India vacations

A log of our vacations around India - here we relive some of our fondest holidays. Over the last few years we have had some amazing experiences at Udaipur, Mt Abu, Jaipur, Kanyakumari, Allepey, Kovalam, Tanjore, Pondicherry, Kodai, Chennai, Mamallapuram, Mysore, Bharatpur, Fatehpur Sikri, Deeg, Diu, Ahemadabad, Kinnaur, Nako, Sangla,....

Monday, February 19, 2007

Diu - Diwali on the beach

To our amazement we found that Diwali season is the 'high' tourist season for Diu as whole of Gujrat shuts down for about a week after Diwali. This meant that we saw the resort at its best - specially decorated for the holiday season. We saw some of the most beautiful rangolis here, even on the doors -

We were fascinated by the shiny, flourescent colors. We found that these colors are specially made for rangoli - by crushing sea-shells. Kids tried their hand at it, using some simple as well as some elaborate paper stencils.

We celebrated one of the msot memorable Diwali nights in Diu. The hotel staff guided us to the beach to burst our crackers. It was amazing to see "Anars" being reflected in the waves. Some local children too joined us and helpd us clear the debris later.

Yes! the holiday was memorable. Made doubly so by the lovely resort. Its setting, location, food, pool, staff, playroom, even the inhouse store - all were just superb. The 2k per day was more than justified :)

Diu - first impressions

Our journey from Delhi to Ahemadabad had already left us on the edge. And now, travelling by road from Veraval to Diu, doubts were raging within us. The landscape was quite bleak. It was pretty hot even in late Oct. The roads were not good. Veraval smelled of fish. It didn't look like Diu would turn out to be the right choice for a idyllic holiday that we wanted. Even the smiling cotton plantations couldn't lift the foreboding.

But all of this changed once we crossed the bridge across the sea inlet to reach the island of Diu. Suddenly the view was dominated by lines of strangely shaped palm trees - called the Hoka Palm. The place exuded warmth and happiness.

We headed straight for the beach. And what a beach it was - clear blue water with gentle waves washing up the sandy shores. We had a leisurely stroll while the children were busy making their first sand castle. It was noon- and we had the entire beach to ourselves.

We could have stayed there endlesly but the taxi guy was waiting to drop us to the hotel and leave. We soiled all the taxi floor with our sand filled shoes. But like all the people we met here, he was extra gracious, not once saying anything. The road to the hotel was very picturesque, all along the sea. Finally we reached the hotel - Radhika Beach Resort. The place turned out to another beauty. It is very well landscaped, with beautifully lawns, statues and greenery all around. Kids were overjoyed to see the lovely pool- they spent at least 5 hours in it everyday for the entire stay.

Unexpected Adventure while going to Diu

The plan was to fly to Ahemadabad and then catch a train to Diu (veraval). The plan seemed perfect enough - we were booked on a Spicejet flight from Delhi to Ahd leaving at 5:30pm and reaching there at 7, leaving us a good 3 hours before our train at 10pm. It was Oct - no fog and a perfect weather for a flight.
But the flight did get delayed, first 20 mins then 40 mins, then 1 hour , and it was 7.30 pm when it finally took off - pretty close to the 'ditch the train' time that i had set for ourselves.
Sitting on the air port, I had called my cousin in Ahd - to shelve all his evening plans and be there to pick us up at the air port so that we don't waste any time looking for a taxi to the railway station. And good that I did it.
The flight landed at 8:45 - still a good one and quarter hours in hand - its about half an hour drive to the railway station . But I had not anticipated the time my luggage will take to arrive :(. Standing near the starting point of the conveyor belt, I lifted the flap to see a luggage cart coming in, only to realize, that my cases were not on it. Then the next cart came after about 10 mins, and i could spot one of my bags on the top. But we did not find the other bag even when the cart was emptied out.
Half an hour after touch down we were still waiting for the luggage. With half an eye on the watch, I kept looking out for the next cart, hoping that the kids prayers will hurry it up somehow. And then the cart came into view, with our bag near the top. But our luck wasn't going to smooth out now, the loaders somehow managed to topple the cart and took a further 10 mins to get the bags going on the conveyor belt- it was so frustrating watching it all happen so slowly. My son wanted to jump out and pick up the bag, we had to restrain him somehow.
Finally we were out of the airport at 9:20. Luckily, I could spot and recognise my cousin instantly (we were meeting after a gap of about 10 years). And then I pushed the trolley out to get into the car fast. Only to realize there was no car - his wife was supposed to bring it to the pick up area, but he could not get her number as it was busy. Our pulses were racing. Being used to Delhi's travel times, we were sure he was bluffing us with his assurances about 'there being just enough time'.
Presently he got the number and the car came into view. Soon we were cruising on Ahd's roads - pretty nice and wide and orderly traffic too. We reached the railway station at 10 minutes to 10 ! A porter took us to our train- on an obscure platform numbered 2A - that is the further end of platform 2 , where another train was waiting. And we did board the train just before it blew the whistle.
phew! it was an adventurous beginning to a vacation that we had planned as a 'total relaxation' one.

