Sunday, December 1, 2013

Serene backwaters in Alappuzha, Kerala

Lying down in partially covered canoe, traversing along the narrow canals of the serene backwaters where the greenness of the surroundings mesmerizes the watcher. The tall palm trees at the sidelines amidst the numerous bushes makes the landscape too picturesque. I closed my eyes and tried to feel the calmness in the environment. It felt like life has come to a pleasant standstill away from the city rush.

Some of the pictures from our last trip to Alleppey, Kerala.

A houseboat view  in Alleppey.
You can check the Kerala Tourism's website for the more information.

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Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Goa is a State of Mind.

It was our second day in Goa. Today we had planned to visit the beaches in the northern region of Goa which stretches till Arambol. It was around 30 km from Calangute, the place where we were staying. There are nearly 6-7 beaches in this region, Arambol, Mandem, Morjim, Vagator, Baga, Candolim, etc. to name a few.

After spending a day here, we discovered that the best way to explore Goa is to rent a bike. One can easily get them on rent by showing his/her identification proofs and driving license. So, post our late morning breakfast, we were set to explore the beaches of north Goa on our bikes. GPS navigation was set to Arambol and the journey started. After driving for 15-20 minutes, we crossed the city traffic and thereafter the serpentine roads were mostly empty. There were tall coconut trees on both sides of the roads. After sometime, we started driving up in the hills with intermittent views of the infinite ocean behind it. It was fun to drive in the hillocks with greenery all around. The surroundings were so serene and the only audible sound was of the running vehicle. These were the most beautiful roads I have ever driven on. We reached the beach after nearly 2 hours of driving.

It was a lovely beach. As it was quite far from the main city, we found it less crowded compared to the other beaches like Calangute and Baga. We could easily locate an empty shack where we left our luggage and raced towards the sea waves. The sand was warm and the touch of the water waves was very relaxing. The cyclic phenomena of the waves coming down to the coast and again retreating was very rejuvenating to the body. We sat in the waters for sometime and then unwillingly came back to shacks due to time constraints.

 Lying down on the shack, with the clear blue sky above and limitless sea in the front, gave such a wonderful feeling of stillness. There were no worries and I was completely engrossed by the views. After some snacks, we headed towards Morjim beach.

 The roads leading to the Morjim beach were scenic too. It was running parallel to sea from one side and the other side had vast expanses of lush green meadows. The complete passage till the beach had breathtaking views. The landscape was absolutely magnificent to be expressed into words. Mesmerized by the beauty of the terrain, we lost the main track to beach and the road hit a dead end somewhere in the woods. We didn't have any clue about where to go next but fortunately the sea was partially visible from the place where we were left stranded. We parked the vehicles there and started walking in the direction of the sea. After 5-10 minutes of walking, we reached the shore.

 It was such a captivating site, there was hardly anyone on the beach and we were truly delighted to be lost. It was a pristine place and seemed like we were the owners of the beach. 
 The sun was lying low and it was approaching dusk. We were lucky to witness a splendid sunset in complete solitude. 

Long walks around the coast line, the cool sea breeze in the hairs and its salty aroma, changing coloration in the horizon, it was a tailor-made evening. Goa made me feel a sense of liberation.

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Monday, November 4, 2013

Wish You A Very Happy Deepawali..

Wishing all the readers a very happy and prosperous Deepawali. 

Deepawali translates into "array of lamps". In the Northern region of India, Diwali is celebrated on account of return of Lord Rama, King of Ayodhya, with his wife Sita and brother Lakshmana from a 14-year exile and a war in which he vanquished the demon king Ravana. It is believed that the people lit oil lamps all along the way to light the royal family's path in the darkness.

The wisdom that can be inferred from the small flame of diya is that the way it eliminates the darkness and illuminates its surroundings, similarly we should also try to be more positive in our lives and spread happiness around us. This would help us in making the world a better place to live.

Some pictures from our Diwali celebrations..

Saturday, October 26, 2013

Goa: Joy & Nirvana ...

Goa, the smallest state in India by area, is located in the western region of India known as the Konkan, and the Arabian sea forms its west coast. It is among the top growing states in India in terms of the GDP.

It was my first trip to the state of Goa and also amongst the most awaited ones. We reached Goa after an overnight journey of 12 hours by road from Bangalore. When I got up in the morning, the bus was taking turns somewhere in the lush green slopes of Dandeli forest range. It was raining mildly which made the complete surroundings majestic. Since the bus was air conditioned I could not get the feel of air but the misty weather was a  real treat to eyes in the early morning and I should say a perfect start to long awaited Goan vacation.

It took another 3-4 hours from there to reach Goa. Mostly all the buses drop at the Panjim bus stand which is also the capital of the state. Our resort was in Calangute area which was approximately 14 kms from Panjim. The roads were narrow and mostly empty. As the monsoons had just left, trees on both sides of the road were covered by a lot of mini climbers. It was so beautiful, I leaned backed on the seat and simply enjoyed the beauty around me. It took approximately 30 minutes to reach the resort and by then, we were already in love with Goa. 

