Saturday, November 5, 2011

Trip to Sri Lanka , The Pearl of the Indian Ocean

Thanking ....
Mrs&Mr Zukkur for all the help and support provided for inland transport and accommodation in Sri Lanka.

Plan :
Oct 20,2011 - Departing Bangalore - TUTICORIN EXP - 2100Hrs.
Oct 21,2011 - Arriving Tuticorin - 1100Hrs.
Oct 21,2011 - Departing India - Check-in Flemingo Liners - 1400Hrs.
Oct 22,2011 - Arriving Sri Lanka - Check out Flemingo Liners - 800Hrs.

Oct 29,2011 - Departing Sri Lanka - Sri Lankan Airlines - 1835Hrs.
Oct 29,2011 - Arriving India, Bangalore - 1955Hrs.

Our Travel:
IRCTC - Indian Railways .
Star Destinations India - Flemingo Liners Pvt. Ltd
SriLankan Airlines

Our Stay:
Bell Hotel Tuticorin, 23 South, Tuticorin 628 001, India.
Kassapa Lions Rock ,Digampathaha ,Kimbissa, Sigiriya, Sri Lanka.
Glendower Hotel ,5 Grand Hotel Rd, Nuwara Eliya, Sri Lanka.
Ruhunu Safari Village, Gurugoda, Yala, Sri Lanka .
Sunils Beach Hotel,Galle Road,Narigama, Hikkaduwa 82020, Sri Lanka.
Hotel Renuka ,328 Galle Road,Colombo 3, Colombo, Sri Lanka.

Shivaram's family and we decided to go for a week long trip to Sri Lanka about 4 months back. After a lot of discussion on the dates, we zeroed in on the Diwali week due to the long festival holidays. Our friend Mr. Zukkur from Sri Lanka helped us in organizing the itinerary and advised us on the places of visit. To add to the excitement we looked into the possibility of taking a ship to Colombo. Our wish was granted - Flemingo liner services – “Scotia Prince” plying from Tuticorin to Colombo.

Day 1 - 20 Oct: 2100Hrs - Boarded the Pearl City Express from Bangalore to Tuticorin .


Day 2 - 21Oct: Reached Tuticorin the at about 1100Hrs. Took a taxi to bell hotel where we had booked our halt for freshening up.We checked into Bell hotel for a couple of hours to freshen up before leaving for the port. The place was good. People were very nice and food was great. The same taxi guy picked us up and took to the port. Scheduled check in was about at about 1400Hrs. The Tuticorin Port is 12 kms from the railway station. Orange gate was the one for passengers. The check in process in the port was slow and severe with the passport checked and baggage's scanned a number of times. Finally we got into the ship at about 1500Hrs .


It was a new and exciting experience for all of us to go on a cruise. The ship had good facilities including a casino and bar. The rooms were well maintained and we had a good time in the evening on the deck enjoying the sailing. Welcome drink and Complimentary snacks were provided as we checked in the reception of the ship. The ship started sailing at 1800Hrs. Initially due to the sea motion we felt a sort of instability and later on it was fine. Duty free and casino starts after sailing 12 nautical miles called International waters.

Once we were in international waters , had couple of drinks and moved on for dinner. The food was fine. We returned back to bar and continued our drinks waiting for the clock to tick12 as it was my birthday next day. Raised few toasts on my birthday and we all retired to our bunkers. We had opted for deluxe rooms with toilet and shower. The rooms were really nice.

Day 3 - 22Oct: Breakfast was served in the ship. We reached the Colombo Port at about 800Hrs.But the emigration and clearance was slow and tiring It was about 1100Hrs by the time we came out.

The vehicle arranged by our friend Mr Zukkur was waiting for us with pluck cards mentioning our names.

 Jagath was our pilot for the trip. We all were so hungry that it was unanimous thought to fill in our tummies. We converted few USD to LKR. Went to McDonald's and had a great brunch. From here we set our course to Sigiriya, our first place of visit, which was about 170kms from Colombo.

Our accommodation was booked in Kassappa Lion Rocks. The resort was good, though we had some difficulty locating it as there were no signboards. There was a complimentary cake from the hotel as it was my B'day. We celebrated again in the night with lot of Deviled Chickent. Couple of Tripple distled arrack added the icing to the cake.


Day 4 - 23 Oct : We woke up quite late and it was raining heavily. The plan was to go to the Sigiriya rock in the morning. Due to rains  we cancelled the trip to the rock and headed to the Dambulla temples. These temples date back to 1st Century BC. There are five caves here and they house some of the most amazing Buddha statues. We spent about a couple of hours in the caves and headed to our next destination – Nuwara Eliya.

Nuwara Eliya is a hill station and was a 100km drive from Dambulla. We had booked our stay in Hotel Glendower. The hotel was really nice and well maintained. The place was also really beautiful with greenery and the typical hill station views. It was almost 2200Hrs by the time we reached our hotel and hit the bed straight away as it was a long drive  uphill.
visit – The tea factory ( Pedro Estate) and Ambewela Farms. The tea factory was closed by the time we reached and hence Day 5 - 24Oct : We went to the lake side and went for boating. The boating was quite enjoyable and then the kids went for horse riding. After that we ventured in to the Nuwara Eliya local market There were some really good stuff priced cheaply, we did not purchase much though. It was raining quite heavily and the fog was too dense. Without wasting any more time we set out to the next places of we went to the farms directly. We had to walk quite a distance from where we parked our car to the cow shed. As the place was covered with mist and it was really cold. Our walk through the farm was really enjoyable. They were breeding cows and goats imported from Netherlands and it was an interesting experience to see the animals being fed and processing of milk. That was the last stop for the day and we headed back to our hotel to relax.

Day 6 - 25 Oct: We set out early at about 8am as we had to visit the tea factory that was open only between 800Hrs- 1000Hrs. We got to see how the leaves are plucked, dried, cut and processed to make tea leaf / powder. Spent some time in the tea plantation, had some tea they served us and headed to our next destination – Yala. Nuwara Eliya to Yala was again a long drive of about 200kms. Our accommodation in Yala was inside the forest and this was perhaps the best place of our visit. Our stay was at Ruhunu Safari village. The resort  was small and well maintained. We were the only guests there and that made it all the more exciting. The best thing about this place was the whole set up itself. A hotel inside the forest and beside a beach…! We normally don’t imagine a forest and beach together and this was exactly that. However the sea here was quite rough and won’t really qualify for a holiday type beach. Nonetheless, it was exciting to have a whole beach to yourself…! We spent the evening in the beach and went back to our rooms once it was dark. The food here was very good as well even though the options were limited.Day 7 - 26Oct : Today was the safari to Yala National Park and we started early at 500Hrs. We saw and captured some outstanding pictures of sunrise at the beach. The safari lasted for about 3hrs and it was an amazing experience. The wild life was really active in the morning and we got to see most of the animals  in the forest except the ever elusive wild cat. Apparently Yala has the highest density of leopards in Asia.We were not lucky enough. Nevertheless, it was nice seeing Peacocks in their full bloom, Land monitors, Crocodiles lurking around the corner of swamps, Jackals, Elephants, