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 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 Travel Diary Dubai

Dubai was the last International location I traveled. I went to Dubai for 2 weeks in Oct 2019 for work. I had 2 weekends in between to go around Dubai. As usual I took the Emirates flight from Bangalore to Dubai. After landing at Dubai I took a cab to my hotel at Dubai Internet City. The cab person was from India, he was so proud of talking about Dubai and he kept the one hour drive completely engaged. He was hinting me about the increase in cost at Dubai and his plan to return to India. It was a nice drive to hotel, I could see lot of tall buildings and I could see Burj Khalifa most part of my drive to hotel. On reaching the hotel I stepped out for a walk, went around the place to know the nearest metro station and the vegetarian restaurants around. There was a place for walkers and joggers behind the hotel, I was very happy I can start my day here for the next 2 weeks. During the two weeks at Dubai, I started my day here running followed by some yoga asanas. I liked this place so much that I even used to go here in the evening and watch lot of children play. There were few vegetarian restaurants around this place and I was happy I don’t have to worry about food. My office was only a kilometre by walk, the weather was so hot that I took a cab to work most of the days. During the two weeks at Dubai I visited some nice places.

The Dubai Mall and Burj Khalifa The Dubai Mall is the second largest mall by land area with more than 1,200 shops. I have never seen such a big mall and don’t think I will see something bigger than this. I went here in the evening so that I can see The Dubai Fountain show and also see the laser show at Burj Khalifa. The Dubai Fountain is a choreographed fountain system on the lake of Burj Khalifa opposite The Dubai Mall. Burj Khalifa is the tallest building in the world with a height of 839.8 metres. It was originally named Burj Dubai, the name got changed to Burj Khalifa after Abu Dhabi and UAE government lent money to Dubai to repay its debts.

During my stay I was very lucky to go on a Dubai Marine Cruise one of the evenings. This was a 4 hour hour cruise on the Dubai waterways which included going around Burj Al Arab, Palm Jumeirah, Dubai Creek and The Atlantis Hotel. The Burj AL Arab is a luxury 5 star hotel and one of the tallest hotel in the world. The Palm Jumeirah is an artificial stretch of water with lot of islands. The Atlantis Hotel is a luxury resort located at Palm Jumeirah.

What I liked in Dubai the most is the metro which makes it very convenient for people to commute. I could see lot of people partying during the weekend. What I didn’t like in Dubai is people smoking everywhere making the air totally polluted and the small post card with phone numbers of adult clubs lying on streets. I don’t know whether this is everywhere, I could see plenty of them around the hotel I was staying. What I missed seeing in Dubai was my friends, they were either travelling or busy. I don’t mind going to Dubai again on a holiday to experience few days stay at The Hotel Atlantis.

My Travel Diary Istanbul

I traveled to Istanbul more than 2 years back. I was lucky to go twice, I was unlucky that my first trip was very short, lot of meetings and also was unwell. As usual I took an Emirates flight from Bangalore to reach Istanbul. This was a short trip for 2 days. I came out out of Istanbul Airport and took a cab to the hotel. I thought for a moment am at Bangalore seeing the traffic. When I looked at the Landscape everywhere I know it was not Bangalore. When I saw the tall buildings and speeding cars I know I reached Istanbul. I got an upgrade to Emirates Business Class and my bad time, the lunch resulted in a bad stomach. I checked in the hotel and took some medicine. I skipped the next day breakfast and lunch so that I wont have issues completing my business meetings. Around the evening I had a nice Turkish tea with some nice cookies. I was hearing someone talking about Turkish delight and also what is good to eat at Turkey. I skipped my dinner so that I will be perfectly fine next day. After around 30 hours I had food, joined the hotel breakfast, started with few slices of bread and honeycomb, fresh and the most tastiest honey that I have tasted. My meetings were over on time, reached the airport and took my return flight to Bangalore. I only saw tall buildings, traffic, landscape, tasted Turkish coffee, tea and honeycomb in my first visit. I didn’t have the time to go around Istanbul, I know am returning again in 2 weeks for more than a month.

