Bangalore Masti-Lalbag and Around


20th April 2010: Bangalore, India
The day dawned bright and clear. We decided to roam about today and also visit a few relatives and friends. We started the day with breakfast at MTR’s. This is the famous one which has the amazing Badaam milk and all the super ready to eat mixes. We did not explore Bangalore in our Civi, instead opting for an Innova because a Metro was being constructed in Bangalore too as a result of which a lot of roads were blocked or closed and we didn’t know all the small lanes which couldn’t be navigated using a scale map.
It was a good idea because traffic in Bangalore is messy and unregulated with people driving like maniacs without adequate signals. It takes a trip to other cities to see that our relentless criticism about Mumbai is unwarranted and the city does fare well on a lot of indicators especially traffic discipline.
MTR looks like a shabby place from the outside, not some place you would notice while driving past anyway. The inside is like a typical small town hotel teleported to a big metro. But despite its appearance, a lot of people frequent it and morning breakfasts are enjoyed with friends and a regular camaraderie with the waiters and staff.
Finally Breakfast:We settled for some tasty rava idli and some upma and kesari bhat(=typical menu). After all that, we decided to have some delicious fruit salad. The waiter who waited on our table was a smiley guy who made us feel jolly and nice. Often we rate a restaurant on the overall experience of which interaction with staff and ambiance forms a major part. If the waiter is smiley then it makes our day even without us realising it. So on this waiter(=his name was Sundar, like how he way all smiley and jolly) This fruit salad was a lot of fruits, custard, the all famous badaam milk, dry fruits and jelly!! Pure delight!!! Plus the rava idlis came along with fragrant ghee. It’s astonishing to see that in South India most of the dishes come along with ghee which improves the taste of the dish and gives satiety to the person. After a super delicious breakfast we left for LalBag

LalBag: Lalbag Botanical Gardens are spread over 240 acres of land This huge space has so many different varieties of plants in it. It has a bonsai display, a horticultural section, an indoor plants section , a decorative plants section, a lake…..!!! But most of the displays and exhibits were closed because it was not the best season to visit. If you really want to visit Bangalore then the ideal time would be January or August because then you can see all the exhibits at the Botanical Gardens.

Now because LalBag is so big, it has 4 gates so that you can enter from any direction,(=i agree its a great route for a morning walk bt not so for a tourist). Sensing this difficulty, the Gardens have arranged for a small van(=electronic van, no pollution) and a guide who’ll take us around all the locations in about an hour so what would take you days to explore on your own by foot is covered in an hour. Smart!!


Our first stop was the LalBag Glasshouse. This is the place where they hold all the flower shows. After that, we made our way to the Lake which had a lot of birds circling it. The gulmohar trees on one side of the lake were in full bloom. Opposite the lake there were black bamboo trees specially imported from Japan. The best feature of LalBag was that they imported internationally known varieties of plants and were constantly pruning the plants and maintaining the park. Also there were many dustbins around all which looked like tree stumps and animals so that there was no littering. One thing i could observe was that this park was maintained superbly and that people did not litter it as they did in parks and roads in Mumbai.
After that, we saw the specially trimmed bushes so that they looked like birds. Also there were birds who were drinking water from an open pipe which was great because the weather was absolutely beastly and hot. We also saw trees which were 100,150 and 200 years old which surprised us because it must have been excellent foresight and planning that they planted so many trees and made gardens long time back. Research yielded that this garden was commissioned during the reign of Tipu Sultan, one of India’s greatest kings.

Then we drove past the indoor plants section and also the horticultural section. There were so many departments and research labs which showed that research personnel were very much-needed for essential jobs like maintaining and the upkeep of gardens.

After that, we ended our tour with the final destination, the Kempegowda temple on top of a hill there. It is said that you can view the entire city of bangalore from here. All in all our trip to LalBag showed su how plants and trees are important for cities and also are a sight for sore eyes. Superbly maintained plants and flowering trees make good viewing!!!!

Coming up Next: Relative visits, our apartment and Art of Living Ashram

 

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Exploring Mysore-BLog World Meets Real World.


