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About Sunita

Software developer by profession.Confident and self motivated person. Love to travel....and listen music. Enjoys every festival with lots of fun and yummy recipes.

Heritage tour – Hampi,Aihole,Pattadakal,Badami – Part II

…Continuation from part-I

Aihole is around 135 Km from Hampi. We reached Aihole in the noon..we just had snacks that we got packed from home. We skipped lunch as there was no better place for it.

Let us know some history of Aihole – The Chalukya empire ruled from Aihole, Badami and Pattadakal. Aihole was  the 1st capital of the Chalukyas who ruled almost 3/4 of India under the famous Pulakesin – II. The empire had its golden era from around 500 AD to 750 AD.

According to mythology Aihole is the place where Parashurama washed his axe after killing the Kshatriyas. Aihole has historical significance and is called as cradle of Hindu rock architecture.

Set of temples at Aihole, all the temples are in good condition.-

Suryanarayana Gudi

The Ladkhan temple

Gaudaragudi

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Inside temples..

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Also there is small museum, which some statues and idols found during excavation.

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We spent more than an hour in Aihole.

From Aihole we traveled to Pattadakal. Its  around 12 KM from Aihole . Pattadakal  is  UNESCO world heritage site. This has some amazing temples in a large compound. Pattadakal, site where Badami Chalukya kings were coronated, was the capital of the Chalukya dynasty of Karnataka in Southern India between the 6th and 8th centuries.

There are ten temples at Pattadakal, these temples has blending of various Indian architectural styles -Rekha, Nagara, Prasada and Dravida Vimana.

Ten temples as below –

Virupaksha Temple,Sangameshvara Temple,Chandrashekhara temple,Mallikarjuna Temple,Kashivisvanatha Temple, Galganatha temple,Kadasiddhesvara and Jambulingeswara temples,Jambulinga temple,Kadasiddheshvara temple, Jain Temple,Papanatha temple.

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After spending quality time – looking at beautiful monuments of Pattadakal we traveled to our last destination point Badami. Badami is about 22 KM from Pattadakal. We reached Badami at around 7.30 PM. Our booking was done at Hotel Badami court, one of the oldest hotel in Badami. Compared to earlier hotel we stayed at Hospete, this was average hotel, with very limited options for buffet in dinner and break fast.

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15th Nov – We started our day at 10 after having breakfast. Plan of the day was to visit – Mahakuta group of temples, Shivayogi, Banashankari and post lunch – badami caves, museum, fort and group of bhootnath temples.

Mahakuta is a place of religious significance. Its around 8 KM from Badami. The Mahakuta Group of Temples was built during the 6th to 8th century AD. The temples share the common Chalukya style found in Badami, Aihole and Pattadakal.

After museum it was time for Badami Fort. Badami fort – a top a cliff right opposite the Badami cave temples. The entrance to this  is right through the Badami museum. It is a steep climb with many view points. The walk through the Badami Fort is interesting as one walks through narrow narrow passages between cliffs. It is an uphill walk, but worth walking as the view of the rugged landscape from above is simply amazing. Its a nice trek and the kids loved the climb.

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Amazing fort…!!!

Now it was time for rock cut caves.

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The Badami caves complex are part of the UNESCO inscribed World Heritage Site under the title “Evolution of Temple Architecture – Aihole-Badami-Pattadakal”.  Badami caves are composed of mainly 4 caves. All caves are carved out of the soft Badami sandstone on a hill cliff. One has to climb up couple of steps to see all the 4 caves and the view from the top is beautiful. You can get a amazing panoramic view of the  agastya lake and the Bhootnath temple.

1st cave –  has a hall with numerous pillars and a square shaped sanctum hollowed in the control back wall. There are paintings of amorous couples on the ceiling. Other features include Shiva and his consort Parvathi with a coiled serpent and the 18 armed lord Nataraja in 81 dancing poses.

2nd cave – is dedicated to Vishnu is dedicated to Vishnu  and on its front are the guards or dwarapalakas holding lotus in their hands. East and West walls of the cave have large images of Bhuvaraha and Trivikrama. On the ceiling are engraved Ananthashayana, Bramha, Vishnu, Shiva and Asthadikpalakas.

3rd cave – the third cave is dedicated to Vishnu, and is the best and the biggest, and it has splendid giant figures of Paravasudeva, Bhuvaraha, Harihara and Narasimha.  There are some paintings on the ceiling and the style indicates maturity but has lost its original dazzling colour. The figures on the pillars here are some of the finest.

4th cave -the fourth cave is Jain. It has the image of Mahavira. Scores of Jain Thirthankara images have been engraved in the inner pillars and walls. In addition to it, there are some idols of Bahubali, Yakshas and Yakshis.

Few clicks from the caves…

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After visiting beautifully carved rock cut caves, when we came down to visit Bhootnath temple..again there were monkeys on our vehicle…beware of monkeys in Hampi and Badami.

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Way to bhootnath temple is through main town- for a car the road is very narrow. One can also go by walk as there is short cut to museum and from museum it goes straight way. But as we were short of time we decided to go by vehicle….first you have to pass through main market of the town and then small single lane with houses on both the sides. Driving SUV through such small lane was a tough job..a single mistake would end up your vehicle in some one’s home….but Abhijeet did his job very smartly.

The Bhootnath group of temples is a cluster of sandstone shrines dedicated to the deity Bhootnath (lord Shiva). There are two major temples here. First temple is big one called the Bhootnath temple with its open mantapa extending into the lake, while the smaller temple is on the north-east side of the lake,called Mallikarjuna group of temples.

During sunset we got see amazing views…let the pictures speak for themselves

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There are several movies shot in Badami to name a few are (which i have seen) –

Guru  – near Bhootnath temple
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Rowdy Rathore – badami fort

Now the time was to call off our day..went back to our hotel.

16th Nov – In the morning after after breakfast at around 9 AM we started our journey back to home. And that was the end of our heritage tour.

Proud to be born in “Incredible India”

Categories: Historic, Religious | Leave a comment

Heritage tour – Hampi,Aihole,Pattadakal,Badami Part-I

Two years back in December when we planned for Uttara Kannada trip we had to remove heritage sites Hampi-Badami from our list due to time constraints. From then we had Hampi-Badami in our mind and time came for it after 2 years…we planned for it for this diwali (2015) vacation. After reading through various blogs and sites I made a plan of 5 day trip and prepared the itinerary and route. Hotel booking was done by our friend Anand.

My family (husband Abhijeet , daughter Saee and me) , our family friend Anand with his famliy (wife Prajakta, daughter Mukta and son Arjun) and our black beast….(without which not a single trip of ours could be planned) were all set for the heritage tour.

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Here is how we executed our trip –

12th Nov – Pune To Hospet via NH9 and NH13 (Solapur-Vijayapura-hundgund-hospet) (585 KM)

13th Nov – Stay @ Hospet

14th Nov – Hospete-Aihole-Pattadakal-Badami

15thNov – Stay@Badami

16th Nov – Badami-Pune NH4 (505KM)

Total distance travelled – 1390 KMS

Detailed tour

12th Nov – Plan was to start early morning at 5.15 AM from our home@Wakad and then picking up Anand & his family from Akurdi @5.30 AM. We managed to leave from our place at 5.20 AM after performing Diwali Padawa rituals, reached Anand’s home at 5.35 am and waited… and waited some more and then some more…

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Started from Akurdi at 6 AM…children were in sleep mode. Our first stop was at ATM center and then at Petrol pump.  After feeding our black beast at around 9 AM we had our breakfast at some restaurant on solapur highway. Few of us ordered misal-pav  – it can never fail…right? Wrong. We were proven wrong by the restaurant.

Till Solapur it was straight highway with roads in very good condition, from Solapur we took right for Vijaypura and the road conditions were bad. Again from Vijayapura it was all highway…with loads of Toll gates. In the noon we started feeling hungry and were looking for some good restaurant on highway – but to our surprise there was not a single good restaurant where you could dine in with family. Meanwhile,We had Diwali Pharal (Chakali,Ladoos, Chivda, Shev, Shakarpara) packed with us so started munching that. We came across few but all were small dhabas  and then at one of the toll gate we asked for any good restaurant nearby and we were told only Hundgund is the place where can get better place to eat. We stopped at the first decent hotel we found in Hundgund – luckily they had a separate family section and to our surprise food was super tasty. In Pune we are used to paying high bills at restaurant but here super tasty food with low cost. We all were delighted with food, service and the cost.

After lunch we started at around 3.00 PM from Hundgund. We had our booking at Hotel Royal Orchid in Hospete. Reached Hospete at around 4.30 PM. We checked in our hotel and hotel was good with lovely ambiance  and they welcomed us with nice welcome drink.

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We relaxed for some time at hotel and visited Tungbhadra dam which was around 6 Km from our hotel.

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To see the view of dam we have to park our own vehicles and get on to their bus service. Its about 3-4 kms. When we reached there, bus was full and we went standing. Bus runs after every 5-10 mins. From the top dam view is very beautiful and you can also get the garden view. After clicking some snaps we went to bus stop..as the bus came in there was rush so we waited for next bus to come. In the next bus we got seats..while returning bus stops at garden so that people who want to see garden can get down then again the bus stops at point where they have musical fountain show.And then the last stop is main gate from where you get the bus. After getting down from bus we had some raw mangoes (kairi). There are few sellers selling amla, imli, raw mangoes (all khatti mitti things…)..its yummy you know!!.

