Vishnu Sharma

Randomness Redefined


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Weekend Getaway at Hyderabad

Hyderabad is the capital of the southern Indian state named Telangana. It’s an old city famous for its rich culture, heritage and the Nizams. Given it’s rich history, it definitely is a tourist destination for solo travelers and family vacations.

While Hyderabad is most famous for the Charminar, there are many more things to do, like shipping and fine dining!

Off-late, Hyderabad has also become famous for being on the technology landscape with numerous software companies setting shop in Hyderabad.

How to get there

Hyderabad is well connected with rail, road and flight network. This is a no brainer. We took a flight to Shamshabad airport a.k.a “Rajiv Gandhi International Airport”.

Where to stay

Well, this is a question that largely depends on your budget. There are too many options from budget hotels to five star ones. We stayed at “The Park” but unfortunately, we were hugely disappointed with the hotel. So take your pick.

What to see – family

There are way too many things to do for families. However, given below is a compilation of few things we enjoyed:

Charminar

CharminarThis is a must visit for every traveler. Over 400 years old and still standing. This is the most recognizable piece of architecture from Hyderabad. Just like when you think of Paris and immediately Eiffel Tower comes to your mind, when you think of Hyderabad, Charminar will come to your mind. You cannot miss this at all.

Taken from Wikipadia:

Historian Masud Hussain Khan says that the construction of Charminar was completed in the year 1592, and that it is the city of Hyderabad which was actually founded in the year 1591. According to the book “Days of the Beloved”, Qutb shah constructed the Charminar in the year 1589, on the very spot where he first glimpsed his future queen Bhagmati, and after her conversion to Islam, Qutb Shah renamed the city as “Hyderabad”. Though the story was denied by the historians and scholars, it became popular folklore among the locals.

The Makkah Masjid

Situated just next to the Charminar, this Masjid (mosque) is one of the oldest in Hyderabad. It was completed in 1694 and it still stands majestically. If you are a woman, please remember, you must enter this mosque completely covered. No part of your legs, hands should be showing. The mosque has a special charm to it, something that takes you to an entirely different world. The calmness is what gives you a different feeling.

From Wikipedia:Makkah Masjid

Makkah Masjid was built during the reign of Muhamm
ad Quli Qutb Shah, the 5th Qutb Shahi Sultan of 
Golconda
(now Hyderabad). The three arched facades have been carved from a single piece of granite, which took five years to quarry.More than 8,000 workers were employed to build the mosque. Muhammad Quli Qutb Shah personally laid the foundation stone. The construction was later completed by Mughal Emperor Aurangzeb after conquering Hyderabad.

 

Salar Jung Museum

This is a very famous museum in India, alas, it has not been maintained well. Still, the artifacts are worth seeing once, especially, the clothes and the arms of the Nizams. Please note, there is heavy traffic jam in front of the museum. You might as well drop your car a few hundred meters before the museum and walk to the gate. The major portion of this collection was acquired by Nawab Mir Yousuf Ali Khan popularly known as Salar Jung III. The zeal for acquiring art objects continued as a family tradition for three generations of Salar Jungs. In 1914, Salar Jung III, after having relinquished the post of Prime Minister to H.E.H., the Nizam VII, Nawab Mir Osman Ali Khan, devoted rest of his entire life in collecting and enriching the treasures of art and literature till he lived.

Photo courtsey : Wikipedia, author Bernad Gagnon

 

Shopping

I’m not too fond of shopping, however, my wife and daughter had already done their research.They were looking to shop for something that you generally do not get anywhere else; the Laad Bazaar, famous for its bangles and the famous Hyderabadi plad-bazar-charminar-in-hyderabadearls.

Laad Bazaar is next to Charminar and is famous for cheap, gaudy, brilliant and bright bangles. Laad meaning lacquer is used to make bangles, on which artificial diamonds are studded.
The other important shopping item is “Hyderabadi Pearls”. The problem is, that there are far too many fake ones. Unless you know a local, who can take you to an authentic pearl shop, do not try this out. While Hyderabadi pearls are famous all over India, I guess (I’m still not sure), my wife was duped. She purchased two pearl sets. I guess, both are not authentic. Anyone’s best guess.

 

What to eat

Well, if you are in Hyderabad, how can you not eat the famous Hyderabadi Biryani. We had biryani at a restaurant named Bawarchi at Nallakunta.Pure taste and no nonsense.

Overall experience

Hyderabad is a great place for weekend getaway. Once in a while, you may come across some no-so-good experiences, but that is all a part and parcel of travel and vacation. Generally, its a trip worth remembering. Enjoy your vacation at Hyderabad !

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A Lazy Vacation at Coorg

Sometimes you need a vacation that is all about simply doing nothing…Sitting at a place where even the phone signal is not that great…good, no more pestering calls from office on your vacation that ‘something urgent has come up’.

Homestays at Madikeri in Coorg are a perfect weekend getaways for such vacations. Away from the world for 2 days.

