Back to this page after a long long time. Had to be this quarantine time to type in a few words.
Sometimes you come to a stage in life when you know that a metamorphosis has happened. What was past is past and you have come to be a new being. Though nothing new has happened, no drastic change has happened but internally it feels like that. Sometimes when it feels like that you keep it to yourself or write it down. When you write it down and come back to read it, it feels great, sometimes it also feels that was it me who had written this ?
Don’t know how but today it feels like as if a long bike ride is round the corner.
Came across these beautiful lines from a book which is lying to be read. I have started keeping a book handy along with the book i am currently reading. It does 2 things: 1)Reduces the TAT of picking the next book 2)You start knowing the book much before you start reading it. The second point is very important in book reading, you need to break that bond before picking the next book. So coming back to the lines,’ Whether you prevail or fail, endure or die depends more on what you do for yourself than what the world does to you.’
Between Udaan is the name of my bike and it is calling for a ride because,’ इक उड़ान कब तलक यूँ कैद रहेगी.’
I look up and see a coconut tree, few scattered stars in the Mumbai sky and an airplane which just took off. It is 1 am at Juhu Beach and there are hardly any people around. I sit speaking with my office colleagues and contemplate in the occasional silence. I am amazed that even in cities like Mumbai we can find that corner of peace. I must say an imagery of life , there is always that quiet in all the chaos. On my way to this place the Autowallah happily had shown the gates of Bacchan residence. I smile and think what makes this city special : Bollywood ? Underworld ? Bar Stock Exchange ? Local trains ? or something else ? Maybe it is about the hope , the hope with which everyone gets up irrespective of where they come from , Dharavi or South Mumbai.
Everytime in life when i feel low, i get motivated by the smiling face of a lassi wala who used to travel 80 km daily one way to sell lassi in the busy Nehru Place Market. 20 km cycle ride which begins at 4 am , a couple of train rides and here he is daily , day in day out . What motivates him ?I will never know but for me it will be always about the discipline. Was reading an article today,” Why I respect Fit People” it talks about the discipline and it nothing but discipline that carries us forward.
While the world will be talking of Modi, of Airport looks , of Sports Cars, of Football games, of rich people, there will always be some who will be perched somewhere and experience a beautiful sunrise. Of all the comparisons that the world throws at you , there will always be sunsets, sunrises, stars which will equalize us all and probably someday we might all stop chasing targets and chase life becomes more about,”chasing sunsets and Starry Nights.”
What a wonderful morning ride I had today, will stay in my memory for a long time. The usual time for opening of the National Park was by 6 am but I was already there at 5:45 , waiting , making sure that i don’t waste much time as I had to ride 250km and report for work. The security guy made me wait for 5 minutes and then opened. It was then I entered the Mudumalai National Park, all on my own with no humans around , it was just the forest, the trees, the clouds, the morning mist emanating from a small pool, birds chirping and me. Just at the entrance of the Mudumalai National Park saw a herd of deers, about 100 in number , peacefully grazing.
It was that time of the morning where you debate whether to switch off the vehicle lights or not, the sun fighting to come out of the clouds and color of the sky changing from ruddy orange to blue. It was among all this that a family of Elephant crossed the road, peacefully, much like how the morning was. I kept riding in the lush greenery watching the painted sky the winding roads. I think there was something in this morning , it gifted me yet again with a small size leopard sighting. If there is a road there is always a story and some stories are best told without pictures clicked.
Masinagudi is a beautiful place very close to the Bandipur Forest Reserve. Situated at 243 km from Bangalore, this is an amazing place for a weekend getaway. The route passes through the Bandipur forest reserve which is so scenic.
Masinagudi is located in Mudumalia wildlife sanctuary and you should definitely take a jeep safari both early morning and evening. I was lucky enough to spot a bear and few wild elephants. If you are planning a trip to ooti , you can club masinagudi in your itinerary and spend a night here.
Where to stay: I would highly recommend Safari Land Villa for its spacious rooms, scenic location and an amazing swimming pool. The food was average but the staff is really good.
So what is stopping you from stepping out for a 5 hour journey to this beautiful place in Karnataka ?
Coastal Karnataka is less hyped and very beautiful. Right from beaches, temples, waterfalls and amazing cuisine, this should be on your travel list. I did a 4 days trip in this region was mesmerized, given an opportunity I would spend some more time in this region.
How i did it : Overnight bus from Bangalore to Manipal. Kept the base at Manipal, got a good deal and booked stay at Country Inn and suites by Radisson. Rented a bike at R R Bros Manipal and traveled to all the nearby towns , beaches etc.
Day 1: Murudeshwar
Day 2: Udupi and Manipal
Day 3: Koodlu Teertha waterfalls
Day 4: Doddamane , Kundadri
At a distance of 103 km one way from Manipal is Murudeshwar which has the second tallest Shiva Statue. The sea on three sides surrounds the temple towering on the small hill called Kanduka Giri. This is a great place to watch the sunset. Murudeshwar is also known for the Murudeshwar Fort and wonderful beaches. Nearby Netrani Island is also a very popular spot for tourists as it offers excellent boating, snorkeling and scuba diving opportunities.
