I have only met travelers who are crazy food lovers and would spend a lot of their time in exploring the food of the place they visit.
Our Exotic meal for the Saturday Afternoon – packed with green vegetables and some unhealthy Manchurian for the health Junkies
Bhutan – the land of the thunder dragon, has the potential to both, surprise you (with its beauty and culture) and shock you (with some never-seen-before things). It is the land of rich culture, majestic architecture, handicrafts, beautiful valleys, Buddhism and lovely people. The moment you enter Bhutan, you find yourself in a different world. The most noticeable attractions are – the old world yet very captivating and majestic architecture, a unique dressing style, religious people rolling prayer wheels and chanting, and almost everyone chewing Paan (betel leaves). You feel like you have time-travelled centuries back, to reach this amazing Himalayan Kingdom – Bhutan.
Surprises are good – they keep the excitement levels up but shocks can make any trip even more interesting and memorable. Let me share with you a few such moments which shook me completely. I couldn’t close my jaws when I saw a monk with a gun in his hand (children playing), a monk buying pork at a butcher’s shop and a married monk. Even more appalling was to see monks betting their money in some of the games at a local fair and to find out that following any religion other than Buddhism is an offence to the state. The other one is more like a matter of pride than surprise, that most of the major roads in Bhutan are constructed and maintained by Indian Military (Border Road Organization called BRO) only, through a project called Dantak. There was a lot to see and do in Bhutan. So here are N things which we liked a lot, in the order they are listed, which you too might appreciate if you visit Bhutan:
Click on the link to know more about How to Reach Bhutan?
Being such an immense country with hundreds, if not thousands of amazing places to see, there are also many sites that few people think of exploring in India. One of these places is the magnificent temple complex of Hampi, once the capital of a powerful and rich empire.
Today, set in an unbelievable landscape filled with millions of boulders and stretching for miles in each direction, Hampi is more famous outside India than for its own people. The splendid temples and structures of the old capital rise from the rocky surface, attesting to the splendor of the old Vijayanagara Empire and creating one of the most beautiful and inspiring places to visit in India, recognized as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. To experience the true grandeur and importance of this site, visitors should definitely spend several days exploring the ruins and the surrounding area, which is also spectacular.
Eco Friendly Huts near Kerela-Karnataka State Border
The way you look at things changes drastically with your travel. The same hut which would get unnoticed in my vicinity seems appealing to me while traveling. I can also appreciate its minimal design and how nicely it integrates with nature. Travel does definitely bring a new perspective!
Coorg which is also called the Scotland of India is a nature’s delight about 275 kms from the bustling city of Bangalore. It is one of the best destinations near Bangalore to take a break away from the city life and relax in one of the resorts surrounded either by coffee plantation or a rice field. The city has some amazing attractions, however, it is mainly the weather and scenic beauty which win over and make your stay in Coorg memorable. Enroute to Coorg, just about 20 kms before you hit the city, there is a Buddhisht Monastery at Bylakuppe called Namdroling Monastery. It has an enchanting statue of Buddha – one of the best statues I have come across in India. The statue stands out from others because of the precisely portrayed emotions, which very well reflect the characteristics we associate with Buddha (like composure, peace, mindfulness). Besides this, its huge size and vibrant colors impart an amazing energy to the place. It’s something that I wouldn’t have liked to miss. You can spend a lot of time here, but if you are going on a short visit here, I think two hours should be a decent enough time for this place.
We immediately hurried to our next stop which was Dubare Elephant Safari, as we had heard that the white water rafting activity continues only up to 5:30 pm. We made it on time, but consider yourself lucky if you get good flow of water, because then only you get to do white water rafting. Otherwise you get to do only still water rafting which may be a little disappointing for an adventure enthusiast. You will find lots of elephants there and can even bathe them if you go around 6:00 am in the morning. There are some amazing waterfalls in and around Coorg offering breathtaking views. The two falls that I like are: Abbi Falls, Iruppu Falls. You will have to enjoy Abbi’s beauty from a designated spot only, however at Iruppu you can indulge in bathing in open and playing with water. The private waterfall at misty woods resort is also an excellent place, if you do not want to share space with thousands of other people.
