Showing posts with label Kerela. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Kerela. Show all posts


Cochin Full Marathon 2015

Pre-Race Day

The day started early, we get out Cochin Club today and part our our ways for some time. While Pamela & Aarush goes back to Bangalore on Saturday itself I stay back for the big run on Sunday.

They had a train to catch around 9 from ERS. There was not a single auto around so had to walk and get one from Ferry station and as usual the price asked and agreed is way more than normal,

My running friends already reached from Bangalore while some checked in to Hotel other went ahead to Alleppey to check run route for December MTR run. There was many small plans and phone calls in the morning about how we meet up and spend our day, At the end I came to the hotel in Wellington Island around 10. After 11 we start from hotel for BIB collection which is another end of 

Ernakulam. The bus ride was very long and memorable one not a kind that you suggest. We were swinging …. the drives is rash and the roads are narrow and there is Metro construction going on forever.

The BIB collection was happening inside a newly opened mall. And we came to know there are not going to many runners around 200 registered for FM and another 800 for HM, After usual chit-chat with fellow runners and pictures we headed for food. We were told and warned about the bad road conditions due to rain and that might impact bare-foot runners most. Organizers were also offering early start at 3AM. But the regular start of 4 AM itself was too early for my standard.

While walking to the mall from bus stop spotted the restaurant ‘Dhe Puttu’ a place Pamela wanted to go but we did not. While entering the place we liked it but it usual a clean nice restaurant. But when they served the ‘Sulaimani Tea’ things changed drastically for good. We all must had 7/8 cups of tea and some may be more. It seems this restaurant belongs to one of Malaalam actor Dileep. We all loved the food. And the best part we were full. The puttu is very filling and restaurant guys service was excellent. Post lunch we again walked to bus stop and got a bus to our hotel. 

Pamela and Aarush Bangalore reached Bangalore safely in the evening. They mentioned about the rain and cold weather over there. Personally had a shower and nap in the afternoon. But that killed by sleep in the night as I could barely sleep. 

Race Day

Woke up at 3:15 or so and left hotel at 3:30 in Bus (thanks to soles of Cochin) for the venue. From our group few were doing FM and most were doing HM. In hotel met Balaji, one runners from Chennai who is of my kind of running speed. But he has ran many FM including last month Bangalore on in 4 hours where I took 14 more minutes. It was 3 in the beginning but soon around 6 KM mark I think we lost Patrick and me and Balali continued together. We were running side by side but once the road narrowed we started to follow each other. We completed the half way mark before 2 hours and headed back and crossed 30K around 2 hr 45 minutes or so. But once we were back to the Wellington Island we met up with the many slow HM and Family fun (5K) runners. While they had a turn to complete their race we had to continue on an isolated roads between shipyards and godowns. It was the last KMs that was very dull and boring. And now the gap between me and Balaji increased as I really lost the enthusiasm . Thankfully one Hyderabad runner came to rescue around last 500m to give company. And the race got over in 4 hours 7 minutes. The best part not much walking and stopping in the last 5 KMs but there is way to improve. May be I shouldI think I have 50KM Ultra to run while running those 5KM. 

Post-race as usual Bangalore runner specially Pacemakers were on the podium. And very thankful to two gentlemen who are working in Dubai but avid runners gave us lift to Hotel. We checkout and headed towards MG road and ended up going to Grand Hotel for lunch. This is the same place where we as a family met our Cochin host Gulshan and his family on Tuesday for dinner.

The service was not so great as we were a Bhukkad Gang. Rest of the journey back to Bangalore was fun filled with lots of chitchat which can be shared here ;) 


South Trip

Our trip to South  was one for which we hardly planned meticulously. Moreover, my son got fractured elbow but then also our spirit was on high although bit dampened that whether we will enjoy or not; kind of excitement mixed with anxiety, hope and happiness. I still remember the moment we sat in the car and started for the trip which was going to be one of the longest drive with Aarush.

We  left Bangalore on 11th December 2010. As nothing much planned we packed some fruits and snacks which could be of help in desperate times and of course a camera to capture the moments.

