Suramya's Blog : Welcome to my crazy life…

March 8, 2017

My Trek to Tadiandamol

Filed under: My Life,My Thoughts,Travel/Trips — Suramya @ 7:13 PM

So last weekend I went for my first trek of 2017 with NatureWalkers to this place called Tadiandamol. Don’t ask me to pronounce it because I still can’t manage without sounding silly and it took me 3 attempts to spell it correctly. The trek is a total of 8kms long round trip and the peak which is the highest in Coorg is at about 1748 m high.

Tadiandamol is on one of the most beautiful, noncommercial peaks in Karnataka, it is elevated to about 1748 m and known as the highest peak in coorg/kodagu district. The Tadiandamol trek offers adventurers an opportunity to explore the stunning vegetation, rare mountain birds and pretty butterflies flitting from tree to tree. A panoramic view from the peaks is an eye-candy for the hikers. The trial takes you through the vast expanse of the Shola forest, It is a day trek which makes it even more doable for city folks- whether avid trekkers and hikers. A famous historical landmark β€œNalknad-Palace” resides at the foothills of the mountain.

This was my first trek with Nature Walkers and I loved it. A total of 18 of us were there for the trek with a wide range of trekking experience and age groups. The trip started at 10pm from Bangalore and we boarded the bus after donating a lot of blood to the Domlur mosquitoes (while waiting for the bus to arrive). We kicked off the evening with a round of introductions which included telling folks about something crazy you did and man some of the folks had donbe some crazy stuff (including me πŸ™‚ ) We had people asking their professors to dance, setting fire in the hostel to burn notes and scaring aunts with skulls.

After the intro round ended most of the people went to sleep but a few of us weren’t sleepy so we spent majority of the night talking and after a few hours just as we were winding down and I was about to fall asleep the driver switched on the AC at full strength and played some Kannada music at high volume waking me up. So we kind of half dozed while the driver took a nap and then we were on our way again reaching the Homestay at ~7am. We freshened up and then started for the basecamp after breakfast which was about an hour from the homestay.

We arrived at the basecamp all bright-eyed & bushy tailed and started the trek on a high note. The start of the trek was fairly easy with a shallow gradient so it wasn’t too painful. Though it was bright and sunny so that made it a bit uncomfortable and soon I was sweating enough that I had to remove the cap.


Group photo at the start of the Trek and you can see the energy and enthusiasm

We walked the trek at a fairly slow pace and used the time to talk and learn more about each other, plus take a lot of photos and snapchat videos etc. A large part of the group was 12 friends who had come for the trek together and their enthusiasm was infectious. I haven’t downloaded all the pics yet and can’t post all of them in any case so here are a few pics to give you an idea about the trek and the route.

Selfie on the way to the peak
Selfie on the way to the peak about an hour into the trek


Random spot that looked interesting and was perfect for a break

After a little while the terrain became a lot steeper and it got a bit harder to climb. Since the distance to the peak is only 4 kms it was a fairly steep climb most of the way. About half way through there is a big rock and a stream so we took a break and obviously climbed the rock. πŸ™‚


Group photo at the rock

The stream was refreshing but with barely enough water to be called a stream. We filled our waterbottels there and I got to use my water purifier to purify the water. Don’t think it was absolutely required but I needed an excuse to play with my gadgets so… In any case we spent about 15-20 mins fooling around and taking pics before resuming the trek.


The Amazingly full stream

It took us another 2 hours or so to climb to the top. Both Manoj and Amrita ensured that we all were pacing ourselves and constantly provided encouragement so all of us reached the peak together and the view was worth the effort spent to climb to the top. Thankfully it was a little cloudy towards the end of the climb and the breeze was very refreshing as well so that made it a bit easier as well.


Thanking the gods of the Peak that I made it to the top while Tejaswani and Amrita look on.


Look at how happy we all look that we made it to the top in one piece πŸ™‚

Once at the top we all took a break to have lunch, meditate and enjoy the view while Manoj took a nap to recover from the stress of herding all of us to the peak.


Me, Jani and Shahrukh meditating at the peak


Manoj recovering from herding all of us to the peak.

We started back very reluctantly both because we wanted to extend the stay at the top and because our feet hurt πŸ™‚ The way down was more adventurous as the path was quite slippery and everyone fell at-least once though there was a contest going on to see who would fall the most as well with the winner claiming the throne with 8 spectacular falls.

By the time we reached the base camp we were all ready to be flat on the ground and not move. But still we ended up dancing for a little while in the bus on the way back to the homestay. Interestingly our bus had a laser/disco light setup which made dancing fun. Although initially it was more of moving hands and pretending to dance than actual dancing. Once we got home and freshened up we sat outside and chatted about topics all over the place from weird food people eat to physics to astronomy and horror stories. The campfire made it cosy enough to sit outside and since we didn’t have any portable speakers we got to show off our singing skills instead of our dancing skills. The jam session continued till almost 1 in the morning and we all dragged ourselves to bed quite reluctantly.

Next morning we again made an early start and left the homestay after a lovely breakfast.


Pic with the owners of the Homestay

We were all feeling a bit more energetic after resting over night so we spent a large amount of time playing Mafia which I enjoyed for the first time. The last two times I played the game I found it very boring but with this group it was a lot of fun. I was a cop in the first game and got to play a few turns before getting killed and it was a lot of fun watching the players try to convince each other that they were not mafia. In the second game I was classified as Mafia and was there till the end of the game (We won πŸ™‚ ) but in the last one I was the first person to be killed so didn’t get to play at all.

In the middle we stopped at Namdroling Monastery which I have visited a few times before but it was still worth the visit. It is a very peaceful place and since we got there just before the afternoon prayers started we managed to see the temple and then watched the monks start their prayers as well. We did avoid the shopping complex as otherwise we would have been stuck there for hours while the ladies shopped πŸ˜‰ and were on the way back to Bangalore with brief stops for lunch & tea and lots of dancing.

We all enjoyed the trip so much that we didn’t want it to end so most of us got down at Indiranagar for dinner at Copper Chimney instead of heading home directly. The waiter gave us a weird look when the 13 of us were done with just starters and dessert but none of us were very hungry so it was good that we didn’t over-order.

Overall the trip was a great success and I really enjoyed traveling with Nature Walkers. I would highly recommend them to folks looking for a fun well organized trip.

Well this is all for now. Will post more later.

– Suramya

PS: For those of you who are wondering about what happened to posting about the previous trips, I realized that the list had gotten long enough that I wouldn’t be able to post about them (15 trips in 2016) and because I was waiting to write about the previous trips I wasn’t posting about the new ones either. So decided to bite the bullet and start with a clean slate. Hopefully this year I will be more consistent with my writing.

May 2, 2016

My Trip to Sri Lanka

Filed under: My Life,Travel/Trips — Suramya @ 3:18 AM

How do you summarize a 10 day trip to an island paradise with incredibly hospitable folks that you took with a group of awesome friends? This has been the question that has been annoying me over the past few weeks since I have gotten back from my trip and as you can guess by the lack of posts before this one I haven’t really found a good answer to it yet. However a month is more than enough time to ponder and I realized that because I was avoiding posting anything about the trip I was also not posting anything else on the blog either because that summary had to come first. So without any further ado here we go.

We flew from Bangalore to Colombo via Chennai. If you are ever planning on going to Sri Lanka take a direct flight, the Chennai airport is the worst airport I have had the ‘pleasure’ of flying out of. The duty free shopping area is 2 shops with minimal goods and the ‘food court’ is one shop that didn’t have have the items on its menu available. (this was at about 10pm or so). We got to Sri Lanka at ~2am and took a cab to our B&B which was decent, not great but decent. From there our grand adventure started the next day. We got lucky and got a great driver (Sujeet) who was excellent in guiding us and making sure we had a good time.

The first day we mostly traveled and didn’t really do much but starting the second day the fun started. We did a whole bunch of water sports (Jetski, water-skiing, Banana boat, River cruise etc) and we visited a turtle farm where we saw turtles aging from a few days to one over 150 years old. We also did a river safari where I tried out a fish spa for the first time. It wasn’t as bad as I was expecting and for the cost it was worth it.

The third day started off with me going for Scuba diving and the rest of the folks went snorkeling. Managed to do two back to back dives, one was to a sunken ship and the other was in coral. Got to see some really colorful fishes but nothing too spectacular. Unfortunately the underwater camera at the dive shop was broken so didn’t get any underwater pictures but the memories are certainly great. After we got done with the diving we drove down to Galle and saw the famous clock tower and fort. The tower wasn’t very impressive and was under repair. There was also a nice beach and some colorful nick-knacks to pick up. (Though we ended up not guying anything). The fort was nice and it was obvious that it would have been very impressive during its peak.

On the fourth day we decided to go whale watching and that meant waking up at 5 so that we were there at the port by 7am. The trip was nice but extremely hot and since we were on the deck with no shade all of us got tanned (and slightly burnt) by the time we got back. Unfortunately we didn’t see any whales but we did see a whole lot of dolphins as they were pretty much constantly following our boat. The fact that we didn’t see a whale was disappointing but later in the evening we visited an ancient stupa and prepared for an early morning the next day so that we could go on a leopard safari.

The fifth day started off really early again (before dawn) and though we saw a lot of birds we didn’t see any leopards. This and the fact that we didn’t see any whales earlier made us decide to avoid any further safaris in the trip and focus on other kinds of sightseeing. So on the next day we visited a couple of ancient temples, stupas etc and on the 7th day we went river rafting. The rapids were grade 3&4 for the most part but it was a lot of fun esp the part where we got into the water and swam around.

On the 8th day we visited Sigiriya which is a world heritage site and saw the amazing construction and palaces that had been built so long ago. It was impressive and humbling to see what people were capable of constructing with pure muscle power without any of the modern technology to assist them. If you visit, make sure you request a guide because otherwise you will miss out on a lot of the background information and things you def must see.

The last day was spent relaxing at the Colombo beach after spending some time shopping and seeing the local sites. It was with a heavy heart, amazing memories and a lighter wallet (not that much lighter since things were not as expensive as we thought) we boarded our flight back. I wish we had more time there because we weren’t able to cover any of the northern or eastern part of the country but that gives us an excuse to plan another trip so lets see how that works out.

