September 28, 2016

A Sneak Peak into the Rich and Diverse Culture of South India


What is it that lures people to visit new destinations from time to time? They take a vacation, year after year and come back to the same destination sometimes. And South India is one such destination. There is something about South India that is so enticing, so captivating, right? Let’s take a short ride to see what is so bewitching about this part of India.

1) Festivals

South India is home to some unique festivals and celebrations, and we invite to you to enjoy the best of them.

Pongal

You would want to be a part of Pongal, the four-day harvest festival of Hindus in Tamil Nadu, and is celebrated mostly in mid-January. The festival commences by paying respects to Lord Indra, the lord of rain, followed by Sun God on the next day. On the third day, cattle is worshipped and on the last day, the women of the house perform certain rituals for peace and prosperity.


 Image by Humanity Ashore via Flickr
 
Onam

The harvest festival of Kerala is celebrated for 10 days in the month of Chingam starting from Atham (Malayalam star). Celebrated with great pomp and fervor, it is a festival that brings people and families together. Guests are honored in every household and there is happiness and spirit of brotherhood everywhere. You can be a guest here in Kerala during Onam and take back fond memories of Onam festival - the pookalam, games and the feast.



Image by Brijesh Pookkottur via Wikimedia
 
Ugadi

An important festival of Andhra Pradesh, Telangana and Karnataka, and celebrated as the New Year of Andhra. As per the Hindu calendar, Ugadi is celebrated in the month of Chaithra, and is believed to be the best time to start new ventures.


Image by Samuel Raj via Flickr
 
Brahmotsavam

A grand festival, also known as the festival of Lord Shiva, Brahmotsavam is celebrated over a period of 10 days in South India. The main intention of the festival is to initiate the people towards the path of self-realization and to inculcate in their minds the fact that every important thing they do must be done with strong resolution.



Image by Pavuluri Satishbabu 123 via Wikimedia

2) Art Forms

The intricate art forms of South India separate it from the north, giving it a unique character and identity.
 
Kathakali

Kathakali is a traditional art form of Kerala, where Katha means story and Kali means play. The participants are attired in elaborate and intricate costumes and enact parts of ancient scriptures, Ramayana and Mahabharata. If you are keen on it, you can dress up as an actor in a play, it would be very exciting and fun-filled.


Image via Keralatourism.org

Mohiniyattam

The slow, graceful and swaying movements of Mohini, a form of Lord Vishnu who comes as an enchantress to lure a demon, is the sweet essence behind Mohiniyattom. This dance repertoire consisting of Chollukettu, Jatiswaram, Padavarnam, Padam and Tillana and is a veteran art form of Kerala.



Image via Keralatourism.org
  
Kuchipudi

Would you like to head to a village in Andhra Pradesh, Kuchelapuram? Kuchipudi is the famous art form in the area. Men from Brahmin family initially performed the classical form of dance, music and drama before women entered the scene. The essence behind the fluid, fast paced movements of this dance form is to worship the various gods of Hindu culture. You would definitely enjoy this one.



Image by Prasad Siddhanthi via Flickr
 
Bharatanatyam

The three main aspects of Bharatanatyam consisting of Nritta, Nritya and Natya was conceived as a tribute to the lord of dance, Lord Shiva. It is also therapeutically good for the body and forms the historical, social, cultural and mythological culture of Tamil Nadu. You will definitely enjoy learning this dance form, don’t you think?


Image by Zehawk via Flickr
 
Yakshagana

The distinctive style in the music, spoken word, dance, elaborate costume- make up, and stage technique of Yakshagana has embedded itself into the cultural fabric of Karnataka. The proponents of Yaskhagana would definitely teach some tricks if you are interested.



Image by Kaustubh Naik via Flickr

3) Southern Cuisines

With its brilliant blend of flavors, spices, colors, nutritional value and seasoning, South Indian cuisine has an identity of its own. 

Dosa and Idli

The soft, round and fluffy idlis and the crispy dosas (it has many different preparations of its own) of Tamil Nadu, Karnataka and Kerala are a must try. Dosas and uthappams are pancakes made of rice flour, while idli is steamed in special platters. Make sure you include these in your Kerala breakfast.



Image by Are You Gonna Eat That via Flickr
 
Puttu

The puttu or steamed rice cake with coconut fillings is extremely popular in South India. It is a simple, easy to prepare and must eat dish. If you have not tasted the puttu, you are heavily missing out on something that is considered the backbone of Kerala.



Image by Mathew Jibin via Wikimedia
 
Appam

It is impossible not to fall for this deliciously soft and fluffy crispy appam and its accompaniment of stew. Though a favorite among Syrian Christians in Kerala, it can still be found in any Kerala household as dinner and breakfast.



Image by Catie Linds via Flickr
 
Tamarind rice

Intricately prepared with rice, chana dal, urad dal, coriander seeds, Kashmiri red chilli, sesame seeds and coconut oil, Tamarind rice is prepared in different variations in different regions of South India and a special traditional Brahmin dish.