The plan was to drive directly to Misty woods resort from Abbi falls; however we took a detour to Mandalpatti as many locals had given us positive reviews about it. Mandalpatti is a scenic spot at a hill top, the route to which though beautiful had very steep slopes and some stretches were really dangerous. We had to rent a Mahindra Jeep to take care of the dangerous road and leave our vehicle behind, at the hill base. The local drivers, however, seem to have mastered the art of driving on such root and we felt completely safe. We loved the journey and were hoping that destination would be even better. However, it was very unfortunate that it started raining all of a sudden and we found ourselves in misty clouds as we moved up. To our disappointment, nothing was visible in that misty weather. While returning we got lucky and the weather became sunny. It was a relief to see some beautiful sights from the top of the hill. So if you are adventure freak, this place is good for you. It might also be a good idea to track here. Just make sure you are going when the weather is at its best.
We also roamed around in the Medikeri, the main town of Coorg, and the market to see if we could buy some local products. I found the dry fruits really cheap there, for e.g., in Bangalore Pistachios are about Rs. 1000/kg, however in Coorg I could get it only at 500/kg. Since I was worried about the quality, I didn’t buy a lot of stuff. Once I tried, I realized that the quality was absolutely fantastic. If I will get another chance to go there, I will definitely buy lot of these things. The places around Medikeri are even more beautiful. For e.g., you will be stunned by the beautiful rice fields on the way to Virajpet. While returning from Virajpet to Bangalore, you can see the Irrupu water fall, which is on way to Mysore. It’s a beautiful sight, however expect it to be really crowded on weekends.
In essence, Coorg is a wonderful destination to enjoy the scenic beauty and rejuvenate yourself in the lap of the nature, away from the hectic city life. However, you need to be careful in the selection of hotel. The right hotel can make it a memorable stay and I will highly recommend Misty Woods Resort (no promotion intended). Travel Tips: You can reach there by train or bus from Bangalore. However, I would recommend that you take a vehicle from Bangalore itself as the places you would like to stay or should stay at are far away from town and isolated. You will really benefit if you had a vehicle with you. Food: Raintree is a good restaurant in Medikeri, if you are in or around the town or otherwise most of the restaurants at hotel or resorts will serve you deliciously cooked food of many kinds.
The first day of my trip, as usual, turned out to be a big disappointment. I didn’t come here with many expectations, but still everything felt below standard, except the WEATHER. Even that was extremely hot during the days. After travelling to several parts of India, I think I can now conclude that tourist places famous in a city, especially in India, often disappoints and the places that you find by-chance turn out to be more interesting. May be mainly because these famous places attract a lot of crowd, which spoils the fun or may be due to a number of other factors. I don’t want to analyze it in detail here, but do try this tip next time and let me know if u also experience something similar.
Detailed Description of my experience
On our first day we decided to take a walk around the city and see the most famous places in Ooty. First one on the list was
Ooty lake and Boat House
First few things which caught my attention were muddy water and a lot of crowd, poor quality boats and dirty safety jackets. Not very encouraging! However, if you just want to experience the breeze in the midst of the lake, it could be a decent option. But whatever you do, you can’t get romantic in that setting. It’s actually good only for children and people who haven’t been on boat before. They might have some fun here. There was one more thing that left my mouth open! There were no safety jackets for children as if their safety wasn’t important at all.
After a half an hour boat ride we went to the very famous Botanical garden.
This was even a bigger disappointment. I would say the Lalbagh of Bangalore is much better and even many gardens of Ganhinagar Gujarat. There was no proper description of any plants, trees, etc, as you would expect in a botanical garden. Neither did the flowers or garden as a whole, looked as beautiful as it should have been in view of garden’s much hyped repute.
The garden was OK but there were no roses. Do keep this in mind, if you are going in the month of April. Do not try to walk up to the rose garden. Locals say it is just one km from market, however, it was quite a long walk and that too uphill.
After walking so much we had no energy left and hence we decided to call it end of the day. However, at 9:30 pm we came to know that restaurant at our hotel isn’t going to serve a la carte and hence we had to go out again.
Chandan Hotel – Nahar Group’s
The food was really good and was of the quality that many had recommended, however the attiude of the waiters was bad and even the service quality. Neverthless we ate well and slept tight.
I booked a cab for the next day to take us to Pykara lake and several other sight seeing spots on the route. We started with Doddabetta Peak.
