Category Archives: South

Gomateshwara – Jain Wonder of Shravanbelagola

Karnataka and it’s beauty… always is amazing. I love every bit of it. This was another huge sculpture / statue that I had in mind and wanted to visit this for a long time… From Bangalore, I took a bus to Hassan. There are direct buses to Charannayapatna from Majestic bus stop in Bangalore, but very few and the one at 8:00 AM had already left. From Charannayapatna, there are local buses which take 15 bucks to Shravanbelagola. Nonetheless, I decided to go to Hassan. It takes about 4 hours to reach Hassan and from there you get a lot of buses to Charannayapatna, Haleibedu, & Belur as well.

Once I reached Shravanbelagola, I decided to check in to a local restaurant at the foothills of the Gomateshwara statue… Really dirt cheap room for Rs. 200 bucks a night. Awesome!!! I had enough time to climb the top of the hill and hang out till sunset to experience the beauty of Shravanbelagola & Gomateshwara!

Then began my exploration of Sravanabelegola & the beautiful statues and here’s what it had to say:

Shravanbelagola is a well known place of pilgrimage which gets tourists from all the world. People from allover the country visit this place. The world famous image of Gommateshwara is here. ZVery ancient and beautiful Jaina temples are here. This is a sacred place especially for Jains. Also very famoys is the occasion of  “Mahamastakabhisheka” (great head ablution ceremony), it’s every twelve years.

The first thing which meets our eyes as we enter Shravanbelagola is a big lake. Beautiful steps have been constructed around it. A fort and also “Kala Mantapas” surround it. This lake is called ‘Sveta Sarovara’ or white lake. It’s Kannada equivalent is ‘Biliya Kola’ or Belagola’. the place connected with Shravana or Jain ascetics. Hence the name Shravana – Belagola.

The Lake - Kalyani

The Lake – Kalyani

We see the beautiful and artistic statue of Sri Gommateshwara Swamy on the summit of Indragiri. Gommateshwara is also called Bahubali.

According to Jainism theology,  there was a period in the world when happiness and peace reign supreme. Truth and dharma flourished during that period. It was called Utsarpini. There was another time when justice, truth and goodness decline everywhere. This period is termed Avasarpini. During this time of deterioration, twenty four Thirthankaras (realized souls) incarnate this world and guide people in the right path, by teaching them canons of truth and dharma.

Among the twenty four Thirthankaras, the first one is Purudeva. He is also known as Vrishabhadeva or Adinatha. Vrishabhadeva had two wives. The elder queen was Yashaswathi who gave birth to Bharatha and other hundered suns and a daughter by name Bramha. The younger queen

Sunanda gave birth to a son by name Bahubali and a daughter by name Saundari.

Vrishabha ruled over his Kingdom with pomp and pleasures for many years. After a while he renounced the world. While he did so, he made his elder son Bharata the King. Bahubali was crowned as the Yuvaraja (Heir apparent). Bharata conquered the whole world and in his conquest of the world he also waged war against his brother as he was told by the priests that there were enemies within the city and they were not submissive to Bharata. They were none other than his brothers. All of his brothers were disgusted by Bharatha, and renounced their kingdom to join their father, except Bahubali. He came to fight Bharatha.

Battke was about to take place between the armies of Bharatha and Bahubali. At that moment the ministers fearing that both armies would suffer heavy losses in the battle suggested that only the two Bharatha and Bahubali – might fight other. The winner would be the emperor.

The last battle was to be fought by hitting heads with fists. Bharat had the first shot, because he was older than Bahubali, which knocked Bahubali nearly to the ground. Then, it was Bahubali’s turn. Bahubali’s name means ‘Bahu’ – Arm, and ‘Bali’ – Strength, he was known for the immense strength of his arm. Everybody knew and worried, that if Bahubali’s blows struck Bharat, Bharat would probably die. This contest could have been easily won by Bahubali striking Bharat. But as Bahubali raised his arm to land a blow, he paused, realizing that fighting his elder brother for land, wealth, and power was neither sane nor righteous. Indeed, it would have been a grievous moral failure for a son of a Tirthankara.
As a rule for a Kshatriya, once he has taken action, it is not possible for him to withdraw or retreat. So, instead of landing a blow on his older brother with his raised arm, he simply changed direction, pulling out his own hair with the same hand, thus avoiding striking Bharat. With this, he put aside all of his possessions, and became a solitary renunciant. Learning from this example, Bharat came to understand the folly of his greed for land, money, and power forgiving his younger brother. Bharat continued to ruled for some time, until eventually joining Lord Rishabdev as a solitary renunciant.

Gommateshwara - Bahubali

Gommateshwara – Bahubali

The fight with his brother troubled Bahubali, so after much contemplation, he decided to give up his kingdom and take up the ascetic life. He took to meditation with a thirst for truth, but – it was for ego that he took to meditation on his own.

So before you entere the place there is an amazing architectural fascination called Tyagada Khamba…

Tyagada Khamba

Tyagada Khamba

Tyaga Kamba at the entrance of Gomateshwara. Erected by the minister Chavundarya in the 10th century. Its believed that this is the place he distributed gifts to the needy. Some theories also believe he choose this place to renounce all material things including his life. It’s a pillar that seemingly is hanging from the center. A handkerchief can easily be passed from one side to the other under this hanging pillar. This spot was being used by the people for giving away things as gifts. Hence it’s called by the name Pillar of Sacrifice or Tyagadha Khamba. (Tyaga – Sacrifice)

Gulakayajji

Gulakayajji

Overall this is a place where you will feel totally amazed, amazed by the serenity and peace that it has to offer. The magnificence and silence at which the Bahubali statue stands… You’ll feel really amazed by the amazing carved black stone statues of 24th Thirthankaras inside. After visiting the temple I decided to explore the cliff at the back of the temple… The sun was about to set and what better place than to sit at the edge of the cliff and ponder into the horizon, reflect upon life thoughts and beauty of everything around me… Just don’t need anything else in the world… than this beautiful memory.

So I leave you guys with this amazing snap of the entire town that could be seen. A view from the edge of the cliff… The view of the city and the sound of the town in the backdrop. Cattle making noise, birds chirping, kids playing, autos. Still very Peaceful… Serenity at it’s best…

Sunset across the horizon behind the temple

Sunset across the horizon behind the temple


Goa Again… Relaxation Galore…

Not so recently, I flew to Goa and back for a short weekend trip. A short one albeit, was quite a lot of fun. One of the many times when I’ve been to Goa, I’ve usually taken the train or the driven down… This time as time was short, we had to fly in and out… my cousin and I. More often than none, trips to Goa are down south. South Goa is the most beautiful place of all the places in Goa according to me and that is where I usually chill out at.

One of my favorite beaches have to be Palolem of course. The deep serenity, the beautiful clean waters, the misty nights and of course the most amazing part of this beach is the sunset point. Besides enjoying the chill atmosphere that Goa has to offer, south Goa and especially Palolem, has to be one of the most cleanest, and quite serene of all the beaches.  While it does take time for you to adjust to the utmost calm and the peaceful nature this beach has to offer, it sinks in quite fast after you have acclimatized yourself. One of the most interesting places in Palolem has to be it’s beach lounge bar, Cocktails and Dreams… Besides being open late until night and almost every day of the year, it has one of the best music that they play at the beach. Much different from most music that you hear at other places across Goa.

