2013-08-28

Blessed

Blessing is a simple word, but yesterday night (Monday) just before sleeping I was thinking about the same again and again. Wished for a gadget to record my thought as I was too tired to use any keyboard or voice recorder. At times we  wonder and sometime make fun of those award ceremonies where people on the stage  keep on thanking people around him or her and sometimes even their dogs. I always love to read the preface of a book where authors thank about their loved ones and early critics and business partners. Webby Award (considered as Oscar of Internet) being techie kept it simple --- as they have "5 word Acceptance Speeches” rule. Well I was not thinking about those awards and long speeches but more about the people around me who are allowing me to cherish my daily life on my own way.

After a horrible finish in Bangalore TCS 10K(1hr plus) and Chennai Half Marathon(2:27 my watch/2:09 race web site). I was determined to be regular with Coach Kothandapani K C and Pacemakers group. Earlier, was just running once a week with the group on weekend for long run and that too bit irregular. Now for one month started to leave home at 4:30 AM to reach Kanteerava Stadium for Tuesday and Thursday training. Tuesday, is interval training something I never ever tired before when I  started to run,  in early 2000. I struggled for weeks but eventually saw some improvement in me but there is still a lot to go. Thursdays we do tempo or core strengthening exercise which really helps running as core is the power house of our body. And couple of Nandi hill runs on the weekend ensured we were not scared of those flyovers in upcoming Airtel Hyderabad Half Marathon .

In recent time, asked my younger brother to ship a  pair of running  shoes (4E-wide feet) & Garmin(GPS Watch). These items were personally carried to Bangalore by friends and colleague from US. These items are not easily available in India and if they are, they cost an arm and leg.

Can not thank enough Pamela for being there like a rock. Now a days, Pamela rushes faster than Bolt on those 2 days as she prepares breakfast, lunch box  and ensures Aarush and herself is ready with shower, breakfast and out of home by 07:30 to be at school on time.  Also,  in recent time lucky to have family members around who baby-seated Aarush on Saturdays as we are now running on Saturdays for long run instead of Sundays.

The result just speak for itself, finished Hyderabad Half Marathon strong with 2:01:33 on my Garmin. It is my best in recent time and  I am happy with the split timing for each Kilometers. I was consistent throughout and had only few kilometers where I ran slower than pace 6. The last KM I was able to push myself and was around 5:10 pace again ; where crossed a fellow runner from the running group and felt like winning the Gold medal. Yes, there was hard work, determination, strategy which helped me to achieve this. A minute shorter would have been a icing on the cake. But again, all these could not have been possible without these people and their belief in me; so feeling really blessed.

The race was an amazing one, met few finest Indian runners from other cities. The arrangement of transport, train tickets, hotel arrangement was too good; again special thanks to Coach and pacemakers team for that. The post-run lunch was something which I am going to drool and talk about for months to come. It was a unmarked restaurant named "Dine Hill", we were bit hesitant initially but once went inside for food; seeing the people and their plates we got a big cultural shock. There were those huge dishes which are as big as the size of the table and 4-5 people eat together from the same plate. We asked the restaurant guy if he is going to give us separate plate; He said YES but added why do not you try this way of sharing and eating food with friends - love grows between friends.




2013-08-04

Pipeline Road Run


There was a discussion in the running group to practice hill-run before upcoming Hyderabad run which I am trying to be a regular member. Normally the "numero uno" destination for hill training around Bangalore is Nandi Hill ; which is 60KM north of the city. Have already run Nandi hills few times and yes Nandi is grueling specially the last 3 KM. Nandi run is 15KM in total where you go 7.5 KM up and come down the same. But the run does not duplicate Hyderabad where we need to cross 3 flyovers. Pipe-line road at south of Bangalore parallel to Kanakpura Road is very similar to Hyderabad . The initial plan was to run 21 KM one way and had a sumptuous breakfast at one farm house.

On the D-day morning the plan was little changed as decided to do 12.5KM up and down to complete 25KM and then take our cars to the farm house for breakfast. So we started running from KSIT Engineering College and followed pipe-line road and crossed NICE-road, Ravishankar Guruji Ashram, Angana, and reached APS Engineering collage where Pipe-line road cross Kanakpura Road again. I turned back and completed my 25KM while few went ahead and reached the farm house directly. Here is the elevation graph from my new GARMIN :) I am very proud to say I did not stopped the whole trail and was able to run all along and completed it :) :)



  • Distance: 25.40 km

  • Time: 2:40:44

  • Avg Pace: 6:20 min/km



2013-07-15

1st class sleeper

It was a dream from a long time to travel in 1st class in Indian Railway. The last time I traveled in 1st class was early 1985 when we went to Puri ( a must stop for Bengali ). So when the dates for summer vacation became clear started booking for train tickets. It was month of December when we booked ticked for April. Wanted to book 2nd AC ticket but to my surprise it was already sold out so opted for AC 1st Class. The price of AC 1st class is almost like air-fare on a positive side you get a personal cabin/coupe and great food and service but it still takes looong time to travel between Bangalore and Calcutta. It takes 2.5 hours in flight and 28 hours in the fastest train which is called as Duronto (quick). We wished to get a coupe for ourselves as when you book a AC 1st Class ticket you don’t get a seat number like other class just till 4 hours of train departure that is when Railway prepares the boarding chart. Doing few search on internet one gentleman suggested the best way to get a coupe to yourselves is go to the boarding railway station and get a special ticket for your pet for a minimal price. Now that way Railway will not mix you with others and on the day of journey you can always say you left behind your pet with a friend.


The Journey:



The day of journey started with two unpleasant news. The first one maid called up to inform that she is not coming. Oh! that was hard, Pamela had to clean the house, utensils to her best as she was leaving for almost 4 weeks. And the second was rash on Aarush back. Hmm not a great start as we were not sure what the hell is this. The pre-booked taxi came well before hand and to our surprise we reached Yashwantpur in jiffy. We had to wait for an hour before boarding the train which was unpleasant with heat but a good warm-up session for the hottest summer ahead as we leave Bangalore.

