My Travel Diary Karnataka

Whenever there is a long weekend, people in Bangalore will be out for a long drive. Am not an exception to this, we plan a trip to one of the weekend getaways from Bangalore well in advance. We leave from Bangalore early in the morning hoping we will avoid the early morning traffic jam, not once we were lucky to avoid the traffic. Most of Bangalore will be on Nice Road heading to one of the resort. We like Jungle Lodges and we will be one of the early birds to make the reservation. In this post am going to take back my mind to Kabini, Bandipur, Coorg and Hampi.

Kabini The drive from Bangalore to Kabini is around 220 kilometres and takes around 5 hours. We went to Kabini around 4 years back. We were not lucky to get our reservations at Jungle Lodges and we ended up staying at Kaav Safari Lodges. We paid a premium for the quality of service and food. This is where I realized going on a holiday to Europe is a better choice economically. Kabini was a total disappointment because we hardly spotted any wildlife. I went on Jungle Lodges Safari two times and both times I was not lucky to spot any wildlife. What I liked about Kabini is the beautiful river and trees presenting nature at its Best.

Bandipur The drive from Bangalore to Bandipur is also around 220 kilometres and takes around 5 hours. What I liked about Bandipur is the proximity to Masinagudi. Masinagudi is in Tamilnadu and Bandipur is in Karnataka, distance between these two places is around 25 kilometres. We went on a holiday to Bandipur around 3 years back, we were lucky to get the reservation at Jungle Lodges. The advantage of staying in Jungle Lodges is the early morning and evening safari part of the package. Jungle Lodges has the permission to drive deep into the forest. Comparatively we were able to see lot of wild life at Bandipur and Masinagudi.

Coorg The drive from Bangalore to Coorg is around 260 kilometres and takes around 6 hours. We had been to Coorg twice, we stayed at Heritage Resort first time and at Club Mahindra second time. First trip was six years back and the second trip was two years back. What was consistent about both my trips was the quality of food at Coorg which was exceptional. There are plenty of places to visit in and around Coorg. We had been to Raja’s Seat, Madikeri Fort, Omkareshwara Temple, Abbey Falls and View Point Park. Tala Cauvery which is considered as the source for River Cauvery is a beautiful drive from Coorg and is around 90 minutes drive. There is also a Tibetan Monastery near Coorg which is a must visit place.

Hampi I always like staying in a village, Hampi is the perfect place for a long weekend. We had been to Hampi three years back. There are plenty of places to see in Hampi. Jungle Lodges is located in a village at Hampi which was the highlight of our trip. We went to Hampi for 3 days and I liked the early morning running and yoga. It is always healthy and nice to run in a village where we can breathe fresh air. One thing we must avoid at Hampi is the tour guides. It makes sense to make use of Google and decide the places we plan to visit for the day.

There are many more nice places by drive from Bangalore to be covered. Hopefully Covid-19 will leave this World soon, we can go back to our normal life and start planning the cool destination when we have a long weekend. Take Care and Be Safe.

My Travel Diary Delhi

I had traveled to Delhi few times in the past but was not lucky to go around Delhi. All my business trips to Delhi were during the weekdays and I could not see Delhi. I had been to Delhi to watch the formula one race at Buddh Circuit, Noida. During this trip the only purpose of visiting Delhi was to watch my icon Michael Schumacher. Finally, I was able to go around Delhi when I traveled in 2018. We were staying at our relative’s place at Gurgaon for two days and we stayed at Holiday Inn near Airport for three days. I was always thinking Bangalore, the garden city of India, is greener. When I went around Delhi I started thinking Delhi is more greener. I could see more trees in Delhi and I was imagining the early morning running or walking Delhiites can enjoy. Apart from the plenty of places to see in and around Delhi, what I liked the most is the quality of food in all the restaurants we went.

Day One – We took the early morning flight from Bangalore to Delhi. We reached our cousin’s place at Gurgaon in the afternoon. In the evening we went on a drive watching India Gate, Parliament of India and Rashtrapathi Bhavan. We returned to Gurgaon for dinner, our cousin took us to one the best Chinese restaurant. I don’t remember the name of the restaurant but will never forget the quality of food we were served. Finally, we went to Bikanervala for dessert.

Day Two – On day two we had nice breakfast at our cousin’s place. We went for a long drive around Delhi and we went to Gulati Restaurant for lunch. We also did some shopping in the famous bazaars. We visited Qutab Minar, Red Fort and India Gate.

