DARJEELING


  1. Destination: Darjeeling, West Bengal, India
  2. Visited on: October 4th 2016 – October 7th 2016
  3. Peak Season: October to March
  4. How To Reach:
  • By Train – There are trains from Howrah and Sealdah station of Kolkata to New Jalpaiguri. From there, one needs to hire a cab to reach Darjeeling

About: Darjeeling  is noted for its tea industry, the spectacular views of Mount Kangchenjunga, the world’s third-highest mountain, and the Darjeeling Himalayan Railway, a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Our Journey Starts:

 I have returned from Bangalore to Kolkata, my home town for the grand festival “Durga Puja”. Before the puja starts, I planned for Darjeeling this time, with my parents. Train tickets and hotels were booked in advance. We reached Sealdah station on October 3rd 2016 and boarded the train “Darjeeling mail” which departs from Howrah at 22:05. Had home-cooked Luchi and alur dam in train and went to sleep. The journey was very comfortable. Reached New Jalpaiguri next day around 9:00. We hired a taxi from the pre-paid counter to reach Darjeeling for a fee of Rs 1600. Had to pay Rs. 100 extra to take us to the hotel.

We reached Darjeeling after a ride of 3 hours. My mother got fever and fell sick on the way. Apart from that, the journey was smooth. We booked hotel “Dolphin” in advance which is located just next to Governor’s house. The area is not at all crowded, yet located next to a Kanchenjunga view point. Many people decides to stay near the “Mall” (Central hub) and complains saying “ Darjeeling is too crowded”. We checked in. The hotel offers clear view of Mt. Kanchenjunga. However, at that time, the weather was cloudy and no view on offer.dsc_7897

Ordered lunch in our room as my mother was very sick then, yet excited to see Mt Kanchenjunga. After lunch, I went out to see nearby places. The first day passed with a stroll in the Mall. Mall is the central hub of Darjeeling and one can get all sorts of shops there including KFC. In the evening, we went went to a heritage outlet called Keventers in the Mall and tried Darjeeling tea with some snacks. The outlet, offers scenic view of the Himalayan range in the morning (if the weather permits). Glenary’s is again a heritage outlet and offers same kind of stuffs.

I woke up early at 5.30 next morning hoping to witness the sunrise reflection on Mt Kanchenjunga. However, the weather was too cloudy to witness nature’s masterpiece. The weather was cold. Locals busy doing light work-out or busy taking a jog. I strolled around the place. Had tea from the Mall and went back to the hotel. In the evening, went out with my parents to the Mall and had Darjeeling famous Momos and tea.We also bought tea, from one of the renowned store called “The House of Tea”. It is operated by Goodricke co. and located in the Mall. While buying tea, get the “First flush”. First flush tea tastes best and slightly on the expensive side. But, buying a small pack will worth.

Batasia Loop

Batasia Loop

Woke up again next morning to see the sun-rise. The weather again turned me down. We didn’t opt to go Tiger hill to view Mt Kanchenjunga closely, as the weather was foggy. Spent most of my time roaming around the place and enjoying the cool weather with nature. We had our tickets booked for a jolly ride in a toy-train pulled by a steam engine. This is a UNESCO world heritage site. The tickets were expensive for the steam engine ride. Normal engines were also available and are less expensive. However, we choosed the steam engine, as we have never tried anything like that before. The train goes until Ghum via Batasia loop. Batasia Loop is again scenic. The train halts for 15 minutes there. And starts it’s journey to Ghum station. Ghum station has a museum related to Darjeeling trains. One can get down at Ghum and come back to Darjeeling by car. Or else, one can board the same train and come back. While returning, it comes to Darjeeling station directly. If booking a round trip ticket, the code you need to put in the IRCTC.COM website is – “DJ” (From) and “DJRZ” (To). And for a one way ride, put “GHUM” (To). The ride was beautiful. But as per my experience, spending so much on a steam engine doesn’t worth. So one can book a diesel engine ride and take photos with the steam engine. Both moves together, one after another.dsc_8618

View of the valley from the view point located next to our hotel was amazing. I couldn’t witness the sun-rise in this trip. However, I did capture the sunsent reflecton over Mt Kanchenjunga through my bare eyes. Also, made a timelapse video of that view. Walking in the hills was fun.dsc_9042-3

Next day, again woke up early. Missed the sun-rise. But got a clear view of Mt Kanchenjunga from our hotel room and also from the view-point. This is our last day stay in Darjeeling. As my mother was very weak, I planned to go for some known sight-seeing alone. I went to the Mahakal mandir located slightly uphill, early in the morning. The place has it’s own charm.dsc_9209

After that, I walked downhill for 15 mins and reached the Darjeeling zoo. The zoo and the Himalayan Mountaineering Institute are in the same place. One can hire a taxi also to reach there, but that could be expensive. I went to the Himalayan Mountaineering Institute first. They have a museum built. The museum was fascinating with lots of information on mountains and mountain climbers. I bought a T-shirt, sun-glass and a Cap as souvenir. Then moved to the zoo. The zoo has lots of animals like Royal Bengal tiger, White leopard, Black panther, Red panda, etc. Visiting the museum and to the zoo was worth. The museum and the zoo remains closed on Thursday.dsc_9292