18th April 2010: Mysore, Karnataka, India
My father is an active blogger and one of his friends from bloggerspace is Mr Swaroop Kagli. We made plans to meet him and take him out to lunch. After exploring the Lalita Mahal, we met him somewhere near his place and he took us to a restaurant called Olive Garden. There was a private party going on there so we had to go from another way. I wished we could sit in the private party after all we were dressed for it(=coz everyone in the party was wearing a sari n i and mum had worn some nice indian dresses). We got a nice seat and ordered some tasty starters and some yummy food. For dessert we had fried ice cream. I was not feeling well, a little drained out but the ice cream made me feel good. We ordered another one.

After lunch, we clicked photos. There were monkeys hopping here and there and creeping to see if they could get any food. There was one naughty monkey who was drinking water from the water pump on top of the kitchen. Inquiries yielded that the tank was used to supply water to the toilets and for washing utensils which was alright. Atleast it did not make it to the food.

After that we dropped Swaroop outside his building which looked swank, and then we made our way to the hotel. From Swaroop we learnt a lot about Mysore and about what he does. Swaroop has a photo blog you see so we were very interested.
Also a fact is that we take whichever place we live in for granted, because whenever anyone comes and asks us what we have to see, we usually can’t think of anything. But for visitors its a whole new experience. Through visitors eyes you see your locality or city in an entirely different view.We also visited Swaroop’s House which was a very cosy home in this fastly expanding city. There we met his mother and sister and one of his relatives who had come over. His mother had made excellent juice for us. It was nice meeting them and we enjoyed there. Sachi learnt that monkeys used to visit Swaroop’s veranda and made a request to keep one for her. She loves monkeys and wanted to keep one as a pet.
It was really nice to see that a friendship which sprung up in bloggerspace translated into a meeting and a friendship that is bound to last for years to come. Through blogs a lot of people get to know each other and its a great way to project your ideas and have discussions. Now that i have my own blog i can really relate. I’d want to travel to some place and meet up a friend from the Blog world too 😀 😀

Coming Up Next: They Mysore Palace,Goodbye Mysore

Fried Ice Cream.My dad and Swaroop.

Coorgi Tales- Madikeri and beyond!


15th April 2010: Karnataka Hinterland, India

Continuation to the Dubare note. After Dubare, we were plenty exhausted and not to mention dirty!! After reaching the resort, we freshened up and had lunch. We decided to spend the remainder of the day in the town of Madikeri. We had lunch at ‘Arabica’ and then went to the room (i must mention that one of the days we had a mint and melon mousse for dessert and it was amazing. One day it was strawberry and white chocolate mousse which was lip-smacking!! No wonder they say Club Mahindra pampers you)
We spent the afternoon resting and then drove down to Madikeri. By now, i knew the route to the market and back so it was no problem. Once you take a turn to go to Club Mahindra, there is a school, 2 parks and a temple. we decided to explore the park and the temple. .
One of the parks had a mini train. it was amazingly cute!! It reminded me of the time we used to go to a park in Santacruz where there used to be a similar train and we used to ride it till the park closed. So it was a trip down the memory lane for me!!

The ride itself was only for 3-4 minutes but it was fun. We grabbed seats in the extreme front just after the engine. And a guy first came and checked our tickets (you have to buy tickets for the ride, different tickets for kids and adults!!)
There were even boards for stations and a small tunnel. And this ride attracted a lot of the crowd. I guess in a small town you would find this very much fun, people in smaller towns have more fun than city dwellers anyway!!
After that we made our way to the other park which was more like a ‘Joggers Park’. It was so well maintained with broad lanes, lot of dustbins in the shape of cute animals and pretty flowers. There were many people walking and many playing.

