Sunday, May 17, 2015

Velankanni

A pilgrimage visit to Velankanni was due since 15 years and we finally made it. It also came in as a road trip !! #

Route : Bangalore - Salem - Namakkal - Karur - Nagapattinam
Distance : ~500 kms

May 1st being a holiday we decided to spend the extended weekend with a road trip to the most Popular pilgrimage among the Christian community. We started our journey early morning and reached Krishnagiri by about 7 AM. After a heavy breakfast, we continued our journey. Apart from a heavy jam before reaching Salem, the route was traffic free. By afternoon, our next target was to stop for lunch. We finally found a hotel beside a temple. Not sure if it was the hunger or the quality of the food, the veg meals was a delight. Post lunch, we continued our journey and we reached Velankanni by about 6 PM.

Accommodation was a big disappointment since we had not done an advance booking. With great difficulty we found a place to stay - Johnson Park Inn. A rip off in terms of room tariff but we had no other option. A suggestion for those of you who plan to visit Velankanni - book your room in advance since this place is crowded beyond your imagination.

After freshening up, we visited the beach which is a tourist attraction. The beach was a disappointment since it was neither clean nor safe. We barely spent few mins at the beach and then headed towards the church.



History of Velankanni church - Portugese sailors were on voyage and were struck by a heavy storm. They had taken a vow to build a church if they reach a shore safely. Miraculously the storm calmed down and they stopped by a shore which happened to be Velankanni in Nagapattinam. They then constructed a small church in remembrance of their miraculous survival. This was then followed by few more voyagers who kept contributing towards the construction of this church.



Appearance of Mother Mary with Infant Jesus - It is believed that Mother Mary and infant Jesus had appeared on a pond when a shepherd boy passed by. This pond shot to fame as 'Marys Pond' with this miracle and later became a pilgrim spot in Velankanni. A church has been built near this spot and devotees can be seen crawling on their knees on a sand laid path which is a half kilometer stretch.

Healing of a handicap boy - It is also believed that Mother Mary once appeared to a handicap who lived by selling buttermilk. Mother Mary's appearance cured the handicapped boy who went running to the village to spread a word about this miracle. A church has been constructed on this spot as well, which is yet another pilgrim spot in Velankanni.

The next day, we attended the holy mass and then started our return journey to Bangalore. We reached Bangalore by late night and had a good sleep to compensate for the 9 hour long drive.






Qatar

If you thought Gulf countries look like a desert, you are wrong !! My brief visit to Qatar was fun filled and much better than I anticipated... .thanks to the wonderful friends that I met in Qatar.

Though there is nothing much that you could do in Qatar, heres a brief at what you possibly could do here.

Souk Wakif : Located close to Corniche, this is a place where most of them hang out during their spare time. Formerly popular as a market for Gold (Gold souk), Souk Wakif is currently one among the happening places in Qatar where you could shop, roam around and spend your free time. There are quite a lot of Hookah bars here and most of the eat outs here have kept open air Coolers to beat the heat !! Visit Souk wakif during a weekend and you are likely to witness some Cultural events too. Srikhar and myself were regular visitors here and we even had a Jordanian Friend with us by name Osama (Sam). Sam often shared his experiences travelling around the world (including India) !!



Corniche : Google for Qatar and you would see images of Corniche for sure. A popular spot for Joggers since you get to Jog along the coast of Persian Gulf. The view of City center from Corniche is mesmerizing !! Another interesting part of Corniche is the Museum of Islamic Art and the adjacent park. The park is filled with visitors towards evening even on a week day. Behind the Museum is a spot which probably is the coolest place due to the gentle breeze from the Persian Gulf. Another strange thing about the Islamic museum - it resembles a women wearing Burkha from all four sides !!




City Center : The beautiful and colorful buildings that you find on searching for Qatar on google search - thats the area surrounding City center. A place filled with skyscrapers that are lit up elegantly giving a charm of its own. City center is a popular shopping mall amidst these buildings. If your weekend plan to watch a movie and do some shopping, then City center is the place to be.








Villagio mall : One of the best malls in Qatar which makes you feel like you are in Venice due to the architectural brilliance inside the mall. When you enter the mall, the first thing you would notice is an artificial stream inside the mall with boating as well. All those who visit Qatar are most likely to get a pic clicked inside the Villagio mall. Next to the Villagio mall is a skyscraper built in the shape of a torch which was built when Asian Games were hosted in Doha.













