The Road Trip Continues: Amazed at the HAL Museum


One of things that a traveller should do is to always ask what are the unimportant things to see when you visit a place? I’ve often noticed that we have wonderful experiences going to places which locals think are insignificant or unimportant.

One such place near the new Bangalore airport happens to be Hindustan Aeronautics Limited. India historically has never been renowned for excellence in defence and defensive/ protective equipment. Or fighter planes for that matter. Still we have to be lauded for making an effort.

And the Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd Aerospace Museum is just about that. Bringing to a country’s notice that while it had worried about growth and political economics of deficits and quotas, HAL has manufactured over 3658 Aircraft/Helicopters, 4178 Engines, Upgraded 272 Aircraft and overhauled over 9643 Aircraft and 29775 Engines.

While I was not someone who was interested in aeronautics unless it was mentioned in a work of fiction, my dad was and still is an enthusiast for any new technology especially aerospace and robotics. So this was a wonderful experience for all of us.

When we were dropped off to the door, I was surprised. I didn’t expect a museum to have large gardens, contemporary colours and wide paths.

There is a main building and also some models which have been displayed out in the gardens. These include models that the HAL has indigenously developed and also those which have been manufactured from Russian blueprints under technology transfers.

Most of the aircrafts are displayed outside the museum except HUL-26 Pushpak and the HAL Basant. The photo gallery of the museum contains pictures of Vengeance bombers under construction in the 40s, Dakotas being overhauled, Tempests, Devons, under overhaul in the 50s, Vampires, Gnats, and Maruts under construction in the 60s. An air control building is also available in the museum. there was also the Sea King MK 42 helicopter on display. Air Traffic Radio Antenna and Radars dot the landscape.

Models of GSLV and PSLV Satellite launch vehicles are also exhibited. The Museum also houses a small souvenir shop that sells mementos, postcards and posters. There are also aircraft simulators, air traffic control towers and an aero-modeling club. (=www.bangaloreorbit.com)

Every model that is displayed has information at the side about the features like Period of Production, length, span, height, speed, rate of climb, range etc. it was interesting to read all these details. In the building there are also models of the HUL Pushpak and HAL Basant along with pictures of everyone who visited the Museum. it was heartening to see the way everything had been preserved. It is said that pictures always have their own story to say.

It was a really proud moment  for us when we saw the indigenously developed models like Kiran. It made me proud to know about all this because when you read the papers, it is almost always a regulatory fault or a collapse of systems and every blasphemous articles berating India.

Another thing worth mentioning is the Aircraft simulators. Priced very cheap (Rs 50 per person for half an hour) you get to sit inside an aircraft and modulate controls and there is a screen that shows you the aircraft. In a way it resembles a video game with controls. But who are we to have a first class experience at piloting, so we did it, and I crashed my aircraft two times ;).

The best part is the Aviation Traffic Control or the ATC. Photography is not allowed so I don’t have any to show. But the ATC there opens to the Bangalore Airport where you can watch the planes take off and land. There is a simulation of an actual ATC with the controls and everything. A security guard explains everything to you about the controls. it was fascinating to see the number of controls that one person needed to man.

There was also a café where we stopped for tea. The HAL Museum was eye opening. I never knew that India had done so much in aerospace. Like all the books I’ve been reading, I thought that India used to have a treasure cove of intelligence but that drained over the years. I used to always think that Museums are boring and for the bookworm types. But that opinion has been changing lately

After this wonderful experience in the HAL Museum, we went to meet my cousin and her baby!! After a morning in marvel, it was time for an afternoon of fun!!

Journey to Bangalore-Fast Forward Now!!!


19th April 2010: Karnataka Hinterland, India
So here i continue from where i left off. The journey was totally uninteresting because the road was straight stretched ahead of you and this made it boring to look out. In contrast to the fantastic views when we were driving across coastal Karnataka, the central part was flat and didn’t have much for us to see. There were also many signs so that made navigation a piece of cake. We kept driving in and out of small towns and villages which we could see as dots in the Map we had.
 
