Posted in chicken, cochin, custard, fish, fish tikka, fried fish, grilled fish, kayaking, scuba diving, soup, south indian, south indian cuisine, travel, travel diaries, travel writing, traveller, travelogue, Uncategorized, upma

Travelogue – Come and enjoy the pristine white sand beaches of Lakshwadeep

Can you keep yourself away from the clear turquoise blue waters of Lakshwadeep after you have visited the Andamans? An absolute no!


Compared to the Andaman islands, Laccadive and Minicoy are difficult to visit because prior permission is required from the Government of India. There is only one aeroplane which flies from Cochin to Agatti island once a day and the ships plying between different islands has a frequency of three days. Helicopter services are also available but at an added cost.

We could only visit one island but you should plan your trip in a way that you visit not only Kavaratti(where you can indulge in water sports) but also Bangaram(where you can enjoy the mesmerising view).

Day 1

We boarded the evening flight from Delhi to Cochin and reached the latter at 9pm. We had booked a studio apartment in the Atlas hotel which is just 2 kms from the airport. The pick up and drop services were provided by the hotel.

The studio apartment was nothing short of extraordinary. There was a big hall with a television, a dining area, a spacious kitchenette, two bedrooms, one with the attached washroom and a stand alone washroom. The amenities are top notch considering the price – 4800 for four people.

Day 2

Waking up early to relish the Cochin skyline was a good thought. A beautiful view with towering coconut trees awaited us as we opened the balcony doors. But we could not keep basking in this magnificence as we had a flight to catch at 8am.

A 36 seater Air India plane is responsible for carrying the dreamy eyed travellers heading for Lakshwadeep. The turbulent airs above the Arabian Sea make this journey a tad scary considering the small size of the plane. But adventure is always welcome!

We reached Agatti at around 10:30am. Since this is a military airport, we are not allowed to shoot once we are out of the plane – army personnel make sure of that. This is the smallest airstrip we had ever landed on. The surrounding turquoise blue waters do seduce you once in a while to steal a photo shoot but no rule breaking here.

From Agatti, ships and helicopters are the means of transport to the other islands. We were headed to the capital Kavaratti and a two hour eventful ship journey awaited us as we clambered on the slippery deck. We had booked our stay at SPORTS complex and one of their people accompanied us and carried our entire luggage, which was a relief as it is a huge task to carry heavy items across a boat which is swaying dangerously.

The waters of the Arabian Sea are ferocious and the waves have a tendency to move the ship by 1 or 2 metres – enough to give you nausea.

We reached Kavaratti around 1pm and had a delicious lunch at the SPORTS complex where we had booked a stay for three nights. It was a lovely change to hog on the authentic Lakshwadeep cuisine which has evolved from the Keralite one. And to have this while sitting at the beach and listening to the roaring waves is another experience in itself.

Lunch – a delectable spread of fried tuna, chicken curry, beetroot prepared with coconut and rai seeds, chappati and rice.


Dinner – Slurpy sweet corn soup, spicy fried tuna, dry matar paneer, yellow dal, chicken curry and beans cooked in coconut milk.

Day 2

The second day started with us gearing ourselves for SCUBA diving in the lagoon area around Kavaratti. The SPORTS complex offers experienced instructors who first teach you about the do’s and don’ts of breathing underwater and then they give you a first hand training in the shallow waters of the beach, thus allowing you enough time to practise. While Shrenee was able to cope with equalising pressure, I had a difficult time getting used to venting air pressure through my ears.

After 10 minutes of practise, we were taken by a motor boat to the area where corals are in plenty with colourful shoals of fish and sea creatures residing in them. The deep turquoise blue waters hide a vibrant world reminding me of The Little Mermaid.


The evening was spent in a jeep which took us to all the nooks and crannies of the island. We also got to see the eastern section of the island where the general public is not allowed to roam because of the shallowness of the continental shelf.

The Kavaratti light house is one place that you should visit. The view from the top is mesmerising and comes after a hard climb of 180 stairs. And you have to clamber the steps without your foot wear which are definitely not allowed inside.


Breakfast: Idli, sambhar and chutney.

Lunch: North Indian spread

Dinner: Two types of chicken, mixed vegetables and caramel custard

Day 3

The third day started with a lovely breakfast spread of fluffy omelettes, breads and upma. The upma was prepared in a different way – finely grated carrots mixed well with roasted semolina.

We were taken a small glass boat to the borderline lagoon area from where we could relish the colourful corals and fishes. Bread crumbs were thrown to the fishes which merrily ate them and kept swimming near our boat for more treats. The zebra fish and the parrot fish are regular here and the boat men said that they actually wait for their arrival.

