Monday, December 30, 2013 By

Quiet and Beautiful Beaches In Orissa

Musing By The Sea, Chandrabhaga Beach ,Orissa ,Konarak

 Its not always about destination, sometimes the journey through the roads, through the densely wooded, canopied roads, by the side of sea shore becomes more enchanting, memorable. Each place has its own charm, something to cherish. But you need that acumen to sense that, you need that enthusiasm to go extra mile to find the best out of it.

Heritage,sun and sand meets in this coastal town of Orissa.Puri the age old beach as well as spiritual destination of Bengali’s does not only mean to mingle into madly crowd of "Swargadwar" or getting hitched by thousands of pilgrims flocking towards Jagannath temple. Though I feel without savoring pure ghee fried Goja (a special crispy crunchy sweet) from "Kakatua"(famous sweet shop ) and without savoring instantly fried seafood like prawns- pomfrets-crabs from the sea facing road side stall of Swargadwar, it will be injustice to my  greedy (only for food )soul. So the very first evening I finished my must do things in an around Puri.

Journey by Marine Drive Road:Crossing beautiful Nuanai River, On the way to Konarak
To avoid hustle bustle of Puri,next Day morning we hired bikes and headed towards Konarak through picturesque Marine Drive Road, following Bay Of Bengal at our right hand side.Now one thing we always prefer to hire bike than a car (where possible), it gives us the freedom to stop wherever we like,to travel in our own will. After 30-40 minutes bike ride,passing villages, sanctuaries,quiet grassy river beds and lastly we found our quiet sandy retreat, by the side of Ramchandi beach. An endless space of sand,water and sky.We stayed at Lotus Resort, ideal for an intimate and tranquil gateway.

Our Intimate Gateway by the side of sea shore:Lotus Eco Village Resort
 The Bay of Bengal off the isolated virgin white sands of Ramchandi beach lolls innocently in the near distance.Few nicely painted tourist boats are embarked on the river mouth of Kushabhadra and ready to sail off to the endless blue of Bay of Bengal, stretched to horizon. Salty sea breeze creates ripple over thick growth of Casuarina plantation.It is scenically situated on the confluence of Kushabhadra River and Bay of Bengal, 7 km before Konark on the Marine drive road from Puri to Konark.The place is popularly known for temple of Goddess Ramchandi presiding deity of Konark.
Where river joins sea ,a scenic splendor

A lonely fisherman

The romance just doesn’t stop here. We had an open air  lunch under the shades of Casuarina trees in front of a vast landscape of calm blue water touching wide sky scape.After having a sumptuous buffet lunch at Lotus Resort , we headed towards "Chandrabhaga beach" in Konarak. This beach is still untouched and less crowded. Purity of blue water,fury of the waves,haze of white foam will sooth your senses.Some waves are gentle touching our toes,some are furious enough to bath us,some are curling around our feet and playing with those waves with my son is real fun to us.Me and my son collected many sea shells with different shapes and colors from the shore and brought those little pieces to our home as beautiful memories of "Chandrabhaga Beach",a precious souvenir.Walking along this straight  beach while sun sets,will rekindle the joy of traveling once again.

Leaving our footprint :Chandrabhaga Beach,Orissa,near Konarak
The voice of the waves still echo in my ear.I leave my footprint on the sand of the sea shore.Its time to start a new year.Good Bye 2013.

End Of A Day

Where To Stay In Puri: To enjoy heritage and serenity of Puri , my choices are from high end to budget category.

1)Mayfair Beach Resort,Puri
2)Holiday Resort Puri
3)BNR Chanyaka Hotel
3)Panthanivas By OTDC

To muse by the sea shore with exclusive beaches ,without having cacophony of tourists,then go for:

1)Toshali Sand Resort,besides Nuanai River
2)Lotus Eco Resort,Ramchandi Beach,near Konarak

Monday, September 30, 2013 By

Rediscovering Ooty

 Like all other popular hill station,queen of Nilgiri loosing its charm very fast.Proper Ooty is now more of a touristy,noisy and polluted hill station  rather than a serene, flowery,pine wooded mountain escape.But please don't tick off Ooty from your itinerary,still you can rediscover the blues of the blue mountain,the valleys,the wild flowers and the scent of the Nilgiri tea and I will tell you how?The forests,the mountains, the lakes,dams  and some of the hidden spots in these regions are reasons enough to revisit Ooty once more.