We were out to find out the place where Satya Sai Baba would reincarnate somewhere in Srirangapatnam which is a few kms off Bangalore. But while going, we saw a board which said Sri Satya Sai Baba orphanage so we decided to stop there. It was a small serene place. There were some slides and swings in a corner and close to the swings sat 2 calves. There were a few people who were sitting near the entrance. We approached them and went inside. There were a lot of pictures of Baba and even Guruji(=H.H Sri Sri Ravi Shankar ) out there. The second room was like a prayer room. It was filled with hundreds of pictures of Baba when he was young and recent pictures. The room exuded serenity and peace. we sat and meditated for a while. The place had symbols denoting all religions showing neutrality towards one and all.
While we prayed, a lady came and gave us some honey and some vibhuti. There was a picture of Baba which was filled with Vibhuti and this honey i’m sure must have also fallen on its own from the pictures. Such amazing grace!!! And the honey was so delicious, it wasn’t like any other honey i’ve ever tasted.
After that, we went to the courtyard where there were some boys playing with a ball. There was also an idol of Baba’s feet. If you rubbed your hand or handkerchief there, it would smell of incense. We also went up and saw their meditation hall. All in all this was a refreshing break for us because the road journeys were really wearisome.
We made our way towards Bangalore. We were supposed to stop at Kamath’s for lunch but we were so hungry and we couldn’t find it so we stopped at a Mc Donalds on the way. Burgers were good to eat after a long time. We got some sweets and water from a nearby general store. There, they were also selling wooden toys. There is a village which makes wooden toys, Channapatna which we passed through.
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
There was a huge golden ganpati that we drove past. Also there was a huge arch with an upper road which led to the Satellite Town and the lower road leading to Bangalore. So we took the upper road by mistake and had to turn back. Apart from this, we reached Bangalore without a hitch. After going through Ring roads and various other roads, we made our way to my Dad’s office. We were staying in a service apartment which was fully furnished with a cooking range etc etc so that we could cook whenever we want. This booking was done through my Dad’s office. So we got going there and then checked into our room and then rested.For dinner we were going to my aunt’s place which was at the other extreme end of town. We had
specially told her to prepare simply ‘Aamchi’ food because we missed it so much. The food was amazing and delicious(=song and daali always does the trick). We also had a fun time chatting with Sankalp and Vishal who came late from work. There was also a Mumbai Indians Match that day which kept everyone entertained. For dessert,we had ‘Chocolate sheera’ yummy!!!!
I also got some Korean currency for our coin collection!!!

After this super amazing end to a tiring day, we slept, waiting to explore Bangalore!!
Some Rocky Terrain on the wayBaba’s photos.Baba’s feet

the Golden Ganpati

Goodbye Mysore-But we’ve only just arrived!!!!


19th April 2010, Mysore, Karnataka India.
The day dawned bright and clear when we were to leave from Mysore and proceed towards Bangalore. I guess there was a transition when we started out with villages and then made our way to towns and to cities and finally landed to Mumbai. Well we started our day with some Saree shopping. Mysore is famous for its sarees. Since we were to leave early when we went to search for the shops, none of them were open. I guess Mumbaiites are so used to the fast paced life, that w expect shops open as early as 8 and open till 11 at night or even later.So consequently any small city is a slow and sleepy place for us. But it feels very nice not having to rush against the crowd to catch that 9:36 Ladies Special or run for that irregular bus. Finally we found one shop which was open. So we went inside and asked the shopkeeper for something ‘different’ which was not very loud and audacious. After lots of sarees and rejections later we settled for a few and then bargained our way to get a good deal. The shopkeeper had a lot of currency notes which he had framed near the entrance. I really felt like negotiating and taking some of the notes. After that we made our way to the Government silk factory. Here you could also go into the factory and see how the sarees were made. There was also a shop where you could buy sarees. But the sarees here were extremely pricey (=silk sarees authentic and govt recognised=sky high prices) i’m sure the sarees must have been nice but since we(=me,mum n my sister) don’t have many occasions to wear sarees, spending so much was out of question.