Then again walked further downhill for 15 mins and reached Rangeet Valley Ropeway. The rope-way ride cost approximately Rs. 170 per head for a round trip. Option of one-side trip is not available. The queue to the ride could be very long during season. I got my chance after waiting for 45 minutes. The rope-way journey was beautiful. It’s lush green with tea plants below. In clear weather, one can witness the Himalayan range in front. After a journey of 20 minutes, I reached downhill through rope-way. I had to get down (Mandatory) and need to stand in a queue again to go back to the origin. However, I went down from the rope-way and walked to the left in the left. Got a hint of local life. Also got very close to tea-gardens. Checked how the tea leaves, looks like. Came back after spending some time in the tea garden and stood in a queue.  Took the rope-way and got back to the origin.dsc_9013

As I didn’t booked any car, I had to come back all the way back by walking. This time, it was uphill and took 30 minutes to reach my hotel. After having lunch there, we boarded the same cab and reached New Jalpaiguri station. I called the same driver a day before and asked to be at the hotel to take us back to the railway station. He was on time. While returning, we came through a route called “Rohini”. The route was scenic. The car is taking a sharp turn through the hills. Each turn opening up a new scenery. The entire mountain is lush green because of dense tea garden. You can ask your driver to take the route of Rohini while going. Nothing will be charged extra.

We reached New Jalpaiguri station well in advance. Kept our luggage in a restaurant and waited there. Boarded Darjeeling mail which departs at 6PM. Reached Sealdag station next day morning around 6:30. We booked an Uber cab from the station and reached home. The trip to Darjeeling was beautiful with lush green tea-gardens, beautiful sun-set, cold weather, sky full of stars. Nothing more we can expect…

Note:

  • Smoking is not allowed in public in Darjeeling. Locals may shout at out.
  • The zoo and Himalayan Mountaineering Institute museum remain closed on Thursday
  • One must go for the toy-train ride
  • Don’t miss the rope-way ride also.
  • Hotel prices during season may get double.
  • One may hire a geared or non-geared cycle to roam around Darjeeling from local shops.
  • Try Keventers and Glenarys’ for tea and snacks
  • Buy tea from “The House of Tea” located in the Mall. Get the “First flush” tea if the budget permits
  • Kindly follow no trace policy and save mother earth.

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LONAVALA & KHANDALA


  1. Destination: Lonavala & Khandala, Maharashtra, India
  2. Visited on: July 2nd 2016 – July 4th 2016
  3. Season to visit: June to September (Monsoon) & December to February (Winter)
  4. How To Reach:
  • By Train – Many trains are available from Pune and Mumbai to Lonvala.
  • By Car – One can easily drive to Lonavala from Mumbai and Pune

About: Lonavla & Khandala are towns and a hill station in Pune district in the Indian State of Maharashtra. It is about 64 kilometers (40 mi) from the city of Pune and 96 kilometers (60 mi) from the city of Mumbai. Khandala is just 3 Kms from Lonavala. 

Our Journey Starts:

It’s been quite a sometime that Niloy has moved to Pune from Bangalore with his wife. I and Anindita planned to meet them. So, we all decided to meet at Pune and then go to Lonavala and Khandala. I prefer to pre-book everything. I and Anindita boarded flight Indigo from Bangalore airport which departed at 05:45AM. As it was monsoon, the weather was worse in Pune. The flight made an attempt to land and at the last moment decided to pull up due to lack of visibility. The flight landed at 7:45 AM. We both boarded an Uber cab and reached Pune station. Met Niloy and his wife Saheli there, and we are all set for our trip to Lonavala.

We boarded a train from Pune station and reached Lonavala station within 1 Hr. The Hotel Metropole, which we have pre-booked is in a walking distance from the station and also in a prime location. When we reached Lonavala, it was raining lightly. The room in the hotel was nice. We freshened up quickly and hired a cab for sight-seeing. It started to rain heavily that time. People visit Lonavala during monsoon and enjoy roaming around drenched in rain, without taking a rain-coat or an umbrella. We took precaution with rain-coat though. On the way, we found, approximately 20 small water-falls flowing through different parts of the hill. People are partying with beer and loud music near the waterfall.

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Misty Hills With Water-Fall

At first, we reached “Bhusi dam”. It was raining and also misty. The driver parked the cab in a parking area and we started walking towards the dam in a misty weather. The walk in the mist was fun. Bhusi dam has stairs in it. And when the dam overflows, the water flows through those stairs and people enjoy taking a bath sitting on those stairs. As it was early monsoon, yet to experience the water flow through the stairs. Food stalls are all around the place. After seeing the Bhusi dam, we stopped in a local shop asking what else are there around the dam. As per their suggestion, we started walking towards a point where three rivers confluence. After walking for 30 mins. through a jungle like ambiance, we reached the point. It was beautiful and obviously better than Bhusi dam. We came back and boarded the cab for the next stop. I must say, the entire journey is happening under full fledged rain.

