Monday, September 04, 2017

Visiting Hassan, Belur, Holenarasipur and Shravanabelagola

May 13 - May 15, 2017 

The summer holidays for Pooja and Ruchir were coming to a close and Souji also had to start working at the Montessori at the end of the month. So it was the last week before things would get busy and our thought were that it would be good break to go out for a couple of days. And that led to the quick 3 day trip to Hassan, Shravanabelagola and nearby places.

May 13 - Saturday:
We left Bangalore by 7:00 AM and took a quick pitstop at 'Kadamba' restaurant on the highway. A beautiful hotel with spacious interiors and the food was good too.

We touched Hassan by about 11 AM and then then reached 'Hoysala Village Resorts'. One of the most acclaimed resorts in Karnataka, located at the outskirts of Hassan. Harish had gotten this resort booked for a couple of days, with some discounts from his company.

We have been to many resorts, but we had always wished that we stayed overnight in a resort, and what better place than the Hoysala Village Resort. 

As soon as we entered the resort, each one of us were welcomed with flower garlands, Vermilion, and with a Sarangi playing in the background. Quite an enjoyable entrance I must say!

A towel dipped in tepid water with exotic fragrance was given for each of us to freshen up before we were taken to our cottages. The neat, clean and winding narrow tiled pavement covered with beautiful flowery trees on both sides took us to our Cottage.  Our Luxury room was very well furnished with all the latest amenities, a huge double bed which accommodated all of us. The interiors were very well done , very upscale and made us feel royal. We spent a good time exploring the luxury of our room and the resort in general.

The Swimming pools were quite close to our room and the kids could not wait any longer to jump in. An ovular large pool for the adults and a nice and comfortable kids pool, with Crystal clear water. 

The kids had a whale of a time, dipping themselves and had a merry time. We spent the whole afternoon at the pool. By the time we returned the sun was already dipping. And we were a bit tired as well. So we all got a deserving nap.

In the evening we strolled lazily in and around the resort, playing Badminton, Criket and checked out the club house and other things. We then took the car out for a stroll to check out Hassan city and also visited a Hanuman temple. We spent a couple of hours checking out the town and had a good dinner at the Kamat Hotel. We reserved a double-bed room in a decent hotel for the next day evening as well. We returned back to the resort. We spent some time watching TV and then went to bed.

May 14 - Sunday:
The kids got into the pool early in the morning and spent the next couple of hours enjoying the aqua blue waters. Thanks to the kids pool, it made us more comfortable. By 9:00 AM, we had a delectable breakfast at the Cateferia, a spread which had pretty much everything one can think of. Salads, Assorted breads, Cakes, Idly, Poori, Dosa, Parathas, Upma, Kesari Bath, Cereals, Juices, Milkshakes, Coffee, Tea. The best was the the Corn Appetizers, Mashed Potatoes and baked beans. Wah - Mazaa aagaya!

The sun was up bright and shining. We checked out the hotel by 10, and drove towards Belur. Our resort was anyways on the way to Belur, and somehow we had always wanted to visit Belur because the Jackfruits are very famous there and the last time we were in Belur, we missed enjoying them and this time, we couldn't lose!

An hour's drive we reached Belur on empty roads. The Sun was hard and the temple's stone flooring had become a Tawa. We probably ran the fastest 100 meter dash from the entrance to the temple.

Even though we been here 5 years earlier along with Sanjeev and Sudhir, there was still so much to see and enjoy. The intricate carvings inside and outside the temple are just so magnificent. Souji and I explained to Pooja on the story of 'Amara Shilpi Jakkanachhari' - A movie made on Belur's temples.

On our way back, we visited Mango Gardens where Ruchir was delighted to see Mangos hanging in hundreds, that he could easily pluck. We took a little de-tour on our way back to Hassan and got to know that there was a Water-Park that had recently opened. The Yagachi backwater Adventure Sports! 

And Yagachi is a small rivulet across which a Dam has been built that I believe supplies water to Hassan and other places. The Water Sports were at the backwater area, and offered Jet Scooters. Souji and Pooja did not even blink before getting their tickets for the ride. And Ruchir was not to be left behind.

Each one went on their own Jet Scooter rounds and had a gala time. Rain or Shine, Adventure is mine was the mantra. We spent quite a while there are the backwaters post which we drove down back to Belur. On the way, we purchased 2 huge Jackfruits that were a steal, when it came to what we paid for them. 

It as about 4 PM when we had our lunch at Kamat. We then left to the hotel we had booked the previous night and took a little nap and recharged ourselves.

In the evening, we drove to Holenarasipur - A quaint little temple town about 40 Kms from Hassan. The drive was just perfect as it was drizzling all the way through. The temple too was just as beautiful, peaceful as we hoped it to be.

We drove back by about 8 PM and had dinner on the the way. We got back to our little hotel and spent the night there.

May 15 - Monday:
We checked out by 8 AM had a good breakfast and left towards Bangalore, via Channarayapatna.We then took the road to Shravanabelagola and reached the Vindhyagiri hill (A.k.a Indragiri) of Gommateshwara by 9 AM.