Next we decided to pick up some sweets. Mysore is also famous for its sweets. We knew this from prior knowledge. There was this shop we’d seen in the show ‘Highway on My Plate’ hosted by ‘Rocky and Mayur’. I absolutely love watching that show i mean whenever i’m watching it i’m envying their job. Eating and only Eating!!! But the best part is that they give very honest opinions about the food and the ‘Must Haves’ plus they look like foodies not like those half starved models that come and pretend to eat and take minuscule bites.
A word of caution, there are as many as 3-4 Bombay Tiffany’s in the boulevard where these shops are located. But finally we found one which Rocky n Mayur visited. We also asked them about this and they said they had just opened shop when they came along camera et al. Without any prior warning!!! So we left with a lot of Mysore Paa which is besan and sugar mixed in Pure Ghee. You can make the difference when you eat, pure ghee has a satiety no other substitute has, We also picked up a mithai that tasted like chocolate fudge. During that time, my dad was busy solving the rubix that we picked up when we went to the Chamundeshwari temple. He got one side right. After that we left for Bnagalore. We’d heard that the next roop of Satya Sai Baba was going to be born somewhere in Srirangapatnam a few kms off Bangalore. So we decided to stop there.
There was one place where they had put up a sign with Baba’s picture on it but it turned out that it was only a school managed by the trust.

Although we spent less time in Mysore, the city made an everlasting impact on our minds. The canopy of trees on every road, the ease of travel, the many palaces so very well maintained, definitely made us want to come again!!!!

Coming Up Next: Srirangapatnam and Sights on the Way
Where we were staying in Mysore.Wodeyar Circle..that dome is made of real gold.The perfect Rubix

Exploring Mysore-The Mysore Palace


18th April 2010, Mysore, Karnataka, India
We decided to explore the famous Mysore Palace that day after our lunch with Swaroop. There was some festival going on that day because we saw ladies wearing their best and carrying pots and flowers on their head. That took up traffic for a while. But much to our chagrin, there was a huge line waiting to get into the Mysore Palace, it being a huge attraction for people pouring into Mysore. Papa went and stood in the line while mum tried to get a ticket from the counter and surprisingly, the man at the counter gave her tickets without asking her why she was cutting into the line. I guess people who sell tickets are so used to people cutting in the line that they don’t bother with asking. Also one advantage of the crowd was that many people were getting into the palace without buying tickets which meant that that guards at the entrance weren’t doing their job properly. So we mentioned that to the guards who seemed embarrassed and started checking tickets after we passed. Photography in the Mysore Palace is not allowed so the camera had to be kept in a special locker. But we carried it with us nonetheless and asked the guards special permission to keep it with us promising not to click photos inside. People are not allowed to wear shoes into the Palace. This would make it easier to clean it.
Also there are audio tapes in 20 languages here. We’d seen audio tapes in Palaces abroad like Hampton Court which was the summer residence of King Henry VIII. Its a nice way to make people aware of the history behind all the paintings and what each room is and its significance. It also explained about the times when kings used to stay in the Palace describing the various festivals, marriage and the routine of the king. It also shed light on the ways of living and elaborately spoke on the crest of the dynasty. In this case, the crest/coat of arms of the Wodeyar Dynasty which has ruled Mysore for many years.
A little bit about the Wadiyars and how they came to rule, (from the Official Virtual Tour Website of the Mysore Palace, http://www.mysorepalace.gov.in)

As the story goes, two young men, Vijaya and Krishna of the Yadu dynasty hailing from Dwaraka in Gujarat came to Mysore, after visiting Melkote on their pilgrimage. The two royal princes took shelter at the Kodi Bhyraveswara Temple, which was close to the Doddakere, from where people of then small city of Mysore fetched water for drinking and daily chore. At dawn, they heard some women, while washing closes discussing the distress situation of the young Princess Devajammanni. The death of her father, Chamaraja, the local ruler, had landed her and her mother, the queen, in trouble. Taking advantage of the situation, the neighbouring Chief of Karugahalli, Maranayaka, began demanding the kingdom and the princess in marriage. Taking the help of a Jangama Odeya, a Shaivite religious man, the two chivalrous brothers came to the rescue of the distressed Maharani and the Princess. Mobilising troops, they killed the Karugahalli Chief and his men and saved the Mysore royal family and their kingdom. A happy princess married the elder brother, Vijaya, and he became the first ruler of the Yadu dynasty. He assumed the name Yaduraya. Thus the traditional founding of the Wadiyar dynasty took place in 1399 with Yaduraya. Since then, 24 rulers have succeeded in the dynasty, the last being Jayachamaraja Wadiyar. It is during his period, India won freedom and later monarchy was abolished. With that ended the reign of the Mysore Maharajas.