Our route-

Bangalore -> Madurai(via Salem) -> Rameshwaram -> Kanyakumari -> Kovalam –> Kumarakom -> Malampuzha (via Palghat) -> Bangalore.

View Road Trip December 2010 in a larger map

Although the principle best followed in the case of accommodation is – ‘To each to his own’. In this trip no prior booking was done as we didn’t knew which night where we will be. It was on-spot which Santanu liked most. Well the trip was a great one on our Indica as we sold the car within 3 weeks after returning to Bangalore. It was a sad separation but too much hassle to keep her with change of registration and etc. And now after almost two years all the travel-logs are now published.


After being guest of GK Homestay for 2 nights at 7.00 we hit the road towards Malampuzha. It is about 8 km from the Palakkad town; Palkad is known as gateway between Tamilnadu and Kerala as it is a valley between hills. It is major rice growing area and home of many Tamil Brahmins who are living in Kerala for centuries.

Malampuzha Garden is build next to reservoir on river with same name. It has a mini hydro-electric project. The garden in that has a scenic setting with the forested hills of Western Ghats forming the backdrop. Just like Brindhvan garden of Mysore is build next to a reservoir on River Cauvery.

The garden consists of a unique ropeway that allows visitors to move around the whole area. The park includes flowerbeds, pools, snake garden, Japanese garden pedal boats, aquarium & etc. The whole park was under renovation and only spent some time in children area where Aarush like the Helicopter a lot. Within the Malampuzha Gardens is a large cement sculpture named Yakshi by Kanayi Kunhiraman which you like or dislike there is nothing in between. Kanayi is the most famous living sculpture of Kerala and his work are displayed across Kerala which are huge and very modern. With traditional Kerala his sculptures sometime looks out of place.

We stopped at Hotel Tripenta opposite Rock Garden for lunch. The food was OK best part the restrooms were clean. We liked it and wondered with many ‘w’ questions about the nice property as it is really off-track but has modern amenities like swimming pool & etc.

The rock-garden is the only one of its kind in southern India - inspired by Nek Chand Saini, the artist who made Chandigarh’s famous Rock Garden. All the art is made with recycled materials. The best part was the rock Garden was almost empty and recently renovated under the supervision of Nek Chand Foundation. We took many pictures and really they are beautiful and worth spending some time here.

Around 4.00 pm we started our journey back; crossed Coimbatore before dusk and continued driving. This was a change from the morning plan as initially we thought of spending one night in Palakkad. It was a long long drive; we stopped at Salem for a quick dinner around 9 PM and continued driving all the way to Bangalore.

We reached almost safely after 8 days trip at 2.30 AM at night. We could have stopped at Salem and had a good rest. And next time we travelled again towards Salem for Munnar we stopped at GRT for the night which is on the highway.




Around 10 we started for our next destination to Kottayam which was around 140K M away. From Varkala we started following the road signs for Kochi but once we almost approached Kottayam/ Kumarakom we got little bit lost but soon found our way towards Kottayam. Roads were good except last part near GK Riverview home stay (Rough Guide recommendation). The owner of the homestay tried his best to discourage from coming with a small kid which infact made us more determined to stay with him. We were to stay here for 2 nights.

It is situated on the bank of river Meenachil in Aymanam. Right in front of house had backwater canal where you can take ride on country boats and watch people. They have only 4 rooms and facing the paddy field with hammocks and swing. Worth staying here if you don’t like TV in room and want to be close to nature and far from all noise of urban life. We spotted many birds there.

When we reached here, it was almost 3.30-4 00pm and were hungry. They offered us with some sandwich as we told we would like to have early dinner at night; traditional Keralite home cooked food was prepared & served at night along with other guests (foreigners). While dining we planned our next day itinerary with our host (he offered us with choices).

Next day our host walked with us and dropped us to respective ferry junction where from we took ride to huge Vembanad Lake along with other localities. From here, we went to Alappuzha (Alleppey) to hire house boat and took an 2hr. ride on lake with scenic beauty. We spotted many birds, house boats and could see the every-day life of common village folks. In between, the boat stopped for a tender coconut break where there was a pet eagle whose picture you see with Aarush. It was easy for him to hold the bird on his hand as it was with cast. After that we had lunch at Alleppey.