I have uploaded the photos to Facebook so you can check them out over there.

Well, this is all for now. Will post more later.

– Suramya

February 1, 2016

Recovering from KP: Day trip to Hogenakkal Falls

Filed under: My Life,Travel/Trips — Suramya @ 10:54 PM

After the KP trek I wanted to relax so last weekend I went for a day trip to Hogenakkal Falls with friends and this weekend I did absolutely nothing and it was glorious πŸ™‚ This post was supposed to have been published last week but first I was waiting for the pics to be uploaded and then got busy with work so didn’t get a chance to finish the post before today. But better later than never so here we go.

We (14 of us) left Bangalore at ~7am which was quite good considering certain folks (and I am not going to name names) were running quite late and made me wait outside my house for almost 45 mins. We had hired a 13 seater Tempo Traveller for the trip and the guy made pretty good time. Coincidentally it was Shammi’s birthday so when we stopped for breakfast we cut the cake and created enough of a racket disturbing everyone else in the restaurant that the owner asked us to move to a private room so that we didn’t scare the rest of his customers away.


The Mandatory cake facial

After finishing food we were on our way and spent the next 3 hours fooling around. Played a whole lot of dumb-charades , took selfies and basically drove the driver nuts. The way was quite scenic and traffic wasn’t too bad but even if that wasn’t the case the company was fun enough to make the trip enjoyable. This time most of the folks who came for the trip were people who we knew so there were no unpleasant surprises like last time.


Everyone Smile

Once we got to the falls we found that the only place where you were allowed to go into the water was this one place that didn’t look very clean and there was a very long queue so we all decided to skip that and go directly for the boat ride in the coracles (Bamboo Boats) with the idea that we would get into the water in a cleaner less crowded area. As there were 14 of us and each boat could only take 4 people at a time we rented 4 boats and were off. The boat ride was a two part affair where we boated to an Island sort of place and then had to walk across to get to the other side while the boatman carried the boats across then we got back in the water and spent a good 2 hours (maybe more) in the water. Not sure of the exact time we spent in the water as I had to take my watch off and put it in the bag along with the phone to prevent it from getting soaked. Though having things in the bag didn’t really help much because my spare set of clothes were completely wet by the time we finished, thankfully the phone and the watch escaped this fate and were reasonably dry.


Us in the boat

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Some of the small falls we saw during the boat ride

Due to some restrictions we were not allowed to get in the water during the boat ride but thanks to some negotiations we were allowed to get in the water in a secluded area with a small waterfall and it was great. We spent almost an hour in the water over there and had to be forced out of the water.

After the boat ride finished we had a late lunch (really late ’cause it was around 4pm) at Hotel Tamil Nadu. The food was decent and quite tasty (though that could be because we were starving so all food would have tasted good by this time). After lunch we fooled around a bit outside the restaurant ’cause no one was in the mood to head back.

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Lets climb a tree like our ancestors used to…

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Group Pic outside the Tamil Nadu Restaurant

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How can we have a birthday celebration without Birthday Bumps?

On the way back we had a pit stop on the way to watch the sunset and it was gorgeous. Took a whole bunch of pics and then we were on our way again. After a bit folks decided the best way to pass the time was to dance in the bus. I am surprised that the driver didn’t get into an accident considering the amount of racket we made and how distracting it must have been to have 14 people dancing/screaming behind him for almost 3 hours. Unfortunately none of the photos I took of the dancing came out clean, but still the memories are crystal clear. We stopped for dinner at a roadside bar/restaurant but it looked very shady so we decided to get the food packed and ate our dinner in the bus itself which was an experience in itself.


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Sunset on the way back from Hogenakkal Falls

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Group pic at the sunset point

Finally we reached Bangalore around 10pm (maybe a bit earlier) and then all of us went our different ways with great memories and a plan to do similar trips again in the near future.

Well this is all for now, will write more later.

– Suramya

January 19, 2016

I did the kumara parvatha trek this weekend and it was amazing!

Filed under: My Life,Travel/Trips — Suramya @ 10:03 PM

This past weekend I decided to go to Kumara Parvatha for a two day Trek instead of spending it lazing about at home and even though my legs have gone on strike and refuse to work after the trip it was an amazing experience. The trip was organized by Shirky as part of the Bangalore Entertainment meetup group. This is the third trip I have done with him as part of the meetup (the others were to Gokarna and Mangalore for beach parties) and as always it was great fun.

Kumara parvatha is supposed to be the most difficult trek in Karnataka’s and comes to about 30km of trekking. The one advise I have for anyone attempting this trek is that this is not a trek for beginners, do not expect any amenities. It is hard and you need to be the kind of person who appreciates natural beauty to appreciate it. If you haven’t trekked before it is very easy to feel demotivated and put off from the entire concept of Trekking. Basically don’t expect Changing room, rest room, bedroom, shower, porters etc on this trek. Unfortunately there were some folks in the group who didn’t do their research and for some reason decided to come for the trek without any preparation or research on what to expect. For the most part everyone took it in stride and chalked it up to a good learning experience, however there were some folks (and I am not going to name names as that is not the point of this post) who decided to blame everyone except themselves for their lack of preparation which caused some issues later in the trek and post completion.

