Saturday, June 9, 2018

The Palani Murugan Temple Visit

Palani (or Pazhani) is a town and a municipality in Dindigul district, Tamil Nadu, located about 100 kilometres (62 mi) north-west of Madurai, 100 kilometres (62 mi) South-east of Coimbatore, and 60 kilometres (37 mi) west of Dindigul. The Palani Murugan Temple dedicated to Hindu war God Kartikeya is situated on a hill overlooking the town. 

According to Hindu mythology, "Sage Narada once visited the celestial court of Lord Shiva at Mount Kailash to present to Him a fruit, the gyana-pazham (literally, the fruit of knowledge), that held in it the elixir of wisdom. Upon Lord Shiva expressing his intention of dividing the fruit between his two sons, Ganesha and Karthikeya, the sage counselled against cutting it. He decided to award it to whomever of his two sons first circled the world thrice. Accepting the challenge, Lord Karthikeya started his journey around the globe on his mount peacock. However, Ganesha, who surmised that the world was no more than his parents Shiva and Shakti combined, circumnambulated them".[2] Pleased with their son's discernment, Lord Shiva awarded the fruit to Lord Ganesha. When Kartikeya returned, he was furious to learn that his efforts had been in vain. He left Kailash and took up his abode in Palani hills in South India. It is believed that Karthikeya felt the need to get matured from boyhood and hence chose to remain as a hermit and discarded all his robes and ornaments. He went into meditation to know about himself.

Jan 20, 2018: It was a call from Rajith which lead way to this trip of mine. We decided to take road route to Palani on Jan 26 early morning. I booked my return flight ticket for Jan 26 night. 

Jan 26: We started from my home at Bannerghata road around 0345Hrs.  
Stopped at  Sri Saravana Bhavan's Restaurant, Salem around   0700 Hrs for breakfast.  Awesome food as always. This is the place we stop every time we go to Shabarimala or any location in this route. 

Reached Pazhani town by 1030Hrs . Rajith contact met us near the temple.  We took the cable car to reach the top. At 1200Hrs we were in  the Temple at hill top. By the time we reached the temple, it was time for pooja. We were seated in the Mandapa just in front of the sanctum sanctorum.  We were fortunate  to witness a 40 min  pooja which included Mangalarthi and Abhishekams.  It was a treat for the eyes.  Felt really blessed. 

After the pooja, we got  prasadam from the head priest . Drank the abhishekam milk and decided to return.  It was around 0115 PM we reached back near the cable car return pick up area.  I was just lucky to get in to the last cable car service. It supposed to be closing at 1.30.  Rajith was not able to get the cable car and he had to take the train and come down.  
Around 1400Hrs we reached back at our parking spot. Had the anna prasadam we got from pooja and started back. 

We had our lunch at SP Hotel in Pollachi town.  A reasonable hotel. Since we had reached around 3.30pm it was lunch closing time and nothing much was available. 

The roads from Pazhani to Coimbatore is single lane and repair work was going on. Reached Coimbatore at around 1730Hrs. 

Got freshened up in a hotel enroute . Had dinner and we reached Coimbatore airport by 1945 Hrs.

Saturday, February 3, 2018

KL 58 cafe

Located at Gangamma circle , Bangalore , towards airforce station is an ideal place to have a coffee or tea break. It’s a Kerala cuisine cafe.  Taste is authentic. Recommend to visit.  

Saturday, August 5, 2017

Elephant census 2017

I had been wishing to be part of a national level nature program. It was very lucky of me to see the 3'x 2' column article about the census in the news paper, inviting applications from citizens to volunteer for the program. I arranged for a medical fitness certificate and applied for the same. 
We were intimated about the a day training program at Bannerghatta National Park. During the training we were briefed about the schedule and on field training was given to us on the  methods we were supposed to deploy during the census. 

Srimangala Ranger Office

Till May 10th , I did not get any intimation about the  range I was allotted. When checked in the group mail understood they are yet to be published and the same would reflect in Karnataka forest official web page.

Finally the list got published 3 days prior to the program. However no individual notifications came as the email id marked was wrong. 
I was allotted to Madikeri Wild Life. 
DFO Breifing

May 15- 2332hrs: Boarded the bus at Mysore road bus stand for Madikeri.  Met Kiran a fellow volunteer in the same bus.  

May 16- 0600hrs: Reached Madikeri. My friend Pavi's Cousine came and picked me up and took to Fort Mercara Hotel. Very nice boutique hotel. Took some rest there. Got freshened up. The weather was awesome .