Monday, July 10, 2006

From Kinnaur to Spiti Valley (start - Khab, via Nako Lake, reaching Spiti after Malling Nallah)

This post is inspired by a memory that came alive seeing this lovely picture . This is Nako Lake at about 12000 ft nestled in the high ranges that one must cross while going from Kinnaur to Spiti valley. Khab- is the starting point for this journey. The name says it all- this palce is as dreamy as could be. It is at a height of about 8000 ft, enclosed on all sides by towering mountains. This is the confluence point of the rivers Spiti and Sutlej. You can see the muddy waters of Sutlej gracefully accepting and conqering the turquoise blue water from Spiti. This photo, taken way back in 1990, shows the confluence clearly. The Spiti manages to retain its color for no more than 100 meters from this point, after which its all dirty brown of Sutlej. You can spot the tunnel like road a few meters above the blue Spiti.

Another view of the place, this one is looking down the Sutlej from the confluence point (clicked in March 2004).

Spiti river charms you to follow it and to see it in all its glory. For this you have to climb about 3000 ft to reach the stark, barren, miles wide Spiti valley. From Khab, the road is a straight climb for about 8 kms - it follows up a single mountain initially with 8 hairpin bends, each bend leading to a straight stretch of about 300 meters. This part of the climb is known as the "loops of Ka" and offers great views as you keep climbing higher and higher - unfortunately i don't have a picture to share :(. Once you are past the loops - the road moves more horizontally than vertically towards the Spiti valley. We stopped at Yangthang - the last village before entering into the Spiti valley. This is near Yangthang:Another view from the same point; here can see the Spiti river in the background down below:

Nako village is a 5 Km diversion from here. These classic photos of the lake were shot by a dear friend in Aug 1990 - the lake is small but deep and ever so beautiful.

I remember playing football on its frozen surface in the winter on 1991. Two years ago, we revisited the place - my wife had some breathing problems, and didn't stay here for too long. But every moment there was memorable.

From Yangthang, one has to cross the Malling Nallah to reach the Spiti valley. I will sign off with a photo from that trip in 1990 beside the blue waters of Spiti.

Monday, May 29, 2006

Mysore Experience

As part of our South trip last March, we spent a couple of very memorable days at Mysore.

We started from Bangalore in the morning a about 8 am. The Bangalore-Mysore highway construction work was in full swing all along the route and it promises to be a grand highway soon. Our driver knew the place well and stopped us at a very nice roadside place for breakfast. We enjoyed the idli/vadas and had a nice time on the swings outside.

The next stop was at the island capital of Tipu Sultan- Sri Rangapatnam. There are some very beautiful monuments here. But for us the most enjoyable was the 20 minutes ride in a Coracle at the Sangam point on the southern tip of the island.

The low lying boats gave us a feeling of swimming with the ducks and other birds.

We had a nice thali at Mysore for lunch. Toured the ornate palace. The high painted roof was most fascinating.

Later we proceeded to Brindavan gardens. The children insisted on taking a speedboat rather than walk the gangway - it was nice that they did. The lone 'high' spout fountain was spectacular from the boat. My dad remembered the gardens to be as beautiful 30 years back when he had last been here.

The light and music fountain show was very well thought out and executed.

On coming back, went to see the Palace by the night- its quite a sight with all those 1 lakh bulbs aglow.

Next day started with a visit to the towering St. Philomena’s Cathedral. It is quite an imposing and beautiful church. We couldn't capture it all

Then came the most enjoyable part- a visit to the famous Zoo. The zoo is laid out beautifully among trees of all kinds. The white tigers are a sight to behold. As was this large tree in the back ground.

We didn't have time to go to the bird sanctuary - but we will definitely return to this magnificent city some day.

Friday, May 19, 2006

Very Accomplished Cheats

This is about a very well run con-job at a 'company owned company
operated' IBP petrol pump at CP, Delhi. Its a very small pump with
only two pumping stations side by side. The guys there have perfected
a routine so that its very diificult to check the 'zero' before they
start filling up. As soon as you turn into the Petrol Pump, one of
the guys would urge you to stop much further down than you normally
would. Once you stop and open the tank door (thats the key- most of
the cars now a days have remote tank opening levers so its very
fast.) The other guy would be ready to start filling as soon as you
open the tank door. It happens so fast, you can just shake your head
and pay the 300-400 extra with impotent anger boiling inside you. It
happened with me once.
Next time, I wanted to make sure I wasn't mistaken the first time,
and the guys were actually cheating. So I stopped the car where I
could see the meter clearly. But the guy who was pointing me to go
further, asked me to move so as to make it easier for the dispenser
to reach the tank opening. I moved a little down and watched as the
other guy was ready to start filling up as soon as I pulled the tank
door lever. To his dismay, I got down, asked him to reset the meter
to zero (which was at about Rs 350) , and then only opened the tank
door. I could clearly see the disappointment of loosing some easy
bucks on his face.

Friday, May 12, 2006

Plans for this Diwali

Over the years we have been quite tired of the extra pollution in
Delhi around Diwali. So this year we plan to escape to Diu to spend
the Diwali week. Its still a long way off (OCt 20th ..) , but have
made bookings on SpiceJet for Delhi -Ahemadabad and back - of course
the 3k return ticket makes it possible to go so far in a 5 day holiday.
Any tips / experiences are most welcome :).

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