The weather was just perfect as it had rained overnight and that brought down the temperature down, making it easier for us to climb the hill. All the while we were concerned if Ruchir would be able to climb the steep hill (3350 feet) which has 620 steps (one way). 

To our delight, Ruchir and Pooja climbed the hill faster than us, without a sweat! Soujanya and I were huffing and puffing while we got up, but these two kids made us feel old for the first time. 

What a beautiful sight it was to be able to see the lush green fields in and little town of Shravanabelagola as we climbed the peak. The ascent was hard but the view from the top was just awesome. 

Over the top, we visited the gentle giant of Bahubali Gommateshwara, all of 56 feet and so neatly carved out of a monolith. After recently watching the movie Bahubali 2, it was such a good time to discuss with Pooja on who the actual Bahubali was and how he became Gommateshwara. It was good learning for her and appreciated the character. 

Apparently, the Mahamastabhisheka of Gommateshwara is due in Feb 2018 and work is already in progress in carving a second set of steps for ascending, considering that the current capacity will be far less considering the crowds that would be landing here for the big occasion that happens once in 12 years.

We spent a good time, taking photos, watching the scriptures on the mountain side, and then watching the beautiful greens from over the top.

Getting down was a little harder than we imagined and we took time to get down slowly especially the section of the hill that has an acute vertical slope at one point. Overall, we were immensely pleased with Ruchir's ability to climb the hill up and down without any issues as if it was just nothing. This is despite the fact that he throws tantrums walking a few 100 feet, in Bangalore asking to be piggy backed all the time.

It was time for us to drive back to Bangalore. The sun was hitting hard. We took the road to Hiriyur from Shravanabelagola which took us through thousands of acres of Mango and Coconut grooves. It was a beautiful drive. 

We had lunch at one of the roadside Hotels and then drove back non-stop to Bangalore. We were home by 4 PM after a wonderful 3 days of pure freshness. A break that the kids needed, Souji and I wanted dearly.

Here are some photos and videos from our trip.

Hassan, Belur, Holenarasipur and Shravanabelagola

Saturday, April 15, 2017

Anna @ 79

Feb 2, 2017 - Thursday,

Anna completed 79 years today and we cut a cake at 'Vinayadeep' in the evening!.

Here are some photos we took during this day!
Anna @ 79

Pooja @ 10!

Jan 11, 2017 - Wednesday

Pooja completed 10 years and we wanted to celebrate her birthday a bit differently this time.

So instead of the usual celebrations we do inside our home, we thought we should celebrate this outside and so we organized a quick birthday at McDonald's outlet near Banashankari II stage, opposite BDA Complex.

Pooja invited her friends from the apartments for the event. We had a wonderful time with all her near and dear ones who joined us for the celebrations.

On her 10th Birthday, we gave Pooja 10 unique gifts, each representing a year of happiness she has given us all. 

Here are some photos we took on this day! Happy Birthday Pooja!

Pooja turns 10 !!!

Ruchir @ 4 - Grand celebrations at Chiguru!

April 2, 2107 - Sunday

Ruchir's Birthday was actually on the Monday, 3rd April. However, Souji and I were very busy with Office and her Montessori Training and exams. So we decided to have the birthday celebrated when everybody will be available, so chose a day prior to his actual birthday.

Ruchir @ 4
Ruchir has been seeing a lot of birthdays of his friends at School and at our apartments and other places. This time, he was craving for all the attention that one deserves on a Birthday and had been waiting for months for his Birthday to arrive.

To make his Birthday memorable, we got our home decorated with  Balloons all over the house through an agency [Showtime]. 

And a little something more. Ruchir has been watching 'Little Krishna and his friends', a beautiful animated set of stories and since then, has been dreaming to visit Dwarka, to meet Krishna and his lovely friends. In that light, we made 'Little Krishna' as the theme for his Birthday. The signboard at the entrance of the house, The backdrop behind the Balloon Arch had loads of cutouts of Krishna. The special cake we ordered from Cake of the day also based on the same Krishna theme!

None of the folks except Souji and me knew about the plan so had to keep Ruchir at his Amamma and Naana's place till the time the house was decorated. And when Ruchir stepped inside the house, his reactions were priceless!. He had been wanting for this for a long time!. Here is a little video to capture that moment!

And in due time all his friends from our apartment arrived and we cut the cake by noon amidst loud songs, cheer and good wishes from everybody in the house. Happy Birthday Ruchir!

We had catered lunch from Kaveri Caterers. The menu was simple and the kids loved the food and so did all the others.

Ruchir loved his new dress, the decorations, the cake, all the attention, and all the gifts! Post the lunch session, he couldn't wait longer to open his gifts and played with them to his hearts content!

Overall, Ruchir's 4th Birthday was a super event and we always wanted to do something special this time. We had done something similar to Pooja when she turned 2, and now it was Ruchir's turn.

Here are some pictures that we took during the celebrations. Hope you like them!

          Ruchir turns 4 !!!

Monday, January 09, 2017

Visiting In and Around Belagaavi (Belgaum)!

This year, Souji got busy with her Montessori training, and we had to plan for a short year end outing (4 days including commute). With most of the exotic places already covered, and the big ones needing longer travel days, we decided that we should explore those areas which are not frequented by tourists, but have a whole lot to offer!