Had breakfast at the hotel itself and moved towards Aranya bhavan. Reached by 9.15am.  The meeting finally started at 10.30am. 

The turnout of volunteers was around 50% only. Presume it was because of the communication failure. Forest college students were also there.

Three DFO's  - started their briefing about the  coming days programs and geographical details. The Range and block  allocations happened during this meeting. 

My Roomies and Team @ Kutiyala
I was  assigned to Range - Srimangala, Block  - Kutiyala. The location was around 75km away from Madikeri Aranya Bhavan. Lunch was arranged at Aranya Bhavan Guest house. Finished lunch and commenced our travel at 1.30. Reached Srimangala range office at 3.30pm.   Post debriefing from Ranger left for Kutiyala. The 3hrs drive in Bolero 4w drive Jeep through the jungle was an experience by itself. Decision to drop all other volunteers and then reach my place was wise and fruitful.

I stayed in this Anti Poaching Camp 

Reached the Anti Poaching Camp ( APC ). Met Mr Raghu the forest guard.  Sharath and Avinash were his assistants. Very warm people. Shocked to see the drinking water they were using. Bit off coloured and tasted  different- muddy flavour like the river water.  Thought how will I manage with this water.  

APC was a small two room concrete building.  Connected by Permanent power which is unpredictable. They have a solar invertor as back up.  Water from nearest water hole is pumped to the tank. No water heater :-(

Checked with Raghu on the food arrangements. As expected it was regular rice and one curry. I requested them if we can have some chicken, egg and some RUM. They agreed to get the stuff sourced from the nearest town 24km away. That was a sign of relief for me.  

Waiting for the elephants to come to water hole.

By 9.00pm we were good to start with our drinks and the chicken. Awesome weather and good drink and great food.  Once done retired to my sleeping bag. It really came handy to avoid the cold and had a comfortable sleep. 
Viper - Very abundantly found in this region.

Machan at Tree top

May 17:  Automatically woke up 5.30am. Very pleasant morning. Breakfast was rice pulav. Got ready and started our activity for the day - block count at 0730Hrs.  It was really hectic and physically demanding. My whole image of forest changed. There was no trail or path. Raghu was literally cutting the branches to make way through. Lots of snakes sighted - viper was common.  Leaches were in abundance. Terrain was very much hilly. Ups and downs. God it was very bad.  The water we carried got exhausted mid way only.  With no option left I started drinking water from the river. The taste difference I felt yesterday had vanished. Here the target was only to quench the thirst. The lunch was the same rice pulav we had in the morning. Could barely  eat it.

After lunch we continued our block survey. Spotted a female adult elephant around 3 pm. Could not click any pics as she was not in great mood and was charging towards us. We reached back to APC  by 5.00pm.  I was like dead tired. Freshened up fast. Had couple of drinks. Dinner was roti and chicken.  The chicken was awesome. Thanks to Sharaths cooking  skills. Retired to my sleeping bag by 2100Hrs. 

May 18: Today was line disect day. Dung count along a straight  2 km line and taking  Lat Lon readings. We were not in a hurry today. Started our day at 8.30am. Raghu had already marked the line previous week itself. Hence some work was saved. The line took us to terrains when we need to trek up and down very steep.

Went to the river enroute. Awesome landscape it was. Reached back to APC by 12noon.  Copied all the recorded reading to the submission sheets.  Lunch - Rice,sambar, egg omelet. Had a great lunch. Evening was leisure.  

May 19: Today was Water Hole monitoring day. Thought it would be very easy as we were supposed to sit at a place and monitor the water hole and make a count of the elephants coming to the water hole. We reached the spot after a small trek around 7.30Am. It had rained heavily the previous night. Leeches were in millions. The tree branches were very slippery.

Chose a location on a tree top where we can make our Machan to view the animals coming to the water hole. We sat there for 10 Hrs at  a stretch. Since it had rained heavily, no animals came to the water hole. Sitting on a tree branch for 10 hrs was really a difficult task. My patience level  was put to tests  so badly that in between i even thought  to abort the task. However I was determined to accomplish the target and did it successfully.

Once back in the APC, we contacted the Ranger and updated him the days results. He advised me that If I wish, I can submit my report at Srimangala Range office and can return home the same night. I was more than happy to hear this. Rescheduled my tickets for the night bus.

Srimangala Range Volunteers
After applying, I had a rough picture in my mind  about  this Census. Since had been to various types of Forest's was pretty confident that this activity would be a cake walk for me. However my imaginations were shattered to pieces as all the events turned out to be completely different from any of my previous experiences.