The train started on time and we were greeted with red roses and wet tissue from the greeting staff. Soon they gave water bottles and told us they will be serving soup soon and checked if we need anything before that. The food was great and it was served with proper cutlery and there was foldable tables. They even came back to check if we need any extra item while having lunch. We had Indian Lunch and continental dinner and in between he had snacks, tea-coffee and soups.

The journey was really relaxing the way I wanted till we reached Cuttack (Orissa) next day, where our train and other trains including Rajdhani were stuck for 2 hours as there was protest from local people demanding one over-bridge. This two hours delay just killed all the fun, as soon passenger started to agitate and there was a big drama when people were complaining we in 1st AC still enjoying AC while they are not J. But the reality was we did not but as AC-1st class are cabins and have less people it was getting hot slowly. But again that reminded us of Calcutta which is synonymous with agitation all the time. Over the years people of Bengal have really do not know how to take ownership and lead to solve problem of their own they are always blaming someone. Any way after all that we started for Calcutta and soon it was lunch time.

Well we reached a rain soaked Calcutta post dark, it was relief from heat but took a long time to reach our pre-booked hotel at central Calcutta. A journey we will cherish long time as not sure next when I am going to have the luxury of time.

2013-07-12

Chennai DRHM

Chennai DRHM ( Dream Runners Half Marathon) was on 1st Sunday of July i.e. 7th July 2013. It was the first run out of Bangalore for me. Last time I registered for Mumbai Standard Chartered was in 2008 and was gifted with Aarush just few days before the race :D  Well Aarush is the reason why I can not run on weekdays morning but he is the catalyst who introduced me to The Pacemakers running group of Bangalore.

 It was a great escape for me from Bangalore and daily routine. a big thanks to Pamela for supporting me on this. Knew it was not going to be my best run given the fact I was not practicing at all. The last time ran was beginning of June after that it was all about running around household and office work. Working late and on weekends and busy with Aarush's school and what not. In fact I was so messed up  posted The Pacemakers  Facebook page that “I am not going” but thanks to Pamela after an hour  posted  “I will” be going.

Thanks to fellow runners a cab was booked and woke up Saturday Morning at 4:30 and meet them at the gate at 5. We were at Containment Station by 5:40 where already few fellow runners were waiting, at 6:10 boarded the Shatabdi. The train journey was fun brought back the memory of college days where traveled  in a large group for the last time.  It was fun to be noisy and so many small group chit chat ... it was real entertaining.

As soon reached Chennai the humid heat welcomed us and oh! that smell of Chennai Central. Thanks to our Tamil friends we moved to the electrical (local)  train platform and took a local train towards hotel, the last part from station to hotel was long walk . We crossed many ministerial bungalows as walked from Station to our hotel Raj Palace.

Reaching hotel there was enough opinions for lunch venue/cuisine between 30+ hungry stomachs personally stayed back had the same in the hotel and had a long nap till dark. It was ladies Final at Wimbledon and soon our room was packed with 20+ people as it is more fun to watch in group. Everyone thought it would be a big fight between German and French. But Bartoli finished the tournament quickly in a straight set with ace. Well she did not beat any big names in this tournament but she beat those who did ... a dream came true.

Dinner was like lunch again many opinion and this time personally went out to explore little beyond hotel to ‘Saravana Bhavan’ the place was packed as usual and had Paneer Dosa a foolish choice before a long run tried to mitigate with Dahi Vada (yogurt to neutralize the richness of Cottage Cheese and oil) . The bus ride back to hotel was long we had we had a walk mile personally liked it after a big meal.


Race Day ….


Woke up at 3:30 had a quick shower and realized it is going to be a tough one as was not feeling good in stomach. We were supposed to be out of hotel by 4 but there was big time drama by the arranged cab drivers, was part of the last drop. The sky was dark with cloud and it rained a lot in the night but still the weather felt hot and very very humid bay around 75~85%  precipitation. Tried to follow Coach’s warm-up session but the school ground was full of sand and dropped out from the running one. The race started at 5 and started my stop watch for the first time running with a watch and that too a GPS enabled,  started with few pacemakers for the first few kilometers and then started running of my own pace which  felt very good about. And every Kilometers Garmin showed my speed and all was looking very nice. Soon say the lead runner coming back and it was none other than our Nanjundappa. The second runner was at least a KM behind him. Soon saw many of the Pacemakers taking the turn. But my run took a downhill  as I struggled from 13KM onwards. I felt there are too much water in my bladder and I am tired from the humid condition.  So I walked run and continued till the end and many people crossed me in that process. The 2 KM I tried again to push myself but by that time I was out. As soon as I finished the race said bye to pacemakers group and walked back to hotel. Well it was a long walk but did not want to haggle with Autos.

The race was very organized with lots of police and volunteers and roads are so good that it does not seem like India. The coarse was also perfect as we ran along Bay of Bengal and the famous Marina Bay only humidity was a concern but there is no way we can avoid that in this time of the year. The sun was completely out as sky was covered with dark cloud I think it can not be better than this in July in Chennai.


Reaching Hotel, freshened up had a big breakfast and by that time all others also came back. There was a celebration in hotel where someone walked and got beers  personally skipped beer just after exercise but the fun was too good to be missed.  The train  journey back was as much fun but this time everyone was little bit tired. Enjoyed every moment of this trip and next is one going to be Hyderabad Half Marathon  in late August. Well the result below is wrong to my it will be in the range of 2:27. In TCS 10k official time made me mad now it is making me smile :D


2013-07-03

Google Page Test, CloudFlare and W3 total Cache

Installed all these three on pamela.santm.com and blog.santm.com which are running on wordpress 3.6 trunk. moved the dns details to cloudflare. While Pamela's hobby site did very well Google page test result our blog result was not great. Looks like the culprit is inbuilt gallery of wordpress which is re-sizing images and seving them on fly causing high server time. the command that helped me a lot is "mogrify -strip *.jpg" which is part of imagemagick tool kit and removes exif data from images.