And came back to Kottayam railway station by another normal ferry, where auto was waiting to take us back to homestay (sent by GK only).

We preferred to avoid any night stay at houseboats being December they were exorbitantly pricey. But we thoroughly experienced boat rides whole day. In total, we spent almost 6/7 hours on boats. And as we traveled in public boats it gave a real glimpse of day-to-day life from children going to school, people coming back from town to village with their rations.

At night, had dinner and went to bed early so that we can leave the place as early as possible. Every food GK provided was excellent a perfect host.


Kovalam and Varkala beach

Drive from Kanyankumari was smooth, Aarush took a small nap. The road was undivided two lanes so the speed was limited but the lush green from paddy field , coconut grove and plantation leaves was pleasant for eyes. We reached Kovalam as per our plan, saw sunset which was magnificient. It was great to watch perfect sunrise and sunset on a same day. Public Beach was next to Taj and Leela hotels where large part belongs to them for their private beach. Now we started to search for hotel and ended up with Blue Sea. Did not find anything special but food was definitely good and the property looks like going down the hill as two brother split on the same.

Next morning we went geared up towards light house beach which we found to be much more serene compared to earlier one. It has long stretch to take a stroll. Had our breakfast at one of the sea facing restaurant; there were some reasonable price hotels with a view need to explore sometime later. Aarush and Santanu went inside the water to take a dip. Aarush with his plaster initially was reluctant but once he got used to the waves wanted to spend more time there.

At afternoon, came back to our room had lunch and some rest then went to Thiruvananthapuram to visit “Sree Padmanabhaswamy Temple”. Drive from Kovalam to city was was not long but full of traffic. One of the 108 sacred Vishnu temples in India displays a supreme blend of Kerala and Dravidian styles of architecture. The temple has strict order where only Hindus are allowed and male must enter bare chest and wear dhoti. Even for Aarsush they had a dhoti to rent. From there we went in search of place within Thiruvananthapuram to see Kathakali and martial arts but in turn ended up seeing Napier Museum, Oriental Research Institute & Manuscripts Library and other old heritage buildings which was worth passing by but we failed to capture them in moving car. Unfortunately, these all are on main roads where you cannot stop unless you park your car properly. One thing definitely caught our eyes was the number of jewelry/Gold shops. Around 8 PM we returned to our room so that we can have early dinner and head off early morning to next spot Varkala beach. Settled the bills with hotel for a early start.

Left Kovalam at 6AM and crossed Thiruvananthapuram city without any traffic jam this time. Varkala is also famous for the 2,000-year old Janardana Swami Temple considered as Dakshin Kashi. But we skipped and headed straight towards beach around 7am it felt like heaven. Really worth it would be staying over there. Since we have already booked for that night at Kumarakom we could not make it. The views of the sunset sunrise are worth lingering over. The cliff and the beach house a lot of resorts, restaurants and other shops. The cliff has a long stretch of small shops which goes on for over a kilometer where we took a walk and had breakfast in one of the restaurant there. Looked like Varkala is more famous with foreigners. The breakfast was great as we had some European breakfast.


Munnar in Monsoon

It was the first long weekend of Independence day of 2011 after Pamela had joined her job. We were very keen to get away from Bangalore as last time it was March when we went to Chickbelapur. Initial plan was to visit Hampi; but after talking to few homestay around we decided against it as that part of Karnataka was expecting to get unusual amount of rain and flood could be any time. While we were thinking where to go and on browsing Mahindra Homestay found there is 50% discount offer (with complementary breakfast) in one homestay in Munnar. We just booked it without any second thought.
We started on Thursday evening around 5 PM from Bangalore and reached Salem at 21:30 PM with one stop at old faithful A2B in Krishnagiri. It was raining almost from 7.00pm and had to drive carefully. We had no clue on where to stay at Salem and on asking at Salem Toll Plaza we were directed for GRT Grand. It is on leftside on highway; we asked for little bit of discount on their printed price which they agreed. GRT is a premier hotel chain within Tamil Nadu with modern room and fully furnished.

