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.

CLICK HERE TO SEE ALL PICS OF DARJEELING

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

WEEKEND TRIP TO DIGHA & MANDARMANI


  1. Destination: Digha & Mandarmani, West Bengal, India
  2. Visited on: October 24th – 26th 2015
  3. Peak Season: During holidays and on any weekends
  4. How To Reach:
  • By Train – Tamralipta express is one of the most common train for Digha
  • By Bus – Many buses operates from Esplanade area including Volvo AC buses.

About: Digha is a seaside town in West Bengal. It lies in East Medinipore district and at the north end of the Bay of Bengal. It has a low gradient with a shallow sand beach with gentle waves.

Our Journey Starts:

I visited my hometown Kolkata from Bangalore for Durga puja. The plan was to visit Digha and Mandarmani just after Durga puja ends. This time, the plan was with my parents who needed a break from their busy city life. Train ticket was booked in Tamralipta express a month in advance. Reached Howrah station on time and boarded the train. Tamralipta express departed the station on time at 06.40AM. The train was full without a seat to spare. Food is never a challenge in West Bengal. Many vendors boarded the train and offered delicious breakfast and snacks at a very low cost. Reached Digha station at 10AM

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Digha Beach Near Jhau Forest

 

I also booked the “Hotel Mahek” located at New Digha well in advance through cleartrip.com . Took a rickshaw (man pulling vehicle) from the Digha station to reach Hotel Mahek which is adjacent to the sea beach. The hotel was nice. Without wasting any time, we went to the sea beach to take a bath in the sea. The sea waves were rather pleasant. After a refreshing bath, came back to the hotel and had lunch.

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New Digha Beach at Night

 

In the evening, we went out to see the sun set. Unfortunately, I fell at the boulders near the sea beach and suffered minor injuries. Damaged my Nikon 55-200mm lens too which was later repaired from Bangalore. This didn’t stop us from enjoying the evening in Digha. After a quick first-aid, walked around the sea beach and enjoyed the refreshing atmosphere. Lot of vendors selling foods and stuffs. Digha is a paradise to try sea foods like fish, prawns, crabs, etc. Tried variety of sea foods including crabs at a very low price. Went back to the hotel around 8.30 pm and had dinner.

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Vendors near sea

 

Next day, after breakfast, we booked a cab for Rs 800 to visit Mandarmani. Hiring a cab is also not a problem as there are many cabs available around the town. But one needs to bargain to get a fair rate. After a journey of 90 minutes, we reached Mandarmani. Digha is very crowded in compare to Mandarmani. The long stretch of Mandarmani will definitely fill anyone’s conscience. I took a ride in a fisherman’s boat by paying Rs. 100. There was another family too in the big boat. The ride was for 45 minutes and they took us quite deep inside the sea. After a successful boat ride, had breakfast there in local shacks. After spending around 90 minutes there, we boarded the cab and came back to Old Digha. Old Digha was very crowded and I didn’t like much.

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Mandarmani

 

From Old Digha, we hired an electronic taxi run by rechargeable battery to come to our hotel at New Digha. The distance between Old Digha and Digha is only 15 minutes by car. After taking a bath, we went out to have food in a local restaurant. Food is very cheap in Digha. We tried the famous Hilsa fish there.

After a filling lunch, took some rest and out again in the evening to try some more sea foods, chicken kababs and ice-creams. Having some delicious food sitting next to the sea is a wonderful experience. The next day, we are supposed to head home. Already started to miss Digha and Mandarmani.

Digha Food

Chicken Kabab

 

On Monday 26th October, we woke up early to see the sunrise. The sunrise view from Digha is magnificent. My father took a horse ride there. Had breakfast and tea near the sea beach keeping a continuous eye on the sun, preparing himself for the day.

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Sunrise From Digha

 

Later, I took a walk to the north of the beach and reached the forest of “Coastal She-oak” (Bengali – Jhau). Took many pictures there. One can hire a bike from there to go to Orissa border, and come back. I was not interested and didn’t ask for charges. But I am sure; the charges will not be too high.

 

Jhau forest

Coastal She-Oak (Jhau) Forest

Then, came back to the hotel and packed our bags. Later, we took a rickshaw and reached the train station which took only 10 minutes. We boarded the Tamralipta express which departed Digha at 10.25AM and reached Howrah 2PM. From Howrah station, took a taxi and headed home.

 

Digha & Mandarmani is mostly crowded by Bengalees as it is very near to Kolkata. Digha is also one of the cheapest tourist spot in India.

Suggestions:

  • Try sea foods. You will love it, if you are a foodie
  • Mandarmani is the place for peace-lovers
  • Kindly follow no trace policy and save mother earth.