Belagaavi, earlier known as Belgaum, (and still widely used) is one of those places, that is truly blessed with a beautiful weather all round the year, natural water resources, green landscapes and a Language, Culture and Food that shares the boundaries of Karnataka and Maharashtra. Exploring in and around Belgaum was chosen as the obvious choice for our visit as it met our needs.

We booked our to-and-fro railway tickets 2 months in advance and the hotels a month in advance.

28th Dec, 2016, Wednesday:
We boarded the Rani Chennama Express to Belgaum from Bangalore Central at Night.

29th Dec, 2016, Thursday:
We arrived at Belgaum City at 8:30 AM and headed to Hotel Hanuman Lodge, which became our home for the next few days. The rooms were quite neat, well maintained. Fortunately, we got a corner room so we had huge windows which offered a great views of the main roads. The location of our hotel was very convenient as we had ATMs, Food Shops, Medical Services, Taxi and Auto services right at the junction. The rooms were spacious, and well maintained.

The first thing we did after piking up the keys from the reception was to hire a Taxi to take us to Kolhapur Mahalakshmi Temple, about 120 KMS from Belgaum. (Actualy, visiting this temple was not in our plans, but the front office person suggested that we do this and we kind of bought his plan ;-))

We refreshed ourselves quickly and had a quick breakfast (came complimentary with our stay).

Here is where we got to taste the Belgaum's version of Uppit (Upma), Shira (Kesaribath). The taste of Uppit was just divine. We have not had such good Uppit in years. The Crispy Vaadas are another best that one should not miss while at Belgaum. And we tried Uppit across many hotels during our stay at Belgaum and every other time it tasted as good as the first one. I can happily concede that the Uppit @ Belgaum is one of the best Uppits I have tasted till date. Enough of Uppit now :-)

Our taxi driver arrived on time and we started towards Kolhapur by 10:00 AM. Kolhapur is in Maharashtra. We passed through the towns of Hattargi, Sankeshwar, Nippani before entering Maharashtra and then into Kolhapur. On the way, we crossed River Ghataprabha, which looked majestic and huge!. These areas being the flat plans, the water spreads flat and wide and as far as the eyes can see. Some times, one wonders whether it was a River or a Sea!

We reached Kolhapur by noon and immediately got into the Queue. Because of the holiday season, there was long winding queue. It took us about an hour and half to get the Darshan of Mahalakshmi, the main goddess of this temple. The temple structure itself was quite beautifully carved in black stone. Some of the figurines on the walls seem to have been spoiled, but overall, a nice temple to visit. By the way, this temple has no strict dress codes as long as one is decently dressed. No restrictions such Only Dhotis / Pyjamas / Sarees. Jeans, Shorts, Skirts etc.. are all allowed :-). We were done with our visit to the Temple by 2:30 PM.

On the way back from the temple, one can see the street side vendors selling the famed 'Kolhapuri Chappals'. Footwear, the size of mini Key Chains to the monstrous sizes - 6 foot tall(for decorative purposes) adorn the walls of these shops. The area in and the Temple is quite festive and colorful.

Our Taxi driver (Vishwas) suggested that while we were at Kolhapur, we visit the 'Gandhinagar' area, which houses a lot of Wholesale Garments shops. Apparently these wholesale stocks arrive directly from the mills of Mumbai before it reaches the Markets of the other towns. So we drove to the Gandhinagar area, and checked out a couple of shops. Souji was more than happy to start shopping on Day 1 of the tour itself and picked up whole lot of dress materials from here.

We left Kolhapur city by 3:30 PM and headed back towards Belgaum. 30 minutes into our drive, we glanced upon a huge reservoir near a town called Kaagal. The blue water was very enticing and demanded that it be visited. We asked the locals about this place. (Our experienced driver himself did not know much about this ;-)). Further enquiry with the locals, we got to know that they have Boating facilities there and that was a good enough reason for Pooja and Ruchir to visit this place!

We took the motor boat ride and Kids loved it. There was hardly any crowd, except for the locals. Hardly anybody knows such places exist as most of the visitors who come to Belgaum are mostly on their way to Goa and spend their time in Belgaum as pit-stop for their onward journey.

We planned for the next day's outing and informed the driver to be ready by 8 AM for our next day's trip.

We were quite tired with all the travel after a hectic day. We reached Belgaum by 7 PM and had very little energy left to roam around. We refreshed ourselves as the room and got down to the food Junction, right across the main road. The make shift Food-Junction, was a set of Shops on wheels, who come in the evening and park at a junction and offer all the fast food snacks from Dosas, Chaats, Mewad Ice Creams, Faloodas, Pav Bhaajis, Chineese Noodles, Fried Rice, and and fried stuff. Kids loved the Pani Puris, Kulfis and Vada Pavs. We were done for the day and hit the bed early.

30th Dec, 2016, Friday:
After a good nice sleep, we got woke up early and got to the next-door restaurant for the complimentary breakfast. The Uppit was waiting! An obvious first choice for all of us, along with Crispy vada and some Idlis.