Exactly midway to Murudeshwar is Maravanth Beach. It is one of its kind with the beach on one side and river on the other. There a cemented platform to sit and the atmosphere is relatively quiet. In fact like us, you can plan to see the sunset here while returning back from Murudeshwar.
Udupi and Manipal:
Manipal is a strategic town which is close enough to Udupi and Mangalore. Owing to a big college it is a very fun kind of town with lot of eating joints, cafes and pubs. Also one can just head to one day of gluttony to Mangalore , with the must try pot Biryani. In Manipal city you should explore Baba point and Suvarna River
Udupi is famous for its beaches . especially Malpe and Kapu. Malpe beach is clean with a lot of water activities. However the main attraction of Malpe beach is to catch a half an hour ferry ride to St Mary’s Island. Probably my best memory of this trip would be bathing in crystal clear waters at St Mary’s Island. You get a 2 way ferry for 300 bucks and this trip is totally worth the hassle. This place also reminds us how beaches untouched by humans still have their beauty.
Kapu is the lighthouse beach of Udupi. There is a light house at the beach which adds to the beauty of the beach. Try climbing to the top of lighthouse and experience the sunset from there. The view of the Arabian Sea is mesmerizing from here.
Koodlu Teertha Waterfalls:
I am a waterfall person so spent 1 day at this amazing waterfall. Located at about 50km one way from Manipal, this was an amazing ride. The Manipal Agumbe road has amazing greenery and at many places it is almost like a canopy of trees. You leave the Manipal Agumbe road and take a detour 10 kms inside for the beginning of the trek to the waterfalls. This detour is almost like offroad biking and adds to the charm if you are on the bike. The trek to the waterfall is simple 40 minutes walk crossing a few streams and so a good trekking shoes would be favorable. There is a small place to eat about 500 m from the base of the trek. This was an amazing waterfall and totally worth the effort.
Doddamane , Kundadri
The scenic Manipal Agumbe route made me take the trip to Doddamane. Doddamane,Doddamanne, 2 episodes of Malgudi days were shot in this house. This 120 year old house is an architectural marvel as well with a central courtyard , underground storage, well lighted and ventilated rooms . Currently it is run as a guest house and has awesome food. This is on the main road and one cannot miss out on it.
Situated at about 20km from Doddamane, the ride to Kundadri top is interesting and the view from top is quite surreal. Perfect place to reach after a 70 km ride and take a break with the view.
I do not like to compare Indian places with Western Names, Gandikota is one gem of an unique place in Andhra.Though a lot of people refer this as being the Grand Canyon of India, I would let it be as it is.
Gandikota is worth a weekend ride from Bangalore. I rode here solo covering a total distance of 282 kms. Though it might look as a little more for a weekend, if you start early you will definitely be there by lunch time.
The ride is really scenic plus if you start at 4 , you get to see the sunrise on empty roads. The condition of roads are good, i only felt that there were fewer places to eat on the way.
I did not find a lot of places to stay at Gandikota and booked a room at Haritha Resort.You can prebook online using the AP tourism website. If you want to camp at Gandikota, you can rent a tent from here, however I do not see the point of the same as the canyon is just walking distance from the resort. I just woke up early and saw the sunrise and also took a walk in the evening to see it in night. The rooms were comfortable and food good enough to survive.
I hope you go there when there are very few people and it will be a meditative experience.If you climb up the rocks the 360 degree view is great and the wind does blow at a good speed. My experience was amazing, i felt that this makes a perfect weekend ride getaway and ya you never are solo on the road or at a place, e.g say hi to my monkey friend at Gandikota.
If you don’t have many days and still want to experience Wildlife, Beaches, History, Culture, National Parks, Hikes, Waterfalls, Mountain Chill etc. , Sri Lanka is the place for you.Have already been to a few countries but what made the Sri Lanks trip so memorable was that you could encounter a different vegetation and climate in every 100kms. To talk in Financial terms a SriLanka trip would give you the best ROI.
When did i Go? – July ( though you might feel that it is monsoons, yet the East Coast is good enough and can be traveled)
Currency: I was traveling from Bangalore and carried Sri lankan currency through my local currency exchange place.(Please carry cash everywhere, I found Sri Lankan people very reluctant in accepting cash even at high end restaurants. Also at places where you have to pay entry fees, one was supposed to pay cash.
Flights: I took the Flight from Bangalore , it was Indigo and just 1 hour flight . Do look out while landing and if it is clear day you can clearly make out the Tail of India and beginning of Sri Lanka.
Local Commute: In Colombo I used Uber once as i had Wifi at the hotel. However you have taxis , local buses, autos for local commute. For intercity commute you have buses, trains, taxis(please bargain) and autos.
