Pinch me moments in Goa through my 18-140mm

It has been over two years but the land of the Hippies, Goa still strikes a chord with me. That’s a big deal for an ardent mountain lover like me. Sometimes I even feel I am being disloyal to them :”D. Goa took me by awe with its hinterlands and the characteristic Portugal charm which is still unaltered. Although the mainstream beaches aren’t what I would be very keen on revisiting but the few chance discoveries which have managed to capture though my lenses are what always thrive on my travel plans. Long weekend? Goa it is !!!!

Needless to say, its the kind of place that keeps you longing for more. This blog is a few pictures that still give me an instant surge of adrenaline (the wanderlust kind).

Why don’t you take a look for yourself 🙂

Tell me what enticed you the most about Goa!

Auroville is the La-La-Land to your Hippie Soul (Pondicherry-2)

The second day of our trip dawned upon us, we thought Paradise beach would be the best way to welcome it. I am not an early morning person at all but amazingly I transform into one when I am travelling ( That’s why they say “Do what makes you wanna wake up in the morning”). Paradise Beach was one such time I was up before the crack of the dawn and it surely paid off well. The sun wore the shrouds of heavy clouds and we had the wide beach all to ourselves except a few fishermen who were still preparing for the day. Paradise beach lives up to its name as it is believed to be the cleanest and most peaceful beach in Pondicherry.


We grabbed a quick breakfast at the very talked-about Indian Coffee House on Mission street. Do try the Idli Vada there. Since we were too early dosas weren’t ready by then but they sure must have been as good as everything else they served. Let me tell you, Mission street is one of the most important streets in the main city of Pondicherry. You will also find the roots of the very famous Hidesign here. The factory outlet supposedly sells the products at fractions of the showroom prices. So make it a point to not miss this one


Next on the agenda was exploring Auroville and spend the evening at the Serenity Beach. Although the plan went haywire, we still managed to unearth a lot about Auroville that I was so curious about. Thanks to Radhika who has been living there as an Aurovillian for two years now. Meeting Radhika was a chapter in itself. When one of my friends said we would be meeting her, barely had I known I was about to meet one huge inspiration who chose a tough life just out of passion. Radhika is an architect and works in Auroville among all other foreign nationals who have come together to make that place what it is today.

Auroville and everything you must know about it.

 

The vision of Mirra Alfassa – The Mother

Auroville that we see today is what Mirra Alfassa, also regarded as ‘The Mother’ by the world had envisioned back in the 1930s. She dreamt of a place which ran on the philosophy of “Vasudeva Kutumbakam”. The world which no country could claim as its own and citizens would freely live as world citizens, work towards the common goals of a sustainable growth. A land where art is the only weapon people would use. Where a person’s worth would be much more precious than money, power or any religion. In the very words of the Aurovillians, “Auroville is a universal town where men and women of all countries are able to live in peace and progressive harmony above all creeds, all politics and all nationalities”. The purpose of Auroville is to realise human unity above any religion. In the words of The Mother herself:

“Humanity is not the last rung of the terrestrial creation.
Evolution continues and man will be surpassed.
It is for each individual to know whether he wants to participate in the advent of this new species.
For those who are satisfied with the world as it is, Auroville obviously has no reason to exist.”
— The Mother, 1966

Life in Auroville

People in Auroville live in a world where money isn’t the end all be all. Although the ground reality remains that there is no sustenance without money but you can manage to feed yourself by merely volunteering in the bakeries and shops. On the surface to me, living in Auroville was like going back to the times when people had a minimalistic approach to happiness, were self-sufficient and self-reliant. The work you do is meaningful and paid with as much as you would need to survive in the town which is every moment striving to be a moneyless economy. Life wouldn’t be as fancy as it appeared to me on a one-day visit but surely worth it if you are looking for an inner connection and striving to master your ego. You can go through the entire procedure of being an Ayurovillian at http://bit.ly/2msuDAH


Things to do in and around Auroville:

Volunteer:

If you are here for a while say a week or more, you can choose to volunteer with the Auroville farm group. A number of farms in Auroville accept volunteers. Hours and possibilities for accommodation depend greatly upon which time of year you are planning your stay . Guesthouses and homestays tend to get full and busy during the guests season—December to March—and it’s always wise to grab your bookings well ahead of time if you are wanting to volunteer. Some bakeries in Auroville also accept volunteers, you can get your hands dirty in the ground level baking activities. You can also choose to intern with the International House, a living space built with sustainable and environmental architectural ideals.