Our driver arrived with his Tata Indigo by 8 AM and we set off for the days trip. The plan was to see Hidkal Reservoir / Dam, Godachinamalaki Falls, Gokak Falls, Gokak Dam and whatever other other surprises we could cover in and around these places.

On our way, we again crossed the Ghataprabha River and after Hattargi, we took a right turn towards Gokak City. First stop was at Hidkal Dam.

Hidkal Dam:
Hidkal dam was completed in 1977, with the purpose of generating hydroelectric power as well as supplying drinking water and irrigating agricultural land in surrounding areas. Total length of the dam is 10183 meters. Water from Ghataprabha River fills up this reservoir. It also has a power generation plant. The reservoir and dam areas are not allowed for General Public viewing, as it is meant only for officials. However, the view and sights from this place so Awesome that it makes me think, why haven't our Tourism development boards not-yet cashed on such wonderful locations.

We spent some time here enjoying the unending blue hues of the reservoir spreading till the horizon. An amazing place to visit.

As we continued driving we stopped briefly on the bridge, where we could see up-close the Crest Gates of the Dam, The power plant and the gushing water released into the canals. Pooja had read about Dams, Reservoirs, Power Plants as part of her school curriculum this year and she was quite excited to see and appreciate all of this in a real sense. Visiting these places served the very purpose of entertainment and learning. No amount of reading can match the learning when you see and experience them in reality and this trip definitely helped.

We took a quick Tea Break near the Dam area and then went on towards Godachinamalaki Falls. I came to know of this falls through a news paper article a few months back and was impressed by the details. I did a quick search on YouTube and was thoroughly impressed with what I saw and that is when I decided that we should make a visit to Belgaum and other falls in and around Belgaum.

On our way to Godachinamalki falls, something else was in store for us.

Hidkal Reservoir:
We drove along the reservoir bund and we got off the main road and lost our way briefly.and entered a small village. To our surprise, we came across a barren strip of land from where we could see from inside the reservoir area! We parked our car and then walking towards the bank of the reservoir. The view of the reservoir from this side was breathtaking and appeared as blue as the lakes in Ladakh's Pangong Tso, made famous via the movie 3 Idiots!

We had to walk about a kilometer to reach the banks, but the walk was worth it. Miles together of crystal clear, Aqua Blue water and nobody except the 4 of us. We spent quite some time assimilating the beauty of this place. So calm and peaceful.

There are no directions to this place, no paths, nobody to assist, but probably intended that people should not visit such places as crowds could gather and security could become a problem for the administration. Also there could be rising waters due to heavy inflow as well that could be dangerous. So anybody visiting such places are at their own risks.

We returned back to our car somehow found our roads back to the main road. This off-the-road experience, was 'full paisa-vasool' for this trip!!!

Godachinamalki Falls:
The Godachinamalaki falls is about a 45 minute drive from Hidkal Dam Area, but to get to the Falls itself, one has to trek about half a Kilomoter from the parking area. A small signboard of absolutely minuscule size, points towards a small opening into a 5 foot walking track with loads of thorny shrubs that completely masks all view into the approach. There is absolutely no road, no sign posts and just a muddy track surrounded by dry shrubs. Again, there was hardly any visitors whatsoever and one could hear their own breath while walking. Lucky few can get easily lost here ;-)

We were informed about the falls not having much water at this time of the year. And when we reached the spot, it was as expected. There was hardly any water to call it as a falls.

However, being there, one can imagine and appreciate how it would be during the monsoons, looking at the width of the falls and the number of cascades before the water drops further down into the gorge.

There was however, a little stream of water gushing out of a few rocky crevices and that was just enough for Pooja and Ruchir to play in the water for some time. The warm sun and the clear water was quite enjoyable.

We left Godachinkamalaki falls and headed next towards Gokak Falls. We drove past green fields of Jowar, Sugarcane, Chillies, Sunflowers, Cabbage, Cotton and many others. Looked to be a very fertile area in and around these places, mostly so because of the rivers near-by and the moderate weather right through the river.

Gokak Falls:
We reached Gokak falls area and the first thing you see is the 120 year old hanging suspension bridge across the river. It spans about 200 meters in length and recommends only 30 persons weight as the load bearing capacity at any point of time. The bridge sways as one walks on the narrow bridge and is a funny feeling when it really sways! The bridge also provides a spectacular view of the valley and the river underneath.

Ghataprabha river dives 52 meters through a horse shoe shaped water falls. A Power Plant station stands at one side of the falls and has been supplying electricity since 1887. All of its power is now utilized for the locally famous Gokak Textile Mills that is built at the entrance of the falls.

Crossing over the bridge, we climbed the hill to get a better view of the falls. It was an awesome sight. Again, we had the same feeling, that had it been the monsoon, this place would have been even more spectacular!

We crossed the bridge back and visited the famous Gokak Textile Mills, that stands right opposite to the entrance. We visited their Garment Showroom that was shop was offering discounts at factory rate for all garments and got a good deal on Kids garments, Inner wear and towels.

Our next task was to buy the famous Gokak Kardanth. We enquired with the locals on the directions to the authentic Poornima Sweets [Kalburgi] which prepares the most authentic Gokak Kardanth. We located that it was opposite the Gokak Bus Stand. Poornima Sweets [Kalburgi] is the authentic shop that prepares and sells the famous 'Gokak Kardanth' and has been around since 1904. So it was a nice experience to have bought some sweets home from the shop that made it this famous!