The audio tape was the best part of the trip because it was so informative. But i would have to add its a rich man’s tool, because one audio tape comes for Rs. 200/- which the common man would not be bothered with.
The Palace was beautifully maintained and the paintings were beautifully kept. The rooms were exquisite and were beautifully detailed in the audio tapes. I mused on the Palaces i’d seen in Rajasthan and this and the difference was there for all to see. There were no spit markings here, no broken glass, no people treating the Palace like a park. The people were fascinated with the Palace and it still had its aura.


The Palaces of the West were in disrepair and the people there needed serious training in how to manage it. Also the history about the Palaces was not documented properly and guides were only out to make money they weren’t people who were genuinely interested in the history of the place. The difference in attitudes was the reason the Mysore Palace looked the way it did. Plus the paintings by Raja Ravi Varma made history come alive.
After going through all the rooms including the King’s conference chamber, the Diwaan-e-Aam(=courtyard where the king could address all the commoners) and through other chambers, we came out. There we had to give up the audio tapes and we could buy photos of the Mysore Palace (=authorised people selling the photos) and books on the Palace. These funds would be used for the upkeep of the palace. The way the Palace was maintained made me happy that somewhere efforts were being taken to preserve our monuments. After getting our shoes, we left for the hotel. We had some sugarcane juice. Outside the Palace, there were many sellers selling stuff like incense sticks(=agqarbatti) and carpets, curios. We got pictures of the West Gate in the setting sun.

After that we visited Swaroop’s place and then visited the Palace to see the illumination.


Nothing and i mean Nothing prepared us for the sight we were to see. The Palace looked so brilliant lit up that we couldn’t imagine looking at it in any other way. Stunning is what i can say. We had no words to express it. We could only stare. There were many people who came to see the palace illuminated. There were a lot of travellers and foreigners who came along with big backpacks. I dont have much to say except you must go and see the Palace once atleast. Pick up your bags and go!!!

Coming Up Next:Goodbye Mysore, Journey to Bangalore
The Illuminated Palace at nightThe Western Gate to the palace in the setting sunthe festive ladiesThe illuminated PalaceWow

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.

Exploring Mysore-A trip in the colonial times.


18th April 2010, Mysore, Karnataka, India
Today we decided to explore Mysore. Our first stop was breakfast at the hotel where we were staying. Like always the breakfast menu was the same (=Sada dose, Set dosa, Masala dosa and the like). After that,we went off to the Chamundeshwari temple which was on top of a hill. We had to navigate a bit and ask people for directions but we ultimately made it alright there.There was a welcome gate like all other dwars we had seen all along our journey. There were signs at corners which told us to enjoy the views of Mysore seen from above the hill.

When we did reaCH the temple, we had another obstacle at hand, How to park the car. This parking lot was the most chaotic and disorganised lot i have ever seen. Cars and buses parked in any direction with little or no place for others to park, some which are parked so treacherously that the blocked the main approach road. It was a mess!!! Finally we did manage to find a decent parking space and we left for the temple. Also we noticed a large demon holding a snake and a large knife at the entrance, There were also a lot of stalls selling wooden items.( I must have forgotten but there were shops selling wooden items in the temple complex. I remember some of my playthings being from here when we had visited long time back.)
There were also a lot of monkeys on the trees with some mothers holding their babies. Although i find adult monkeys repulsive, the babies are rather cute and pink.
The Chamundeshwari temple was beautifully carved and had intricate work done. There were different levels with different idols of gods and goddesses. But much to our chagrin, there was a huge huge line encircling the temple. We certainly had picked a wrong day to come here, a Sunday. But have no fear, the temple authorities are here. There is a provision for people who want to see the temple quickly, of course you have to cough up money for that, 100 bucks a person. That goes to the temple for its upkeep(i hope) and the impatient devotees can see the temple fast. We did just that. As luck would have it, we were just in time for the Aarti. We got a quick darshan of the devi and then went to another small idol where the bhatmam handed us the most fragrant and sweet smelling kumkum i’ve ever smelt. Then after a round of the temple complex, we headed out. At the time we got the darshan, another bhatmam handed us a garland (=just our luck!!). Since we couldn’t keep it anywhere, we fed the leaves and flowers to one of the calves sitting outside. Its cute, when you hold it near their nose, they smell it, come close to you and then eat it. they might even lick you!! Its very sweet.
After having some tender coconut water and buying a beautiful picture of the goddess and a rubix cube (= we need something to do on the journey, mobile games are just not enough!!)