We were back to our hotel had nice dinner at their garden restaurant..food was good but the service was very slow. Now it was time to call off of our day.

13th Nov – Next day in the morning after having breakfast we started for World heritage site Hampi which is at around 12 KM form our hotel. We reached Hampi at around 10 AM and purchased some caps and hired a guide (generally a English speaking guide costs between Rs. 1600 to 2000) so that we get to know the history and basically route to all the spots in Hampi as it spread over an area more than 25 square kilometers.

First lets dig into history of Hampi. The name Hampi also mean “champion”. It is located within the ruins of the city of Vijayanagara, the former capital of the Vijayanagara Empire who ruled the south India during 14th to 16th century AD. The emperor Ashoka’s minor rock edicts in Bellary district lead one to believe that this region was within the Ashokan kingdom during the 3rd century BC. A Brahmi inscription & a terracotta seal dating to the 2nd century CE were also discovered from the excavation site.The site is significant historically and architecturally. The Archaeological Survey of India continues to conduct excavations in the area, to discover additional artifacts and temples.Hampi is declared as World Heritage site by UNSECO

Hampi also has some of  mythological connection as well related to lord Shiva and also birth place of lord Hanumana and Kishkinda nagari.

Hampi is packed with temples, palaces, markets and many other ancient monuments.

First we visited Sasivekalu Ganesha on south of Hemkuta hills.On this statue one can see the snake carved around his tummy. The hand which holds modak (sweet) is broken and not reconstructed. This monolithic statue carved out of a huge boulder measures about 2.4 meters (8 feet). An open pavilion is build around the statue.

Guide telling history..

Guide telling history..

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Sasivekalu Ganesha

 

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Backside of Sasivekalu Ganesha

Hemkuta hills has a group of  Jain temples.

Next was Badaviling temple –  is dedicated to the Hindu god lord Shiva. It has a 3-meter high monolithic lingam, a representation of Lord Shiva, carved out of a single rock.

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Badavilinga

Next to it is –Lakshmi – Narasimha Temple

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This is the largest statue in Hampi. Narasimha is sitting on the coil of a giant seven-headed snake called Sesha. The heads of the snake acts as the hood above his head. The god sits in a cross-legged Yoga position with a belt supporting the knees. The statue is also referred as Ugra Narasimha. The original statue contained the image of goddess Lakshmi, sitting on his lap. But this statue has been damaged seriously during the raid leading to the fall of Vijayanagara. Even the damaged portion of such a large statue of Lakshmi carved on his lap is missing. But the goddess’s hand is visible resting on his back.

Queen’s Bath – It is located close to the entrance of the Royal Enclosure in Hampi.The Queen’s Bath is believed to be constructed by Achyuta Raya for the women of the royal family of Vijayanagara. Though named as the Queen’s Bath, it was in all probability used as the private bathing chamber of the king and his queens. It is built in the Indo-Islamic style of architecture. There is no ceiling over the bath and it is open to the sky. It is also connected to an aqueduct for fresh water supply. The building has a moat surrounding it on all sides. There is a bridge to cross the moat and reach the bath. It is believed that the moat was designed to prevent anyone from entering the building while the bath was in use. Near to Queen’s bath there is Saraswati temple. It is believed that after bath Queens used to visit this temple.

Inside of Queens Bath

Inside of Queens Bath

Shower in Queens Bath

Talarigatta Gate – was one of the main entrance points into the urban center of the capital from the riverside. The main road to Talarigatta from Kamalapura pass through this arched structure. This largely damaged structure still maintains its original intent, a gateway on the main road. A small shrine of Hanuman is located in front of the gate.

Talarigatta Gate

Talarigatta Gate

Vittala Temple is one of the most extravagant architectural showpiece of Hampi. There are many halls, pavilions and temples located inside this campus.

You cannot take your own vehicle directly to the Vittala temple. One has park it around 1.5 km away from the main temple and take the bus provided by Hampi World Heritage Area Managment Authority.

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Way to Vittala Temple

Way to Vittala Temple

Attraction in Vittala temple –

Bazar lane outside of temple

Stone Chariot

Maha-Mantapa-The main highlight of the Maha-Mantapa is its richly carved giant monolithic pillars.

Muscial hall – The outermost of the pillars are popularly called the musical pillars.

Kalayna Mantapa – the ceremonial marriage hall, it is 100-pillared hall.

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After Vittala temple – we had our lunch at Tamrind tree hotel and we were welcomed by a peacock in the parking area. This is small hotel with nice sitting area. Food was nice…especially the banana flower subzi was amazing.

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Next on the list was Royal Enclosure – the area is spread over many hundreds square meter and is scattered with many number of interesting relics – Mahanavami Dibba, King’s Audience Hall, Stepped tank.

Basically Royal enclosure area is a wide-open ground with little shelters inside.

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Then there is Zanana enclosure – was a secluded area reserved for the royal women.The major attraction is the Lotus Mahal.

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The Elephant stables is behind the Zenana Enclosure.The path to the other locations like the Elephant Stable, Guard’s Quarters and a few other temples’ runs through the center of this area. The whole area is now made into a sort of open garden with lawns.

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Next was underground Shiva temple – this temple dedicated for Lord Siva was built many meters below the ground level. For this reason, almost all the time the sanctum and the core parts of the temple are under water, restricting entry to the inner areas.

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A water canal system too is visible around the main temple. But this canal is dry and you can walk down to a point from where it’s impossible to go further. There is a small temple for Siva’s consort too near the mail shrine. The Kalyanamantapa (ceremonial marriage hall) is a great looking structure. It has been believed that this is one of the oldest temples in Hampi.

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Then it was time for Coracle ride-  Entry to this place is from the far end of the Hampi bazaar opposite to the Virupaksha temple. From this point you have walk for about 10 minutes to reach the place where you can hire coracle. You can visit Kodanda Rama Temple here. We spent half an hour riding the coracle. The pilot shows various small temples on the sides of the banks. If you ask he will also stop and you can visit the temple and come back. This was very nice, scenic ride and our kids enjoyed it a lot. You happen to see different kinds of birds also. Also if you ask the pilot he will row the boat round and round like a merry-go-round..simply amazing experience.

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After having fun ride when we were back to parking there were all monkeys on our vehicle..managed to get nice click of one of them..

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Then we visited Virupaksha temple. Virupaksha Temple is the main center of pilgrimage at Hampi and has been considered the most sacred sanctuary over the centuries. It is fully intact among the surrounding ruins and is still used in worship. It is dedicated to lord Shiva.

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While leaving temple at the entrance of the temple we met an important inmate in the temple, the elephant. The elephant trained such that only if give him 10 rupee note he gives you blessing. And that was lovely part our kids enjoyed it.

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That was the end of our yet another magnificent day…we said bye and thanks to our guide for covering most of the places in a day. Through out day whenever we asked our guide about any place..he used to say “ek din mein nahi hota..4 days to chahiye” in his typical south Indian accent.

Among the planned sites at Hampi we were left with two – Mathanga hills and Achutaraya temple. So we planned it for next day morning. Actually we wanted to see Sunrise from Mathanga hills but with small kids with us that was next to impossible to wake-up so early after having such a busy day.

We reached our hotel at Hospete had buffet dinner and called off our day.

14 Nov – After having breakfast we started at 8.30 AM for Mathanga hills Hampi. It is located at the centre of Hampi, and also the highest point, Mathanga hilltop is the best spot to get an aerial view of Hampi.The trek can take about thirty minutes. The rooftop of the Veerabhadra Temple is the  place to the sunrise and sunset of Hampi.

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Panoramic view..

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At the foot hill you will find status of Nandi- Monolithic bull. Then we visited Achyuta Rayas temple  – dedicated to Lord Tiruvengalanatha, a form of Vishnu , was constructed by a high officer in Achyuta Raya’s court and hence the name.

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There was small government shop next to police station near Hampi bazar..visited the shop and bought some khadi clothes – as a memory from Hampi.

Then we started our journey toward next heritage site – Aihole. On the way to Aihole had some Guava’s from road side sellers. And also there were plenty of sunflower farms on the road side. We stopped at one and took some snaps.

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Continued to part-II….

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Travel to God’s Own Country…Kerala – II

..continued from the part I.

Drive to Thiruvananthapuram was very slow with so much traffic on road. We reached Thiruvananthapuram at 12.20 and got to know that temple was closed at 12 noon. We noted down the next day morning timings of temple and inquired about the dress code. Dress code was only Dhoti for Abhijeet, frock for Saee and Saree for me. Since I wasn’t carrying and Saree along with me, other option for me was wearing dhoti on chudidaar. We purchased two dhotis from nearby shop and started our journey to KanyaKumari.

After leaving Thiruvananthapuram city part we had our lunch at Hotel White Dammar. We took Kerala meals. Guess what – in true spirit of national harmony, all waitresses there were from north-east India. Food was good and tasty…enjoyed it and even Saee enjoyed the special Kerala rice..she just loved it. I regret not taking any snaps.

On the way to KK we visited Padmanabhapuram palace. It is about 50KM from Thiruvananthapuram. The palace is located in TamilNadu but is maintained by Kerala government. Well maintained and is a wooden palace and one must visit this if going to KK. The palace complex inside is around four kilometers long and is one of the best examples of traditional Kerala architecture. As you enter the palace there are well marked arrow direction which takes you through whole palace. And at each important part of palace there is a person who explains the significance/use of that part.