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Gusty Water Flowing Through The Stairs of Karla Cave

The we reached Lion point . It was misty all around and too windy also. In normal weather, one can witness beautiful stretch of hills all around. But we witnessed only mist. Yet it was a beautiful atmosphere all around. There are food counters everywhere. We had instant noodle “Maggi” and pakoras there with hot coffee. Hot food in cold and wet weather was awesome. After spending some time there, we boarded the cab and reached hotel. After freshening up, I and Niloy went out and got some Vada-pao (Indian version of burger) from a famous shop naming “Golden Vadapav”. We bought liquor too. At night, we are all set together in a room with drinks and food and shared all sorts of stories, including, personal experiences with ghosts. We also calculated the daily expenses.

Next morning, we hired the same cab to visit Ekvira Devi temple, Karla cave and Bhaja cave. We started early today because, as the day progresses, traffic also increases. After a half an hour ride, we reached the base of Ekvira Devi Temple and Karla cave. We had Vada pav from a restaurant and started walking through easy stairs. It took around 30 mins to reach Karla cave. While moving up, gusty water was flowing through the stairs, coming from a nearby river. Walking was quite challenging, yet fun.  

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Inside Karla Cave

The Karla Cave is an ancient Indian Buddhist rock-cut cave. The cave was magnificent. Water flowing through the outer walls of the cave, resulted in a water-fall. We walked around the cave. There are also stairs to go upstairs. We then had to buy tickets to go inside the cave. The sculptures inside was magnificent. Carvings on walls represents history and telling a story of the past. After spending quite a time there, we moved to Ekvira Devi Temple located just next to Karla cave. Niloy and Saheli decided not to go inside the temple. So, I and Anindita went inside. At times, it remains very crowded. But we didn’t had to face any crowd that time. Then, we came back to the parking lot taking the stairs. On the way, we bought some tasty sweets named as “Kalakand” and “Peda”.

We boarded the cab to move to next spot “Bhaja cave”. By that time, too many cars moving to and fro through a narrow road and got stuck in a heavy traffic. Rain didn’t stop yet which started in Day 1, or even before. After spending quite a time in heavy traffic, we reached Bhaja cave. We had to take lot of stairs to reach Bhaja caves. View from the hill was beautiful. It was lush green all around. On the way, we had to buy tickets to visit Bhaja cave. Bhaja cave is a shorter version of Karla cave. We walked around the cave. There are many water-falls there also. I took bath wearing a rain-coat and keeping my phone and camera in my pocket. After that, both my phone and camera got damaged. Luckily, no harm to the camera memory card.  After seeing Bhaja cave, we came back and boarded the cab. The driver took us to a Dhaba (Restaurant) situated on Mumbai-Pune highway. The food was yummy. I liked Rice and Desi chicken a lot. The main-course was complemented by a dessert “Lassi”. After a filling lunch, the driver took us to a spot where we can take bath. I took bath in the water-fall, rest decided to have corn and watch me taking a bath. After that, we came back to hotel. By the time we reached hotel, sun was down

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Way To Bhusi Dam

Again, we chat till late night. Next day, we left the hotel, boarded a train and reached Pune station from Lonavala. From Pune station, we hired an Uber cab to reach Niloy’s place. We were welcomed at their place with warm heart. We decided to cook food of our own. I and Niloy went out to get some mutton. After buying mutton, I marinated that with spices. Everybody put their effort to make the afternoon a memorable one. Saheli cooked rice and arranged all required utensils. Niloy grinded the whole-pepper, Anindita motivated us with her speech and I cooked mutton. After completing lunch, we took some rest. Woke up in the evening, I and Anindita boarded a cab and reached Pune airport. We boarded Flight “Indigo” which departed at 11:45 PM and reached Bangalore airport at 01:15 AM. From Bangalore, we booked a cab again to reach home.

Lonava & Khandala is a beautiful place to hang-around with friends. This is for the first time in my life, witnessed, continuous rain for more than 48 hours. Seeing old friends after quite some-time is also something. Warm welcome from Niloy and Saheli made the trip more special.

Note:

  • Eat food in Dhaba, available in Mumbai-Pune highway
  • Carry rain-coat / umbrella if visiting during monsoon. But tourists prefer to get drenched there
  • Kindly follow no trace policy and save mother earth.

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WEEKEND TRIP TO YELAGIRI


  1. Destination: Yelagiri, Tamil Nadu, India
  2. Visited on: May 21st 2016 – May 22nd 2016
  3. Peak Season: November to January
  4. How To Reach:
  • By Train – Many trains ply from Majestic station of Bangalore to Jollarpettai. 

About: Yelagiri is a hill station in Vellore district of Tamil Nadu, India, situated off the Vaniyambadi-Tirupattur road.

Our Journey Starts:

I and Anindita decided to go for a weekend trip to a hill station,Yelagiri. We boarded train Lalbagh express at 7:00 AM from K.R. Puram station and reached Jollarpettai station at 9:00 AM. From the station, we took a local bus to reach Yelagiri. It took 90 minutes in bus to reach Yelagiri. One can hire a cab also to reach there. The bus was over-crowded. The winding roads in the hills was fascinating.

