Saturday, September 28, 2013

Andaman islands

A trip that started from above the clouds and went on till below the sea covering all modes of transport !!
7 days passed by like 7 minutes leaving behind memories worth cherishing for 7 ages !!

Credits :
* Arrangements : Kiran, Purushothaman uncle and Chockalingam uncle
* Photography : Shyam, Harsha and Johnson
* Transportation : Chala, Sneha, Harsha, Bhavya

Thanks to all Trippers adda members who were a part of this trip for making this memorable !!

After 8 months of planning, our dream finally came true. A trip to remember for Trippers adda
*ing :- Vijay, Nish, Kiran, Megha, Johnson, Jacob, Bhavya, Ranjani, Chala, Sneha, Shyam, Harsha and me

6th Sep 2013 : We started our journey to andaman by boarding the double decker train from Bangalore to Chennai since our flight to Port Blair was from chennai. (The only way to reach Port Blair is either go by flight from Chennai or by ship from Cochin).The train journey was fun cos we played dumb charades and troubled our co-passengers since dumb charades is not a silent game as the name indicates :D We reached chennai airport and had to wait till 5 am to board our flight to Port Blair !!

We reached Port Blair on 7th Sep at 7 am and were greated by Kirans parents. We got into our cars that were arranged for our 1 week stay in Andaman islands and reached the guest house. After freshening up, we were all set to explore Port Blair.

Port Blair (7th Sep) : The main tourist spots in Port Blair are Cellular Jail, Chatham Saw mill, Sports complex and the museum. Cellular Jail reminded us of the movie Kalapani which was shot there. We started off with the museum where we got to see an overview of what was in store for us the next 1 week. Chatham saw mill was another spot for a photo shoot with nothing much to entertain. The cellular jail was the highlight of our day 1 in Andaman. After a long photoshoot, we headed towards the Sports complex where Shyam, Jacob and Johnson tried Jet skiing. With this the 1st day came to an end. We had to catch some sleep cos the next morning we had to goto Havelock by ship.

Havelock (8th Sep) : We got up early in the morning, freshened up, had breakfast and rushed to the shipyard. The ship cruise to Havelock was a bit boring cos we had nothing to do in the ship other than walking around sipping a cup of tea. Thankfully it rained only when we were in the ship. Once we reached Havelock, we freshened up in our rooms which was arranged along the beachside. We then headed towards Radhanagar beach which was a visual treat !! Exactly like we had seen in movies and I finally got to see the sea blue color :D We played throwball, chain game etc and even buried shyam in the sand :D

When we returned to our rooms, we noticed a strange phenomenon. The beach near our rooms had dried completely. We then got to know that due to high tide-low tide, the water vanishes every 6 hrs !! With this our 2nd day in Andaman came to an end.

Elephant beach and Scuba (9th Sep) : We checked out of our rooms and split into 2 groups. The 1st group went for Scuba diving which was a dream come true for the 1st timers. Scuba costed 4000 per head. The rest of them visited Elephant beach and did snorkeling. Though the beach was too small, it looked beautiful. The cost per head was Rs.500 which is inclusive of boat ride till elephant beach and snorkeling !! Post lunch all of us gathered at Havelock, got into the ship and returned to Port Blair.

Ross Island and Carbon Cove beach (10th Sep) : Ross Island is a place meant for photography cos it contains nothing but ruins. We went by boat from Port Blair to Ross Island and had about 3 hours time to roam around the little island. There were ruins of a church, community centre, market etc. The museum had pics of how Ross island looked earlier and how it is now which gave a nostalgic feel. There were deers and rabbits running around the island. By afternoon we returned to the boat and reached Port blair late afternoon. We then visited Carbon cove beach in Port Blair. After visiting the sea blue beaches, it wasn't fascinating to visit a beach which looked like the normal beaches :D After a few photographs, we returned to our guest houses and proceeded with the cultural night.

The entire group was split into groups of 4 and each group had to perform a mad ad and skit. It was an entertaining event where all of us felt like we were back to college days :D Johnson's birthday party was also celebrated at the stroke of 12 which took him by surprise since it was unexpected !! ... We then dispersed to sleep cos we had a hectic day ahead.

North Bay and Mount Harriet (11th Sep) : The much awaited moment for those who didn't try scuba was here.. sea walk in north bay !! However, this didn't live up its hype :P .. We headed towards north bay by boat from Port Blair and got into a ship. We could see the sea walk helmets lined up awaiting us !! We got into the water by climbing down a ladder from the ship. Just as the water reached our neck, they would drop the helmet on our head and we would go down till the sea bed (The helmet supplied oxygen and water wouldn't enter inside).... Very soon we could walk past corals and fishes were roaming around our heads. It looked more like we were in a fish bowl and fishes were moving around us freely :D After about 20 mins of underwater experience, we reached the ship deck, changed our clothes, got into the boat and returned to Port Blair. Our cars were all set to take us to Mount Harriet.

