Thursday, July 31, 2014

Ooty - Wellington

Johnson bought his new bullet and this had to be celebrated with a bike trip..and off we ripped to Ooty !!

*ing :- Johnson James, Jacob Idiculla, Vijay Claud and Tony Mathai

28th June 2014 : All of us assembled at BEL circle by morning 6 and off we flew to Ooty on 3 bikes - Jacobs CBR, Johnsons Bullet and my Pulsar !! After the Goa bike trip, 350kms to Ooty seemed like an easy task but the bike made the difference. Mid way to Ooty I realized that comfort should be given preference over style for a long ride and this is when I missed my Unicorn !! Vijay had a tough time sitting behind my bike since Pulsar has a split seat which isnt comfortable for a pillion rider !! 

Our first pit stop was the McDonals in Maddur. Our bikes were thirsty for fuel and we were hungry for food !! Once we were done with refueling, we continued our journey 

Our next stop was at the entrance of Mysore. The board "Welcome to Mysore" brought in lot of memories since Johnson, Vijay and me had once cycled to Mysore and we had stopped at the same spot.
Mylari hotel has always been our choice while passing through Mysore but unfortunately the food wasnt as tasty as it used to be before. 
Once we were done with Masala dosa at Mylari we proceeded towards Ooty which was about 180 kms from Mysore. 

Bandipur : Though I had passed through Bandipur several times, this was my first time on bike and I must say that it was a beautiful !! Though we barely saw animals, ride through the jungle was too good !! Lush green trees on both sides and a cool weather !! 

Further ahead we passed through few more jungles and finally reached our destination - Ooty, Our next target was to reach Wellington Cantonment since Subin had arranged for accommodation in the army cant. The bungalow surrounded by trees looked beautiful and we were sure of exploring the Wellington cantonment. After admiring the place for a while, we decided to explore Wellington and Coonnoor. Johnson and Jacob decided to stay back and take rest, 

Dophins nose : Vijay and me started off with Dolphins nose which is a view point in Coonnoor, The scenic beauty didnt excite us much since we had seen better spots in Gavi, Vagamon and North Karnataka. However, the ride I must say was fabulous. Though I had been to the same spot few years ago, I realized its beauty only when I went by bike !! 

Lambs Rock : After Dolphins nose we proceeded towards Lambs rock and the route again, was a bikers dream !! Cemented roads amidst trees we rode and reached Lambs rock. There was a 15 mins walk through Shola forest to reach this spot. We sipped some hot tea and returned to Wellington. 

By now Johnson and Jacob were all fresh after a nap. We spent the rest of the night watching a mallu movie "Vedivazhipaadu" and playing our favorite card game - UNO. 

29th June 2014 : The next morning we woke up, freshened up and vacated the bungalow. Surprisingly the rent was just Rs.288 for 4 of us !! After having breakfast at some restaurant, we headed towards Avalanche view point. After a quick conversation with the localites we realized that Avalanche is very far which would delay our return journey to Bangalore. So we made a quick change in plan and decided to goto an Elephant camp on our way back.

We stopped at few beautiful spots for a photoshoot and reached Madhumalai by lunch. After reaching the elephant camp we decided to go for a jungle safari. Johnson negotiated with the localites in Madhumalai and managed to get a decent deal for Jungle safari. Unfortunately this turned out to be the most boring part of our trip !! Apart from a peacock, elephant and few deers, we couldnt spot anything. We also stopped by some dam which didnt look interesting !! After an hour long jeep drive, we returned to the elephant camp. We then continued our journey and reached Bangalore by night. 

Thanks to Subin for arranging accommodation in Wellington... this sure was an unforgettable Bike trip since we covered about 800 kms in 2 days !! 

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Urban valley

After an eventful 9 day trip to Andaman Islands, it was time for a short bike trip and some adventure sports as well, and Urban valley is what we chose. A lake side resort where you can spend your weekend within Bangalore limits !!

*ing : Vijay Claud, Nishchitha Singh, Chalapathy Manoharan, Amrit Sharma, Jacob Idicula, Johnson James, Anu Srinivas, Ranjani Narendra, Bhavya Krishnan and Tony Mathai

Location : Kanakapura road

Activities : Kayaking, Paint ball

Nov 1st 2013 : Chala on his Bullet, Jacob on his CBR, Johnson on his Pulsar, Vijay on his Yezdi and me on my Unicorn !! We gathered at Madiwala by 8 in the morning and off we left to Kanakapura road for some adventure sports. Chala had gathered some info about the place and he was our guide for the day !!