Lunch: Dal, roti and chicken cooked with caramelized onions. The dessert was a mouth watering coconut cheese cake.

Evening was spent in kayaking around the shallow waters. You can get the kayaking boat for 200 bucks for an hour. It is one of a kind of experience to row the boat yourself and go wherever you desire. The water is so clear that you can clearly view the sea bed.


One more advantage of staying at the SPORTS complex was that you are always on the beach where you can sit back and relax. The hospitality here was top notch. We might have missed out on Bangaram but where could we have enjoyed seeing those colourful fishes and beautiful corals! There is so much more to enjoy in Lakshwadeep that we are not crossing it off our bucket list anytime soon!!


Posted in amber fort, amer fort, fort, forts in jaipur, Iphone, Iphonex, jaigarh fort, jaipur, jaipur city, jaipur diaries, Rajasthan, travel, travel diaries, travel writing, traveller, travelogue, Uncategorized, writer

Travel musings #2

And they tell you that travel is fun
They tell you to travel is to invite the hues of life
They tell you to take your bulky DSLR’S
Waiting to click the myriad images
But they never tell you
That it is unpredictable
And will sometimes make you cry
Will tire your body
And wear out your mind. IMG-20171225-WA0004-01

Posted in hawa mahal, india, indian, Iphone, Iphonex, jaipur, jaipur city, jaipur diaries, photography, Rajasthan, travel, travel diaries, travel writing, traveller, travelogue, Uncategorized

Travel Musings #1

It does not do to dwell on dreams and forget to live, remember that.

So one fine day, I forgot about my dream to visit Hawa Mahal and here I am, standing in front of it.


Momentary dwelling is always better than day dreaming.

Caption credits: Eleven minutes by #paulocoelho

Posted in amer, amer fort, forts in jaipur, jaipur, jaipur city, jaipur diaries, photography, Rajasthan, travel, travel diaries, travel writing, traveller, travelogue, Uncategorized, walking, writer

Excerpts from Instagram – travel is never easy.

Who told you travel was easy?

The smile on my face no way justifies my pathetic condition during the long weekend trip at Jaipur. Just a week back, a stomach infection surfaced and I was on medicines for the whole time. It got worse on the first day at Jaipur, thanks to the sun standard food at The Lalit.
Due to my horrible stomach ache, we started late from our hotel and reached Amber at 10am. I was wary of having breakfast at the hotel so binged on two bananas and an apple. That’s it, these were the only items I had for the whole day till 7pm. With a bloated stomach, I explored Amber and Jaigarh and to add to the pain, we had to walk and clamber a lot as the forts are huge. To add insult to the injury, the long weekend rush was maddening.


A bloated and empty stomach and tired legs are a deadly combination – but I survived them.
But then the last rays of sunlight shone and illuminated my face and this happened.
The joy of exploring these forts is unparalleled.

Posted in himachal, himachal pradesh, himalayas, india, indian, indian cuisine, indian food, kullu, mountains, north indian, road trip, things to do in himachal, tirthan, tirthan river, tirthan valley, travel, travel diaries, traveller, travelogue, trek, trekking, Uncategorized

Travelogue – Tirthan valley, Kullu, Himachal Pradesh, India

Nestled amongst the mighty Dhauladhars and the fierce Tirthan river, this enticing valley should be on your wish list if you adore mountains.

I was fortunate enough to visit this beautiful place on a team outing and our stay was at the Camp Chrysalid, Tirthan, which is at the edge of the Great Himalayan National Park.
The rage of the Tirthan can be heard from a far off distance. It originates from the Tirthan glacier (I had no idea about this one) and flows through the treacherous landscape of the Himachal before
The journey from Delhi is an arduous one – 14 long hours and the last one hour is on a very narrow stretch of road. Forget your luxurious Volvo, a 30 seater has a better chance here.

The twittering of mountain birds welcome you as you step into the property of Camp Chrysalid. About 15-20 camps stand tall on a railed edge near the Tirthan river with damp Himalayan grass guiding your way. The camps/tents are well equipped with charging points, warm beds and blankets, inside pockets for keeping essentials, a shoe rack (wow!) and double layered mattresses. They are built on a raised platform, so no worries about water spoiling your luggage and beds during the monsoons or sporadic rain spell.

Washrooms are situated a few metres from the camps and are gender differentiated. The staff here is very energetic and loves to initiate all the team building activities with innovative energizers.
On day 1, after a back breaking journey of 15 hours and resting/refreshing for two hours, we decided to trek to a famous waterfall here. The trek is a short one but steep as hell. The crystal clear cold waters soothe your tired feet, so why not have a dip in them?