NAINITAL & KAUSANI


  1. Destination: Nainital & Kausani
  2. Time to Visit: Any time.
  3. Suggestion: Stay at hotel Snow View Heritage in Nainital if you want to witness sunrise reflection in the Himalayas
  4. Date of travel: 06th & 7th March 2015

About: Nainital is a popular hill station in the Indian state of Uttarakhand. Nainital is set to have a famous valley containing a peer-shaped lake, named Naini Lake.

Kausani is a picturesque hill station with a 300km wide panoramic view of Himalayan peaks Trisul, Nanda Devi and Panchchuli.

Trip Planner: Delhi -> Agra -> Haridwar & Rishikesh -> Nainital -> Kausani -> Jim Corbett National Park

CLICK HERE FOR MORE INFORMATION ON DELHI TRIP

CLICK HERE FOR MORE INFORMATION ON AGRA TRIP

CLICK HERE FOR MORE INFORMATION ON TRIP TO HARIDWAR & RISHIKESH

Our Journey Starts:

Anindita’s friend Patrick Mennig from Germany visited India. Our plan was to show him some of the beautiful places of India. After an extensive planning, Me, Anindita and Patrick are all set to start our journey. The destinations we will cover in this journey are Delhi, Agra, Haridwar and Rishikesh, Nainital, Kausani and Jim Corbett National Park. As Delhi is the centre point for all trips to Uttarakhand, Uttaranchal and other places. After having a successful Delhi to Haridwar trip, our plan is now to visit Nainital & Kausani on day 3 and day 4 of our trip.

We boarded the “Dehradun-Kathgodam express” which departs Haridwar at 00.25Hrs and reached Kathgodam at 7.10. Used the retiring room in the platform to get fresh. And we are now at the Kumaon region. The time has almost come to take breathtaking views of The Himalayas. The day we reached Nainital, people were celebrating Holi (festival of colors) and taxi’s been quite less in number, though didn’t have any issue to find one. Booked a taxi for Rs. 700 which took us to Nainital from Kathgodam after a journey of 90 minutes through winding roads of the mountains.DSC07514

The hotel “Snow View heritage” was pre-booked. Generally, one need to take cable-car (rope-way) to reach to the hotel as it is located in a place secluded from all hustle and bustle. Unfortunately, the cable car was closed on that day due to Holi and we had to book another car to reach to the hotel via road-way. The hotel doesn’t look great from outside, but the inside is marvelous. The rooms have king size double beds with room-heater. Wooden floors and sofas added charm to the room. Dining space is also decorated nicely with long curtains and flowers. The hotel lobby is decorated nicely with real head of stuffed animals. I highly recommend this hotel for any traveler who wants to view the sunrise reflection on the Himalayas which happens around 6.15am. Else one can stay near the Naini Lake or the starting point of the cable-car with lots of hotel options. But staying near Naini Lake cuts out all option to view sunrise over Himalaya. This place is also a sight-seeing point for the people staying near the lake.

We were carrying colors with us and celebrated the festival of Holi at Nainital hotel along with the hotel staffs. We quickly finished our breakfast, and started to walk down the mountains. We took the trail between forests instead of well constructed roads which was quite an adventure. The view of the famous Naini Lake was majestic from the top of the mountain. The gusty wind took away all the pain. The cluster of flying hilly colorful flags added charm to the place.

We reached the base of the mountain or near the Naini Lake. Took a Sikhara (boat) for Rs. 250 for a ride of one hour. Most of the people were not coming out of the hotel due to Holi, as a result the place was not at all crowded which we really enjoyed. Nainital people are also very sober and never put colors without permission. The Sikhara ride over Naini Lake can’t be explained in words. The pure water, clear sky, beautiful little boat and the sound of water ripple is all one need to set a mood.IMG_3490

After a lovely boat ride, we did lot of shopping. Woolens are pretty cheap there. I bought an original Adidas jacket for Rs. 500 which was beyond my imagination. As it was quite late in the evening, we decided to go back. As our hotel was at the top the hill, we called a cab driver (arranged before) to come and take us to the hotel. It took only 15 minutes by car to reach the hotel. The plan was to go to Kausani the next day in the same car.