We started the Trek with 21 people from Bangalore via KSRTC bus and from the start itself the trip was quite eventful. We had our first casualty (one of the girls fell and hurt her knee) even before we boarded the bus and one of the guys lost his phone. When we called the number the person who found the phone picked up our call and asked for the pin to unlock the phone, when we refused for obvious reasons he told us that he had no intention of returning the phone. Thankfully it wasn’t an expensive phone but still, it was disappointing.


Group photo at the beginning of the Trek

We got to Kukke Subramanya at ~5am after an uneventful drive and freshened up over there before starting the trek at ~8am. The morning was brisk but within a few mins of walking I was dripping in sweat and ready for a halt :). We managed to walk for a whole 10 mins before we took our first halt which set the trend for the rest of the trek.

We made it to Battara mane by ~11am. This was after we stopped quite frequently for rest and spent a good 20 mins or so at a stream we found mid-way to recover. Battara mane which translates to Battara’s house is ~7kms from the beginning of the trek and is the midpoint of the route. For the most part the trail was in the forest so the sun wasn’t a big problem but the last kilometer or so was in grassland so it was burning hot and exhausting.


Refreshing halt at a mountain stream on route to Battara mane

Initially we had planned to continue to KP after a brief rest and food but we were told that camping on KP is banned due to a recent forest fire caused by Trekkers. So we decided to camp at the Forest department’s camping site about half a kilometer from Battara’s house. Which honestly speaking was a great stroke of luck because I don’t think a lot of the group would have made it that far and considering the amount of fuss that was raised about the conditions over here I shudder to think how folks would have reacted when they were told that there are not bathrooms/food areas at KP.

We had lunch at Battara’s and that was one of the more disappointing parts of the trek as the food was not that great. I had read online that it was very simple south Indian food but that doesn’t cover it. The food was bad. You pay 100 Rs for Rice and Sambhar which was more like Rice and Rasam because I didn’t really see any vegetables in it. Oh and you also got pickle :). The food is self service with no utensils like spoons provided so you get to eat with you hand. I saw a bunch of foreigners trying their hand at it and they enjoyed it. However if you are able to you should carry your own food as you can’t really have the food provided multiple times. We got to enjoy it 3 times and that was more than enough. For dinner you should ensure you are there early because at times you can have a shortage of plates and have to wait. In our group folks made do with 6-8 people eating from a single plate and it was hilarious.

After lunch we rested for a bit and then walked over to the Forest departments camp site where we proceeded to try putting up our tents. Interestingly only two of us had ever set up a tent before and it took a group effort with 10-12 people helping over an hour and half to get the first one setup. A few folks figured it was more important to sleep than help us setup the tents but in the end I think we were better off with them not helping. Though I did hear a few complaints from those folks later in the evening about how disorganized the event was and how no one knew how to setup tents etc.


Relaxing after finally managing to setup the tents

After the tents were finally up we checked out the nearby View point and got some amazing pics (see below). This time I spent a lot less time taking photos & more time enjoying the view and the company. I will share more photos once I receive them from the folks brave enough to carry a DSLR on the trek. Once it got dark we started a campfire and played a few rounds of antakshari with a couple of interruptions by cattle who wanted to stop by to say hello and try to eat any food items left unattended. By 10 we were ready to crash. Some of the folks felt that the view of the night sky was awesome enough that they decided to sleep outside. This turned out to be an eventful decision as they were woken up by cows a few times when the cows tried to eat their hair.


View from the sunset view point


Group photo at the sunset view point


Sunset

We woke up at 4:30am the next day as we wanted to start the next stage of the trek by 5:30am. Taking down the tents in absolute dark using flashlight was an interesting experience but with the help of most of the people we got it done fairly quickly and were ready to start on the remaining part of the trek. At this time 8 people decided that they did not have the capacity to complete the trek and wanted out. So they declined to continue and went back down the trail. Unfortunately they also declined to carry their sleeping bags/tent back down so we had no option but to carry them down ourselves.

We stored our tents/equipment etc at the forest department and started the trek with just food and water. Unfortunately by the time we got to Kallumantapa three of us out of the 13 remaining were not feeling well enough to continue so with a disappointed heart we came back down leaving the last 10 members of the group to finish the trek.


The valley covered in mist at ~7am


Breakfast at Kallumantapa

After we got back I slept for a bit waiting for the remainder of the group to get back while the other two went ahead down the trail to try to catch an earlier bus back. Once the remainder of our got back from conquering the peak and recovered we had lunch and started back. At this time since the earlier folks had not taken any of their sleeping bags etc with them we were left with 11 people to carry 15 sleeping bags, 6 tents and all our personal bags. Obviously this was quite painful and by the time we got down my knees were on strike and it took us long enough that we finished the last 30 mins of the trek in the dark using flashlights.

Once we got out from the trail we dragged ourselves to the lodge and got a room to freshen up post which I was feeling human enough to get dinner which was finally something other than rice and sambhar. At 9:30pm we boarded our bus back and reached Bangalore at 4:30am. At which time we found out that due to the last min confusion on who was carrying what we managed to loose one of the tents. Which was a brief downer but still, stuff happens in trips so it wasn’t too bad. Got home at 5:30 and crashed like a log.