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At around 3.30 PM we left from here. We thought we would reach KK by 5.30 PM as it was around 34 KM and we took NH47 route. As we started from here there was huge traffic jam just before reaching Nagercoil. And we were stuck in this traffic jam for over 1 and half hours.

Firstly the road from Alleppy to KanyaKumari were the worst and to add it that, a traffic jam. Not good. But one that that we could clearly appreciate was the fact that no one – mind you – no one was cutting the lane. Unbelievable – especially for someone like me who is so frustrated of people cutting lanes in Pune.

 

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According to our paper plan the idea was to visit KK before 5:00 pm, see the sunset and return back to Thiruvananthapuram for night stay (the distance was merely 95 kms) – But it took us well over 6.5 hours to cross that small distance.

The fact that apart from Munnar, Alleppy and Thekaddy we did not have advance booking of hotels worked in our favor. We simply decided to stay at KK (although not planned already)

And we reached KK at 7.30 PM. It was raining heavily and KanyaKumari did not appear like a big town in any angle in the dark. After reaching KK we checked-in at hotel SeaSun residency…average hotel. As we were already so exhausted (traffic and bad roads) that we didn’t even look for any more options for the hotel. We saw this hotel first and we booked room here.

Next early morning (5:30 am) we went to see sunrise…and there were clouds in the sky so we could not even see sunrise. After clicking few snaps..we took darshan of goddess Kanyakumari Amman. We left KK  at arount 7 AM…KK was very disappointing for us.

Atleast for me, It would have been fine even if I would have skipped it, but nevertheless I do have “I was there” snaps – just for the records 🙂

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KK

 

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Next in our plan was Padmanabha Swamy temple. Thinking that since we started early, atleast the road back would be less traffic and we would reach in tile at the temple – but we were wrong. There was huge trafiic as we entered Thiruvananthapuram. We reached temple at round 10.30 (4 and a half hours to cross 95 kms – can you imagine – especially when you frequently travel to Mumbai (140kms) in less that 1 and half hours)

The darshan timing was 11.15 to 12. We entered the temple and were in queue…we thought will have to be in queue for half hour. But then there was some speical pooja going on and queue was stopped for around 2 hours. We were in queue for 2 hrs standing still. After getting darshana we left Thiruvananthapuram at around 2.30. Had our lunch on the way. Our next destination was Guruvayoor. It was around  286 KM from Thiruvananthapuram so it was again 5 to 6 hrs drive.

We took a break at Alleppey and filled up fuel tank. We asked the pertol pump guy how much time does it take to reach Guruvaryoor he said 2.5 hours..we didn’t quite believe the guy looking at our past experience in Kerala and especially the route from KK to Alleppy. We stopped at Coffee shop and there we met a guy who gave us detailed route. And he said it will take max 3 hours to reach Guruvayoor. We were happy to know that only 3 hrs drive. We followed the route given by him and reached Guruvayoor at around 9 PM. Again, were never had plans to stay at Guruvayoor, but with flexibility on our side we had the luxury to find a hotel at runtime and change courses as needed. I quickly opened trip advisor on my phone and got a list of hotels around. We went to the road of temple and found one of the top recommended hotel Sree Gokulam Vanamalaa from a distance. And checked-in to the hotel. It was a good hotel with nice room service and food was also good. After having dinner we were off to bed.

Guruvayoor is famous for Sree Krishna Temple. Next day early morning we went for darshan, even here only dhoti is allowed and for girls chudidaar or saree was allowed. The temple is huge – I have never seen any temple bigger than this till date. It is beautifully designed. There is a small temple of lord Ganesha nearby. Next to this small temple there is a small museum. This museum has very beautifully carved statues..it a small one but worth visiting.

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Purchased some cotton Sarees and toys from near by shops. From there we went to Elephant Camp Sancutary..its around 3 KM from temple. Here there are around 50 to 60 elephants. These elephants are donated by devotees of Guruvayoorr temple.This facility is also used to train the elephants to serve Lord Krishna as well as participate in many festivals that occur throughout the year. We visited this specially for Saee…as there were so many elephants to watch.

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We left Guruvayur and our next destination was Mangalore. On the way we had breakfast at road side restaurant.  What a breakfast he served…it was amazing. We ordered masala dosas..and the dosa was a giant dosa and not only this there was big vada also as a topping on it. It was like a brunch.

On the way visited Thalasserry Fort . Entry is free…nothing much to watch in this fort.

 

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Entered Karnataka…

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Generally speaking roads in Kerala a narrow and goes through the town so are slow but they are all in top condition (except for Thiruvananthapuram to KK). Inspite of the traffic and slow pace, it was indeed a pleasure for Abhijeet to drive there.

But as we reached the boundary of Kerala and Karnataka…the road conditions started depleting. But that was the only near the boundary areas. We reached Mangalore by 6.30 PM…and we thought we could drive still 50 km more so we proceeded to Udupi. Road from manglore to Ududpi is nice – more like an express way – there are quite a few patches with “work in progress” boards but still multi lane roads was delight after driving a kerala for over a week. We reached Udupi at around 8 PM, checked trip advisor..and directly went to Kediyoor hotel – right in the heart of the city – which was near to famous Krishna temple. After check-in we asked the hotel manager if the temple is open at this time. He said temple is open till 9 PM. We got freshen up- and went to Krishana temple it was at walking distance..10-15 mins walk. We took darshan. Thankfully here there was no dress code and no long queue – mainly because it was closing time at the temple. It was just a perfect time for the drashan.

We were back to hotel and ordered dinner at room. Dinner was perfect…very nice and tasty food. Although here’s an irony. They did not serve south indian thali in the evening – only north indian thali. South indian thali is served only at lunch 🙂

Our next destination was Gadhinglaj (my native place in maharashtra) it was around 425 KM from Udupi. So next day we started early at around 6.15 AM. We checked out with hotel manager -about the road conditions and traffic. Lessons learnt at Kerala were still with us 😉 He said the road is in good condition and there is very less traffic.

We also check teambhp and other sites for recommendations – there were atleast 4 options suggested. Confused, we decided to follow the hotel manager’s recommendation – with a bit of skepticism.

We took the below route to connect to NH4….

Udupi-Bhatkal-Honnavar -Yellapur-Kalghathi-from here it connects to NH4-the express highway.

Turned out to be a good decision.

Amazing road…very scenic drive. Filled up fuel tank at Honnavar.

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We had breakfast on the way in small restaurant at Yellapur.

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We reached Gadhinglaj at 2 PM..to have lunch at home. After having lunch we were relaxed …and all gup-shup started, as I was back from Kerala trip,my sister was already there and she was back from Singapore trip.

Next day after having lunch we continued our  journey back to Pune.  As we entered pune we started feeling the pollution in air. We reached home safely at around 7.30 PM. That’s the end of our Kerala trip. While the trip ends, memories remain forever.

We traveled through 4 states (Maharashtra-Karnataka-Kerala-TamilNadu)..

Few closing statements

Our Tata safari is such a dependable SUV. Not a single problem throughout our almost 4000 kms road trip. Just for the records we have been driving it for close to 8 years already.

My daughter Saee inspite of being just 5 years old was such a great fellow traveler – her energy and enthusiasm kept us going. No complaints whatsoever. Food no problem. Sleep no problem. Travel no problem. Energy infinite.

Tips for those travelling to Kerala

Kerala is a place to drive your own vehicle. Amazing curvy roads.

Extremely friendly people. Even if you don’t understand their language, you can easily make out the directions that they intend to guide you in.

Do not trust google maps for distance and speed in Kerala. You should easily add 25% more to distance and 75% to 100% more to estimated time shown on google maps.

National highway (NH) is a myth. National highway traffic is no different from your inter town traffic and times even more – specially because the roads are narrow.

Kerala is clean! Everywhere you go, it’s clean.

Food is amazing and surprisingly cheap. Do not hesitate to eat on the road side restaurants. The taste of food goes up multifold.

All in all its been an excellent experience.

 

 

 

 

Categories: General, Hill Station, Historic, Religious | 5 Comments

Travel to God’s Own Country…Kerala – I

We always wanted to do a road trip to Kerala in our black beast Tata-Safari….so we decided to just do it during this Diwali (2014) vacation. I started planning accordingly. Based on the previous experience from our Rajasthan road trip, first we decided the route and got it reviewed by reviewers on trip-advisor. Generally we are of the opinion that you shouldn’t do hotel bookings in advance – it kind of gives you the flexibility in extending/compressing your trip dynamically – based on prevailing circumstances. And this has worked well for us till date – you generally get decent hotels at runtime. But in case of this Kerala trip we were adviced to get hotel reservations done well in advance – at least at Munnar, Thekkday and Alleppey. Take note of the advice, I started looking for hotels mainly for Munnar and Thekkday – Diwali being peak season advanced booking was recommended . I inquired almost all top rated hotels from trip-advisor  but all were sold out. So I called up Mr.Ajit from Landmaster Holidays – pune based tour operator and got hotel bookings done for Munnar, Thekkday and Alleppey – after he had arranged our uttar kannada trip and he did find good hotels for us in spite of hotel sites showing it as sold-out.

Since my father in law and mother in law had already visited Keral, it was just me, my husband Abhijeet and my 5 year old daughter, Saee. All set to get started.