Stay: It was just meeting the basic necessity. No cot, no bed. Lots of bug noises around you always. No water heater. No European closet in the wash room. No full time water. No full time electricity. No mobile network. 25Km away from any human settlement.

Food & Water: Rice and some regular veg curry. All three meals had rice. However Raghu had helped me with some chicken and eggs  sourced from near by town during my stay. Hence saved. Water was from near by eater hole. Which gets discoloured if it rains.

This trip actually made me realise that I am blessed to be having a life what I am living. I thank almighty for the same. The value of good food and water was reiterated to me by god in this trip. I salute the Forest department personals who live in these adverse conditions and take care of our Jungles.

And lastly I thank Raghu, Bharath & Avinash for all the support and help they extended during my stay with them. Thanks you god for blessing me to be part of the program. 

Tuesday, November 1, 2016

NavaGriha Temple Visit, Kumbakonam, Tamilnadu.

The Navagraha temples in Tamil Nadu are a cluster of Navagraha Temples dating from the Chola dynasty near Kumbakonam in Tamil Nadu. As per Hindu legend, Sage Kalava was suffering from serious ailments along with leprosy. He prayed to the Navagrahas, the nine planet deities. The planets were pleased by his devotion and offered cure to the sage. Brahma, the Hindu god of creation, was angered as he felt that the planets have no powers to provide boons to humans. He cursed the nine planets to suffer from leprosy and were sent down to earth in Vellurukku Vanam, the white wild flower jungle - the modern time Suryanar Kovil. The planets prayed to Shiva to relieve them off the curse. Shiva appeared to them and said that the place belonged to them and they would have to grace the devotees worshipping them from the place. Each temple is located in a different village, and is considered an abode of one of the Navagrahas. However, the majority of these temples are dedicated to Shiva. The Surya temple is the only one dedicated to the Graham. In fact, it is dedicated entirely to the worship of the Sun-God and the other navagrahas, the former being the object of worship as the principal deity and the latter as attendant deities. It was built around the 11th or 12th century C.E. The other temples were built earlier, ranging back to 7th-9th century.[1
  • Surya Navagrahastalam -- Sooriyanar Kovil
  • Chandra Navagrahastalam -- Thingaloor
  • Angaarakan Navagrahastalam -- Vaitheeswaran Kovil
  • Budha Navagrahastalam -- Thiruvenkadu
  • Guru Navagrahastalam -- Alangudi
  • Sukra Navagrahastalam -- Kanjanur
  • Shani Navagrahastalam -- Thirunallar
  • Raahu Navagrahastalam -- Thirunageswaram
  • Ketu Navagrahastalam -- Keezhperumpallam

It was a sudden plan proposed by  Rajith to visit the nine temples. The Diwali holidays were starting next week. We chose the Amavasya day - 10/30 for the visit.

Rajith did all the booking online. KSRTC bus to reach Kumbakonam. From there a swift Dezire taxi to take us to all nine temples. And night back to bangalore by red bus.

As per Rajith's advise , I got my current Griha status checked. This was done so that we can do the necessary Pooja's at each temple.

10/29 - 2130Hrs - From Shantinagar bus stand we departed to Kumbakonam.

10/30 - 0530Hrs- We reached Kumbakonam. The cab was waiting for us. Driver took us to a nearby lodge where we were scheduled to freshen up. It was an old SATRAM setup, with big hall and few toilets and bathrooms. We freshened up fast and rushed to visit the temples. The lodge guy charged us RS 40 each for using their facility. Below is the sequence of the temple we visited. We had a quick breakfast after Budhan temple. We finished 8 temple visits by 1300Hrs. 1350 Hrs is the closing time for Kedhu temple.
After kedhu temple we moved towards Karaikal  Saneesvara temple. On the way we had our lunch. We went to a hotel called Sri Kandans. The food was not good. Very much rush. later we came to know that there are other  good hotels in the bus stand as well.

Chandran temple, Thingaloor
Alangudi Guru(Jupiter) Temple, Alangudi
Thirunagrshwaram (Rahu) Temple 

Suriyanar Kovil Suriyan (Sun) Temple 
Kanjanoor Sukran

Vaitheeswaran Kovil 
Budhan Temple
Sri Arulmigu Naganadha Temple - kedhu, Keelaperumpallam
Sri Saneesvar Temple, Thirunallar, Karaikal

Finished all the temple visits by 1630Hrs. The driver dropped us to the SRM bus booking office. We paid him RS 3400 for the complete trip all inclusive. Our bus was scheduled to arrive at 1945Hrs. Went to the beach  at Karaikal , 5Km away. Had our dinner at Seagulls Restaurant and Bar. Boarded up the bus by 1930Hrs. 