Even though I didn’t get to finish the trek it felt great pushing my limits and I am def planning on doing this again in the near future so that I can say that I completed KP.

Well, this is all for now. Will write more later.

– Suramya

January 6, 2015

Welcoming 2015 with camping and live music

Filed under: My Life,Travel/Trips — Suramya @ 8:18 PM

This year I decided to do something different for New Years and instead of the usual club/house party I went for a 48 hour camping event with live music. Think of it as a music festival with camping. The event is called Chasing Storm and it happened near Coorg which is about 270 km from Bangalore.

I Left for the event at 5am on the 31st and got there by 9:30am, unfortunately the entry for the camping area wasn’t opened up till 12:30pm because they were still in the process of setting up the tents and ensuring that folks didn’t get any reptilian visitor’s at night by spraying stuff to subdue snakes. Once we were in there wasn’t a lot to do till evening so we just hung around and chatted with other folks attending the festival. In the evening the live bands started playing and some of them were really good. I specially liked Swarathma and Solder.

The highlight of the event for me was getting to listen to Usha Uthup live. She is one of my all time favourite singers and hearing her in person was an awesome experience. It made the entire trip worth it. Even though the lady is 67 years old (she announced it on stage) the energy she has is amazing. I wanted to take a photo with her and get her autograph but wasn’t able to as she was swamped and then left before I got the chance.

In any case I was busy chasing the other star who was also in attendance, ‘Rajit Kapur’ who played ‘Byomkesh Bakshi’ in the early 90’s TV series. The series is one my favourite Indian detective shows. So meeting him was a great pleasure. I did manage to get a photo with him (see below) and talk to him for a few mins. And before you ask; No I did not tell him that my sister named her dog after him (Vyomkesh) as I didn’t want him to beat me to death. πŸ˜‰



Me and Rajit Kapur (Byomkesh Bakshi) at Chasing Storm

Here are some pics (A lot of the night photos didn’t come out too well because of the disco lights) I took during the performances at Chasing Storm .



Usha Uthup performing live at Chasing Storm


Solder live at Chasing Storm


Swarathma taking a bow

Finally here’s a photo of the camping area where we spent two days. Well, sort of… didn’t really get that much sleep over the two days because of the sheer no of things going on at the time.


The Camping ground

The drive back was a bit painful because at 5am the visibility was down to maybe 2 mtrs and it took me about an hour to cover 10kms. Once the sun came out around 6 am the visibility improved and I was able to pick up a bit of speed but it wasn’t till about 7-7:30 that I was able to drive at a speed higher than crawling. Finally made it to Bangalore at 11am and went straight to work so that was fun. Survived that day mostly on Red bull and Coffee.

Over all it was a good experience and I had fun so it was worth the 500+ Kms drive. Well this is all for now. Will write more later.

– Suramya

PS: This was supposed to be posted last week but didn’t really have the energy required to write/think so kept pushing it out. But better late than never right?

November 24, 2012

My Trip to Lakshadweep

Filed under: My Life,Travel/Trips — Suramya @ 11:26 PM

Early this month we (Me, Vinit, Surabhi, Vir, Mom and Dad) went for a week long trip to Lakshadweep. It was a much required and anticipated trip (I have been wanting to go since 2010) especially after the crazy week I had dealing with Hurricane Sandy. We left on Thursday night by train from Bangalore to Cochi and from there we took a flight to Agati island. There were ~15 passengers in the flight, including the 6 of us and the 2 airhostesses. The runway on Agati is a narrow strip of land sticking out into the ocean and when landing you can see water on both sides of the runway. Below is a shot of the island I took during our approach; the entire island is about 7 kms long and 1.5 kms wide, and we were the only tourists on the island…

Arial Shot of Agati Island
Arial Shot of Agati Island

We were there for 7 days and spent all the time on the beach, including having our lunch delivered to the beach.


The beach where we spent most of our time

Well, except for the time we spent in the water scuba diving. Both me and Vinit got our diving certificates (I actually had to study for tests) but it was worth it. We did 4 openwater dives and 5 confined water dives in 7 days plus did a lot of snorkeling as well. During the dives we saw 2 sharks (one White tip and another whose name I can’t remember), couple of dolphins, a sea turtle (while diving, lost count of ones we saw from the boat and from the beach), crabs, tuna fishes, star fish, crabs, lobsters etc etc.

We did take a ton of photos (~1500) and I have posted a selection of the pics here. I was going to post them here as well but then decided to be lazy and just provide a link to the album here. Check it out.

I have been meaning to post this for a while now but life got busy. Ah well… It was an awesome trip and I highly recommend it for anyone looking for a great vacation spot.

– Suramya

January 29, 2012

My Trip to Gujarat

Filed under: My Life,Travel/Trips — Suramya @ 11:59 PM

As I mentioned in some of my earlier posts, I just got back from a 9 day trip to Gujarat (plus a day in Bombay) and it was a great experience, we drove about 1500 kilometers, visited 11 temples, saw 2 lions, 4 bluebulls, 5 monkeys and a few dozen deer. As promised this post will document the trip with pics so this will be a long post. For those reading this on Facebook, the pics don’t show for some reason on the wall so you need to click on the title and read it on the blog directly.