Below are the details of our 3750 kms journey, completed in 10 days.

Route followed – Pune-Mysore-Wayanad- Kozhikode-Angamali-Idukki-Thekkady-Munnar-Alleppey-Kanyakumari-Thiruvananthapuram- Guruvayoor-Kozhikode-Manglore-Udupi-Gadhinglaj-Pune.

On 24th we woke-up early morning and it was Diwali Padwa day. After performing Padwa rituals, we started our journey for Mysore at 5.40 AM. The plan was to drive throughout the day (900 kms!!) and reach Mysore in time – so that we have sufficient time to find a hotel for stay.

32 KM before Kolhapur, we filled up fuel tank. We crossed Kolhapur at around 10 AM. We had our lunch at dhaba near Dharwad.

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At around 3 PM we took right at Hiriyur towards Mysore. The Mumbai pune express highway is such a pleasure driving. Image 700 kms in 9 hours (including breakfast and lunch time) Not bad huh!!

But after the diversion at Hiriyur, things changes – 1. no more express highway – road going from small towns and villages. 2. language problem – many of the times the boards were written in local language. While language was a problem, people were not – ask for directions and we got tons of instructions. We reached Mysore at around 7.30 PM. With no hotel bookings in Msyore and we called up Ginger hotel and rooms were available so we directlty headed to hotel and checked-in. After check-in, we just thought of taking look at Mysore palace from oustide. We visited the palace just to see from outside.

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After having dinner we were off to bed as there was lot more waiting for the next day.

Next day morning we started at 7 AM from Mysore. Filled up fuel tank and left for Kochi. Had breakfast on the way. We crossed bandipur national park, on the way we spotted few deers in the jungle.

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The same stretch got connected to Wayanad sanctuary and we entered God’s own country Kerala. We drived through Sulthan Bathery  and it was raining. What a majestic welcome by the rain god in his own country. Our initial plan (based on google maps) was not take the Wayand route. There was supposed to be a diversion somewhere – that route was supposed to be faster than that from Wayanad. But we never saw that diversion. We ended up taking the Wayanad route. And boy what a mistake to make. It turned out to be one of the best routes we have ever driven. We drived through the ghat road – it was awesome drive – very scenic drive. There were waterfalls on one side and on other side beautiful skies with clouds and valley. We had tea in the ghat road.

On the way we went to see Edakkal caves (some 7  kms inside from the main road), With time in hand we thought of adding it to our initial plan but on reaching the foot of the hills we learnt that it takes around 1 and half  hour to climb up. It started raining heavily so we dropped plan to going up to see caves.

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We had lunch near Kozhikode on the way to Kochi at Hotel Minar Biryani house at around 2 PM. We asked the restaurant guy for the duration to reach Kochi, he said around 5 to 6 hrs drive from here. Our plan was to reach Kochi by 5 PM. At first we thought being national highway we can at least drive 60 KMPH..but this was our first learning in Kerala – Never over estimate the driving speed on Kerala roads – Generally all roads are single lane – and appeared like all traffic in Kerala was right in front of us. Moreover the national highways went through densely populated areas – you can hardly catch-up speed of  35 KMPH. Moreover we already spent much time in Bandipur and Wayanad…drived slowly enjoying the nature.

By the time we reached Kozhikode, it became clear that we simply could not reach Kochi by 5 PM. So we decided to drive as much as we can before sunset. We passed by Thirssur  and then onwards the road was double lane. We reached Angamali at around 6.30 and it was already dark due to clouds..on the way we found Hotel Elite Palazzo and we stopped there, We inquired for the room..room was available with CP plan and we checked-in.

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Our total drive from Pune to Angamali was 1360 KM. Just to set things in perspective – first 950 kms on day one and just 400 kms on day 2.

After having breakfast at Elite Palazzo we started to Thekkady at around 8 AM.

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Enrouted Idukki dam on the way to Thekkady. It is build on Periyar river. Nice view from Hill view park.

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We reached Thekkady at around 1 PM, we had our booking at Abad Green Forest. We checked in.

After having quick lunch we went to Periyar Tiger Reserve park and rushed to ticket counter for periyar lake boat ride.

What I read from site and other travel sites that tickets are sold 90 minutes before the time of departure and around 30 tickets are reserved for online sale. We reached their at 2 PM and we thought we will get tickets for 3.30 PM slot. But when we reached the counter all tickets were sold out and they asked us to come next day early morning at 5.30 AM. Then we thought we will spend some time here and go to elephant junction. There was one more group from Pune sitting next to us and chatting in Marathi – Generally we observed over the nest week or so, there were more Marathi speaking people (visitors) than Malayalam speaking people. Of course an exaggeration but you get my point. Right?  – So we inquired with them they said even they did not get tickets and they will also do the boat ride in morning. One lady from their started sharing her experience in Munnar. She gave us an excellent tip for our next day Munnar trip.

In Munnar, she said, they had to stand in queue for almost 2 and half hours to get the tickets for eravikumlam national park and then after getting tickets they came to know we can do advance booking in munnar town – from forest office by paying some extra rupees and can avoid the long queue. It indeed saved us a lot of time in Munnar. We were generally chatting (not much to do since we both could not take the boat ride)when her daughter came and said that they got the boat ride tcikets. We were like…how is that possible…all tickets were sold out? she said few people cancelled the tickets and they got it. We again went to ticket counter to try our luck. The guy said no more tickets are available. Then we requested him and asked them how other group got tickets..and we need only two. Don’t know what they did and they gave us two tickets – that upper deck 1 and 2nd seat. Now this was sheer luck – from no tickets available to seat# 1 and 2. Who says luck does not play any role?

And went on the boat ride. While our luck was high on getting the tickets but it wasn’t strong enough that we could see any elephants or tigers. Although we did see a bunch of deers and a group of bison. And of course so many birds – so many that you simply cannot miss them 🙂

3:30 pm seems like the ride would not be an easy one – it got to be hot and humid – we were wrong – Cool breeze, pleasant atmosphere and great ride overall.

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Boat ride finished by 5 PM.  As we came out of periyar tiger reserve we asked one guy standing next to gate for the way to elephnat camp. He said he is marketing person of the camp and he can take us their. He came along with us..after reaching elephnat camp he came to know that since it was getting dark they stopped selling tickets for further elephant rides. Could you imagine my daughter Saee was not going to get an elephant ride after waiting for 3 completes days – since the trip started. She was agitated and simply not willing compromise anything less than an elephant ride. The guy spoke to some other elephant owner and got us a ride there. There was only one elephant and the ride was through the spice garden. Of course it did cost is Rs 200 more but then nothing compared to Saee’s happiness.

She was extremely happy and jumping with joy and also feeded the elephnat and was super excited.

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After elephant ride in the spice garden we visited Mudra cultural center to watch Kathkali dance. It was nice show even Saee enjoyed it lot. After that we had buffet dinner at green forest resort,  it was nice with variety of food items and taste was also good.. and were off to bed.

 

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Our next destination was Munnar. We had our breakfast and left for Munnar at around 8 AM.

On the way to Munnar we visited Ramakkalmedu – Cradle of wind. Ramakkalmedu is another small hill station in kerala. Also known as The Cradle of Wind. Here wind blows at a speed around 35 km per hour throughout the year irrespective of the season and it is the second place in Kerala where a wind energy farm is installed. It has huge statues of Kuravar and Kurathi, which depicts the sangam period and sangam landscape of Kerala and Tamil Nadu. From the top, one can view beautiful panaromic view of village Theni in TamilNadu. It is believed that lord ‘Sree Rama’ had set his foot on this rock and hence the name Rama-Kal-Medu. When we went here there was no one – it seems its not very popular place – may be because of lack of basic facilities near by. But then we enjoyed the scenic beauty and views from here.

After spending some time we started our journey to Munnar.

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Road to from Thekkady to Munnar is awesome very beautiful scenic drive.  Every day we spent in Kerala it became more and more clear by they call it “God’s own country”

On the route we visited tea gardens, lockhart gap. Drive through ghats with the view of widely spread tea gardens was one of its kind. We have been to Darjeeling and this was nothing less than that. And driving on these curvy roads was such a pleasure that Abhijeet said the journey was far more beautiful than the actual destinations for him.

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We reached Munnar by 12. After reaching first we filled up fuel tank and then went to forest office to buy Eravikulam national park tickets to avoid long queue. Hotel booking was done in advance at Abad Copper Castle. Its located 3 KM from town towards Kochi road. The hotel is located in the hills in a secluded place – the view from our hotel room were simply amazing.

 

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After check-in and lunch we visited Eravikulam national park. Eravikulam national park is famous for Nilgiri Tahr (an animal that resembles part goat, part donkey). Its located in the Kannan Devan hills.

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There was long queue for the entry tickets, we already had tickets so went directly to the counter and bought bus tickets and entered the bus. Private vehicles are not allowed in this park and one has to go in buses provided by the park authorities. Bus takes you inside the park i.e. around 4 KM from the ticket counter at this point there are facilities like cafeteria, amenity centre, eco-shop, toilets. The bus drive to park is also beautiful with view of tea plantations. Mind you the whole hilly area is plastic free. Also we spotted waterfall along this way.

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From this point one has to walk for around 1 KM to spot and get close view of Nilgiri Tahr.

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We went up-to the end point but did not spot any Nilgiri Tahr may be because of rains. But this point gives very beautiful view. My daughter Saee got upset as she was very much excited to see the Tahr and we did not see any.