Then we made our way to Nandi hill. This is approachable if you take a separate turning while going to the Chamundeshwari temple. The Nandi hill has a huge Nandi who according to Hindu Mythology is Lord Shiva’s Escort. There was also a temple up the hill but it was a long way off. So we decided to skip that. There was a person selling small idols and we got 8 idols of Lord Ganesh which were very tiny and cute!!(=i guess God would faint if the word got out that i found idols cute!! lol)

Then we decided to head out to the Lalita Mahal Palace. The Lalita Mahal is the second largest palace in Mysore and is situated near the Chamundi hills (=wikipedia’d this bit). We decided to check the place out. And then we found out that we could explore the inside of the palace too but we had to buy entry tickets (=Rs 250 per head). This was a summer palace for the Queen and is now a hotel. Its a really good thing that most palaces are converted into hotels. Not only does it attract foreign tourists, but it also preserves the palace. The Lalita Mahal Palace is the only palace i know to be built entirely of WOOD. yes hard to believe but its true!! Its built of wood and done and preserved very well. Once we got the tickets, the guard at the palace led us into a corridor and served us tea.(=i had tea everyone else had coffee!!It was elaichi tea yummy!!) We spoke with one of the men who took care of the souvenir shop and he said that the current CM of Karnataka was doing a very good job. Every year it seems a sum of 1 crore (=yeah i know) was allocated to every village for the development and for celebration of festivals (=smart since festivals will spur the domestic economy and stimulate demand in the village for a lot of commodities). Also the BJP had a super big majority.
Anyway, we saw some people from the Orient coming(=either they are chinese o japanese i can’t appear prejudiced i just didnt know which country they came from).

Discovery:The lift at the Lalita Mahal Palace is one of the 2 oldest lifts in India and also its very well maintained. It looks very quaint. There is also a huge wooden elephant opposite the reception table. There is also a quaint horse carriage much like the victorian times.Once we went inside the first things we noticed or rather we were told to notice were the Raja Ravi Verma Paintings. The paintings are almost lifelike and these paintings seriously compete with the art in countries like Italy and France where Medieval Renaissance took the medium of Art and Paint. The ring and other accessories painted looked life like. There was also a banquet hall which had an air of the old times. You could actually imagine the old times when the queen held balls there and people were dancing on the floor.(=dreaming dreaming).
Also much to our delight, there was one person cleaning one of the rooms. We really wanted to see the rooms and how it would be to see a super deluxe suite. And we did get our wish. The beds looked so beautiful and the bathroom was so grand. I would really like to stay one night here in the room and play the role of a queen. We had to quickly see the room and leave else the worker would get into trouble. Near the staircase, there were 2 stuffed animals, one of a tiger and one of a lion. There was also a long grandfather clock. Imagine the old times when the queen must have roamed with her servants!!!When we were coming out, we were told that there was an ex-minister of Karnataka state who was coming and we saw him getting a ride in the Victorian Carriage. Luck man, be a minister and get to sit in carriages and rest on fancy beds!!

This was followed by lunch and a trip to the Mysore Palace. Which continues in the next note.

Next Episode: Mysore Palace, Cyberworld Meets Real World!!!

one of the carvings

the temple.Nandi HillLalita Mahal Palace.the Victorian Carriage

Welcome Mysore-Vrindavan Gardens


17th April 2010: Karnataka Hinterland, India


Mysore was like a breath of fresh air for us. We’d not expected Mysore to be how it was.For us Mumbaikars, we’re used to polluted, congested areas and absurd traffic with horrendous roads. Mysore is called the ‘City of Palaces’ and so true. At every corner we could see palaces which were used as offices for the Municipality or as hospitals and they were maintained superbly. Also Mysore is a small city so navigation was not difficult (=not taking credit from the planners, its amazingly well planned with lots of trees).

After the rest at the hotel and some snacks, we set out to the Vrindavan Gardens which is built on the sides of the Krishnasagar Dam. It is also famous for its Magical Dancing fountains which dance when a song is played (=kind of like what we had seen in Madikeri except on a larger scale). There was a lot of rush in and around the gardens. Plus it was a weekend and they only have the fountain show on weekends. So the greater crowds. Also there was this real funny scene which happened when we were going. My dad was parking the car and at the same time there was a Santro who was parking in the lane where i was standing. Now this car had 3 ppl who were sitting in it,1 sitting behind. And while reversing, the guy sitting behind didn’t even look out to see where the car was going and they crashed into the steps. And the person sitting in front was giving me a look as if i should have warned when i was not paying attention to them. It was so funny.

