Chalukya temples @ Badami, Aihole and Pattadakal

Close to Hampi are gems of Chalukyan architecture. The UNESCO World Heritage site of Pattadakal along with Aihole and Badami can be clubbed along with trip to Hampi. For more details Click on the link below.


Chattisgarh is very hot in summers and winter is the best time to explore this wonderful and still unexplored region. For more details Click on the link below.


You must have savoured Chettinad chicken. Chettinad is more than that and is known for its outstanding mansions. Winter is the best time to be there. Club this with Rameshwaram. For more details Click on the link below.


Cherra is known as the place to get wet! If you dont want to get wet, then winter is the time to be there. For more details Click on the link below.


Coffee country is lovely in Winter. Explore it leisurely at your own pace. For more details Click on the links below.

Driving Holidays from Bangalore

Do you love driving holidays? We had listed 6 itineraries of of driving holidays from Bangalore. Winters are the best time to drive around and enjoy the lovely vistas. For more details Click on the links below.

Dudhsagar Falls

We did monsoon trek on the railway track to magnificent Dudhsagar Falls. Winter is excellent season to do this trek. You also have the bonus of taking bath under the falls! 

For more details Click on the link below.


The prettiest of temple in the country known for its outstanding sculptures is best visited in winter. For more details Click on the link below.


Summers are unbearable and winter is the best season to explore this World Heritage Site. You can get lost appreciating the grandeur of one of the largest empires of Medieval India. Club this with splendid valley of Sandur and heritage sites of Badami, Aihole and Pattadakal. For more details Click on the link below.

Karavali - The West coast of Karnataka

The state of Karnataka is blessed with some lovely beaches. This is the best time to go. You can read all about it here. For more details Click on the link below.


Frozen Ladakh is mesmerising in winter. If you can brave the cold, be there. You may click on the series of posts under the label Ladakh Diaries. There are seven instalments. For more details Click on the link below.


If you don't want to get wet but want to enjoy the mountains and valleys of Western ghats, this is the time. Making Tirthahalli as the base and explore Malnad which is beautiful. 

For more details Click on the link below.


The queen of Hill stations will no doubt be crowded. Drive out of the city and you will see the amazing vistas. Red Hills is one of them. For more details Click on the link below.


The Rayala Seema region of Andhra Pradesh has unexplored gems. Here is an option for you to explore the region. For more details Click on the link below.


If you love to walk into the nature and is willing to enjoy the lovely landscapes, here are some options. Winter is the best time to do that. For more details Click on the link below.


The hills of Anaimalai range is vibrant and beautiful. Valparai is an unexplored wonder. For more details Click on the link below.


Karnataka is blessed with some beautiful water falls. They may not be at their best in winter but still are worth a sight. For more details Click on the link below.

Wildlife Sanctuaries

Are you the person who is interested in wildlife? Here are our experiences in Bandipur and BR Hills. 

For more details Click on the link below.

These are some links we though we will share with you. Hope they have been useful. Still there is so much to come. Ping us if you need help.

These are some posts we thought may be useful. If you need any help, please do write to us. Happy to help.


Tuesday, 10 December 2013

North East India - Lovely Burra Sahib's Bungalow!

I served in the North East india while in Armed forces. Four years back i took Brinda for tour of Assam, Meghalaya and part of Arunachal Pradesh.

We all know Assam is a tea country and British were responsible for that. There is always a strong bonding between soldiers and planters. I used to have many planter friends while serving in Assam and visited their large sprawling bungalows which i used to envy. They lived life king size!

When we were planning our stay in Assam, we looked for a place where we can get "The Planters Experience". We were fortunate get to stay in a place aptly named "Burra Sahib's Bungalow". The other lovely bungalow in the vicinity "Thengal Manor" was sold out.

We were sceptical about the place but it turned out to be a memorable experience for us. We were the only two of us and it was a typical planters day out. Except that we did not have pipers to wake us up in the morning!

This was a large bungalow with only three rooms in the middle of large tea garden. It was December and the weather was chilly, misty and nice. The rooms were spacious and food was good. Of course the home grown tea was excellent.