Talakaveri

Talakaveri

How to Get There

You need to reach Bangalore (Capital city of state Karnataka in India), first. Bangalore, now a days, called Bengaluru, is accessible from all parts of the country via road, train and airports.

From Bangalore, if you really need to enjoy, you should go to Madikeri via road. Either hire a taxi for the weekend, or, if you are like me and want to drive, you can rent ZoomCar. I was very happy with the ZoomCar service (and I’m not getting paid to write this, your experience might be different). The drive from Bangalore is about 250 Kms.

Where to Stay

If you want to really enjoy your stay at Coorg, you must stay at “homestays”. You can book from Coorg HomeStays Website. I stayed at “Mystical Homestay“. The place is great and more than that, the owner, Harish, is a great host. My next trip to Coorg, I’m once again going to stay at the same place.

What to do at the Homestay

We wanted a lazy weekend, so our plan to just sit and do nothing ! You should ideally have a few friends, or if you are travelling with family, go with one more family. There aren’t too many rooms at Mystical Homestay. So, just two families with about 6-7 heads should be fine. At the homestay, we went around looking at Harish’s coffee plantations and since we had kids, we showed them various different plans (e.g. pepper, vanilla, cardamom). At night, I found only two great activities – eat around bonfire and or have a nice drink in the middle of heavy plantation. Remember, you must get the drinks from outside, or you can sometimes ask someone else to get it for you. Homestays cannot serve you liquor by law. Still, you must get them from the market, ideally, before sunset.

The Food

While I could not find anything special as far as Coorg food is concerned, the food in general, was home-cooked and was sumptuous. The only new surprise was Kadmbuttu –  Steamed rice dumplings. New, not that great, but I had it for the first time.

Kadmbuttu

Coorg, Madikeri Rice Dumplings – Kadmbuttu

Nearby Places I Visited

Since we were not much into seeing places and more interested in a relaxed vacation, we just went to only four places. Two for kids and two for the religious ones in the group.

1. Vintage Car Museum

Well, visit this place only if you are a car buff or if you have kids. The place is more like a junkyard with cars parked inside a shed. The only good part is that there are indeed some good old cars in the shed.

2. Talakaveri

It is said, that Talakaveri is the source of the river Kaveri. From Madikeri, it is about 80 Kms and a temple is built around that. I’m not that religious person and would have skipped that, but then, in our group, rest everyone was, so we decided to drive. What I enjoyed was the scenic drive. It can take about 2.5 hrs.

TalaKaveri

Talakaveri

3. The Dubare Elephant Camp

This trip is worth your time. Dubare is a nice place where Elephants are kept and trained for the Mysore Dussera. I suppose you will like this place irrespective of your age. You can see the elephants up and close, being bathed by mahouts. You need to cross the rive using a boat (no life jackets). The river does not seem too deep. The view is gorgeous.

Dubare Elephant Resort, Coorg

Dubare Elephant Resort, Coorg

Dubare, Elephant Bathing

Dubare, Elephant Bathing

4. The Buddhist Golden Temple

Until I visited Coorg, I used to think that the buddhist from tibet were only settled in Dharmshala, India. My friends told me, that another settlement happened in the Madikeri district. The Golden Temple is a must visit, even for non-religious folks like me. A grand view and a treat to the eyes.

WP_20151027_010

Golden Temple, Coorg

Golden Temple, Coorg

Enjoy your stay at the great weekend getaway at Coorg, Madikeri.

 

 

 

 

Bhitarkanika National Park


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Bhitarkanika, Mangroves and Crocodile Sanctuary

The Bhitarkanika Mangroves are a mangrove wetland in India’s Odisha state. The Bhitarkanika Mangroves cover an area of 650 km² in the river delta of the Brahmani and Baitarani rivers. The Bhitarkanika Mangroves are home to 55 of India’s 58 known mangrove species. The mangroves harbor one of India’s largest populations of saltwater crocodiles.

How to get there

Your best bet is to first reach the capital city of Bhubaneswar (Capital of the Indian state Odisha , earlier called Orissa). From there, it is best that you get a professional tourist company to arrange the visit. In order to see the mangroves and the crocodiles, you need to start early in the morning and it will take about 4-5 hours. So, you need to reach one day early, sleep at night and then start early morning next day.

I hired the services of Sand and Pebbles Tours folks. This included to and fro transportation. They gave me a cab which took me to the location, the cab stayed overnight and then returned with me. Not very costly and my personal opinion, get a travel agency. You get to say in the mangroves (or near it) and it is a great experience.

What to take care of

First, because you will stay closer to the mangroves, ensure you have enough protection from mosquitoes. I applied the “Odomos” cream (easily available at any pharmacy store) and slept in the tent.

Next, ensure you start early in the morning. Do not delay, else the heat sometimes becomes un-bearable as the day progresses.

Best time to visit is between October and March.