Sagar Holiday Resort,Ooty facing beautiful Ketty valley

1)Wonderful Stay in Ooty :I entered into Ooty through an unusual path from Wayanad,Kerala and I choose carefully not to stay in proper Ooty,rather I have opted for a resort (Read Review :Sagar Holiday Resort
),little outskirt of the Ooty near Lovedale,on the way to Connoor. The resort is on the slope of the hill facing beautiful Ketty Valley. From reception I descended  down the hill by lift and flowers with vivid colors accompanied me all my way from reception to my suite.

Flower  at Ooty
Once I opened the door and entered into the wide open balcony,the idyllic landscape,slopes carpeted with rolling tea plantation,smokey nilgiri mountain range seems to me the perfect arrangement for a much desired holiday.And by then I spotted,whistling mountain toy train passing through the valley,vanishes inside a tunnel and lost in the blues of the blue mountain.My lungs filled up with crisp mountain air.Soon sarong of mountain cloud wrapped up the valley and so as I,visibility became zero.I started floating in the midst of clouds, near and far hills of Ooty were studded with evening lights.

2) An evening in Ooty:
On set of mountain evening chill,I took an auto to take a stroll in the Ooty's busy streets and my senses reawakened with the aroma of various spices,herbs,medicated oils,tea,coffee . And the very famous sweet smell will make sure that  without buying homemade chocolate,its impossible to leave Ooty.I packed full chicken roast,chicken swarmer roll and a plate of very much 'Ooty' biriyani (I have doubt whether we can call it biriyani )from a street side food joint to indulge a hearty meal back in our resort's open air roof balcony with my foodie hubby .On my journey through the Nilgiris days were packed with activities and sightseeing and when evening chill sets in it was drink,food and shopping. 

3)Ooty Rose Garden:
Now one of the main attraction of Ooty is various parks and gardens.A site to behold forever in spring & summer is Ooty's Rose Garden. Find photos of beautiful roses here :  Say it with Roses

 4) Wandering in Avalanche Lake: Just 30 km away from Ooty, a lake with shimmering water sits in the lap of hills overlooking  beautiful valley,surrounded by wooded hills.Fore more look at: Trip To Unexplored Ooty- Avalanche
 5) Into the tea country 'Conoor'- Just a  shout away from Ooty, less commercialized, more beautiful.

6)Lastly the roads through Bandipur Forest from Ooty to Bangalore with lots of wild animal sighting.
These are my six main reason not to avoid Ooty in this summer.

Monday, July 15, 2013 By

Walk In the 'Country Of Clouds'- Shillong

Meghalaya - The country of cloud,rain,hills with waterfalls, it is often described as the Scotland of East. Unforgettable moisture laden landscapes surrounded by the sarong of clouds,waterfalls,lakes and the lush green mountains makes 'Meghalaya' as India's one of the best kept secret.
This time it is our plan to spend the Christmas eve in Shillong.The compliment of "Small Piece of England" for Shillong is little bit overstatement after end of two decades of British Raj,but still  English homes with fireplace, live rock music at night clubs\pubs,christian population and delicious english spread will remind you the english summer.
Shillong is 100 KM drive from Guwahati Airport and even before reaching Shillong my plan was to spend a night at Umium Lake,only 20 Km before Shillong.Umium Lake with its placid blue water is a dreamy destination,an ideal spot for those who wants to be blessed by the beauty of nature in tranquility. Orchid Lake Resort on the banks of Umium overlooking Umium\Barapani is a perfect set up to take a break in the idyllic natural surroundings.Large wooden paneled rooms have huge lake facing balcony.