Coorg is called ‘Scotland of the East’ and it was not difficult to see why. The view from the park bench was stunning!! Even though it was summer, there was a slight fog in the distance and there was a nice breeze which made it quite pleasant.
After a walk and a lot of photos, we decided to leave and snack on something. We had some ‘Joy’ Ice cream(=chocobar!!) and then to our surprise, the lights came on at the centre of the park and the people were standing around the circle which we later discovered turned out to be a musical fountain. And we slowly made our way towards the gate coz we knew we’d just come out and we couldn’t go in again but the lady sitting at the entrance told us to go right ahead. We went in and were totally awestruck.
They played some song with lyrics we couldn’t understand (=either kannada/tamil/malu) and the fountains danced to the tunes. It was so well done. The colours also changed. I was totally engrossed. We took videos and many pictures. I hear there is a musical fountain at the Vrindavan Gardens at Mysore but this was amazing. And there were very few ppl so that made it better.
The fountains were amazing. They jumped, they danced, we gasped!!! They played 4 songs and for that time, held the audience totally spellbound. They ended with ‘Saare jahan se Accha’ and the people slowly started making their way out.

Thats when i realised how pretty the flowers at the edges of the park looked. They were nice and purple. So got in some pictures of those as well. Then we went to the temple nearby and guess, we were just in time for the evening ‘Aarti’. The co-incidence was amazing!! After the Aarti, we made our way back to the hotel

Oh i forgot to mention that while coming back from Dubare, we stopped at a place and purchased lots of spice. Coorg is known for its spices. We also got some Vanilla to be had with milk. It smells so sweet and delicious. One really wonders why people go in for artificial substitutes when the real one is so much fragrant and better!!For dinner this time, we decided to try the a-la-carte restaurant at Club Mahindra called ‘Coffee Blossoms’ We had some thai curry(red and yellow), steamed rice, kheema paratha and some starter. The red thai curry was so delicious, we really enjoyed and literally licked our plates off. We did have some light dessert and made our way to the room.

This restaurant had another way which led to the swimming pool near our room so but we decided to take the longer route to enjoy the smell of the coffee blossoms. It was a super night and i really kept going back to the stunning Musical Fountains that we found in the small town of Madikeri.

cOMING uP next: Adventure Valley Part2, The town again,Coorg cuisine,Goodbye Coorg
Some of the pretty flowers

Coorgi Tales- Dubare and Beyond


The Pachyderm Connection
15th April 2010: Karnataka Hinterland, India

Today we decided to go to Dubare, the elephant club. It is situated abt 35-40 kms away from the Club Mahindra resort and is a good drive. This venture is promoted by the Karnataka State Tourism Development Board and thus draws in a lot of tourist. It is a good thing that the elephants are being taken care of like this. These elephants are from the adjoining forests and here they are bathed everyday and fed. People can also ride them. It ensures that the elephants are not mercilessly massacred for their ivory.
We had an option to use our own Civic (=nicknamed Civi by us)
The trip timing was 9:00 in the morning and we had breakfast at ‘Arabica’. The timing was such that you could get a good morning drive and spend adequate time there without the sun being too much of a problem. There were 3 families who opted for the Dubare elephant club activity that day so we went in a Tata Sumo and the other 2 families came in a van.
The early morning drive was so refreshing. The weather was pleasant, and the air was filled with the scent of different flowers especially the smell of the Robusta flower (=robusta is a coffee variety, the picture of the flower id down there). The roads were winding and not maintained well so the ride was bumpy. Also a lot of trucks come along that way because the Govt is repairing another main road so this is like a detour.
But the sights of the hills was just awesome. Madikeri or Coorg is also called ‘Scotland of the East’ and we could see that this was true. Having been to Scotland I can really say that Coorg was prettier!!!
The approach road to Dubare is a small bumpy road. before i forget, we passed a lot of estates with home stay option available. If you wanted some time by yourself, this would be the best option. We also passed the Tata Coffee estate. I forgot to mention in my previous note that the trees planted in and around coffee estates are usually Silver Oaks, tall trees with silvery, white barks look stunning.Finally, Dubare!!!
The club is situated at the edge of a river. The river when in full flow has a lot of white water rafting but since it was summer, there was hardly any water
.
So we sat in that boat and then crossed over to the Club. When we arrived, there was only 1 elephant, the others were yet to come. so we waded into the water and then made our way towards the elephant but the club mahindra holiday activities guy who had come along with us told us to wait till the other elephants came along.
The mahindra connection We had an option of taking our own car but then we were advised that because club mahindra has a lot of people coming to Dubare, that’s why they got tickets to the boat and the elephant ride in the club. The mahindra pampering here too!!!