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We were back to town at around 6 PM…roamed a bit in town and were back to hotel.  It was overall a very nice day and were tired so relaxed in hotel. There was buffet dinner and we wanted to try some local food. So we ordered Alleppey fish curry and Fish Polichathu…very tasty just loved it.  One thing I missed during this trip is getting snaps of food dishes.

Our next destination was Alleppey. We had breakfast – it was buffet not that good as compared to abad green forest at Thekkady. Till Munnar our drive was 1715 KM. We left for Alleppey at around 8 .35 AM.

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On the way we visited Valara water falls , Cheeyappara and power house water fall. It was a very scenic drive.

 

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Abhijeet couldn’t ask for more – what a drive it was. Picture perfect roads and scenery – seen never before. I simply cannot avoid comparing this to our north east trip. 2 places geographically so apart but so similar in these aspects. India is such a beautiful country!

 

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Reached Alleppey at 1 PM, hotel booking was done in advance at Haveli Backwaters. This was a new hotel opened just few days back.Theme of the hotel is Rajasthani haveli, nice concept. Rooms were good spacious and had rajasthani paintings. It is located right next to the back waters.

Mr .Ajit did an Excellent job in finding all 3 good hotels for us – inspite of they not being available on the hotel’s website itself.

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After check-in we went directly to Shree Krishna day cruise as recommended by many people on trip advisor. There we booked shikara for 3 hours ride in back waters.

Shikara ride through backwaters was nice. We passed by Nehru’s Statue at Finishing Point and then passed by water sports center.

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There were many houseboats parked in the lake. And many were sailing there was huge traffic of houseboats in the lake.

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We passed by petrol pump – I never imagined a petrol pump only for houseboats – Abhijeet and I were really excited to see that.

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And also a NO PARKING board – awesome!!

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Then we entered a narrow canal…to see village life and paddy fields along the lake side. It was very nice experience.

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Ducks swimming-in

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Every home has their own kayak parked in front of their house.

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Fishing done by ladies for dinner

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People practicing for boat race

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Old ladies rowing while the young one is sitting. Huh!!

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Overall a very nice and beautiful experience.

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Did I mention, these is not someone’s imagination put in some paintings but real photos –

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After boat ride we went for a walk and purchased souvenir and went back to hotel. Restaurant manager told us dinner will be served 8.3 0 PM onwards and  Saee was very much hungry. So for dinner we went to near by restaurant and had fried fish and fish moilee – yummy, very tasty.

Went back to hotel and were off to bed.

Next destination was Thiruvananthapuram-Kanyakumari. Plan was like, if we reach Thiruvananthapuram before 12 then we will  go for Padmanabh swamy temple or we will proceed to KK and visit the temple on our way back.  We continued our journey and left Alleppey at around 8.30 AM after having breakfast. Breakfast served at the hotel was buffet with very limited items and was OK.

Next part continued….

 

Categories: Hill Station, Historic, Monsoon, Religious | Tags: , | Leave a comment

Uttara Kannada – Land of Scenic Beauty

One of our family friend came up with proposal of north Karnataka tour in Christmas holidays and we decided to go for it and in all three families were ready for the tour.  So when people going for the tour were confirmed our next step was to finalize the tour dates which was in all a major task..as we had to consider everybody’s leave (as we all are working) and children school holidays.  Christmas vacation for children was starting from 25th December – only thing was we had to apply leave for our Children in their school for 3 days.  Then we contacted our tour manager to make all necessary arrangements for travel and accommodation. We were provided with a Tempo traveler( 13 seater) + driver for travel and booking vouchers of hotels by our tour manager. Everything was ready and we all were set to go for  Uttara Kannada tour. In all we were three families – 6 Adults + 4 children.

Day 1 –  we started at 6 AM (chilly Saturday morning) from Wakad. Our first destination was Dandeli which is approx. 445 km. We all were shivering and were looking for cup of tea.  We took a stop at Hotel Ruchi near Satara – a much needed refreshment. Our journey started after breakfast…all with singing songs…cracking jokes…eating snacks. We reached Belgaum some time around 12 in the noon and still it was 3 hrs drive from there to Dandeli. We were late as per the scheduled time. We were supposed to reach Dandeli by 1 PM but we reached there at 3 PM.

Dandeli is surrounded by thick jungle with River Kali dashing through furiously. . This is the only place in South India where tourists  are offered white water rafting.

We had a booking at Kali Adventure Camp – for 3 river view tents. We checked-in at 3 PM, lunch was ready – we all were hungry so first we had lunch. Then one of the representative from Kali told us that and Jungle Safari was planned at 4.00 PM but we reached late so our Safari has been planned for next day morning at 5.30 AM which was fine with us.

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The Kali representative took us to our river view tents – and it was amazing. Very neat and clean and beautifully located on the banks of river Kali. I just loved it.

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After getting freshen up we went for boating – in circular boats – Indian coracles . It was fun riding through it. Person who was sailing boat asked us to maintain silence and not make any noise as there were crocodiles in the water and we could spot one… if we made no noise. We were like what…are u kidding us..? We got afraid as we do not know swimming and what if crocodile attacks us…so many questions were running through our minds. Then the person told us they don’t attack if their stomach is full. But if they hear any noise or see us then they will go in water and we will not able to see them. So we kept quite… we saw one crocodile  lying in a rock…relaxing. We were excited and our children started making noise as they saw it…and it went into water before I was able to capture it in my camera. That was a big disappoint for me. The person told us in range of 10 KM there 200 crocodiles in this water. Then it was time to look at different birds on the trees and bank of river. We saw many hornbills, then we saw Kingfisher – what a sight. We saw few other birds I don’t even know names of them. Overall it was a very nice boat ride.

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After boat ride Kali Adv. Camp took us for short nature walk and gave us information about the trees and timber and reserved forest area and all. After that they arranged camp fire and barbeque for us followed by dinner. We had to go to sleep early as we had safari planned at 5.30 in the morning.

Day 2: We got wake-up call from one of the representative at 5 AM in the morning. We had tea and all were ready by 5.30 AM. Safari area was 22 KMs away from the resort. We went in open jeep..it was dark around and it was very cold. As we reached jungle..at the gate our cameras were checked and we were asked to turn flash off as animals get afraid of  camera’s flash light. We all were looking around if could see any animal…and at first we spotted a deer. Then we spotted a peacock. While returning back we spotted few more deer’s . That’s it. We were not lucky enough to spot tiger, leopard , elephant …etc., By 8 AM we were back to our resort.

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We had our breakfast. There were few adventurous games like rope climbing, Burma bridge crossing, climbing up machan…etc in the resort we spent some time playing around it. Overall it was nice experience at Kali Adv. Camp at  Dandeli. Our plan was to check out at 11 AM, so we checked out in time…all were ready in time.

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Our next stop was at VenkatRaman temple at Kumta on the way to Gokarna. This temple is located in the middle of the town…so the roads are very narrow. At first we felt like…is there really any temple..? But then found it. This temple is dedicated to Lord Venkatesh and Goddess Padmavathi. Idol of lord Venkatesh in this temple is very beautiful, you feel very pleased after looking at this idol. The story behind this temple is that “Idol of Lord Venkatesh was brought here by a learned Sanyasi and before his pilgrimage to northern India, he installed the idol in this temple. Since then, this town saw all round progress and this temple was renamed as Venkatraman Temple. Now it is a holy center for innumerable devotees of the community in and around Kumta”.

Dandeli to Gokarna was 3 hours drive. All the way drive was through Jungle, roads were not in very good condition so speed was very limited. It was 2 PM and we all were hungry so we were looking for good restaurant. As it was all way through Jungle it was very difficult to find one. Google helped us to find nearest restuarant and we found one Kamat Restaurant. We had our lunch and proceeded to Gokarna. Gokarna is famous for Mahabaleshwar temple and OM beach.  Here  is the  very famous interesting story behind this temple.  We reached Gokaran at 5 PM..took darshana and visited OM beach. Om beach is named so because it is shaped like the auspicious ॐ (OM) symbol. Om beach is the only naturally Om shaped beach.

After spending some time on OM beach we left for Murudeshwar and reached Murudeshwar by 7 in the evening. Murudeshwar is famous for worlds second tallest Shiva statue, Murudeshwara Temple and Raja Gopura. The temple and the huge statue is surrounded on three sides by the waters of the Arabian sea.

The main temple Murudeshwara of  lord shiva was closed by the time we reached their so we directly went up at the foot of huge statue of lord Shiva. This statue is surrounded by many other beautiful sculptures..like as big Nandi, surya rath, ravan giving the atmaling, Sadhu’s doing worship and a shani temple. Another major attraction here is the cave – on that depicts the story behind Gokarna and Murudeshwar. There are around 16 tableaus housed inside the cave and a narration clearly explains each tableau. Cave was also closed when we reached their..couldn’t see it.  We spent some time their….clicking some shots. There was ample space so we played some bachpan wale games..like vish-amrut.

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Our booking was done at RNS Residency hotel.Our rooms were sea facing…and that was really very scenic. It was all dark around and there was only noise of sea waves.

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The restaurant at RNS residency was pure veg and some of us wanted to have fish in dinner. They suggested us their another hotel which had sea food as their speciality. We went there and we were very late…they asked us to order fast and order all food at once..as they were closing their kitchen. We were worried how they will prepare the food…but that was tasty and nice at end of the day.