However, since time was short, we decided to chill out at Anjuna, see a few places in North Goa and hang out at a resort in Panajim. Which was not so bad after all. We did completely relax and rejuvenate ourselves and also got to see a few places in Goa. But this story is not just about that… Something interesting happened on our way back and that’s something I’d like to share with you guys. But before that, a brief travelogue of the amazing places we explored with a tit-bit of something interesting I realized at the end of the trip…

So our day began after checking out of Dabolim Airport, after which we headed straight to Madgaon. That’s where my regular contact for renting a bike is, yeah, quite a regular at Uncle Periera’s rental near Madgaon bus stand. Best thing to do, especially if you keep going to Goa often. No worries of haggling over a price for rentals and probably expect a discount depending on whether it’s an off season or not. Nonetheless for a Rs. 250 per day, I got a good deal and we set off to explore Goa.

Our first stop was Anjuna beach… It was some 30-40 kms away from Madgaon… On our way, there’s a very interesting place that you might wanna stop and chill out especially for it’s view and most importantly, the relaxing feeling you get, before you get to any beach of course. A resort / restaurant by the river called Danny’s Riverside Resort. Spectacular place, where we had a couple of chilled beers with some breakfast… Of course, it’s Goa, what do you expect 😉

Chilled Beer at Danny's Riverside Resort, Goa, Anjuna, Vagator, Calangute, Goa, India, Travel

Chilled Beer at Danny’s Riverside Resort

Anjuna Beach a.k.a  Funjuna 

Soon after, we headed quickly to Anjuna, where we stayed at Sea Horse… And considering the torrid heat in May, we had the option for an AC, beach shack. Quite something that was needed, when you aren’t out there getting tanned under the sun or swimming in the sea. But more than that, the place had a perfect Beach View!

Anjuna Beach, Goa, Goa, Anjuna, Vagator, Calangute, Bagha, Beaches India, Beach, Indian Beach, Where to go in Goa, Where to chill out in Goa, Anjuna Party, Anjuna Rave Parties

Anjuna Beach

If I reckon any beach in North Goa, then it has to be this… Quite chilled out, unlike Calangute or Bagha and your evenings are also quite good especially with some of the shacks playing really good music and the food of course rocks out here. While we spent just one day here, it was quite worth it… The next day, we headed out after breakfast and some amazing fresh lime soda at this beach cafe called Om… Serves quite good food, continental, Italian… But if that’s not your taste, I’d reckon you skip it… A little pretentious this one 😉

Scrambeled Eggs - Continental Style, Food, Eggs, Omlette, Bhurji, Goa Food

Scrambeled Eggs – Continental Style

Fresh Lime Soda

Ft. Aguada

Next stop was one of the beautiful places in North Goa, Ft. Aguada. Fort Aguada and its lighthouse is a well-preserved seventeenth-century Portuguese fort standing in Goa, India, on Sinquerim Beach, overlooking the Arabian Sea.

Lighthouse at Ft. Aguada, Ft. Aguada, Fort Aguada, Goa, North Goa, Dil Chahta Hai, Lighthouse, Taj Fort Aguada

Lighthouse at Ft. Aguada

Ft. Aguada, Fort Aguada, Goa, Goa India, Beaches, Forts in Goa, Goa Fort, Fort Aguada, Taj Ft. Aguada

Ft. Aguada

Final tourist destination on this trip of course was Old Goa and it’s beautifully magnificent Church.

The Basilica of Bom Jesus

The Basilica of Bom Jesus

Inside the Church outside the Museum

And after some real good biking across Goa… it was time for us to just chill out at the Crown  resort in Panaji, one with a terrace view… Perfect for the remainder of the trip, especially to unwind… All we did was drink some good Corona beer, eat some really good food,  some Blackjack, tried our luck, won some, lost some…

Some swimming and last but not least a really rejuvenating spa therapy.  Besides that of course, checking out the amazing Panajim church, which was right across the street for us.

Inside Crown Resort

Inside Crown Resort

Casino Chip @ Crown

Casino Chip @ Crown

Panajim Bridge

Panajim Bridge

Panajim Church

Panajim Church

While it was time for us to leave and catch our flight, we realized that our flight was early in the morning… Thanks to Crown Resort, they provided us with a drop to the airport and we were sorted. That’s when this interesting incident happened, one that made me realize something really important… How important, travel insurance was, especially for international travel.

We were waiting in the queue for our boarding passes. Unfortunately Goa doesn’t have kiosk check ins and we didn’t check in online either… Nonetheless, we decided to wait behind this guy, he had a lot of luggage and had his passport in his hand… He was Indian, but was wearing a blazer, suggesting that he had a long flight, maybe connecting from Mumbai probably out to U.S.A or U.K… My guess was right, he had a U.K Passport and was having a long conversation with the representative at the counter. He seemed a little pertrubed to begin with, he was constantly trying to explain something to the rep at the desk, however something seemed to bother him. He realized that he was holding the line and decided to make way for others while he made a few calls. We got our boarding passes and headed out to security check.

We grabbed a couple of coffees and sat at the chairs in the waiting lounge. I was busy on my iPad and while I was reading something on my app, I quickly glanced and saw the same man coming near me. He sat next to my seat and was busy sorting some stuff and figuring out some of his documents. He seemed much relaxed, than earlier… I was a bit curious and asked him as to what happened?

“Ahh nothing, actually I have a connecting flight to London from Mumbai… But this flight from Goa to Mumbai has been delayed…”

“Hmmm, strange..” I thought to myself as he didn’t look disturbed as he was earlier.

“So how come you are so relaxed now?”

“Well, I don’t have to worry about it, I called up the customer care for Moneysupermarket, where I booked my travel insurance, and they said they will take care of it and give me a flight ticket for another connecting flight, which is right around the time  that I reach Mumbai… So I’m cool now.

“Ahh, that’s great.” I said, acknowledging politely, not realizing how big a deal Travel Insurance was up until now… Most of the times, I do click on travel insurance when I book flights, but really don’t fancy it much… Hence I make sure that in most cases, if I take connecting flights, I take them from the same flights, thus, the airlines can’t play the blame game… But yeah, considering that it could be such a big deal, I thought I’d go back and do some more research on travel insurance especially if I’m taking an international trip next time…

Soon, our flight started boarding and I bid the gentleman goodbye and wished him a great flight! He smiled at me and wished me the same…

Life is a Beach… Truly…

So the other day, I was watching, Life is a Beach on NDTV Good times, that’s when I thought to myself, How many beaches have I traveled to? Come to think of it, I’m more a mountain person than a beach person. But nonetheless, there are some beaches that I’d love to die for. The early morning sunrise, the long walks on the beach, the non-stop swim for hours, the amazing sound of the ocean and the waves hitting at you, the cool breeze blowing across your face and of course, the best food and some alcohol to give you some company. How can I not like the beaches?? That’s when I decided to list down some of the beach holidays I have been to. Here’s the list:

1. Palolem, Goa

This has to be the prize catch. Of all the beaches that I’ve been to, this is the one that I have visited at least thrice. South Goa has it’s own charm and Palolem rocks when it comes to a clean beach, nice blue water and one of the most amazing beach shacks and restaurants across Goa. This has to be one of the best considering the beautiful Sunset point, the Kayaking and the dolphins it has. Not only that, it also is near the Agonda fort, and another similarly serene and calm beach, called Agonda. Both these destinations are a few kms away and one can bike it up. If you are in Goa, taking a bike ride is not new to you, but of course.