Day Three – On day three we started early and traveled to Mathura and Vrindavan by car. Mathura is around 170 kilometres from Delhi and Vrindavan is only fifteen minutes drive from Mathura. Mathura is considered as the birth place of Krishna and Vrindavan is considered as the city where Krishna spent most of his childhood days. Cameras were not allowed in these holy temples, we visited few other beautiful temples in Mathura where we clicked some beautiful photos.

Prem Mandir, Vrindavan

Day Four – On day four we went to Taj Mahal. We had planned to spend the full day at Agra. We were lucky to click lot of nice photos at Taj Mahal. Finally, I visited one of the seven wonders of the world.

Day Five – On day five we went to Lotus Temple and Akshardham Temple. Both temples were beautiful and I can still look at these beautiful places when I close my eyes. I was allowed to click photos at Lotus Temple but a strict no at Akshardham. After visiting these temples we returned to our cousin’s place for lunch. We went out in evening for family dinner and late in the night we went to see the colorful Rashtrapathi Bhavan.

In my earlier trips to Delhi what I liked was the metro which connects Delhi, Gurgaon and Noida. In my 2018 trip to Delhi I saw the beauty of in and around Delhi. Delhi is greener than any other city in India. For someone who loves nature, Delhi will bring smile in our faces looking at the number of trees. As mentioned earlier, what I also liked in Delhi is the quality of food at the restaurants we visited. I definitely want to visit Delhi few more times on a holiday, wish formula one returns to India. I can see Delhi one more time and watch a formula one race live.

My Travel Diary Gokarna

We visited Gokarna on a family holiday in Dec 2019. I love driving long distance and we decided to drive to Gokarna from Bangalore. Gokarna is around 500 kilometres from Bangalore and is a 10 hour drive. We left early in the morning from Bangalore, had our breakfast and lunch on the way and reached Jungle Lodges at Gokarna in around 9 hours. The drive through Sharavati valley wildlife sanctuary is a memorable one. Jungle Lodges is completely cut off from Gokarna town, the rooms were nice and the food was very good. Gokarna is known for Mahabaleshwara Temple and Beaches. The purpose of visiting Gokarna was to have good time together with family, get some fresh air with nice food and also see some important places. We had great family time, had nice stay completely cut off from pollution and Jungle Lodges treated us with very good food. Let me talk about the places we visited from here.

Jungle Lodges

Mahabaleshwara Temple Mahabaleshwara is known for its Shiva Linga also known as Aatma Linga. I read that this is a 4th century temple and is one of the seven sacred Muktistala in Karnataka. The temple is located on the shores of Arabian Sea. There are few other small temples around Mahabaleshwara temple, one other temple we visited is Sri Maha Ganapathi Temple.

Om Beach and Kudle Beach The shape of Om Beach is considered to be in the shape of Om and hence it derives its name and also considered auspicious. Om Beach is a place any photographer would love to be with their camera. There are plenty of water sport in Om Beach and I also saw lot of people enjoying their meditation and practicing yoga. Kudle Beach has a perfect C shape, it is know for its scenic view and the click of sunrise and sunset is a delight to watch anytime.

Murudeshwar Temple After staying at Gokarna for 2 days we left to Jog Falls. On our way we visited Murudeshwar Temple. Murudeshwar is known for its tall Shiva Statue located on the shores of Arabian Sea. Murudeshwar temple has a 20 storey Gopuram and has a lift to have a view of the 123 feet Shiva idol. The temple surrounded by Arabian Sea on three sides is one more photographers paradise.

Jog Falls Jog Falls is the tallest waterfall in India on the Sharavati River located in the Shimoga district. We stayed at Sharavati Adventure Camp for a day which is opposite the Sharavati River. We had a nice welcome after we checked into our rooms to realize none of our mobile phones were working. The rooms were located opposite the river and we had a nice view of sunrise and sunset. The resort arranged a drive to Jog Falls next day morning, we were there for around 3 hours clicking some nice photos.

After having nice time for three days in Gokarna and Jog Falls we started driving back to Bangalore. When I was driving, for few seconds I lost concentration and there was a SUV on the opposite direction and we could have had a head on collision. Thankfully, I turned the wheels to right side and the driver of SUV was already to his right and we were safe, I will never forget this. What I liked about my trip to Gokarna is the Beautiful drive from Bangalore, comfortable stay at Jungle Lodges with nice food, a town with beautiful historic temples and nice beaches to hang out. One of the Must Visit place in Karnataka.