2013-06-24

Aarush~nama

Last Saturday, it was father & son time again as Pamela in school after long summer vacation. Aarush was doing his part to keep my hands busy and asked him are you a Nut for being such naughty? And the apt reply was “Yes, I am; I am a coconut”. Could not stop laughing for a long time. Even though we call it a nut but coconut is not a nut botanically?

2013-06-07

Handshake

A great gesture of being humble by Mr. David Thomson today.  He did shook-hand  with the entire front row as we officially inaugurated of our new Office today.    Luckily I  was there early bird :)  and was touched by his firm handshake. He is the  wealthiest man personally saw in person  he used to be ranked in top 10 richest man according Forbes few years back.

2013-06-04

BookShelf

This was complete DYI project. Theses books are not going to be touched soon.




10 years hitch

Wow it is 10 years already for a blog/web site  which has always been early adopter of WordPress trunk :)

2013-04-09

Opinion - does it really matter ?

Opinion – a simple word everyone has one. Thanks to new social media which makes it so easy to spread it. They express it say it is personal (me included). Does it really personal once expressed ? I am not a social science expert but there are some opinions heard, read in recent time wondered what to do with them.  Tried argue with few at the beginning but at the end ignored them all. Hope you will do the same, if not leave your comments.
Scene-1 Mr. President visiting CA and ends up apologizing for a comment which sound natural but did not go well in media. Sorry Mr. President wrong choice of words everyone has such high expectation from you. If it was your predecessor may be we have not read about it Newspaper’s opinion page.
Scene-2 One Chief Minister of India decides which countries are allowed to play in one Indian state for IPL. Well she is not the first one to do there was a stage set for the same in Mumbai long time back. Looks like it is not impacting cricket much and everyone is happy with IPL Season –Six.
Scene-3 One Indian minister comments on drought. I am leaving it out and saving myself from typing.
Scene-4 In Facebook, there are opinion on Aloe-Vera to politics, economy, technology, history and what not. Well like top 3 example I could just ignore them or comment or hit the humble ‘like-button’. Not sure why there is dislike button ? May be it is more “Gamification process” than “engaging”.
Scene-5 in a recent party heard people refusing airline based on their country of origin. Does it really make sense ? 

The same person avail other products/services of that same country directly or indirectly for sure in today’s connect world. Just for the record I was drunk and wise and remained mute :)
As said in the first really thinking on the digital/social context as here I am expressing my opinion without any heart-full argument on the same.

2013-03-04

Mangalore

As mentioned we split  the travel in October with a week in between at Bangalore  Durga Pooja.  The destination for part two had to have sea and beach to cleansing the body and soul. Personally more of sea person if I have to choose between hills & sea.  We settled for Mangalore.  We booked for one hotel in the city which had maximum discount for 3 nights. We tried SumerSands the number-Uno destination for Managlore on travel. Now a resort with private beach was actually made for Expats community.

We started from Bangalore at 5 AM Sharp this time after loading the car with bags and baggage previous night. We were running low with cash but opted to find an ATM along the road and left Bangalore in hurry. This time road to Nilmangala  via Yashwantpur was more pleasant compared to last week and soon we were on NH 48. Till Kunigal  the road is now a proper 4 Lanes with tool. We paid toll twice on this part of the road but I was not complaining as I was doing constant 110/120 Km/Hr. The road from Hassan was old  undivided two lanes. But as we left early we did not face any traffic and we were soon near Sakleshpur. It was only 7:45 and I could not believe myself  that we crossed 223 KM in 2:30 hours in Indian road.



We stopped for ATM and got the dough, but missed the petrol pump next door. After breakfast, we wanted to fill fuel as the fuel needle was touching “E”. but to our surprise we crossed the small town of Sakleshpur and was already  started  the famous  Shiradi Ghat section. Soon we realized our mobile phones are out of network,  panicked little bit as there was no way to find out how far is the next petrol station. Switched off the  AC to gain one/two Kilometers of extra millage. The road condition detoriated as the pot holes got bigger and bigger.  The fuel needle was touching “E” but luckily the LED did not glow constantly. It became ON once or twice. We asked few groups of truck drivers  and their answer were very promising.  The milestones were not that comforting as they did not tell us how far we are from Gas Station.

Soon we crossed a forest check post, and we asked how far is the petrol station and got the best news the next one only couple of KM away. And just like that the Ghat section ended we filled full tank and headed for Mangalore. There was long queue for paying 5 Rupees Toll just outside Mangalore but with that we still managed to reach Managalore city by 11:30.  Nokia’s GPS was very accurate and we reached the major landmark (Hampankatta Circle) near our  Saffron Boutique Hotel  but from there it took another 10-15 minutes to reach there.

The hotel was great , newly renovated and we had a simple veg. lunch there. But the temperature and humidity was a killer and we decided for a nap.

After nap we drove towards Ullal ( 10KM south ) from Mangalore for Summer Sands. We reached soon and it was very hot at 16:00.  They charged us 100 INR per person at the gate and gave us some snacks voucher. Aarush was very impatient to get into the water. But after spending some time in the shade eating the snacks me and Aarush changed and got into the water. The beach being private was clean but it is  very rough where no one ventured to go inside deep water,  as back wave was really dangerous. I needed to keep an constant eye on Aaursh, as few times he got drifted from his seating place with the wave. He  really  played a lot;  was not happy to get out.

But now when he got out we were worried what to give for dinner as it was only 19:00.  Dinner was not  ready before 19:30 but with request the resort was able to serve us food little early and we   had a quick dinner for ourselves. On the way back, I had to stop in front of a shop which had street light to check my rear bumper which was making little sound. The shop owner was  true “Good Samaritan” fixed the bumper for free using his indigenous skills and technique which really lasted long.