We woke up at 5.30am next day to view sunrise. We are the only one to witness that, as people staying near the lake has no chance to come here during this time by foot. They can still come later in the day to get a view of the snow-clad Himalayas. Organizers fix a powerful binocular too to take a view of the Himalayas for a cost of Rs. 10 per head. It was a windy and chilly morning. But, the sunrise reflection view on the mountain peaks was amazing. As if, all the mountain peaks are burning with fire. Slowly, the color changes to yellow. This is one of the most charismatic views of the Himalayas and no one should miss it.10428540_10206635909405017_873268214149336347_n

After an amazing sight, we packed our bags and started our journey for Kausani via Almora and Ranikhet. It took 6 hours to reach Kausani. On the way, we visited a sightseeing spot called “Toad’s point” where a huge rock is lying in the shape of a toad just next to a stream, which was really nice. There are many sight-seeing point around Nainital one can visit. But I believe, those are not worth in compare to the price they charge except the one I just mentioned.IMG_3642

The road to Kausani was not great, not too bad though. The view is nice throughout. A stream will follow you throughout the journey. We stopped at Ranikhet for some time to take some picture. Ranikhet is also beautiful where one can stay, but we preferred to stay at Kausani as it is in higher altitude in compare to Ranikhet and we were also in a tight schedule. We reached Kausani around 5pm. The hotel Blossom Resort was again pre-booked. The hotel is nice. All rooms are facing toward the Himalayas. Hardly any pollution there, birds chirping all around, get a clear view of the majestic Himalayas from the hotel lawn, what else do you need?

We took an evening walk and reached Gandhi Ashram. One can view entire town from this place. People generally come here to see the sunrise. However, we can see it directly from our rooms as it was facing at the right direction. Kausani has beauty of its own and almost pollution free. The serenity of the place still calls me. We arranged a bon-fire by paying Rs. 250 to the hotel staff. Food was served at the hotel lawn near the fire, which was again an amazing experience under a clear starry sky.

Finally at night, we kept our bags packed as we are going to move out in the morning next day. Woke up early again to view the sunrise. This time we were not so lucky enough, as the weather was cloudy and couldn’t spot the sun. I would suggest travelers to stay at least for 2 days in Kausani.IMG_3761

We boarded the booked cab and started our journey to the oldest national park of India, Jim Corbett National park. It took 7 hours to reach Jim Corbett National Park. The road to Corbett is also beautiful. The winding roads are all around the mountain. Trees from both sides of the road leaning to give a shade. The Ramganga river is flowing at its own pace.

Trip to Nainital and Kausani was amazing. The view of the Himalayas can’t be betrayed at any given time, by any given thing.

Stay tuned for the last part of our tip to Corbett, which is one of the best trip of my life….

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SUNRISE AT NANDI HILL


  1. Destination: Nandi Hills, Karnataka, India
  2. Time to Visit: Anytime
  3. Visited during: 25th January 2015
  4. How To Reach:
  • By car or two-wheelers – A half day family trip can easily be done by a car or bike. Bikers also visit in numbers from Bangalore. The deviation road at Oordagere on the Bangalore-Tumkur Road can reach it.
  • By Bus – All buses leave from Bangalore’s central bus station “Bangalore Majestic” or “Kempegowda Bus Station (KBS)”. As this is a local bus, tickets (charge around 46/- per head) are sold directly in the bus. You can book the seats from ticket counter at Majestic with Rs. 200/- per head. That ensures your seat, nothing else.In the morning and evening there are direct buses. The KSRTC bus to the top leaves at 8:30AM from platform 13 (it varies, but it will be near to that). Returning direct buses from the Hills to Bangalore leave at 2:30PM, 4:15PM and 5PM. But the timings are not strictly followed. Bus might arrive earlier even. If you miss the direct bus to the top of Nandi Hills, there is a 2nd possibility to reach the hills by public transport. Go to Chikballapur(charge around 42/- per head) and from there with a private bus to the Nandi Hills. The buses leave every half an hour and it takes about 2 hours to reach the hill. Take the bus to Chikballapur from platform 11. After about 1 hour you will reach Chikballapur . From Chikballapur there are frequent mini buses to the top. The journey is about half an hour.There are no buses in afternoon (12PM-4 PM) from Bangalore so make sure that you arrive before time.

About: Nandi hills is an ancient hill fortress in southern India, in the Chikkaballapur district of Karnataka state. It is 10 km from Chickballapur town and approximately 60 km from the city of Bangalore.