Back to the elephants sorry!!!
Then later we saw a few elephants coming. this bathing the elephants is another way for the locals to earn money and respect wildlife. there are twin objectives of conserving bio-diversity and making the locals earn in the process. When the elephants came into the water, first there were their droppings and then their pee to deal with. Yes people, the water u wade in is filled with disintegrated elephant poop and pee. But to scrub them, you got to let go of your inhibitions, after all there is always soap and antiseptic in the hotel!!
The elephants are scrubbed with hard metal brush or the one you would use to clean toilets. Although their skin seems rough, its smooth at some places and feels very nice when you touch it,.
Scrubbing the elephants is fun coz they are lying sideways in the water and its total pampering for them.
There was also a naughty one who sprayed everyone with water, i guess they are trained to do that so that the tourists are happy.
After that we went to see the elephants eating. They are fed this big ball of some mixture made of a lot of cereals and jaggery. Each elephant ate about 5-10 balls and each ball weighed about 2.5 kgs. wow that’s a lot to eat!!

There were times when you could pose with the elephant, that after they finished their share. There were some elephants throwing tantrums because they were hungry. It was amusing.
After that, to cool off we had some tender coconut water. And guess what, there were dogs there who ate the malai from the tender coconut. I guess necessity and hunger are the root of that.
After that we rested for a while and the Club Mahindra guy bought tickets for us to take rides on the elephant. There is a home stay for people in the Dubare elephant club so those people were given preference for the elephant rides. The elephant taking the rides was making a meal of the tender coconut waste nearby so it got a few raps from the Mahut. The gulmohar trees were filled with flowers and it really was ‘flaming’ it was so red.
After the ride, we made our way to the boats and then back to the Sumo and then to the resort. By this time the sun was burning so we couldn’t smell any of those flowers that we smelt in the morning.Coming Up Next: Madikeri Mysteries!!!! and the Famous Fountains!!The naughty elephant, he sprayed every1 with water!!!me scrubbing the elephantsthe elephant being fed!!The flowers of ‘Robusta’ They smell so amazing, it’s unbelievable.

Coorgi Tales-The Spice Plantation and Adventure Vallley part 1


14th April 2010: Karnataka Hinterland, India
Today we decided to go in for the Adventure Activity. They have 17 different types of activities which are clubbed into 2 different groups , Easy and Advanced, 5 activities each. You could opt for the clubbed activities or do any of the activities individually. So today we tried the elementary ones.
I was strapped first. Sachi decided to watch me first and then try her hand at them. I had a bengali fellow who was my instructor. The first activity was the ‘Shaking Bridge’ where the distance between 2 planks on 2 ropes keeps increasing. This was fairly easy. The second one was climbing across a big criss cross maze of ropes, the difficult part was climbing on the rope, the easy one was walking on the iron rope.
The third activity was walking through the tyres. the easy part was walking on the rope and the difficult one was walking thru the tyres. Trust me it is difficult when you have to walk suspended with a harness. The fourth activity was the easiest, you had to walk on one iron rope holding a rope above your head, i did that pretty fast. The next and last activity was climbing on a rope. There were knots at regular intervals and you had to hold the knots using your thumbs and then hoist yourself up (which is NOT a piece of cake) and finally the trainer would lower you down. Tiring job really. My hands were really paining. shows how us city folk fare when we meet with adventure sports 🙂
After i was done, it was Sachi’s turn. She had it fairly easy coz she’s thinner than i am. It was fun watching her do it.
we were really exhausted after the activity because holding on to the ropes and harness really asks a lot from your pampered and never been used muscles!!! After a lunch in ‘Arabica’ we rested in the room for a while.