On Friday after a good night sleep and grand breakfast we started around 10:30. Just before leaving hotel suddenly met with one of my college junior who was going to Thekkady(Periyar Wildlife Sanctuary). Well, after short talk we continued on NH-47, and reached Chinnar Forest via Tiruppur (famous for hosiery products) and Udumalaipettai. There were around 4 check points where you need to get out of the car and write your name with Forest officials. Did not carried any money with me on purpose and did not paid a single penny of bribe, this officials expect anyone with a KA number plate car as IT professional with spare cash for them. After many photo stops on the way we reached Munnar around 6 PM. Our Home Stay was next to Tall Tree resort. It was raining cats and dogs by then.
Saturday -> It rained whole night quite heavily and in the morning we were under impression that there is no room for going out. But somehow rain slowed around 10ish and our host suggested we move out as next day might be more worse. So we went for Mattupetty direction ( Mattupetty Dam, Echo point, Shooting point, Kundale Lake and Top station ). We reached back to Munnar town for snack but could not find any good one. Around 5PM we reached back homestay.
Sunday –> It was not raining and we headed for Eravikulam National Park. Our host suggested that we should be there by 8 but we were bit late and there was long queue. As the day was sunny many people were there, after an hour long wait we started in the Park bus and reached Rajamala. We hiked on the paved pathway; was very lucky to spot some Nilgiri Tahr. And slowly it became cloudy after which we went to Tea Factory Museum next to Munnar town. Post lunch we headed to Pallivasal for a Kathakali show. The Kathakali show was spectacular .
Monday 15th August -> Started around 7 from HomeStay, reached Salem (GRT Grand) around 1:30 PM for lunch. We spend more money on a grand fat lunch buffet compared to last three dinners. Reached Bangalore back at 5:30PM. The road was great no complain.
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On second day we went to see Lakidi view point, Phookot lake and Vythiri resort. Lakidi is about 2 km south of Chain Tree and is the gateway of Wayanad which is on highway to Calicut. It is a ghat pass at an elevation of 700m above sea level.We crossed Kalpetta and drove mostly on NH 212.

Overwhelmed with scenery as this highway is heaven on this earth , a beautiful place with lot of tea gardens on the way. Its absolutely real picture of natural beauty. This Tamarassery pass's starting point is Lakkidi which is one of the highest locations of Wayanad seems to be second in rainfall after Cherapunjee.
Hearing Lakidi view point I expected to be some hill view but this was in fact valley view with lofty mountain peaks, luxuriant vegetation and the bird’s eye view of the deep valley with its winding roads. We wanted to get down the valley which goes to Kozhikode. By then Aarush was deep in sleep with the motion of car so we took an oppotunity to go down. It was really breath taking experience to drive on those winding roads with 9 sharp hairpin bands and after few more KMs we asked one local how far is Kozikhode - reply was 40 KMs. We could have gone to Kozikode if there was no other binding or if we would have started early morning. In our case, we did booking that morning before starting from homestay to visit Vythri resort particularly restaurant for lunch- buffet. And they are particular about timing from 1-3PM only. It was already 1PM in watch so we decided to return.
Here, we made one mistake I believe instead of visiting day one at temple and Kurvadweep we could have gone to Calicut (Kozhikode) for one night stay or just to see the sun set at Arabian sea. Anyways, there is always next time.
While returning saw chain tree just 2kms after ghat pass. There is a story behind this tree. A tribal man showed a British this Tamarassery pass as a way to reach Mysore easily and British killed this man to get the full credit. Then lots of accidents happened on that road and later one saint said the soul of the tribal man is responsible for these accidents. So the soul is now tied in that tree by a chain and then it is believed that the accidents are reduced.
From here we visited Pookot lake. The lake is very calm and scenic, was less crowded that day. Surrounded by hills and greenery. However, didn't do boating as said wanted to just relax. It is a natural fresh water lake surrounded by evergreen forest. This lake is around 11 km from Kalpetta. It is basically meant for children’s pleasure.