The meals are heavenly delicious and the variety in the dishes is exemplary.


On day 2, we proceeded for the adventurous activities – rappelling and valley crossing on a ropeway in the middle of the jungle on the mountains.
We visited this camp during the onset of monsoon and the river was in full flow. We were advised not to wade near the Tirthan so we restricted ourselves to a three step staircase while revelling in the songs that Tirthan played.

Posted in amber, amber fort, city palace, fort, hawa mahal, jaigarh fort, jaipur, palace, the lalit, travel, travel diaries, traveller, travelogue, Uncategorized

Long Weekend Getaway – Jaipur Diaries

I am not the sort of traveller to keep a bucket list but Jaipur had been on my mind for a very long time. The pink city, with its rich history and grandeur, has never failed to entice anyone and who am I to not get seduced by those perfect picturesque forts and colourful palaces?

I am glad that I am currently residing in the national capital which is pretty near to Jaipur.  The X-mas weekend was the only opportunity for me to finally fulfil my dream of visiting this mesmerising city and learn about the Rajput culture. A 45 minute flight saved my time.

Day 1

Arrival time at Jaipur airport: 10:30am.

Place of stay: The Lalit, Jaipur. It is within 2km distance of the airport and a 10 minute Ola ride through wide and smooth roads took me there.

The Lalit is a four star premium hotel but the way the staff at the reception treated my check-in was third grade. I had booked a suite for three women and had talked to them previously that I want to do the check-in by 11am. The reception personnel said that I cannot check-in before 11:30am and I have to pay 9510 bucks for the special and compulsory Gala Dinner. I was short of money on that day and had to save for the trip as well, so it was not possible for me to pay the whole amount in one go. The reception staff refused the check me in without that payment and they did this with other travellers also, some of whom were students.

The room assigned to me was a normal deluxe room with two queen size beds with no space for a third bed. When I asked the service guy that where will he keep the third bed, he pointed to the only walking space in the room. A suite is supposed to have a king size bed, an extra table and sofas with enough space for a single bed, but here, I could not see any such amenities. When I called up the reception, they were clueless. After returning to the reception and having a conversation with the manager, I paid half the amount for the gala dinner on 24th and was assigned the suite that I had booked.

In ideal conditions, our suite should have had three sets of cutlery, toiletries and other provisions. But I think the staff here is too dumb to understand that and we were always provided just one set, even when we ordered for in room dining.


Lunch in the suite: I had ordered Dal Tadka, Dal Baluchi and normal rotis for our lunch. We were provided complimentary mini desserts which were in the prettiest shapes – a lipstick, mascara, a pair of lips etc. Both the Dals were amazing in taste and full of flavours with the rotis reminding of the home made variety we have. The desserts were just sugar painted in different colours and we chose to leave them instead of harming our bellies.


Hawa Mahal at 4pm:


It was crowded as hell because of the long weekend but we were able to make through and relish the colourful interiors. The courtyard was soothing and the rooftop is a good place to observe the setting sun. There is World View Café just on the opposite side on the road from where you can climb upstairs and get your picture clicked with Hawa Mahal in the background.


Virajosa/Night Tour bus at 6pm: We had expected a lot from the night tour bus but this proved to be a damper on our spirits. They started early and asked us to reach Amar Jawan Jyoti (the second stop) instead of the assembly point which was the World Trade Park. We pointlessly waited for 30 minutes – in that time, we would have reached the assembly point and boarded the bus.

We had chosen roof top seats and they assigned us a six seater with a couple. Not good.

We were greeted with vegetarian Manchurian which was average in taste. A cold sandwich with juice and biscuits followed. The rooftop should have been in glass as shown in the pictures but it was covered in a green mesh which marred the experience of beholding the Jaipur skyline in the night.

Usually, in night tours, they have stops at specific places where a guide describes the history of the place but no such thing happened at the various halts mentioned except Jal Mahal. No description was given and we were bundled into jeeps which took us to Nahargarh Fort.

The jeep ride was eventful and scary in the night. The fort is situated on the hills and the winding, dark and deserted roads, cool air and a bumpy ride ensure the adventure which was missing in the bus. The jeep riders also told us about the history of forts here which was a welcome change.

Nahargarh Fort used to be a retreat for the queens of Sawai Madho Singh and a hunting residence for the kings. The city of Jaipur, when alit in the night, presents a beautiful picture from the railings of the fort.

There is a new Sheesh Mahal fashioned at the Nahargarh Fort and the entry fee is 200 bucks. Multi hued mirrors in medieval cuts and patterns greet you as you take a carefully treaded stroll wearing double layered carry bags as footwear. I was reminded of the “Sheesh Mahal special” song from Mughal-e-Azam.