Day3: Early in the morning we visited the main temple of lord shiva. Here is the story behind the temple. 20-storied Raja Gopura is constructed at the temple. The temple authorities have installed a lift that provides a breath-taking view of the 123-feet Lord Shiva idol from the top of the Raja gopura. Two life-size elephants in concrete stand guard at the steps leading to the temple.

After darshan we spent some time on beach…it was crowded but nice. Beach water was very clean, my daughter Saee enjoyed a lot there.

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We had breakfast at RNS residency itself and we left for Gerosappa. It was 2 hour drive. Our next booking was done at “Stay @ Mutthuga” near Jog falls . On the way to Gerosappa we visited Idgunji – temple of Maha-Ganpati..it is very famous temple in south, here is the story behind the temple.

After drashan we left for Gerosappa .   Stay @ Mutthuga was again Wow….very nice location and very nice cottages.Cottages are built in the middle of farm. It was a home stay as the name says…no modern amenities like TV and all are provided here. As they say…you are here to relax and spend time with families and not to watch TV and all..so just relax and enjoy your time with nature.

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After check-in we got freshen up and had lunch. Food was OK not too good nor too bad. Then we relaxed for some time. And at 5 PM vistied Jog falls. Jog falls was disappointing for us ..as it had no water. Only few falls were there with little water. At 7.30 there was laser and light show…that was nice and enjoyable.

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We left from there at around 8.15 PM. Had dinner at home stay Mutthuga. It was very cold..so they arranged camp fire for few extra bucks. We enjoiyed camp-fire with some gappa-shappa and all.

Day4: In the morning after breakfast we checked-out. Our next destination was Sirsi. On the way to Sirsi we visited Yana Rocks. Way to yana rocks was very beautiful. On the way there was small river stream flowing down the bridge. It was a very nice location. We stopped there and clicked some beautiful shots. After spending some 20-25 minutes we continued our drive to Yana rocks.

Yana is a small village, the two unique rock outcrops near the village are a tourist attraction, these huge rocks are composed of solid black, crystalline limestone. These are 120 meters and 90 meters in height. It is also well known as a pilgrimage centre because of the cave temple below the tallest rock where a Swayambhu (that which is created by its own accord) linga has been formed. Water drips from the roof over the linga, adding to the sanctity of the place.

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Our next booking was done at “Bakula Home Stay” 8 KM from Sirsi and as is names says it was really a home stay and very nice location. here is it – We had our lunch there..and that was amazing exprience. Real south taste…they served us on banana leaves with so many items – Chitranna, subzi, chapati,2 different curries – one was some herbal curry,rasam,curd rice, sambar rice..such a long list. After having tasty lunch. The person in-charge took us at the backyard of his resort..to our surprise there was small river flowing. We spent 1 hour their enjoying the water…again a very beautiful location.

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Then in the evening we left for “Banavasi temple” and on the way back to our resort we visited “Marikamba temple” in Sirsi.  Marikamba temple in Sirsi is dedicated to goddess Durga. Banvasi temple is a very ancient temple. This temple is dedicated to lord shiva. Nandhi in this temple is huge and is built in one single stone.

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After visiting temples when we reached our resort…camp fire was ready for us with some hot – herbal drink..which was nice some very different taste. Our dinner was also ready..we had dinner..it was very special – authentic kananada taste. By then the camp fire was ready. After getting warmed-up…few of our friends wanted to dance. Music system was alreday in place – so we just had to connect our pen drive..and that was it.Enjoyed the dance..little Arjun son of our friend was enjoying every bit of it….and was dancing very nice. I just loved his dancing.

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Day 5 – last day of our trip – In the morning at 7 AM ..breakfast was ready. In breakfast we had Jumbo Idli.. It wrapped in some leaves and cooked. Only one idli was enough to make you full. In sweet dish they served us sheera..made in ghee. We all were set for next sight seeing  point i.e. Unchali falls.  As we didn’t know the route the person-in charge of resort provided us with Guide…who took us to the Unchali falls. Way to Unchali falls is through thick forest…it is very beautiful and it has water all through the year. This waterfall created by a 116 metres (381 ft) drop in the Aghanashini river.

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Then we visisted Sahasralinga. It is in the river Shalmala and is famous for being the location where around a thousand lingas which are carved on the rocks in the river bank. Its a pilgrimage place.

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Sahasralinga ended our uttar kannada trip and we started our journey back to our home – Pune. We had lunch at Khanapur near Belgaum.  Then we stopped at belgaum  to buy famous sweet -dish of Belgaum – Kunda and continued our journey. In the evening we took a short break for tea and then in the night we stopped at “Aaram” hotel after Satara for dinner and reached Pune by 12…midnight.

It was very nice trip..enjoyed a lot..memorable one…Uttar Kannada is really very scenic and so the name of blog is. And I would say a big thank you to our tour manager at “Landmark Holidays” for choosing such beautiful hotels/resorts locations and also thanks to our driver and his tempo-traveller..which made our journey very smooth.

Categories: General | 5 Comments

Dadra and Nagar Haveli – A green destination

I was looking for a near by destination to celebrate our 5th marriage anniversary…a short break of 2-3 days. After searching for a place we thought of Dadra & Nagar Haveli…found good reviews on internet, so we planned for it.

Dadra & Nagar Haveli is a union territory and 40% of its area is forest – that is way I said a green destination. Actually best season to visit is from Oct to March….April was also good.

We (My husband Abhijeet, daughter Saee and I ) left on Saturday 20th April from Pune in the morning. We then stopped at FUN-N-FOOD near Varsava Bridge (Ghodbunder-Junction) for breakfast. Continuing further on our trip…there wasn’t much traffic on the road so driving was comfortable at a constant speed. We were supposed to take a right at Talasari but then we missed the board and had to take exit at Bhilad- right turn 5 to 6 km and  we entered DNH. Like our earlier trips, this time also we had no advance booking done – we simply took phone numbers of the hotels from their websites and arrived in DNH. We first enquired at Daman -Ganga Valley resort but the near by area so was not good…so we headed up for Khanvel 20 km from Silvassa, as there were few good resorts over there(..that is  what I read from trip advisor). We found Green valley resort nice place to stay and was in our budget as well so we checked in at Green Valley resort. We had lunch at their restaurant,  restaurant was nice with good ambience and tasty food.

 

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After getting some rest in the noon…we visited Dudhni in the evening. Dudhni is 20 km form Khanvel.  Drive to Dudhni was awesome….wonderful road , greenery every-where and steep ghat. Dudhni holds a huge water reservoir of the Damanganga river surrounded by foothills of western ghats. Trekkers are allowed to setup their tents near the bank of the river.

 

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We took boat ride at Dudhni..just next to lake there was a government’s tourist complex and water sports park, we wished we would have selected this hotel as the view from there was really very nice. Across Dudhni there is a village Kauncha where trekkers can trek in the forests and enjoy local cuisines.

 

 

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Back to hotel for dinner. Next morning we visited  Deer park at Satmalia, you can drive through your own car in this sanctuary…and can watch deer, sambhar, black bucks and variety of  birds including  peacocks in their natural habitat. Some deer’s were running as we went close to them to get a click and some of them were just giving pose for the photographs. Saee enjoyed a lot and was very excited and all the way she was searching for deer’s.

 

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Then we visited Vasona – for lion safari. Here visitors are driven in Vans that are fitted with net mesh screens. We were very much excited about the lion safari. But the safari was of hardly 20 mins. As the driver already knew where the lion and lioness were siting he took us from that route so we ended up watching lion and lioness in a very  short period of time.

 

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After lion safari we visited Tribal museum at Silvassa. It has a collection of masks, musical instruments, traditional jewelry, life size models showing different tribals and their culture. It also has collection of hand made warli paintings, wooden crafts, palm leaf mats and this was also for sale.

Then we visited Dadra, 5km from Silvassa. We had lunch at Dadra resort which was next to  Vanganga Lake & Garden. Again garden was major attraction for Saee..as the garden was surrounded by lake and Japanese style bridges that was connected to the garden. Saee was very much excited to watch ducks, fish and turtle in the lake – we also saw a monkey swimming in the lake. So that was great bundle of joy for Saee and paddle boating was another attraction for her.

Vanganga lake and garden is a sought-after location for Bollywood to film song sequences.

 

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Then we were back to our resort spent evening at resort relaxing and enjoying the nature followed by dinner.

Third day  – check out day. After check-out we visited the famous Bindrabin temple at Khanvel. And we left for Daman which was 45 km from Khanvel. Before living Khanvel we filled up our fuel tank as fuel was cheaper than Pune.

 

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We visited Daman fort and then Jampore beach – spent some time at beach enjoying sea food. The jampore beach was not that good as compared to konkan beaches in Maharashtra.

 

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Then we left for Pune…and reached at home in the evening. Drive back to pune was very lengthy cause of traffic…!!!!

 

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Roadtrip to Resurgent Rajasthan – II

…in continuation with Roadtrip to Resurgent Rajasthan – I

On 7th July– We started at 7.30 AM, had Jodhpur’s famous Mirchi vada for breakfast on the way to Osian.

We reached Osian, which is 65 KM from Jodhpur. Guess what…in the parking area saw 3 peacocks.

Osian is famous for temple of Sachiya Mata. It is an oasis in the Thar Desert. Desert camp safaris are arranged here as well. But we had plan for desert camp safari at Sam dunes.