Then left for Vythiri resort. Its hidden among the hills. Roads are not yet tarred. Fifteen to twenty minutes drive through the tea gardens and forest may be a bit bumpy but they are very picturesque and worth going there. Place untouched and not exploited by urbanization. This gorgeous place has much to offer and you cannot be out of places to see here. Setting is a lovely-walk over the bamboo bridge to reach restaurant and through the plantation. We reached just at 3PM.
Food was excellent; they had rasam as soup. 5-6 varieties of salad, 3 kinds of cooked rice and long list of items like avial, erisery, thorans , varieties of fish curries and chicken. Last but not least 3-4 varieties of dessert too. We were truly up to throat. Relaxed there for a while. Wanted to take their 1 hour trail but because of dark we didn't took any risk and decided to return.
What is Kerala without a ayurvedic oil massage? My caretaker arranged for one that evening. Oh !!! it was really very soothing felt like going to sleep in no time. Thanks to Santanu for baby sitting Aarush and he finished his dinner too by the time I was done.

This really was a home away from home. To relax totally and enjoy thoroughly, Wayanad has a salubrious climate. Thanx to Mrs.Sitha to make us feel at home with her warm hospitality and smiling face which will remain deep in our heart for long. She was always there for providing us with all kind of comfort be it looking after Aarush or washing his bottles or with boiled water. She is an excellent cook. We had puttu, appam, puri, kerala parotha, kadi and many others at her place. Mainly farm fresh and organic products are used for cooking. Now I really feel 3 nights are very less to experience all this.

Next morning we started our journey back to Bangalore around 11 from there. We had enough time to go to Edkaal caves and Soochipora falls but we didn't. One due to time crunch, secondly with Aarush we didn't wanted to climb up or down the stairs to view these places which would have fatigued us. So without draining our stored energy much we decided to return home. By 3PM we crossed Mysore;had Maddur vada and dosa on way to Bangalore.



After a deep slumber the next morning we woke-up fresh and energetic. Aarush wanted to play seeing an open space- courtyard. They have toys, cycles, carom board, badminton court, balls to play with. He was really happy to get all these stuffs. What more parent wants if kid is happy you are happy otherwise nothing on earth can make you happy.
Morning, we were shown all rooms available there. It was a nice room with a central common area and one room each on either side. Each room can easily accommodate a family of 3 (2 adults, 1 kids)at main buiding while bamboo room can accommodate 4 in each room. We opted for room at main building.
The huge banana and green paddy plantation in front of the home-stay is a wonderful delight to the eyes!! Then leisurely we freshened up and gobbled down the breakfast prepared. Her breakfast area is an open space with neat dining set, covered by a thatched roof with lovely breeze and great view. Mean while Nash asked us what we wanted to do and suggested what we can. He gave all route directions. Truly, I didn't wanted to do much but more of relaxing.
We decided to go to Thirunelly temple and Kuruvadweep. Thirunelli temple is nestled amidst three hills. The deity worshiped here is Lord Krishna, but the place gained popularity for the Papanasini river (rather a stream flowing beside the temple). Road to the temple passes via Mananthavady town from Panamaram is hilly with bumpy roads and green all around. You get to pass through fields and forest. Picturesque for sure. We drove the road which connects Wayand with Coorg and at the end we took a left turn(14 KM) for the temple. This temple is a peaceful and serene place. Since not properly restored I won't recommend to visit. It can be skipped unless just want to drive or have some religious rites to perform.
Then from there we went to Kuruvadweep. Roads didn't improved much. As the drive went on, different shades of green we could find all around Wayanad. Nice treat to eyes; our eyes were relaxed seeing green all around. Since we stay in concrete jungle for us it was really paradise. The water was knee deep, muddy and not very clean as there were plenty of plastics and junk from tourists and local shops - we did not felt like crossing the same. If you have time you can take boat ride.

At evening owner, Mrs Seetha of the home-stay offered us with hot coffee. Coffee and tea served are unlimited without charges and ensured that we were served with hot sumptuous dinner once Aarush's dinner was over. This was really nice of her .