Next morning, after breakfast we left for North direction  driving past Managalore port, Chemical factory and major refinery. We drove to  Panambur beach first, the beach was OK OK nothing great. There is one light house with little shacks. After that we crossed  Surathkal (KREC, Alma matter of my younger brother) according to guidebook Surathkal beach is one of the clean and hidden gem of Mangalore but we skipped it for Udupi. Udupi is famous for it Krishna Temple and during noon you get Prasad as whole meal. Udupi and its cuisine can be found across India famous for vegetarian  dishes.  The direction to temple was clear but as we approached, the road got narrower and parking became difficult. After parking the car in a designated parking lot we walked  to reach the temple. The Sun was a real killer. There was some queue in the temple but not very long. After paying our homage to Lord Krisha we were waiting for the special Prasad and after 40 minutes or so understood there was no Prasad that day as it was ‘Ekadashi (eleventh day of moon calendar).

We came out of the temple and walked back to car and not sure what to do next. We were hungry but the Sun and heat suggested stay inside only. So after deliberation  headed for Malpe beach. We missed the sign for beach and took a detour around Maple jetty oh! boy there was the smell of fish.  There was one nice big resort called Paradise. We stopped there had a long lunch intentionally and ordered desert and cold drinks in steps just to kill time we almost sat there for 3 hours. At last around 4 headed for the beach.

The beach was crowded but soon we realized this has one of the best ‘white –sand’ we have been to.  The waves were more gentle compared to its southern cousin and there were many adventure activities going on. You can go up in the parachute ride, the banana ride and water jet. Me and Aarush enjoyed a long stay in the warm water.  Once it started to get dark we left the beach and headed towards the car. We could not even leave Malpe when the thunderstorm hit us. It was heavy  rain with lighting. It caused havoc on the road. We continued driving and probably the worst rain driving for me. Ultimately,  stopped and pull over as it was little scary to drive behind red lights of other car with no visibility of the general road.  But any way we could not stop for ever - so after 10/15 minutes started and continued driving.  We reached a rain soaked Mangalore quite late.

Took an Auto from Hotel after getting fresh and headed  for a small fast food place called “Hot Bitez” Oppsite  Canara College on Jail Road. We picked this place from a blog with a catchy title .  Well, the food was OK OK  with fries and burger you can be never be wrong with Aarush, On our way back we enjoyed the festival of “Dusherra rally” where children to adult dress up like tiger and they are accompanied by drums and music. It is like a carnival. They start from the city center and go around. The party starts around midnight and last till wee hours of the morning. We were tired to enjoy this for long. But it was a shame of not having DSLR with us to capture the color and expression at that time.

Next day, after a breakfast we drove down south again and this time we drove for 70 KM south and visit the famous Bekal fort in Kerala. The fort was built around 1650 over 40 acres of land. In recent time it got prominent when famous director Mani Ratnam shoot his mega film Bombay in early nineties.  A very beautiful fort with many watch towers, with  breath taking view of Arabian sea as we walked along the parameters.

It was a holiday on the occasion of Id,  complete Kerala was closed. We made a big fool of ourselves by not having food at Bekal Fort before leaving from there. We reached  Summersand again and had a late lunch there. After spending time on beach we opted to leave early and have a proper dinner in Mangalore city. We asked our hotel reception to suggest a Mangalorian restaurant and they suggested one. We went by auto and the place was nice, crowded with families waiting for their turn. We were really hungry and ordered  lots of food. The food came after some time but it was so spicy that Pamela who normally handles hot and spicy food well could not handle too. It was a disaster in simple words, Aarush was very sleepy and we could not force him much.

Next day, was our last day in Mangalore and we started slow. We visited the famous ‘St. Aloysius Chapel” which is inside a educational campus. There are beautiful stained glass and the floor is simply awesome with mosaic. We went by auto and after spending sometime went to picture butterfly in near by Tagore park. After that we just walked back towards our hotel . We stopped at the famous Ideal Ice Cream Parlor and tried  their famous “Gadbad”. Aaursh really liked it as it was his breakfast and soon we ordered the Dilkush,  after the big ice-creams we headed back to our room, packed our things, payed the bill and started for Bangalore.

This time our tank was full when we cross Ghat section but as we crossed it around mid-day there were traffic and driving uphill had its own fun on those curves. Just after crossing Chikmanglur town we stopped for lunch. It was very crowded. Post lunch we drove straight to Bangalore without any stop.

2013-01-02

Bijapur-Chitradurga

Day-5, Woke up at 4:30 in the morning as I could barely sleep whole night. Had mu bath and got little bit packing down to ensure we leave Bijapur at the earliest. Woke Pamela & Aarush around 5:30 and we started to walk to Gol Gumbaz. Unfortunately the lady who manages the ticket counter did not show up till 6:30. We were the first one to enter. After the local guard gving us little more history lesson asked us to climb the steps quickly before anyone. We climbed the seven story building using medieval steps which gets steeper as you climb. Aarsush did a great job of climbing all by himself. We were the only one at thw whispering gallery and able to whisper between ourselves across the hall. It is a amazing feeling of hearing the slightest of sound across football field. But after 10 minutes of so we got lousy intruders and we called it a go. Climbing down was more difficult at times.


Reaching hotel we had breakfast and Aarush and Pamela took shower and by 9 headed out for Bangalore. The drive was again on newly constructed NH-13 and by 11 we reached Hospect. We did not stopped and continued driving and by 13:30 reached Chitradurga. We first tried Hotel Aishwarya Fort which was just a dignified bar bar and bar. We left it as me and Aarush even could not use their rest room. We came to Naveen Regency which was a pleasant surprise. The hotel was clean and there was no drinking in the restaurant which made it more comfortable.

After a nice lunch we headed for ‘Chitradurga Fort’ – Chitra(picture) durga(fort). This fort was built between 10-18th centuries by different rulers and at last post independence it was part of Mysore dynasty before handing over to Archaeological Survey of India (ASI). As it was weekday there were hardly any tourist there. Once we entered the fort one guide approached us and after little bargain he agreed to be our guide.