We were offered a vegetarian Rajasthani thali on our way back in the bus and the taste was average.

Back at Lalit, we ordered Masala peanuts and grilled fish with vegetables and potato mash. The peanuts tasted stale and the fish was the only good aspect of the second dish. The vegetables were not sautéed but were boiled and instead of the potato mash, chopped potatoes were there. No class from a 4 star.


Day2: Because of my stomach infection, we got late and could only venture out for Amber Fort at 8:30 am. Because of the long weekend rush, we reached by 9:45 am and hired an ASI approved local guide. He took us through a short cut passage towards the fort where we encountered the alluring Jagat Shiromani temple which is dedicated to Meera Bai and Lord Krishna and has a huge flight of stairs. The architecture is mesmerising but our dear guide was in a hurry to get more customers so he rushed us through.


Jalebi chowk – This is the main courtyard which connects the Sun Gate with the rest of the palace. From here, the entrances to the Kali temple, Diwan –i-am and the Shahi Hamam proceed.

Diwan-i-am – A pillared hall on a raised platform with elephants adorning the pillars. You can stand near the railings and revel in the brilliant sunshine and comforting winds.

Diwan-i-khas – Diwan-i-khas of any fort is worth two or three visits. Be it the Agra fort, the Delhi Red fort or even the Mysore Palace, the “hall of the special” is an exquisite world in itself. Amber fort was no different. Sheesh Mahal is one of the main attractions here. Fashioned from marble and having inlaid colourful mirror work, this hall will definitely take your breathe away.


Jaigarh Fort:


From Amber, it takes half an hour to reach the Jaigarh Fort which is situated uphill. This fort holds the biggest cannon of the world which was only fired once and its target was 40km away.


This used to be the stronghold of the royal battalion & defence and was constructed from security point of view. I found this one better than Amber, maybe because of lesser crowd and maybe because of its “fort like” qualities. Tough and imposing walls surround you as you enter this. It is not as ornate as Amber and no embellishments and decorations are there to allure you. But as you move along this one, you get to see Jaipur from the view point of the warriors who used to man the ramparts of Amber. Jal Mahal, Amber, Nahargarh, you name it, and you can view it.


Because it is situated at a greater height than Amber, the flowing wind soothes your mind and cures you of tiredness as you walk on the hardened stone floor. Langurs, pigeons and parrots carefully move away as you tread towards the light house. What a travel state!


The Gala dinner at The Lalit on 24th December was disappointing to say the least. The hotel made it compulsory for every traveller but did not make the necessary arrangements for it. We were asked to wait for 10-15 minutes and when we argued against it, the hotel staff mentioned that we are coming at a time of rush. The timings are from 7-10pm and people will come at their own convenience to which the hotel staff does not agree. After many arguments, we were assigned a table.

The cheapness of the hotel does not end here. They were serving the lowest grade of Sula red wine and the food was pathetic. The cold cuts and the cheese tasted stale. I was concerned about my stomach so did not eat much.

Day3: City Palace

Our plan was to explore the city palace for an hour and then rush back to the airport for our flight. But thanks to an ignorant cab driver who instead of listening to us and following our directions to the destination followed his own gut feeling and got us to Taj Mahal Palace hotel (imagine the frustration), we only got 15 minutes for the residential palace.


I think I am getting exhausted of writing on and on that how clean the palaces and forts of Jaipur are. The frescoes and cravings are maintained till date and the colours and the beauty intact. There is a queue for getting snapped at the famed peacock door and you do require patience for that.

I wish to visit Jaipur again because there are so many places that I was unable to visit and so many dishes to hog on.

Jaipur, let us meet again!

Posted in bangalore, biryani, coorg, coorg hills, dum biryani, hills, india, indian, indian cuisine, karnataka, kaveri, kushalnagar, madikeri, mutton biryani, mysore, mysore palace, namdroling monastery, resort, south indian, south indian cuisine, thallakaveri, travel, travel diaries, traveller, travelogue, Uncategorized, western ghats