The placid blue water of Umium Lake,surrounded by the Meghalayan Plateau,an idyllic destination who seeks tranquility

Orchid Lake Resort on the banks of Umium Lake offers a pleasant stay

It was early morning wake up call and I came out of the warmth of the room heater.The whole surrounding was whitewashed,the pine forest,lake,mountains are covered with sarongs of morning mist. Early morning walk in surrounding wooded hills with chirping sound of birds will clean up your lungs with cool morning breeze and refresh your mind,a true escape to the serenity.

An early morning view of mist covered Umium Lake in the backdrop of Meghalayan plateau,surrounded by pine wooded hills

Now visit to Shillong is incomplete without visiting Cherapunjee and Nohkalikai falls.Cherapunjee once nominated as the place with highest rainfall in the world and now the title taken by nearest Mawsynram.Being situated at the region of world's rainiest part,there are many waterfalls and Nohkalikai is the most spectacular one.The best view of the Nohkalikai falls can only be experienced at rainy season.But drive through the grassland of meghalayan plateau from Shillong to Sohra is picturesque.Mesmerizing view of meghalayan countryside will once again make you realize why it is called "Scotland of East" by the British.

Journey through the picturesque meghalayan plateau.

Spectacular Nohkalikai Waterfalls, one of the india's tallest waterfall

Living behind the spectacular falls and the virgin greenery of Cherra,I headed for a small village Mawlynnong ,near Bangladesh border.My choice was not random as the village is recognized as Asia's most cleanest village and the living root bridge(a natural phenomena implemented brilliantly by the ancient local Khasi people) in the nearby village Riwai was the main reason to visit Mawlynnong - Asia's Cleanest Village.

Monday, July 8, 2013 By

Mawlynnong - Asia's Cleanest Village

Unexplored north-east states of India are still untapped and tourism is underdeveloped but the call for  unseen lurks veteran travelers years after years.Somehow this time I landed in the gateway of north east "Guwahati" without having much prior planning and rest is some rich travel experience which can not be measure in terms of urban luxury or convenience.

The little hamlet 'Mawlynnong' attracts visitors around the globe

In this little hamlet of fairytale where human and nature co-existis in a perfect harmony.

It was a long journey from Shillong and 3 hours passed just to relish the magnificent views of meghalaya plateau cut by the gushing waterfalls  in the backdrop of dense foliage.Upon arrival,a sign welcomes us to ‘Mawlynnong-God’s Own Garden.’ It seemed perfect introduction of a village which has been acclaimed as Asia's cleanest village by BBC,UNESCO and National Geography since 2003.Mawlynnong ,a little -known hamlet of 80-90 families in the distant corner of Meghalaya perched on east khasi hills,rainiest part of Himalaya,bordering Bangladesh.

Spotlessly clean cobbled path through the quaint village Mawlynnong

Blooming Bougenvillea at Mawlynnong

I followed the narrow stone path bordered with manicured lawns of various ornamental plants and flowers zigzagged through the quaint villages.Village houses are made of thatched roof, wooden walls ,surrounded by a neat and clean courtyard,emblazoned with blooming bougainvillea,bright khasi roses.Conical bamboo dustbins are provided all over the village to collect litter,natural stone basins in front of houses to collect rain water.Khasi women are obsessed with cleanliness.I found them either cleaning their yard with a broom or hanging their spotlessly clean laundry in the clothesline.Khasi people are very much environment conscious and they take upon the responsibility of clean environment very seriously to make the difference.They are born cultivator and protector of their forests.There is many sacred forests where even plucking a leaf from the tree is punishable offense.The village has one English medium school and 100% literacy rate.I stopped by the side of a small church after encircling the village,found villagers,little children gathered and soon the whole quaint village awakened by the sweet tunes of Christmas carol.

A peaceful coexistence of human and nature - Mawlynnong

Next we headed for the SKY Walk in the Mawlynnong.As the name is interesting same as the experience.A 85 ft high bamboo staircase with upward slope tied with surrounded  trees and a machan kind of standing ground lies on top of the bamboo structure. From Sky high view you will get an outstanding 360 degree view of surrounding villages and nearest Bangladesh plain. The inventor of this unique idea is none other than local school teacher .