Naya Plan The next plan was the Spice Plantation Tour. Club Mahindra takes you to a place which is 35 kms from the main resort and shows you around the spice plantation. The time for the spice plantation tour was 3:00 and we came a little late and my explanation was “For fashion show u have show stoppers, here in Coorg, we’re the BUS STOPPERS” (lol) The Club Mahindra Holiday Activities Co-ordinator coming with us was Punit and we teased him endlessly calling him ‘uncle’ and ‘grand-uncle’ and forced him to give us lessons in kannada. that was fun but i dont know how much of the kannada i remembered!!
We were delayed in reaching the spice plantation because there was a jeep stuck on the approach road. most of tese coffee estates have home sta facilities so one can enjoy the estate and stay there in the calm and fragrant atmosphere (estates smell soooo good!!)

We met the person who took care of the estates. It seems the estate has been passed down in his family for 150 yrs!! thats a long time!! This fellow it seems is a commerce graduate who stayed in bangalore but shifted here to madikeri to take care of the estate. The estate was a huge one, 225 acres!!! The first plant we saw was the Vanilla plant. It seems because of artificial substitutes for vanilla, the prices for vanilla had crashed so drastically it was not feasible to cultivate it anymore. The estate just cultivated vanilla on a small scale to show the people who visted the estate.
Then we proceeded to see the coffee plants. Coffee plants require so much of attention and labour, not to mention regular sprays of insecticide to protect them form the white stump borad. Also coffee plants especially ‘Arabica’ has to be cut in a special way so that the branches grow sideways and not straight ahead. We learnt a lot abt coffee in that tour. Arabica it seems is more labour intensive and its prices are sky high in international markets. Its also a more fragrant variety and makes better coffee. But because of high maintenance costs, ‘Robusta’ variety is preferred although it brews inferior coffee. There is one tree which is preferably grown with coffee because during summer when the sun rays are very strong, it spreads its canopy over the coffee plants and then during the rains when the sunlight does not reach the plants below due to the canopy, it sheds its leaves. We also saw a rosewood tree. it seems a rosewood tree matures in 150-200 years. It means the tree must have been planted when the estate was started and its still not grown fully. Thats what i call a ‘Late Bloomer’

We also saw cardamon plants from kerala and Karnataka. We also saw a pod of karnatak cardamon (=elaichi) and tasted it..it tasted sooo good, much better than the dried ones we get in the market and fresher. We also saw the silk cotton tree. The silk cotton pods burst out when the cotton is ready and the pod falls off. The cotton is so soft. Bu the owner said that harvesting these on a commercial basis was not feasible so the pods just wasted on the ground. I think the locals took them and used them to make blankets or some clothes.
It seems that the estate was facing a sever labour shortage, although the wages were higher than other estates. Coffee especially Arabica required a lot of attention, coz the branches had to be splintered and all the plants manually checked for attacks of the white borad. Very few skilled men knew the job which made it expensive.

Discovery: Coorg was very famous for its oranges upto 40 yrs ago when a deadly virus came and wiped out all the orange trees in Coorg. There are still resorts with the name ‘Orange County’. The resurrection of oranges here had been started recently. It seems Coorgi oranges are much bigger than the Nagpur oranges and much juicier.

After the tour and seeing many such plants which included a wild plant with fruits which looked like lemons, we made our way back to the van. there we were served some of the estate’s home grown coffee which was so tasty. Pure and unadulterated coffee na so it tasted much much better than the ones in metros. There was also a cute dog there in a cage . He was kept in the cage because he got so excited seeing visiotrs and jumped on them (trust me he was huge but very cute, he even licked my fingers)
There was also a huge christmas tree with some cactii growing on it. Sounds hard to believe but i’ve got evidence!! We parted with very good memories and a lot more knowledge of how to run an estate.
wE kept bugging Punit on our way back. he also took us on a tour of the town and showed us a place where we could get authentic Coorgi cuisine. Coorg it seems is very famous for its pork.

After we went to the resort, Sachi, Medha and me went to play while the parents chatted. It was all in all a very fun evening.

Special Note: I really wanna thank Medha,Jayant and Mira Luthra for the amazing time that we spent together in the spice plantations. It was totally out of this world!!!

