2010-10-29

Des vacances

We are off to Rajasthan starting tomorrow. Here is the plan lets see what we achieve in next one week-
  • 29th Oct Fly to Jaipur on SpiceJet
  • 30th Oct shekhawati day trip from Jaipur
  • 31st Jaipur ; in the night catch train for Jodhpur
  • 1st Nov in Jodhpur
  • 2nd November in Jodhpur catch night train to Jaisalmer
  • 3rd November in Jaisalmer and  sunset in desert
  • 4th Nov in the evening catch train back to Jaipur
  • 5th Nov relax in Jaipur celebrate Deepavali
  • 6th Nov if possible make a trip to Ajmer and Pushkar
  • 7th Nov fly back to Bangalore
All the bookings are done and big thanks to Pamela.

2010-10-18

Auroville


Almost after one and half year we went for a long weekend out of Bangalore; our very first road trip of 2010. We were looking for something near to beach and thought of heading towards Pondichery but due to unavailability of any sea facing hotel we opted of Auroville. Certain thing really happens for good. The road was Bangalore -> Krishnagiri -> Tiruvanamalli ->Tindivanam-> Auroville.
As usual Santanu had production outage @ work and went to sleep around 2 AM thanks to ‘new era new tool’ at work. Started early morning around 05.50; had breakfast at A2B (Krishnagiri) then around 07.50  we hit the road. Non stop drive to Pondichery and reached around 13:00. The road between Krishnagiri and Tiruvanamalli is undivided state highway with lots of pot holes. You need to be very careful as most parts of the roads are good but suddenly you get one big pot holes. Road between Tindivanam and Pondicherry is newly done 4 lane highway.

We booked our room at "Center Guest House" through the website aurovilleguesthouse.org just two weeks ahead. They sent letter confirming it and with fine prints where we were supposed to send the advance by Demand Draft now in the age of credit cards we didn’t pay attention to the bottom part of the mail till day before the trip. On contacting over phone they said to come over as there was no other booking. Their rates include meal for three times a day, bicycle and Yoga. . Its non-alcoholic and public smoking is strongly discouraged; it is not a place for vacation – most come here to meditate. Most Indian come and visit the Auroville as day trip from Pondicherry.
Me and my hubby fell in love seeing the place and particularly when they showed our room which is tucked between trees and you can see butterflies, birds. Was just mesmerized to see the greenery all around. Had Indian buffet lunch at dining hall and after relaxing for a while went out to look for cycle. The dining hall had two baby chairs as well which is so uncommon in India.
We found one cycle which had baby chair fixed; most cycles were tall and typical DESI type with hard seat. After maneuvering for a while I managed to get onto one finally as I am not used to these types of cycles; Voila... We cycled here and there without thinking much and looking at maps.
Best part is they have so many trails that you will never be bored and the same time you will not be lost. The roads are in spiral in Auroville just like the Paris is planned. Greenery is all around, few houses and buildings with lots of shades from tress to make it more pleasant. If you feel you are lost in this forest ask anyone be Indian or foreigner they will guide you. Most residents or visitors are from France as you can hear French all around you.

Its really place far off from city noise, pollution and traffic soaking in the best nature has to offer. Negative thing about Aurorville is you are forced to give up your fast paced city life. Everything gets closed for lunch even lots of the facilities are only available for those who stay longer like 8-10 days. If you stay longer you get an Auroville cards which is like a pre-paid cash card but gives exclusive access to some restaurants, café and others center like yoga.
We went to the visitor center and spent a good amount time in the various boutique shops and picked a school bag for Aarush.  Once it started to get dark we headed back to Guest House. We all had shower as this place is quite hot and humid. Had continental buffet dinner at night they do serve early evening between 7.00 - 7:30 PM. By 10.00 PM they expect to be pin drop silence so every one around is sleeping well. We also slept early.

Day -2


After breakfast we went to bicycle stand and found someone has taken away Pamela’s cycle and she has to find a new one all over again. Once we started paddling we decided to go beach. The ride was a smooth one but once we were off Green zone there were cars and as usual they did not have any courtesy for cyclist. The 8 KM long ride was fun. The access to the beach is not direct you need to access the trough a narrow lane. Both the lane and the beach are very dirty have not seen any thing dirtier than this.
From beach we came to Visitor center and watched video on Matri mandir. For the first time visitor watching of the video is a must and after  that one gets a pass to the vista point to see Matri-mandir. Inside access is rusticated but open to all who wish to meditate.    After that we came back to guesthouse for lunch. Santanu decided against touching the car which means we had to postpone the trip to Pondicherry for the last day of the trip. We went out with the cycle around 4 went to Solar Kitchen to start with. As Solar kitchen only except Auroville cards we could only smell aroma of good food and see other enjoying with our stomach rumbling we left that place. After riding the cycle till dark we came back to guest house and called it a day.

