Wednesday, November 9, 2016

My city Allahabad- A Sneak Peak

http://www.slideshare.net/varni46/heritage-of-allahabad
The Sangam Nagri
 Do view this and add on whatever you feel I have missed, and if the city has managed to add something new to talk about. Created by my son and his friends when they were in the 7th grade, it could see a few improvements, but for now, this will suffice.

My Post

http://fuseoff.blogspot.in/
A post on one of my travels long back. Written in 2013, I am posting it here unedited.

TRIPTEASE

 My passion, my interest and my dream is to travel. I love traveling. Reading and watching travel news and programs brightens me up. I am always eager to go on trips, vacationing and sightseeing.  It’s thrilling, and refreshing!! Oh! To the spirit of adventure!!  It’s an unbelievably beautiful planet earth, and life is short, so I need to make the most of my time and step out of my house to see places.  I believe traveling is an education in itself. Once out of the safe cocoon of our home and surroundings, we learn, learn and learn. By meeting new people, coming across different cultures and customs, we realize that there is a world beyond us. This is what intrigues me. A quote by Mark Twain that I like, and had once read in the Lonely Planet (http://www.amazon.com/books/dp/1742200796), so I wrote it down in my personal copy of quotes and favorite lines. It goes like this: “Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things you didn´t do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.”  This is exactly what I believe in, to seize every opportunity that I get to travel. It’s a curious, inquisitive mind that will love to travel.
I have traveled quite a lot, in my opinion, and each experience has been very unique to me. There are so many more places that I need to go to. There are a variety of things that I enjoy while traveling. Every place, new or old, has a story to tell. Every stone speaks of its past. Some are historically rich places, while others are purely meant for enjoying the scenic beauty; some places bring out the spiritual being in us, while some sleepy old towns, just allow us to rest and cut us off from the regular humdrum of life. I must not forget to add the variety of foods that we can enjoy in different parts of the world. Each place provides for a new gastronomical experience. A change of weather, people, customs, food, landscape, and almost everything refreshes the mind and feels like a superb getaway.
My favorite trips have been with my extended family. There have been a couple of trips with my sisters and their families. We have been to places like Goa, Karnataka, and Punjab together. All of these places are in India. Goa is famous for its beaches, temples, and churches. Located on the western coast of India, it attracts a lot of tourists from all around the world. It has a history dating down to ages, with various dynasties that ruled Goa, and later the Portuguese. It is a city vibrant with people from different cultures settled there. So along with enjoying on the beaches and eating food cooked by its indigenous people we visited the churches there. Topping the list, among my favorite places visited was the tomb of St Francis Xavier. The body of the saint is said to be lying in its tomb and has not got decomposed for centuries now. This is something that truly got me so intrigued. (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Francis_Xavier). I even bought a postcard from there for good luck. One of the most fascinating things in Goa were the churches that we saw, with beautiful stained glass designs and pictures. Goa is also one of the important ports of India. Needless to say, with family, traveling gets all the more fun. Bonds get strengthened, and that is what it was for me.
Another positively memorable trip that I made with my family, including parents was to Amritsar, a city in Punjab, North West India. Both my parents are from Amritsar, their birthplace, and they left the city and moved to another state, Uttar Pradesh, Allahabad, years ago. They were going to see the place after forty odd years. I remember going there as a child and after that, their families sold off all their properties, and moved out to Mumbai and other places, so we no more went there, and life went on. It was only when my sister thought of taking us to our parent’s birthplace, to mark her silver wedding anniversary that we got excited at the idea. Amritsar is a city distinctly known for its large-hearted, happy caring and hospitable people. Its' rich food, and an agrarian lifestyle, is unique to its people. It is a very urban city, which has suffered the onslaught of several invaders that came to India to plunder, loot, and ultimately make India their home. The people of Amritsar can be characterized as brave, gallant and courageous, having fought many wars, and played an important part in the freedom struggle. My mother visited her school and the Principal of the school extended a warm welcome to us. It was an extremely emotional moment for all of us when the Principal dug out the new admission’s register in which my mother’s and her sisters’ names were written in ink by her father. It brought tears in her eyes, going back so many years, so many memories, of childhood, home, friends, and teachers came flooding into her mind, that she could not contain her tears. She even went ahead and accepted the offer of the Principal to address the students’ who had assembled after the lunch break. I had never seen my mother address a gathering, but to see her so happy and speak so confidently, made me feel so proud of her. She had a Muslim friend; whose name she saw in the register, who she said, did not come back after the 1947 bloody riots, when India and Pakistan became two separate states. Visiting the Wagah border, the gate where the Indian army is on one side and the Pakistan army on the other, was another sentimental moment for both my parents. Both had families on both the sides, had lost their friends, property, and all the emotions attached were suddenly cut off. Other than that it was such a pleasure to see them reminisce about the years gone by. My father showed us where he first saw my mother, and where he met her dad to ask for her hand in marriage. They met people whom they knew, went to localities where they lived, lots had changed, of course. They even went to their favorite eating haunts and enjoyed the meals of their choice. A rare and unforgettable trip, full of emotion, fun and sightseeing!!
Well, there have been lots of lovely trips, and it does not take long to recover details from the store of my memories. It’s wonderful to see hospitality at its best when we go places. For me traveling is a spiritual experience.  And above all, any place is made by its people and all the history that is attached to it. So here’s to more globetrotting!!