Image by Nandita SS via Flickr
 
Porotta

Parotta, or Porotta is a layered, soft and flaky flatbed made from maida and is a famous delicacy in Kerala. The most popular accompaniment for Porotta is beef, and is enjoyed by people of all ages and gender. Have the dish right from the pan, and you will definitely be pampering your taste buds.



Image by Nundhaa via Wikimedia

4) Houseboats of Kerala


Houseboats in Kerala are intelligently manufactured slow moving exotic barges that carry people mainly for leisure. Known in the local language as Kettuvallom (jack-wood boat tied with coir ropes), these houseboats have wooden hulls and thatched roofs. One of the best ways to experience Kerala and its indigenous culture, flora and flora is through a magical backwater cruise. The breathtaking view of virgin areas within Kerala inspires large groups of people undertaking backwater cruises year after year. To have an unforgettable experience of the ecstatic beauty of the Kuttanad region, backwater cruises can be arranged from Kumarakom and Alleppey. The gentle, cool breeze that wafts in from the sea will intoxicate you further, giving it a pulsating experience that will never fade away from your memory.


Image via Pixabay.com

When a person visits a destination, and returns to his native, a number of good memories go back with him/her. Culture, art and cuisine form an integral part of those good memories. South India is home to a number of delectable cuisines and exquisite cultures that it is not possible to encapsulate them all in an article. However, this article tries to bring out a few of the best. Hope you enjoyed this culture and cuisine ride, and for sure you’re going to come back for a real tour of South India to try out these experiences.

Author Bio:

Sunu Phililp is the Inbound Marketing and Creative Head for Paradise Holidays, Cochin - a Kerala based tour operator. She loves reading, exploring new places and trying out different cuisines!

P.S.- This is a sponsored post.

September 20, 2016

Shivsagar Lake, Maharashtra



I was flabbergasted when this frame of Shivsagar lake burst upon right in front without a cue. Though I did expect a scenic drive on the meandering Mahabaleshwar- Bamnoli road, this vista left me awed and gasping for more. The vantage point offers breathtaking views of the unending blue lake and its many long tentacles. The mint green valleys, and the undulating mountains form the perfect backdrop during the monsoons. All that I did for a long while was to just gaze and soak in the gorgeous frame that spread out before me. Surprisingly, it took me a while to bring out the camera to capture it. From there on the lake played peek-a-boo with intermittent views all the way till Bamnoli as it snakes its way through the hills and valleys.





Shivsagar lake is a reservoir in Maharashtra on the Koyna river formed due to Koyna dam. There are boat clubs at Tapola and Bamnoli where one can go on a boat ride on this lake.

September 14, 2016

Kaas- A Plateau of Flowers!


As much as people await the monsoons after a harsh summer, nature enthusiasts, botanists, and flower lovers eagerly wait for that short window period after the rains to head to Kaas Plateau where a bevy of unique flowers bloom to form a colourful bed. In full bloom it seems like nature has splashed a palette of colours all over the plateau. Amidst the rocky patches and puddles, shades of blue, pink, yellow, white and many more spread out. Though it may sound cliched, it definitely seems like a carpet of flowers in various colours. This UNESCO Natural World Heritage site is a part of the western ghats and is home to numerous endemic and endangered species of flowers and plants making it a rich biodiversity region.

Kaas Plateau is situated in Satara district of Maharashtra and is locally referred to as Kaas Pathar. Though the road from Satara to Kaas cuts through this flowerful stretch, the place has been neatly fenced to avoid trampling by visitors and travellers. Officials have put in their best efforts to make sure the rich biodiversity of the place is well conserved. Vehicles can be parked a kilometer away from Kaas Plateau near Kaas lake. The walk up to the plateau offers nice panoramic views of the lake and hills before the flowers catch your attention.


Impatiens Lawii
Pleocaulus Ritchiei


Cyanotis Tuberosa

Zingiber Neesanum
Impatiens Lawii






Linum Mysurense (yellow flowers)









 
Eriocaulon
Utricularia Purpurascens





View of Kaas Lake from atop the plateau
P.S.- All the above pictures were taken on 6th September 2016.

It is best advised to visit early in the morning (from 7AM onward). There is a restriction on the number of people who can visit per day and not more than 3000 are allowed. Booking your visit can be done at the entry gate or through their website- https://www.kas.ind.in/. There are time slots of 3 hours each which you can choose from. Though it may not be crowded during week days, it is recommended to book in advance if you intend to visit during weekends. The blooming period is usually from mid August until end of September.

Location- 24 Kms from Satara and 125 Kms from Pune. One can also reach Kaas from Mahabaleshwar via Tapola road and Bamnoli.

Attractions near by- Thoseghar falls, Vajrai falls, Sajjangad fort, Ajinkyatara fort, Bamnoli boat club, Kanher dam and vistas of Koyna river.

Food- There are a couple of tea stalls near Kaas lake (near car parking) where you can gobble down maggi and omelette with a hot cup of ginger tea. A few small restaurants are present before the plateau while travelling from Satara.

Accommodation- Kaas Holiday resort (http://www.kaasresort.com) and Kaas Village resort (http://kaspatharholiday.com) are the recommended options close to the plateau.


LinkWithin

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...