We reached Yelagiri lake. From there, took a walk and reached hotel “Hotel Landmark” in 10 minutes. The hotel was near to the Sterling hotel. The room was good and in a serene location. After completing lunch, we went out to Yelagiri lake. One can opt for a boat ride there. The lake was huge. We walked around the lake. There is observatory point up on a tree. I climbed through the stairs to reach the observatory point. Anindita was too scared to climb so high. The view-point was quite high and the scene from there was beautiful.dsc_5953

After that, we went to a park located opposite to the lake. Took a stroll there and came back to the hotel. While coming back, found lot of vendors selling Jack-fruit. There is nothing much to see in Yelagiri. People generally visit in a weekend to relax. We spent time with a bottle of beer and soft-drinks in the hotel balcony.dsc_5924

Next day, woke up early and started to walk aimlessly following the road to see the life of villagers. Found, people busy ploughing fields. The road was not busy that time. Birds chirping all around. A walk with nature all around gave a lovely feeling. We went very far. While returning, came by an auto. Our weekend trip was almost over. I took a dip in the hotel swimming pool. We checked out at noon after completing lunch in hotel. Walked for 10 mins upto Sterling resort bus stop. From there, took a local bus and reached Jollarpettai station. This time, the bus was not crowded.

We reached quite early in the station. Also, the train we have booked, i.e. “Sanghamitra Express” was delayed by 90 mins. Finally we boarded the train around 7PM. And reached K.R. Puram station around 9PM. Reached home by taking a cab. We got very exhausted waiting at the station. Yet, every moment in Yelagiri was refreshing.

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COORG


 

  1. Destination: Coorg, Karnataka, India
  2. Visited on: February 13th 2016 – February 15th 2016
  3. Peak Season: November to January
  4. How To Reach:
  • By Bus – KSRTC Volvo buses are available from Bangalore to Madikeri and Kushalnagar. 

About: Coorg is known for its beautiful scenery. Tourists get fascinated by colourful scenery. Coorg is ideal for trekking.

Our Journey Starts:

I and Anindita decided to go to Madikeri area of Coorg in the first day and Kushalnagar area of Coorg in the second day.  We boarded the KSRTC Volvo bus (Airavat) from Majestic Bus station which departed at 11.15 PM. The journey was very comfortable. We reached Madikeri next morning around 7:00 AM. We checked in hotel “Coorg shell”. The room was good with basic facilities. We left our bag in the room and went out for sight-seeing. At first, we hired an auto which will take us to Abbey falls, Raja’s seat/tomb, Madikeri fort and Omkareshwar temple.

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Abbey falls

 

All the sight seeing places are very nearby.  At first we went to Abbey falls. Had to climb down some stairs to reach Abbey fall. While climbing down, witnessed, plenty of coffee plants on both sides. The fall had very less water that time. Then we boarded the auto and move to the next sight, Raja’s tomb. It is a monument. Then we moved to Madikeri fort. Nice place to walk around. We walked through the wide fort-wall pavement for quite some-time. Spent a good time there seeing the town from the high fort walls. Then we moved to Omkareshwar temple, which was closed at that time. Finally back to hotel. In the evening, we spent some time in shopping Coorg special coffee. I also tried “Coorgi Pork” (Coorg cuisine) which was delicious.

On the second day, we woke up early and booked a cab from the taxi stand to reach Dubare elephant camp from Madikeri, which is located at a distance of 17 Km. KSRTC buses do not go there. So, we chose to take a cab. We reached Dubare elephant camp in 1 hr, early in the morning at 7AM. The nature is at its best early in the morning. Not had the same feeling later in the day. River Kaveri flowing at a slow pace. We reached Dubare elephant camp through a boat which starts operating around 8:30AM. Reached Dubare elephant camp in 15 mins through boat. Once we reached there, found so many elephants around us. We took a walk around the elephant camp. One can opt to stay there also.

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Dubare Elephant Camp

 

The best part of Dubare elephant camp is, one can bath an elephant in the water of river Kaveri. We bought tickets for that. Elephants were taking a bath with supervision of trained personnel. We splashed water on the elephants and posed with them too. Baby elephants stole the show by running around and taking a deep splash in the river and playing with each other. After spending quite a time there, we took a boat and came back to the other side. Had some food and boarded the hired cab to reach Nisargadham. Dubare elephant camp is also good for people having interest in rafting. However, rafting is like just a boat ride on steady water flow.We reached Nisargadham from Dubare elephant camp in 30 mins. We had to cross a small channel of river Kaveri thorugh a hanging bridge. Many people were busy there taking a pedal-boat ride. Found lots of fishes too in the river. Nisargadham is kind of a forest . We did a zip-line activity there. There are some tree-houses to spend some time. Spend some time in river Kaveri also which is flowing through a rocky bed.

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Nisargadham

 

 

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Another temple inside Namdroling Monastery

After that, we boarded the hired cab again and reached Namdroling monastery in 15 mins. It is a beautiful monastery. The ambiance inside is beautiful . It has a huge statue of Lord Buddha. The paintings on the wall are attractive. From there, we moved to a home-stay “4 seasons home stay” which was booked in advance. After taking rest that evening, we boarded KSRTC bus early morning next day. We boarded KSRTC Volvo bus at 8:00 Am and reached Bangalore around 1PM.