Workshops and Therapies:

You can learn Permaculture to Tango, different forms of Yoga, Cooking to Tai chi, Tree-climbing to Clay classes, Sound therapy, Creative arts, in short, there is no end to learning in Auroville. Pick any workshop of your choice from their events list at their website.

Shop:

Auroville is famous for its indigenous essential oils, perfumes, incense sticks, candles and clay items. I bumped across Auro kind store right opposite to the visitors centre run by an old woman along with her son. The quaint little shot exhibited beautifully decorates scented candles, and lame and other clay and ceramic ware everything very reasonably priced.

Auroville Handmade Paper Factory:

Save a day (not Sunday) to visit the handmade paper factory in Auroville. Bespoke, delicate, and individually handcrafted stationery products from Auroville are definitely worth your money. You can watch the makers adding their creative touches to the papers which are purely made from cotton rag pulp.

Eateries:

There are over twenty eateries in Auroville my favourite being the Auroville bakery. The chocolate croissants are to die for and you literally don’t them you earn them because they are available early in the morning and are the first to go off the rack. For a lazy ass like me, it’s definitely a great deal of hard work. Right opposite there is Farm Fresh Cafe which serves serving freshly made dosa, burgers, pasta and pizzas. also, do visit Tanto’s pizza for your pizza cravings which is on the way to the visitors centre from the Pondicherry town. Options are many all you need is a lot of time to do proper justice to the “City of Dawn”.

I was overwhelmed listening to stories o Randika and looking at the ways people lived in this quaint little village in the corner of Puducherry. It got me nostalgic as I was thrown back to the memories of visiting my grandma’s back in Orissa. Everything looked pretty much similar except that there were a lot of foreign nationals here. If quitting my comfortable city life to settle in the countryside of Auroville and work for a more holistic aim is too much, I’ll at least try adopting a the minimalistic lifestyle and spread some of the goodness her in my city. This was my awakening in the land of spiritually.
Hope you find your’s soon too

Of great food, art and even greater enthusiasm. Fort Kochi is all about the “Feels”

I have often read that travelling with your friends can either break it or make it. So when two female friends cum colleagues travel to a new land, what are the odds of the latter happening? 

It was 10:30 at night and we were still waiting for our bus to pick us up from Marathalli. All hell burst when the agent asked us to reach Madiwala by 11. That’s where the bus was supposed to leave from. Thanks to the excellent services of Uber, we were on time and successfully boarded our bus to Kochi. There began a journey which we two ladies will remember for years to come and probably feel as proud while narrating it to others. After all, no matter how small an adventure, the first ones are always special.

Day 1

After an overnight journey, leaving behind all the confusion and mishaps behind we woke up to the daylight in Edapally, which was the last stoppage and where we got our cab for Fort Kochi. Mr.Roy our driver was a really kind human and helped us find our pre-booked budget homestay successfully which wouldn’t have been possible without a local person help. Beautiful smiles and an undeniable inclination to help, this is what maybe pulls thousands of tourists and travellers to the state every year.

Since there wasn’t much to explore in our budget homestay. We without wasting a moment rushed to the washrooms to freshen up. And to our dismay, there was no water. And again Sophie our host kindly fetched us some water from the well in her backyard. We left from our rooms all dressed up totally unknown to what the scorching heat was gonna do to us. But what good is a budget trip without some crazy struggle?

We rented our bicycles from Arafat- Rent a bike on Princess StreetThis is a cozy cafe cum rental store for bikes and scooters. We hired two Lady Birds at Rs 100/- a day

Arafat – Rent a Bike Princess Street


In the hunt for a place that accepts cards, we finally reached Cafe Quissa. I must say the cafe culture in Fort Kochi is the rarest; or should I say the finest?  We had the best Pancakes of our lives and thus Quissa made a made a place in our food-loving hearts forever. But that isn’t all! The ambience itself was drool worthy.

Quissa Cafe, Fort Kochi
How I love the use of sewing machines stands as the base of the tables. I am truly a digger of creativity and Fort Kochi is my muse.
If only we could marry pancakes

We headed straight to Jew Town in Mattancherry where we visited the Jewish synagogue and shopped in the antiques. The place is way too remarkable to be accommodated in a small section of a blog post. You can read about Jew Town in details in my previous post. As the sun began to sink we made our way back towards Fort Kochi, hung around the beach for a while looking at the distant flickering lights of the harbours.