Agla Sthaan:Dubare Elephant Club and exploring Madikeri. Stay tuned!!!!The 3rd activity, the ‘Tyring one’Sachi with her instructorfresh cardamom, tastes awesome and smells out of this worldCoffee beans being dried!!The christmas tree with cactii

Welcome Udupi


11th April 2010, Karnatak Hinterland, India

The day dawned bright and clear. it was this day that we were leaving Manki and setting out. the first part of our journey was complete!!!
As we opened the kitchen door, we realised we had a little kite on the doorstep!! It was a small baby who i guess must have been tired of flying. this season was when all the birds like eagles and kites mated and their young hatched. so the sky was always dotted with birds teaching their young to spread their wings and fly.

After the tasty breakfast of jackfruit patoli and lots of pictures(with sanjay mam,suma pachi,shanti,hemant bhatmam and tender coconuts) we departed for Udupi to see the Krishna temple there.

As you move towards Udupi which goes towards the south, the vegetation differs, becomes thicker and the standard coconut trees give way to more banyans and other species which generally spread and make a canopy over the road.

There are 4 entrances to Udupi, all through entrance gates called ‘dwars’ which are intricately carved and beautifully painted, each gate having a different design.

We made our way through udupi to meet sanjay mam’s mother. we freshened up at her place and then made our way to the Krishna temple. The first thing that strikes you about udupi is that the roads are nice and done up well and there is no traffic. for a mumbaikar, any small place will have absolutely no traffic!!

The temple complex is very large and spacious and they have big warehouse type structures for storing ‘Raths’ for festivals when they have ‘Rathotsavas’.

the raths were in gold, silver and were so intricately done up. there was a huge queue
for entry into the temple so we got some special tickets (yes they are available there) and saw the inside of the temple. the inside is air conditioned and very clean. the idols are very clean and the air is filled with positive vibes. we had a bhatmam give us a tour and after seeing the temple we went to this restaurant called ‘Mitra Samaj’ which we heard was good for its food.
Its essentially very hot in south india at this time but the sky is pretty clear so we can see the carvings on all dwars and temples clearly 🙂

Next Episode:Helllo Manipal,Mangalore Tales,Vitthal and Journey to Coorg,Coorg and Beyond
the baby kite!! soo cute!!!one of the many dwars we saw

Chronicles of Manki-The past we meet


6th/7th April 2010, Karnataka Hinterland, India
 
A meeting
I forgot to mention about the 6th of April. We were driving through the lanes of Honavar, buying some groceries. We had some hot dal-wada off the streets (i love street food!!). It never fails to amaze me, that even if the weather is hot outside and you’re in a car in the evening, something hot, just off the stove tastes amazing.
(L-R) Jackfruits hanging low, A Rail tunnel at Manki, The Chitrapur Math Logo
We met my grandfather’s relative with whom we chatted about the “good old days” and about our families. Its a tradition among households here to apply some haldi-kumkum when a guest leaves home. I’ve noticed that people who live in smaller towns or villages are so much more hospitable and warm as compared to people in cities.
The Chitrapur Math
The Chitrapur Math:
For non-amchis, Maths are places where religious events within the community happen. Our Swamis or Gurus reside at the Maths and often hold talks and meetings. It is also a place where the Samadhisof our Gurus lie as well as the family deity of many of the families who have now migrated to cities and larger towns.

First Destination: Chitrapur Math
There we had a special pooja of the Guru Samadhis and our family deity. We also had the ‘prasad bhojan’ (i love amchi food it tastes heavenly!!).
There have been a lot of changes in the Math in recent years and it is much more user friendly and spacious. We also saw the ‘goshala’ which is where they keep the cows. I have never seen such huge cows. and they were soo clean!!! Fascinating!!

His Holiness Sadyojat Swamiji with the cows
After a refreshing nap (its inevitable when the weather is unmerciful and you’re full with all that delicious food!!), we left to see the Museum.

Next Stop:The Museum

Well done up now, the museum is a collection of artifacts that our P.P Parignyanashram Swamiji had collected over his life, which ranged from stone sculptures to coins. There was also a write up about the item on display and my respect for His Holiness increased even further. All Visitors are recommended highly to see the museum.