We started our return journey to Belgaum by 4:30 PM and reached close to 6 PM. We had an hours time with us before our batteries died and so we made a quick visit to the 'Military Mahadev' temple near the Camp area, quite close to the Railway station. 

Military Mahadev temple is Shiva Temple has been constructed within the Army Defense Area, but opened out for public as well. A very neat and clean area, [Military area]. So a lot of folks come to visit here daily. Kids also get to enjoy Mini Merry Go-Rounds and Jumping Jacks along with Swings and See-Saws and Slides. We spent the next hour till it got dark. We returned back to our hotel and thanked our Driver Vishwas for his services in the past couple of days.

In all the hectic activity, we forgot to have lunch during the day and the kids were hungry like hell and so were we! We refreshed ourselves in a jiffy back at our hotel. We then hopped into our regular restaurant and made sure Ruchir and Pooja got something to eat for starters. Later, we enquired with the locals on where we could have the most authentic 'Belgaum Jowar/North Karnataka Meals', and got to know that he best one was just 100 meters away from where we were!

We visited the 'Basaveshwara Mess' and ordered the Regular Jowar Rotti Thaali. We love North Karnataka Jowar Rotti meals and we have had meals in many hotels across Bangalore. But have to admit the we had the the tastiest Jowari meals ever, hands-down! Absolutely delightful taste, variety and quantity that was served here.

With tummy full and sagging eyes, it was lights out by 9:30 PM.

31st Dec, 2016, Saturday:
Another beautiful day and another round of Lip-smacking Hot and piping Uppit for breakfast! Yay!!!

Our return journey was at 6:50 PM and our room booking ended by 9:30 AM. So we checked out of the hotel by 9 and kept our luggage at the reception. The plan was to roam around the Belgaum town and explore the culture attributes of the City, the old town, market area, the people, the dresses they wear, the day-day life and things like that.

Before to that, we visited the 'Kamal Basadi', a Jain temple which was built in 1204 AD. It gets its name by the Ceiling carved like a Lotus. This temple is covered under the Historical Monuments  of Architectural Society of India (ASI) and is one of the famous land marks to visit while in Belgaum. Kamal Basadi temple is a full black stone structure supported by huge Pillars of enormous size. It has a huge 'Ranga Mantapa' which probably was used for dance and musical performances. Mahavira's idol inside the temple is well carved and very peaceful.

We spent an hour at the temple and later took an Auto Rickshaw to 'Khade Bazaar'.

Khade Bazaar is one of the oldest bazaars in town and hosts a lot of small shops as well as the big and upscale ones, selling everything under the sun. Very busy and that day being a Saturday and the last day of the year 2016, the crowd was everywhere.

We walked from one end of Khade Bazaar to Ganpath Ghali and then to Maruthi Ghali. We roamed around all the streets. The wholesale markets offered fresh vegetables and flowers. The vivid colours of Rangolis, the smell of the spices, the fragrance of Dhoop and Agarbhathis filled the morning air. And not to miss the dust and dirt from the busy streets ;-) It was a quite a sensation. We shopped for some local stuff here as well.

Our next activity was to buy the famed 'Belgaum Kunda'. A sweet made of Khova. By this time, we had made our homework on where to shop for the most Authentic Kunda at Belgaum. As one can imagine, the town has every other sweet shop selling Kunda and claiming theirs is the most authentic.

On College Road, there is a shop by name 'Atul Purohit' and this shop, most locals believe, is the most authentic Kunda maker in the whole of Belgaum. Most of the folks concurred on this shop as the most authentic Kunda maker of Belgaum even while a some of them claim that it is 'Camp Purohit'! People swarmed this place like bees!

Anyways, we tasted the sample of Kunda, and it was awesome! That is what mattered the most. We packed a KG of this treasure for back home.

It was 2 PM and we were all hungry! Not really hungry, but hungry for having one more lunch at Basaveshwara Mess! So took an Auto Rickshaw and reached there. The food was as heavenly as it was the previous night. Loved it.

We walked down lazily towards our Hanuman Lodge, which was at a walk-able distance from 'Basaveshwara mess'. Our plan was to spend some time at the reception till about 5 PM and then go to the railway station for our train that had to depart at 6:50 PM. We refreshed ourselves at the hotel and relaxed for a while at the reception itself.

I did a quick check on the internet just to make sure that our train to Bangalore was on time. My friends, had warned me prior to our travel here that the trains arriving from north would generally be delayed by an our or two. Upon my enquiry, got to know that our train was delayed by 5 and half hours and was expected to reach Belgaum by 12 midnight!!! This was not expected at all!!!

We had to spend another 9 hours at Belgaum, with all the luggage at hand and without a hotel reservation! So we had to scratch our head and plan on what next to do. We took an Auto Rickshaw to the Railway Station, and deposited all our big bags at the Railway Station Cloak room and freed ourselves from carrying the load. Military Mahadev temple was near-by to the Railway Station and Kids loved the mini-amusement park within their campus. So we walked to the temple and Kids had a good time playing there. We also discovered that this place also had a mini-zoo! Emus, Deers and Ducks!

