December 29, 2012

Mallalli Falls- The Largest Waterfalls in Coorg...!!

We were enroute to Beedhalli, the starting point of our trek to Kumara Pavatha when the guide excited us by mentioning the name "Mallalli falls". After a winding drive from Somwarpet through the coffee and pepper plantations, a detour off the main road took us on to a mud one. A kilometer later we had to stop the vehicle and then trudge a kilometer further on the sloping mud road to reach this spectacular falls. Surrounded with lush green canopy at the foothills of Pushpagiri range, Mallalli falls claim to be the largest waterfalls in the whole of Coorg. 

The falls were not in full vigour and the protruding rocks which usually gets submerged during the monsoons were clearly visible. Still, it looked magnificent with a couple of cascades before splashing into the plunge pool. It further flows over a few rocks before resuming its full flow. River Kumaradhara tumbles over the rocks into the steep gorges to form this beautiful falls in the Western ghats. Kumara Parvatha which is a part of the Pushpagiri range forms the background of Mallalli falls and the green canopy. The whole landscape is breathtakingly gorgeous. Right in the middle of the vegetation, the hills and the waterfalls is a house; all alone in the wild. An exciting place to spend a wild life!

The tall peak in the background is Kumara Parvatha

Can you spot the house?

Time constraint did not allow us to explore the falls and we had to be content with the views from a distance. There are steps which lead you down to the foot of the falls. Also one can trek over the rocks to have a mind blowing view from the top. A visit to these falls during the monsoons or immediately after would undoubtedly leave everyone spellbound. All that one can see would be the greenery and the white water. The nearest stay options available are in Somwarpet.

Signing Note- Undoubtedly one of the best falls in Western ghats...!!

Route- Bangalore- Mandya- Srirangapatna- Hunsur- Kushalnagar- Somwarpet- Mallalli Falls

Distance- 265Kms

Wish you all a Happy New Year 2013...!!

December 24, 2012

Lonely Planet...!!

The frame was captured on a very misty morning at Thamarassery ghats, the gateway to Wayanad while travelling from the plains of Kozhikode. This macaque seemed a lost soul staring at the valley and the ghats, that were engulfed in mist. October 2012.

Wish you all a Merry Christmas...!!

December 21, 2012

Kolkata- The City of Joy...!!

Kolkata, the capital of West Bengal was earlier known as Calcutta and served as the capital of East India Company during the British Raj. It was not without reasons that the British made it their capital; the city does have everything to make it.  The culture, language, food, attire, people, literature, art are all distinctive and that indeed makes Kolkata an attractive destination. The city is well known for its Hooghly river, Howrah bridge, delicious sweets, marine delicacies, football and Durga puja. Make yourself comfortable at one of the many hotels in Kolkata and enjoy the city of joy during this year end. All though Durga puja is the best time to see the city in full pomp and glory, the city is also quite inviting during Christmas and New Year.

The city infuses an old world charm with colonial buildings, hand pulled rickshaws and tram services. Victoria memorial, Howrah bridge, 19th century Kalighat temple, Chowringhee area, Brabourne road, Birla planetarium and Botanical gardens are some of the must visit places in Kolkata. There are numerous hotels near Kalighat temple from which you can choose your stay option. A cruise on River Hooghly and a river side walk along the many ghats are very much recommended. Do not miss the opportunity to taste the sweets and fish preparations from the many wonderful hotels in Kolkata that serve them.

Proximity of the city to Sunderbans, the world’s largest mangrove forest makes Kolkata a much sought after base. There are also many beaches to its south like Digha, Bakkhali and Mondarmoni which attracts numerous visitors. For people coming from different parts of the country and travelling to northern destinations of West Bengal like Darjeeling, Siliguri and Kalimpong, Kolkata is definitely the start point. The city is also a gateway to the north eastern states which during recent times have seen an increase in the tourist flow. For budget travelers there are numerous budget hotels in Kolkata that can suit the requirement.

It is time to stroll through the old lanes, gape at the beautiful colonial architectures, wait for the tram to pass by, relish the delicacies and welcome 2013 languorously in the city of joy.  

December 12, 2012

Hyderabad Calling...!!

The climate is pleasant now and there are destinations which you might want to visit during this time of the year. Hyderabad for instance is one such destination that would be ideal to visit between the months of November and January. Hyderabad has been known for ages as the city of Nizams, their erstwhile rulers. They ruled the princely state of Hyderabad for more than two centuries. The city which is famous for its gourmet food and jewellery is easily approachable from all major cities in the country either by train, flight or bus. If you are flying in, there are numerous hotels near Hyderabad airport where you can check into. There is no dearth for hotels in Hyderabad if you plan to stay closer to the city. Hotels in Banjara hills region also has nice stay options for travellers.

Nizams have left behind a lot of art, architecture, culture, monuments and palaces which has attracted travellers and tourists to this beautiful city. Charminar has been the symbol of Hyderabad for decades and the famous laad bazaar near to it is a bangle lover's delight. The attar shops near laad bazaar are famous for their perfumes. The 17th century Mecca masjid is another prominent monument near Charminar. All these areas near the Charminar forms the old city which is drastically different from the present Hyderabad.