Some of the items on display like the swords and different murtis made of brass were stunning in their beauty. we also saw a one line drawing made by a genuis. A one line drawing means that the artist as never broken the line but continued the entire picture using the same line. I was speechless.
There were also beautiful charcoal pictures on the ‘Rathotsava’

Followed By:Kembre Farm
This farm follows practices of organic farming and the preference for this type of farming was evident. Huge and i mean huge vegetables, flowers of different colours (i mean 3 different types of aboli?? are you kidding?? yellow, orange and the normal colour!!)
We also sat on tractors and saw a biogas plant. The size of vegetables!! Stupefied!!

Flowers at Kembre Farm

ORGANIC is Good 😀 😀

Vocabulary 😉 : A large stone beneath a tree is called ‘Katta’ and Mango tree means “Mavin” so when all the Mavins sat on a large stone, it was “Mavinkurve’s on the MavinKatta” 😀 lol

Agla Sthan: Bhatkal
Bhatkal is the next big stop after Shirali although we didnt do much there, just had a snack and some Hang Yo ice cream which means “Come here ” in Amchi. Can’t say much about the ice cream, since i’m a Naturals fan, i quite liked the chickoo, was horrified at the ghastly colour of the pista and the american fruit was ok.
he he, i love the crooked smile 🙂

That ends 7th April. Stay tuned for the next episode of ‘Chronicles of Manki’A murti at the entrance of the Mathone of the many huge vegetables at kembre Farm

Chronicles of Manki-A new idea


Day 3: 6th April 2010

AfsarKonda
There is a waterfall close to Manki. it being summer, there wasn’t too much water but it looked like a healthy waterfall anyway. we learnt it was better than going up to Jog Falls at this time of the year because Jog Falls would look like this small stream of water and considering the driving involved and the excellent roads (pun intended!!) we’d feel frustrated after all.
There were village boys already at the site when we arrived. These little boys effortlessly climbed rocks and jumped into the water. We reckoned this was one fo their only sources of entertainment. And since most were in their undies, it was like seeing so many Mowglis.
We did wade out into the water and go beneath the waterfall. I could guess how pretty it would look during the rains when the water fell in full rush. Sachi also enjoyed a swim. We did a fair bit of climbing too!!

 

After getting totally drenched, we made out way to the top of the hill.The road to AfsarKonda is long and winding and isn’t very good but you see cashew plants growing everywhere.

The Karnatak Tourist Dept has done a good job informing tourists about attractions within villages by putting up photos as well as the name of the spot. We’d noticed a board for Afsar konda while we drove to Manki. Also it seems like someone was getting a hotel built on the hill. So there was a lookout point etc.

 

I must say, the view from the top of the hill was stunning. you could see the rock, the fields below and the vast blue sea. Also you could see eagles flying everywhere so it was a birdcatcher’s paradise.
We made our way to this small cave where you could sit and observe the sea and just take a break from the heat. There was a fair bit of photo-session too.

We departed from there to come home to some delicious kadgi phodie (=bhajis made of raw jackfruit for non amchis)!! Gosh the food here is amazing

After a nice afternoon nap, we left in the evening to Idgunji to see the Ganpati temple. They sell hats and other accessories made out of the Khus plant here. After that we drove along to one place where you could see the river Sharawati. What a placid river!! We had a great time looking through the binocs.

What an Idea!!
I got this idea about having home stays in such small villages so that people from cities get a true taste of indian villages, you know, get to try their hand at farming and at picking fruits etc. I’m working on the idea, Any takers??

I’ll keep the notes short and sweet hereon.

Next Episode Meeting acquaintances and a Tour of the Shirali Math

Manki (finally!!!)- Respite for the Travellers Part 3


Location:: After Honavar and Idgunji. Close to the coast. Beach close by.

The karnatak hinterland is filled with small rivulets and tributaries which are breathtakingly unspoilt by civilisation. Beautiful!! All around you, there are fields, coconut trees and lot of greenery for the summer. There are lot of boats in the rivers which made me want to chuck the drive and just laze around on one of them.

My father’s college friend stays in Manki and their place was awesome. The bungalow is so large and spacious. (P.S I loved the Asian Paint wall :D). Wow it felt so good to relax after a long drive through the interiors of Karnatak. The jackfruit tree was awesome i’ve never seen jackfruits hang so low that you could pick them at ease.

