Saturday, 19 April 2014

Q for Queensland

I fell in love with Australia after watching the Masterchef series. While I am really not a fan of beach-y places, Queensland is one such place that has beaches on one side and mountains on the other. The Gold Coast, Great Barrier Reef, Sun Coast, the rain forests are some of the most popular tourist spots.

PS: It's a very short piece today (as the day has been super busy and I hardly had time to breathe). Blog inspired by fellow blogger Vinitha's Queensland pics on twitter.

Pics courtesy Wiki.

Friday, 18 April 2014

P for Pune

I have been associated with this city for over 3 decades now; as they say, home is where the heart is; and my heart will always remain in Pune. A small city about 3 hours drive from Bombay, Pune is rich in culture, tradition and yet has a very modern outlook. I've spent quite some time here and have felt completely at home every time I step foot here.

A small airport where you walk across the runway to board a flight is managed by the Defense forces. The route to the airport is so scenic that you'd just want to walk your way reveling in the beauty of nature. A walk on MG Road, Camp and East Street gives an old world charm. Kayani Bakery makes the best shrewsbury biscuits. Shopping for groceries at Dorabjees, late night ice creams at Naturals, a cup of mint tea and a book at German Bakery, Double cheese omelette, bun maska and cutting chai at Vohuman's cafe, yummy dosas at Shekar's, the amazing bhakarwadis at Chitale, Dagudu seth Ganpati, shopping spree along Tulsi Bhag and Laxmi Road, a quiet visit to Kasba Ganpati, an evening at ABC Farms over a glass of wine, quiet homestays along the Mula river and Mulshi Dam - all this and so much more leaves me wanting to go back.

The T20 World Championships that we watched at a friend's place, a trip to Choki Dhani, a village themed resort, getting drenched in the rain, loitering around late in the night, crashing back at my place watching a funny movie - all these will forever remain fresh in my memory.

Hot summers, cold winters and insane monsoons is how I have experienced this city.

I miss my friends, I miss the city, I even my previous workplace; I can't wait for a change to go to Pune and spend a few days visiting all these places and revel in the memories.

This post is also dedicated to all those people that made my time in Pune so memorable that even after all these years I miss them and miss the place.

Choki Dhani - A Village Themed Resort

Khadakvasla Dam

Nature Walk - Eco Village - Off Mulshi

I miss this rowdy bunch

And I miss my team

East Street Cafe, East Street

A team trip to Ananda Valley
Oh yes, we eat all the time - celebrating Roshan's birthday!

Thursday, 17 April 2014

O for Ooty

One more hill station adding to my list of places traveled. Located in the Nilgiri hills and often known at Udagamandalam, this once pretty hill station is called the queen of hill stations. Ooty was the summer capital of the erstwhile Madras region, during the British Raj. (Even now, the place is beyond crowded during summer vacations)

Extremely well connected by roads and rail, my fondest memories of Ooty were staying in a beautiful little cottage owned by a relative and being bundled in layers of warm clothing as we had never seen such chill cweather, having lived in the hot and humid Chennai. I have some of the best Chocolates, Tea and fresh vegetables from this region. I haven't been here in decades now but I do hope I can go again and relive some old memories and make new ones.

From Ooty, it's easier to cover other places like Conoor, Top Slip, Coimbatore & Pykara Dam. Yes I want to go again. :)

Pics courtesy Wikipedia

Wednesday, 16 April 2014

N for Nepal

One more mountain country for me to visit - Nepal - shares it border with India on one site and China on the other, a bit of Tibet on another side. Home to some of the important peaks including Mt Everest, Nepal has remained on the wishlist for a very long time now. Mountains, fields, valleys, lakes - this little country has it all. Despite being the birth place of Buddha, surprisingly this country practices Hinduism as it's main religion.

Now, I am already dreaming about a vacation to Nepal. Sigh!

Have you been to Nepal? How has your experience been? Must see places? Off beat trails?

Wishlist: Norway, New Zealand, North Pole? 

Tuesday, 15 April 2014

M for ManSarovar

If I ever want to do one thing in my life, it is this trip. While I don't care much about the religious importance, I want to do this for my love of mountains and the sheer excitement and adrenaline. The selection process is arduous; one has to be physically, medically and financially fit to undertake this long and tedious journey around the Mt Kailash. The 52 km trek is daunting and requires not just the physical stamina but expect the traveler to be in top mental condition. The climate and terrain is not easy; the trek is complicated and it's nothing short of a miracle to complete this journey.

Have you done this trek? What advise do you have for travelers like me? And how many of you want to join me for this if I do plan to go?

Merely thinking about this and looking at the image below gives me goosebumps. Har har Mahadev!

Monday, 14 April 2014

L for Lausanne

A beautiful French city overlooking Lake Geneva, that serves some of the best cheese fondue in a pretty chalet is a must visit for anyone that visits Switzerland. Obviously, I haven't been here as yet but is now going on the wishlist. A ferry ride across the lake takes you to France and when the weather is great, lot of picnic baskets crop up around the water front. Lausanne is the Olympic headquarters and you can see the clock ticking away marking the countdown to the next Olympics.

Perfect weather, amazing food and clean lifestyle - I wouldn't mind settling down here :)

Wishlist: Ladakh, Leh

All pics shot by S on recent work trip to Lausanne, Switzerland.

Saturday, 12 April 2014

K for Kumbakonam

This very beautiful temple town south of TamilNadu has been one of my favorite places in the recent years. It's about 6 hours drive from Madras and boasts of some of the most breathtaking temples in this region. Even if you don't believe in temples or God, it's worth visiting the temples in this place simply for the way they've been designed and constructed. The huge praharams (courtyards) and pillars make for some quiet evenings to be spent in sync with oneself.

The etymology of the name Kumbakonam is quite interesting. It's said that the seed of the universe got displaced during one of the huge pralayams (or massive destruction) and finally chose to settle in this particular place. The Mahamaham festival (conducted once every 12 years) commemorates this.

Kumbakonam was ruled by the Cholas, followed by the Pandyas and later formed part of the Vijaynagara Empire ruled by Krishnadeva Raya. Post that, it was also ruled by the Nayaks and Marathas. There's a distinct impression of each of these kingdoms in this town.

The Airavatheswara Temple built by Rajaraja Chola is part of the World Heritage Sites. Swami Malai, Patteeswaram Durgai, Adhi Kumbeswarar Temple, Thirumangalakudi Sri Prana Naadeswarar Temple, Oppilliappan Kovil, Pratyankira Devi Temple, Tirunageswaram Temple, 9 temples for each of the planets are some of the famous temples around this area. To visit all the temples in this region, this one lifetime is not enough and I just wish some day I am able to visit most of the temples here.

The degree kaapi (filter coffee) is absolute bliss (although beware of the fake kumbakonam degree coffee outlets that have now sprung up in every corner). The bazaar streets are a shoppers delight, stainless steel, brass and bronze being the most sought after metals in this town.

From here, you can easily travel to other temple towns such as Tanjore, Chidambaram and Trichy.

What's your famous memory of this place?

Wishlist: Kruger Park, Kashmir