The Vrindavan Gardens play the musical fountains only on weekends which draws in a lot of crowd. At about 5:30 when we entered there were about 5000-10000 people in the garden, roaming and going to the place where the fountains were located. I’d never seen such a crowd before. This was really huge. In college festivals and other events, we often exaggerate the footfalls but here i actually experienced what it was like to be in a crowded place (believe me the Mumbai crowds are nothing compared to the crowds here). The garden is beautifully maintained, whatever little we saw of it. Everywhere we looked we could only see people. The garden has different levels and is divided into 2 halves by a stream of water. Near the steps, the water flows like a waterfall. Its beautiful. Plus the water was always spraying off and if you got close by then you could get wet. But this made the weather very pleasant. There wasn’t much we could do because there were so many people and we couldn’t risk getting lost.
We asked one of the guards directions to the musical fountains and got a picture clicked with him.


The light was fading fast. We learnt from the guard that even though walking on the dam is very scenic but they had to stop it after a string of suicides. The top of the dam had pretty lamps with intricate carvings. The sky was darkening and there were lot of nice patterns. We slowly made our way towards the food stalls. All of us had sugarcane juice (=nothing like ganna juice to refresh you) and Sachi had a mango milkshake. After that we had some gobhi manchurian and then made our way to the fountains. There is a bridge which connects the fountains and the main gardens. The water there was very dirty with a lot of garbage in it, I don’t understand people’s mentalities when they throw garbage here and not anywhere at their houses or in foreign countries. Simply infuriating.


Through the crowd, we made our way, through some more poorly maintained gardens and through a maze of people. It was like we didn’t have to walk, we were simply pushed there. We could hear music coming from somewhere and we walked in the direction of the sound. and then we saw the fountains. Huge and swirling, these were big. There was an amphitheatre where ppl were sitting and watching the spectacle. Since we’d seen the fountains at Madikeri with a lot lesser crowd, we were not spectacularly impressed. Although some of the swirls were fabulous the rest was pretty ordinary, I guess the law of diminishing marginal utility played its role.
Once the crowd lessened, we went and sat on the seats they had made. Since it was windy that day, the fountain was tilted because of the wind. Each song plays for 15 mins with a 5 min break ad they play 6 songs in total, So even if you’re late, you still get to watch it. After watching 2 songs, we left. We had to leave from a different route. This was a route through a canopy of trees. During this time we witnessed a super spectacle, lightning in the sky. I’ve never seen flashes of lightning before like this, we were so stunned. Bright red copper streaks in the sky!! It was sheer delight. We just paused and watched, waiting for more. This time it was easier crossing the bridge as there were fewer people. There were also ppl throwing garbage into the water which struck me as being immensely immature. We even reprimanded 2 girls. There was 1 guy who tried to defend them but his arguments lost steam.
We got into the car and left for our hotel. The sky was lit up by the occasional flashes of lightning and the winds indicated rain that night. The drive back was uneventful. We decided to have dinner at a Pizza Place and had delicious pizza. We even saw the person make the pizza. It was great fun.
We were tired and slept soundly.

Coming up next: Mysore Explorers
A weird formation in the sky

Coorgi Tales-Goodbye Coorg!!


17th April 2010: Karnataka Hinterland, India
On this day, we checked out of Club Mahindra Kodagu Valley and proceeded to our next destination, Mysore. We would miss the ‘Scotland of the East’. When you really see the diversity in landscape and foliage and wildlife here and in Scotland, you’d never want to see Scotland. Sure they have the lochs(=lakes) but apart from that, its nothing spectacular. There was never the chirp of insects, the smell of flowers, the hustle of people that you find here. Rather we should be saying that Scotland is the ‘Coorg of the West’.
After checking out and stuffing all our luggage in the car (believe me, it wasn’t an easy task) we proceeded. Now that we’d been in the market often, i could distinguish the roads. After filling up the Civi with petrol, we drove on. Like i’d mentioned earlier, the road to Mysore was under construction so we had to go via Dubare. We passed the Tata Coffee estate and a small village on the way. The most fascinating thing about this road trip is that people from all the villages know where the road leads to and how to reach different villages, towns and cities. The depth of their knowledge is amazing.