It was a well decorated resort with plants all around the place. After some unpacking, I jumped into the swimming pool which was very relaxing after a long journey. Some coconut trees were standing tall at the sidelines of the pool and that made it look more beautiful. Rest of the group arrived after sometime and it was fun being on a holiday with your college friends although the freedom was partial as we are married now. After enjoying in the pool for 2-3 hours, we came out completely rejuvenated and were ready to explore Goa.
Goa is termed as the land of beaches and fortunately one was just 100 meters from our resort. With all the excitement we paced towards the beach & got the first glimpse of it in next few minutes. It was such a beautiful sight to watch - there was a long sea coast line separated by hillocks. We removed our slippers and kept meandering on the wet sand following the unwavering sea waves for a while. The touch of the repeating waves was so soothing. It was a divine experience to be expressed into words.
After a while, we started playing like kids on the beach. We also indulged in some water sports activities & spent some good time there. We did some negotiations with the hawker & went for Parasailing. He took us in small boat to somewhere in the middle of the sea and then shifted us to a bigger motor boat for sailing. They tied a rope to our body which was connected to the parachute from the other end & let the boat run on full speed. As the boat was speeding up, the parachute was taking one up in the sky. After the initial hesitation, I started enjoying the ride. The view was panoramic from the sky. To the extreme far end, it looked like the sea has formed a circular curvature. I wanted to be in the sky for long but it ended after few minutes.

By the time we came back, it was becoming dusky. The different color formations in the sky were mesmerizing. We adored this beauty and tried to capture some of those in our camera. This ended our first day in Goa - we were all rejuvenated & contented.

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Sunday, August 25, 2013

Yumthang - Valley of flowers

Yumthang Valley is a beautiful place situated in north Sikkim. It sits at an elevation of 11,800 feet above sea-level, at a distance of 150 km from the state capital Gangtok.

After having a quick breakfast, we started for Yumthang Valley which was approximately 25 km from Lachung. Our driver told us that it would take minimum 2-3 hours to reach Yumthang as the the roads very steep and we need to climb about 2500 feet. There was a a minor security check before entering the stretch to Yumthang. The Indian army has a base camp in Lachung and we saw few soldiers jogging on the way. 

The road was full of mist and the visibility was not very clear. The route was full of waterfalls and at places the roads were submerged by the flowing water. It was too scenic around to be expressed into words, the clouds were hanging low and the trees over the slopes of the mountains were soaked into them. After driving for sometime, we heard a gurgling sound which was actually a tributary of river Teesta flowing between the mountains. 

Finally, we reached Yumthang Valley. It was extremely picturesque, with the slopes covered with green trees, yaks grazing in the flower-spangled grassy plains below, and a river flowing right through the valley. The serene and tranquil air of the Valley cannot be described in words. 

 There was forest house and some shops at the entrance. A good number of people were having breakfast there. We were too longing for a tea before starting to explore the valley of flowers but the magnetic beauty of the place pulled us towards itself. I kept moving ahead enchanted by the surroundings. One could see a series mountains standing tall in a queue which were all painted green. There were so may varieties of flowers around which were countless.

The grass throughout the Valley was covered intermittently with tiny pink and yellow flowers.We strolled through this charming expanse of greenery, dotted with wonderful wildflowers, and watch the river which was flowing through the Valley.

We did not feel like walking out of the paradise, but our driver wanted us to leave early so that we can reach Gangtok by evening. We came back to the hotel and after a little of bit rest, we had lunch, and then started the drive back to Gangtok. As the journey was down the hill, the drive was shorter. We stopped at Mangan which was approximately 50 km before Gangtok for some snacks. Finally, we reached Gangtok by dusk.

As we lay in our beds after a hot shower, the beautiful flowers of Yumthang Valley and its serene slopes refuse to leave our thoughts. Hours after arriving, we still roam about in an enchanted state.

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Sunday, August 4, 2013

Reminiscences from the North Sikkim trip - Lachung valley

After a long but beautiful journey during the day, I was finally in Lachung. It is a small village in the lap of the Himalayas and also the last village in North Sikkim before Yumthang. 

Ours was a small lodge with only the basic amenities. The rooms had wooden walls with neither t.v. or internet connection. Initially, I was a little troubled but after loosening up in complete solitude for sometime I realized this is what I wanted from a holiday in a small little hilly village. So, I started enjoying the silence. After unwinding for a while, we came out for a stroll. The outside temperature was less than 10 degrees and after walking for a bit, we saw a small river. The water was freezing cold and in order to guess this I didn't have to go near by & touch it. If one takes the 360 degrees view of the place, there were hills all around with little sparkling waterfalls streaming out. It was so silent there and only audible sound was of the outbound water streams.

Then, we went to a shop for some snacks. It was a small covered wooden hut with a little entrance door. It could seat around 5-6 people at a time and was managed by an elderly couple. After inquiring, we found that they can offer us veg. maggi and tea. What more could one expect, it was the perfect snacks that could complement the misty surroundings.
Those people could understand Hindi a little and that started a small conversation between us. They told us that mostly all the cooking was done on woods as lpg supply was quite scarce there. It was one of best maggi I ever had. After having a good time with them we came back to the lodge. 

As the night started taking over, the temperature was dropping down. Suddenly the current got cut and there were no lights. A strong wind was blowing outside which we could feel it by the intermittent flapping of the windows. I kept staring at the window glasses which were completely covered by mist and after sometime water droplets started flowing down the glasses. It was raining. Deeply engrossed in nature I fell asleep. 

By the time I got up in the morning it was around 6 am. I went directly to windows to get a feel of the surroundings. At the very first glance, I was just amazed by the beauty outside. It seemed like the lofty peaks of the mountains were touching the horizon. One needs to endlessly look upwards to measure their altitude. It seemed like these mountains were embracing the valley in its lap with lots of love. There was a thick cover of clouds over various parts of the valley and it was an explicable experience.

I will stop here and take you through the amazing experience of the valley of flowers, Yumthang in the next piece.

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