Though the name sounded classy, the destination was disappointing but the trekking path was amazing !! We had to reach a spot called kala pathar and there was nothing interesting about this kala pathar. We were given 3 options. A short trek to kala pathar, a long trek to some view point and a medium trek to a lighthouse. We had to opt for the short trek considering the possibility of a rain. The path to kala pathar was filled with leeches. You halt to take off a leech and you're attacked by 10 other leeches !! So we kept trekking least bothered about the leeches. Once we returned to our starting point, 13 of us cleansed ourselves from the leeches and the whole place was a pond of blood !! We then had lunch at Mount Harriet. While returning back, Vj, Nish, Chala and Sneha decided to trek to the lighthouse too. Unfortunately they were misguided and failed to reach the lighthouse. While heading back home, we saw the Tsunami ruins. A stretch of land that has become a waste land after the disastrous incident !!

Red Skin beach and Chidia Tapu (12th Sep) :  Jolly boy is supposedly a must visit beach in Andaman. But strangely, this is closed for every 6 months to visitors. This is substituted by Red skin beach and so we were taken to Red skin by boat. Snorkelling was a part of the package in Red skin beach. After a brainwashing session by the Snorkelling guides, many of us decided to go for the paid snorkeling which sounded more interesting than the one that was part of our package. It was definately worth !! Corals, Sea anemones, sea cucumbers, fishes, oysters - We were all lost in the aqua world !! Once we were done with the snorkeling, we freshened up and returned to our boat.

The next desitination for the day was Chidia Tapu which is a sunset point. We reached in time and saw the sunset. Photoshoot was all we could do here since none of us were interested in getting into the water again. We also visited a park in chidia Tapu which had crocodiles !! Park looked beautiful and was apt for a walk.

Baratong (13th Sep) : This was our last day in Andaman islands. Baratong was planned for the day and this place is popular for the limestone caves. To reach here, we had to go through the forest where Jarava tribes reside. We could spot just one tribal guy on the way. After crossing the forest, a ferry took us to a boat jetty where a speed boat was awaiting us. The speed boat took us through Mangrove forests to the start point of our trek to the limestone caves. Unfortunately we couldn't spot any crocodiles in the mangrove forests !

After walking through a field and forest, we finally reached the limestone cave where we saw various formations and sinkholes which were familiar in geography text books back in school days :D. There was a slight drizzle during our return trek. Without getting drenched much, we managed to return to our speed boat and then headed back towards Port Blair to pack our bags.

Tribes in Andaman : The Jarava tribes were against islanders during historic times.They had then started building friendly relations after the islanders rescued a kid from the Jarava tribe !! Tourists were even allowed to meet the tribes. Sadly few yrs ago, tourists forced them to dance naked and uploaded the video. This became a controversy and tourists were banned from meeting the tribes. Things have settled now and currently tourists are allowed to travel through the jungle but with escorts !! Very unfortunate that some uncultured tourists do not have any value for humanity.

14th Sep 2013 - This marked the end of our Andaman episode. We left to the airport early morning after settling all the accounts and gifting the organizers as a token of gratitude for the wonderful arrangements that they had done to make our stay in Andaman very memorable and cherishable !! Like Nish said, "The Utopia of an imaginary land came to life here at Andaman, Thank you Kiran and Megha for making this happen"

Friday, August 9, 2013

Vagamon & Alappey

A much awaited trip which was planned and booked 2 months in advance. Though there were lot of them who were looking forward for this trip, not many could be informed about this trip since a 15 member gang was formed within no time even before i could publicize this !!

*ing :- Vijay, Nishchitha, Bharath, Megha, Bhavya, Ranjani, Harsha, Abhith, Sony, Diana, Richa, Sandeep, Johnson, Shyam and Tony

1st Aug 2013 - After work, all of us rushed to the railway station to board the Kochuveli Garibrath at 9PM. The train reached Ernakulam the next day morning by about 8 AM. We got into the Chennai-Alapuzha train from Ernakulam and reached Alapuzha (Alappey) by about 11 AM. We then got into a bus and reached Alappuzha transport bus stand by about 11:30. A boat was awaiting us close to the bus stand and the boat took us to the houseboat which was about 15 mins away.Finally we reached the houseboat which was huge ! A 6 bedroom houseboat which also had a deck !! The 15 of us barged into the houseboat to occupy the best rooms :D

The houseboat then sailed to some island where it would halt until next day morning. For most of them this was a 1st time experience in a house boat. Since there is nothing much that you can do in a houseboat other than eating plenty of fish, we started off with some ghost stories during the night :D Considering that the next day we were going to stay in Morris bungalow in Vagamon, few of us narrated the story of Dorothy (From the mallu movie In ghost house inn) and said that Dorothy's full name was Dorothy Morris and after her death the bungalow was known as Morris Bungalow :D .. Few of them were frightened listening to this story :D... After all the story telling sessions, we went to sleep and woke up the next morning, freshend up, had breakfast and by the time we were ready, we reached the shore from where the houseboat picked us. A tempo traveller (TT) was awaiting us there.