Visit to North kerala- Wayanad

From the time Santanu having classes and top of it exams this month; its really a grueling month for both of us. For this I too was not getting some time off from “Our little one”. There was absolute need of one break. Santanu suddenly said two days before last exam that he is having leave and if interested then we can go somewhere near by. Then he only started reading on net and ended up saying we would go to WAYANAD- Northern region of Kerala. Word of mouth were the major sources of procuring information for undertaking the trip. Being at Bangalore, Wayanad was a good option since it was only about a 275 KM drive away. Earlier he said he will go via Nagarhole forest and return via Bandipur forest. My major concern was about our stay. As with Aarush if we don't look for proper place then journey is not peaceful.
We looked for two homestays one near Nagarhole and other near Sultan Bethary. Looking does not means that we will stay there but then also we sincerely jotted them in MS- word with phone no. and all. I wanted to be sure where I am spending night otherwise I am not going anywhere. At that time he said we will do night stay at Mysore and then early morning we will leave for Wayanad. So took down hotel contact details and address of frill-free Ginger hotel of Mysore.
Since that weekend was long weekend and Saturday was Santanu's exam I was not sure when exactly he wanted to leave from home. Because by the time he will reach home after exam it would be late afternoon. Then also on Friday late evening we packed our things with 'just in case thought.' On Saturday he called me up around noon saying to call those home-stays if there is any availability or not and to be ready otherwise to leave immediately within 1 hr. after he returns home. When I called those home-stays only one was available. Gave a call directly to her for availability otherwise pricing will vary then. Thereafter I remembered its not home-stays we are supposed to stay that night but frill free hotel of Mysore. Later after his exams I called him to clarify those doubts and that time he said no we are going straight to one which is available at Wayanad. I was bit stupefied on hearing that - Was really not sure whether he would be able to drive that evening or not but he sounded quite confirmed in his answer. Oh man! he is so adamant not to make any proper itinerary before any trip.

Finally, route was Bangalore - Mysore - Nanjangud - Gundalpet - Sultan Bathery – Wayanad. We set off on Saturday at 4.10 PM from home and touched Mysore by 7.15PM since it was already dark we missed the signal of Ooty and ended up going to Mysore palace. Luckily, from far we saw whole palace being lighted up. So we made a halt to take photographs. Some open air music function was going on at eve of Ugadi. Around 7.50PM we happened to ask one police-officer the route to Ooty and he was startled seeing me and Aarush saying its too late to go there. Will take around 9-10 hrs to reach and road is not that excellent. And suggested to stay at some hotel at Mysore only. Then we said we actually want to go to Wayanad. Hearing that he seemed to be quite relieved and said road is very good and gave direction to the same. By 8.05 we were in car and in no time were at route leading to Nanjangud. Our excitement was in the air.

The route to Wayanad had to be traversed through the hilly terrain highway. We could not speed up much although Aarush was sleeping but dazzling lights from opposite direction vehicles were very disturbing. We made few more stop - overs to confirm the route and then take-away dinner on route. Crossed dense jungle of Bandipur at night. We had to be very vigilant through out. As this was our first night drive. There are lots of check posts and in one check post Santanu had to get down to give driving license and car registration details.
Lady of home-stay – 'Ente vedu' told me once you reach Sultan Bathry give call for further directions. Route to our home-stay was another 45 min. more from S.Bethary. We had to leave NH 212 and drive on a connecting road towards Mananthavady this road was complete dark and up-down roads with lot of winding we were not able to accelerate more. As it crosses villages there were no car or person on the road. Still we found some night owl to confirm we are on the right direction or not. Her guide "Nash Jose" directed us although we were feeling quite uncomfortable for disturbing them that late. Guidance was with location, buildings on the road sides and also with distance from where we were calling. Later from one point we were not able to figure out which route to take then he came himself to that point to guide us. Really nice of him. This home-stay is located in Panamaram, Wayanad.
In spite of reaching the homestay pretty late (past midnight) he showed us room and other facilities and bid goodnight. That night we were given one big room (kind of dormitory where many can stay together with bathroom but toilet was outside. Thank God we did not need to share with anybody. As all other rooms were booked we got this one and we were told by morning we can change to room of our choice.

View Bangalore - Wayanad(Panaram) in a larger map

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...