 

Note:

  • Buy Coorg coffee
  • Try to visit Dubare elephant camp if visiting Coorg.
  • Kindly follow no trace policy and save mother earth.

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ALLEPPEY/ALAPPUZHA (KERALA)


  1. Destination: Alleppey, Kerala, India
  2. Visited on: December 24th 2015 – December 28th 2015
  3. Peak Season: November to February
  4. How To Reach:
  • By Car – Reaching Alleppey is easy by car from Thekkady and takes around 3 Hours

About: Alleppey, also known as Alappuzha is famous for canals, like Venice and house-boats. 

CLICK HERE TO SEE INFORMATION ON TRIP TO MUNNAR

CLICK HERE TO SEE INFORMATION ON TRIP TO THEKKADY

Our Journey Starts:

I and Anindita reached Alleppey from Thekkady after a journey of 3 hours. We checked-in at “Keraleeyam Ayurvedic Resort”. The resort is located just next to a wide canal. The room was brilliant with a touch of old India. The door of the room closes in four halves. That was very attractive. We always have time constraint as we do not get enough leaves from office for travelling. As a result, we try to utilize most in a short time. One can stay in a house-boat. We didn’t opt for staying in a house-boat as it moves all day and becomes stationary in the evening until next morning. And one also cannot leave the house-boat in evening. The house-boat has all the facilities inside including AC, TV, etc. But loitering in a small place must be boring. More boring in the evening when it comes to a halt. Nothing to do except watching TV. However, staying in a house-boat is preferred by most tourists and regret their decision next day.

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House-boat

After reaching the resort, we left our backpacks and went for a canoe ride immediately, arranged by the resort manager. The manager gave a call to the canoe person and he came promptly with his canoe. The canoe took us inside small canals. The ride was happening in a slow and steady pace though the canals of Allepey. It was a lovely experience. After a ride, I went for a massage in the resort. From various options, I opted for full body massage this time. In the evening, went to the massage center located inside the resort. The massage was done by an experienced professional and with premium oils with an unique and beautiful fragrance. We also asked our driver to leave as we were so pissed with his behavior, though he had to serve us for another day.

Next morning, we opted for canoe ride again from the same person, on Anindita’s request. This time, he took a different route. He also allowed us to get down at a point and showed us his village. While returning to the hotel sitting in the canoe, I and Anindita both tried rowing the boat one at a time. It was exciting and burned a lot of calories also. After that, we finished our breakfast. I again opted for another massage. This time, it was “Shirodhara”. It is one of the famous massage of Kerala where oil is poured steadily from a vessel over the entire fore-head. It was very relaxing and I went to sleep for a moment .

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Alleppey Beach

After that, we thought of exploring Alleppey further. We kept our bags in the reception as planned to go out after check-out time. We hired an auto and reached Alleppey beach. The beach was nice. From there, we hired another auto and reached “Marari beach”. This is a pristine beach and one of the finest. This beach is mostly visited by foreigners. One can take a local bus also to reach there. There is also a resort adjacent to the beach. We spent quite a relaxing time there. Then returned to hotel taking the same auto. After freshening up in resort’s common wash-room, we reached the Alleppey station. We boarded Bangalore express at 7:30 PM and reached K.R. Puram next day around 8AM. From there, we take took a cab and reached home.

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Marari Beach

Experience in Alleppey was beautiful . Enjoyed the canoe ride and the massage a lot. As a whole, trip to Kerala was beautiful and justifies the name “God’s own country”.

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SOUTH GOA


  1. Destination: South Goa (Colva and Palolem), India
  2. Visited on: February 14th 2017 – February 16th 2017
  3. Peak Season: November to January
  4. How To Reach:
  • By Train – There are trains going till Margao. From there, one needs to hire a cab or auto rickshaw to reach South Goa
  • By Bus – KSRTC Volvo buses are available from Bangalore, Mumbai and Pune which goes directly to Margao and Panaji.

About: Goa is a state in India within the coastal region known as the Konkan in western India. Bounded by Maharashtra to the north and Karnataka to the east and south. The Arabian Sea forms its western coast.

Clarifying confusion between North and South Goa: Goa is a quite a big place and segmented into North and South Goa. People often get confused between North and South Goa .

As per my experience, South Goa has some piscine beaches and not at all crowded. South Goa is visited mostly by foreigners. South Goa famous beaches includes – Colva, Palolem and Agonda beaches, Colva is pretty crowded though. But Colva is the hub of all water activities in South Goa.

Whereas, North Goa beaches are very crowded and hub of all party freaks and visited mostly by Indians. North Goa famous beaches includes – Calangute, Baga, Candolim, Anjuna. Calangute and Baga beaches are heavily crowded. Candolim beach is again secluded.  Calangute beach exhibits strong sea waves. In North Goa, Calangute is the hub of all water activities.   