After visiting Osian we left for Jaisalmer, on the way to Jaisalmer we visited Pokran fort. Nothing much to see in this fort. POKARAN means “the place of five mirages”. Some part of the fort is converted to hotel and is looked by present Thakur. Inside the fort there is museum of arms,weapons,royal clothes, garments and paintings. Also there are some stories and beliefs…our guide told us about it.

On the way from Pokran to Jaisalmer..saw group of peacocks (there were 4 to 5). After some minutes drive saw deer on the road side. Roads in rajasthan are too good….and less traffic…Abhijeet was really enjoying driving.

We reached Jaisalmer at 2.30 PM. Beware of Jaisalmer bike riders, they will catch you 4 to 5 km before city for hotels and camel safari…don’t go with them. We did a mistake and had to pay double for the camel safari which we realized later. I am referring to Abu Safari worst exp. Beware of these cheats. We took most expensive package which included camel safari at Sam dunes, welcome drink, traditional songs/dance and dinner and stay at huts in desert-3 star service and all – but there was nothing as he told…3rd grade service was given.

As per royal package that we took we started for Sam dunes which was 40 KM from Jaisalmer at 4.30 PM. Reached Sam, Camels were waiting for us…we took camel cart for my in-laws and Saee.We were there for an hour…Saee was enjoying playing in sand.

We enjoyed a lot the camel safari and sunset from Sam dunes. After safari, reached hotel in Sam where they served us welcome drink and snacks (cup of tea, poha) as a part of our package. While we were having snacks, traditional dance programme was started.  Enjoyed folk songs..folk dances,  Saee got excited…and even she started dancing with them. After this cultural programme…we were invited for dinner. In dinner  we had rajasthan’s famous dal, bhatti, churma which was not well prepared.

Huts in the Sam desert were not so good, so we requested for night stay at hotel in the city. They tooks us to few of the hotels which were not good at all then finally  after arguing they took us to Gorakh Haveli (heritage hotel), which was good one. They arranged for other hotel only because – we paid him only some advance…so to get full payment he took us to the good hotel.

8th July– In the morning we started for sightseeing in Jaisalmer.

First we visited Sonar Fort– Uniqueness of this fort is that it is made of yellow sand stones. Nice one it’s the second oldest in Rajasthan. People live in this fort. It is located in the middle of city. You can see whole city from this fort. Jain temple is near to fort.

Next we visited Patwon ki Haveli- Nice haveli. It was the first haveli erected in Jaisalmer and second that it is not a single haveli but a group of 5 small havelis. It was built by Patwa  and it is believed that Patwa was a rich man and was a renowned trader of his time. He was the diwan. He could afford and thus ordered the construction of separate stories for each of his 5 sons. These were completed in the span of 50 years. One is open for tourists, two were purchased by Indira Gandhi’s government for Rs.80, 000 and 3 are private. Few scenes from film “Sarfarosh” were shooted here.

After haveli we visited Gadisar lake-  It was constructed by Raja Rawal Jaisal, the first ruler of Jaisalmer. In the later years Maharaja Gadisisar Singh rebuilt and revamped the lake. We took a boat ride…there were so many ducks in the lake. Enjoyed boat ride…as the atmosphere was pleasant.

We left jaisalmer at 12.15 in the noon, our next destination was Mount Abu (440 KM). For Mount abu we had to go by barmer-sanchore road.

On the way to Barmer again we saw group of peacocks, group of deers…when we took reverse to get some clicks but as they saw us..they ran away. After going few KM…saw a deer crossing the road and Abhijeet had to apply urgent brake.

We had lunch at Hotel Kailash in Barmer.

We reached Mount Abu at 8.30 PM and stayed at Hotel Sheratone. Mount Abu is the only hill station in Rajasthan.

9th July– At 9.00 we started sightseeing at Mount Abu.

First we visited Nakki lake, this lake was dugg by Gods using their nails that’s why the name Nakki Lake. Nice spot…lake surrounded by hills. Boat ride was enjoyable.

We had breakfast and did some shopping near the lake.

Then we visited Dilwara temples. The beautiful green hills surrounding the temple give a very pleasant feeling. The ornamental detail of marble stone carvings is amazing. These temples were built at the time when no transport or roads were available at a height of 1200+ Mtrs in Mount Abu, Huge blocks of marble stones were transported on elephant backs from the Arasoori Hills at Ambaji to this remote hilly region of Mount Abu. There are five temples….and the cost of construction of each temple was in crores..the main temple construction cost was Rs.18 crores. Must visit. No photography is allowed in the temples.

After visiting Dilwara Temples we left Mount abu…, ghat is so beautiful…just like amboli ghat in Maharashtra.

On Abu road after lunch my mother-in-law visited Bramha Kumari spiritual center and we had some time to relax in the car.

We left for Vadodra at 2.30 PM, reached Vadodra at 8.30PM, and stayed at Hotel Kalyan in Sayyajiganj.

10th July– After breakfast we left for Pune at 10.00 AM. Had lunch at Dairyland which is few km after crossing Gujarat border. Dairyland is very famous for dairy products…and they serve organic foods from their farms.

And finally we reached home safely at 8.00PM…thanks to Abhijeet and his Tata Safari… for such a wonderful trip!

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Roadtrip to Resurgent Rajasthan – I

We (me and my husband) thought of taking a break of 1-2 weeks from our busy hectic schedule. After evaluating a few options we decided to make a roadtrip to Rajasthan in our Tata Safari. Like a typical road trip we simply planned the route with no advance hotel bookings (of course with a few hotel phone numbers from trip advisor.)

Here is the route that we followed-

Pune – Vadodara – Udaipur – Kumbhalgarh – Ranakpur – Nathdwara – Chittorgarh – Ajmer – Jaipur-Pushkar – Jodhpur – Osian – Pokran – Jaisalmer – Barmer – MountAbu – Ahmedabad- Vadodara – Pune.

Total KM travelled: 3970.

We were five members (me, Abhijeet – my husband,  Saee-my 2.5 years old daughter (Saee means friend in my mother tongue – for those who are non-maharashtrians ) and my in-laws), started on 30th June at 6:30 AM from Pune. Our first stop was at Petrol pump at Wakad to fill up fuel tank.

After driving for 2.5 hours, we stopped at FUN-N-FOOD near Versova Bridge for breakfast. Continuing further on our trip we noticed traffic till Surat driving was frustrating as there were so many trucks on the highway and no lane discipline was followed by them. After Surat there was less traffic and the driving experience started improving.

We reached Vadodara by 3 PM. As per our initial plan we were supposed to take halt at Vadodara, but we reached before time and Abhijeet was still enthusiastic to continue driving – never mind Udaipur was still 312 KM ahead.


Reached Udaipur by 9:00 PM, as we had phone numbers of hotels, contacted few of them and got one Hotel Meghdoot, checked in at 9:30 PM. It was total 898 KM drive from our home to Udaipur.

After relaxing…Abhijeet had some chat with hotel manager and asked him to get a guide for us for next day sightseeing in Udaipur.

1st July – After breakfast, we started at 10.00 AM, guide was ready and was waiting for us.

Udaipur city was built by the Maharana Udai Singh, earlier he was in chittor, he came here for hunting and liked this place and he built the city- story behind Udaipur as told by our guide.

First we visited Sajjangarh, built by Maharaja Sajjansingh, on the top of hill. On the way to Sajjangarh saw two peacocks on the roadside…got excited…then guide if we are lucky we could see some animals in the jungle.

Sajjangarh is away from the city – nice and cool place on a relatively higher altitude from the rest of the city. From the top you can see JagMandir palace, fateh sagar palace and taj lake palace… or should I say the whole city view.

Maharaja Sajjansingh used to spend 4 months here during summer with his 15 queens.

Then we visited Oldest Mahadev Temple.

3rd We visited Bapu bazaar, famous bazaar of Udaipur. Udaipur is famous for silver jewellery…we did some shopping.

After shopping we had lassi, which is very famous in the city (don’t remember name of hotel).

4th– We visited Vintage Car Museum…15 cars were at display, nice car collection but not worth the entry fee (You will find almost same collection at Umaid Bhavan Palace in Jodhpur)

5th – We visited City palace museum, royal residence too good.

After city palace, we had lunch at Hotel Natraj-famous for gujrati thali and were back to hotel for some rest.

At 5.30 PM, we visited ropeway (we didn’t do it as we were running out of time), lake pichola-boat riding. Then Visited Bagore ki Haveli at 6:45PM, for the dance show named “Darohar” which runs daily from 7 to 8 PM. – If you are one of those who like to sit back and relax after a day’s hectic schedule, this is a “must watch” show.  Amongst others there was one folk dancer who was approx 50 yrs old. In her 50s and oh my what energy and dancing skills. Very inspiring.

After dance show we had some clicks at Gangaur ghat then went to gulab garden, Saee and I took a camel ride.

After gulab garden, we were back to hotel and had dinner. Guess what, it rained that night for the first time in Udaipur.

2nd July– We started at 7:40 AM, filled up fuel tank. On the way to Kumbhalgarh we had breakfast famous mirchi wada at some tapri. On the way to Kumbhalgarh we visited Haldighati museum at 9:30 AM. This museum is private, person over there takes you through the museum, describing every piece. There were paintings, models describing the battle of Haldighati between Maharana Pratap and Mughal. After the first section of the museum, we went for second section where they  showed us short movie of battle of Haldighati and Chetak- horse of Maharana Pratap. After the movie…he took us to the light and music show which was the second last section of the museum. The last section was shops…where they sell rose water, gulkand prepared by them. Overall nice historical place and one must visit when in Udaipur.