We share the pictures of the place. 

The Bungalow
The rooms are along the corridor 
Living room 
Dining Hall
We don't have any hesitation in recommending it. If you are planning a trip to North East India, do spend couple of days here living the planters do. It will be a memorable stay.

The place is now converted into a lovely Golf resort. I found that out while looking for the website. Here is the link to the website if you need more details

If you are planning a trip to North East India, don't forget to read this post on Cherrapunjee


Sunday, 8 December 2013

Road Trip Vignettes - Chilly Morning in Kabini!

We had been to Kabini two weeks back. The weather was fantastic albeit a bit cloudy. The mornings were chilly though.

On our way to Jungle Lodges for the Morning safari, we saw this family huddled around fire warming themselves. 

Not so much for the cattle who were on their way to meadows for a sumptuous breakfast!

You may also look the following related posts on Kabini and other Wildlife tales.

a) Skywatch Friday - Kabini

b) Bandipur 2 - Tale of a big cat!


Friday, 6 December 2013

Skywatch Friday - Kabini

Kabini is another wilderness destination we love to go. 

We went there last week and as usual we had a great time. The Jungle safari and Boat safari were unforgettable experience. Kabini deserves a detailed post which will be done soon. In the meantime, treat this picture as a trailer!.

This picture was taken in the afternoon during boat safari. The sky was cloudy but that did not dither these birds to sunbathe on the trunks!


Thursday, 5 December 2013

Bandipur - Tale of a Big Cat!

Our journey in the jungles of Bandipur continued. 

The excitement was mounting. We were one hour into the safari and were already greeted by our friends in the wild. The Sun rays were peeping through the thick canopy of trees. Bhima, the naturalist from Jungle lodges went on showing us different birds, pug marks of the tiger et all.
Golden showers on the left and another charming but unknown tree on the right
A Peacock in full Glory!
Blue Kingfisher

Crested Hawk Eagle
Wild Boar
We now longed to see the elusive big cats the park is famous for.

Bhima was looking around through his Binoculars as we continued the safari. All of a sudden, Bhima spot something and ask the driver to stop. A lady in the vehicle shouts "Leopard!" We all stand up stunned as Bhima guides us to the tree where the big cat is sitting and looking at us. It is dead silence in the jeep except for sound of camera. Everyone wants to catch the best frame! Five minutes on, the guy gets up lazily and stroll down the tree gently and walk into the bush! It was a lovely sight! We had seen a Leopard earlier in BR Hills and now we are seeing it very close. For more on B R hills please click here.

 B R Hills

We continue the drive. The colours of the forests is intriguing. We always feel that many of us lose out on experiencing the forest as a whole in our urgency to see the big cats. The rains had ensured that trees were coming back to their glory. The golden showers was in full flow and looked beautiful. We also saw monkeys and langurs as well.

Bhima asks the driver to stop. We can't believe what we were seeing! Another Leopard on the road! The guy is walking lazily. But he can smell us. Looks back at us and continue. And then....takes a left turn and climb a tree and settle there!

All of us are thrilled! "Paisa vasool ho gaya", somebody in the jeep shouts! Yes, we have had the best safari so far, though the Tiger is still elusive. Before we end the safari, we get a scare of our life. We spot two elephants - mother and her baby - enjoying the fresh sprout of greens. We stop to click pictures. The mother senses us. She looks at us and charge! We all get scare of our life. Bhima is cool. He ask us not to worry as this is a as mock charge which will help the elephant to find out whether the other animal is a friend or foe. She goes back after charging for few metres and vanish into the forest.

We did not want the Safari to come to an end. But it had to. It was a morning well spent in the Jungle.

Getting there

Bandipur is 80 KMs from Mysore and 220 KMs from Bangalore.

By Road - The road from Mysore to Bandipur is a very good condition. Since many resorts are inside the buffer zone, you need to make sure that you reach there between 6 AM and 9 PM. The road through the National Park is closed between 9 PM and 6 AM.