Get a good, big boat. The govt charges are nominal so don’t be a miser. If possible, get a full boat for yourself (if you can afford it, I did and I’m glad I took that decision). We sat on top of the boat for first few hours and had a great trip inside the small canals of the mangroves. Spotted a few crocodiles and other species.

You should book a stay with a tourist company. This is a remote area and getting food could be difficult. So find a travel agency which provides you stay and food.

See my flikr photostream to see a few pictures of Bhitarkanika.

Bhitarkanika National Park

Bhitarkanika National Park

Lotus Resort, Puri, Konark


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Lotus Resort Puri, Konark

The Lotus Eco Village is located near virgin Ramchandi Beach on the way to Konark (from Puri). It is one of the most picturesque beaches of Orissa. Located just 7 Km from Konark, Orissa, it is named after the presiding deity of Konark, Goddess Ramchandi.

The resort location is fantastic and with it’s huts, the stay is fabulous. Though the resort is not that well maintained, it is still worth a visit and stay. You will have more fun if you are with friends (or group).

The restaurant is average, so no points for food. The small, private beach is great fun with kids. Additionally, the beach is clean and there is ample space for a nice walk in the evening. Just outside the resort (walk for 2 mins) there is a nice bank with rocks, on which, you can sit, relax and enjoy during evening.

For those, who just want to relax during vacation, this is a great stay option.

For booking you can visit http://www.lotusresortkonark.com/

View photos of Lotus Resort

Lotus Resort, Puri, Konark - Fisherman

Lotus Resort, Puri, Konark – Fisherman

Swarnabhoomi Airport


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Swarnabhoomi Airport , Bangkok

A guest blog from my father-in-law.


Yaksha

Yaksha Guarding the Airport at Arrival Wing

Yes, it was the awe striking sight of the Fabulous, Majestic, Wonderful Swarnabhumi Airport ! It seemed as if I have landed on some other planet. I was not walking , instead , the floor was moving , which carried me to the immigration point , about half a kilometer away from the landing point..
In the way, I was surprised to see the sheer beauty of this mag-nificent airport. Everything was so organized, tidy, disciplined and luxurious .
Designed by Helmut Jahn of Murphy Jahn Architects , and built at a cost of 155 billion THB (3.8 billion US $) Swarn-abhumi Airport is a marvel of Engineering and Architecture. It was named by H.M the King Bhumibol Adulyadej . Swarn-abhumi means the Land of Gold—what Thailand truly is. Coming pages of this blog will reveal how it is true !

Swarnabhumi Airport has the highest Airport Control Tower in the World. It is 132.2 M high. It has the World’s 3rd larg-est single building Airport Terminal, having an area of 5, 63,000 sq M There are two parallel 60 M wide runways of 4 km and 3.7 km length each, and two taxi ways. It has 120 parking bays – 51 with Contact gates and 69 with Remote Gates. It handles 76 Flights per hour, with annual passenger capacity crossing 45 million in addition to 3 MT of Cargo. The Five storied Car park buildings has a parking capacity of 5000 cars at a time.

Other facilities worth mentioning are-107 moving walkways, 102 elevators, 22 baggage conveyor belts, 130 passport control checkpoints for arrivals, 72 for departures, 26 customs control checkpoints for arrivals, 8 for departures, 360 check-in counters. There are 100 additional counters for pas-sengers without luggage, and 83 escalators. etc. Airport staff and officers are ever ready to help you !

The Airport is situated at about 25 km east of Bangkok City and is well connected by modern motorway. There are Re-gional Train services, Sky Train Service (BTS), City Bus service, Public taxis and flat fare Limousine car service etc, which offer excellent service to Airport bound passengers.
On the terminal, there are hundreds of show rooms of world renowned brands of nearly all kinds of consumer goods in-cluding cosmetics and jewelry, duty-free shops, and food counters for the convenience of the passengers

Thailand Lotus


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Wai is the Thai tradition of ‘namaste’

A guest blog from my father-in-law.


Hello Readers! Swatdee khrap!!

Yes, this is what they say in Thai to greet you and wai ! Wai is the Thai tradition of ‘namaste’ with folded hands and bent head in respect.

During my three months’ stay in Thailand, I had the privilege to tour the country extensively and feel the various aspects of Thai life and culture closely. They are extremely good people – polite, well mannered, soft spoken and disciplined. Their hospitality is striking, art & architecture – splendid and awe inspiring!

This tour made me spellbound. I had no other way to express my heartiest compliments and regards for this beautiful country and its people, than to compile my sweet memories in this blog, which will be coming regularly to you on this site, provided you keep on visiting it, which I am sure – you will not like to miss.

The tour has been depicted through photographs. I have let the pictures tell all! Words have been used seldom, because the eye of the lens sees all , that words cannot express! As the pages come to you, the amazing Thailand unfolds!

Have you noticed the size of the Lotus in the canal behind me! Can you believe your eyes ! This is Thai specialty!! Much more is coming – be ready to feast your eyes and imagination.

Thailand Lotus

Thailand Lotus

Hope you will enjoy!

G.C.sharma