Destination 1: Namdroling Golden Temple.

This is a Buddhist Monastry, College and Hostel where the idols of the gurus are in gold. Its a beautiful and peaceful place. A must visit. The approach road to the Monastry was lined with different flags and there are adequate signs showing directions to the place. I think our culture has only stood to gain from helping out the tibetans. Of course they are a fiercely independent group but a very peaceful one at the same time. After parking our car, we made our way inside the Monastry. I think the tibetans are tremendously grateful to Indians and i’ve never heard of any conflict between the Indians and Tibetans.
When we entered, there were some old tibetan ladies sitting wearing colourful quilts. I always find old people very cute but i find tibetan ladies cuter coz of their wrinkles!! The temples that we saw when we entered were amazing. They are so intricately carved and so well painted. The picture below shows the first temple we saw when we entered. there were geese in the gardens that were playing with water when we came. It was very sunny that day and it was extremely hot. But it was fun to see the temples. Most of the temples have 2 demons painted outside. One which welcomes luck,laughter and all positive energies and the other fierce devil which keeps out all the bad and negative energies. Tibetan script looks a lot like bengali. Plus there are big bells outside every temple with intricate carvings on it too. The main temple had a huge and heavy door with a very thick mesh of ribbons tied to the knocker.

This main temple had 3 idols, which were made of gold. Actually legend goes that they are made of clay and have ancient scripts and treasures inside and the gold is a way to protect that. Each idol sits in a meditative pose and in an intricately done frame. The wall behind the idol is painted exquisitely with angels on clouds and other heavenly bodies. The pillars are adorned with dragons for in their culture as in chinese beliefs, the dragon keeps the bad out and lets prosperity in.

There were also intricate wall paintings, which indicate the 25 disciples of Guru Padmasanbhava, one of the biggest gurus. The 3 idols were Guru Rinpoche,Guru Padmasambhava and Guru Amitayus.
There were boards with written material regarding the idols and the wall paintings. It was a fascinating insight into their culture. The temple was so peaceful. There were positive vibrations everywhere. Also there were a lot of sparrows flying everywhere. I’ve noticed that in peaceful places like temples, there are a lot of sparrows flying around. We sat around for a little while and meditated. After that we explored the temple area. It was nice to see that the landscaping had been done so well. There were plants from Malaysia and other exotic work like fountains done up.

After that we went to another small temple. we had to be careful and jump about a lot because the temple complex had heated up quite a lot. The second temple had the ancient scripts which the monks read from when they prayed. In the third temple there was a small monk who was praying with a rosary, it was so cute. Everyone was taking pictures of him. In this 3rd temple there were 6 idols who all had their eyes closed and were meditating. This temple was the one which we saw when we first entered into the Monastry.
After the Monastry, we decided to have lunch at one of the tibetan restaurants. Before that, we got some jackfruits from the local vendors and then made our way to the tibetan market. These are tibetan co-operative stores so they all sell their wares at the same price. Even though we may not believe in charms and stuff, these tibetan things made us belive in them. We got some nice key chains, some good luck charms for cars and a bell called the ‘Om bell’ if you run a wooden stick around its circumference then the vibrations grow louder and sound like ‘Om’. It says it spreads positive energy around.
After that, we had lunch at ‘Hotel Shanthi’. We had thupka(=tibetan soup), Momos(=dumplings) and also some curd rice for my granny and the every tasty gobhi manchurian(=karnataka’s find)
And then we set off for mysore. The road from here on was smooth. We were no longer on the hills but had come down to the plains and it was evident from the difference in landscape and vegetation.

Mysore is a small city and not difficult to navigate. And the roads to mysore are really very well done with adequate signs so we had no trouble finding our hotel

Stay:Hotel Siddhartha
Location: Near the Mysore Palace. Prime Location
Rooms:Comfortable

After being allotted our rooms, we had some refreshments and then chilled out.

Coming Up next:: Vrindavan Gardens, Exploring Mysore, A nice Meeting. Stay Tuned and post in your comments

we stayed here!!Scotland is the ‘Coorg of the West’!!The Monastry

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.