The trip started with me flying to Rajkot, Gujarat on the 18th from Bangalore via Bombay (I still think Mumbai sounds silly). Had a few hours halt in Bombay so I spent it at domestic Airport and wasn’t too impressed with the airport, I think the ones at Delhi & Bangalore are a lot better with nicer amenities. Met up with Ronak, Jeelna, their cousin and uncle at the airport and flew to Rajkot. Since we got there at about 9 pm we just checked in at Hotel Rajdoot .

Let me divert a bit from the topic here to really recommend Rajdoot to anyone who is traveling to Rajkot. Its not a 5 star place but their level of service and friendliness of the staff more than makes up for it. I mean what other place will send one of their staff to search for a saree shop twice when a guest calls them up inquiring if they have the number of that shop? The staff went out of their way to make sure we had everything we needed.

We spent most of the 19th morning shopping. Actually Jeelna was shopping, the rest of us were tagging along for the ride. The process was over a lot sooner than I expected but I think I might have hastened it by falling asleep in one of the shops πŸ™‚ In the afternoon we behaved like typical tourists and roamed around taking a lot of photos and saw the first temple of the trip:


Us acting like tourists at Swaminarayan temple


Me in front of Swaminarayan temple, Rajkot

We got to travel 5 in an Auto which is not the record for me but it was a first for the others and so a lot of fun.


6 people (including the driver) traveling in an Auto is fun

The next day (20th) we started early and left for Dwarka. We made a few stops on the way to see temples, visit relatives and eat good food (although I guess if you were on a diet it wasn’t that great). Got to Dwarka late in the evening and went for the evening aarti. Unfortunately camera’s are not allowed inside the temple so we were only able to take external shots. It was a hard to take evening shots without a tripod but we managed πŸ™‚ still I think the pics taken during the day were a lot nicer. Actually, they better be nicer as we got up at an insanely early hour for this and were nearly frozen while walking around taking the pics.


Dwarkadhish temple at night


Dwarkadhish temple really early in the morning


Side view of the Dwarkadhish temple.

Everyone other than me lit diya’s and floated them down the Gomati river (Relax, the diya’s were made out of leaves so were bio degradable)


Ronak and Jeelna lighting diya’s at Gomati river

All took time and everyone started getting hungry so we decided to feed ourselves with whatever was handy.


A hungry person will eat anything


including the sun

From Dwarka we went to the Nageshwar Jyotirlinga Temple and from there to Bet Dwarka which is on an Island and can only be reached by boat.


The Nageshwar Jyotirlinga Temple


Me and Ronak on the boat with bet Dwarka in the background

Once done there we drove on to Porbander which is the birthplace of Mahatma Gandhi. We did stop at a few other temples on the way but their names are all sort of blurred now. so…


Carvings on one of the temples we visited

In Porbander, we took it easy for most of the day with just a visit to Gandhi’s house and yet another temple. Gandhi’s house was built in the 1800’s and had 22 rooms but it felt like it was built by dwarfs for dwarfs. Take a look at the pic below, that is how high the doors were. I had to be careful while inside not to bump my head.


Me at the entrance to Gandhi’s house and no I am not standing on an elevated platform


I am kneeling on the floor in this pic.

The staircases were even more insane, they were so steep that a rope had to be set up to aid people climbing up. I wonder how old people made it up there in one piece… Maybe the older you got the lower Floor you got to stay on.


Ronak discovers the insane staircases you had to climb to get between floors.


The rooms had built in exercise equipment

The hotel we stayed at was nice, Ronak especially liked the awesome view from their room.


The awesome view from our room in Porbander

From Porbander we drove to Somnath which has a very interesting history. Somnath is known as the Shrine Eternal as it has withstood the shocks of time and the attacks of the destroyers. It has risen from its ashes like a phoenix each time it was destroyed or desecrated. The present temple is the seventh temple built on the original site.

When we got to Somnath late at night we found that none of the hotels had any rooms available as the chief minister was in town and his entourage had booked all the rooms. Thankfully we got lucky in the 2nd hotel we tried as they had a cancellation literally 2 mins before we walked in, otherwise we would have spent the night in the conference room of the hotel which had been converted to a common style dorm. Went for darshan the next day and then drove to Gir.


Ronak and Jeelna braving the sun in front of Somnath temple

We got to Gir in time to take the safari but I was seriously disappointed. I had visited Gir in 2002 with family and had such an awesome experience that I was eagerly waiting for it. That time we took a jeep into the Interpretation zone which is a fenced area of 412 hectares and spent a few hours there just observing the wildlife with a great guide. Now unfortunately the place has been commercialized and instead of jeep safaris you now take a 30 min bus ride to see the lions. It felt like we were visiting a zoo on a very large scale.

On the bright side we did see a lion and lioness during the brief tour. Though they were just lying there for the most part, but the lion did get up once and showed us its ass before lying back down. When I complained to my dad about this his response was “why? were you expecting them to get up and dance for you?”


The original plan was to take a safari to the sanctuary in the evening and then spend the night in Gir before driving to Rajkot, but after the 30 min ‘safari’ we decided to drive on to Junagadh where we spent the night before driving back to Rajkot the next day.