 The city also boasts of the famous palaces like Falaknuma palace and Chowmohalla palace. Purani Haveli and Salarjung Museum has some of the best collection of artifacts from the earlier centuries. Qutb Shahi tombs and Paigah tombs helps visitors to delve further into the history of Hyderabad. Built in the 11th century by Kakatiya rulers, Golconda fort is a must visit when in Hyderabad. The architecture of the fort is beautiful and captivating. Ramoji rao film city has been the centre of filming movies for the past many years. Head there and you are sure to run into one of the many superstars of Indian film industry. The film city as such is also a beautiful place to roam around. Birla Mandir is a beautiful white marble temple which is worth visiting. A walk around the Hussain sagar lake in the evening is well recommended. The lake with Buddha's statue in the centre gets colourfully lit up once the sun sets.

Hyderabad is very famous for its pearls and jewellery and a visit to one of the jewellery shops would definitely leave you awestruck.The cuisines of Hyderabad is a rich blend of Mughalai flavours and aromas made famous by the Nizams. Nobody leaves Hyderabad without having a taste of Hyderabadi dum biriyani from any of the Hyderabad hotels or restaurants. There are numerous eateries that serve authentic Mughalai food. The biscuits and sweets of Karachi bakery are also very well appreciated in Hyderabad.

December 5, 2012

The Susegad Beaches of Bardez, Goa...!!

Goa is not all about beaches. This is what I have been preaching in my previous posts. But, can we ignore those magnificent beaches? Is there any traveller or tourist who has been to Goa, visited the churches, the wildlife, the rivers and gone back without visiting at least a single beach? I doubt. So here comes a list of beaches from my last visit to Bardez region (one of the sub-districts) of Goa.

1. Vagator beach

There are many beaches in Goa that spreads out below a cliff. Vagator beach falls into this geographical category. With sparsely spread  out rocks jutting from the sands and tiny green hills surrounding it, the beach in Vagator showcases a gorgeous landscape. It also has close proximity to Chapora fort from where one can have an aerial view of the beach across the green canopy. River Chapora disgorges itself into the Arabian sea next to Vagator beach. The beach is not over crowded most of the time and with few cafes and restaurants, the beach is well recommended. There ae three beaches here namely- north Vagator beach, Ozrant beach and middle Vgator beach. When on top of the cliff, the beach to your right is north Vagator beach and to your left is Ozrant beach.

2. Anjuna beach

The beach at Anjuna has a rocky front and is also below a laterite cliff. The reddish cliff, brown rocks, azure waters and green trees form a beautiful frame. The slippery rocks are not quite inviting but the vistas from the top of the cliff are spectacular. The waves thrashing on to those rocks is indeed a beautiful sight.  Anjuna has been known for its flea markets for ages. There is also a small colourful flea market on top of the cliff along with a lot of cafes and restaurants facing the beach front. Anjuna is also supposedly well known for its hippie culture.

3. Baga beach

Apart from being one of the most prominent beaches in the whole of Goa, Baga beach is also a popular one with travellers and tourists. The golden sands of this long beach look beautiful when the sun blazes over them and with numerous cafes on the sidelines, the beach is definitely an inviting one. There is no shortage of action on Baga beach with vendors selling from anything to everything, acrobatic children, water sports and crowded shacks. As the sun sets, the ambiance turns into a party mode. If you find it tough to get a table inside one of those cafes, there are beach umbrellas and tables outside to make it a memorable evening. Gulp a beer right on the beach! For trek lovers there is a narrow path across the Baga hill that takes you to the southern part of Anjuna beach.

4. Calangute beach

Calangute beach is definitely one of the most frequented beaches in Goa and people from across the country head here. You are sure to rub shoulders with a Kanyakumari fisherman, smile at a Ladhaki monk or even click a photo for a Mumbai dweller. There is also no dearth for foreign travellers and locals on the most famous beach of Goa. There are numerous water sports activities and beach shacks on the beach to keep the visitors busy. The road that leads to the beach from the Calangute- Baga road is filled with numerous eateries and shops. From where the road ends it is a nice little walk over the brown sands to reach the tides. It can get quite hot and humid during the day and the blazing sun is not going to help either. It is best advised to visit Calangute beach in the morning or evening.

5. Candolim beach

This is one of the quieter beaches of the region. The wide swathe of openness makes the beach look surreal.  The beach which is to the south of Calangute beach is definitely recommended for visitors who love serenity. The blend of golden sands and blue waters is an enchanting sight. There are very few shacks and cafes on the beach and this is one reason for it to remain less crowded. Most of the shacks on the beach remain closed during off season.