10/31 - 0530Hrs - Reached back Bangalore.

Monday, November 4, 2013

Three Mallus in Leh !

Note : My words below will not be able to justify the feel of experience we had during the trip to even 25%. You need to be there to understand how it feels. I recommend that every individual needs to go to Leh at least once in life time.

It was a sudden decision of us to plan the trip. All happened while we Met in Syed's I'ed party. I checked with Rithwik  and got the contacts. Rajith did his side  R&D  and we all finally decided to go with this service provider - Overland Escape. 
Tickets Booked. Purchased the gear from Decathlon.

Day 01/ Sept 06: Manali  - Srinagar
We reached airport by 1910 pm. The drop was sponsored by GI. Gulped couple of drinks in BIAL. Boarded the flight. Flight was full to Delhi. Reached Delhi on time. Spent some time wandering inside airport as our connection flight was at 0540 hrs to Srinagar. We found lots of empty space in airport to settle down as there not many like us there waiting. 
The utilisation of sleeping bag was done full extreme. Slept on the floor taking turns. 

Day 02/ Sept 7: Arrive at Srinagar airport  and drive straight to Kargil.

Reached airport by 7.30 am. Did our morning nature calls in airport only. They got only one american commode in clean and usable condition. We were picked up by a taxi which was only for 7 km. Then we changed to Leh taxi. Unfortunately it was a strike day at Srinagar and we not able to explore the city much. Had our break fast at Son Marg. Without waisting any more time we moved on to Kargil. 
Son marg-India gate-Zodjila pass-Vijay war memorial-Kargil hill
With Jidins help the Drinks supply was supported by forces. Kargil was a small town. We were scheduled for a stop to get acclimatised with the increasing altitude. Had couple of drinks and retired to our beds. Food was not so great. However basic requirements were met.

Day 03/ Sept 8: Kargil – Leh 230 Kms / 5-6 hrs

After Breakfast started for Leh by 0700Hrs. Enroute visited Mulbek, Giant Living Buddha Sculpture on Rock Mountain, Lamayuru, one of the oldest Monastery of Ladakh and enjoy the view of Moon Landscape. 

The drive was good. We had to believe the Magnetic Hill concept. The car was literally pulled back by the mountain.

Reached Leh by 4pm. We were feeling the altitude and lack of oxygen. Climbing few stairs was like running a mile. 
The tour operator representative came and briefed us about the trip plan. The altitude had pulled down Shivaram. Rajith tummy was upset due to the chicken we had last night. I had couple of drinks and we all went for dinner. Food was good. Retired to our bunkers by 2200hrs.  

Day 04/ Sept 9: Leh - Pangong Lake - Leh 280 Kms / 10-11 hrs

After early (0730Hrs) Breakfast left for Pangong Lake (14,500 ft) through Changla Pass 17,350 ft, it is the third highest motor-able road in the world. Arrive Pangong by 1300Hrs.  it is the highest salt water Lake in the World, shared by two countriesIndia & China.  Enjoyed the beauty of the lake on the Banks of pangong while appreciated the changing Colors and fascinating high altitude of the LakeThe various colours visible in lake contributed by the sand  was a marvel to see by itself. Spent couple of hours there. The lunch was packed and carried with us.The drive was ok. Lots of off-roading. Drove back to Leh by the same route. Altitude had literally pulled our efficiency levels . Had a quick dinner and retired to our bunkers. 

Day 05/ Sept 10: Leh - Nubra Valley 120 Kms / 4-5 hrs
We had to start early by 0700hrs for Nubra valley. Else will be stuck on the roads due to road widening activities happening en route. After Breakfast we started  to Nubra Valley via Khardungla (Highest Motorable road in the World, 18,380 ft) Arrive at Hundur by afternoon. Lunch at Camp. The lunch was made from the stuff produced in their organic garden. Every where apple trees. Fed up of eating apples ;-)  In the evening we went for the two humped camel ride. It was fun on the camel and interesting to see the sand dunes. We had a camp fire set for the night. Met couple of riders at the camp fire. Had a great evening. Finished dinner and retired to our camps.