Palolem Beach, Life is a Beach, Goa, Beaches, Beach destination

Palolem Beach, South Goa

2. Gokarna, Karnataka

Gokarna has it’s own charm. Besides being renowned for it’s historic and symbolical reference when it comes to Lord Shiva, this destination has an isolated beach called Om, beach. Everyone has a relaxed laidback attitude and this beach is perfect if you want to just put your feet up and have a really chilled out long weekend. I’ve been here once or twice, taking a bike ride from Goa to Gokarna is quite adventurous. Fun if I may say so, especially if you are into riding. The beach has about seven eight shacks and they are pretty reasonably priced and they most certainly serve one of the most amazing dishes. If you are a food buff, this one place called Namaste Cafe’s to die for…

Gokarna Beach, Om Beach

Om Beach, Gokarna

3. Anjuna, Goa

Mostly in Goa, I prefer south Goa, but if you are in North Goa and cannot go further, then I’d recommend either Anjuna or Vagator. Anjuna wit the first preference. Most people like to hang out at Calangute or Bagha if they are party mongers. I prefer Anjuna for it’s serentiy and its beauty.  But besides that, Anjuna is world famous for its trance parties held on the beach during the tourist season. Anjuna also hosts the famous flea market wherein you can purchase many things, ranging from fruits to jewelry, clothes and electronic devices.

Anjuna Beach, Goa, Anjuna, Rave Parties, Trance Parties, North Goa, Beaches

4. Vagator, Goa

This is my place of solitude. I’d like to call this beach as one of the hippie beaches that still hasn’t lost it’s charm. This is totally isolated and if you have to get here, having your own bike or car is the best option. The whole amazing look and feel of the beach is what adds to the whole charm. Vagator Beach is the northernmost beach of Bardez Taluka, Goa. It is located on the opposite bank of the Chapora River from Morjim in Pernem. To the south of Vagator is Anjuna, one of the first hippy haunts of Goa. Vagator Beach has dramatic red cliffs looking down on the shore and two fresh water springs within a stone’s throw of the sea.

Vagator Beach, Little Vagator, Goa, Beaches, North Goa

Vagator Beach

5. Pondicherry Beach, Pondicherry

I went here a couple of years ago, this beach was certainly one where you’d love to relax and enjoy if you are into good food. This destination has a variety of cuisines. From French to Portuggese to Chettinad, you’ve got it all. While Pondicherry beach is near the town and quite a bustle it does not give you the serene and calm nature. For that, I’d recommend Auroville beach. The famous Auroville Ashram a few kilometers away from Pondicherry, the beach is enchantingly beautiful and one of the most calmest and cleanest in South India.

Pondicherry Beach

Pondicherry Beach

Auroville Beach, Matri Mandir, Pondicherry, Auroville

Auroville Beach

These are some of the amazing beaches that I’ve been to and the top most on my list. What are yours?

Murudeshwara – Lord Shiva’s Magnificence at it’s best…

So it had been my desire to visit this place for quite a while now. The last time I was near Murudeshwara was when I had stopped by over a long weekend, a ride taken to visit Gokarna. Too bad, I didn’t realize back then that it was hardly 70 kms from Gokarna. So I had made it a point to ensure that this visit happened this year. And thankfully, it did happen. I had planned a trip in Karnataka, specifically off the locations that had interesting stories with regards to it’s grand mythological and historical references. A seed had been planted in my head, after reading Dr. Devdutt Patnaik’s books on mythology. I was all the more fascinated and had read two books of his on Lord Shiva. A belief doesn’t become stronger unless you have corroborated stories or beautiful understanding about any subject. That’s when I realized that this trip was going to be even better.

Night Train to Murudeshwara

A night’s journey in the Matsyagandha Express was smooth as I traveled sleeping like a log and woke up to realize Murdeshwar had already arrived at 4.30 in the morning. I had anticipated that I’d reach there early in the morning, but had not thought about what I’d do after reaching there so early. Having said that, as always, I tried my luck in the Railway quarters, only to realized there was one room available and there were a middle aged couple along with me who had to visit someone in the town and I decided to go into the waiting room and sleep some more before I headed to the temple.

Fresh early morning cold with beautiful breeze certainly enchanted my mind and made me realize that my week long tour of Karnataka had already begun. After taking a short nap for an hour, I decided to stroll near the station and see what’s around. Silent as a grave, yet serene, the railway station was quite a beauty. I decided to click some snaps of the sunrise which certainly gave solace to the mind.

Sunrise at Murdeshwar Railway Station

Sunrise at Murdeshwar Railway Station

After freshening up, the best thing I could do is get a cup of tea and head towards the temple. But since I didn’t want to carry my backpack, I decided to keep it in the cloak room and come back in the afternoon and collect it. The problem was, my backpack, didn’t have a lock and they wouldn’t accept it. But thankfully, the railway employee suggested that I can keep the bag safe with the canteen guys and collect it later. I picked up my DSLR and my mobile phone with me, after which I didn’t have any valuables and I felt free to keep the bag with him. Nonetheless, the best part about travelling across South India, is that more often than none, you will encounter really amazing people who would help you out at each step of the way.

So there I began towards the temple, it was hardly 3 kms from the railway station and I decided to walk it up enjoying the early morning breath of fresh air…

Amazingly, Murdeshwar is quite unknown and secluded and hadn’t it been for the second largest statue of Lord Shiva constructed by  the R.N Shetty trust, it’d not be as fascinating as it is or attract so much crowd. Yes there is historical significance of this place connected with the Atma Linga story of Ravana and Lord Shiva. Which is probably why it’s more significant and hence someone took the initiative of building something here. Also, just across the Murdeshwar beach are the Nettrani Islands where you can Scuba Dive, which I’d had to save for later as this was a shoestring budget trip 😉

A fascinating game played in the village

A fascinating game played in the village

While I approached the village and I could see the Lord Shiva statue’s head in the distant horizon, I saw a crowd that had gathered nearby. Just near a small tank near another temple, there was a group of onlookers to this interesting game of fetching the bananas. To begin with, there was a pulley on which a bunch of bananas were attached. On the edge of the tank on top of the wall, a group of young boys, decked with flower crowns waited their turn to jump in the air and try to bring down that bunch. While they tried their best to do so, the person who controlled the pulley tried his best to not let them have it. Enjoying this activity with a playful spirit others were cheering for these boys. While I’m sure there must be some significance, symbolic, religious or historic, when I asked around, very few knew what it was. All I got to know was it was a sacred activity performed by boys of the landlord’s family. My best guess is that these boys were entering into adulthood and this is a significant symbol of them trying to fight for the price catch (Metaphorical: A wife, materialistic life, food for themselves, responsibilities) well that was my best guess.