We got into the 19 seater TT and headed towards Vagamon. On the way we stopped at Pala and visited the church where St.Alphonsa's tomb was kept. We then got into the TT and continued our journey. A few kms before Vagamon, we found a spot where the bus stop scene in the mallu film "Ordinary" was shot. We stopped there for a photo shoot.

By late afternoon we reached Vagamon heights resort. Our fight for rooms started and it was a 'gals vs boys' fight for the best room :D.. Little did we know that eventually all of us would end up sleeping in the same room fearing the haunted stories that the house keeper would tell us during dinner :P. The bungalow that we stayed was shown in a mallu movie "Kadha samvidhanam Kunjacko". After having an amazing lunch we decided to play lagori in the rain. But it was getting dark and so had to stop playing. The est of the night was meant for indoor games, fooling around and barbeque. While the barbeque was being set up, the house keeper narrated the haunted experiences that people had in the resort which scared many of them. He even mentioned about a group of people facing trouble with their vehicle while leaving the resort since there were people in the group who didnt pray before leaving. Though all these sounded a little filmy, we were a bit scared deep inside :D. That night all of us decided to sleep in the master bedroom since it was huge enough to accommodate 15 of them !! The whistling sounds from the woods and the knocking sounds kept many of them awake throughout the night cos of fear !! I had a sound sleep though :D

History of Morris Bungalow : Years ago, a britisher by name Morris lived in this bungalow and he was a bachelor. After an argument with his dad, he consumed poison and died in that bungalow. Since then they say this place is haunted. After Morris death, this property was handed over to a King in Kerala. In 1973 a timber merchant bought this from the Kings family and then gradually this converted into a resort. Few of them claim to have seen Morris ghost and few also had bad experiences within the resort. The house keeper even requested us not to play Oujho board since there have been bad experiences when people played this in the resort.

The next morning we woke up, freshened up and visited the nearby church to attend the holy Mass. After the mass, we returned to the resort and on the way stopped by a lake which looked beautiful. We clicked a few pics here. Supposedly a cameraman and his assistant cameraman drowned in this after a movie pack up. Since then there have strict instructions not to get into the water ! We noticed a dark figure in the lake at quite a distance. Initially we thought its a tree but fooled around saying that its a ghost. However while returning from the resort, we didnt see that thing which was a bit scary. God knows what that was !!

After we returned from church, we freshened up, had break fast and got into our open jeep for a 4 wheel drive through the resort which was spread over 300 acres. There were some beautiful spots where lot of movies were shot. The house keeper took us to some amazing spots which clearly proves that Vagamon outbeats all other tourist spots in Kerala !!! The jeep drive was an unforgettable experience. It was more like a roller coaster in amusement parks !!

After the thrilling drive, we returned to the bungalow by about 11 AM, packed our bags and left the resort. The jeep dropped us to the entrance in 2 batches. The 1st batch reached the entrance and started posing for pics in front of the Morris bungalow. The 2nd batch had a very bad experience. While nearing the entrance, the axle of the jeep broke and the jeep turned towards a deep ditch. By Gods Grace, there was a hump which stopped the jeep from falling into the ditch. They then walked to the entrance. We then connected this incident to the story narrated by the house keeper and realized that the story he narrated turned out to be true in our case (about vehicles breaking down when there were people in it who didnt pray. Coincidentally the ones who didnt goto church that morning were in that batch).

We then bid good bye to Vagamon resort consoling ourselves that all that happened there were coincidental and had nothing to do with ghosts ;). Though there were a few spooky experiences, vagamon heights sure is a place to be for its scenic beauty and affordable rates. The entire package was just Rs.1250 per head.

We reached Cochin by about 2, had lunch at Kayees restaurant which is very popular for biriyani. After some shopping, we reached Ernakulam railway station by 5 and then returned to Blore by the Kanyakumari express. This marks the end of an unforgettable trip with quite a lot of experiences !!

Contact details :


Though I had registered my name with the Bangalore Acenders group a year ago, I had never been for a trek with them. This time when I saw a post about a cycle trip to Gouribidanur, I nominated my name with no second thoughts. I had never met any of them earlier but I decided to join them for a cycling experience and I must say that I do not regret going with them .. A very well organized and down to earth group. The team was led by Rajesh !!