Day 06/ Sept 11: Nubra Valley - Leh 120 Kms / 4-5 hrs
After Breakfast  we started back to leh. En route visited Deskit Monastery, where we had a magnificent view of Nubra Valley .Back to Leh by same Route, crossing Khardungla Pass. Reached by afternoon. Did some local shopping. Bought the worl famous Pashmina shawl.
Relaxed the rest of the day. 

Day 07/ Sept 12: Leh to Sarchu 250 Kms/ 10 – 11 Hrs 
Started for sarchu. Reached by 1500hrs. Our stay was in camps. The camp guys told us that we need to collect water in buckets in the night itself as morning it will be frozen. We took it lightly. However what we had in store was horrible. The temp went down to -4 deg cel. Adding to this the altitude was killing the oxygen.  The coldest night we experienced. If we have a choice we will not go back to this place. Old monk and Holister jackets were complete failure. Multiple blankets helped us to sleep for few hours. 

Day 08/ Sept 13: Sarchu – Manali 222 Kms / 9-10 hrs
Left sarchu ASAP. Target was Manali. Roads were really bad. Leh-Manali road was restricted until 1988, this rugged 472km road - 2nd highest in the world - is only open about three months per year. 

Crossed Baralacha La (4845m), lunch at Sissu village, later cross famous Rohtang Pass, 13050 ft. 
We some how wanted to reach manali. We passed through the Rohtang  pass which was fully green. By 1700 hrs we reached Manali. Checked in dragon guest house. A decent one. We were allocated a pent house to stay. As we were completely exhausted by the road travel we did nothing but relax. 

Day 09/ Sept 14: Manali  - Chandigarh 7-8 Hrs

The best sleep we had in the complete trip was in Manali. Woke up late. Checked out of the hotel after the brunch. Decided to go for JOHNSONS spa. Spend half a day taking care of ourselves. The massages and facials did really rejuvenate us. By 1900 hrs we left for Chandigarh. Our initial plan was to directly go to airport. However we reached Chandigarh airport by early morning 0400hrs. Flight was at 1140hrs. Decided to take a room to retire and freshen up. Checked in in a nearby hotel. 

Day 10/ Sept 15: Manali  - Chandigarh 7-8 Hrs 
Flew back to Blore via Mumbai.  

01 night Hotel D’zojila  in Kargil
03 nights Hotel Pangong  in Leh
01 night Organic Retreat camp  in Nubra
01 night Deluxe camp in Sarchu
01 night Dragon Guesthouse in Manali 

Saturday, January 26, 2013

Relaxing Trip to Goa

For our annual vacation this year, after sifting through various locations, we decided on Goa.

Shivaram’s family, Santhosh’s family and we started from Bangalore on 19 th Nov by bus and reached

Goa at about 10am next day. We had already made our booking in Santana Beach Resort. We reached

the resort, had breakfast and retired to the rooms. The resort was well maintained, the rooms were

spacious and had a kitchen attached as well. After relaxing for a while, we went to the beach in the

evening. It was good fun. We then had dinner was called it a day. As we had planned this vacation to

relax from our normal busy schedules, we did not make any plans to venture out.

The next morning, we finished breakfast and decided to go around the city in bikes. We hired 4 bikes

from the resort and went to Candolim beach. The beach was quite crowded. While Shivaram, Santhosh

and kids enjoyed in the beach, Meera and I went to the shack to relax for a while. We had some

prawns, chicken and crabs for lunch. As there was not much to do in the beach we rode back to the

resort and spent the evening again in the pool and beach. As the next day was my birthday we cut the

cake at midnight. It was a great birthday indeed…!

Day 3 was a relaxing day and we spent it idling at the resort. We had some late breakfast and spent

the rest of the day in the resort. Evening was again in the pool and beach. It must be said here that the

beach is the best part of the resort. It was shallow and the tides were really welcoming. We never got

bored of spending long hours in the beach. It was Santhosh’s wife Geetha’s birthday today and so we

cut another cake at midnight. We had ordered lobsters for dinner today and we totally relished it…

Day 4 was the last day of our trip and we went for the city tour organized by makemytrip. We visited

the dolphins park and the Church during the tour. As we found the tour quite tiring, we got off at

about 3pm and got into a resort in Panjim for rest of the evening. Our bus back to Bangalore was at

7pm and reached home next morning.

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Movie Review : Bachelor Party ( Malayalam -2012-June)

The film Bachelor Party: cinematography is great. Amal Neerad did justice to only that. Apart from that I felt bored. Item number songs were torture. Songs are ok . Not recommended viewing. I would rate 1.5/5