Monday Medley - "The Penguin Book of Indian Journeys"


Monday Medley - A potpourri of interesting articles, posts from fellow bloggers which we liked, books we loved, interesting images of fellow travelers or images from our own portfolio. We hope it will be a good start to the week ahead...... 

As a couple who love traveling, we also love reading the travel stories of others as well. We have featured travel stories from fellow bloggers in our blog. We have also listed the travel books and movies in one of the posts in this blog. 

Last month, we were browsing books in "Select Book Shop", the venerable second hand book shop in Bangalore. In a pile of books, we sight landed on a book which looked interesting. Titled " Indian Journeys" it is a lovely book edited by none other than Dom Moraes, the well known Indian Poet, Essayist and Writer. A collection of travel stories from India, it turned out to be hidden gem!

Look at the list......it is astounding!
  • Bruce Chatwin on his travel with Mrs Indira Gandhi during election campaign....
  • Allen Ginsberg on his experiences in Varanasi....
  • Vikram Sheth coming back to his roots in Delhi after hitchhiking in unknown lands.....
  • Paul Theroux on his rail travel to Jaipur....
  • William Dalrymple on widows of Vrindavan....
  • Slaman Rushdie experiencing India 40 years after it achieved its Independence.....
  • R K Narayan on his travels in Mysore...
  • Jan Morris on Darjeeling....
  • Ruskin Bond on being footloose in Agra....
  • V S Naipaul on his experiences in moving around in hot, crowded and apathetic Delhi....
The list goes on with Kushwant Singh, Amit Chaudhuri, Stephen Alter, Jerry Pinto, Mark Tully, P Sainath, M J Akbar, Bill Aitken and many more......


The reviewer in Sunday Stateman aptly summrises the book in these words....

" In the final analysis "Indian Journeys" is parcel gift wrapped in multiple layers, each one presenting the reader with a wonderful surprise that raises his expectation of the next"

Pick up this book if you can lay hand on one. Go through the myriad experiences penned by some of the liveliest writers. You will be enriched with the Idea that is India.......

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Skywatch Friday - World's Tallest Ganesh Idol!

Best wishes to everyone on the auspicious occasion of Ganesh Chaturthi! 

We had seen it from far while driving around Kolhapur. But we never knew that it was the tallest Ganesh idol in the world!

The 66-feet Chinmaya Ganadhish idol in Kolhapur is at present considered to be the tallest Ganesha idol in the world. The idol sits on 24-feet Dhyana Nilayam (Meditation room). Thus the statue is 90 feet from the ground level. This tall Ganapati is a permanent statue unlike the idols created during Ganesh Chaturthi.

Sculptured as mentioned in the Shastras (scriptures), the Ganesh idol is made up of concrete (cement) and weighs around 800 metric tonnes. The idol was completed in 18 months and nearly 50 skilled workers were involved in the construction along with scores of Chinmaya volunteers and Ganesha devotees. The statue was erected in November 2001 to commemorate the Golden Jubilee year of the Chinmaya Mission. It is located at the Chinmaya Sandeepany Ashram, Toap –Sambhapur, Kolhapur, Maharashtra.


The idol as seen from a distance.

A close up shot
When you travel to Kolhapur next time, don't miss to visit this place.

Ganapathi Bappa Moriya!

Photo Courtesy - Google Images

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Monday Medley - Postcards from Ladakh!

We returned from a lovely trip to Ladakh this evening.

Ten days in the region kindled nostalgic memories of our visit four years back. This time around, we did a six day spectacular trek in the Markha valley to Kongmaru La at 5100 Metres.

Here are few pics from the trip. Please click on the pictures to see them in original size.

Markha Valley
Markha valley.....and quiet flows river Markha!
Kongmaru La
Panoramic view of Kang Yatse ranges from Kongmaru La @ 5100 Metres
Kang Yatze
Spectacular view of Kang Yatse peak on the way to Nimaling
Markha Valley
Markha valley after Hunkar Village - Spectacular!
Ladakh Ranges
Ladakh ranges from the windows of aircraft.......on our way back.
Ladakh
Do you want to live here!
Nubra Valley
.........Or here?
Siachen glacier
Siachen glacier as seen from Base camp
Leh Srinagar Highway
Doesn't this remind you of Petra in Jordan?? Landscape near Budha Korbu on Srinagar - Leh highway
Moonscape ladakh
Moonscape on the way to Nimaling from Tochungtse
Stay tuned for more stories from our trip to Ladakh.

If you want to know more about Ladakh you may check out "Ladakh Diaries" in this blog. Please click the link below. 

Ladakh Diaries

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Skywatch Friday - Dal Lake, Kashmir

We landed in Srinagar in the afternoon today on our way to Ladakh. Srinagar was uncharateristcally warm. It was warmer than Bangalore. No rains in the valley meant that the mountains were still brown.

Mushtaq, our driver was to drive us to Sonamarg direct from airport. We asked him to drive on Dal lake boulevard. We were sceptical of tourist rush being long weekend but surprised to see less crowd around the lake.

