Skywatch Friday - Holy Cross on a colourful hill in Goa!

This was the surprise element of the Monsoon Drive to Goa we did in June this year. 

After reaching Goa in a convoy, H V Kumar, the legendary road tripper of India had a lovely surprise for us. We reached Anjuna police station and took right. As we drove, we could see a lovely hillock on the left and few bungalows on the right. We all parked our cars at the foothills of this hillock.

The hill was strewn with many boulders. Someone with colourful imagination had painted these boulders in different colours there by giving a surreal look to the whole landscape. And this Kumar had noticed during his reconnaissance trip and wanted to give us a surprise! Thanks to him and we were able to see this lovely place. It is a small hill with pathways leading to the top. We climbed the hillock for a beautiful view of Vagator beach from the top. 

As we were walking around enjoying the rain, breeze and lovely vistas, a small installation of holy cross caught our eye. We walked up to the spot. We could see small cross fixed to a ground with a small ceramic cup at the base of the cross to help light a candle. 

The setting was uplifting. A small cross on a lovely hill overlooking a mighty ocean! A place of tranquillity worthy of a place for meditation.

When you go to Goa next time do visit this lovely place. We do not know the name of this hillock. But it is very close to the New Anjuna police station.

As we enter the Yuletide season, we wish you all all  "A Merry Christmas". May all your wishes be fulfilled and dreams come true!

You may also be interested to look at the following posts on Christmas in this blog

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Mini Kumbh Mela in Banavara!

Banavara. Have you heard of it? Probably not.

A small little town in the state of Karnataka, the place is not known outside the state. Even within the state of Karnataka, it known for being drought prone area.

This October, the town was painted saffron. Hundreds of sadhus had arrived for a week long religious retreat organised by local mutt - Sadguru Dattatreya Vishwas Mandali. The cynosure of the meet were Naga Sadhus who had come from Kashi, Hrishikesh, Haridwar and other places for a Naga Sadhu meet.

The place looked resembled "Mini Kumbh Mela" for a week.

We missed it. Dr Pramukh, our friend was there to click some candid portraits which are interesting. Please take a look. Click on pictures to see them in enlarged version.

Mini Kumbh Mela in Banavara!

Mini Kumbh Mela in Banavara!

Mini Kumbh Mela in Banavara!

Mini Kumbh Mela in Banavara!

We happened to see another set of lovely pictures of the same event. Check them out here

Sadhus @ Banavara by R K Bhat

Postscript - The next Kumbh Mela will be held in Nashik, Maharashtra on the banks of Godavari river in 2015. Will you be there?

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Road Trips from Bangalore 7 - God's Own Country aka Kerala & more....

This is an another comfortable road trip from Bangalore. Being road-trippers, we love the freedom road trips provide to stop, look and explore.

We have been sharing details about lovely road trips one can do from Bangalore in this blog exploring heritage, western ghats, wild life, beaches etc....... These drives, cover not more than 300 KMs in a day on an average. The plan is to cover for a week extendable for another two days.

This is the seventh in the series. Inspiring you to explore Kerala, this road trip covers the lovely hills of Munnar, serene backwaters of Alleppey/Kumarakkom, pristine beaches at Varkala, the sights of Fort Kochi and temples in Kanyakumari and Madurai. 

Take a look, plan and go!

We are back with one more lovely road trip. This time to "God's own country" aka Kerala and a bit of Southern Tamil Nadu. We have been to this small little, lovely state many times and it continues to mesmerise us. We thought of making it easier for you to explore with this comfortable itinerary. Since this is a road trip, we strongly suggest that you should keep at least 5 days at your disposal to do justice. Though we have planned this road trip to cover ten days, you can always tweak it and plan to your needs.

Kerala or God's own country. Winter is the best season to be here. It is time explore exotic Kerala! ( Please click on the pictures to see them in original size )

The Circuit

Bangalore - Munnar - Kochi - Kumarakkom/Alleppey - Varkala/Kollam - Trivandrum - Kanyakumari - Madurai - Bangalore

For detailed Google map Link, please click on this.

Here is the itinerary.