Panorama view from Hotel

I again took an Emirates flight from Bangalore to reach Istanbul. Luckily I didn’t get an upgrade and importantly had no health issue on arrival. I took a cab to the service apartment, our accommodation was booked in one of the premium service apartment in Istanbul, I checked in my room at 37th floor. This time I also had a team traveling with me. We were cooking our own food during the weekdays and during the weekend we join together and cook. The weather was very cold at Istanbul and hence, I was using the corridor for my morning walk and did yoga in my room. During the weekend I used to wake up late, go out and run when the sun is out. We were very much occupied with work during the weekdays and we had our schedule planned for weekend even before we reached Istanbul, go around Istanbul, have fun and click pictures.

Bosporus The Bosporus is a narrow waterway located in northwestern Turkey. Bosporus is on the boundary of Asia and Europe, on one side of Bosporus is Anatolia and on other side is Thrace. One side of Bosporus is Asia and the other side is Europe.

I took few boat rides around Bosporus Straits and here are some of the best clicks.

Hagia Sophia Museum and The Blue Mosque Hagia Sophia started as a cathedral, became a mosque and now a Museum. What I read about this great landmark is this was built around 1,500 years ago. Sultan Ahmed Mosque known as The Blue Mosque was constructed between 1609 and 1616. This is a functional mosque and also attracts lot of tourist.

Grand Bazaar we also visited the Grand Bazaar few times. This is the oldest and largest covered markets in the world with 61 covered streets and more than 4,000 shops. This place attracts more than 2,50,000 visitors per day. This is considered the first shopping mall of the world. Whenever I visited this place I didn’t take my camera and hence, couldn’t click one.

During our stay at Istanbul we tasted Turkish coffee, tea and delights whenever we went out. We also tasted the most famous Baklava. When I was at the Airport for my return flight, I could see Turkish Delight counters on most of the Airport and I did pick few for my family back home.

When I think of Istanbul what immediately comes to my mind is The Turkish Delight, Baklava, Turkish Coffee and Tea. What also comes to my mind is the Traffic, Tall Buildings and the Landscape. What I liked the most in Istanbul is the public transport. Istanbul is a place with lot of history, some very nice tourist attraction and this must be one of the best holiday destination.

Lessons from Covid-19

Today I complete six weeks of house arrest and must admit this is one of the best learning experience for me. This learning is better than what I learnt in school, college and at work. Numbers are still climbing and I only hope the hot weather and astrological predictions will help us see the numbers come down from May 5, 2020 and we will also have the vaccine at the earliest. It is very sad many have lost their lives and I can’t imagine the hard times people are going through when their dear ones get admitted in hospital and they cannot even spend time with them in person when their dear ones leave the world. Once, the lock down is lifted and things return to normal there are many things that won’t be the same. I don’t know how many will lose their jobs, how many companies will have the cash to pass through recession, how many will default in loan payments and what will happen to their investments, very hard to even imagine. This Covid-19 is one way helping us understand the basics of life and what is essential for our future. Here is my list of learning and how things will change in post Covid-19 days.

LCP We are all used to the term Business Continuity Plan, BCP. The purpose of BCP is to make sure the essential services are rendered to Customers as Business Usual even during an emergency or calamity. None of us would have imagined that we will be sitting in our homes for weeks and months because of a virus. The worst hit are the senior citizens who cannot do their morning walk, cannot go to hospital for check up and have no other choice but to watch the TV News and keep worrying more. Am also worried about kids less than 10 years who are missing their school and cannot even step out and play. Parents have no other choice but to force their children to watch YouTube and TV. All of us must now assume we might have this lock down every year and do a Life Continuity Plan, LCP so that we take care of our family members well.

Work From Home As mentioned in one of my earlier Blog, My Covid-19 Experience, one thing that has zero impact during the lock down days is work. During the post Covid-19 days many organizations will ask their employees to work from home if there is no requirement for them to come to office and if they don’t have face to face meeting with their Customer. This will help Companies reduce cost of operations and this will also help employees to either do more work or do their personal work during the hours they use for commute. In a city like Bangalore where most people have to spend around 2 hours in their car, bike, bus or metro to commute to office, working from home will help them have this 2 hours at their disposal. This also means lesser pollution on the road and people who cannot work from home can have a safer drive or ride to work. Companies will also think when employees can work from home, it doesn’t matter whether their home is in India or US, Bangalore or Chennai or any village. Companies will allow their employees to work from any location and people on assignment in International Location might be hit hard. They might be asked to return to their homes in India and work from home.

