August 31, 2017

Wayanad On Wheels


There was a light drizzle as we gathered early in the morning on the first day of #WayanadOnWheels facilitated by ScoutMyTrip. That however wasn’t a deterrent, and was actually quite a welcome start to the lovely ride from Bangalore to Wayanad. Travel bloggers, riders and travel enthusiasts on royal enfields from ONNBikes were on their way to Dare 5000 Nature Camp, nestled deep in the hills of Vythiri. We were on eight bikes, 7 Royal Enfields (Classics, Thunderbirds and Standards) and 1 Bajaj Avenger Street. Though ONNBikes caters majorly to commuter segment, touring is an area that they are exploring. ONNBikes provides the cheapest rental rates and bikes are available on rent from a few hours to even a year in Bengaluru, Hyderabad and Udaipur.

After a few initial pit stops, we had our first break at a Kamat hotel on Mysore road to refuel ourselves with some soft idlis, crispy dosas and filter coffees. Though the ride ahead was filled with a fair amount of traffic, it eased up after exiting the city of Mysore. It was only then that I could completely enjoy the ride on my shining blue Thunderbird 500, which definitely is a wonderful bike for a long ride. Though not sunny, the sky cleared up as the convoy headed to Gundlupet with intermittent stops. Gundlupet was covered in shades of orange, yellow and violet as flower beds spread before us on either sides of the road. It was not long before all colours changed to various shades of green as we rode into the forest stretch where monsoons had accentuated the charm of the jungle.





A couple of stops at Chayakadaas (tea stalls) and a late lunch later, we rode further to Vythiri. It was dark by the time we reached Vythiri and took a detour off the highway onto the road that led to Dare 5000 Nature Camp. Parking our bikes at a house at the base, we were driven up in 4x4 wheel jeeps. It is a further 6 Kms from the base and can be covered only in 4x4 vehicles due to the terrain. It was quite dark, but the roar of a falls, the sound of crickets, the rough terrain and the silhouettes of hills made us realize that we were getting away from civilization. We checked in, freshened up and had a round of bonfire discussion about travel, blogging and other random topics along with a delicious dinner. Had to call it a night as one after the other sneaked into their rooms after the long riding day.


WanderTrails which is an aggregator of various properties across India focuses on experiential travelling and facilitated our visit to Dare 5000 Nature Camp. This nature camp built during the times of British rule for the stay of plantation workers has been renovated and offers basic but neat rooms with en-suite baths. Located at a height of 5000 feet above sea level, this nature camp is one of the highest in Wayanad.

It was not until morning that we had any idea where we were expect that we were up in the hills. Though there was a plan to go for an early morning walk for bird watching, only three of them made it while others slept cosily in the rooms. When I walked out in the morning I realized we were surrounded by lush greenery and engulfed by mist along with a light drizzle. Isn’t it wonderful to wake up to such mornings? I couldn’t have asked for more.





It rained incessantly as we had a quick breakfast and numerous black coffees. Mist played peek-a-boo as we patiently waited for the rains to subside. Soon we left for an unnamed waterfall recommended by the hosts. The short trail goes behind the property deep into the woods. Though armed with rain covers, salt and dettol, leeches still caught up and happily feasted on us. The surroundings however were absolutely surreal that I decided to ignore the leech bites and walked ahead to the falls. The cascading falls was an absolute stunner tumbling over many boulders and spraying water all over. We spend quite an amount of time there as many got into the waters while others gazed at the beautiful setting. The stomachs grumbled soon and we headed back to the nature camp to delve into a delicious lunch. The rain reduced to drizzle and we walked up a trail within the property. The walk led to a vantage point which offers magnificent vistas of the valley, towns below, rising mist, distant hills and verdant greenery all around. This was another gorgeous sight for the day after the beautiful falls. On clear days this point offers spectacular sunsets. While we sipped more black coffees as the evening set, it turned misty and slowly darkness engulfed the place.






The final day of Wayanad On Wheels began with some delicious Puttu and Kadala before we were on our way back to the base. In a 4x4 jeep, we manoeuvered through the treacherous trail going past tea plantations and waterfalls to get back on the saddle. The bikes thumped their way again through the small towns of Wayanad. Back in the forests, we were lucky to spot an elephant and a few spotted deer en-route. The ride again was absolutely a delightful one through the meandering roads of Muthanga sanctuary, Gundlupet and then to Mysore. We changed our route from Mysore and skipped the Mysore- Bangalore highway to avoid the traffic. Instead we took the road to Malvalli and then onto Kanakpura road to reach Bangalore. That was a great decision as the roads were good and devoid of traffic.




Some trips like Wayanad On Wheels are memorable for many reasons. Here it gave a great opportunity for like minded travel enthusiasts to explore a beautiful nature camp with a ride on the lovely Royal Enfields.

#WayanadOnWheels was made possible by ScoutMyTrip, ONNBikes and WanderTrails

August 24, 2017

Maravanthe


At Maravanthe in coastal Karnataka, the narrow strip of land (as seen in the above picture) has the backwaters of Sowparnika river on one side and the Arabian sea on the other.