The Journey Starts: My friend Niloy joining me for the first time after getting married. So this time we four Me, my friend Anindita, Niloy and Niloy’s wife Saheli were all ready for a trip to Nandi hills. Niloy booked a Mahindra Logan cab for Rs. 2700. Niloy and his wife boarded the cab from JP Nagar and picked me and Anindita on their way at 3.30 AM. On the way we had coffee from a small shop. After a drive of 1 hour we reached at the foot of Nandi hills at 4.30 AM. We had to wait there till 6AM as the road was closed by the traffic department. The road only opens at 6AM everyday. Already we are in a queue among a pool of cars and bikes. The queue extended further as the time moved on. During wait, we observed plenty of stars among clear night sky, which is hardly visible within city limits. Some people already made fire out of bushes and were enjoying the cold night. 1The gate opened exactly at 6AM. All cars rushed towards the top of the hill as no one wanted to miss the sunrise. The road condition was good. The beautiful winding hilly roads became more scenic with the beauty of the forest. Many bikers stopped their vehicle on the way and got busy taking pictures. We reached the top of the mountain after paying a parking charge of Rs. 100 at 6.15AM. On reaching top, the beauty of the mountain is immense. The surrounding hills were all covered with clouds. One hill just raising its head a bit out of the dense white cloud. We took many pictures there from every possible angle. Then we moved on towards the sunrise viewing point. On the way, we found sun is just rising. Though it was not an official sunrise viewing point, still the view of the sunrise from an unknown point was spectacular. Sunrise has just happened suppressing the blanket of dense white cloud. This is one of the most soothing sunrise I have ever seen in my life. It is like a red fire ball saying “Good Morning” to you. Need not to be mentioned, we have taken uncountable number of pictures there. Was having a feeling of reaching paradise as all the clouds were beneath us, and we are moving over it.IMG_2677 On reaching the actual sunrise view point, we found number of visitors are busy taking photographs of the unwinding sun. After having a great sight, we used the washroom there whose condition was terrible with no water. One can have breakfast in the government hotel “Hotel Mayura Pinetop”. We didn’t go there as my friend Anindita was carrying home-made tasty chicken sandwiches with coffee in flask. After having a filling breakfast, we started to roam around the hill. The hill is nicely modified for a perfect family day outing. We took photograph of the forest, hills and fresh morning flowers. To the left of the hotel Mayura Pinetrop, we took stairs to reach the statue of “Nandi bull”. Walking within the forest with continuous soothing view of the cloud covering mountains on the right was beautiful. Then we have reached another view point which is located just at the back side from the earlier sunrise view point. View from this viewpoint was not in compare to the previous one. One may find many view-points over the hill. TREE HOUSE Then after covering a small distance, we reached a place full of tree houses. We took the stairs to reach one of the tree house. From one tree house we moved on to the other as all were inter-connected. This was also a nice experience. Had to be little careful there, as it was not in very good shape and at some places, the wooden floor was missing. Nevertheless, it was thrilling moving between the tree houses. Niloy was carrying vodka with him. We mixed it with Sprite inside the car as we found out alcohol outside the restaurants is prohibited and gulped sitting under a shady tree. Be careful of monkeys as they eat and drink almost everything. By this time, we got hungry and decided to move to the hotel for snacks. On reaching there, we found breakfast just got over and they were out of food. Need to wait till 12.00 to get lunch. But soft drinks were available. The hotel was located at a nice point just at the edge of the hill. On enquiry, we found they provide accommodation too. All rooms are facing towards east to see a magnificent sunrise in the morning. And they charge around Rs. 1200 per night for a non-ac room. One can book a room online from http://www.karnatakaholidays.net .We sat inside the restaurant, having fun among ourselves and suddenly found all staffs were busy in arranging something. Then realized it’s almost 12 noon and they don’t want to get delayed in serving lunch. Without any delay, we paid at the counter and ordered food. We ordered couple of Kingfisher beer too. Food was good, though will not say great and was towards the expensive side as the food quantity was not too great either. However, having food sitting at the edge of the hill with view of scenic hills on the right should not lead to any sort of complain. IMG_2712Later after having lunch when the heat of the sun was at its best, we decided to leave. We boarded our cab and started our destination towards home at 2.30PM. While returning, we have seen “Tipu’s drop”, where the king Tipu Sultan used to punish all defaulters by dropping the defaulter from that height. On the way, we bought some grapes. Those grapes are being sold by the local villagers and was very less expensive. Also tried a coconut water on the way. Finally reached home at 3.30PM with lots of happy memories. I wake up every morning, and can still visualize that sunrise over a blanket of dense cloud. No-one should miss this place if staying in Bangalore. Suggestions:

  • Visit Nandi hill early in the morning. One should not miss-out from seeing the sunrise which is much better over the sunset view
  • Washroom could be really dirty. Be mentally prepared
  • Carry sunscreen, shades and cap/hat
  • Try to reach to the Nandi hill base as early as possible. If you are behind the queue, you might miss-out on the early part of the sunrise
  • Wear helmet if driving a two-wheeler

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