The next big attraction is living root bridge in Riwai village, a 15 minutes walk from Mawlynnong,an  awe-inspiring example of bio-engineering: Living Root Bridge Of Riwai Village( Please follow this post for more details.)

Half of the year torrential downpour engulfs the village and nearest local market is 2 hours walk and transportation is inadequate .Living is very much environment centric and basic.In spite of all these hardships the local khasi people have demonstrated an outstanding example of environment sustainable community living, hence grabbed a honorary position in the global travel map. An sharp contrast to urban India,where cities are like a chaotic jungle with unclean streets and severe pollution.
Related Post:
Living Root Bridge Of Riwai Village
Walk In the 'Country Of Clouds'- Shillong

Living Root Bridge Of Meghalaya

One of the big attraction of Meghalaya is several hundred years old living root bridge,an awe-inspiring example of bio-engineering by the ancient Khasi people.In the monsoon it becomes impossible for the villagers to cross the turbulent streams.Instead of building bridges,khasis grows them.Bamboos or hollow trunk of betel nut trees are placed over the streams. Then the roots of rubber trees guided to pass through the hollow trunks of bamboo or betel nut and consequently roots reached the other side of the river and they are allowed to grow on the other side.Over a certain period of time the roots and their secondary roots gets twisted together and became stronger and more stronger and ready for use.It takes almost 10-15 years for living root bridge to function properly.Stones are inserted in the gaps later making it look like a stone-covered pathway.The Khasi people lived their live based upon these eco freindly principles  for centuries in perfect harmony with nature.

Living Root Bridge,Mawlynnong -A Natural phenomenon ,implemented brilliantly in the favor of mankind by local khasi people,innovated several 100 years ago.

In the monsoon when streams become terbulent,this living root bridges are the way of crossing the riwai river

Saturday, July 6, 2013 By

Some Kodak Moments From Goa

Goa a  very picture of relaxation, replete with ocean waves ,golden sand, coconut tress and views of mountains. Luxurious spa hotels are your key to blissful escapism. Sprawl on the beach without a care in the world—unless you care about picking up handcrafted souvenirs from some of the famous goan night bazar or emporiums. For more details of Goa :Goa In Rains,A Romantic Gateway

Blue & Beautiful Goa Lapped by Arabian Sea & painted with infinite shades of green

Embark on a long walk that offer a spectacular view of swaying palms & Arabian sea,North Goa

Anjuna Beach in north Goa dotted with black lava rocks and swaying palm trees.

A Baby's Day out @ Vegator Beach,Norh Goa

Ocean waves hitting the golden sand shore,sprawl in the beach without a care @ Condolim Beach

Eat ,live and love in GOA.Spend some quality time with your family.@ mobor beach in South Goa

Exult in the early morning fresh air,Goa a destination for luxury escapism.Welcome to GOA :)

Related Article About Goa: 

 Moonsoon Magic at Swapnagandha Valley,Goa

Goa In Rains, A Romantic Gateway 


Monday, July 1, 2013 By

GOA in Rains- A Romantic Gateway

Goa is a lovely place throughout the year,but in monsoon (June to September) Goa is breathtakingly beautiful,a mesmerizing landscape of lush green fields with swaying palm trees,rolling paddy fields,rough waves,gloomy grey sky & sudden torrential downpour.I choose my own destination where I feel the urge to go ,when I want to go ,not because its season or not.Goa is a place ,where you need to feel the vibes ,where living is awesome. Goa in rains -- A sizzling chemistry between earth and water.It reminds me my last September week long visit to Goa.Sunsets are never more fascinating in Goa than in this late monsoon period - golden ,scarlet, bright orange  bands across the sky.

Spectacular sunset over the Arabian Sea in Vegator beach,Goa

Goa in rains, a sizzling chemistry between earth and water.View of Sinquerim Beach

Officially Monsoon is off-season,a time for no tourist,a time when everything in Goa is blissfully calm and quiet after the lunatic months of peak season.Beaches are not brimming with crowds,most of the beach shacks are dismantled,pocket burning high season hotel rates are now discounted (hence very much cheaper)& pounding sound of ocean waves exceeds everything,a mild feeling of melancholy prevails in the atmosphere.You will rediscover a new Goa.Now its up to you whether you want to come back for high season's mayhem or not.