Check My Journey To North Goa

Our Journey Starts:

This was probably my last trip from Bangalore as I have got a new job in my home-town Kolkata and would be moving back to Kolkata from Bangalore in about a week. Before that, we planned for a vacation in South Goa.  I and Anindita boarded the KSRTC double-axle Volvo bus (Airavat) from Majestic Bus station which departed at 8.30PM. The journey was very comfortable, though we had to change a bus on the way because the bus we boarded started malfunctioning. KSRTC replaced the bus within 15 minutes. Reached Margao next day morning on 14th February 2017 around 9.00 AM. We had a hotel booked for Colva. The cab was very expensive. So we boarded a bus from Margao bus stand and reached Colva beach after a journey of 1 hour. Cab takes around 15 minutes to reach there. We booked hotel Colva Residency in Colva. It is a Goa govt. hotel. Cheap and value for money. The bus stopped right next to the hotel.dsc_2437

Once we checked in to the hotel, the view from the balcony was beautiful. Freshened up a bit and moved out to the beach which is just a minute away from the hotel .We got into a shack on the beach. I took a Kingfisher beer with king fish masala fry. Anindita took a mocktail. We completed our lunch there. While sitting in the shack (Restaurant on beach), we spotted all the various water sports being conducted there. We decided to go for “Wench-parasailing” (Only parasailing is just a 1 minute activity, conducted over the beach and a complete waste of money) by paying Rs 700/head. We got into a boat which took inside the sea and got transferred into a bigger boat. I was the first person to do the wench-parasailing. I was hooked up with a parachute and released. In a moment, I started floating in the sky and panorama view from the top was magnificent. I asked them to dip me in water in advance, which was charged extra at Rs. 300/head. I took a dip in the water (Not a head dip) while the parachute was on and again went up into the sky when the speed of the boat was increased. Anindita was too scared to try that. In the end, she did it perfectly fine.

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Wench-parasailing

We came back from the adventure sport and changed our dresses as it got wet during the water dip in the wench parasailing. After a quick change, we rushed to the beach and observed a beautiful sun-set. Colva is the only place in south goa where one can witness a perfect sunset, i.e. the sun dipping into the sea. After watching the beautiful sunset, we took a walk on the beach. Later, took a seat in a shack. In the evening, the dining arrangement was outside, i.e. on the beach. We completed our candle-lit dinner. Also tried Hookah (Shisha) there. Went back to the hotel and was all set to wake up early next morning for a morning walk on the beach.

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Sun-set in Colva

In the morning, we went to the beach around 7 AM. Walked through the long–stretched beach and collected sea-shells. Our sumptuous breakfast was part of the hotel tariff. Witnessed, Colva has equal number of Indians and foreigners. We planned to stay in Colva for 1 night only. So we packed our bags and hired a shared taxi and reached Palolem in 90 minutes. A local couple helped us in getting a shared taxi.

We planned 2 nights for Palolem. Once we reached there, One can go the left or right in search of hotel. Left side has most hotels and because of that more tourists. Whereas, the right side has less hotels (In compare to the left side) and less tourists also. Without knowing this fact, we started walking on the right side through the beach in search of an accommodation. There are many hotels right on the beach offering breath-taking view of the endless sea from room. After checking few hotels, we checked-in “Hotel Brendon”. The AC cottages on the first floor was compact and nice. Most importantly, the view was magnificent.

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Beautiful Palolem Beach

Palolem beach is not at all crowded and visited mostly by foreigners. We finished our lunch in a shack and took a bath in the sea. In between, took a refreshing sip of Kingfisher beer. In the evening, we went to the further right of the beach and found it was very peaceful. Food was tasty both in Colva and Palolem. Next morning, 16th February 2017, we explored the right side of the beach thoroughly and found so many yoga classes being conducted on the beach. I bought a bottle of Royal Stag (Good Indian whisky in a budget) from a nearby liquor shop and spent the afternoon in my balcony seeing the end-less sea. Found few people practicing juggling and few taking a kayaking ride.

In the evening, we though of exploring the left side of the beach. After walking for some time, we were about to witness the sunset. I realized, I forgot my camera tripod and it’s almost time for sunset. As I wanted to shoot a time-lapse video, I rushed to my room, grabbed my tripod and reached the destination on time .Left side of Palolem beach offers better view of sunset, though nothing like sunset in Colva. After taking pictures, we spent the evening walking on the beach. Completed our dinner in the shack where we were staying.

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Sun-set in Palolem

Next morning, 17th February 2017, after taking a jog on the beach, we decided to go for a sight-seeing tour of Dolphin. After quite a bargain, the boat-men agreed for a rate of Rs. 300 per head. The entire sight-seeing trip took 90 minuites. We boarded the speed-boat and the navigator took us to a place where we can easily spot dolphins. Spotted dolphins playing in the water (Don’t expect it to jump over your head). The spot is located between Palolem beach and Agonda beach. So, the dolphin sighting is also conducted from Agonda beach.

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Dolphin sighting

On the way back, we stopped by Honeymoon beach. It is a very small secluded beach. Still found some tourists taking sea-bath there (Mostly foreigners). After a halt of 15 mins, we boarded the boat again, and boat-men took us to the Butterfly beach. It is again a small secluded beach between two hills. This time, there was no halt. Just spotted it on the go. Once we reached to the shore, the dolphin sighting and also the boat-ride was very refreshing.

Our trip almost came to an end. Instead of hiring an expensive taxi, we boarded a local bus and reached Margao bus stop in 90 minutes. From there, we boarded KSRTC Volvo bus around 7PM and reached Bangalore next morning with lots of happy memories and clear mind.

