Tuesday, January 24, 2017

11 Pictures from the Sunset Cruise on the Alleppey Backwaters

In the age of digital and social media today, whether you want it or not, you do look for beautiful sceneries and backdrops for your next social media share or for the long awaited cover photo change.

On our trip to Kerala, the Alleppey Backwaters provided one such opportunity when any angle you look at, any where you focus your camera, you get yet another beautiful setting not to be missed clicking.

One can easily take a short 2 hour ride in one of the motorboats or one of the longer half-day or full-day rides to explore the hidden charms of the backwaters in Alleppey.

Here is a collection of photographs I clicked during our sunset cruise on a small motorboat in the Alleppey Backwaters.

Small motor boats stand at the entrance of the Alleppey Backwaters, Kerala

Tuesday, January 17, 2017

10 Awesome Reasons You Should Join This Trip to Odisha

Indian Bloggers

'Who goes to Odisha, wahan to sirf gaon hain,’ my best friend remarked several years ago. Probably you had a similar thought on reading about this trip. And that is where everyone is shortsighted. It is easier accepted that people outside Odisha do not know about what is in the state. Yes, Odisha takes pride in its village culture, but is also a hub of education (IIT, IIM and AIIMS all three have made their presence), has several growing and potential near future metro cities and is rich in history, culture and heritage. Remember Emperor Ashoka? After winning all of India, he was forced to relinquish power and pride right here in Odisha!


I thought I would give 5 reasons but as I started writing I realized there is more awesomeness there. So, here are 10 reasons why you must join us for this weeklong trip to Odisha:

1. It’s going to be an enriching trip

The trip is a mixed bag of sorts- heritage, culture, natural beauty, wildlife and adventure. You will get to know why a 12 year old kid committed suicide when the Konark temple was completed and how the Puri temple deities go through a body-change every 13-19 years (huge mystery there); you will witness the Eastern coast’s waves which are perfect for surfing, even better than Goa; you will sit in a small boat and go 10 kms into the Chilika lake in search of the dolphins and migratory birds; you will also go on a night hike to a beach to spot the largest nesting site of the Olive Ridley turtles- it's the only place in the world that sees them in such huge numbers. From adrenaline pumping to a peaceful beach escapade, this trip has it all.

Thursday, January 12, 2017

My First Time on a Cruise Ship- Onboard MV Kavaratti

I don’t know many people who have ever been on a cruise ship. A cruise vacation does trigger a lot of curiosity and when we were headed to board MV Kavaratti for our first cruise vacation, I was definitely ecstatic. I had read everything about it available on the internet (and there isn’t much) and this post explores what my naive and curious mind experienced.

The Check-in Process

We reached the Lakshadweep Wharf and Passenger Facilitation Centre at Willingdon Island in Kochi and got the boarding passes from the SPORTS (Society for Promotion of Nature Tourism and Sports) office on the 1st floor. MV Kavaratti is a passenger-cum-tourist ship. Tourists were to check-in by 10 AM so as to avoid the crowd of the local passengers that came after that. The ship was scheduled to depart sometime in the afternoon.

There was a long queue for the security check and we proceeded with our luggage on trolleys. It didn’t take us long to cross this. The security definitely is strict, nowhere close to airport security though. There was a bottle of water in one of our bags and they got us to open the bag to make sure it’s just water and not alcohol. Carrying alcohol is strictly banned on board MV Kavaratti and in the Lakshadweep islands we were headed to.

From here, our entire luggage was tagged with our cabin numbers and was taken separately. We boarded a bus to head to the port, each one of us excitedly looking out of the windows to catch the first glimpse of the ship.

Getting the first look at MV Kavaratti docked at Willingdon Island, Kochi


Friday, January 06, 2017

Exploring Lakshadweep with the Samudram Package

The Samudram package of the Lakshadweep Tourism makes it possible for the average Indian to experience a cruise holiday. It’s not extravagantly costly and is right here in India. It is the only of its kind cruise vacation available in India both for Indians and foreigners.

My father had been planning this trip for well over a year and had done the booking months in advance. Yes, it is rarely possible to get tickets for the Samudram package at the last minute. (There were tourists with us who had paid higher rates to travel agents to book the package. Direct booking with Lakshadweep Tourism by calling or contacting them online is the best way and offers the cheapest rates)

Lakshadweep has restricted tourism and one needs to obtain permits in advance to enter any of the islands. We had booked directly with the Lakshadweep Tourism office and all our permits were taken care of by them. It was to be a 5 day 4 night cruise vacation from Kochi to 3 coral islands of Lakshadweep and back.

Early morning view of Kalpeni, Lakshadweep Islands, from the deck of MV Kavaratti

As the sailing dates came close, our excitement was building up. We had reached Kochi and got on-board MV Kavaratti, the huge cruise ship and our home for the next few days. (Read: My First Time on a Cruise Ship- Onboard MV KavarattiWe went around exploring the ship before the briefing session with the Tour Manager. Jafar is a very friendly and helpful guy, and guided us through the entire plan as per the package.

Sunday, January 01, 2017

When we got lost in Himalayan Forests- The Nag Tibba Trek

We began our trek to Nag Tibba and it was all going smoothly- the same endurance and strength and all of it in the middle of a forest. I was wondering what the different thing about this trek was that I would write on the blog. Guess what happened next? We got lost!

The Nag Tibba trek (3022 m) starts from the village of Pantwari and goes roughly 8 kms uphill. The highest point of the trek is a further 2 kms at a point called 'Jhandi'. We were at The Goat Village (Read about it here) having trekked till there the previous day. So half the route had already been covered. It was to be a half-day excursion to Nag Tibba and back.

After a healthy breakfast of mandwe-ke-roti ka sandwich, Amrit and I were headed for the trek. Mani, the TGV manager and Elita, a fellow blogger were to join us too. 

Panoramic view of the Garhwal region of Himalayas from the Nag Tibba trek, Uttarakhand. November 2016

Manita did tilak of all of us before we started. 'Go ahead with Nag devta's blessings', she told us.

We started from TGV around 10 and the plan was to be back by 2.30-3 for a late lunch. The trail starts off on flat land and slowly turns rocky and slippery. We were taking slight pauses as we walked up taking in the magical view of the valley at every turn.

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