Take a stroll in the beach without a care,Monsoon in Goa

Highlights of my Goa trip:

  • Bike trip to South GOA through beaches & villages. Mobor-->Cavelossim-->Vercca-->Colva
  • Relax in the sprawling palm fringed lawn of Holiday Inn Goa which leads to the quiet,white sand beach of mobor.
  • River cruise in Sal river,dolphin and bird watching,lunch on the cruise.Dinner at Fisherman's Wraf by the side of Sal river.
  • Riding up the hills and beach hopping in North Goa by a rented bike. Sinquerim -->Condolim-->Calangute -->Baga-->Anjuna -->Vegator
  • Drive to the land of mist,mountains and wilderness of "Chorla Ghats",a totally different facet of Goa. Please read the below post for more details of Chorla ghats& Moonsoon Magic at Swapnagandha Valley,Goa

Monsoon Tip For Goa

Walk alone in the deserted beach or sit closely with  your loved ones along with rough waves in front,wild oceanic breeze ruffling your hairs,opaque grey sky above and a sudden torrential downpour which will soak you in skin deep,a sweet taste of rain water in your tongue.It is blissfully romantic.

Seagull,fishermen & fishing boats,an early morning in GOA,cavelossim

Apart from beach holiday ,Goa has  more to offer. Sal river in south GOA with her own rhythm. Dolphin watching where river joins the sea is an enchanting experience .

Rent a bike or scooty &drive through the countryside of South Goa,stopping for a shelter in a roadside village when drizzles.Enjoy the ride through the villages canopied with mossy trees,surrounded by psychedelic paddy fields.Villagers are out for planting rice,taking rest under the trees with the family.A lively  landscape freshly scrubbed from the pounding rains which no guidebook can show you.Stop for a refreshment in a neighboring bakery and mesmerize with the smack of freshly baked goodies.A moment to cherish forever with your dear ones.

Enjoy a bike ride through the countryside of South Goa

South Goa is paradise for beach lovers and less commercialized & less chaotic,dotted with luxury resorts with private beaches and in monsoon months these resorts offers very lucrative offers to catch your eyes.Right from Colva,the famous silvery white sand beach, there is an uninterrupted continuity in beaches. The more you move south the lonelier the beaches are. We had a very wonderful and relaxed stay in Holiday Inn Goa in Mobor beach.

Goa ,where living is awesome @ Holiday Inn Beach

North Goa is very much touristy,but in the monsoon months it is hustle free.Baga beach,Calanguta beach are very much crowded in the monsoon months also but Sinquerim to Condolim these stretch is really peaceful.I found lots of beach shacks are open in Baga beach.Please check my photo gallery of beaches in north Goa. Some Kodak Moments From GOA

Where To Eat When You are In Goa

Goa is food lovers paradise with thousands of eateries .Without savoring the mouth watering Goan cuisine,fresh seafood & chilled cocktails,visit to Goa is incomplete.But it is very difficult to  choose the right one. At per my own experience you can try your luck with these famous goan foods & drop a comment for sure.
  1. Goan fish curry
  2. Garlic Prawns
  3. Chicken Xacuti, curry with lots of coconut.
  4. Pork Vindaloo
  5. King Fish Steak
  6. Benebica - Desert 

Tasty and spicy Pomfret Masala

King Fish Steak

  1. Baga -Eat at Britto's , East meets West, Nick's Place
  2. Candolim -Republic of Noodles (One of the top 20 restaurants in Asia as per the Miele Guide), Shivers near Kingfisher villa , Lloyd's.
  3. Sinquerim-Eat at Taj Holiday Village
  4. Betalbatim-Martin’s Corner in Betalbatim which also is in South Goa,is the most happening and famous   restaurant.You will get ocean fresh sea foods.\
  5. Cavelossim-Fishermans Wharf by the side of Sal river with a romantic ambience ,Bettys Beach shack near Holiady Inn and Leela Goa.