Note:

  • Smoking is not allowed in public in Colva
  • Go for “wench-parasailing” and not just “parasailing”. Both costs same
  • Margao will be the suitable stop instead of Panjim if visiting South Goa
  • Cabs will be very expensive. Always do bargain. May opt for local bus if available
  • Hotel prices during season may get double.
  • One may hire a bike to roam around Goa. South Goa has some beautiful churches
  • Kindly follow no trace policy and save mother earth.

CLICK HERE TO SEE ALL PIC OF SOUTH GOA

KODAIKANAL


  1. Destination: Kodaikanal, Tamil Nadu, India
  2. Visited on: December 3rd – 6th 2015
  3. Peak Season: During holidays and on any weekends
  4. How To Reach:
  • By Train – There are trains going till Kodai Road. From there, one needs to hire a cab and reach Kodaikanal after a journey of 90 minutes (approx.)
  • By Bus – Sleeper buses and Volvo buses are available from Bangalore which goes directly to Kodaikanal via Kodai Road.

About: Kodaikanal is a town in the hills of the Dindigul district of Tamil Nadu, India. It’s name in the Tamil language means “The gift of the forest”. Kodaikanal is referred as the “Princess of Hill stations”.

Our Journey Starts:

I and Anindita boarded the KSRTC sleeper bus from Shantinagar Bus station which departed around 10PM. The journey was very comfortable. Reached Kodaikanal bus stop around 8AM next day on December 4th 2015. Plan was to stay in Kodaikanal for 2 nights and 3 days. Hotels were pre-booked. We booked 2 different hotels for each day. We reached hotel Richwin after a 10 minutes’ walk from the bus stop. Hotel people was courteous and allotted a room in the first floor (Room No. 201) which has all the basic amenities like sofa, electric kettle, tooth brush, tooth paste, etc. The deluxe room comes with a balcony too. The hotel is located just next to magnificent “Coaker’s walk” and Bryant Park.

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Vattakanal Falls

On the way to the hotel from the bus stop, there are many tour operators offered sight-seeing at good price. We hired one guy named Lakshmanan who offered the best price. After a quick freshen up, we boarded the booked Tata Indica and out for sight-seeing. The sight-seeing activity doesn’t take too long, so we clubbed few sight-seeing together. Here is the list of sight-seeing given below.

Tour –I ( Kodai Local sight-seeing)

  • Coaker’s walk
  • Green Valley view
  • Golf course
  • Pillar’s Rock
  • Devil’s Kitchen (Guna cave)
  • Pine forest
  • Moier point
  • Kodaikanal Lake

Tour – II (Picnic Tour)

  • 500 years old tree
  • Vattakanal falls
  • Pambar falls (Liril falls)
  • Echo Rock
  • Dolphin’s Nose
  • Mountain Beauty
  • Lion Cave
  • Neptune falls
  • Bryant Park
  • Kodaikanal lake

Tour – III (Forest Tour)

  • Silent valley
  • Fire Tower
  • Caps Fly Valley
  • Berijam Lake
  • Medicine Forest

We clubbed Tour I and Tour II in day 1 for Rs. 1400. Else, each tour cost Rs. 800. We kept Coaker’s walk for the next day as it was very close from our hotel. At first, we went to Vattakanal falls. The waterfall is gorgeous with gusty water flowing from top. Then we started to trek to reach other waterfalls. The trek was scary as we had to walk through the flowing water of the fall. Tour I is not for older people. All other people must keep their shoes in their car and walk bare footed. From Vattakanal falls we moved to Pambar falls, also known as Liril fall as the shooting for the Liril soap advertisement took place there. Then comes the Echo Rock, Dolphin’s nose and Lion cave. All places are located in a very short distance. Then we moved back to the car after a scary, yet fun filled trek of 90 minutes. We skipped Bryant Park too, as it was very close to our hotel.

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Pambar (Liril) Fall

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Pine Forest

Then the guide took us to tree which is 500 years old. Then on the way we witnessed, Green valley view and Pine forest. Pine forest is a serene place and good for photography. We witnessed lot of mushrooms around. Just after Pine forest, comes Devils’ kitchen (Guna cave). This is a lovely place and a must visit. The tree roots are creeping like snakes and the foggy weather added a charm to the atmosphere. The actual cave is now closed after a tragic death of 12 people.

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Devil’s Kitchen (Guna Cave)

Then we went to Pillar’s rock. This is another magnificent creation of the God. It is formation of four rocks and each rock looks like Mayan faces or faces of Indian gods and goddesses. We couldn’t see this formation due to fog. We visited again the next day to see the Pillar Rock early in the morning to catch a breath-taking view. After visiting almost all places except Kodai Lake, Coaker’s walk and Bryant Park, we came back to the hotel. We covered Tour I and Tour II in 4 hours. After a quick freshen-up, we moved out to see the Kodaikanal town. Later in the day, came back to the hotel and relaxed.