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

SHIMOGA TRAIL



THE INCHARA STAY

It all starts with wanting to travel, and see places, meet people, and be with yourself and nature. Courtesy F5 Escapes , we set out in the peak of the rainy season, 19th to the 21st of August. A good time to be here, as the dams release their water, and the Jogupalya falls plunge down in their full force. Its a sight worth keeping in the archives of the brain, and bring it forth when you need to remember natures bounty , its beauty and strength. The Inchara Homestay , in Thirthahalli taluk of the Shimoga district, is a very conventional, old fashioned house, its beauty maintained very well by the owners residing there. 
Old fashioned, does not mean inconvenience of any sort. The hosts are hospitable, and also the food, very local, digestible, and tasty, cooked by smiling happy ladies was a delight. The Tunga dam close by was our first stop, after savouring the delicious food, and the homestay. The usual, dam and water, but amongst beautiful green surroundings.  


GAJANUR DAM
Beautiful place to spend an evening, with friends and food. In the middle of the tungabhadra river, there were very dry trees, which got me very puzzled initially. But got to know from the local people there, that the area is marshy, less of air for the plants to breathe, so they have dried out. It still gets me completely bamboozled though.The  greens, and then this dried out vegetation gave me the creeps initially. I visualised some horror movies being filmed there, or something like crocodile dundee...Movie buffs could create a story there to scare the wits out of people.  

THE DRY N THE GREEN  
The next day, it was the Elephant Sanctuary in Sakrebylu. Run by experts, the healthy elephants, their babies, parents and grandparents were an interesting sight. For me, petting an elephant, and being blessed by its snout, was so unusual.  The ride on this majestic animal was kind of cool, but then, the nagging feeling that these animals need to be in the jungle and in the wild kept worrying my brain. The caretakers told us that they bathe them, feed them and then send them back to the jungle only to be brought back. Still.....
SAKREBYLU ELEPHANT SANCTUARY