Fort Kochi Beach


Volleyball Tournament at Fort Kochi Beach

The sight around the beaches in Fort Kochi is downright spectacular. Christmas lights everywhere your eyes can see and vendors selling lip-smacking fish fry and Iddiapams. Tiny shacks trying to attract customers in their best efforts. You don’t really feel the humidity and heat amidst all that liveliness and chaos. 

As always services are welcoming and warm
Burger’s Street

After a satisfying meal with the final touch of a refreshing glass of lime soda we called it a day and were back to our den to give our backs some rest.

Day 2

Next day was spent in the backwaters of Aluva. Kerala Tourism Departments hold these day tours to backwaters on daily basis. All the packages are categories into three. Starting from Rs 400 for the most economic to Rs 900 for the full day package. Ours included a visit to the backwaters and the Chinese Fishing nets for Sunsets. It was heavenly to watch the sky being crimson by the setting sun at the mouth of the Arabian Sea. 

You can reach the reception centre of Kerala Tourism Dept. by taking a ferry from Fort Kochi boat jetty. A ticket to Ernakulam wouldn’t cost you more than Rs 8. 


Somewhere near Chittur Village, our stop for evening tea and snacks
As the name suggests Chinese Fishing Nets were introduced to Kochi by a Chinese explorer. This method of fishing is still in practice hundreds of years after their installation. When silhouetted against the setting sun they make a stunning view.

The day ended and we began hunting for Chicken Stew and Appams, our latest food crush. After going around and checking with some eight odd restaurants if they served any, we finally ended up eating at Fusion Bay. 

Day 3

The Final day had come and we would have to bid goodbye to this whole new world of colours cultures and throbbing exuberance. So we decided to end it at The Teapot Cafe followed by a visit to the Biennale 2017. And we’re glad we did so. The teapot is a tiny cafe on Princess Street. Step into the world of teapots. I mean literally! Remember me talking about the cafe culture some time back? This place has teapots in all shapes and sizes in the display. Never seen a place living up to their name to such an extent. 

The Teapot Cafe

They say travelling places liberates your soul and then there are some who believe travelling is the game of the escapists. Regardless I feel, it a way to feed your soul. And when it’s your first independent travel it has to be life changing. Doesn’t it? So was this trip to Fort Kochi.

Kochi gave us tanned faces and gallons of cheery memories that we both can equally share and cherish years after we have lost touch with each other. The memories of our rondom encounters with people will be ours even when we’re old stuck in the routines of our respective lives ahead. I believe that’s what travelling does to people. It binds you to your counterparts at a level that’s impossible to separate. 

I am obsessing over the Jew Town in Mattancherry. Here’s why you will too

My indomitable love for antiques landed me in the narrow lanes of Mattancherry in Kochin, what is popular among the locals as the Jew Town. Jew town is adjacent to the port and is a narrow lane adjoining the Dutch palace and the Jewish Synagogue. The place owes its name to the Jews who landed in this port of Kochi in search of refuge under the protection of the Hindu Raja of Kochi. The Raja with a great liberty granted them a site by the side of his palace and thus was built the Jew Town of Kochi. The age old buildings and a beautiful medley of cultures speak volumes of its fascinating history .

 We began walking through the lane that led to the Synagogue. The road is a boulevard of shops that overwhelm you with their antiquity. The most interesting  was the one which featured the giant cooking vessel of 14 ft. Known as uruli in local language this vessel weighs over 3000 kilos and is a major tourist attraction. The craftsmanship and the detailing is sure to take you by awe. 

Johny and Sunny Malayl of Cochin made the biggest Uruppu, weighing over 3000kgs

I am a sucker of ancientness and walking thorough the streets of Jew town made me feel like home. Starting from post cards, croceries with Portuguese art to homedecor, this place has every thing lined to treat your eyes and teleport you to the era bygone. Visit this place at your own risk if you aren’t carrying enough cash. I wouldn’t say things here are expensive but you would be tempted to forego your budget and buy everything that comes on your way. 

Meet our friend from Mattancherry, Rafeeq Bhaiya

Stationeries made from elephant poo

The Jewish Synagogue was first built in the year 1568 an year after the Jew town was established. But after the invasion of the Portuguese in 1600 the Synagogue was partially destroyed only to be rebuilt in 1664. The beautiful structure flaunts an aesthetic architecture with beautiful Portuguese tiles and glass chandeliers. 

The Synagogue was partially destroyed after the Portuguese invasion in 1600. However, it was rebuilt a few years later

Mattancherry is also a house to a variety of spices. A ride towards Fort Kochi will take you through a shabby lane of wholesale market for spices, and the entire lane smells just heavenly.