Stay: All the hotels I stayed in were pre booked at least 3 months in advance(it gives you a great choice of places at competitive Pricing)
Network : I prefer no network, however I saw Airtel advertisement in Sri Lanka, so you can find out.
Day 1: Land in Colombo
Day 2: Train to Kandy
Day 3: Kandy
Day 4: Auto from Kandy to Nuwara Eliya
Day 5: Nuwara Eliya
Day 6: Train from Nuwara Eliya to Ella
Day 7: Ella
Day 8: Bus to Tangalle
Day 9: Tangalle
Day 10: Colombo
Colombo: If you are coming to Sri Lanka , you must be definitely landing at Bandarnaike International Airport. For your information the Airport is quite far from the main city and even to reach to the first metro you will have to travel at least 30km. I took a cab (bargain)outside the airport and it dropped me to my hotel. You would be either moving towards Kandy or Galles side, either ways you might have to come to the the fort area. The fort area is crowded but beautiful.Don’t miss out on Pettah Market. I would advice you to stay in the Mount Lavinia area. There are plenty of hotels at a walking distance from the beach and this would be a great place to rest and soak the sun until you move to the next town.
I had booked a first class train ticket online from Colombo to Kandy. It was a 3 hour ride and a wonderful one. 500 meters above sea level this is the place where you get the first relief of getting away from the sea. A small clean city with a huge lake in the center will always remain in my memory, especially the run around the lake. Kandy is clean, green , pleasant with a lot to do. Temple of tooth relic, visit to spice gardens, elephant ride, a curry rice meal , visit to the buddha point are some of things that you should definitely do at Kandy. I had hired an auto to see the local places and my guy was very professional.
At an altitude of 1868m, this is an awesome destination in Sri Lanka. I took the auto from Kandy to Nuwara eliya. The route is scenic and had 2 huge waterfalls on the way which were pure bliss. The fascinating part was that in 3 hours you reach a place which is so cool. It is small lookalike of a British Town and has great places to eat. Don’t miss out the post office and lover’s leap waterfall. This is also the gateway to Horton National Park and we spent a good half day at the National Park.
We took the train from Nanu Oya to Ella. Nanu Oya is a beautiful railway station 9km from Nuwara Eliya and you will find it full of backpackers as this is the most coveted train route. We did not get the first class ticket and the train was full, we managed to squeeze in and in half an hour got place to sit. The train ride amidst tea gardens and greenery was just breathtaking. Our place to stay was at walking distance from the station. Did not expect Ella to be a party town, but yes, the main road has a lot of pubs/cafes and has a very touristy feel. We trekked to Ella Rock, the best part was a major part of the trek being on the railway track. You should also not miss out on the 9 arches bridge and have meals at various cafes. Ella was a happy happy place.
Tangalle is a lesser know, secluded beach destination of Sri Lanka. There is one long stretch of beach with varied choice of resorts and cafes. Since it was world cup time , a lot of cafes were screening the matches as well so it was double fun. We took an early morning bus from Ella and it took us 4 hours to reach Tangalle. Since we had to catch a flight in 2 days time we prebooked a taxi from Tangalle to Colombo(once again bargain). Tangalle like any other beach town offers you time to soak the sea, eat and rest. The water was very clean, however the sea was quite rough during our stay.
Stayed at amazing places with good deals, you could google these and plan you stay:
“The best things never come easy”, says the cover page of Modric’s twitter handle.
Yes it was not a Ronaldo, it was not a Messi, Modric just won FIFA’s best player of the year award. He had also won the World cup golden ball.
Me being an Arsenal supporter, it was a sin to admire a Tottenham player but yes it was, he was good and he was not flashy, sort of player who would work silently and deliver.
Six months after his arrival at Real Madrid, he was voted as the worst singing in Real Madrid’s history in a poll by pro-Madrid newspaper MARCA. Now, he’s won four Champions League titles, made the FIFPro World XI three times, and won a World Cup Golden Ball. Not bad.
“The war made me stronger. I could not imagine my family suffering with me for a long time,”
In December 1991, when Luka was six years old, the Balkan war happened. The Serbian army had been making brutal attacks on the villages of Croatia .During this time, his family had to fight the odds to survive the cruelty. The six-year-old was shocked when his grandfather was shot dead in front of his eyes. His mum was a textile worker and his father was once a mechanic, who repaired cars for Croatian soldiers. When the Serbian crusade continued, Luka’s family moved to a refugee camp.In many interviews, Luka spoke about the sound of bombs and bullets he experienced in his childhood. He adds that his sister and him used to carefully look for mines while walking in the streets.
The accidental waterfall : I just had a faint idea of a waterfall at Barot and was walking on the road to begin the trek to the fall. A local asked me where I was heading to and upon hearing about the waterfall , he assigned 2 kids to guide me to the fall.The ascent to Shesh Nag waterfall was tough and first we reached a village enroute the fall where another set of kids volunteered to guide me. The waterfall was enchanting and the ice cold water could not deter me from taking a dip.Had a Maggi and tea and offered the kids the same but they settled for a packet of chips.