Day-3


We started early with quick breakfast and checkout by 9AM and headed towards Pondicherry. The destination was French Quarter and Aurobindo Ashram. We paid a quick visit to the Ashram. Children under 3 years are not allowed. After walking around French quarter we went to a restaurant and Aarush had his breakfast brunch. There was nothing much to do in Pondicherry and we found it hotter than Auroville. We headed back to Auroville again for our lunch as we wanted to try Roma’s Kitchen.

The food there was excellent one of the best pasta I had in India. The place is frequented by non-Indians and we noticed they all were having Indian dishes.We enjoyed our Pasta while Aarush was too busy running and playing with two French girls who were bit older than him. He was so happy that he was crying while we tried to put him car. By 14:30 noon we started from there; the drive was OK and we reached Krishnagiri by 18:30. But from there to Bangalore was long journey as there was a major accident on the road and we reached home at 21:30.
If you are looking for a doing nothing kind of a weekend Auroville is great. The best part is as most visitor who comes here from abroad lots of small things like baby chair; clean bathroom is common. The food is bit blend in Indian context but we liked it. People are courteous and helpful.
»More pictures

2010-10-03

Puri – Konark


 We had to extend our planned holidays as we got a last minute invitation for my cousin's marriage now both marriages were only 6 days apart. Personally was quite unhappy about the whole situation of attending two marriages; instead of voicing opinions, kept cribbing and ranting. Confronting such family matters does not work as no one is right. Anyways, at times you are forced to go along with such decision whether you like it or not.
Plan to Sunderban trip was made by Santanu as we wanted to go somewhere around Calcutta not just one Wedding to start with. And now with extension of our holiday we were left with 2 more days in hand. So after lots of thoughts and web browsing we settled unanimously for Puri - every Bengalis dream place or second home. Digha an eminent beach resort of West Bengal was shelved as everyone recommended against it.


From Calcutta its one night train journey and reached Puri early morning by Puri express. Heard from lot of sources and found it in actuality too that all kinds of people will start approaching you ,offering help starting from getting hotel to visiting inside the temple by trying to rob you. Avoided these people as much as possible.
We booked for Hotel Santana which was not sea facing but not far from sea. It’s located on C.T. (Chakra Tirtha) Road where most non-Indian prefer to stay. There are steady growth of foreigners in recent years who find beaches of Orissa are more tranquil compared to the famous one on western coast of India. Puri beach front is divided in 3 sections starting from west you have the old hotels which are frequented by Bengali’s; the middle section is a no-tourist-land as there is a big gutter which opens at sea and at the end you have the C.T Road where new hotels are.

First thing for us after reaching hotel was to visit Jaganath temple. We asked our hotel people to arrange for darshan. They did it within hours time very kind of them. They told us not to pay any exorbitant amount to that person just anything you wish should be fine enough. I didn't know before that non-Hindus are not allowed inside the temple. We had very smooth darshan despite lot of chaos and fight among police and pandas were going on just before closing of temple at noon. It didn't took much time too in queue compared to Tirupati.
After darshan we decided to come back and had lunch as we were empty stomach from morning so had food at one Jain place with no onion and garlic. Then strolled around in the street near to hotel. It was quite hot and bit humid at day time so went back to room. Rested for a while then left hotel on foot around 4.00pm to walk along the beach towards bazaar. Till 8.00pm we were roaming around and then decided to come back as Aarush was to be fed which was our concern. In evening we had temple bhog which was huge chunk to be finished by two. You are not supposed to throw bhog we shared the untouched portion with our hotel staffs who were also happy to have it. The Prasad is so holy that a Hindu Brahmin will eat the same even an un-touchable saves the same from a dog’s mouth.

Next day at 8.00am we left our room for Konark by a Cab from hotel and on reaching the spot hired a guide. The Guide was well informed and very decent took around and an hour or so to explain and then we took our own time to look around. From there we came to Chandbaga (Konark gold) beach. Aarush jumped into sea and was not willing to come out but we convinced him somehow that in evening we will come again. We came back to city center walked around temple area shopped some Saris and had food there in one restaurant from where temple is seen very clearly.
Did few shopping and came back to hotel. Then in evening as per our promise we took Aarush to beach and he was very happy. At evening its cool breeze which makes you to stay long then we came to street side food where we had fresh fish fry and hurried to hotel for Aarush before he gets cranky out of hunger.
At late night boarded train back to kolkata.

Day 3 - Rishikesh

The weather looked gloomy with an overcast sky as we woke up. We had breakfast at the hotel and decided to visit Rishikesh today. Again we...