22nd June 2013: As per the plan we started our journey early morning by 7 am. Most of them started from Cubbon Park and few off us joined mid way on airport road.

We had breakfast at some hotel near Puttanahalli Bus depot and then continued cycling towards MVIT cross. Though there was a direct road, the organizers chose this route since it was perfect for cycling.  We had a pit stop somewhere near MVIT cross and this is where we started out photography :D !! Quite fortunate to have Anil K Mohanty as our photographer !!

After a long break, we continued cycling till Dodbellapur where we had lunch and settled down for a quick nap in some nearby church premises. After about an hour of rest, we continued cycling and unfortunately it started raining.

 In spite of the rain, we kept cycling. In between I skid and fell from my cycle and then realized that my chain got screwed. Somehow managed to fix it and then continued my journey ! Anil then clicked some amazing clicks during few pit stops. Must appreciate his photographic skills !!
After about an hour we reached Thondebhavi which is about 10 kms before our destination. We had snacks at Thondebhavi and then got back to our cycles !! By late evening we reached Naveen's farmhouse where we planned our night stay.

The farmhouse had very basic amenities and it was nice to see a bunch of 25 cyclists adjusting with the available facilities. It was a very new experience to prepare dinner and have it sitting in a cow shed !! They had arranged for jackfruits too !! There was a camp fire after which all of us slept. Few of us slept in the farmhouse and the rest who had their sleeping bags slept in the cowshed !!

The next morning (23rd June) we all freshened up and started cycling by about 8 am !. We had breakfast at Thondebhavi and headed towards Bangalore. By now my back was hurting a lot cos my cycle had a very uncomfortable seat. The return journey wasnt easy since there were steep uphills. I eventually pushed my cycle for about 5 kms :D By the time I was nearing Dodbellapur I realized that its not practical for me to reach blore by evening since I had planned to watch Ghanchakkar with my friends !! It then flashed my mind that my brother was just a phone call away. Titus came to the rescue with his bike till Dodbellapur. By then I had completed about 115 kms of cycling and 5 kms of walking :D. We had some amazing mushroom biriyani at a hotel in Dodbellapur near Angsana resort and then I returned home on Titto's bike. Titto completed the remaining 25 kms of cycling along with the Bangalore Ascenders group !

Must say that I am happy to be part of this monsoon cycling trip. Met few amazing people, cycled through all kinds of climatic conditions, stayed in a farmhouse and had good food also !!  What took me for a surprise was that all these accounted to just Rs.400/- !! Hats off to Rajesh and group for having organized this. Also Naveen who was generous in accommodating us in his farm house which sure was a very unique experience for city dwellers !!


A trip to cherish the heritage value of India !! - 3rd and 4th May 2013

*ing :- Vijay, Nishchitha, Megha, Bhavya, Sony, Diana, Shyam, Harsha, Nethra, Prashanth, Abhith and Tony

Hampi was a place that was familiar to me cos of the History books that we read during school days. From the time I heard that its a popular tourist spot and not just meant for history books, it soon earned a spot in my wishlist ! We planned the trip for 3rd and 4th May. Mode of transport was TT and we planned to start from Nish apartment on friday night. We had 3 new faces for the trip - Diana, Nethra and Prashant !! Also, Abhith joined us after a long time cos he was off to Philippines for a year !!

Due to a severe traffic on friday night, our journey delayed a bit and we left from Nish apartment by midnight.

We reached Hampi on saturday morning and we had booked accommodation in Rocky Homestay alongside Tungabhadra river (near the Virupaksha temple). We had breakfast in our homestay, freshened up and then visited some nearby spots close to Virupaksha temple. We also saw the Kadlekalu Ganesha carving. We had lunch at Mango tree which is a must visit restaurant in Hampi !!

After a heavy lunch, few of them went for a quick nap and the rest attended Nishchitha's hypnosis session. We spent the evening alongside Tungabhadra river and then had a rooftop dinner arranged by the Homestay. Sony introduced Rumonfire which was an instant hit and all of us enjoyed it !!

The next day we hired mopeds (Rs. 100 + fuel charge per day) and headed towards Vittala temple. After reaching Vittala complex, we booked an electric van which took us around the premises till the Great chariot !! On the way we say ruins of stalls where gold used to be sold during the historic times. This supposedly was a market once upon a time !! We reached the Vittala temple and found the Great Chariot for which Hampi is famous. Harsha and Shyam were busy with their cams since they had quite a lot to click and we were busy with our poses :D After an hour long photoshoot, we returned to the entrance and got onto our mopeds.

We reached our homestay by afternoon, had lunch in Mango tree, packed our bags and started our return journey !!

Distance from Blore : 350+  kms
Must visit places : Vittala temple
Best restaurant : Mango tree