Business Travel Airline and Hotel Industry will be hit very hard for a year or two as people will neither travel for Business nor for Pleasure. With the talks on pay cut and job loss people will not have the mind to go on a vacation to enjoy.

Animal Life and Nature These are the best days for wildlife and nature. Most of the dirty looking cities now look beautiful. Quality of Air is extremely good. The wildlife will be happy to roam around in their homes which is the forest as the poachers and hunters will also be in their homes going through lock down. I have started thinking it is better we have compulsory lock down for at least 4 weeks in a year, this will help the wildlife and nature immensely.

Personal Lock Down – It will be good if we have understood the benefits of lock down and go through a self imposed lock down for at least 2 weekends in a month. This will help us do the domestic work ourselves and will help us have better health by not eating the junk food which we normally eat during the weekends. We can have good time with our family at home, do domestic work, watch some nice movies on Netflix and write a Blog or read books.

Social Distancing and Hygiene This is not something new for us in India. What was taught by our Parents when we were kids we forgot it for many years. Now, most of the world has learnt the importance of social distancing. The only way we can stay away from any virus in future is by Social Distancing and maintaining good Hygiene.

Social Media Distancing It is very important during these tough days we stay away from Whatsapp forward. Most of the forwards are not checked, they can be fake and other than bringing fear on our minds it does nothing. I have also learnt that it also makes sense to stay away from most of the News Channel. The only News channel that I watch is WION. They hardly have any debates and they show what happens around the World as an information.

Fitness I always liked running in Beach, Lake and Park. I have been doing this for ages and am not comfortable to run even around my community. Today, I have learnt that Walking and Yoga is enough, I walk inside my house for a hour every day and do pranayama, surya namskar and few asanas when I start my day. Post Covid-19 I will go back to running inside my community and continue with yoga at home. I must also get exposed to sunlight regularly as this is the main source for Vitamin D.

Covid-19 has helped me learn some of the basics in life. Hopefully I will make use of this learning in future and be a better person. I will be very happy if you could share your views or your learning in the comments section, lets learn from each other.

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My Travel Diary Europe III

After completing my stay at Milan, I got an opportunity to travel to Brno in Czech Republic for 5 weeks. As usual I took Emirates from Bangalore to reach Vienna. I took a cab to reach Holiday Inn at Brno. Holiday Inn is one of the best hotels I have stayed. We were six of us on business travel and we had booked independent rooms for stay. We have also negotiated well for a kitchen. We were having a feast for dinner everyday. We used to split the kitchen work and we had a chef in our group who used to cook some very good vegetarian dishes. We were also served very good breakfast by Holiday Inn. They also had a nice gym, I used to wake up at 5am and complete my running and yoga. We were occupied with work most of the weekdays and we had the weekends to go around Brno and also visit the neighboring holiday destinations. We were lucky to visit Prague, Vienna and Budapest.

Brno Brno is a small city in Czech Republic. Holiday Inn was located opposite a very scenic place. We had visited Brno in November and December and hence, it used to snow regularly. There were not much places to see in Brno and the only place where I saw lot of people was in a Mall.

Prague Prague is the largest city in Czech Republic. Prague is known for Old Town Square and colorful buildings. Like Switzerland whatever or wherever we click in Prague will be a delight to our eyes. After reaching Prague by train, we started walking to Charles Bridge. It was November and the weather was very cold. We had a nice hot coffee and started visiting all the famous places. We visited Prague Castle, Old Town Square, Prague Astronomical Clock, Dancing House and Wenceslas Sqaure.

Vienna Vienna is the capital of Austria and is known for palaces. We were in Vienna for a day and hence, we have to see the famous places quickly. Luckily the team had done a very nice planning and we were able to visit most of the important places. We straight went to Schonbrunn Palace and spent more than 2 hours here. Then, we visited The Hofburg and Prater. In the night we went to Vienna State Opera.

Budapest Budapest is the capital of Hungary. When I think of Budapest I immediately remember and see the Beautiful Bridges on my mind. We reached Budapest early in the morning and straight went to Hungarian Parliament Building. From here we went to Buda Castle. We then walked to Chain Bridge and also visited the other bridges for clicks. We were also at the Heroes Square before taking our train back to Brno.