We spent time till about 7:30 PM in the evening and then headed back to the railway station. We went straight to the AC Waiting Room to find out that apart from the 4 of us, there was not a soul around!. A huge AC waiting hall, fully furnished with AC, Sofa Sets, Mobile Charging Units, Spic and Span Rest rooms! This was better than our Hotel where we spent the last couple of nights! What else can one ask for?!?!

We spent the rest of the evening there and tracked our train all the time. Few other families joined us later at the AC waiting room. The train got delayed even further and was finally scheduled to arrive at 1 AM in the morning.

At the stroke of mid-night of Dec 31st, we celebrated the arrival of New Year of 2017 at Belgaum's Railway Station, along with a few strangers! This made it very interesting for us as we were never outside of home during the New Year and this was the first time and it was so much different! This will definitely will remain with us for a long time to come.

Finally our train arrived at 1 AM and we boarded our train. The rest of the journey was peaceful and we reached Bangalore and finally home by 3 PM in the evening.

With that, our small little year-end trip ended with a loads of sweet memories from Belgaum! Wishing you all a Very Happy and Exciting 2017!

Here are some photos that we took during our trip.

Tuesday, November 01, 2016

A Thunderbird ride to Nandi Hills!

30 Oct, 2016, Sunday: Bike ride to Nandi Hills!

A new entrant to our family, (our shining new Royal Enfield, Thunderbird 350cc in short !) Souji and I had been planning to go out for a drive to see how our vehicle performs. 

Taking advantage of the Long weekends of Deepavli, we planned to have a quick drive to Nandi Hills, about 60+ Kms from Bangalore would be the right place to visit, considering that the drive would neither be too taxing nor too long.

After a wonderful Celebration of firecrackers of NarakaChaturdashi (Day 1 of Deepvali), Ruchir and Pooja stayed overnight at our In Laws place, so we had the luxury to leave Bangalore early and return back by mid day of the Lakshmi Pooja day (Day 2 of Deepavali). The plan being that we had to visit Nandi Hills to catch the famed early morning sunrise.

We left home by 3:25 AM in the morning, fully decked up in warm jackets. There was hardly anybody on the roads till we reached Hebbal by 4 AM. The roads got flatter from Hebbal onwards. That is when we saw hordes of Bikers on the road, all going in groups towards their weekend destinations. It was such a welcome feeling to see the young and energetic youth of Bangalore, active and exploring new things. It also made us feel young as well ;-). Our Thunderbird glided smoothly and it was an exhilarating feeling to realize the power of this machine when you rev up the accelerator. Very impressed with our new possession. :-)

Contrary to popular tastes, I bought this variant of machine expecting that it would make much less noise than the rest of the variants. At slow speeds, it was quite silent for most part. Throttle the accelerator and it shows its true 'Royal' 'gud-gud' ! :-) I am still quite impressed!

We reached the Nandi Hills Check post by 5 AM, only to know there that we have to wait till 6 AM till we are allowed inside. The whole reason of being early was to see the famed Sunrise, where the clouds blanket the whole horizon, exposing just the apex of a nearby hill. And Magic happens when the first rays hit the hill top covered completely blanketed by clouds.

We stopped at a wayside hotel at the check post and had piping hot Coffee. Finally, we gates opened at 5:45 AM, and we reached the hilltop by 6 AM. There were about 300 Cars and 500 Bikes ahead of us!!! To top it all, there was no clouds at all! :-).

The Sunrise was not as dramatic, but it was nice to see new perspectives from the hilltop. The last time I had visited Nandi Hills was about 20 years back and it was the first time for Souji. So it was almost like it was the first time for both of us.

We wandered around the places, taking a lot of photos wherever possible. Saw Tippu’s Summer Lodge, The Kalyani, built by Dewan Mirza Ismail, but spent most time watching the view from the top, which was quite breathtaking.

We left Nandi Hills by 9:25 AM, and returned home in about an hour and a half. Totally, we covered around 150 Kms from home back to home.

Overall, the ride to Nandi Hills was fun and Souji and I enjoyed this little outing very much on our new Bike. Hope to have many more such trips. Here are some photos from our ride.

Deepavali 2016!

Deepavali 2016!

As always, Deepavali is the festival that brings me most cheers as it gives everybody an opportunity to smile which is what I expect from a festival. This year was no different.

29 Oct, 2016, Saturday: Narakachaturdashi
Souji started the day with the mini 'Enne Shaashtra' at Chiguru, a standard precursor to the 'Oilbath'. After getting ourselves ready, we all wore our new dresses and then left for the main-course for the day @ Vinayadeep.

The 'Arathi' and 'Enne Shaastra' events were performed as usual, and this time Ruchir was excited to offer his services to the occasion!

Souji, Anna, Ruchir and I went to the Cracker Shops @ Donkahalla fields where bought a whole lot of night crackers including the usual Flowerpots, Zameen Chakras, Sursurbathis and others!

Ruchir, Pooja and Souji enjoyed burning a crackers from the last year's backlog. Super lunch in the afternoon followed by a nice nap gave us a good break for the evening activity.