Murdeshwar Beach's Serenity

Murdeshwar Beach’s Serenity

As I walked past the village, and reached closer to the Temple, I could see the Murdeshwar beach in the vicinity and it was truly beautiful. Something that gave joy to my sight and peace of mind to my soul. The next thing was to of course, visit the temple itself and then behind it the Lord Shiva’s Statue…

The Royal Entrance to the Temple -  Rajgopuram

The Royal Entrance to the Temple – Rajgopuram

There is a lift that will take you to the top most floor. All you have to do is pay 10 rupees and wait a bit with other people. But once you go on top, you’ll realize that the wait is worth it… From the top, you can see the Lord Shiva’s Statue, which will give you the top view and that is also very enchanting, with the sea in the backdrop.

Lord Shiva's Statue as seen from the Temple Gopuram

Lord Shiva’s Statue as seen from the Temple Gopuram

Inside, the temple is very serene and there’s ample space for you to just sit and meditate. It’s a blissful experience. But, one of the fascinating things you’ll notice is the Temple’s smaller gopuram has enchanting encryption and engraving which is also gold plated. It contains the entire story of Ravana being tricked by Ganesha with the help of Lord Vishnu in order to protect Lord Shiva’s Atma Linga. (The source of power to immortality.)

After that, to get an up-close and personal view of Lord Shiva himself, I headed to the base of the statue, which has the cave, in which a description of the entire story of how Murudeshwara became a significant place in the context of Ravana, Lord Shiva and the Atma Lingam. They also play an audio clip inside the cave, which tells you the story in Kannada and English if I remember correctly.

Lord Shiva's Statue at the base of the temple

Lord Shiva’s Statue at the base of the temple

The Story of Murudeshwara

Ravana's Mother worshipping Shiva's Linga

Ravana’s Mother worshipping Shiva’s Linga

Ravana’s mom just like Ravana, was a stout devotee of Shiva. Also, she knew about the Atma-Linga of Lord Shiva and the powers it could give his son.  The Hindu gods attained immortality and invincibility by worshipping a divine Lingam called the Atma-Linga. She convinced his son Ravana, to pray to Lord Shiva and attain the Atma Linga.

Ravana Promising his Mother

Ravana Promising his Mother

Ravana promised his mother that he’ll seek out Lord Shiva, pray to him and conduct penance but at whatever cost, he’ll get the Atma-Linga

Ravana Praying to Lord Shiva

Ravana Praying to Lord Shiva

Narada goes to Vishnu

Narada goes to Vishnu

By this time Narada had asked Lord Vishnu to change Ravana’s mind. By this time Narada had asked Lord Vishnu to change Ravana’s mind. As a result of this plot, Ravana asks for Goddess Parvati, and Lord Shiva offers her to him.

Ravana asks for Parvati

Ravana asks for Parvati

On his way back to Lanka Narada tells Ravana that Lord had not given him the real Parvathi and that the real Parvathi was in Pathala who was a King’s daughter in the world below the earth.

Narada talking to Ravana

Narada talking to Ravana

So Ravana frees his companion,goes to Pathala and marries a king’s daughter ,assuming her to be the real Parvathi.

Ravana marrying the King's Daughter

Ravana marrying the King’s Daughter

Ravana's mom asks for the Linga

Ravana’s mom asks for the Linga

He then returns to Lanka, where his mother asks him for the Linga. Ravana then comes to know of the tricks played on him by Lord Vishnu.

Ravana Prays for Forgiveness

Ravana Prays for Forgiveness

He therefore prays to Lord Shiva again, begging for his forgiveness. This time, it’s even more difficult to get Lord Shiva’s attention. He then decides to offer sacrifice by cutting his heads.

Ravana cutting his heads as sacrifice

Ravana cutting his heads as sacrifice

Lord Shiva is moved by this dedication and restores his heads. Also when he appears,  Ravana requests the AtmaLinga as his boon. Lord Shiva agrees to give him the boon with the condition that it should never be placed on the ground. If the AtmaLinga was ever placed on the ground, all the powers would return to Lord Shiva again.

Narada approaches Lord Ganesha

‘ Narada approaches Lord Ganesha

Having obtained his boon, Ravana started back on his journey to Lanka. Sage Narada, who came to know of this incident, realised that with the AtmaLinga, Ravana may obtain immortality and create havoc on earth. He approached the Lord Ganesh and requested him to prevent the AtmaLinga from reaching Lanka.

Lord Ganesh knew that Ravana was a very devoted person who used to perform prayer ritual in the evening every day without fail. He decided to make use of this fact and came up with a plan to confiscate the AtmaLinga from Ravana.
As Ravana was nearing Gokarna, Lord Vishnu blotted out the sun to give the appearance of dusk. Ravana now had to perform his evening rituals but was worried because with the AtmaLinga in his hands, he would not be able to do his rituals. At this time, Lord Ganesh in the disguise of a Brahmin boy accosted him. Ravana requested him to hold the AtmaLinga until he performed his rituals, and asked him not to place it on the ground. Ganesh struck a deal with him saying that he would call Ravana thrice, and if Ravana did not return within that time, he would place the AtmaLinga on the ground.

Ravana giving the Atma Linga to the Bramhin Boy

Ravana giving the Atma Linga to the Bramhin Boy

Ganesha places the Atma Linga on the ground

Ganesha places the Atma Linga on the ground

As predicted, before Ravana could return after completing his rituals, Ganesh had already placed the AtmaLinga on the ground. Ravana got angry and in an enraged state, he hit Ganesha.

Enraged he hit the Bramhin boy (Ganesha)

Enraged he hit the Bramhin boy (Ganesha)

Vishnu then removed his illusion and it was daylight again.  Ravana, realising that he had been tricked, tried to uproot and destroy it.

Ravana uprooting the Atma Linga

Ravana uprooting the Atma Linga

Pieces of the Linga

Pieces of the Linga

Due to the force exerted by Ravana, some pieces were scattered. One such piece from the head of the linga is said to have fallen in present day Surathkal. The famous Sadashiva temple is said to be built around that piece of linga. Then he decided to destroy the covering of the AtmaLinga, and threw the case covering it to a place called Sajjeshwara, 23 miles away. Then he threw the lid of the case to a placed called Guneshwara (now Gunavanthe) and Dhareshwara, 10–12 miles away. Finally, he threw the cloth covering the AtmaLinga to a placed called Mrideshwara in Kanduka-Giri (Kanduka Hill). Mrideshwara has been renamed to Murudeshwara.

Quite enchanting and after having spent more than an entire day in this enchanting place, I returned to collect my backpack and take a bus to Bangalore… From there, my next stop was Sravanabelegola! Another ancient and yet very enchanting place full of beauty and history.

Eccentricity On Wheels – Goa to Gokarna

Gokarna, truly a land of beauty and serenity… It was quite a ride for me to get here and I’m sure as hell that it was worth it. At certain points I felt that it couldn’t get worse and might as well think of better alternatives or simpler solutions… But no, it wasn’t meant to be… I had to be here… Well, it had to be it!!! I had to make this one a road trip… What better than having my own set of wheels! I had made up my mind that I’d go biking it across about 150 Kms from Goa to Gokarna! Eventually that’s what I did and boy, am I glad that I did it that way… But before I reached Gokarna, Om Beach to be precise, I wanted to take a short detour to Cotiago WildLife Sanctuary and check the beautiful place out. Beautiful that it was I couldn’t find many animals as I ended up going there in the afternoon… Yet, after spending a few hours looking for animals, I enjoyed the nature trail and certainly made my Journey to Gokarna in the evening, much more pleasant. Riding on the fast lane with the sun setting by my side, I couldn’t have asked for anything more…

Besides that there were a couple of interesting things and an interesting bunch of people I met down here… But I’ll save that story for the next blog post. Meanwhile, here are a few pictures of my journey from Goa to Gokarna.. Truly a roadtrip of eccentric proportion, catching up with my solitude yet again..