Here at Manki, in the following week, we did all of those things that we could never do in Mumbai, ate all those tasty dishes we could never get and saw amazing sites, not to mention re-establishing connection with our roots.

Day1 at Manki: Arrival
The first day we arrived was mostly spent in relaxation. We also went up a hill and saw the breathtaking view of Manki beach which stretched for 8 kms from Manki to Murudeshwar. Pure white, powder!! Sheer delight. Also we went cashew picking. There are so many cashew trees growing in the laterite and fortunately there were some cashews which we could pluck. We also had a delightful photo session up in the hills. That was followed up by a visit to the Chikarmane family deity and met the bhatmam, who incidentally happens to be the most proactive and energetic bhatmam i have ever met.

Discovery: Kids in small villages have the most brightest eyes you can ever find. 🙂

We had a nice quiet evening at the beach. We also met fishermen who were sorting their nets in preparation of the next day. The sand at Manki beach was pristine, white and soft.

Next Episode:Chronicles of Manki and Discovery of our roots
the wonderful view

Village Yatra-The road traveller speaks-Part 2


5th April 2010: Glimpse of Karnatak Hinterland
A stark contrast from the dry landscape in Maharashtra, Karnatak had a little more variety for us. For starters the soil here is red so the trees were reddish which made good seeing. The road we took to visit my grandmother’s village, Ankola was a one lane road but well done. There were many trees on either side of the road many a times forming a canopy which made the “scene-scenery” pleasant.
 
 There was a spot where we saw a pond with Purple and white Lotus. Its a wonder how Lotus blooms especially in ponds with slush and mud. I remember a childhood visit to a village called Bankikodal where our driver was stuck in a quicksand like mud trying to get a Lotus for us :O
 
This area is known for Quarrying. If you chance to drive down you’ll see large trucks with huge boulders . When we took the State Highway to go to Ankola, We were warned about trucks and to be careful while driving so we remained alert. It struck me how difficult a job of a truck driver was, driving on all winding roads. Its also scary sometimes. To think truck drivers also drive through the night trying to make speedier deliveries!! Kudos to my dad for driving through it all

Fun facts: Trees in Uttar Kanara shed their leaves in summer so sometimes it looks like you’re on a haunted road.

Whacky:
What happened next was totally whacky. About a hundred trucks had jammed the road some 15 kms off Ankola and we didnt know any other alternative routes. We were in a soup. (=Its the IDEAL FILM situation. The protagonist is stuck with no way to reach the destination. The audience is getting desperate. Whats going to happen!!! *Breathe Breathe* )

 
We asked some guy to help us. He said he would and to follow him but guess what!! He drove away before we could catch up with him. I was all excited. This was fun and so totally adventurous. Not the ideal situation for my dad though!!
 
But then somebody driving this Swift comes us and asks “Are you lost?”. (totally filmy types) and agrees to help us. So we followed him through this road that went through this small village. it was a kaccha road and was bumpy but it was amazing. Villages are actually so pretty. Living in a small hutment must be so much fun 🙂
And we joined the highway a few kms after Ankola. And we were totally blessed because we reached the Mahamaya temple just in time for the Aarti 😀 i think some things are just meant to happen

A Whole New World
It was just divine actually that we reached in time for the Aarti. For my grandmother it was another world going back to the place where she grew up, she opened this door for us, showed us the village during her time. It wasn’t very difficult to imagine coz the village was pretty much the same. The roads were better and people lived in better houses but the house in which my grandmother grew up was intact and so was the well from which they drew water. It was so touching to see her re-visit all of this.
We also visited another temple called Shantadurga which unfortunately was closed. There we met a bhatmam (=priest) who was my grand-uncle’s classmate and the old priest who was there during my grandmother’s time. And he still remembered her!!! Another priest specially opened the temple for us and allowed us to photograph.

Discoveries:: Cows climb on rocks, house porches and steps to get food to eat. Although scary at first, cows are really cute and understand what you say to them.

Destination:: Manki
the car who led us thru the villagethe pretty devi at the ShantaDurga temple.