We spent another day at Rajkot at Hotel Rajdoot and then drove to Vadodara the next day. Once there we rested for a couple of hours before attending Ronak’s cousin’s Mehendi/Sangeet. After the function was done we stayed up talking till almost 2:30 am and then I got up at 4:30am for my return flight to Bangalore via Bombay.

I spent a day in Bombay. Had lunch with Ruth and Rebecca, walked past the Gateway to India and spent the evening with my cousin Rishabh at his college. Had a lot of fun.

Got back to Bangalore at 5am and promptly crashed, spent most of the weekend recovering from the trip and lack of sleep.

There you go, a summary of the trip with some photos. Will post more in an album when I get some time (and get the pics for the last 2 days from Ronak).

This is all for now will post more later. I should go crash now as I have an early morning at work tomorrow .

– Suramya

June 4, 2010

My Trip to Gangotri and Gaumukh

Filed under: My Life,Travel/Trips — Suramya @ 11:35 PM

I think its about time I blogged about my trip because certain people have been bugging me about it. It took so long because I brought back an unwanted guest with me from the trip – Some sort of stomach virus.

We (Me, Dad and Mom) left for Gangotri on the 29th at 6 am and drove 526 km to Gangotri. The last 300 something kilometers were in the hills so it took us a little over 14 hours to make the journey. We got there a little after 8pm and it was a bit chilly over there so we quickly walked to the guest house (I don’t really remember the name but it was a facility run by the Gadhwal Government). While talking to the manager at the place we found out that since last year a restriction has been put on travel to Gaumukh and now only 150 people per day are allowed to make the trip. Another wrinkle was that in addition to the 150 people limit the forest department has also set the limit on the no of horses allowed up to the glacier to 15.

Since we didn’t have permission we had to wait for the Forest department to open at 8am the next day before we could leave for the glacier. If that hadn’t been the case we would have left at around 6am. We spent that extra two hours visiting the famous temple and having breakfast.

Thankfully we got the permission to visit Gaumukh quite easily but unfortunately by that time the permitted no of horses had already left. So we had to convince the person incharge to allow 3 extra horses to make the trip (No there was no bribe involved. Just told them about our time constraint etc). Initially it was planned that mom and dad would take horses but I would walk but since its quite boring to walk alone and I had no intention of walking 14 kms alone I also got to ride up on a horse.

The journey to the actual Gaumukh is a total of 18 kms but horses are only allowed till the first 14 kms and the last 4 kilometers have to be covered on foot.

It took us about 5 hours to make the 14 km journey by horse and the view was amazing for most of the way. Towards the end though the greenery (trees) was replaced by shrubs and then plain rocks and dirt because we were over the snowline. By the time we got to Bhojwassa it was about 2 pm and my backside was no longer on speaking terms with me. We stopped over there for the night. Initially we had thought that we would make the remaining 4km trek to Gaumukh the same day but then decided to wait for the next day to permit our bodies to acclimatize to the high altitude. (This was at 3792 mts elevation)

Unfortunately mom got a mild case of Acute mountain sickness so we decided that she wouldn’t make the last 4 km walk. So it was just dad and me at 5:30 am the next day when we left for the Glacier (which is at 4463 mtrs elevation) . The trek wasn’t that bad. Infact the hardest part was the first 500 mtrs because it was a pretty steep climb. After that the climbs and descents were quite manageable. It took us 1 1/2 hours to make it to the official termination of the path which is about 500 mtrs from the mouth of the glacier. Since everyone else was continuing the trek to get to the actual mouth of the glacier we also did the same and ended up climbing pretty much to the mouth of the glacier. This last 500 mtrs took us another 1/2 hour since there was no track anymore and we had to climb over boulders and then slide down to get to the glacier.

At this point the temperature was way below freezing and the wind chill made things even more fun. It was so cold that in the time it took me to take 3 photos my fingers were numb enough that I couldn’t make changes to my camera settings anymore. But it was worth it. Because of the cold we only stayed there for about 10-15 mins before heading back. By this time the sun had come out so it wasn’t that cold anymore. In fact by the time we reached base camp I was sweating enough to remove my sweater.

After we got back we rested for about 2 hours and had breakfast and then hired horses to take us back. The ride back was more endured than enjoyed because by that time pretty much most of my body parts had gone on strike. If you think that you don’t get tired when riding a horse I suggest you go ride one for 4-5 hours and then come back and talk to me.

The trail between Gangotri and Bhojwassa is quite steep and there were a lot of places where my body was at an angle of almost 45 degrees from perpendicular to keep my balance on the horse. (You are supposed to lean back if your horse is descending a slope to allow it to maintain its balance).

Once we got back to Gangotri we picked up our luggage from the locker and started driving back towards Uttarkashi. It took us a bit over 5 hours to get there and we all crashed quite quickly once we got to the hotel. The next day we left the hotel at 7:30 am and drove back to Delhi with a small detour to visit my cousin on the way.

I did take a lot of pictures and I will be posting some of them on Facebook (I am still considering the changes to the photogallery over here) once I publish this post.

Well this is all for now. Will post more later.