This must rank as most beautiful city roads in the country. We stopped at the far end and Brinda took this lovely picture. We loved the reflection of mountains and those ducks!


We call Dal lake as the" Jewel in the crown" of Kashmir!

12 Monsoon drives in Western Ghats you shouldn't miss!

Monsoon in Western Ghats in India is mesmerising.

If you love driving like we do and are a road tripper, then there is nothing more pleasurable than driving during Monsoon in Western ghats. The rains in the Western Ghats creates magic all around. It turns the hills green. Cascades tumble down beautifully from nowhere in the mountains. Streams hitherto dry get back their life. It is green and beautiful all around.

Here are few drives we have listed for experiencing the Monsoon in Western ghats at its best. We have done some and some have been suggested by our friends. We bet that these drives will bring smile to your faces.

All the drives are worked as a loop from a prominent destination. Click on the route link to take you to Google map link. Typically these drives need two days of travel with a night halt. Of course, there are opportunities to extend the trip and explore around the places. If you want to explore more, then you need to provide for additional days.

We have provided related links to posts in this blog in each section.

Go ahead and explore. Enjoy the drive this monsoon.

Thanks to H V Kumar - a legend among Indian road trippers - for his valuable help and guidance in helping me compile this list. 

Monsoon Drive 1 - Malnad Magic


Nameless waterfall near Balehole

Distance - 465 KMs

Road conditions - Excellent

Tips - This is a quintessential monsoon drive.
  • You can savour charms of Charmadi ghat with its numerous waterfalls.
  • Drive on winding mountain roads with water falls every few kilometres.
  • Visit the famous Shankaracharya math and Sharada devi temple in Sringeri.
  • Enjoy lovely valley views from sunset point in Agumbe.
  • Get mesmerised with green landscape in the valley from Kundadri hill.
Recommended night halt - Tirthahalli

Check this post in this BlogMonsoon drive in Malnad - Countless Waterfalls & Visual Bliss!

Monsoon Drive 2 - Malnad Heritage trail


monsoon drive in western ghats
Beautiful landscape in Kudremukh National park
RouteHassan - Mudigere - Charmadi - Ujire - Moodabidri - Karkala - Sringeri - Chikmagalur - Hassan

Distance - 400 KMs

Road conditions - Very Good

Travel Tips - Another lovely drive through Malnad region of Karnataka.
  • Enjoy the experience of myriad waterfalls on Charmadi ghat. 
  • Visit the famous Manjunatha temple at Dharmasthala.
  • Visit Jain shrines and 1000 pillared temple in Moodabidri. 
  • Check out 35 feet Bahubali statue in Karkala. 
  • Drive through pristine forests of Kudremukh. 
  • Visit Shankaracharya mutt and temple at Sringeri.
Recommended stay for night - Karkala

Check out this post on this blogDriving Holidays from Bangalore - Karavali and Koffee combo

3. Monsoon Drive 3 - Malnad Coffee Trail


monsoon drive in western ghats
Rolling meadows of Sakleshpur
Route -  Hassan - Sakleshpur - Madikeri - Sullia - Subramanya - Hassan

Distance - 331 KMs

Road Conditions - Very Good with some broken patches.

Travel tips - Here is an opportunity to drive through the beautiful landscape of meadows and rolling hills.....
  • Experience the rolling meadows of Sakleshpur.
  • Visit Manjarabad fort built by Tipu Sultan
  • Enjoy the glorious sight of Mallalli falls
  • Drive amidst Rolling hills and cascades in Coorg,
  • Visit the famous temple town of Subramanya.
Recommended Night halt - Madikeri

Check this post in this Blog - Sakleshpur - Mesmerised in Monsoon!

Monsoon Drive 4 - Trails in Tea Country


Munnar Chinnakanal Waterfalls
Chinnakanal Waterfalls, Munnar
RouteCoimbatore - Munnar - Athirapally Falls - Valparai - Coimbatore

Distance - 550 KMs

Road conditions - Very Good

Travel Tips - An experience to cherish for! Driving on a winding road amidst green cape entails you to
  • Visit a paradise called Munnar
  • Check out Mini Niagara at Athirapally falls, 
  • Drive on one of most beautiful hill roads in the country between Athirapally and Valparai, 
  • Experience the serenity of Valparai and its wildlife.
Recommended Night halt - Athirapally falls

Check out this post on this blog -     Valparai - Unexplored wonder

                                                         Munnar in Monsoon - Going gaga over ghats!