We live in the vicinity of the Himalayas and it seems to be our first choice for a weekend getaway or even a long vacation. But when we are not yearning for an adventurous journey or a challenging trek, the hills of South India seem to be our next option.
Kodaikanal and Ooty have been on our bucket list for a long time now but we wanted a place away from the hustle bustle of the city life and touristy crowd. And that is where Coorg came in. No internet connection for two days with minimum network coverage can definitely leave anyone mad, but not when you are surrounded by three big hills, coffee plantation, colonial wood cottages, a small pond and an excellent hospitality.
Coorg is an enchanting travel destination located in the Western Ghats. When you head from Bangalore to the hilly slopes, the winding terrain bewitches you and it is difficult to take your eyes from the alluring scenic beauty.
Where to start: It takes around 6 hours from Bangalore to Coorg by a car through NH 2575 and en route you can enjoy the beauty of the famous Ramgarh hills where the legendary Sholay was filmed.
Pit stops: Kamat Upachar and Nakshatra
We had a light breakfast at Kamat located at Mudhugere, Bangalore Mysore Highway. The authentic South Indian Upma is to die for – a novelty for us North Indians.
A heavy lunch awaited us at Nakshatra located at the Bypass road, Hunsur on the Bangalore Mysore Road or NH 275. The chicken dum biryani was exceptional and it was the Mysore version of the biryani and was served with a spicy hot saalan or rasam. The vegetable curry was good though extra hot with the flavours of gun powder and garam masala igniting a lava on my palate. Washrooms are clean and ambience is good.

Just two hours from Coorg, we took a halt at Kushalnagar, which is home to several Tibetan settlements as well as the abode of Namdroling Monastery. A splendid Tibetan temple with a golden pagoda occupies the crest here. At around 4pm, you can hear the booming Buddhist chants when the monks gather in the main temple for their evening prayers. The chants sooth your clamorous soul and bring the eluding peace.
You can buy prayer flags, Tibetan handicrafts and paraphernalia from the shop at the starting of the monastery.

The uphill drive starts after Kushalnagar with very narrow paths. The roads become narrower as we proceed with the forests and the sideway plants/trees growing thicker and denser. The roads are not dangerous compared to the Himalayas, but they are deserted with no sign of a living being for miles. So it is better to avoid driving or even visiting the resort after 6pm.
The roads are not jittery and you will not feel even an impulse to vomit. But if you are a newbie, better to carry Avomin.
We had booked a resort, Leisure Vacations Three Hills, which is located in the valley and three giant hills surround it. It had three separate cottages and there were rooms in the main villa as well, but we had booked a cottage for ourselves and each morning we were greeted with a raw, enchanting natural beauty. There is a little pond nearby and one can spot the ducks gracefully swimming in it.

We visited Talakaveri the next day which is the place where the river Kaveri originates. A temple is situated here and because of the extreme height at which it is located you will be greeted by clouds which will be floating away in front of your eyes. Now if that doesn’t leave you flabbergasted, what will!

It is advisable to wear knee length or longer clothes to this place as you will not allowed to enter the temple. Additionally, they will rent out the traditional “lungi” or the wrap around garment at a meagre price of 10 bucks.

There are about hundreds of steps located near the temple and after climbing them, you can witness the whole picturesque and vividly green valley from the top. Though it would have been better if the temple authorities allow the tourists to wear footwear while climbing the stone steps, especially when the ground on the top is not levelled properly and has huge stones and boulders lying carelessly.
Our stay at the resort was pretty luxurious and relaxing. The steward assigned to us – Mr. Shiva took excellent care of the our requirements and was there to guide us about the place. We wished for authentic Coorg cuisine to be served to us and he, along with the cook presented the most explosive dishes to us. They were pretty new to us, extremely flavourful and way too spicy.



The dining area was in the main villa and the feasts were prepared on demand. We came to know about a local favourite here – Karimpettu – a rice and sooji steamed ball taken with spicy vegetable curry. Another favourite was the bread omelette they served us in the breakfast – fluffy yet thin omelettes wrapped around raw breads.

After a stay of two nights, we headed back to Bangalore and what better than Mysore for an afternoon stop over?
Note: Do not forget to buy home made chocolates, organic honey, spices and cosmetics from the local shops while driving from Coorg to Madikeri. You won’t regret any bit of it.
Our next stop over was at Desi Platter, Mysore were we got to gorge upon the exploding Mysore mutton dum biryani and a vegetarian meal before heading on to the famed Mysore Palace.

The famed Mysore Palace, which is the official residence of the royal family of Mysore was next on our itinerary. Towering over you, the behemoth palace casts a spell on you with its beautifully crafted walls which light up in the evening.

It was built by the 24th Raja of Mysore and is exquisitely designed. The glittery yet pastel shades of the ramparts and the ceilings can give those French balustrades a run for their money. The graceful and gigantic pillared halls echo with the voices of the tourists without losing their mysterious sheen.

The marriage hall or the Kalyan Mandapa is a unique octagonal shaped hall with symmetry raging in every mosaic and motif. We were awed by the glass panels situated towards the top of the hall and we are pretty sure you will be too.