We planned to start off with some water sports and with no further delay headed towards the lake. A beautiful lake with clear water and lush green trees on the background is what we had in mind. But the water turned out to be dirty. Nevertheless, the climate was good and group was superb which is more than a reason to have fun no matter where you are !!

So we quickly got into our Kayaks and started rowing. At one point we even started racing to make it more interesting. Few of us went to the other side of the lake to admire some birds !!
After about half an hour of rowing and racing, it was time to shift to the next activity - Paintball !!

Paintaball : Our host in Urban Valley divided us into 2 teams and we had to play the flag game. Johnson, Ranjani, Amrit, Bhavya and Chala were in one team. Vijay, Nish, Anu, Jacob and me were on the other team. After a tough fight at the battlefield our team finally won since the other team was eliminated when they ran out of bullets :D With this, the paintball session came to an end and we made a move from there.

We had lunch in Vaishnavi hotel which was very close to Urban Valley. I would suggest this is the best place to have food in case you are on Kanakapura road. A little expensive but the taste compensates for the price. Veg biriyani was surprisingly better for a change !!

We had also planned a surprise birthday party for Bhavya at some CCD on the way but failed to work it out. With this our short and sweet trip came to an end and we returned home by late evening. Thanks to Chala for making this happen.

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Delhi, Agra, Mussoorie and Punjab : 3 musketeers - When the boys went north !!

After exploring the beauty of south, it was time to venture into the north !! A trip with some minimal planning and maximum benefits from our friend in the army !!

*ing : Johnson James, Jacob Idiculla, Subin Mathews and Tony Mathai

26th Night Johnson and me left from Bangalore by bus to board the Rajdhani express from Mangalore. Jacob had already boarded the train from Trivandrum. After a nail biting bus journey we managed to reach Mangalore railway station just in time. Jacob was waiting near the footsteps of the train to pull us in like Shahrukh in DDLJ :D.. Glad that we made it in time and the railway Gods favored us by delaying the train for a few minutes in Mangalore railway station !!
After a peaceful sleep and comfortable day journey in Rajdhani we were all geared up since the next morning we would be in Delhi. We spent the entire day playing Uno, watching movies and grabbing all the food that came our way !! Our compartment had turned into a mini theatre and funnily, even the north indians were watching the mallu movies that we screened .. wonder what they understood but they laughed along when we laughed :D We then wished our fellow companions Good night and fell asleep !! As per the instructions given by Subin (our friend in the army), we would be meeting a Jawan in the railway station who would guide us on what needs to be done.

28th Dec 2013 : We reached Delhi railway station and we were welcomed by a Jawan who was kind enough to ensure that our luggage reached the cantonment in Punjab so that we roam around Delhi, Dehradun and Agra with minimal luggage. After a quick round of shopping, as suggested by the Jawan we decided to head towards Dehradun, hire bikes and goto Mussoorie. We got into a train and reached Dehradun by late evening. Subin had arranged for stay in an army cantonment in Dehradun. We had a good sleep since we had been travelling a lot.

Dehradun and Mussorie : 29th Dec - We rented bullets from a nearby garrage and headed towards Mussorie. Though it was just 40 kms away, the ride was unforgettable !! 3 of us on 3 bullets we ripped through the narrow roads listening to "Neelakasham songs" (Neelakasham pacha kadal chuvanna bhoomi is a malayalam film about bike trips and this was the theme for our Mussoorie bike trip).After a few pit stops and photoshoots we reached Mussoorie. We visited some sight seeing spots and also tried the ropeway. We then headed towards Lal tiba.

The route to Lal Tiba is truely a paradise for bikers !! The freezing weather made it even more fabulous. A sip of coffee and hot pakodas is something that you would crave for once you reach here !! Unfortunately an old lady scammed us by serving pakodas for Rs.140 !! We then rushed to Dehradun since we had to board the train to Delhi.