Monsoon drive 5 - Enchanting Uttara Kannada

Banavasi
Beautiful temple at Banavasi built by Kadambas
RouteHubli - Sirsi - Gokarna - Karwar - Dandeli - Hubli

Distance - 427 KMs

Road condition - Very Good

Travel tips - Another great malnad and coastal drive. Unexplored region. Excellent roads and unspoilt forest roads make this drive memorable.
  • Drive through pristine forests of Uttara Kannada and experience numerous cascades on the way. 
  • Explore numerous waterfalls around Sirsi and lovely temple at Banavasi.
  • Visit one of the nine jyotirlingas and lovely beaches at Gokarna. 
  • Experience river rafting in Dandeli. 
  • Go for bird watching in Dandeli including Hornbills.
Recommended night Halt - Gokarna

Check out this post on this blog - Driving Holidays from Bangalore - Exploring Uttara Kannada

Monsoon Drive 6 - Malnad and Karavali combo

Jog Falls
Jog Falls
Route Shimoga - Gudavi - Jog Falls - Honavar - Udupi - Agumbe - Tirthahalli - Shimoga

Distance - 507 KMs

Road condition - Very good

Travel tips - This is again a lovely drive through pristine forests of Western ghats and along the coast.
  • Visit Jog falls in its full glory.
  • Drive through bio diversity hot spot of Sharavathi valley.
  • Pay obeisance to the second tallest shiva statue in the world at Murudeshwar.
  • Enjoy the vistas at Maravanthe.
  • Pray at centuries old Krishna temple in Udupi.
  • Experience gorgeous valley views at Agumbe and Kundadri.
  • Watch birds at Mandagadde bird sanctuary.
Recommended night halt - Udupi

Check out the following post on this blogMonsoon in Western Ghats - An itinerary to experience it!

Monsoon drive 7 - Drive through Hill Country

monsoon drive in western ghats
Lovely landscape between Gudalur - Kalpetta
RouteMysore - Gudalur - Meppadi - Kalpetta - Mananthavady - Kutta - Hunsur - Mysore

Distance - 350 KMs

Road conditions - Very Good

Travel tips - We stumbled upon Gudalur - Meppadi road on one of our trips to Wayanad. It turned out to be a fabulous drive.
  • Do a quick safari in Bandipur.
  • Drive through forest of Mudumalai.
  • Drive on winding roads through lovely tea gardens after Gudalur
  • Enjoy boat ride in Pookot lake.
  • Experience the beauty of meenmutty water falls.
  • Visit centuries old Thirunelly temple in the middle of forest.
  • Drive through Nagarahole national park.
Recommended night halt - Kalpetta (Wayanad)

Check out this post on this blogMonsoon experience @ Mango range

Monsoon drive 8 - Drive through Unexplored Kerala

Valley view from Calvery Mount in Kattappana hills
Route Kumily - Gavi reservoir - Sabarigiri Hydro project - Angamoozhy - Elappara - Vagamon - Arakulam - idukki - Kattappana - Kumily

Distance - 287 KMs

Road conditions - Very good

Travel tips - An unexplored circuit. Driving through some of the best preserved forests in the country. If you want to visit the reservoirs, you may have permission.
  • Go for a quick safari in Gavi forest. 
  • Enjoy the meadows of Vagamon.
  • Enjoy the views from Calvery mount in Kattappana
  • Get awestruck at the sight of Idukki dam.
Recommended Night halt - Vagamon

Monsoon Drive 9 - Magic of myriad cascades!


Amboli
Amboli ghat in Monsoon
RouteBelgaum - Amboli - Sawantwadi - Chorla ghat - Belgaum

Distance - 230 KMs

Road conditions - Very Good.

Travel tips - What else can one expect expect to get amazed at nature beauty when you drive on this circuit? It is pristine and it is beautiful. You will also get a chance to eat Malvan cuisine in Sawantwadi.

Recommended night halt - Sawantwadi

Check out this post in this blogMonsoon Drive in western ghats - Awestruck in Amboli!

Monsoon drive 10 - Konkan Odyssey

View from Ratnagiri Fort
RouteKolhapur - Ratnagiri - Chiplun - Khed - Mahabaleshwar - Satara - Kolhapur

Distance - 517 KMs

Road Conditions - Very Good with some rough patches

Travel Tips - This is driving odyssey through green Konkan.
  • Visit the mighty citadels on the Konkan sea coast at Ratnagiri.
  • Enjoy the landscape of Konkan in monsoon.
  • Explore the famous hill station of Mahabaleshwar.
Recommended night halt - Mahabaleshwar

Monsoon Drive 11 - Scenic Sahyadri

On Tamhini ghats
Route -  Pune - Tamhini ghat - Kolad - Pali - Khopoli - Pune

Distance - 260 KMs

Travel tips - This is a day trip. This is a sheer bliss of driving in monsoon. The landscape is awesome. Myriad waterfalls greet you on the way.

Monsoon drive 12 - Sahyadri Splendour

Malshej Ghat
 Route Mumbai - Kalyan - Malshej Ghat - Akole - Bhandardara - Igatpuri - Mumbai

Distance - 410 KMs

Road Conditions - Very Good

Travel Tips - This is for pleasure of driving in Monsoon in Sahyadri. It is a bliss to drive amidst green forests with waterfalls all around - check the picture above.

Recommended night halt - Igatpuri

The monsoon is still on and it is raining in Western Ghats. Time to go out into the rain and experience the bliss of nature!

Have you drive in Monsoon in Western ghats? Please share your experience.

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