Day 1 - Bangalore - Munnar

Distance - 539 KMs
Road condition - Excellent except for few patches on the Ghat road
Route - Bangalore - Salem - Karur - Dindigul - Theni - Bodinayakkannur - Munnar

Route   -

Road Trip Bangalore to Kerala
Beautiful vistas on the Ghat section from Bodinayakannur

Leave early say 6 AM. This will help you to overcome traffic snarls at Hosur. You can have breakfast either in Salem city or in Adyar Anand Bhavan after Toppur on the right side of the road. After Dindigul, the road becomes two lane. At Dindigul, you can pack the famous Biryani of Thalappakatti and eat it on the road side on the ghat section enjoying lovely scenery. After Bodinayakannur, you will climb the ghat. Not many hairpin bends. Easily manageable. Stop and enjoy Chinnakanal waterfalls on the way. You should reach Munnar by 4 PM after photo sessions! Check out these posts on this blog

Rest and relax in your hotel/resort for the night.

Day 2 - Explore Munnar - Two Lakes and Top Station

Distance - 140 KMs ( Return journey)
Road Condition - Excellent

Road Trip Bangalore to Kerala
Kundala Lake, Munnar
After breakfast, drive towards top Station. It is a lovely drive. Click pictures for keeps sake at "Photo Point", visit the floriculture centre, Echo point and Indo-Swiss dairy on the way. Enjoy boating in Mattupatty and Kundala lakes. Get mesmerised at the beauty of Top Station. You can either carry your packed lunch or have Maggi/egg in Top Station. On the way back stop over at Kannan Devan Tea Store in town to buy tea and spices. For more details check out this post on this blog.

Day 3 - Explore Munnar - Eravikulam National Park, Marayoor sandal wood farm and Chinar Wild Life Sanctuary

Distance - 100 KMs (Return journey)
Road Condition - Excellent

Road Trip Bangalore to Kerala
A Stream on the way to Eravikulam 

We would recommend you to leave early after an early breakfast to be there when the park opens at 8 AM. Else, one can also come back and have breakfast depending on how far is your hotel from the park. Go for the guided tour of the park. If you are keen on trekking, there are different trails in the park and need to contact the park authorities. After park, drive towards Marayoor and Chinar Wild life sanctuary. Enjoy the breathtaking scenery on the way. Visit the lovely tea museum run by Kannan Devan Plantations and also Chinar wild Life sanctuary.

Enjoy the evening in your hotel/resort.

Day 4 - Munnar - Athirapally falls - Kochi 

Distance - 209 KMs (One way)
Road Condition - Excellent. Few KMs inside forest after Kalady is patchy.

Road Trip Bangalore to Kerala
Cheeyapara falls
Check out after breakfast and drive to Kochi. This is a beautiful drive. Especially during or immediately after monsoon. You will find numerous water falls on the way. Enjoy the lovely vistas of Cheeyyapara, Vallara waterfalls. The road is winding and need to drive safely. On the way visit Kalady, the birthplace of Adi Shankaracharya which has a lovely temple on the banks of Pampa. reach Athirapally falls by afternoon. Have lunch at many restaurants around the falls and visit falls after lunch.

Road Trip Bangalore to Kerala
Athirapally Falls
The place is very well maintained and plastic free zone. Enjoy the beauty of falls and drive to your hotel/resort in Kochi. If possible reach Kochi before sunset and enjoy the excellent sunset with Chinese fishing nests in foreground. In the evening, if you are not tired, explore mouth watering sea food in fort area.

Enjoy the evening in your hotel/resort.

Day 5 - Kochi - Kumarakkom/Alleppey 

Distance - 58 KMs to Alleppey / 53 Kms to Kumarakkom ( One Way)
Road Condition - Excellent.

Road Trip Bangalore to Kerala
Sunset and Chinese fishing nets, Kochi
If you haven't been able to catch the sunset on the previous day, then get up and drive to the fort area. park your car and go for a morning walk. Enjoy the lovely vistas of Chinese fishing nets against the backdrop of sea. Comeback, have your breakfast or have breakfast in numerous little cafes in fort area. Walk around and visit the Synagogue and explore the antique stores. Visit the restored palace and depart for Kumarakom/Alleppey.

Reach Kumarakkom/Alleppey by lunch. After lunch go for a Cruise on house boat. You need to arrange this in advance by talking to your hotel. Enjoy the sunset cruise.

Enjoy the evening in your hotel/resort.