Agra : 30th Dec - We reached Delhi and got into a train heading towards Agra. Bad weather delayed the train journey due to which we had to cut short few places that we had planned in Agra.By late afternoon we reached 'Taj Mahal'. Must say I had underestimated Shah Jahan's tribute to his beloved wife. The white beauty made me wonder how passionate a man could be towards his Love and it made me realize why its being considered as one among the 7 wonders of the world !! Behind Taj lies the incomplete construction of Black Taj which Shah Jahan wanted to symbolize himself as the shadow of his Love. Not sure if the story is true but our Guide told us that Aurangzeb had put his dad in prison fearing that Black Taj would empty his pockets and hence black Taj remained a dream !! After admiring the Taj for a couple of hours, we rushed to the railway station to board the train to Punjab.

Abogarh: 31st Dec - We reached Punjab early morning and Subin had come to receive us. We headed towards his Army cantonment and Ann welcomed us with some mouth watering breakfast !! Late afternoon, Subin took us to the Indo Pakistan border located close to Rajasthan. This was the first time I got to see the border and we were even more thrilled that we would be visiting Waga border as well !! After returning from the border we were all set for the new years eve with the army officers. Thanks to Subin we had a good new year celebration after which we returned to Subins place and played Uno till about 2 AM !!

  After the new year bash, we decided to take a break. We visited a park in the cantonment and lazed around till night. Barbecue was planned for Jan 1st. Subin also invited Lt Kernal Paul for the barbecue night. I must say that we had a wonderful time at Subins house.

Amritsar : 2nd Jan - It was time to bid good bye to the Abogarh cantonment. We headed towards Amritsar in Subins car. We started off with Jalianwala bagh

Jallianwala Bagh : Only in history books I had seen the Jallianwala Bagh and now here it was right in front of my eyes !! All that I had read during school days brushed through my mind and I could visualize the horrifying incident !! The bullet marks of the shootout held in 1919 were still visible. We also saw the well into which many had jumped during the shootout. After spending some time at Jallianwala Bagh, we rushed towards Waga border since the parade happens at 6 PM everyday.

Waga boder : Until I reached Waga, all I had in mind was to see the Pakistan border. Never did I think that a parade would look interesting. Once the Parade started I realized the amount of patriotism that flows in us while watching a parade. It was as entertaining as an India-Pak cricket match since the crowd kept cheering from either side of the border. We were fortunate to get a seat close to the border - thanks to Subin again !! 'No mans land' was just a stone-throw away from me !!

Golden temple : After Waga border we headed towards Golden temple in Amritsar. Movies like Rab ne banadi jodi were running in mind when I entered The Golden Temple. A very peaceful place where you can spend as much time as you wish !! We went for a round around the temple and spent barely about half an hour since we had to head back to Railway station.

After visiting the Golden temple, it was time to bid good bye to Subin. We then boarded the train to Delhi. Our north India trip was  almost coming to an end with just one day to spare.

Delhi : 3rd Jan - We reached Delhi by early morning and contacted some tourist agent who took us around Delhi on a one day package.

We started off with Pandit Jawaharlal Nehrus residence. Then proceeded towards Qutub Minar.

Qutub Minar : On our way to Qutub Minar, Jacob told us about a pillar which was popular for a belief that if you put your arms around it and wish for something, it would come true. Unfortunately we werent allowed to attempt fulfilling our wish since the pillar was no longer open for public to put their arms around :P Qutub Minar is yet another name that I had read in the history books !! After spending about half an hour in Qutub Minar, the guide took us to the next spot.

Red Fort : Red fort which is also known as Lal Kila, was yet another contribution of the Mughal emperor Shah Jahan, built with red sandstone. As we stepped inside, the background music of "Jodha-Akbar" was running in my mind !! It was fascinating to see the courtyard and the ground which was once upon a time meant for the recreational activities of the Mughal emperors !!

Lotus temple : The last spot in our Delhi Itinerary was the Lotus temple. The temple is built in the shape of a Lotus and is the house of worship for the Bahai. It was interesting to know about the Bahai religion and their ideologies on worship !! The temple had pin drop silence inside and it was a delight to see people from all religions assembling together and praying in silence.

We also visited Indira Gandhis residence, India Gate and Raj Ghat. After visiting all these historic places, it was time to head towards the railway station to board the train to Bangalore. This marked the end of our North Indian trip. But to end this we had an eventful journey since we didnt have confirmed tickets to Bangalore. If not 'UNO' I wonder what would have happened to the 3 of us. We started our trip in a royal style and returned like a common man :D  Our return journey which lasted for 40 hours does deserve a write up in detail so stay tuned ,,, !!

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"