6. Sinquerim beach

This beach has gained prominence after the Taj resort came up facing it. One of the bastions of Fort Aguada also extends in to the Arabian sea next to it. The beach is devoid of crowd and with swaying coconut trees and azure waters, it looks quite similar to one of those beautiful tropical islands. One can get a magnificent panoramic view of Sinquerim beach from the bastion of Aguada

There are also a few less explored beaches in Bardez like Coco beach and Chapora beach that can be equally enchanting and encapsulating.

Signing Note- These spectacular beaches truly emblazon Goa...!!

November 28, 2012

Fort Aguada- The Watering Hole in Goa...!!

The most famous and prominent fort in Goa, the Aguada fort rests peacefully near the Sinquerim beach over looking the Arabian sea. The fort is huge with its ramparts well spread out enveloping a lot of land space. It is situated close to Candolim beach and mouth of Mandovi river. On to its right lies the beautiful Sinquerim beach with tall coconut trees in the background.

The fort walls as seen from outside

The fort walls


Built in AD 1612, this Portuguese fort had multiple purposes. It served as a chamber for storing fresh water and also was a guard against the Dutch and the Marathas. The storage helped the travelling ships to re-fill fresh water from the fort during their journeys.  The fort also gets its name due to the fresh water storing system. Aguada in Portuguese means 'water'. The fort also holds a mid 19th century lighthouse which is not in use anymore. The light house served as a reference point for the ships. Besides the lighthouse and the water storage chamber, the fort also boasts of well designed bastions, gun powder storage room and a small chapel. 

Inside of the fort

The light house and walls

One of the bastions

The light house

As you enter the fort a wide swathe of yellow-green grass invites you along with the mighty four-storey lighthouse. One can walk along the walls of this huge fort and take in the magnificent views that are on offer. The beaches in the distance, the swaying trees and boats out in the sea, all showcase beautiful vistas. It also has a circular bastion closer to the Sinquerim beach and Taj resort. The fort which was one of the most important ones of Portuguese rulers has been well preserved and maintained by the authorities.

Views from the fort

A circular bastion near Sinquerim beach

Signing Note- A Portuguese creation not to be missed in Goa...!!

Route- Panaji- Verem- Candolim- Fort Aguada
Distance- 15 Kms

November 23, 2012

Fort Chapora...!!

A ten minute ride from Vagator beach and I am staring at the hill and the trek path to reach the Chapora fort. The trek is tough not due to the steepness but because of the gravel which forms the path. It makes it slippery and is tough to get a footing. As I near the fort entrance, the landscape behind has turned into a magnificent green. With the foliage spreading itself the vistas are breathtakingly beautiful. Just before entering the fort one can see the Vagator beach way below on the left and Chapora river joining the Arabian sea onto the right. Brilliant views!

The path and the fort atop

Green landscape from near the entrance

Vagator beach

Chapora river

The present fort was built in 1717 AD over the then existing fort. The fort had been possessed by various dynasties including the Mughals, The Marathas and finally the Portuguese. It was once the northern most point of Goa and hence was used as a military outpost. Situated on a highland with expansive views, the fort was the ideal place to lookout for the attacking enemies. The fort gained prominence on the tourist map after the Hindi movie 'Dil Chahtha Hai' was shot here.

Enter the fort and all that I can see is a  spread out field, with less than knee high green grasses in some places and red gravel all over. It is a wide swathe of openness inside the fort with small rocks jutting out in some corners of the uneven land. The fort walls and the entrance door shows symptoms of dilapidation but has somehow been kept intact. It looks like a huge playground with so much of vastness. Visitors seem to be keen on the vistas from the fort walls and happily climb them to get better views. 

Fort entrance

Inside the fort

Another inner view of the fort

Not to be left behind, I too rush to the fort walls to have a glimpse of the green slopes sliding down to the shores below. The rays of the blazing sun on the calm tides has made the sea gorgeous. The reflection of the sun has given it a tinge of orange hue. Vagator beach seems quiet with very less visitors. The aerial view of the beach is gorgeous with protruding rocks and swaying coconut trees forming the background.

Aerial view of Vagator beach from the fort

Walls of the fort

I languorously move forward along the fort walls capturing the brilliant vistas of the green slopes and then the Chapora river disgorging itself into the Arabian sea. The view of the mouth of the river is a photographer's delight. With the Morjim beach forming the background in the distance, the frame is definitely a very scenic one. There are a couple of exit doors along the walls. I get through one and I am on the beautiful green slopes bringing me closer to the sea. The sun has further slanted and the landscape has turned a touch dark.

Mouth of River Chapora with Morjim beach in the background

Green slopes 

An exit door
Fort walls

Even though am in a hurry to reach Vagator beach before the sun calls it a day, I spend a considerable amount of time on the fort taking in the picturesque views. It definitely is one mesmerising sight to witness the setting sun over the Arabian sea from the Chapora fort. I leave the fort with memorable vistas floating in my mind and in my camera.

Signing Note- One of the best places to witness sunset in Goa...!!

Route- Easily reachable and close to main hubs like Calangute, Baga, Anjuna.

Distance- 2 Kms from Vagator beach.

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