It is said that Doddabetta is the highest peak of southern India. However, after googling I found that it is second highest peak of Nilgiris. Any which way, the place was Crap! It is famous for the beautiful scenic views that it offers, but I couldn’t see anything clearly from there and the place is not maintained at all. I could see disappointment on the faces of many people, but all were trying to enjoy the moment and hide the disappointment. Don’t be deceived by the beautiful pictures that I am putting here, that’s just my photography talent.
|View from Doddabetta Peak|
Tea Factory and Museum
While coming down from Dodabetta peak we also visited tea factory and museum. In the name of Museum there are only some posters briefing about the history of tea. I don’t know when did Museums become only a bunch of posters.
The process of tea making was something worth knowing and was really well explained by the staff there. This is definitely worth experiencing. Again the place isn’t maintained well.
There was a place jnside the tea factory campus which was called Chocolate factory. A variety of chocolates were kept on display. My wife is very curious and hence she asked the lady at the counter about the process they use for chocolate making. She replied, we get chocolate bars couriered from Mumbai, melt the bars and mix the dry fruits. Thats all we do. Surprised, she asked again, so this means u don’t make the complete chocolate here and she accted without any hesitation.
My wife was reluctant to visit the only place that we had missed in the city, i.e., Wax Museum.
I am sure the guy who has done all the work and manages the museum would have put a lot of effort, but that alone is just not enough. The statues are far from real-looking wax statues. May be the museum has not been able to evolve with time as the museum is not funded by government. However, it is of very little concern to tourists. They want something that excites them, appalls them or makes them really happy.
On the way to Pykara, there was a place called Pine forest. I guess there wasn’t any mention of the place in any of the tourist destination lists, but the drivers use to stop their vehicles at that place. That was the first beautiful spot I saw after coming to Ooty. We went down by the side of the road through the pine trees forest; the trees had the ground completely covered. There was a water body about 300 meters down the slope which made the view even more scenic. That marked the beginning of a good day.
We didn’t want to go even to 9th mile in the afternoon, but the driver insisted saying it might get closed by the time we return. So we went in.
This should have been called Green Mile. It was a green hill offering a beautiful view than Doddabetta had to offer. I think it is also called shooting point. This is worth going and if the weather is good you might like to sit there for few minutes.
Next on our list was Pykara lake, but the driver suggested to take a detour and go to GLENMORGAN. He said it offers beautiful natural sights and has a very old british construction Rope way which is worth traveling 10 kms. We agreed to give him Rs 250 for police permission and 150 for diesel as he had asked. Though I knew he was lying about 250 for police permission, I pretended to genuinely believe in what he said. This was only because he has been making our tour interesting and didn’t crib about anything at all. On top of it, he was providing us extra information whih was really interesting.
GlenMorgan Tea Estate and Power Plant
Glenmorgan power plant had an interesting steep ride which was about 104 years old; was designed and constructed by Britishers as the driver told us. I haven’t bothered to check the exact history. The ride was used for transfering the staff only. The quality of their work still reflects in these equopments. The place also offered a good sight.
The Tea state was the most interesting part. The driver said, sir uiu can go and take few pica. We went in and found ouselves to be the only two in the plantations, surrounded by uniformly colored tea plants. The plantations were beautiful, with narrow walkways between. We walked in up to about 500 meters. This was a perfect place for sightseeing and photography. The best we had seen so far.
Pykara Lake & Fall
The other best, which I think would weigh equal to GlenMorgan Tea estate in its beauty, was Pykara Lake and Falls. This is picturesque lake spread over a very wide area, which also had a boat house. Though the rides were costly, the motor boat ride filled us with pleasure. I think the time between 5 to 6 pm was a really good time to go for such a ride. The sun was about to set and the whether had become really pleasant.
|Sky @ Pykara Lake|
Experiencing breeze on you face, especially in a serene and beautiful lake, when you are riding at high speed is an amazing experience. Must try!
Though we were a bit late for the Pykara Falls, but a little request to the gatekeeper worked. He allowed us on the condition that we will return in 10 minutes. The fall was as beautiful as lake, however due to safety reasons we were not allowed to go into the water.