Day 6 - Explore Kumarakkom/Alleppey

Distance - Minimal
Road Condition - Not applicable
Route - Not Applicable

Road Trip Bangalore to Kerala
Houseboat on Vembanad lake, Kumarakkom
If staying in Kumarakkom, go for bird watching early in the morning. After breakfast go for a cruise on Vembanad lake.

If staying in alleppey, enjoy the beach in the morning and go for a cruise after breakfast.

Enjoy the evening in your hotel/resort.

Day 7 - Kumarakkom/Alleppey to Varkala 

Distance - 132 KMs from Kumarakkom / 118 KMs from Alleppey ( One Way)
Road Condition - Excellent.

Road Trip Bangalore to Kerala
Varkala beach
A lovely drive after breakfast will bring you to Varkala. Enjoy the beach. Just chill and relax. Enjoy the gorgeous sunset.

Enjoy the evening in your hotel/resort.

Day 8 - Varkala - Trivandrum - Kanyakumari 

Distance - 136 KMs (One way)
Road Condition - Excellent.

Road Trip Bangalore to Kerala
Vivekananda rock memorial
Leave early and reach Trivandrum. Have breakfast in any of the restaurants in city and head straight to Padmanabhaswamy temple. Make sure you carry a Dhoti along. Change into Dhoti and visit the temple. After spending an hour in the temple, drive towards Kanyakumari. On the way, visit marvellous wooden palace at Padmanabhapuram. Reach Kanayakumari by afternoon. Check into your hotel, have a bite in any of the restaurants in town and straight away head to Vivekananda Rock memorial. Spend an hour on the island and when you return back visit the temple of Knayakumari. Go to the beach in the evening near Gandhi Manatap and enjoy the sunset.

Enjoy the evening in your hotel/resort. Or walk around the streets for shopping of local handicrafts.

Day 9 - Kanyakumari - Madurai 

Distance - 244 KMs (One way)
Road Condition - Excellent.

Road Trip Bangalore to Kerala
Meenakshi temple, Madurai
Get up early to enjoy the gorgeous sunrise. Have breakfast and drive to Madurai. Reach Madurai by lunch. After lunch and rest visit the mammoth temple of Goddess Meenakshi. If you still have time visit the palace of Tirumala Nayaka. In the evening, go around and enjoy the delicacies of Madurai. Check out details here.

Day 10 - Madurai - Bangalore

Distance - 435 KMs (One way)
Road Condition - Excellent.

Leave Madurai around 7 AM. Have breakfast and lunch on the way and reach Bangalore by 4 PM.

Stay Options

You will be spoilt by the choices in all the places. You have some gorgeous places to stay and also options suiting all budgets. You can check these options on on line through Cleartrip or Agoda or

Travel Tips

a) There are many extensions possible on this trip if you have more days to spare. Here are few

i) Extension to Thekkady from Munnar and then onwards to Kumarakkom
ii) Extension to Vagamon and then onwards to Kochi
iii) Extension to Kodaikanal from Madurai and then onwards to Bangalore.

b) The first day drive is little longer. But excellent road till Dindigul helps. If you feel the distance is long, then drive to Dindigul on day 1. Stay in any of the lovely homes stays on outskirts of Dindigul and then proceed to Munnar the next day.

c) If you can spare an additional day in Munnar, you will be able to drive up to Kollakkumalai tea Estate - the highest tea estate in the world.

d) If you are a trekker, keep few days for trekking in Eravikulam National park. Vagamon also has lovely trekking trails.

e) If you are a birder, then you should take some time out to visit lovely bird sanctuary at Tattekad. This is on the way to Kochi from Munnar.

f) Choose either Kumarakkom or Alleppey as both are known for backwater cruises.

g) There are options for staying overnight in your houseboat or just do a day trip.

h) We intentionally left out Kovalam which gets crowded. If you want to enjoy the beach at Kovalam, then skip Varkala.

i) If you are not a beach person then opt to stay on Ashtamudi lake near Kollam. You can enjoy serene landscape and also go for boat cruise on the lake.

i) Expect heavy crowds on holidays/long weekends.

j) If interested in exploring the history of Kochi, join Kochi heritage walk. For more details check this website.

k) Kochi has some nice antique shops. But you have to bargain hard.

Aren't you interested in looking at other six road trips from Bangalore? Please click on the link below

Useful Links

a) Eravikulam National Park -

b) Sri Padmanabhaswamy temple, Traivandrum -

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