As the sun went down, Pooja and Ruchir burst the night crackers while all of us had a super time watching the show!

Overall, the day went awesome! [Last year, the whole of Deepavali was a washout, due to continuous cyclonic rain.]

On the way back, we dropped Ruchir and Pooja at our In Laws place, so that we could plan on our little bike trip ;-)

30 Oct, 2016, Sunday: Lakshmi Pooja - Bike ride to Nandi Hills!

With our new bike, Souji and I had been planning to go out for a drive to see how our Vehicle performs. We planned to visit the Nandi Hills, about 60+ Kms from Bangalore would be the right place to visit, considering that the drive would neither be too taxing nor too long.

Ruchir and Pooja stayed overnight at our In Laws place, so we had the luxury to leave Bangalore early and return back by mid day.

We left home by 3:25 AM in the morning, fully decked up in warm jackets. There was hardly anybody on the roads till we reached Hebbal by 4 AM. The roads got flatter from Hebbal onwards. That was when we saw hordes of Bikers on the road, all driving in groups towards their destinations. It was such a welcome feeling to see the young and energetic youth of Bangalore, Boys and Girls, getting up early and exploring new things. It also made us feel young as well ;-). Our Thunderbird glided smoothly and it was a wonderful feeling to realize the power of this maniac machine esp. when you rev up the accelerator. Very impressed with our new possession. :-)

We reached the Nandi Hills Checkpost by 5 AM, only to know there that we have to wait till 6 AM till we are allowed inside. The whole reason of being early was to see the famed Sunrise, where the clouds blanket the whole horizon, exposing just the apex of a nearby hill. And Magic happens when the first rays hit the hill top covered completely blanketed by clouds.

We stopped at a wayside hotel at the checkpost and had piping hot Coffee. Finally, we gates opened at 5:45 AM, and we reached the hilltop by 6 AM. There were about 300 Cars and 500 Bikes ahead of us!!! To top it all, there was no clouds at all! :-).

The Sunrise was not as dramatic, but it was nice to see new perspectives from the hilltop. The last time I had visited Nandi Hills was about 20 years back. However, this was the first time for Souji. So in a way, it was the first time for both of us.

We wandered around the places, taking a lot of photos wherever possible. Saw Tippu’s Summer Lodge, The Kalyani, built by Dewan Mirza Ismail, but spent most time watching the view from the top, which was quite breathtaking.

We left Nandi Hills by 9:25 AM, and returned home in about an hour and a half.

Overall, the ride to Nandi Hills was fun and Souji and I enjoyed this little outing very much on our new Bike. Hope to have many more such trips. Here are some photos from our ride.
Drive to Nandi hills!

In the evening, we visited our In Laws house where Pooja, Sanju and Ruchir burst some crackers.

31 Oct, 2016, Monday: Balidpadyami:

We were back at Vinayadeep for lunch. Sanju joined us for the day's celebrations as well and was our Chief Guest for the day!.

Found out that we had less crackers than what we thought we had, so went around getting some more for the evening. Another photo session with all the girls followed with their new set of clothes!.

We had a good sumptuous lunch and also watched a movie. For the evening, we had invited our In Laws who joined us by 6 PM. Ruchir and Pooja burst the left over crackers from the last year’s backlog till the sun came down.

Souji lit the lamps around the house and the kids started with the evening crackers. Flower Pots Zameen Chakras, Sparklers of various colours filled the night light and made it as festive as ever.

Ruchir was overjoyed with this new skill of lighting the crackers as he went on a spree of lighting the crackers with assistance from Pooja, Sanju and Souji. He had a ball of a time!

We wound the day with a good dinner. All of us had great fun during the last 3 days and hope it continues the same for years to come!. Happy Deepavali to one and all.

Here are some photos and videos, taken during the festival.
Deepavali 2016

Sunday, June 12, 2016

Ruchir's starts schooling @ DPS!

8th June, 2016 - Wednesday:

Our little boy, Ruchir started his formal schooling at Delhi Public School, following his sister's footsteps.

His new Address - Ruchir Vinay, Nursery J Section, DPS!

Anna and Amma came home to see him off on his first day. Souji and I accompanied him to the school till his class gates. Dressed in his Red Shirt and Beige knickers, an ID card pinned to his shirt's pocket, a Blue bag, lunch kit and black shoes, he was one happy kid.

Parents were requested to be seated in an adjoining class room (for the first 3 days) just so that they can be reached in case if their kids needed help. Ruchir however, was more than happy to go inside and did not even look back. 

Overall, a huge milestone in his life. Wishing him the very best for his schooling.

Here are some photos that we took on this day.

Ruchirs 1st Day @ DPS!

His first pre-nursery photos at @ Little Elly, can be viewed here:

Wednesday, April 13, 2016

A 2 day trip to Yercaud!

April 8-10, 2016

Sanjeev and myself, along with our families drove to a 2 day trip to Yercaud, a Hill Station about 250 Kms from Bangalore. We took advantage of the 'Ugadi' holiday on Friday and which extended into weekend.