My Lunch before I started the Ride

My Lunch before I started the Ride

So this is how it shaped up, I began my journey after a heavy lunch from Margaon, Goa. Eating the traditional Thali as I always do before I head out for long journeys, it was certainly going to last me for quite a while. Seeking out a new destination on my own set of wheels meant a lot more adventure and fun, besides of course having the independence to just stop anywhere I wanted to… So I had made up my mind that it was going to be a motorbike journey to Gokarna across the border of Goa into Karnataka. An eccentric ride filled with some panoramic views of the sun setting across the mountains. It was not just the ride but the adrenaline that pushed me into going on the biking trip. Suggested by a friend of mine on twitter, it was a really good recommendation.

The Speed Monster I chose

The Speed Monster I chose

This was it… This was my roadster.. One that was going to take me all the way to Gokarna.. Was quite a new bike and certainly riding smooth. Was fun riding with this baby!

Inside Cotiago Wildlife Sanctuary

Inside Cotiago Wildlife Sanctuary

Since I had my own set of wheels, on my way to Gokarna… I decided to take a little detour. Between, Goa and Karwar happens to be this amazing Wildlife Sanctuary, which claims to have Panthers, Cobras, Babboons and other wild animals… I did go there in the afternoon…Didn’t know what to expect, but I took my bike deep into the forest till there was a road to ride it on. After that I did a bit of hiking and went on a nature trail inside the dense forest. Maybe not so scary, but it was quite thrilling entering their territory. 🙂

 Since I went there in the afternoon, all I saw there was a few deer, a couple of snakes and a few birds… Maybe next time I’d go early in the morning…

Rescued Birds

Rescued Birds

Serpentine...

Serpentine...

This one's tryin to tell me something...

This one's tryin to tell me something...

There was something about this Deer… I was trying to get photographs of most of the Deer inside the enclosure… But they all kept running away, probably scared… But this one stood it’s ground… It stood next to the cage as I clicked it a multiple times. It was as if this one had something special to tell me. In fact, it shared a kind of connection with me that I can’t really express or explain in words. It was truly amazing and at the same time a bit depressing to see them so out of tune from their own self…

Warship Museum in Karwar

Warship Museum in Karwar

 As soon as you enter Karwar town, you’ll see this Majestic ship standing across the ocean out there telling it’s tale of glory. Karwar is a coastal city and a majority of their occupation is to do with fishing, especially since Karwar beach is quite a catch for most of the fishermen. Also Indian Navy has a huge base in Karwar… So that’s something that this place boasts of. It was quite something to catch hold of these pictures on my way to Gokarna.

Sunset at my behest

Sunset at my behest

Since I took such a huge detour, by the time I was about to reach Gokarna, the sun was about to set… So just as usual, without wasting much time, I stopped by and took a few shots of the sunset and a few great views that followed me across the journey on this beautiful stretch of NH17….

Sunset by the Bridge

Sunset by the Bridge

If I had come by the bridge, say about 10 minutes earlier, I could have most certainly caught the Sun actually set in those mountains and the view from this bridge would’ve been even more ecstatic… Well, nonetheless, it was a glimpse that caught my eye instantaneously and I had to stop by for a great capture…

A sneak preview of Gokarna...

A sneak preview of Gokarna...

That was also a sign for me to just speed up and make sure I reach Gokarna before it’s way too dark… So I decided to up the anti and turbo boost my wheels into Gokarna… On my way, this is a sneak preview I got… What I did in Gokarna and how interesting the stay was would have to wait for another blog.. Yes, folks, it certainly was interesting so I’m going to have to continue it in the next post… But I’ll tell you, you guys won’t be dissapointed… So stay tuned, and until then do tell me how you like this journey so far. What say guys?

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Gokarna – The Land of Shiva’s Origins…

Har Har Mahadev! Shiva has been certainly one of the God’s that enchant my sense of imagination and a purpose that fulfils me in it’s own entirety. Some believe that this Warrior of Death is the ultimate Lord amongst the trinity of Hindu mythology. Guru Bhrama, Guru Vishnu, Guru Devo, Maheshwara… Yes, Gokarana is believed to be the land of this Destroyer of Evil, the ultimately triumphant Lord of Lords!!! Lord Shiva…

Shiva has a tryst, a tryst with destiny and he knows how crucial he is to the whole eternity and this land of the abyss… To begin with, the most amazing thing about ‘Shiva’ is the meaning to his name… Yes, it means ‘the ‘auspicious one’. Surprised?? Don’t be… Yes, Lord Shiva is the auspicious one and no matter how much importance every other God gets, Lord Shiva’s tales are innumerable.. Some enchant you, some inspire you, some make you feel that you truly believe in the sense of this whole abyss we know as Earth!

Moving on…Gokarna means Cow’s Ear. It is believed that Lord Shiva emerged from the ear of a cow (Prithvi, the Mother Earth) here. It is also located at the ear-shaped confluence of two rivers Gangavali and Aghanashini. ..

This is where I’m headed to next… Yes next stop is going to be Gokarana, where the ultimate power of Mahabaleshwara lies… Friday the 22nd April, being a Good Friday seems to be the ultimate time to go there, on a long weekend…

So I’m going to head off, with my backpack to discover the beaches, the temples and the mysterious land of Gokarna… One that I’ve heard has achieved a lot of buzz amongst a lot of people.

So what’s so great about Gokarna you ask?

Well, here’s a short little review/research I’m doing before I actually get there…

Some History about the Place

Legends in the Sahyadri Khand of the Puranas indicate that the State of Kerala was reclaimed from the sea by the Warrior-Sage Parashurama who came from the North (of the Vindhya ranges) after his wanderings, in which he killed the Kshatriyas 21 times and threw his axe, the weapon by which he annihilated the Kshatriyas, into the sea, to prevent the erosion of the land stretching from Gokarna to the Southernmost tip of India.

Gokarna is also mentioned in the Shrimad Bhagavata Purana as being the home of the two brothers Gokarna and Dhundhakari and the Bhagawat also gives details of the differences in their temperament, nature and exploits. [Source: Wikipedia]

Beaches of Gokarna

Gokarna town has it’s own beach that’s popular with pilgrims. However, the beaches that are of most interest to tourists are located one after another a short distance away. There are four of them called Kudle Beach, Om Beach, Halfmoon Beach, and Paradise Beach. Each has its own appeal. Om Beach is the most happening beach, and is the only one that’s reachable by car or rickshaw. The others are around a 20 minute hike away from each other through the hills and over rocks, or a short boat ride away. The last beach, Paradise Beach, is not much more than a tiny protected cove that’s a patch of hippie paradise.


