Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Bengaluru Diaries: Pyramid, Aeroplane and a Historic Palace...

This weekend, for a change, I didn’t step out of Bangalore and instead, went on to explore some offbeat places {I mean places other than malls, eateries, pubs, gardens, lakes, getting stuck in traffic!}. I must confess that I was quite taken aback by what Namma Bengaluru had in store for me. Here is the travelogue of my weekend exploits: 
Bangalore Palace

Pyramid Valley, situated in Kanankpura road, near Harohalli, is a quick soothing getaway, hardly 30 kms from Banshankari, Bangalore. Spread across beautiful 26 acres, houses the 102 feet tall Maitreya Pyramid which is inspired by Pyramid of Giza, Egypt. As you enter the pyramid, temperature rises a bit. Inside the pyramid, there is a staircase to reach a platform which is at much higher height and temperature. I learnt that cosmic energy passed on to body while meditating is thrice as much higher in that elevated platform. This place has free lunch & dinner. There is also a place where one can pay and eat. Other prominent things here are Statues of Buddha & Gandhiji in the lake- who transmit calmness through their face. There is shop where they sell some FMCG products, books, DVDs and sovereigns. One can also book rooms and stay overnight. This place is good place to sit and meditate, experience tranquility for couple of hours. While returning, we took a deviation from Harohalli that connected to Kengeri in the Mysore Road {you should explore Maddur Coffee Day, Rasta Café or Bidadi Tatte Idly!}
HAL Museum

HAL museum or HAL Heritage Centre and Aerospace Museum surely inspires with the evolution of aerospace industry post Indian independence. The MIG’s, LOH, Cheetah, training flights, Satellite launch vehicles, ATC radar are on display. The photographs showing those first flights and renowned dignitaries taking tour makes you feel very proud of the country. It also has a sustainable park and informative garden. Indeed, a very good place to visit for couple of hours.
Pyramid Valley

Bangalore Palace, situated in Vasanth Nagar has an entry fee of 225 INR inclusive of audio tour that takes you to 21 spots in this architectural wonder with beautiful narration available in multiple languages. This palace belonged to Rev. J. Garrett, who was the first Principal of the Central High School in Bangalore and was bought out by Mysore Wadiyar’s in 18th century. They got it restructured and the palace plans provided by Calcutta firm is also on display. When you enter the palace, hunted down huge elephant head welcomes you and sets the context. You’ll see many elephant & tiger hunting photographs and various chairs/flower vases made out of them. If you appreciate paintings, this is the place to be! The Durbar hall is a showstopper and gives you a glimpse how administration used to work back then. Gothic and Victorian architecture styles are treat to watch. The maharajah’s courtyard has a colorful bench and a fountain which was a gift from the King of Spain Don Alphonso.

Palace, also has a big garden and a horse stable. It took me almost 2 hours to explore the palace completely and was enchanted by it’s history and beauty. It’s quite an irony that it only had around 1/10th of Garuda mall visitors {which I later visited for tasty dinner at Panchavati Gaurav} May be, palace is not so popular among masses and I am no exception, it took me more than 3 years to reach here. So do visit before it becomes crowded and loses it’s peace and charm! Till now, I didn’t have a must visit place in Bangalore to suggest. Now I have one!

{Thanks to Archi & Sharath for making this trip happen!}

Tuesday, June 9, 2015

Trip to Goa and Belgaum: Calmly Sailing Past Those Waters...

Late planning and late execution always lands you in a heap of surprises. If not you, the one who not even in his dreams thought that all of us would attend his sister’s grand wedding, would be left speechless and in tears! These are the moments we live for, right? One such opportunity came to us and we took no time in surprising our friend, Vijay, we took KSRTC Airavat Club Class overnight bus to Belagavi from Bengaluru and planned Goa {last time I had covered- Anjuna, Fort Aguada, Chapora Fort, Baga, Calangute, Dona Paula, Panjim, Churches - in my hired bike, during those days, when India won world cup 2011!} for later part of the week. Here is the travelogue of my trip-
Bogmalo Beach Resort

#Belgaum, with wide roads and decent traffic, looked clean. Thanks to pre-monsoon rains, weather was very enjoyable. Wedding was scheduled to be at Gandhi Bhavan, near Sanman Hotel. After managing quick shower at Keerthi Lodge, I attended the wedding wearing Modi jacket (no surprises!). Loved the typical North Karnataka food at the lunch. Soon after the wedding, we bought couple of Kunda boxes, the local delicacy; we caught Kadamba bus, run by Goa govt., to Margao. The single road, NH 4A,passed through many breath taking visuals {thanks to plush green Western Ghats} and a university that has constantly taken student’s breath, VTU- Visvesvaraya Technological University!

#Bogmalo Beach Resort, we sort of crashed here directly from Belagavi or Belgaum. We hired a cab to travel 28kms from Margao to reach Bogmalo. Cabbie, John, reminded us the Goan attitude and Goan unique lingual! His stories were around cab tourism mafia, places to see in Goa and anything related to tourism! The bubble lake, were bubbles appears on a lake when you clap, still resides in my memory and I will explore, sooner or later!
At Vijay's Sister, Shweta's Wedding

At the resort we had those rooms which directly opened to the beach view. I think mercury had soared up to around 35c and good amount of humidity added to the summer of Goa- leading us all the time in the water- either in the pool or beach! I recommend this resort- for its swimming pool, decent food, shacks in the beach, poor room service and proximity to Bogmalo beach! {Which was almost empty most of the times}
Basilica of Bom Jesus

#Baga Beach, spent a evening there, just to soak the hyped #Goa excitement! Tried jet skiing and spent some time at a shack- Britto’s, which needs to credited for it’s amazing ambience! Did some shopping and window shopping, and didn't get into pub hopping!

#Basilica of Bom Jesus, we hired a guide for 100 INR and it was totally worth it. He spoke how in 15th century it all started with Portuguese, how St. Francis Xavier spread Christianity with Society of Jesus and passed away on the way to China. Guide also tracked the life of relics of St. Xavier, after his death, which travelled to Malaysia, Rome and then finally, to Goa, at Basilica of Bom Jesus. This church is also called old church of Goa and UNESCO world heritage site, you'll spot IHS- first 3 letters from Jesus in Greek, inscribed on top of the church. IHS also means Jesus- Human Savior. Outside the gate, we had good dosas and ice creams to beat the heat!
Mangeshi Temple

#Sahakari Spice Farm, new trend in Goa these days is to show rich flora and fauna of Western Ghats. They include food prepared from veggies grown in this 132 acre farm! For those who are from western ghats, nothing much to look out for, for the rest, it may turn out to be eye-opening exciting 1 hour study tour in the farm- showing coconut, Arecanut, jackfruit, mango, cashew, feni preparation and display of spices.

#Mangeshi Temple houses Lord Mangeshi, form of Lord Shiva, the main deity of Gowda Saraswath Brahmins. This temple looks rich with unique Goan architecture comprising of a sanctum and a tower kind of structure that can lit 450 diyas (lamps) at a time. The road leading to temple houses many eateries (Don't forget to drink kokum juice here!)and small shops selling memorabilia.
Sahakari Spice Farm

#Margao Flea Market was up since to mark the feast of local church that was coming up. We entered and exited (in VRL sleeper bus which stopped at Ankola for dinner) Goa via Margao- and both the times were held up in middle for some time because of the crowd that was busy shopping and blocking the road!

{Thank you Manu for being amazing trip organiser, yet again! Thank you Vijay for inviting us and inspiring us to plan this trip. Thanks to Archi, Manu & Sushma for making this trip memorable}