Wednesday, 29 December 2010

Destination Karwar

 Blast from past!

 After the jungle stay at Ganesh gudi, we headed out to the only beach resort which is part of jungle lodges. But of course , first we had to conquer the mighty karnataka roads.This time the driver blamed it on central government as the national parks are a protected area. On reaching the coast, a quick boat ride brought us to Devbagh beach resort at Karwar

Devbagh is on an island shared with a fishing village. Though the view from the cottages is of casuarina groove and a distant sea, the almost private beach makes it a good destination to chill out. Unfortunately as you are on island, the only activities one can do are mostly restricted to what the resort offers and they are far by very limited.

Being at a beach resort, we did  lounge by and in the water.But I was looking forward to snorkeling for the first time. After a half hour boat ride into the sea, we anchored close to two rocky, inaccessible islands.The sea seemed choppy and we were about 12 miles into the sea.We were told to jump into the waters from the boat instead of walking into it from a beach as i had hoped.For the first time I hesitated before trying a water sport.But that lasted for a few minutes.

Unfortunately the group conducting this sport was a little unprofessional and did not instruct us before we jumped into the water with the gear on. It took me sometime to figure out the technique after hearing the instructions in the water. But once I did , it was awesome.The instructor guided me along the cliffs. The limited sea life, the not so clear water, swimming along the cliff and feeling the current pushing you closer to the rocks , all added to the excitement. Though the sea life was not as i had hoped or seen on travel shows, it was a good first experience. It was like a trial run for my future snorkeling at Hawaii or Mauritius....No harm in dreaming!!

Yes, we also went dolphin watching and luckily we spotted quite a few. But none put a show for us which was disappointing. We also came across a dead dolphin.It is really sad to see these lovely mammals caught in fishing nets for no reason. Though we were told that the dolphins are bottled nose dolphins,I am not so sure.We saw dark colored and some light colored dolphins. Can anyone let me know which type of dolphins frequent the Arabian sea.

After a totally relaxing and activity filled holiday, we  took a sleeper bus to head back. We had booked through seabird tourist. A comfortable journey brought us back home.

Location: Karwar, Karnataka
Date of travel: December 2010

Tip: Take your own entertainment  if visiting Devbagh and staying more than a day.
Must do: Dolphin watch
First: See marine life in their elements

Thursday, 23 December 2010

Destination Ganesh Gudi

Blast from past!

I embarked this trip on the 4th ride on a train this year and this time it was on Garib Nawaz express to Londa junction. Londa is about 25 kms from Ganeshgudi which was our destination.

This was my first time at jungle lodges. I feel the jungle lodges are little overpriced for the basic accomodation they offer. But their locations are amazing and worth the price.The one at Old Magazine house, Ganesh gudi was no different but also came with a good cook and hence a good spread.

This area is known for safari at Dandeli wildlife sanctuary, Anshi national park, trekking, birdwatching and whitewater rafting along the river Kali.
But of course we started with the rafting. One of the best 4 hours I have had in recent times. The 12 kms stretch was sprinkled with grade 2 rapids. Had so much fun!! The few times we jumped into the water  and enjoyed the river in between all the paddling just added to the fun. I do have to make this note that only in India will you see women all dressed up in flowing outfits with all their embellishments and accessories on a white water rafting expedition. Kudos to them! Loved the whole experience! I am all set to try grade 3+ at the Ganga ....well hopefully soon!!

As comfortable as I am in water to extent that I am called a fish by some, I am just the opposite on land. Trekking especially climbing down, well actually also climbing up is not my forte. I am certainly not a mountain goat. I am generally the one huffing and puffing or the one who hesitantly takes the next step down and is the last one slowing down the trek. But without a whimper from me, we did a short trek uphill about 400 feet and 1.5kms long to reach an amazing view point of the Supa dam backwaters. Certainly worth it. Totally recommend it!

We skipped the safari as the sightings  reported are very few but we did go on few  birdwatching walks and coracle ride over the 2 days. Unfortunately i lost almost all the photographs from this trip due to a technical glitch. The few here are the ones that I could salvage from the last day. I regret losing out on the majestic Malabar pied hornbill, the colorful scarlet minivet, the so cute chestnut headed bee eater, the playful langur snapshots. Maybe that will be a reason for me to return to this place someday!

Location: Ganeshgudi, Karnataka
Date of travel: December 2010

Tip: Always use waterproof sunscreen while trying water sports
Must do: Lounge around the bonfire at the jungle lodge
First: Seek the adventurous taste of white water rafting
The travel connection : Nature in Raw!

Thursday, 16 December 2010

Destination Tirumala

Blast from past!
So my last trip of 2010. It was fitting finale with a trip to  the richest abode in the world - Tirumala Venkateshwara.

What can i say which is not already be said about this famous temple town. Though i have made countless trip before it still delights me to go there in spite of the crazy crowds.

We generally take the conducted tour from APSRTC from which the sheegrah darshan tickets are available even couple of days before you plan to go. So one can avoid the elaborate process of getting tickets well in advance from TTD. The tour starts around 8.30pm and with a short break for dinner, we are at Tirupathi by 5-6  hours.We are given rooms in the pilgrim amenities center for couple of hours and then set out very early in the morning to Padmavathi Temple. After the darshan and quick breakfast we head out to Tirumala and by 9.00 am. We are in the line for darshan. After the darshan, head back home and in Bangalore by 6.00pm.

Previously the tour offered the early morning darshan. These days it is the 9.00am seegrah darshan which is priced at 300/-. Amazingly for the first time  with the crowds behaving well, we finished the darshan within 45 minutes.

I will certainly be revisiting this place as often as possible.

Location: Tirumala Tirupathi, Andhra Pradesh
Date of travel: December 2010

Tip: Always carry a hand sanitizer.
Must do: Darshan ...of course!!!
First: Every darshan of Venkateshwara is like the first time!

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