Courtesy: GoIndia.com

Mahabaleshwara Temple

This is one of the major temples here. It houses the famous Atmalinga here. It is a very major attraction here. Before worshipping at the Mahabaleshwara temple, there is a custom that one has to bathe in the sea and pay respect to a Shivalingam, made out of sand.

There is six feet tall Atmalinga here enshrined in a square called Saligrama Peetha. It is opened for viewing once in forty years. Now only the tip of the Linga can be seen through a opening in the Peetha. Another Mythlogical reference to Gokarna describes how Ravana went to Mount Kailasa to perform penance and get “Atmalinga” from lord Shiva. Lord Shiva handed the Atmalinga and instructed him not to place it on the ground till he reached Lanka.If he placed it down then it would establish itself on the ground. On seeing this other Gods got threatened and went to seek Lord Shiva’s help, who devised a plan with Lord Ganesha.


On his way back to Lanka, Ravana stops for a prayer in Gokarana. Ganesha disguises himself as a Brahman boy and tells Ravana that he will hold the Atmalinga till he finishes his prayers on the condition that he would hold it till he can bear its weight and thereafter he would call Ravana three times. If Ravana failed to come back in time he would place the Atmalinga on the ground. Before Ravana could come he places the Atmalinga on the ground it firmly gets attached to the Earth.

Ravana furiously with all his effort tries to extricate it resulted in his throwing the coverings of the Linga to Dhareshwar, Gunavanteshwara, Murdeshwar and Shejjeshwar temples (the last places is very near Karwar).


[Courtesy: Karnataka.com]

All in all, I’m looking forward to have a great time and ensure I get the best stories and pictures out of this place… 🙂

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Land of my origin! Back to my roots…

Wondering as always where I came from…

A place of the unknown, a land of the unconquered…

The beauty of this town always echoes in my face…

With my true roots I belong to this place…

 

 

Gol Gumbaz

Gol Gumbaz

On this day, something about my life changed… Well, a significant change, in fact more so, in my parents lives… I finally arrived in this world, this universe… Right at this place.. A place that has been in my memories and always will be… They say when you are about to die, your entire life flashes in front of you and the best memories really hit you as visuals that you always cherished… If that is true and if it were to happen to me when I do eventually go back to nothingness, then there would certainly be a lot of images from this town…

There is always beauty and joy to talk about a place where you have come to life at… Most of the times, people live in places long enough to make it their own. Some enjoy going back to their roots to find out who they truly are… and some after being to places like this, still don’t know the true beauty of what your birthplace really has to give you… I think I’m one of them… But I’m going to change that soon.

The irony of it, I’ve traveled across so many places and as a matter of fact, I’ve been here many times, yet I’ve not written a single travelogue about a place that is so important to my life… Strange isn’t it?? Well, that ends here, right now… A couple of months down the line I am going to get an opportunity to visit that place… My birth place a small town in Karnataka called Bijapur!

So I’m probably going to do a short #SriniOnTour of this beautiful and enchanting place…sometime soon… But before I do that, I thought of introducing the majestic place to all you folks and give you some insights on what is really amazing for me about this place…

One interesting fact I need to tell you about this place and my family… While I’m the only son, I do have a lot of relatives and close family members from my mom’s side… who all have been born here, but are living across different parts of the country… My two uncles, one aunt, at least my 10 cousins… all of them have been born in the same town… My mom’s aunt (My grandmom) owns really amazing place here and that is where I remember spending a lot of my vacations as a child.. Fighting with most of my cousins over small things such as what we are to eat, what game to play and who gets to sleep on the terrace and a lot of ther silly issues. When I look back at all the pranks we played, the fights we have had, the wrestling matches we indulged in… it truly brings back memories… Memories that I will cherish forever in my life…

I still remember some times being alone during my vacation, of the most recent trips having gone there, enjoying listening to Guns & Roses tracks sitting on a cannon across a fort that is right across our house at Sunset… Enjoying the wide horizon and the rock music sinking into my head… Wandering sometimes on bicycles in the city… Yes, this is the place  where I actually learnt riding a bicycle during summer vacations as a kid.. This is the same place where I fell, I rose and I fell again… This is the place where I learnt to fight, this is the place where I learnt to use a catapult and pelt down some really delicious mangoes, thankfully in our own backyard and not someone else’s. This is the place where we used to spend hours and hours on the terrace playing board games, winning, losing fighting, playing ‘Rummy’ and other card games… This incidentally is also a place where I had my first crush on a girl who was my neighbor’s cousin and just like us, visiting them during summer vacations… These are strong memories that will refuse to fade away of course…

But apart from that, I also cherish the beauty of this amazing small town also very famous for its monument ‘Gol Gumbaz’ built by one of the Mughal Emperrors Adil Shah… I always remember telling my school friends that this is my birthplace… when we used to learn about it in History… Feeling proud and having a sense of heightened achievement for a simple fact that I’m born here and have been to the monument like a million times… What’s so special about this monument?? Well it’s really beautiful for one, secondly the unique element to this is that architectural significance it holds in Mughal history… A place so magnificently built, it has a unique feature about it… Once you go inside and climb up to the dome… You can go inside and shout at the top of your voice… You’ll hear the echo seven times!!!  And another interesting thing about this place is, if you even tear a piece of paper on the wall at one end of the dome, you can hear it in the wall exactly parallel to it… Talk about telephony back then 😛

Besides this one superb attraction Bijapur has a lot of other Mughal forts and historical places of interest that you would enjoy visiting. One thing we always enjoyed was going in the ‘Tonga’ (horsecart) yes, that was a routine or a ritual I must say as soon as we arrive at the bus stop… In fact, there have been so many tours of the city our parents and I took in the tonga itself. As a kid I also remember my eagerness to sit next to the horse cart driver and get my hands on the reigns sometimes to just feel the power of driving the cart… Well, men will be men 😛

 

The Infamous Tonga of Bijapur :)

The Infamous Tonga of Bijapur 🙂

Image Courtesy: Jorge Reveter

Be it the Upali Burz… A huge tower fort with bunch of heavy Canons to protect the town from invaders, or the amazing Jama Masjid… This town still has a great aura for its beauty and historic significance is still retained. The museums in the Gol Gumbaz still retains heavy armours that the Mughals used to fight in battles and the sharp swords they used to slay their enemies…

 

Uppali Burz

Uppali Burz

Another beautiful place in this is the Barakaman.. It has a legend to it… A mausoleum of Ali Roza built in 1672. It was previously named as Ali Roza, but Shah Nawab Khan changed its name to Bara Kaman as this was the 12th monument during his reign. It has now seven arches and the tomb containing the graves of Ali, his queens and eleven other ladies possibly belonging to the Zenana of the queens.

 

Barakaman

Barakaman

Besides the Mughal attractions, one of my favorites and something which is really close to my home here is the  Lord Shiva Statue.  The 85-foot tall statue of Lord Shiva installed by the T.K. Patil Banakatti Charitable Trust in Bijapur at Shivapur on Sindagi Road is gradually developing as a pilgrimage place.1,500 tonnes statue considered as the second biggest statue of Lord Shiva in the country was prepared by sculptors from Shimoga for more than 13 months and the civilian design was provided by Bangalore-based architects. The statue weighs around 1,500 tonnes.

