Wednesday, 29 July 2015

Yercaud, a day away for Bangalore

I told Ankur that it has been long we have not been on a road trip. He also nodded in affirmation.
So the next thing is where to go? This time we wanted a place not far from Bangalore, we wanted to enjoy the road more than the destination. So obviously Yercaud was the perfect choice.

I have heard about Yercaud and also knew that it very much lag behind Ooty or any other South Indian hill stations in terms of beauty. So the expectations were very much set.

We started around 6:30am from our home, pretty late compared to the timings we generally start.

This was our route:

The road ahead

Here comes a hill

Passing by the hill

Such lovely scenes as you pass

The road is awesome

The road is good but in this short distance of 200 km we had to give toll tax at three places and the prices are steep.We had to get to Yercaud after crossing 20 hair pin curves.At each curve the beauty only gets better.Once on top, we expected it to be a little cold, by virtue of the height.But it was hotter than Bangalore! Yes at 11:00 am in the morning.

Amazing view

Flowers alongside

So first we looked for some of the hotels. Hotel TamilNadu which I think is the best bet in Yercaud is fully booked.Next we check ServaRoys hotel and they had only the premium suits available and that too quite expensive without much reason. There are not too much proper choices in terms of staying in Yercaud.

So we decided to have lunch first and then think whether to stay or get back home. We had lunch at the ServaRoy restaurant. The restaurant location is nice.We enjoyed our meal with a nice view of the Yercaud lake.However food is mediocre and expensive.

Next we went to Yercaud lake.Its a pretty small lake and not sure if its natural or man made.There are boating facilities available and its a good time pass.Once our boating was done, it was only 12:30 PM.

Yercaud Lake

Yercaud Lake

Yercaud Lake

Ankur asked me whether I want to return to Bangalore or stay there for  a day.First I though of staying for a day since going back means again driving some 200 km. But then it was only 12:30 PM we were almost done with Yercaud and the climate is also not great. So whats the point in staying back and wasting a day. I told him that I want to go back to Bangalore and relax at home. After all for me home is the best place once travelling is done.

Its very important to set your expectations proper if you are planning for Yercaud. There is nothing touristy about Yercaud except the lake and nothing much to see except a falls which is dry most of the year and also the not so popular Bear's Cave. In my opinion Yercaud is also not half as beautiful and pristine like Ooty or Conoor. Also its hot. However for a day's outing its a nice place a little break from the regular routine. The road is good and climbing up/down the hairpins, its nice.

If you have already seen Ooty or the Nilgiris you can give Yercaud a miss without any guilt, else if you enjoy the drive more then the destination then Yercaud is for you.

Monday, 15 June 2015

Bolpur,Shantiniketan culturally intoxticating

As a tourist if you are planning a visit to Bengal, then don't forget Shantiniketan. It is the place which Tagore built, where he has spend a big part of his life and till day the place can give you so much of Tagore that no other place can come close.

However for us it was more of soaking ourselves in the rich culture, in the vibrant markets selling handicrafts, listening to the bauls and indulging in some good food.

It is always good to visit Shantiniketan in the month of January when there is the "Poush Mela". At that time the otherwise sleepy town takes a complete makeover. Anyway we went in February end.

We started early from our house in Kolkata, and this time with the full family consisting of our parents and siblings. Shantiniketan is a small town near Bolpur and it is approximately 200 km from Kolkata. We started around 7 am and reached Bolpur at 12:30 pm.

The road was good and we reached Shantiniketan via Burdwan. I will not be able to tell the exact location but while you are in Burdwan keep your eyes open for the markers for the 108 Shiva Temples.

108 Shiva temples

Shiva's Bulls

The pond inside the temple premise

The Burdwan 108 Shiva Temples are more than 200 years old. As the name suggests there are 108 temples all dedicated to Shiva and they all look similar. There is a pond inside the temple premises and all the temples are built surrounding the pond. The temples are build in 1788 and they have the famous Bengal Terracotta style of architecture. The temples are still functional and are maintained by Trust. It will not take more than 30 minutes to see the Burdwan 108 Shiva Temples.

The twin terracotta temples

Terracotta sculptures on the temple wall

A rare to find mud hut

Before entering Bolpur, we chanced upon this pair of terracotta temples at Supur. Though they lie abandoned, uncared and unattended but still they are so beautiful. There are houses that have come along the vicinity of the temples but thankfully the temples are inside a quaint little park, so none really disturbs them. By the way terracotta is fire/sun baked clay.