Pearl Qatar : One of the most expensive areas in Qatar is probably Pearl Qatar. Another place popular for its architecture. High profile meetings and the creamy layer of Qataris are found in this part of Qatar. This is one place which was a bit of disappointment to me since there was nothing great here. Probably my level of expectation was higher.









Katara : Lookout in news for events being hosted in the Katara Open air stadium and make sure you dont miss it. Katara has a park, beach and an open air stadium which makes it a popular spot.

Last but not the least, I must make a mention about Gokulam Park. This is where I stayed during my visit to Qatar. If there is something I miss about Qatar, then it would be my room in Gokulam Park.



Saturday, May 16, 2015

Sadahalli - Temple on a quarry !!

Man proposes God Disposes
When man disposes, God still remains intact 
Such is the power of faith !! 

Sadahalli is a remote area in the outskirts of Bangalore which gained some popularity due to a Quarry. Though it hurts to see a huge area of land being destroyed for the greed of human beings, it still amazes to know that a temple which was present at the center of the quarry was left untouched !

              

We were a group of about 10 all set to explore this temple in Sadahalli. After a visit to an oldage home, all of us headed towards Sadahalli and reached the village by about 3 pm. Though we initially had a bit of struggle to spot the entrance, we managed to locate it with the help of localites.

The trek was pretty simple. We passed through the outhouse of the gate keeper who guarded the entrance to the quarry. With a brief interaction with the gate keeper we got to know that he also has a part time job as a Dog trainer. A couple of Emu's were also caged in his premises.



After a 20 mins walk, we finally reached the quarry which was being dug since many years. The path to the temple was left untouched and all the surrounding areas were dug to such an extent that lorries beneath looked like ants !!









There was a bridge connecting the quarry boundary to the temple which was located at the center of the quarry. Though the walk on the bridge looked a bit scary, it quite easy to walk on it !! Vipin from our group was even seen lying on the bridge exhibiting his photographic skills :D




           

The walk on the bridge was very brief and we reached the temple in no time. The gentle breeze on top of the quarry was very soothing and soon the photographers in our group got onto work. A localite was also there at the temple premises. Aby struck a conversation with him to get some facts about this place. As requested by the localite, we clicked his pic which brought a smile on his face.






Devanahalli being a nearby place was a bonus to this temple visit since we got to see Aircrafts flying at a very near distance. It looked like the aircrafts were just a stone throw away. Vipin and Aby patiently waited for the Aircrafts to pass by for some good clicks.





After spending about an hour at the temple, we started our return journey. By now those who had fear of height were accustomed to the bridge walk which made the return much simpler. After having tea at a nearby hotel, we bid good bye to each other and returned home.







Saturday, May 9, 2015

Mango Mist




An IT project Team is not just about a deliverable
It also creates moments that are memorable !! 



A well deserved break for wiproites from Qatar Airways account. After several attempts, the team outing finally worked out on 7th May 2015 and it was delightful to see everyone actively participating in various events organized during the team outing.

54 of us reached Mango Mist by 11 AM in 8 cars and 7 bikes. After reporting at the reception we were greeted by the resort with a welcome drink. Following which, we divided ourselves into 4 groups and the 1st activity for the day was to come up with group names. The group names were "Smashers" led by Ravi, "Brave hearts" led by Girish, "Signatures" led by Ambika and "Spartans" led by Sony. I stepped into the role of a host for the day and it was fun organizing the events.



Balloon fight : This was the 1st event for the day wherein, each time were given balloons with a distinct color. Team members had to tie the balloons to their legs and when the timer started everyone had to run around bursting the balloons of their opponent teams. At the end of 4 minutes, the team which had the maximum number of balloons left would be the winners. It was fun to see everyone running around the park stamping each others balloons. After a 4 minute long struggle, Spartans emerged victorious !!



Dodge ball  : The next group event was Dodge ball wherein 1 group would form an outer circle and the other group would be allowed to run around inside the circle. The outer circle members would throw the Volleyball on the ones running around in the circle. The team inside the circle have to dodge the ball for 2 minutes and make sure that they are not being hit below the waist. Those who get hit below the waist have to move out of the circle. The team with maximum members inside the circle at the end of 2 minutes would be the winners. Again, Spartans emerged victorious with 5 members inside the circle.