As the fort was built over many centuries it was like a mini town within the fort itself. There are many layers of walls to cross to reach the fort entry. To minimize any attack there are sharp turns, narrow but strong doors which can withstand attack from charging elephants. We kept on climbing as we explored the beauty and history. After a climb of 40/45 minutes we reached a plateau where there are the main temple and swing area.

From there we again climbed down to go to the back side of the fort. The back side of the fort is not that fortified. But it has natural boundaries. And most attack on th fort has been on the front as the accessibility is very poor. The attraction is “Onake Obavva”, where one lady managed to kill many soldiers of Hyder Ali as they tried to enter from the back. You can read it all here.( http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Onake_Obavva)

Now after many steps and ups and downs Aarush was tired and so are we. A day of climbing steps with history which started in morning in Bijapur. We started around 5 PM for Bangalore and did not make any stop as we missed one decent Kamat near Tumkur L . The traffic was horrible as usual and it got only worse as we approached home. We stopped at McDonald just in-front of our home as Aaursh was not happy with this trip at all .. all the temples .. daemons and mythological figures. Any way it was a long drive on the last day but very much doable.

Badami and Bijapur

Day-4, Morning we woke up early and headed towards to Bansankari Temple to start our day. Bansankari has lady idol with eight hands which is worshiped meticulously around. We saw one lady rolling herself around the whole temple periphery with wet cloth which signifies she just took a bath in the nearby holy-pond. We got a good darshan of the devi idol as there was not much crowd in the morning.

We came to hotel and waited for our breakfast which was bit late as we woke up early. After breakfast we headed for the Badami caves. Badami has 4 caves inspired by Ellora. There are lots of monkeys in the base and cave-1 (dedicated to lord Shiva). You must not carry any food or water bottle, we got ourself a guide who has been in this business for last 20 years and he explained in details each cave and allowed us enough time to take plenty of pictures. Though the objects are same as we have seen in Hampi, Aihole and Patadkal but as they curved them out of the rock and created temple in cave formed these objected remained in better shape as at least they are saved from direct rain.


Once we completed all the caves we took our car through the busy market, I just stopped at times for few minutes before moving another inch as there was no space on both ends. Somehow we reached the Bhutanatha temple again Aarush opted for staying in car and we quickly went around the temple.

We came to hotel to checkout and hotel guys suggested we should go to Mahakuta temple before headed in towards Bijapur. This is a Shiva Temple and there is a pond which is considered quite holy to take a dip. After spending a short time there we headed towards to Bijapur directly skipping lunch.

The afternoon sun was hot like last two days and we continued nonstop to Bijapur( 120 KM). Personally was not very favorable about this choice as thought of having a lunch at Badami before heading towards the highway.
Anyway reached Bijapur and we opted for Hotel Pearl on Station road. The hotel is a very basic one and does not carry any recommendation, some websites and friends mentioned about Hotel Madhuvan were we did enquire from Bangalore. Any way after a quick checkin we headed towards the attractions of Bijapur.

We started with Jod Gumbaz (twin tomb) and from there we went to Ibrahim Rauza. As we were shooting photograph one guide appeared to offer his service. We agreed for a town wide tour with whatever can be covered in the remaining sun light. It was good to have him in the car as we did not have to ask for any direction every non and then and moved from one attraction to another. We covered Malik-e-Maidan(the great canon), Barakaman, Jami Masjid , Taj Bawdi, Mehtar Mahal, Asar Mahal. The only key attraction that was left was Gol Gumaz and guide told us the history and asked us to get up early in the morning to get good experience of the same.

He left us around 6 PM next to the Barakaman in one restaurant where we three tired and hungry person waited for their service to start at 7. Aaursh did his best had some food and we also quickly finished our food and headed to hotel. There was no hot water anymore and we were told it will start again in the morning 4. Really hated the whole thing.

2013-01-01

Aihole and Patadkal

Day-3, post breakfast we hit the road, this time we followed the GPS voice of Pamela’s Lumia more attentively and with ease we head out of Hospet and join the highway. The highway NH-13 between Hospet and Bijapur is recently widen to 4 lane. It was a pleasure driving, the road was not at all crowded and surprisingly the trucks maintained the left lane. Was driving around 110/120 KMph without any trouble and soon reached Hungund. From there we took left turn towards Aihole.



There are plenty of sign for Aihole but when we reached we were greeted with a rustic village. There was no guides or local man asking us and by mistake we crossed the village and started with Jain Temple which is located on the isolated back side of the hill.

From there we came to village and visited – Hucchappayya Math Complex, Mallikarjuna Complex, Ravana Pahdi & Hucchimalli temple complex. Aarush had little snack while the car was under a tree shade. But the sun again was too hot and scotching hot. All these places we were the only visitor most of the times.

From there we went to Durga temple complex – the key attraction of Aihole. This time we found guide and after little bargain we hired one. After 90  minutes of tour we called it a day in Aihole.

The construction & sculpture at Aihole is considered the basic or primary for Karnataka. This is the very place where people inspired by Ellora started their love affair with stone.

From there we took the road towards Patadkal. The roads is a typical village road and the sun was very hard on us.  We reached there around 15:00; we did not had any proper lunch as there was no suitable place along the road to stop. We waited in the car had little more snacks & fruits that we had with us. We got in to the UNESCO Heritage site around 15:30 when the shadow got little longer. We hired a guide and without him the true beauty and history of this place would have remained unknown to us. There are seven temples dedicated mostly to Lord Shiva. Other than one remaining six is not functional as either the idol is broken or missing. The key of Patadakal is unique mix of South and North Indian temples. After 2 hours of trip down the memory lane we called it a day and left for Badami. As soon as we came out of the main temple complex we found the lone Jain temple on our right hand side and we did a quick stop there.

The road to Badami with orange sunlight with the backdrop of hills was very beautiful. The rocks were glowing with soft sunlight. We reached Badami before sunset and ordered some coffee and snacks as we reached our hotel Badami Court.