Sixth Mile and Way to Raju Chacha’s Set
|Sixth Mile Shooting Spot|
That was not the end of the day. During our return the driver pulled over the car near the sixth mile shooting point. It was a good sight and was enjoyable in the evening.There was a narrow road opposite to the Sixth mile.
|Way to Raju Chacha’s Set|
On one side of the road were pine trees and on the other side the Eucalyptus.
All Eucalyptus trees were arranged in straight lines with approximately equal space between the rows.
Walking along the road up to the point where Ajay Devgan had put set for his movie Raju Chacha was a walk to remember.
We were not very sure where should we go on the third day. Coonoor which is just 20 kms from Ooty didn’t sound like a good option. However, in view of our indecisiveness with regards to other options, we chose to go to Coonoor. One important motivation was to travel in Toy Train. We had already tried one toy train from Kalka to Simla and wanted to cover another world heritage site in the toy train. We got a bit late because of the restaurant’s food service. It was 8:35 am and we were told that train leaves around 9:00 am. We were yet to reach station, stand in long queue, buy tickets and board the train. Didn’t seem to be feasible. This wasn’t enough, so it turned out that Rickshavalas were on strike that day. Phew! The gatekeeper of hotel showed really sincere concern and managed to get a car to drop us at railway station and requested us to pay just 70 Rs.
Toy Train from Ooty to Coonoor
We managed to buy the ticket and board the train in good time. The good part was for first class ticket you don’t have to line up to board the train. That was the only privilege I found by spending 80 Rs. more over the 5 Rs. second class ticket. Otherwise the second class compartments looked much better than the first class ones. The entire route was green and had a number of tree plantations on the way which made the route scenic. It’s worth going once, but don’t buy first class ticket if you can stand up in queue for 10 minutes.
We had planned to go to two falls in Coonoor but the tourist guides said that one could be seen from very far and other has become a gutter. So we decided to not go at both these places and instead to Sims park. What a stupid park it was for the hype that was created about it in the market. Though we had bought a 4:30 ticket, we found it so disappointing that we decided to leave at 12:30 itself. I booked a cab for Avalanche lake from Ooty. We took the return toy train to Ooty and headed for Avalanche Lake.
The driver seemed to be stupid in comparison to the Day 2 driver who was really intelligent and had a really pleasing personality. Anyway, he took us to Avalanche which was about 28 kms.
As we reached near the lake, we were stopped at the check post. The driver and the check post guy had some conversation in local language. The driver translated and said, to go inside you have to hire a 1200 Rs. vehicle and then they will take you for a Forrest Safari. I was shocked that why this wasn’t told to us by the tour manager in the beginning itself. I said, we never wanted to go for a Forrest safari. We just want to go to lake. However, he took a stand that we can’t go. I somehow explained to the check post guy and he agreed and said you can go up to the lake, but return soon. Language becomes a big barrier when you go to the interiors of Tamilnadu. Now the stupid driver said, you can’t go near the lake and asked us to see the lake from approx. 300 ft height. This was getting really bad. Now my frustration started coming out. I was really angry at the driver, but had no other option but to see lake from that far and return. It looked very big and beautiful but the fact that we can’t go close to it and there is no route to reach close to it ruined all the pleasure.
We stopped a passing by forest vehicle and asked the driver directly if we can go near the lake. He said, yes of course. That was a relief. It was now confirmed that driver was an as_ h_l_ and was trying to fool us as he wanted to return home quickly. However, now I had decided that I am not going to leave him till 10 at night, until I board the bus.
The route was covered with trees and was not easily visible. We went down the hill and reached near the lake. The nearer we went the more beautiful it became. Now this is a place that gave me feeling of an exotic tourist destination. We spent about an hour there and took some pics and sat in silence experiencing the serenity and beauty of nature.
Next we went to Emerald Dam and Avalanche Dam. They both are on the way back and just 1-2 kms apart. Again the driver was reluctant to take us to Avalanche Dam and gave us a number of excuses. However, I pushed him and we visited both the places. They were both worth visiting. Photography wasn’t allowed at these sites and hence I respected their privac
Had dinner at Nahar’s again and then the driver dropped us to Bus stand around 9:00 pm.
KSRTC bus is really good and we could make it to Bangalore in just 7 hours. While going to Ooty I went by Greenline travels bus; the service is good, however I liked the KSRTC bus more because it was a Volvo, semi-sleeper, took 3 hours lesser than Greenline and I had to pay 300 Rs. less, per ticket.