Dumb charades : After balloon fight and dodge ball, most of them looked exhausted so it was time to relax. It was time to play a game with minimum efforts and dumb charades was the best choice. The 4 teams competed with each other and "Signatures" won the Dumb charades event.



With this we were done with group events. It was now time for lunch. Food was average. Since everyone was exhausted, food appeared tastier than it actually was !! While having lunch there was a slight drizzle which we feared would be a spoilsport for the day. But we were fortunate that the drizzle stopped by the time we finished lunch !!

Mango Mist resort had given 4 complementary coupons for adventure activities. These coupons were distributed post lunch. All the members were allotted 2 hours time to spend time with adventure activities and pool.



Shooting : Most of them rushed towards the shooting area and had their turns in firing bullets at bottles kept at a distance. Many of them managed to shoot a couple of bottles. Few of them went to the extent of spending all 4 coupons on the shooting event.






Archery : Few of them tried their luck at archery. Must say that the Mahabharath Character "Arjun" had an influence on few of them in our group.












Rope walks : There were several rope walks like Burma bridge, Quake walk etc. Many of them tried these activities and managed to complete the rope walk. This is where most of them spent time since it was a tedious task to complete few of these rope walks.







Fish spa : A fish therapy where fishes would tickle your feet for 20 minutes and eat all the dead cells !  Barring the fact that all would get to know how dirty your feet is, this surely was the biggest crowd puller. It was fun to see few of them giggling and controlling their laugh when the fishes tickled their feet !!



Zorbing : 2 of them would be made to sit in a huge ball and you would go rolling on the lawn !! While most of them were busy with rope walks, few of them went for the land zorbing. The activity sounded interesting from the experience shared by those who went for it.



Swimming pool : The swimming pool was barely 4 feet and quite narrow. But that doesn't stop enthusiasts from jumping into it.








Mist dance : By 4 PM all of them gathered for mist dance. Many of them were disappointed that it was mist dance and not rain dance. Though nobody showed interest to dance initially, the last 10 mins of the mist dance would be remembered by all for a long time. Must say Sathish had a great amount of energy in dancing and entertaining the crowd.














By 4:45 the mist dance came to an end and it was time for Hi tea. They served us with hot tea/coffee and bajjis. This was followed by sports activities. Some played cricket while the others played badminton, fuseball and table tennis.










By 6 PM we were done for the day. With a sigh of relief and happiness, the team greeted each other and dispersed. I'm sure this outing will be remembered for a long time. Thanks to all those who made it. Special thanks to Ravi and Surendra for covering the entire event in their cameras. Also, thanks to Ayesha, Prakash, Sreedhara and Sony who helped me in organizing this outing.

Monday, December 29, 2014

Bali






Away for a 5 day honeymoon
Hoping that these 5 days do not get over soon
Bali was my choice
Just me and Joice !!







After a week long discussion with Ramshai (Business head, Venture Out), I finally decided that Bali would be the ideal destination for a honeymoon. Apart from my wedding date, I also had Bali on my countdown since I was more than eager to see the holiday package offered by Ram turn into a reality.... and I must say wait was worth it !!
2nd Nov 2014 : Though Malaysian airlines had a few unfortunate incidents in the recent past, we fortunately reached Bali safely by Lunch. We were greeted by our Guide who was awaiting us at the Airport and he accompanied us to hotel. Our accommodation was arranged in Sun Boutique which is a 3* hotel located in Kuta. We spent the day relaxing in the hotel and eagerly awaited for the next day since our Guide had briefed us that he would take us around Bali for sight seeing.

Jalan Waribang : We started the day with a cultural program in Jalan Waribang. The play depicted the fight between good spirit (Barong) and evil spirit (Rangda). The musical play went on for an hour and spectators had their eyes glued on the artists and quite a lot of them were busy with their camera. Interestingly, Jalan Waribang hosts plays depicting Barong, Ramayana and Mahabharath as well !! With this we were done with the cultural program and it was 10:30 AM.






Pura Puseh temple : A temple located in the Batuan village in Bali. Like all other temples in Bali, the temple has gates with 2 symmetrical pillars (each representing the good and evil spirits). It is a mandate to enter the temple in the traditional attire (A cloth wrapped around the waist). Truely a delight for those who admire archaeological sculptures.










Ubud : Ubud is a town in Bali which is not as commercial as Kuta. A place popular for Arts and crafts! A perfect place to shop in Bali. We visited the handicraft gallery, painting gallery and Gallery for silver ornaments.