Dinner was a simple one, and after a long day we hit the bed early.


2012-12-24

Hampi - history carved in granite

Day – 1, As planned we left Bangalore quite late in our standard after a big breakfast at home around 11, the traffic on a Saturday as usual was very heavy and it continued that way till we crossed Nelamangala. After that the traffic got better but there were too many diversions as there was work going on to build flyovers and road widening on NH-4. We filled fuel somewhere after Nelamangala, and noticed there were not many decent stops like CCD or others. We did make a quick stop after one of those toll-plaza before Chitradurga to have lunch inside the car with the home cooked paratha (stuffed bread).

At Chitradurga we need to take an diversion and left NH-4 and continued on NH-13 (Solapur Highway). This is a undivided 2 lane road. There are not many small vehicles but lots of big rigs. We found lots of Sunflower field and stopped in one of them for a quick photo-shoot. The road is full of pot holes and unmarked speed breakers. But it was not that bad and I got used to it after a while and reached outskirts of Hospet around 4PM. There we saw the many mining dump-truck but this is just a small part compared to its neighbor Bellary.

Finding our destination Hotel Malligey was easy as it is quite well known, we checked in before dusk. The room were very spacious and we were welcomed by very friendly staff there. After getting freshen up we fixed a guide from hotel’s travel desk for next day. Initially we planned for 3 nights stay with 2 days of Hampi but Hotel people suggested we could shorten one day. Later realized it was a good idea as one gets bore with stone after a while. But if you are coming from a distance it might be a good idea to spend second day as there are many sights to cover.


Day – 2, We started with complementary breakfast from hotel towards Hampi as our guide was waiting near his village. We picked him up and started with “Pattabhi Ram Mandir” . From there we went to “Vittala Temple” via “Talarigatta Gate”. From the car park there are golf cart which takes you to Vittala Temple (around 2 KM) via the historic market area. Tough it was just 10 on the watch but the Sun was too bright and hot. Our guide did a good job in explaining the details. From there we proceed to Royal Center.

We started with Saraswathi Temple, it was only us in this less visited temple. Next to it was Octagonal Bath, a place used by horse traders and other outsider. After that we came to Queen Bath a unique mix of Indian & Persian architecture. Each dome is designed differently. The peripheral verandah provided the required shade and privacy for royal women.

The ‘Mahanavami Dibba’ is a huge area with many sites within the key is off-course Dassara platform. The kings of Hampi used to celebrate Dassara a big way currently royal family Mysore celebrate the same. Aarush became bored with stones and fatigued with so hot sun, he preferred to stay in the car to play ‘angry bird’ ?

After this we moved our car to ‘Hazara Rama Temple’ a royal temple which depicts the Indian epic Ramayana on stone wall. This was a temple only for royal family to pray and enter. There is ‘Archeology Gallery and Office; which we skipped and headed straight to ‘Zenana(ladies) Enclosure’ . The key attraction inside is offcourse ‘elephant stable’ and ‘lotus mahal’ another key thing to notice is the watch towers. Each of them are different- one is circular and other one triangular. Now it was almost 12:30 and we agreed to stop for lunch and have a good break to avoid the sun which was really too hot to handle.

The number uno destination for food in Hampi is Mango Tree – a vegetarian place next to the Tungabhadra River under giant mango tree. You get all kinds of food which is a delicacy given the remoteness of Hampi. The best part was we ordered in parts to linger our stay in shade.

At around 3/3:30 we started again, and there is a road which connects to Virupaksha Temple. But looks like it is kind of private road where our guide opened a huge gate next to Mango Tree to let us in. Virupaksha temple is still a working temple and you will find Laxmi , the temple elephant there. After Virupaksha temple we crossed Hampi bazaar and drove uphill to Kadalekalu Ganesha. This is known as Hemakunta hill where many attraction can be covered on foot. But we skipped it as that would mean we have climb down the hill to Hampi Bazar again.

From there we went to Laxmi Narayan and Badavilinga temple. We drove past the famous two storied gateway. A perfect place to enjoy sunset among glowing granites. We headed to Krishna Temple and on route saw ‘Akka Tangi Gudda’ (sister stone) two giant boulders forming an arch. We visited underground Shiva temple next and noblemen quarter.

The sun was now dropping and we had a dilemma what to do next, our guide suggested we visit one more temple not so visited by tourist due to its offtrack location. The temple is Pattabhirama Temple a huge temple with stone carvings are still intact. We should have went to ‘Hemakunta hill’ to watch sun set but instead headed to Tungabhadra reservoir and got lost in Hospet town. It was a long day and Aarush went to sleep so headed to hotel.

Lots of stone, art and history at the end it at times feel heavy on head reminding touring Louvre museum of Paris for a whole day.

Road trip - October 2012

Visiting the northern part of Karnataka for its historic and artistic monuments were long due. We thought of doing it two years back during 15th August long weekend but postponed the same due to late rain and high water level at Tungabhadra Rivers. This year we started to plan early and consulted two avid travelers and their guidance in setting up the itinerary. It was planned that we would use the 2 weeks school vacation for this trip, but then I personally felt it would be a great miss Durga pooja twice in a row. So we modified our itinerary again and split the same in two with 5/6 days of stay in Bangalore to celebrate Durga Pooja.

On the negative side it resulted in longer drive for me and dropping few destinations from Northern sea-side destinations. Now we have to do that another time as it would require another sojourn of a week to complete. Here is both the list for a easy reference.