Once we reached Bolpur, we went straight to Shantiniketan Tourist Lodge managed by the West Bengal government. They are duplex cottages but unfortunately for all all were booked for that day.

There are a lot of homestay and hotels in Shantiniketan, so getting one is not a major problem, but do not forget to prebook if you are planning to visit during the Poush Mela (in January) or Dol ( Holi, we Bengalis call it Dol). We stayed in Shakti hotel which is pretty good and decent.

The last time we came here we had already seen the Tagore Ashram. It is best to hire a guide who will be able to take you to all the places in this ashram and also tell the significance of each. in Bolpur or Shantiniketan if you are not having your own car then the best means of getting around is by cycle rickshaws. They are totally eco friendly and fun to travel in.

The round the year bazaar

Baul with his instruments

Just outside the Tagore Ashram there are stalls all round the year. It looks like there is a fair or mela all the year round. You will get beautiful acrylic painted clothes, block printed clothes, hand stitched bags, brass jewellery, wood sculptures, terracotta artifacts and a lot more. If you are lucky you can see "bauls" ( folklore singers) who sing soulful songs.

There is also a museum nearby called Rabindra Bhaban Museum which houses Tagore's  original belongings, his manuscripts and things that are priceless.

The roadside no frills restaurants in Shantiniketan make amazing food. We were bowled over by their  non veg  meals at lunch.

Deer at Deer Park

The next day in the morning we went to the deer sanctuary which is quite nearby. Next we headed to Bishnupur the Terracotta Capital of India and also the only place in the world that has elaborate terracotta temples.

Sunday, 7 June 2015

Chintamoni Kar Bird Sanctuary, a little oasis in a crowded city

Last time when we went to Kolkata, we made a mental note of visiting this place. This bird sanctuary is relatively new and gaining popularity among the city dwellers.

Previously when I used to stay in Kolkata, I had seen this place, it was more popular by the name "Koyal er Bagan". But when I checked it this time the sanctuary's popularity has surely increased.

The park is near to Narendrapur where there is the famous Narendrapur Ramkrishna Mission. The park is open from 6:00 am till 5 pm during summer and 7:00 am to 4:30 pm in winter.

Entry ticket per person is Rs50. What I really loved about this place is it is very clean, no plastic or litter anywhere. Moreover people are really aware, every single person I encountered was talking in a really low voice so that the quietness of the forest is not disturbed.

Well it was not a great birding day for me, so most of the photos are hazy. Anyway all are for my records. Please bear the hazy ones :)

The entrance gate

Ticket counter

Rules & Regulations

Birds which was be seen

Scaly bellied woodpecker


Common Tailor Bird

Common Tailor Bird

Red vented bulbul

White Breasted Waterhen

Common Cormorant

Asian Koel


Indian Robin

Some wild fruit

Common kingfisher


Oriole I suppose

Thursday, 28 May 2015

Hampi Travel ~ Summing Up

 I think I wrote quite a lot on our Hampi trip. Needless to say Hampi is such a huge area and there is so much to see that if I had put everything in one blog it would have been injustice. I could have missed out a lot details.

So its now time that I sum up my blogs in one place. Hampi is by no means a places to be seen in one day. The Vijaynagara dynasty even though in ruins today because of Muslim invasions still stands high.

Day 1 :
Virupaksha Temple

Please read the blog here

Day 2 :
Sasivekalu Ganesh Temple
Badavaling Temple
Laxmi Narayan Temple
Ugra Narashima Temple

Please read the blog here

Krishna Temple
Krishna Bazaar
Chandikeshwar Temple
Uddana Veerabhadra Temple

Please read the blog here

Vittala Temple
King's Balance
Vishnu Temple
Ganagitti Jain Temple
Bhima's Gateway

Please read the blog here

Octagonal Bath
Saraswathi Temple
Chandrakeshwara Temple
Queen's Bath
Royal Enclosure

Please read the blog here

Day 3:
Mohammadan Watch Tower
Mosque and Band Tower
Underground Shiva Temple
Hazara Rama Temple
Pan Supari Bazaar

Please read the blog here

Queen's Palace
Lotus Mahal
Elephant's Stable

Some snaps from here and there. :)

Prasanna Narsimha

Krishna Bazar

Pillar Sculpture (Krishna Temple)

Pillar Sculpture
Stone Chariot at Vittala Temple

Vittala Temple

Wall Sculpture

King's Balance
Hazara Rama Temple

Mahanavami Dibba (Royal Enclosure)
Ganesha Statue
Lotus Mahal

Elephant Stable

Lotus Mahal

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