Lord Shiva

Lord Shiva

Well there are many more places that I would want to talk about… but I’d do that when I do another short blogumentary a #SriniOnTour to the land of my origin… Pretty soon… That is when I would love to give you the dough on this mysterious yet enchanting and beautiful place… Till then, you guys do stay tuned to my blog 🙂 Happy Reading!!

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Final destination… Fort Kochi…

So it was the end of #SriniOnTour… My final destination was Fort Kochi… Yes, there have been a lot of detours and a couple of locations missed, a couple of them replaced by others… But come hell or highwater, I was not going to miss Fort Kochi… Visiting Fort Kochi was something I had to had to do…

So I decided to head off around 11:00ish because it apparently would take me around 2.5-3 hours to reach Cochin and from there I was not sure how long to reach Fort Kochi… So I headed towards Kottayam… and took a bus to  Ernakalum bus stand… Around 70 kms from Kottayam.

Alert: If you are in Kumarakom, there is a cheaper and a faster route to reach Ernakalum bus stand aka Cochin…  Go to Cheratala which is 15 kms from Kumarakom and take another bus to Ernakalum bus stand, which is 40 kms from there.. You save about 14 kms and certainly 1 hour of travel time…

Now, since I didn’t know this at the beginning and found out when I boarded the wrong bus while I came back… I made this amazing discovery… Funny how discoveries of most kinds are through accidents… or synchronous incidents I must say… 😛

So anyways after I reached the Ernakalum bus stand, quickly had some lunch in the nearby restaurant… one which I was not so pleased about, but that is another story… I walked across to Marine Drive… which was like 1.5 km from the bus stand… I was trying to figure out how to reach Fort Kochi from there, SmSd a few friends, tweeted out… and again, stumbled upon a boat jetty that takes me to Fort Kochi… WoW isn’t that amazing?? Just discovering things and stumbling upon stuff randomly… Wait, there’s more…

 

 

Boat Jetty Building @ Marine Drive

Boat Jetty Building @ Marine Drive

Anyways so I took the ticket to Fort Kochi and certainly was excited that this boat trip would be more scenic than getting a bus or an auto to Fort Kochi… One thing was sure, looking at the expanse of the sea, the wait till the sunset was certainly going to be amazing.. And I made sure I cover all the other spots i.e. Synagogues, Dutch Palace, Jew Street etc before I head towards Chinese FishingNets and the Fort Kochi Beach… right at the time of the sunset…

 

 

Enroute Fort Kochi via Ferry

Enroute Fort Kochi via Ferry

 

A view from the streets

A view from the streets

You will find a lot of trucks, a lot of export stuff, a lot of spices and a lot of art work on the streets of Fort Kochi… That’s their primary way of living….

On the streets of Fort Kochi

On the streets of Fort Kochi

A hindu temple inside Dutch Palace

A hindu temple inside Dutch Palace

This is a temple inside the courtyard of the Mattancherry Dutch Palace, also near the Indo-Portugese Museum…

Temple

Temple

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Very peaceful… the place and the surroundings… You can really relax out there on the lawn after taking darshana of the God inside the temple..

 

 

Jew Street

Jew Street

 

This is the Jew Street, on your way to the Paradesi Jewish Synagogue… You will truly find a very different setting out here and experience a completely amazing feel while walking on this street.

 

 

Black Cat on Jew Street

Black Cat on Jew Street

Found this beautiful cat sitting around with other cats on the Jew Street…  Wonder what it was thinking??

Paradesi Jewish Synagogue
Paradesi Jewish Synagogue

Courtsey Wikipedia:

The Paradesi Synagogue is the oldest synagogue in the Commonwealth of Nations,[1] located in KochiKerala, in South India. It was built in 1568 by theMalabar Yehudan people or Cochin Jewish community in the Kingdom of CochinParadesi is a word used in several Indian languages, and the literal meaning of the term is “foreigners”, applied to the synagogue because it was historically used by “White Jews”, a mixture of Jews from Cranganore, the Middle East, andEuropean exiles. It is also referred to as the Cochin Jewish Synagogue or the Mattancherry Synagogue. The synagogue is located in the quarter of Old Cochin known as Jew Town,[1] and is the only one of the seven synagogues in the area still in use. The complex has four buildings. It was built adjacent to theMattancherry Palace temple on the land gifted to the Malabari Yehuden community by the Raja of Kochi, Rama Varma. The Mattancherry Palace temple and the Mattancherry synagogue share a common wall.

 

St. Francis Church

St. Francis Church

 

St. Francis CSI Church, in Kochi , earlier called Cochin, originally built in 1503, is the oldest European church in India[1] and has great historical significance as a mute witness to the European colonial struggle in the subcontinent.[2][3] The Portuguese explorerVasco da Gama, died in Kochi in 1524 when he was on his third visit to India. His body was originally buried in this church, but after fourteen years his remains were removed toLisbon.[4][5] (Wikipediea)

Cheena Vala aka Chinese Fishing Nets

Cheena Vala aka Chinese Fishing Nets

Wikipedia: The Chinese fishing nets (Cheena vala) are fixed land installations for an unusual form of fishing — shore operated lift nets.[1] They are mostly found in theIndian state of Kerala. Huge mechanical contrivances hold out horizontal nets of 20 m or more across. Each structure is at least 10 m high and comprises a cantilever with an outstretched net suspended over the sea and large stones suspended from ropes as counterweights at the other end. Each installation is operated by a team of up to six fishermen.

 

Fort Kochi Sunset

Fort Kochi Sunset

 

After having travelled so many locations, endured so much of travel especially carrying the heavy backpack… Travelling around wandering around like a nomad for 15 days… this was a thing that was waiting to happen… A feeling of bittersweet, telling me  that my journey has come to an end… just like this sun that was setting, telling me it was time to wrap up #SriniOnTour – South India Trip…

 

#SriniOnTour ends… but the journey begins now… What do you think about the overall trip.. Do let me know your comments, suggestions and tips for many more such trips to come 🙂 What say folks??

 

 

Boat to Alaphuzza…

So after having done with the Kumarakom Backwaters, I decided to go ahead and make sure I strike the no.  2 from my list… Yes, travel to Allepy aka Alaphuzza via the Govt. Boat into the backwaters of Alaphuzza… So with that in mind, I called up @vmsajan aka Sajan Mani my friend and guide out here in Kerala. Btw, this man has some really in depth knowledge about Kumarakom and near about areas in this place… He said to me that this is something you would not want to miss out on.. And why would I?? I mean that is listed as a must-do’s in Lonely Planet magazines… Several people from the world throng to be on this Boat ride. It truly is  a spectacle especially since it gives you the feel of Venice of Kerala… Yes, while you are taking the boat ride, you will come across many bridges, which are manually overriden when the boat comes by people holding them with ropes.. can you beat that??

 

 

Venice of Kerala

Venice of Kerala

 

 

You will see people around you working, washing clothes, fishing or going about their daily routine cause, for them it’s their routine…

 

 

A local pondering upon us...

A local pondering upon us...