We had booked a homestay (Brindavan Guest House) at Yercaud, a palatial house, which housed a fully furnished, 3 bed room accommodation with all the amenities. We were hoping that apart from our 2 families there could be another family who could join us, but did not work out. However, the extra-room was made good use by the kids who had an awesome time together!

April 8, 2016, Friday - Ugadi:
We left Bangalore by 6:30 AM, had breakfast at Saravanna Bhavan at Krishnagiri by 8:30 AM, reached Salem by 11 AM via Dharmapuri. The 30 odd kilometers from Salem to Yercaud took about 45 minutes but we took some time off the road clicking photos of the beautiful view points as we climbed the hill. The ascent included 20 Hairpin bends and was a pleasurable ride. The roads from Banglaore to Yercaud was absolutely fantastic. We reached Yercaud by noon.

Our accommodation at Brindavan Guest House was just beautiful. The property was just about 1.5 Kms from the Yercaud Lake and was hidden from the crowded areas, but nestled between tall wooded trees on a hillside valley. 

We were hoping to see huge crowds in Yercaud, considering Summer Vacation, Long Weekends, but to our surprise, this sleepy city was yet to receive the crowds. For a change it was quite peaceful and not crowded at all. The cloudy weather made this town even more special.

Sanjeev had brought enough cooking items including a mini gas stove cum cylinder. Lunch was prepared in minutes and fed to the hungry souls. After a good afternoon rest, we drove to the 'Ladies Seat' - One of the view points about 5 Kms away from our stay. This place offered a great view of the valley and at the horizon was the city of Salem. We spent an hour enjoying the surroundings and left the place at dusk. 

We drove towards the Yercaud Lake and brought home some fresh farm grown veggies and other supplies for dinner. At our homestay, we got the campfire lit and kids had a great time singing and dancing to some Bollywood music. Cool fresh air, pleasant weather, no 'Mobile' Network, and a campfire! - What more can one ask for. The night was long and relaxing, something that we all wanted for a long time. Absolute bliss!

April 9, 2016, Saturday:
All of us got up early and left the house by 7 AM to another View Point close to the Shevroy Hills, which also houses a Venkateshwara Swamy Temple over the top of the hill. This hill gave us great views of the hillside and it was nice to see the clouds sweep through us! An amazing feeling.

The temple was not even open when we got there, but that gave us enough time to shoot some more pictures of Kids playing and monkeying around at this viewpoint. We visited this Cave Temple which is supposed to be a 1000 years old (as per the priest) and offered our prayers.

We returned back to our home-stay for Breakfast, freshened up and then left for visiting the Yercaud Lake for boating. The lake was quite serene and there was hardly any queue / crowd, so it was nice and easy. We took the Motorboat ride which was fun and we were done in about an hours time.

Next to the lake was the 'Poppy Hills Amusement Park', where all the kids enjoyed playing various games like Slides, Zorb ball, Bungee Jumping, varieties of Swings, and couple of other rides. Check out the photos for more details. The best was the Bungee Jump, which Pooja did and enjoyed very much. Srivali and Pooja also had great fun playing the Zorb Ball. Ruchir and Srishti had a great time playing swings, slides and other rides.

We had lunch at 'Annalakshmi' right opposite the lake and parceled some back to the little kids and their moms! A good nap followed thereafter.

After freshening up, we drove to the 'Gents Seat' that we could not cover the previous day as it was getting dark. The 'Gents Seat' is a view point, that is situated at a higher altitude, over a hillock right above the 'Ladies Seat' and exposing the other side of the same hill. The view of the setting sun was quite stunning. 

We got down the hill and revisited to the 'Ladies Seat' viewpoint, where we could watch Salem under night lights! The City Lights of Salem offered a stunning view from far above. 

The kids did some horse-riding, and man! they loved it. We returned back to our homestay and had some good dinner. After a long day, we retired to our beds early.

April 10, 2016, Sunday:
Very few times you get to enjoy a piping hot-early morning coffee at 5:30 AM amidst chirping birds, moving clouds and a slight drizzle. Sounds very filmy and dramatic, but that's exactly what Souji and I experienced. This get-away trip was meant to be this way and luckily it worked in our favour.

The kids were ready in an hour and we all left for another view point called the 'Pagoda View Point'. This was less than 5 minutes from our home stay. This view point too, like the others opened the views to a different side of the hill range. The early morning visit ensured there was enough mist everywhere which made it cool and nice.

We returned back to our homestay, had a sumptuous breakfast of Masala Dosa, Aloo-Irulli palya and Chatni, thanks to our master-chef Sanjeev! We spent the next couple of hours getting ready for our return journey and checked-out our home-stay by noon. Just before leaving Yercaud, we did a stop-over at one of the Perfume Store to do some shopping. Apparently, Yercaud has a huge number of such stores (Dr. Bhavani Singh Perfumery ...) all over Yercaud, and hence had to try this out. 

We also did a quick stop at the Nursery next to the Yercaud Lake where I purchased a couple of exotic plants. We started our descent from Yercaud by 12:30 PM and stopped at Krishnagiri for an hour for Lunch at Sarvanna Bhavan. We reached our home by 5:30 PM safe and sound, taking back some very nice memories from Yercaud.

Here are some Photos and Videos that we took during this trip.

2 day Trip to Yercaud