Bangalore-Hampi-Aihole-Patadkal-Badami-Bijapur-Bangalore

Days

Start

Activity

Distance

Stay

Day-1BangaloreHospet - a simple a laure drive365 KMHotel Malligey
Day-2HospetHampi - Day Trip in Stone Age15 KMHotel Malligey
Day-3HospetAihole + Patadkal , night stay in Badami158 KMBadami court
Day-4BadamiBanashankari tempi and badami cave followed by Mahakuta Temple and drive to Bijapur and covered as many place we could142 KMHotel Pearl, nothing great checkout others
Day-5BijapurEarly morning Gol Gumaz - we were the first and sole visitor of the wispering gallery. Head out to Bangalore by 9. lunch at Chitradurga and visit the fort and drive back home527 KMSweet Home

2012-12-21

Coonoor - Acre Wild

We followed road suggested by Mr. Vijay to reach Coonoor, which was quite deserted except few local people we were the only one on that road. This road goes via tea gardens and gives a treat to your eyes. Once we reached Coonoor we parked next to the bus stand and had a quick thali lunch in nearby busy restaurant. After that we headed towards our Farmstay - Wild Acre. The direction given by Mr. Mansoor is very accurate and we reached without any trouble. The location is just back of Coonoor bus stand and very well marked.


After putting our stuffs and a small introduction of the cheese and farm and its produce from Deepak we went out to explore Coonoor. We went to the botanical garden which has trees from all over the world. We must admire those British for bringing tree or plant from faraway places and making themselves feel at home far away from their motherland. Be it Shillong (summer capital of Assam in British days) or Coonoor, they have similarities with parks, lakes well planned roads in hills and old British Bungalows. Coming back to the botanical garden, it is well maintained but Indian common culture of eating and playing cricket anywhere and everywhere within the park will surely take a toll slowly on the green patches.

Aarush demanded to take a boat ride and as he was upset about leaving RedHill behind ;   we managed to get our turn quickly as there was no proper queue for boating. It took 10 minutes to complete the paddling.And after some photo shoots of here and there we left the botanical garden behind.

Next we drove through Wellington – a Indian Army Area. The whole area is under Indian Army and they have officer training camp and many other training facilities. Also there is a golf course which is really worth its name. After driving cluelessly we headed back to Acre Wild. We went down from our cottage to main dining area for dinner around 8 and literally forced them to cook on time. The food was OK, the quality and service was on the negative side. Though Mr. Monsoon appeared briefly and promised he will join ; but after many minutes of waiting and as food was getting cold we had our dinner and told them again and again to keep the breakfast ready for next day on time.


Next day we woke up around 7.00am and took morning walk through the farm and some picture shots of birds and surrounding scenic area before we went for breakfast. The breakfast included freshly baked bread and farm made cheese. It was much better than dinner we must admit. We met another family from Bangalore who were visiting Coonoor for the second time. We shared our previous night dinner experience and it seems they had the same on their first night and opted for self prepared dinner.

We had a big plan to ride the World Heritage Blue rail from Coonoor to Ooty and visit Ooty city and comeback. The railway station is a small one and parking was a nightmare as there were many many taxi, vans waiting for tourist coming in the peak of summer vacation. We booked the ticket of 1st class train ticket. And Parking attendee told me to wait and park once parking lots get little free after all passengers came to Coonoor moves out. It sound simple but it was not so....it was too congested and as I was driving backwards; scratched my bumper and everyone was honking at me. In mean time, Pamela was calling to tell the train is about to leave.

In that process I missed the train and had to drive from Connor to Ooty while Aarush and Pamela went by train. Pamela & Aarush were really upset, Aarush cried whole way thinking his dad was lost..... it was total disaster.Now after driving from Conoor to Ooty (via the main highway this time) was waiting at the railway station.  Pamela appeared unhappy with the situation but looking at car dent she didn't had anything else to say.

Having own car was bliss on other side, we reached botanical garden of Ooty to start with but with rotten mood. This time parking was OK and as we were taking a stroll within garden it started to rain. We took shelter in the glass house.  After botanical garden we drove to Ooty main market from there we came to Café Coffee Day for a break and it rained again. Lucky us, we dodged the rain twice. We saw tourists drenched in the sudden rain and shivering in cold.

We had a late lunch at XXX and bought the famous Ooty chocolate from king's Star.

After that we went to Rose Graden, by this time we could feel the chillness in Ooty’s air after the rain as day was coming to an end. After taking a full round of the rose garden we headed back to Coonoor. The Rose Garden is really big and has many varieties of rose from Japanese green to black rose.

We bought some packets of Maggi before entering Acre Wild. It was raining like dogs and cat as we had self prepared dinner. It was a day which ended with high note as we had our car and saved from rain.

Next day the breakfast was again a disappointment as no cheese no fresh bread. It was simple plain toast and omelet. Mrs. Mansoor joined us for breakfast as both the guest were leaving for Banglore. May be she was there to ensure we settled our bills properly or not. Any way I would not rate this place for hospitality. They have functional kitchen, clean bathroom and it is your choice to stay there or not. May be coming out of a great hospitality of Red Hills our expectation was high as we read many positive comments in travel forum and blogs.

Before heading back to Ooty we went around Wellington one more time. Crossing Ooty with traffic reminded us of reality. Traffic police tried their best to prevent us from going via the shortest route (36 hairpin bend). But we convinced them we will drive slow and maintain 2nd gear all along. Coming down a steep hill is always riskier than going up but we just followed the rules mentioned on the road. We drove in 2nd gear, no speeding, no overtaking and following lane.

We stopped Popeye's at Masinagudi, it is a fast food center with French Fires and burgers & wraps. The place is clean and has a clean toilet the food is decent and run by a lovely couple. What else to ask in the middle of nowhere.

We came across few tuskers of forest department as we cross Masinagudi jungle range. We did not stopped around Mysore and finally stopped at Café Coffee Day for a refreshment.

2012-09-26

A magical gateway called - RedHill

The drive to Ooty was thrilling with those 36 hairpin turns. We reached the outskirt of the city and asked for direction to Emerald/Avalanche and reached bypassing central Ooty town. We passed Ooty lake on Lake Road and crossed Good Shepherd School, Fern Hill Road and at last drove on Avalanche Road. The place ‘Avalanche’ gets its name as there was a massive land slide in early 1800. From Emerald (after the bridge) we took a left and the road condition continued to degrade as we crossed Avalanche Lake. We called the Mr. Vijay few times just to ensure we are on the right track, road is full of small stones and pebbles. It is easy to start doubting oneself and its direction, as there no one to ask for directions from. It is treat we enjoyed the pristine beauty of the surroundings while ensuring not scraping bottom of my car.