By Bus - All busses going from Mysore to Ooty or Calicut/Wayanad stops at Gundlupet which is 15 Kms from bandipur. Shared jeeps/ Autorickshaws are available at Gundlupet.

By Train - The nearest railway station is Chamarajanagar which is connected to other parts of the country through Mysore. One can either take a bus or jeep to Gundlupet from Chamarajanagar.

By Air - The nearest airport is Mysore. But there are very few flights to the city. The best option is Bangalore.

Stay Options

Bandipur has many resorts. Some of them very high end and exorbitant. 

The best bet still happens to be Government run Jungle Lodges and Resorts. (http://www.junglelodges.com/bandipur-safari-lodge

The forest department also has accommodation which can be booked online. (http://bandipurtigerreserve.in/)

If you want to splurge, then there are high end resorts like The Serai or Windflower.

We have stayed in a cute little place called Dhole's Den. Excellent value for money. See our review in Trip Advisor here.

Wherever you are you are going to stay, make sure that Safari cost is included in your package. Bargain for it.

Other information

a) This is one of few national parks in India which is open throughout the year. However, best time to spot animals is in summer months of April - May. 

b) This is a national park and not a sight seeing place. Please maintain the decorum that a National park deserves. Maintain silence and enjoy the nature. 

c) Make sure you take good binoculars and camera. Do not wear flashy dresses. Have you seen anything flashy in jungle? Be camouflaged and one with nature. Sober colours are the best bet.

d) Enjoy the experience of jungle. If you spot a big cat - Leopard or Tiger - it is a bonus. You don't have to get disheartened if you don't spot a Big Cat.

e) Be an early bird at Safari start point to get some vantage seats! Normally the Safari starts between 6.30 - 7 AM in the mornings.

f) Carry small eats with you as the Safari is likely to be three hours. Don't litter the Jungle with Garbage. Carry it back with you.

g) The Park is a strict NO SMOKING zone. Keep your cigarets away for three hours! Animals don't like them!

h) Don't use flash of your camera while capturing the animals.

i) If you are not staying in Jungle lodges or resorts in Bandipur, you will not be able to go on longer safari. There are two jeeps available with Forest department which can be hired on first cum first served basis. However you may go for one hour safari which is conducted by park officials for which you can buy ticket in the counter. be aware that the counter may get crowded on weekends and after 9 AM.

j) Morning safaris in winter months can be chilly. Carry light woollens along. Safaris in the afternoon during summer will be hot. Carry your sunglasses and hats.

h) There are no elephant safaris like the ones we see in the national parks in Madhya Pradesh/Kaziranga.

You may like to read the Part 1 of our experience in Bandipur by clicking the link below

Hope you enjoyed reading our photologue of Bandipur. Please share it with your friends if you find it will be helpful to them. 


Sunday, 1 December 2013

Ladakh in Winter

Ladakh is the current flavour of Indian tourists. Whether it is adventure freaks who want to do it on bicycles/motorcycles or simply the family crowd who want to get their own "3 Idiots" moment!

We all visit Ladakh in the season. Between June and September. Very few bravehearts venture into the cold desert when everything is white and mercury is sub zero. Ladakh is lovely in winter. 

Who else can showcase it better than Sankar Sridhar. We have read Sankar's stories in Outlook Traveller, seen his mesmerising pictures in National Geographic. This is what James Estrin writes about him in New York Times in an article titles "Must see - Compelling Websites"

"Sankar Sridhar states that he is an accountant by training, an editor by profession and a photojournalist by calling. He has written for Geo, The Financial Times, The Telegraph and The Statesman. His photographs of remote cultures on “Iris and Ink” are beautiful. Don’t miss it" 

Here are two pictures taken by him in wintry Ladakh.
Frozen water fall - Chadar Walk
Mesmerising Tso Moriri
Take a look at these links on Changthang and Chadar Walk in Winter in his website. Ladakh in Winter is mesmerisingly beautiful.

Don't blame us if you pack your woolens for the next trip to Ladakh this winter!

Ladakh in Winter - Changthang

Ladakh in Winter - Chadar Walk

For more on Ladakh in this blog, please click here

Ladakh Diaries