Kintamani : Kintamani is a place popular due to a volcano eruption which took place in 1968 on Mount Abu. In case you are planning to go sight seeing in Bali, Kintamani would be ideal to have lunch, We sat in one of the hotels in Kintamani and had lunch admiring the beauty of Mount Batur and lake Batur





Coffee farms : Another must visit in Bali are the coffee plantations where you get to see Luwak (the animal which got famous with its poop !! ). The plantation offers nearly 10 varieties of coffee samples for free and I am sure you would definitely buy few of those coffee powders once you taste them !!




This marked the end of our day 2 in Bali. As per our guides update, sunset dinner cruise was planned for the next day !!





Bali hai cruise : By evening we reached Bali Hai Cruise and we could see our Cruise awaiting to board us !! After a welcome drink, we boarded the ship and off it sailed... There were a few photoshoots by the crew members. We started off with the sunset view and then moved inside to watch the Dance show organized by the Crew. This was followed by dinner which I must say was mouth watering !!









Water sports : The next day we were all geared up for some adventure sports. Jet skiing, parasailing, banana boat ride, snorkeling, glassboat ride and visit to Turtle island was planned for the day.



Jet skiing : Water sports started off with Jet skiing. Joice and me were racing against each other on 2 jet skiis !! Unlike my previous experience in Malpe beech, here I got ride the Jet ski on my own. After about 15-20 minutes of Jet skiing, we were back to our bay all set to try the banana boat ride











Banana boat ride :  This was a first time experience for both Joice and me. Its a fun ride wherein we sit on a tube shaped like a banana and a speed boat drags us on the sea. The guide had asked if he should overturn us from the banana boat .. i regret having said No :P










Parasailing : A much awaited activity was here finally !! 1st hand experience for Joice and me. Both of us listened to the instructions carefully and figured out that we wouldn't land on ground unless we pull the string when they shout out our name :D. Felt great when we took off and within no time I was flying like a bird !! After about 5-10 minutes of flying in the air, it was time to pull the string since the instructor kept shouting in the mike "India pull .. india pull".






Snorkeling and glassboat ride : It was now time for snorkeling for which we had to travel in a glassboat to reach the spot. Through the glassboat we got to see a trailer of what was awaiting us - the underwater adventure !! Once we reached the ship, we were given the basic instructions about snorkeling and we then had our life jackets on. Within no time we got into water and dipped our face into the sea. It was a bliss to watch the fishes swimming around us !! We swam around for about 15 minutes feeding the fishes with bread.



Turtle island : Once we were done with Snorkeling, it was time to move on to the next spot - Turtle island !! A small island which sheltered a large number of turtles which are now on the endangered list !! Once we reached Turtle island we realized that it was not just turtles. There were snakes, turtles, pelicans, bats, eagles and what not !! One of the main sources of income there was photography.. no wonder we got looted there :P. But I must admit that those pics are memorable.



With this, our water sports and turtle island visit came to an end. We returned to our hotel and freshened up since our travel agent (Venture Out) had organized a romantic Candle light dinner in Queens tandoor.

Though the idea of a candle light dinner was very fascinating, the venue didnt excite us much since Indian restaurants would be better in India than Indonesia :D. The ambiance was such that we had to sit in a darbar style and have dinner. We were greeted with roses and then served with Indian cuisine. We had Indian food after about 3 days !!




This was the end of our 4th day in Bali.

Our last day in Bali was meant for relaxing since there was nothing planned for the day. After packing and going through our memorable moments in Bali, it was time to bid good bye !! Our guide accompanied us to the airport and waved a good bye. Must say that we were fortunate to get a good guide... thanks to 'Venture Out' .. thanks to Ramshai !!



For those of you who are planning a honeymoon/holiday to Bali, here are few points that need to noted..
# Visa on arrival would cost 30 dollar per head
# While departing from Bali you need to pay 1,00,000 rupayya per head without which you will not be allowed to board the plane !!
# Indian currency cannot be exchanged in Indonesia. So you need to carry currency in dollars and convert them to rupayya as and when required.
# While shopping, convert dollars to rupayya and shop with the rupayya else you would lose some amount for no reason !!
# Need some help in planning your trip, 'Venture Out' is the right option !! Below are the contact details
Contact person : Ramshai (Ph : 9886230120)
http://ventureout.in/