When we started in the morning it was clear sky but the sky was getting darker every hours. We were the only guest during lunch time, the food was Indian freshly made and tasty. Post lunch it was dark sky as we returned to our room for a siesta and it started to rain. It was a pleasure to enjoy the rain only from the hill top. Rain made it even more pristine with each leaves shining after talking bath. Once Aarush woke up he found his newly found best friend waiting for him. It is German Sheppard named Moby who is so friendly that after a while we were not scared that Aarush was almost touching his teeth. While we were having evening coffee we met another family. They were also from Bangalore and we mingled up very well. This family of four had 2 boys who became Aarush new hero. And adult had fun chatting while taking a stroll. Aarush was happy as it was all boys and “Moby’ the German Sheppard of Red Hill kept him busy.

At evening, temperature started to drop and we enjoyed a lovely conversation in front of a working fire place. It is unimaginable when whole India is basking with summer in Middle of April we are seating in front a Fireplace. We planned for next day’s activity with our host. Dinner served was continental - absolutely great one. After a long time really had a true continental dish in home setting.


Next day we woke up at 5, big thanks to Pamela for her determination to capture the Sun rise. We captured a perfect rise. After a good night sleep and a healthy breakfast we were all set for the big hike. Mr. Vijay arranged for the guide and we started to climb up. The climb was steep but best part was Aarush walked most part himself. We took many small breaks in between to look down at the lakes. After each climb the view got better and effort worth it. From the peak you get a panoramic view of lakes. When I uploaded picture from my mobile people commented was it ‘Scotland’ ?


After climbing down and having our lunch we continued with chit chat. Most times as time permitted Mr. & Mrs Vijay joined us. After evening tea we left for Parsons Valley Dama and soundings. This time all the guest travelled in Mr.Vijay’s Scorpio and the driver drove gently to ensure spotting wild life. We spotted a herd of Sambar deer and black color Nilgiri langur. They are just like normal grey langur in height and etc. only deference is body color.

On the way back Aarush fall asleep after a full day of activities. And we let him sleep as he was very tired from the long hike and continuous running with Moby. We were joined by another couple from Bangalore where the gentleman just came for a long hike next day as his preparation to Mt. Everest base camp.

Next morning the sunrise was not perfect as it was covered by sun. Post breakfast we were supposed to move out but for once we did not want to leave this beauty of soundings and wonderful hospitability of Mr. Vijay. And we lingered there enough and made a move to our next and last stop ‘Connor’ which is only

Even after months of this trip Aarush is still a big fan of him and looking forward when he will go back to Red Hill.

2012-09-14

Masinagudi

The long waited Summer Vacation of 2012 ; earlier we used to escape the peak season madness now we are in the madness since both Aarush and Pamela are now part of active school. And we are going to be like this for years to come with no other choice. With that said, still wanted to avoid the crowded destinations. We wanted to visit ‘ Nilgiris’ the number uno summer destination of South India and picked Mudumalai, Ooty(Red Hills) and Connoor. We booked Red Hills Nature resort first, Wild Acres in Connoor second and at last Jungle Lodge at Masinagudi. All these booking were done with at least month in advance keeping in mind pick season.

We started from Bangalore on Sunday 15th April. The plan was to start very early morning but the alarm in BlackBerry was only for weekdays and it did not buzzed as it was Sunday (alarm only on weekday). We started from our home around 6:30 AM the traffic in Bangalore-Mysore was as usual crazy. Reached Mysore around 9 AM and stopped at Kamat near Mysore-Zoo for breakfast. From there the road to Masinagudi is 100KM and we had to travel on typical Indian 2 Lane Highway (undivided). The drive was nice only in the last part of Karnataka side there were many unmarked speed breaker in Bandipur Forest range. On the way we spotted many spotted deers. We reached Masinagudi in high noon with scorching heat and filled up the tank with diesel there. The road to JungleHut is well marked and we reached around 12 there.


Host welcomed us with warm greetings and invited Aarush for b’day party later in the evening. Aarush was very keen to jump in the swimming pool right then & there and we pursued him for later. The lunch was great with many choice and felt like a great start for vacation. We retired to our hut and took a small nap. Around 16:30 we went for a open jeep road side safari. We saw many spotted dears on our way to mayor dam. On our way back we spotted wild Boar, peacocks; the driver/guide was great and he took us to a detour and we spotted Mongoose and Sambar Deer. Sambar Deer was very shy and camouflaged and being dark could not take any picture.

Coming back to JungleHut we found the B’day part just finished but there were cakes and etc. We celebrated the same and got freshened up. The dinner was excellent with a touch of continental food. Aarush was very happy as there were many others around his age group and had a good time before retiring to bed. It was decided next morning Pamela will go for walk into the nearby jungle in the early morning . This track sound very promising as the Sunday Morning people were able to spot a leopard.

Pamela and another lady left for tracking early next morning and they spotted one sloth bear just outside the resort. Rest of the track they spotted plenty of birds no more luck with big cat. Me & Aarush dipped into the pool and had great fun; being Monday most of the guest left for home and the resort became little deserted. Within the resort we spotted woodpecker and other birds. In the afternoon post lunch we went back to Bandipur (Karnataka Side) for safari. And were extremely lucky to see one sleeping tiger. Apart from these we spotted many dears, peacocks (in umpteen no.) wild boar, elephants as well.

Tuesday morning it was my turn for morning jungle safari. I was alone with the guide we spotted sambar deer and others. While trekking we could hear noise of wild animal roaring from very nearby (it seems animal spotted us) but I couldn’t see any. Well, after breakfast we headed out for Ooty.


2012-08-22

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.

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...