August 18, 2017

3 Things to do in Dubai

Apart from being a major commercial hub of Asia, Dubai has turned into a global city over the years and has numerous travellers visiting for both work and leisure.  Known for its iconic skyscrapers such as Burj Khalifa and gorgeous man made islands like Palm Jumeirah, Dubai has becomeo one of the popular tourist destinations too.  Shopping is what brings most tourists to Dubai, however, the city does offer a lot more than that to its visitors. Though travel guides such as Expedia provides a whole lot of information to people travelling to Dubai, here is a list of things which you cannot miss while visiting this Middle Eastern city.

Go up the Burj Khalifa

Top of the list should be a visit to Burj Khalifa, a world renowned structure which is the tallest building in the world. Classified as a mega tall skyscraper, Burj khalifa also holds many other records as it houses the world’s highest observatory deck, nightclub and restaurant.  The elevators take visitors all the way to the observatory desk which offers spectacular panoramic vistas of the city. It is open throughout the week and timings are from 8.30 AM to 10 PM. The ticket prices vary from AED 125 to AED 500.


Splurge at the Shopping Centres

Often termed the shopping capital of Asia, Dubai is known for its extravagant malls spread over massive areas with international brands from world over displaying their best products. Dubai mall is considered one of the largest shopping centres in the world with more than 1200 shops and a host of other entertainments such as cinemas, aquariums and theme parks. Another major one is Mall of Emirates, which apart from more than 600 shops also has an indoor skiing area known as Ski Dubai. The other popular malls are Ibn Battuta mall, Bur Juman and Deira City Centre. If you love gold, Dubai gold souk with 250 gold shops is the place for you. Dubai Shopping Festival held every year is a major retail event when the merchandises are offered at attractive discounts across the shops of Dubai.


Enjoy a Desert Safari

When the charms of the cityscape turns insipid over a period of time, a break to the desert is sure to get you back on the feet. A short drive away from the streets of Dubai takes you to outposts where the desert safari is organized. Manoeuvering through the windswept sand dunes, land cruisers take visitors on a gala ride deep into the desert for some dune bashing. At the man made oasis, there are various activities such as quad biking, camel rides and sand boarding. The program ends with some delicious traditional food and a belly dance.



August 17, 2017

Places to Visit and Things to Experience along Malvan coast

Nestled in the southern strip of Maharashtra, Malvan coast is known for its long sandy beaches, glorious sea forts, numerous water sport activities and the delicious Malvani cuisine. The narrow roads of Malvan lined with tall swaying trees, laidback air and small houses on either side portray the perfect picture of a typical coastal town.  Beyond the trees, the powdery sands welcome you to the numerous beaches along this shoreline. While in Malvan, stroll around, take a boat ride, go scuba diving, visit the forts and head back to the aroma of Malvani cuisine wafting from the nearby restaurant. Spread over long stretches, Malvan coast does have quite a few beautiful beaches and prominent forts to explore.

Sindhudurg fort

This mid 17th century fort seems like a huge ship bobbing in the waters when seen from the Malvan beach. Built on Kurte island by Chatrapati Shivaji Maharaj to counter the attacks from European colonizers and Siddhis of Janjira, Sindhudurg fort is undoubtedly the symbol of the glorious Maratha empire. Spread over 48 acres, the tall fortifications and the strong bastions of this majestic fort houses three temples and is home to 18 families who are believed to be the descendants of the Maratha warriors. A walk around the ramparts of its outer walls offer magnificent views of the blue sea and the waves thrashing onto the walls. Near the entrance of the fort are the imprints of the hands and feet of Shivaji Mharaj preserved in dry lime. There are boats that drop you to Sindhudurg at frequent intervals from Malvan beach and they give you an hour to explore the fort.





Rock garden

Rock garden is probably the most sought after place in Malvan to enjoy the setting sun. This neatly maintained garden offers the evening walkers an ideal place to stroll. However, what brings people here are an array of rocks that extend into the sea beyond the garden. It is an ideal place to catch gorgeous sunsets and enjoy the waters thrashing onto the flat bed of rocks. Perch on top of any protruding rock and watch the sky change colours as the sun goes down.



Chiwla beach

Despite the commercialization, the most popular beach in Malvan has held on to its charm. The long arc shaped beach with coconut trees in the backdrop, a few colourful fishing boats and the azure sea encapsulates its visitors and is well recommended for an early morning stroll.


Kolamb beach

Located a couple of kilometers away from Malvan, Kolamb beach is away from the highlights of Malvan. Apart from the local fishermen, a few bobbing boats and kids playing around, you are highly unlikely to see any visitors. The waves are pretty strong here and there is a sudden slope in the sands as you wade into the waters. The rocky outcrops to the right of the beach offer a beautiful frame against the blue sea.