And then to the mesmerising Jog falls. They are four or five streams of the Sharavati river, plunging down. Called the Roarer, Rocket, Raja and Rani. How romantic!!. The rains this year, in this part of the country have been about 50 to 60 percent, as per the locals there. 
The source of Sharavathi River is Ambutheerta in Thirthahalli taluk of Shimoga district in Karnataka state, India. After originating in Western Ghats, Sharavathi flows into disappear in Arabian Sea at Honnavar. It is one of the rivers flowing in west direction. Its breadth widens to an extent of 230’ for sudden fall from 830’, dividing into four scenic cataracts at Jog Falls, being the highest waterfalls in India, to make it world famous, attracting millions of tourists every year.
Sharavathi flows via two districts of Karnataka namely Shimoga and Uttara Kannada and empties into the Arabian Sea at Honnavar after flowing in the northwestern direction for more than 100kms.
   The regions around Sharavathi are rich in biodiversity and at home to many rare species of flora and fauna.Sharavathi is dammed at Linganamakki. The portion of river above the dam is upstream and remaining portion is downstream. Honnemaradu is an island on the reservoir formed by Linganamakki dam, which is good for water sports, attracting enthusiasts. Canoeing, kayaking and wind surfing are some of the water sports played here. It is interesting to watch colourful birds in this spot. The ride here, on a motor boat,  courtesy Jungle resorts, was breathtakingly panoramic. The falls were a grand sight too.(  The info on Sharavati River taken from trip adviser)
Jog Falls and the ride on the Sharavati river reserve waters
We visited a hanging bridge on our way to the Sharavati River reserve waters. The high point here being that I was greeted by a creepy crawly rustling away in a hurry to probably inform his friends and family that there were intruders in its area..,Crazy moment with me screaming and rushing back to our car. Phew! .
The Hanging Bridge
 On the Highway we also stopped at a place called the Raja's Kallu. It was a stone built with different cities of Karnataka written on its sides, which in reality point towards their direction. Interesting piece of engineering. 
Raja's Kallu
 Off to sighting tigers and lions after all of this. Its on the Shimoga Sagar road. The interesting bit of this trip to the Tiger reserve was that the tigers and lions and deer that we saw, were all very healthy and looked well fed. The ferocious eyes and demeanour was not lost by us..The roar of a hungry lion sent chills down our spine. What force, what strength!! 
TAVAREKOPPA TIGER RESERVE 
And then for some freshly cut Pineapple, and roasted corn on the cob from the Highway. The pineapples were so juicy and yum. A trip worth remembering.
Memories , loads of them, would love to visit it again. 
SOME MEMORIES



Monday, August 15, 2016

FINE PICKS OF NATURE

Some time in the month of April, a weekend, we decided to travel to Ooty, a beautiful hill station nestled in the Nilgiri hills, in Tamilnadu. Since the decision was a last minute one, we got a place to stay in Coonoor. It is at an elevation of 1850 meters above sea level. To me it seemed greener, quieter and more scenic. The drive to Coonoor itself was wonderful. We passed through the Bandipur National Park in Tamilnadu. A few deers, cheerful, curious monkeys, noisy peacocks were among the fauna we spotted.

 Coonoor is known more for its tea production, now a bit on the decline, or so it seemed. We enjoyed the quiet and serene aura of the place. We went to a tea garden and factory to see how it is processed and packed. 
The Tea Plantation
We went walking around the little town, an experience in itself, as walking on a hilly terrain, can be a challenging but satisfyingly sweaty task for health freaks. The crisp cool breeze does a lot of healing of the soul. 
The drive up to a point called the dolphins nose was a dreamy ride, with a few minutes spent there clicking pictures and enjoying the panoramic view of the whole city. One has to be a wee bit careful of the monkeys around, but by and large they wont trouble you. 
The Dolphins Nose

The best part of the city was its colourful surroundings, because of the pretty flowers and healthy foliage around. I could not but help capture the insane variety of flowers I saw there. It is so breathtakingly gorgeous.


THESE PRETTY THINGS
You get to restore the health of your lungs in such places. Maybe we could have stayed on for a couple of more days, but for now this was a blissful trip, enough for us to want more, and rush back whenever we get the time.



I START SOLO

 “For my part, I travel not to go anywhere, but to go. I travel for travel’s sake. The great affair is to move.” – R L Stevenson


Everyone's journey in life is one that is solo. For my part, it took a while to get this straight in my head. Looking for something to create balance in my life, to calm my turbulent soul, i felt that travel could be my healer, my pathfinder to peace. 
So I start this month, August of 2016, releasing fear, and embracing freedom. Let us see how it unfolds. For me, travelling is not really new, being a Merchant Mariners wife, I have travelled around. But I wish to keep it going, to go solo, to explore, to understand life through my travels, meet people and breath free. CODDIWOMPLE , the name I really got attracted to, is a word, from a travel dictionary, which means " To travel in a purposeful manner, towards a vague destination". I wish to release all toxicity, and breath out all that does not serve me well. I wish to live, live free and untamed. I am sure I will love where ever i go, and whatever I see. And so I begin with my jaunt..and set my vagabond spirit free.
I start travelling, the first one being a small trip to Shimoga, Karnataka, India. This is under the guidance of F5 Escapes, http://f5escapes.com/ .
Its a journey to the Jog Falls, the second highest water falls in India. Looking forward to it, and then whip up my next post with pictures and scribbles.  Wish me luck.