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Pillar’s Rock

On day 2, we woke up early and went to Coaker’s walk which opens at 6.30 AM. Entry fee to Coaker’s walk is Rs. 10 per head and Camera costs Rs. 20. Coaker’s walk offers the most majestic view of the hills from Kodaikanal. It is a stretch of 1 Km which offers a peaceful walk with a view of the hills. One can try the powerful telescope to see the Kodai town closely. Then we planned to go to Pillar’s rock again as we couldn’t take a view the previous day due to fog. We took the same car and went to pillar’s rock. There were no tourist at 8AM in the morning and enjoyed the serenity of the place.

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View from “Coaker’s Walk”

As we booked a different hotel for the 2nd day, we took our bags and moved to the other hotel which was close-by. This hotel “The Villa Retreat” is a renowned one in Kodaikanal. However, I didn’t like it in compare to Richwin hotel, though rooms were comfortable.

Then we came back to the Kodaikanal town and had breakfast and again moved towards Kodaikanal Lake by walk. Reached Kodai Lake after a walk of 10 minutes. It is huge star shaped lake. We hired two bi-cycles and took a ride around the lake which took almost an hour. We took a boat ride too. Boat ride is quite expensive there, yet not that great. One can enjoy horse ride too around the Kodai Lake. It is a commercialized lake and don’t expect peace.

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Kodaikanal Lake

From there we went to a Tibetan restaurant for lunch. The restaurant “The Royal Tibetan” is quite famous and ranked high in Tripadvisor. Food in Kodaikanal is not great. However, food in this Tibetan restaurant is awesome and really a value for money. I highly recommend this place. This restaurant is just a 3 minutes’ walk from the 7 cross petrol bunk and 10 minutes from KSRTC bus stand. One must try “Momos” there.

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Floral Formations in Pine Forest

After a filling lunch, we again headed towards Coaker’s walk to take a view of the hills in the evening light. It was great. However, I believe, the view was better early in the morning as there was no fog then and also there were very less people around which offers a calm atmosphere. We tried sweet corn there and it was best corn I ever had in my life. On each bite on the corn, the juices are splashing on my face. Kodaikanal is also famous for home-made chocolates. The shop named “The chocolate factory” is a renowned one in Kodaikanal which offers some beautiful home-made chocolates. We bought some chocolates from there. We also tried “Hot-chocolate” there which was thick and yummy. Kodaikanal is also famous for natural oils. I bought “Citriodora oil” meant for hairs. This oil is tried and tested and giving positive results.

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Way to Berijam Lake

For the last set of sight-seeing, that is Tour III (Forest tour) we booked a shared bus. Costs are Rs. 250 per head. The tour operators are required to take permission from the forest department for this trip, which is not a challenge at all. Next day we checked out at 9AM and kept our bags with the hotel owners and went out for sight-seeing. The bus picked us at 9.30AM and picked many others on the way until it is full. This trip was fun with the people in the bus.

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Berijam Lake View from distance

First, we went to Silent Valley which offers a view of nomad’s village surrounded beautifully with hills. Then the Fire tower. It is just a watch tower to see whether the forest is in fire or not. Next is a very funny place named “Caps fly valley”. If one throws leaves/hankies/caps down, it will fly back to him due to difference in atmospheric pressure. View of medicine forest is just a view of a dense forest from top. Berijam Lake is a beautiful lake located in a leach infested region. Avoid walking on the grass. The way to Berijam Lake is wonderful. All trees are covering the road from both sides. This place is also a photographer’s paradise.

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Fire Tower Covered With Fog

Later, our guide took us little inside to show some animals, where all were attacked by leach. However, I was lucky enough and the leaches only climbed my shoe and didn’t get a chance to taste my blood. Then we were taken to a shop for shopping. Bought some chocolates there too. On the way back, it started to rain heavily and the entire place turned into fog magnet with a poor visibility. But we enjoyed that atmosphere too. Once we are dropped in the hotel, we changed and freshen-up in the hotel’s common change room and went for lunch at “The Royal Tibetan Restaurant”. After a filling lunch again, we moved to the KSRTC bus stop with our backpacks.

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Cycling Around Kodaikanal Lake

There is a renowned Pastry and Ice-cream shop near to the bus stand named “Pastry Corner”. One need to reach there before 5PM to try pastries, else it gets over. We tried natural ice-creams there which were very tasty. Vegetarians can try “Hotel Astoria” which is one of the best in Kodaikanal offering veg-dishes.

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Early-Morning View Of Kodaikanal sky

We boarded the KSRTC sleeper bus which departed around 7PM and reached Bangalore Shantinagar Bus stop around 3 AM. From there, we booked a cab to reach home. Being to Kodaikanal is a lovely experience and felt it is better in many ways in compare to Ooty.

Suggestions:

  • Eat at least once at “The Royal Tibetan Restaurant”
  • Pastry and ice-cream lovers can try “Pastry Corner”
  • Kodaikanal is paradise for chocolate lovers. Try home-made chocolates.
  • Don’t walk on the grass while in Berijam lake
  • Tour I and Tour II can be combined in 1 day
  • Tour I is not for older people as it is a trek through the flowing water of the waterfall. Chances of skid are high.
  • Kindly follow no trace policy and save mother earth.

CLICK HERE TO SEE ALL PICS OF KODAIKANAL