Sarjekot fort and Talashil beach

Past a few villages and numerous mango orchards, the narrow road leads to the crumbled Sarjekot fort where all that remains are a few stone walls. Totally in ruins, this can hardly be called a fort anymore. However, a walk through the insides of the fort leads to the mouth of Gad river where it joins the Arabian sea. Apart from the Sarjekot jetty and the colourful boats, the fort offers nice views of the serene Talashil beach across the river.



Wayari beach

As you ride down the narrow road that leads to Tarkarli, Wayari beach pops up without a cue.  Also referred as Wayari Bhootnath beach, it isn’t quite a popular one and that keeps it away from the crowds. All that you can spot here are boats shored up, locals strolling around or a game of beach cricket.


Tarkarli

Tarakarli has over the years gained popularity on the tourist map and receives hordes of visitors during holidays and weekends. The beach here was once considered the most serene on the Malvan coast. The beach now is quite commercialized and offers numerous water sport activities for the visitors. Tarkarli is also a popular scuba diving location and is also home to the only marine sanctuary in Maharashtra.



Devbag beach

Further south of Tarkarli, the winding narrow road goes past numerous fishing hamlets and Karli river to Devbag beach. The narrow strip of land ends at this beach known for its heap of white sands and beautiful sunsets. The Karli river joins the sea here and across the river is the secluded Bhogwe beach. Very few visitors head to this beach and that makes it an ideal place for people who love leisurely walks and solitude moments.


Vijaydurg fort

A two hour drive to the north of Malvan takes you to the prominent Vijaydurg fort. Built in the 12th century during the times of Shilahar dynasty, this impregnable fort was referred as the Eastern Gibralter. The fort was later fortified further by Chatrapati Shivaji who built the tall walls and numerous bastions. The ramparts of the fort offer majestic vistas of Vijaydurg beach, the blue sea and the waves crashing onto the strong walls. The fort houses four fresh water wells, banyan trees, temples and ammunition rooms apart from cannons and cannon balls.





Devgad fort and beach

Devgad is primarily known for its innumerable mango orchards and are lined with shops selling the king the fruits during the months of summer. Also popular is the Devgad fort which presently constitutes of just the outer walls. A climb up the walls offers panoramic views of the sea. The fort also houses a temple and a 20th century light house. Located en-route the fort is the pristine cove shaped Devgad beach flanked by casuarinas and windmills.





Taramumbari beach

Located near Devgad, Tara Mumbri is a beautiful beach tucked away from the crowds. The rocky beach is known for the presence of phosphorescence which is visible as the sun sets. Numerous windmills can be spotted on the hills in the backdrop. The beach is situated at the mouth of a river with Mithmumbari beach across it.


Kunkeshwar

This coastal town is known for its popular Shiva temple that attracts numerous devotees during the festivities of Shivaratri. The temple with its colourfully painted tower is located by the beach atop a small cliff. Despite being a neat and serene one, the beach doesn’t get many visitors as even the pilgrims don’t seem quite keen on getting into its waters. That definitely makes a big reason to head to this idyllic hamlet.



Beaches of Tondivali, Munge and Talbegad

The stretch between Malvan and Kunkeshwar is home to some of the most serene beaches along this coast. Tondivali beach has a long sandy stretch with casuarinas in its background. All that you might spot here are a few fishing boats on the shore. Munge beach has a beautiful backwater near it which accentuates the charm of the place. Talbegad beach is probably the prettiest of the lot with an endless stretch of sand and swaying trees in the backdrop.




Water Sports

The beach at Malvan offers numerous water sport activities such as parasailing, banana rides, jet ski rides etc. There are numerous operators who conduct these near the Malvan beach. While Tarkarli is popular for its scuba diving locations, Malvan too offers something similar near Sindhudurg fort. Though the operators claim this to be scuba diving, they take you to a depth of only 15 feet and the prices are alarmingly much lesser than what it is at Trakarli, which offers actual scuba diving. However, if you wish to just have a glimpse of the underwater world, the one at Malvan is a good option.


Malvani cuisine

After clambering over forts, strolls on the beaches and water sports, all that you would want is some delicious food to relish. The delectable Malvani cuisine is easily available across the small restaurants in and around the beach and on the roads that lead to it. Thalis are available with various fish combos such as seer fish, king fish, pomfret, butter fish etc. A popular Malvani dish is Kombdi Vade which has Vade (made of rice flour and lentils), chicken curry and solkhadi. Though more of a Konkani dish, Ghavne which is similar to a Neer dosa is a delicious pick for breakfast.




Mangoes of Devgad

While returning from Malvan, take home a box of ripe Alphonso mangoes. Locally known as Hapus, they are widely available across the shops in Devgad and by the road side too. Mangoes are usually available only during the months from March to July.


Location:

Malvan is located in the southern coast of Maharashtra, very close to Goa border. The closest airport is at Dabolim (128 Kms) and the nearest rail head is in Sindhudurg (28 Kms). There are frequent buses from Malvan to other towns such as Sindhudurg, Kudal, Sawantwadi etc. 

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