My Sabarimala Experience

The Sabarimala Aiyyappa Temple is located at Sabarimala inside a Tiger Reserve in Pattanamthitta district, Kerala, India. Sabarimala is known for its annual pilgrimage where devotees turn up in millions around Nov 15th to Jan 15th every year. Sabarimala Aiyyappa Temple is also open every month for monthly pooja. During the monthly pooja very few of them, maybe in thousands visit Sabarimala. According to belief, Aiyyappa is the son of Shiva and Mohini, Mohini is the female incarnation of Vishnu. The temple is located in a dense forest, most of the devotees during the annual pilgrimage will trek for around 40 miles from Erumeli through the forests. All devotees visiting Sabarimala during the monthly pooja will start their trek from Pampa River, this is the shorter route to reach the temple, this is around 5 miles from Pampa to reach the temple. Some devotees even during the annual pilgrimage will start their trek from Pampa.

Image from Outlook

Route The 40 mile route starts from Erumeli. After walking 4 hours we reach Aludha River. From here we have to climb up the hill for around 2 hours and then climb down the hill to reach Karivilam Thodu. We have to continue walking in plains for 4 to 5 hours and then start climbing the Karimala hill. This is a very steep climb and might take around 3 hours to climb up and another 3 hours to climb down. We have to continue walking in plains for around 2 hours to reach Pampa. From Pampa we climb up the Neeli Mala hill and reach Sannidhaanam in around 3 hours. Most of them trekking will walk bare foot. It is easy to climb up and climb down the various hills bare foot.

Image from sabarimala.tdb.org.in

Fasting Most of them visiting Sabarimala will observe fasting for 6 weeks. Before starting the fasting I will take blessings from my parents and wear a Thulasi Maala. I follow these for 6 weeks from the time I commence fasting. eat only Vegetarian food and also avoid onion, take bath twice in a day and offer my prayers to Aiyyappa, during the weekends I will visit Aiyyappa Temple, observe strict celibacy, wont watch cinema even on Television, avoid listening to film music, avoid visiting friends or relatives, wont go for hair cut or shave my face, sleep on the floor, foot wear only to office. The purpose of fasting is to keep our mind clean and also maintain good health.

Sabarimala Trip After observing 6 weeks fasting, we start our Sabarimala trip by taking Irumudi in the presence of Guruswamy. Irumudi is a travel bag which contains rice, coconut with ghee, coconut, pooja items etc.., When I visit Sabarimala in January, I used to take the Erumeli route. I also used to visit Sabarimala in March and July, during this time I start my trip from Pampa. We always go in group to Sabarimala, around twenty of us in January and for the monthly trip maybe four or five. The purpose of fasting is to climb the Eighteen Steps at Sabarimala Temple. These eighteen steps symbolizes vision, hearing, smell, taste, touch, love, anger, avarice, lust, pride, unhealthy competition, jealousy, boastfulness, discernment, passion, dullness, knowledge and ignorance. After climbing the eighteen steps devotees will have the darshan of Lord Aiyyappa.

My Sabarimala Experience I first went to Sabarimala in 1990. During this time I will observe 6 weeks fasting and visit Sabarimala in January. When I start walking from Erumeli, there will be hardly any shop on the way. These were the days when there were no mobile phone. When we walk in the forest climbing up and down the hill, there will be hardly any light. The fasting I observe for six weeks will help me trek at ease. Since, it is a dense forest, very active on wild life, we used to walk with lot of fear. I will call my parents only after having darshan of Aiyyappa from a telephone booth. As the days were passing by more people started visiting Sabarimala. Once mobile phone made its way, it is like walking with our people in Sabarimala, even though they may not be physically present. There used to be more shops and the route was completely lighted. We used to hardly see any wild life because of crowd and various shops that were located on the route. There were also people who used to smoke while trekking resulting in polluting the air. Between 2001 to 2014, I used to visit Sabarimala three times in a year. I used to observe sixty days fasting for my January trip and twenty days fasting for the remaining two trips in a year. I stopped going to Sabarimala six years back, I have gone to Sabarimala seventeen years and more than thirty five times.

What I learnt I always like to observe fasting, this helps me have good control of mind and also have good health. My various visit to Sabarimala taught me what are the essentials of life, made me a better person and most importantly taught me nothing is permanent in life. It is very important to visit Sabarimala Eighteen years, I hope am blessed to visit the Eighteenth Year.