Wholesale spice market of Mattencherry

When you are tired shopping you can grab a sip of Ginger lime soda at the Ginger House. Sit by the sea and sip on your chiller. Sounds heavenly? It indeed is. And guess what they also give you a free Ginger with your bill.  

Amidst all the chaos of the city life of Ernakulam, Fort Kochi still preserves this jwel that narrates the story of the true spirit of Kerala and it’s glorious history. If you have landed in God’s own country then this spot is a must see because you don’t really see this place you live it. 




To the over caring parents, We’re gonna be fine!

It sort of inspires me to read through the blogs of women solo travelling, hiking, biking and what not. Although I haven’t been able to muster up enough courage to tell this to you but this is what has always been there at the back of my head. Don’t you remember how only one threatening from you worked magic on me “if you don’t listen to me I will never again take out on a trip”. That scared me indeed, and it still does. Not being able to go where I want, when I want, and how I want. Don’t mistake it yo be a retaliation of a new born rebel in me.  It is only  to tell you how much it pains to satiate your over protectiveness shielded in the vial of concern at the cost of my wishes to explore.

I am sure that I am not the only one who has to catch hold of her restless mind and feet just because her father or mother thinks “it isn’t safe”. We know you love us and considering the current scenario It’s legit enough on your part to be protective or even overprotective. But chopping the feathers of your most loved bird, only in the fear of her flying away will never make sense to me.

All we need is a little trust that we are capable and grown up enough to take care of ourselves. That is where we get our strength from, your trust. All these years you might not have realized but your little daughters have outgrown your protective oyster for good. I am a cat parent myself now and I know how much it worries to have them out of my sight but that’s the only way they can prepare for the world outside. I know at the end of the day they will come home, may be with some minor bruises. But you know how to fix that, don’t you ?

 

Coorg: A Place with Poetry Etched into Every Inch of It

Like any other tourist attraction, Coorg is also adorned with dozens of places to see. Not all of them fit into the list of a true experience seeker. I have made a list of most likely ‘never been to, never done before’ experiences in Madikeri which I am sure you won’t regret.

Most of the attractions in Madikeri are situated quite far from each other. It takes a great deal of time energy to cover them all. But make sure you do not miss out on these few.

  • Swing into the 17th century at the Madikeri Fort. Situated in the heart of the Madikeri town, this moss-laden rustic architectural grandeur is a sheer bliss for a photographer’s eye.

  • Madikeri Fort was first founded by Muffuraja in the second half of the 17th century. It was again rebuilt in granite by Tipu Sultan who named the site as Jaffarabad. Madikeri Deputy Commissioner’s Office is located inside the Madikeri Fort premises. The church building houses a museum, which contains several items related to history mainly the British rule era.

 

  • Steal a glimpse of our very own Desi Scotland at Madikeri Sunset View Point

Coorg has time and again been equated to Scotland. Coming to this spot you realise that beauty has only one address and that’s nature. No matter where in world you go, nature never fails to surprise you. For the photography enthusiasts out here; make it to the spot well before the sunset time. This will save you from the crowd barging into your frame. The vast stretches of the pristine grasslands calm your senses.

 

  • Indulge in some cloud porn at Mandalpatti. Be it some mere brooding or some me-time rendezvous, this mountain peak is all you need. Petrichor and tranquillity and you: isn’t it enough to get you packing your bags right away.

Experience the magic unfolds as the clouds push by you at the peak. Adjacent to the peak is the Pushpagiri Wildlife sanctuary which was unfortunately closed when I had been there. Reaching the peak isn’t as pleasant as the place itself. You cannot get your vehicle beyond a certain point. However, you can hire a jeep from there.

  • On your way back you can soothe your senses with an aromatic cup of Chai from the stalls.
  • Wander in the wilderness in the coffee farms.
    Let nature sing to you the lullaby of the birds and the winds gushing through the forests. Do not miss the early morning walk. Monsoons in the mountains are to be devoured in the mornings when the world is just up and is preparing for the day. That’s when you get to see these heavenly places at their absolute beautiful self.

  • Grab some Coorgie spices. You can visit a spice garden and see where our kitchen condiments come from cardamom, cinnamon, pepper even vanilla. Some facts may leave you totally surprised. You can carry some along. Make sure that you do not get fooled by the shopkeepers; they tend to overcharge the tourists. Avoid buying them from tourist spots and look for a regular shop instead.