 

 

So before we began the trip, we quickly gobbled up the very local Malabari Parota and KadalaCurry. Very tasty I must tell you… and then off we went on our trip…

 

Parota & KadalaCurry

Parota & KadalaCurry

 

On the boat we were seated in front of a couple, who were caucaseian but dressed as Indian as they could get… We started talking to them and learnt that they were from Canada… Nancy and Terrence.. and also learnt that they have been travelling from Winchester, Srilanka to India back to Srilanka and then back here in India for about seven months now… Damn, people have been telling me up until now on #SriniOnTour, that they envy me… Now I know what they mean 😛

 

 

Nancy & Terrence
Nancy & Terrence

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

So anyways, we got to also know that they write at Travelpod, they’ve been travelling for a while as they are in transition. They were actually Professional Social workers from Canada and they are big fans of India and Arundhati Roy… One of the most amazing things we learn’t was that they were there during the bombing of Varanasi… boy, and when I read about their experience it totally blew my mind off.. Yet, that did not deter them to go back home and stop their adventure is what I respect the most. Check out their experience here.

 

 

Sketched by @vmsajan

Terrence Sketched by @vmsajan

Very quickly our artist @vmsajan drew a small sketch of Terrence, esp since he liked his attire… Truly this is a sketch which can depict his personality the best 🙂

 

 

A houseboat into the backwaters of Allepy

A houseboat into the backwaters of Allepy

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Church in Backwaters

Church in Backwaters

 

 

Boat by the House

Boat by the House

 

 

Beauty at a strech

Beauty at a strech

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

So we reached the place in about two and a half hours… On our way we got a lot of beautiful shots and videos of the backwaters… truly mesmerizing… Since we were parched to death, we decided to quickly go into town (Allepy) and get something really chilled out to drink… After we had the amazing lemon soda at the stall just outside the boat jetty, we decided to roam the streets of Allepy to find out if we can get some unique pictures and boy… this is certainly unique, what we got out there 🙂

 

 

Streets of Alaphuzza

Streets of Alaphuzza

 

 

 

Busy earning his bread

Busy earning his bread

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Posing for us...

Posing for us...

 

 

On our return journey, we decided to stop by at the very famous RBLOCK Island… and eat some good food and have local coconut palm beer also known as Toddy… This Island was manmade by over 5000 villagers led by Mr. Baker… this was done in order to get more land to cultivate Paddy… Truly fantastic place for you to take  a pitstop and eat some really delicious food. Since I don’t eat fish or sea-food, I can’t tell you much, but from what I’ve heard from Sajan, the pearl-spot fish and the tiger-prawn out here is really delicious. Check out this amazing post by @hollowmaniac about his visit and his experience here…

 

 

R-Block Island Boat Stop

R-Block Island Boat Stop

 

 

 

Paddy Fields

A view of the Paddy fields from RBlock Island

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Tiger Prawn

Tiger Prawn

 

Vallam

Kittu Vallam off Rblock Island

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Kerala Delights & Toddy

Kerala Delights & Toddy

 

 

All in all almost an entire day spent on a boat ride was the best thing to have done… My dream was always to go to Venice… that’s my dream destination… well, at least I reached the Venice of Kerala… Hehe.

 

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Kumarakom Backwaters – Canoe Ride To Bliss…

So after settling down in Kumarakom, I decided to make sure that I didn’t lose out on it’s true beauty… the backwaters especially in the bid to chill out and relax at homestay that I was in.. I could do that after I had taken the tour of a few places in Kerala.. Especially now, since Kodaikanal was out of the picture… I also found out that Thekady, Munnar will have to wait for an exclusive trip to Kerala next time around as they required a full 2-3 days stay in those places… So all I had to do now was chill out in the nearby places…

 

 

 

 

 

 

So as I explored a few places on my way to the Kumarakom Bird Sanctuary, I got some really nice shots inside the Kumarakom village… Some really great surroundings and some really nice places that I enjoyed exploring… It was early in the morning at 7:30 AM… Very quiet, peaceful and serene… You could feel the fresh air, breathe it.. rather, hear the melodious sound of birds chirping in the background and a real feeling that time stood still… That is exactly what it felt like 🙂

When I reached the Bird Sanctuary, I asked the person incharge, the guy who gives the tickets there if I could also get to do a country boat / canoe ride across the backwaters… I was also told that there aren’t many birds inside the sanctuary.. Pollution via Houseboats being the main reason and a lot of them prefer staying in the backwaters for obvious reasons… access to their food… So I chose to take the backwater ride instead of walking all the way inside the sanctuary…

The bird sanctuary guy, set me up with a local boat rider ‘Raju’ and that is where my journey inside the blissful backwaters began… This is far more better than sitting inside a houseboat and enjoying the beauty around you… This is really real and much more up-close and personal to nature… What’s more, you are not contributing in any form of ecological disturbance, plus you are helping these boatmen, rowers with their daily bread and butter… Since it was season time, their rate was 250 bucks for a ride for say an hour or so… But it is truly worth it as the guy will give you details on the birds you see as well as make sure that you get enough time to take great snaps of your surroundings… So here is the journey that I took…

 

My Boat & Raju, the boatman

My Boat & Raju, the boatman

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

So this is my boatman, Raju… He worked with Taj, yes, the Vivant, by Taj in Kumarakom for 18 years and just a few years ago, he retired from there and started boating… That’s what he does now…

 

Here I go...

Here I go...

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

So here we set sail to reach the Vembannad lake from this river that we were in… He was gently rowing the boat to make sure that he also keeps an eye on any birds that come our way and that I could get some snaps of them…

 

 

Spotted a Houseboat

Spotted a Houseboat

 

 

Raju tells me that there are 200 houseboats alone in Kumarakom… This is the season time and most of the houseboats get great tourists and visitors to visit them. You can find a lot of info here : http://www.welcome2kumarakom.com

 

 

Kingfisher

Kingfisher

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I think that was the first bird I spotted… Sadly my basic kit-lens of the Canon 1000D allowed me only this much focus/zoom… If you guys do come here with a DSLR, it would really best to have a better lens with you… especially since, by the time you reach close to them and try clicking a snap, they fly away….

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

As we head further into the river, approaching Vembannad lake, we find a local fisherman set out to his daily job… Yes, imagine, that is his routine and his life.. to earn his bread and butter everyday… Such is life…

 

That is the lakeside resort and hotel, Coconut Lagoon… fancy name, fancy cottages and really exquisite hotel 🙂 Must cost a bomb though I’m guessing…

 

 

Egress Bird

Egress Bird

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Raju tells me that is the Egress bird… And Once I come back and google it.. he is absolutely right… Not that I was testing him or anything, I just forgot the spelling / name of the bird… so did a little R&D when I came back… He sure knows his birds, in fact is honest when he doesn’t and says that this bird came here last year…

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

That’s the Cromaran bird.. Very common one found in the Backwaters of Kumarakom and elsewhere in Kerala. One thing about this bird that really looks beautiful, is when it spreads it’s wings and sits!!! It’s a spectacle to watch… 🙂

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

All these floating plantations, I’m told by Raju, will be clean when monsoon hits Kerala.. They will just vanish… Kaput!!!

 

After an hour long boat ride in the backwaters, I truly felt relaxed… This is the closest you get to Nature and trust me guys, is a very beautiful and relaxing feeling especially when you have to think of nothing… and I mean the Jerry Seinfeld Nothing… 😛

 

What do you think about this journey??

 

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