    The river,the sea ,the cool zephyr -The perfect ambiance for a toast.Photo courtsey:Fisermans Wharf

Where To Stay In Goa: 

North Goa
  1. The Park Holiday Beach in Condolim-->The Park Hotel
  2. Santana Beach Resort in Condolim(TripAdvisor winner on Budget category)-->Santana Beach Resort
  3. Vivanta By Taj,Fort Aguada, Sinquerim, Candolim
South Goa:
  1. The Leela Goa -->Situated between Sal river and Arabian sea .The Leela Goa
  2. Park Hyatt Resort & Spa-->Cansaulim, South Goa.Park Hyatt Goa
  3. Holiday Inn Goa,Cavelossim,Mobor beach -->Holiday Inn,Goa 

Related Article About Goa: 

 Moonsoon Magic at Swapnagandha Valley,Goa

Some Kodak Moments From GOA 


Sunday, June 23, 2013 By

Places To See Arround Yumthung Valley, Sikkim

Zero Point,Sikkim - A Frosted White Wonderland

 N.B.This post is basically part of my earlier Sikkim post,Love At First Sight:Yumthung Valley.

In the shadow of hulking high peaks lies a wonderland of snow, giant glaciers and a trickling stream, where time seems to be frozen in a pristine white frame.

Zero Point,Yumesamdong,North Sikkim

It is exhilarating experience to drive through the high mountain passes of Sikkim. Landscape changes in every hair-pin bend from gorgeous golden paddy fields to gurgling waterfalls, from forest of conifers to a meadow of  primulas, rhododendrons. Jeep cuts through the chilled morning winds, climbing high, high and higher through the ribbon like path, grey swirls of clouds, fog obscured our vision, flecks of snow scattered here and there. We started rubbing our hands, pulling our shawls to escape shivering skin deep cold. The patches of snow started spreading and soon covered the mountain walls, carpeted the surroundings. We entered   into the country of clouds, snow and fog. The road side stone shows us - Yumesamdong - Zero Point, 15500 feet altitude in the North East state Sikkim (India).Quiet a few elated tourists playing with snowballs. But our Bolero MAX started chasing the winds on the highland pass with more speed, almost gliding through the icy treacherous road and our excitement infused to nervousness.

Yumthung Valley as seen from the winding road


A Stream trickles down the mountain ,at Zero Point,Sikkim

Delighted tourists near  Zero Point,Yumesamdong,Sikkim

The road took a turn and then all of a sudden, dramatic change of the panorama - pristine, white snow land shining underneath indigo blue sky, surrounded by the sky high mountain peaks.An Aquamarine stream trickles down the mountains with its own rhythm. The sharp bright autumn sun set everything sparkling. If there is a heaven on earth, then this is it.The place is cocooned by a soothing calmness.Completely absorbed by the aura of this heavenly beauty,we walked,slipped and hurled snow ball each other and took some snaps with tight hug, a frame forever.

Bright Autumn Sun sets everything sparkling

A no man's land, rubbing soldier with People's Republic of China, heavily patrolled by Indian Army. Few bankers lying scattered here and there like igloo in the polar land. I don’t know how they keep themselves so alert at this sub-zero temperature where survival is near to impossible.We are far away from the 'Zero point' and a heartfelt thanks to our guide cum driver.I always feel locals can guide you best to traverse not so trodden path. At this high altitude,15,500ft where temperature is below zero, it’s hard to speculate whims of weather. Soon canopy of clouds covered the elixir-blue of the sky, storm winds yanked us into our jeep and reverse tracing of the path. “Alice" is back from the Wonderland.

Coming Back from Zero Point,Yumesamdong,North Sikkim

How To Reach Zero Point:  

Normally, the package tour from Gangtok to Yumthung Valley will have sightseeing till Yumthang valley. Beyond this one can go upto  Yumesamdong famously known as zero-point by paying extra money directly to the driver.For more details how to reach and other thing please refer my earlier post on Yumthung Valley.
Picture Courtesy:Mr Gourab Mukherjee and rights reserved to this blog.