We had the best 5 weeks at Brno. As a team we were able to spend lot of time together and we visited these wonderful holiday destinations. I always love travelling to Europe as we get to see some nice palaces, bridges, buildings and most importantly we will see nature at its best. Public Transport is best in Europe and it becomes easier to visit few countries during the weekend and have very nice memorable time.

My Travel Diary B.R. Hills

I went to B.R. Hills around 3 years back and I still remember my visit to this place well and am just waiting for life to return to normal in India so that I can visit B.R. Hills one more time during the weekend.

Where is B.R. Hills – Biligirirangan Hills is located at around 180 kilometres from Bangalore. This is the ideal weekend place with family from Bangalore. Drive from my place is around 4 hours, so we can leave on Friday evening and return home on Sunday. During the winter temperature can drop to around 10 to 15 Celsius, this is the best time to visit B.R. Hills.

Stay at B.R. Hills – I always like staying at Jungle Lodges and thankfully we have K.Gudi Wilderness camp run by Jungle Lodges here. The location of K.Gudi camp is so scenic and you will get to see lot of birds around their camps. The added advantage of staying here is they arrange Jungle Safari early in the morning and evening. If we are lucky we can spot a Tiger and we will definitely see Deer, Monkey, Elephant and lot of Birds.

Things to do in B.R. Hills – I must always start my day running or walking and also do a little bit of Yoga. The early morning Trekking followed by yoga here will be a nice experience. We will get to see lot of Birds and also few elephants around K.Gudi Wilderness Camp. We don’t have Televisions and this must be one of the best place to relax our mind and have a quiet sleep.

Jungle Lodges is known for Jungle Safari. Jungle Lodges has the permission to go deep inside the forest and if we are lucky we can spot a Tiger. I went on Safari twice but could not spot a Tiger. I was able to spot few animals and there were plenty of rare birds.

Other Places around B.R. Hills – Biligiri Rangaswamy Temple is around 5 kilometres from K.Gudi camp and is located at the top of B.R. Hills. Drive to this temple and the view from top of this hill is beautiful.

B.R. Hills is a nice place for 2 days break and the most ideal place for people like me in Bangalore. We can reach this place in 4 hours and the moment we hit Nice Road we will be out of Traffic. Am waiting for Covid-19 to leave and life to return to normal so that I can plan a trip to B.R. Hills.

We can see Nature at its best in B.R. Hills, we can see some wildlife and we can have the ideal break.

My Covid-19 Experience

Last few weeks are the toughest days for many of us. Wherever we are, life is only about Social Distancing, Hygiene and Immunity. Am waiting for the virus to leave so that I can see my niece and take her to mall, I want to go to Chennai to see my parents, I want my family, friends and relatives to live life without fear. I want to take few minutes to share my experience during the last few weeks.

There is one thing that this virus has no impact, that’s my work. I continue to work as usual and I don’t see any challenge to work from home. I only hope after this virus is gone, lot of corporates in cities like Bangalore allow employees to work from home so that there is lesser pollution and we give a better environment to children.

I learnt cooking from my mom few years back, what I like in my cooking is I put the right amount of salt and spice. Last few weeks am cooking more and also trying out new dishes. Am now a better cook.

For the first time I started washing the vessels and also started cleaning the floor. I realize these two are the most toughest job.

I watch lot of old English and Tamil movies in Netflix and YouTube. I stopped watching TV since I want to keep my mind positive.

One thing I can’t miss is either running or walking. Last 2 weeks I walk inside my house and cover almost 6,000 steps. I do my regular exercises and yoga at home. Since, I can’t step out I sit in my balcony during sunrise.

I started reading more about Astrology. This is one thing which is giving me lot of hopes that things will be better after April 12, 2020.

I haven’t gone outside my community gate for more than 2 weeks. I haven’t traveled a kilometer in my car.

Am back to Blogging with a new site. I want to continue writing here once in a while. I also want to read lot of books and blogs in the future.

I haven’t gone to a temple last few weeks. I keep praying at my home so that this virus will leave this world very soon.

Am learning not to forward anything that comes as forward on whatsapp.

Am not listening to my favorite music these days. I keep listening to lot of devotional songs in the morning.

Covid-19 on a better side is helping everyone become a better person. My only concern is about people who get infected and leave this world. It is very clear that no country in this world is actually developed. I sincerely hope that we humans are kind to other humans, animals and nature. I will continue with my prayers for this Covid-19 to leave this world soon.