Road to Kumbhalgarh is full of greenery – you will see so many different types of birds. It was hard to believe that we were in Rajasthan….all the way it was like konkan.

We reached Kumbhalgarh by 10.45 AM, 82 km from Udaipur. Kumbhalgarh is birthplace of Maharana Pratap. Built in 15th century by Rana Kumbha, and enlarged through the 19th century. Every evening the fort is lit up for some time, we couldn’t see it as we visited in the morning.

After having lunch at Kumbhalgarh, we left for Ranakpur famous for Jain temple.

Ranakpur jain temple is open for non-jains after 12 noon that is why we had to plan kumbhalgarh first. Beautiful temple with very fine and nice art on marble pillars. Pujari (Priest) at the temple explained us the history of the temple and importance of major drawings/arts/sculptures in the temple.

There is one beautiful carving made out of a single marble rock where there 108 heads of snakes and numerous tails. On one of the pillar there is writing by Akbar, where it wrote that he will never destory any part of this temple. There is a big statue of Mahavir which is built by powder of real pearls…it shines amazing. Pujari told us that there many idols of Mahavir, which are kept underground and are given to those who ask for it for building new Jain temples.

We got late at Ranakpur, so we had to drop our plan for Nathdwara which was on the way to Chittor (165 kms from Ranakpur). On the way to Chittor..it rained again. Reached Chittor at 8 PM…light and music show was going on at the fort. Chittor fort looks really great at night during the show. We stayed at Hotel Vinayak in chittorgarh.

3rd July– Morning at 9.00 AM we visited fort and took guide as the fort is 13 KM long. Beautiful fort, it is the largest fort in India. In fort we visited Vijay Stambha (Victory Tower), Kirti Stambha (Fame Tower),Rana Kumbha palace,Fateh Prakash palace,Gaumukh reservoir, Padmini’s palace, Sun temple, jain temples and museum.

If you observe the sculptures – not a single statue is in good position – some or the other part of each and every statue is destroyed. There is a history behind it as told by our guide “Alladin Khilji when was in Chittor saw Rani Padmani in mirror..while Rani was in her palace Jal Mahal. To obtain her, Khilji called his force and attacked Chittor. So Rani Padmani decided to suicide, a huge pyre was lit and followed by their queen, all the women of Chittor jumped into the flames and deceived the lustful enemy waiting outside. There were around 16,000 women.”

Finally the guide dropped us at shop which is famous for rajai’s, chandan saree. You will find the rajai’s at very low cost compared to Jaipur and Udaipur. We had already done our shopping at Udaipur, we were already at loss.

We left Chittor at 12.45 in the noon for Jaipur and had lunch at hotel on the way.

On the way to Jaipur we visited Ajmer. Ajmer was not in our plan but as we had some time and it was only 27 km off track from Jaipur road so we decided to go there. It is a pilgrimage centre.

As we were entering Jaipur, traffic police caught us for tinted glass of windows and I was not wearing seat belt. He took RC book and asked to collect next morning from their office at Jaipur after paying the fine.

The fact that even everyone on a 2 wheeler (including pillions) were wearing helmets was a good indication that traffic rules are strictly followed in Jaipur. Of all the cities we visited in Rajasthan, Jaipur was the hottest one.

We reached Jaipur at 7.15PM and stayed at Anuraag Villa, nice place to stay.

4th July– Visited Yadgaar building (Local RTO office in Jaipur) collect RC book- Abhijeet had to watch a 10 minutes movie on safe driving- thanks to me – I was the one who was not using the seat belt. After watching the movie and paying a fine of Rs 100 we moved on to our first destination in Jaipur – Hawa mahal.

One good thing about Jaipur is that all tourist attraction points are located on the same street, so you don’t have to go back and forth across the city.

1st spot- Hawa mahal– five-storey “Palace of the Winds”, it is having 953 small windows called Jharokas – from where Queen and her accompanies (Rani) used to see bazaar. Jharokas are common design of windows across all forts, palaces in Rajasthan – It is said that no one was supposed to see the queen’s face. The Jharokas are designed in such a way that the queen could see what’s on the outside but was not visible for people on the other side.

2nd spot-City palace– built by Sawai Jai Singh II. This is relatively a newer palace – not as impressive as the previous forts we had visited.

After city palace we had lunch at Balaji bhojnalay – right opposite to city palace gate on the main road – nice food. Back to hotel, took some much needed rest.

At 4PM we visited Amer fort, on the way to amer fort saw Jal mahal which was not opened for tourists at that time.

Jaigarh fort and Nahargarh fort are on the same route. There are some interesting stories that link  Indira Gandhi with these forts – you  may want to google about it. At Amer fort we took a guide, who explained every minute details about the fort. What a grand fort this is.

Amer fort is unique in architecture – The fort was build be 2 architects – one expert in Moghal design and other in Hindu design styles.

It has beautiful paintings with natural colors (made from leafy vegetables, fruits, etc) and gold, Sheesh mahal which is called winter palace, used by Maharajas during winter. Sheesh Mahal has a very interesting architectural design. The glass pieces on the wall worked like room heaters in those days – when lamps were lit in the rooms.

Equally interesting is the summer palace which was used by Maharaja during summer – the summer palace is designed in such a way that it works like a natural AC.

As you enter fort you would see meena bazaar – this is similar to Delhi’s Meena bazaar – I could only imagine how lively the whole place would have been in those days. As we went up visited Kali temple, this temple has Ganesha’s idol on its door – a precious piece of art – It is said that it is built from a rare stone. The value of the ganesha idol is so much that there is 24 hours security guard and surveillance camera installed

The fort has a wall running to about 12 KM. There are two gates to the fort Sun gate and Moon gate. In the morning you can have elephant ride thought the sun gate, which is called Elephantastica. We entered through the moon gate as we visited in the evening.

Daily at 7.30 PM music and light show in held at the foot of the fort. The show is spectacular – that describes the history the fort – a one of its kind light and sound show – various parts of the fort are lit at different occasions as the story proceeds. After watching 55 minutes of amazing light show, we were back to hotel by 9:00 pm.

5th July, after having breakfast we visited Jantar Mantar and Albert hall museum. Jantar Mantar is a place that will take you by surprise and make you wonder and appreciate the knowledge of our ancestor. Jantar Mantar has instruments which were used to for various astronomical calculations. The primary purpose of this was to compile astronomical tables, and to predict the times and movements of the sun, moon and planets.

After visiting Albert hall we left for Pushkar at 12 in noon.

Please note that most the entry tickets can be used on 4-5 destinations. Do make a note of this fact.

Reached Pushkar at 2.30PM, Pushkar is the only place on earth where you will find a temple of Lord Bramha. Here is the story that explain why this is the only Bramha temple in the universe.  The temple is closed between 1.30 PM to 3.00 PM. Since we reach 30 minutes before 3:00 pm, we visited pushkar lake first and then took darshan of lord bramha.

We left for Jodhpur at 3:30 pm (225 kms from Pushkar) and arrived by 8.15PM.  We stayed at Hotel High Pointe, which was in the main city…, recommending you not to take hotels in the city if travelling by your own car.

On 6th July– We started at 9.00 AM and first visited Mehrangarh.

The fort has lift, my in-laws used it, recommending you to not to use it as it goes only one level up, remaining floors you have to walk.

One more attraction in this fort is flying fox (zip line tour)-which was closed that time…my bad luck.

At the entrance there were local people playing instruments and singing folk songs. After entering the fort ahh…again one more beautiful fort… “ Rao Jodhaji Ka Falsa”.

On the thick wall at the second gate the imprints of cannonball can still be seen.

There are seven gates, which include Jayapol (meaning ‘victory’), Fattehpol (also meaning ‘victory’) gate..dont remember name of other pols I mean gates.

The Mehrangarh museum exhibits the heritage of the Rathores in arms, costumes, paintings and decorated period rooms (Moti Mahal, Sheesh Mahal, Phool Mahal, Takhat Vilas).

After Mehrangarh, we visited Jaswant thada- is a 19th century royal cenotaph built in commemoration of Maharaja Jaswant Singh II. The son of Maharaja Jaswant Singh, Maharaja Sardar Singh, in the memory of his father, built the Jaswant Thada.

 

We had lunch at Pawan Restaurant and then visited Umaid Bhavan Palace.

Umaid Bhavan Palace is one of the world’s largest private residences, built by Maharaja Umedsingh. This is built in Chittar hill and has 347 rooms. It was built by the maharaja for employment during drought conditions. It took 15-20 years with 12000 people to complete this palace.

After Umed Bhavan Palace we were back to hotel had some rest and at 5 PM we visited Mandore garden.

Beautiful garden, there are many temples with no idols, destroyed by the Mughals. There were lots of monkeys in the garden. Also saw peacock on the roof of museum. Mondore garden museum was closed as we reached there by 5.30 PM. Spent some time relaxing in the garden and then visited clock tower, did some shopping and we had dinner at Hotel Priya and were back to hotel.

Next morning we visited Osian…in my next post Roadtrip to Resurgent Rajasthan – II.

Categories: Historic | Tags: , | 1 Comment

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