Edit: Posted the pics Here

– Suramya

August 29, 2009

My Trip to Shimla

Filed under: My Life,Travel/Trips — Suramya @ 11:30 PM

Last week me, Gaurang and Kunal went for a trip to Shimla with Kunal’s Mausa (Mom’s sister’s husband). We had planned on leaving by 6 – 6:30 am on Thursday so I left from Noida at 5:20 am and drove to Gurgoan in my trusty on Maruti 800. (For those of you who don’t know, this car is about 25 years old with no AC). Got there in about an hour and we left from there at 6:35 am.

The road out of Delhi was thankfully not very crowded and even though we all were not really sure where to go but rather had a general idea of the route we made good time and made it past Karnal in about 3 hours. We stopped at a dhabba (Roadside Restaurant) a few miles past that and had breakfast. This set the trend for the rest of the trip which was more of a ‘Foods of India’ than a road trip. By this I mean that we ate and ate ate throughout the trip.

The trip to Shimla took us 10 hours because of the Traffic after Chandigarh and the curvy roads near Shimla so we finally reached there at 4:30 pm. After we got there we rested for a while at Mausa’s place (They stay in Shimla) and then drove back to main Shimla (They stay in New Shimla) and spent a couple of hours walking around on Mall Road. Most of the shops there closed up at 9pm so we were back home by 10 and were off to bed by 11pm.

The next day we got up by 7 and lazed around for a while, then came down for a huge breakfast. After which we relaxed till Mahak (Mausa’s Daughter) came back from School and then went back to Mall Road. Spent pretty much the entire day there and enjoyed the view, food and crowds.

On Sat we decided to drive to Kufri with Mausi and Mahak. On the way there we changed our minds to go to the Hot water springs instead. However when we came to the junction where we had to turn for the springs we saw that the springs were 58 Kms from that point so we went to Kufri instead which was only 7 kms. There wasn’t a lot to see there except the view and horses. Oh, and we also saw a Himalayan Yak there near the parking area. Since there wasn’t a lot to see there we decided that we would make the trip to the hot water springs to check them out.

If you think hilly roads are painful, try traveling on them with three people who get motion sick; one of whom is a 5 year old girl. We were pretty much stopping about every 15 mins because someone or other felt like they were about to throw up. We made it half-way to the springs before we gave up and stopped at Naldhera instead. Spent about an hour over there drinking tea and relaxing in the sun before we drove back.

Once we got back to Shimla we went back to Mall Road again and spent the rest of the day relaxing/walking about over there (plus all the streets/area’s above and below the mall road)

Got back home and crashed, then left home on Sunday morning at 10:30 am after a huge breakfast and got back to Delhi in 8 1/2 hours. Had dinner and Gaurang’s place and crashed. Drove back to Noida on Monday at 6 am so as to avoid the traffic.

In all it was a great trip, very relaxing and very filling. Both Mausi and Mausa fed us like anything but I enjoyed a lot. Hope to do something like this again soon.

Edit (30th Aug 2009): The photos from the trip have been uploaded to Photogallery under Trips -> Shimla Trip (Aug 2009)

– Suramya

February 9, 2009

Trip to Sultanpur Bird sanctuary

Filed under: My Life,Travel/Trips — Suramya @ 5:34 PM

Last Saturday we went for a trip to the Sultanpur Bird sanctuary from work. The trip started at 6 am for me as thats when I left home to pick up Ashwani, Harish O, Harish T and Ram Awadh from the office. On the way to the office I inaugurated the birdwatching by spotting a chicken on the road.

Surprisingly everyone was on time and we made it to Nehru Place which was our meeting point for the rest of the group at 7:15am there we hot tea while we waited for the rest of the group (Dhiraj, Shobhna and Angad) to join us in Angad’s car. After a quick snack we left for the bird sanctuary picking Sanjay and his wife and son on the the way.

The drive there was a long one. Unfortunately there were no road sign’s anywhere telling us how to get to the place so we kept having to ask people for directions. For some weird reason people kept pointing us to the long route to the place. About 3/4th of the way there we found out that the route we were following was impassable because a bridge was being constructed on it. So we had to turn back and drive 15 kms back on the way we came and take an alternate route.

On the way we stopped at a field and took pics there. Once we made it to the Sanctuary we had a great time. We saw a lot of the birds and no I don’t know their species. All I can remember now is that we saw Peacocks, Parrots, A few kinds of white birds and a couple of black birds.

I had taken a boomerang with me and we all tried to get it to come back to us. Harish T was the only one that managed to do that. Thankfully it didn’t get stuck in the tree’s.

I had also taken my Remote Controlled place with me, but unfortunately the built in battery in the plane was almost dead so we couldn’t really fly it. So we decided to go with the old faithful and had a cricket match.

On the way back we found a direct road to Gudguan. Though calling it a road is a bit of a stretch as it was more like driving on a dirt trail than an actual road. There was a lot of construction going on so that probably was the reason why this road was so broken. Hopefully the fly-overs will be completed soon and the road will get a bit better.

This post was delayed for so long as I was procrastinating putting up the photos on the photogallery but luckily Shobhna is less lazy than I am so she has put up the photos from the trip here: http://picasaweb.google.co.in/shobhna.sharma/SultanpurOfficeTrip2009

In the near future I will probably also post the photos on my site. In the mean time enjoy.

– Suramya

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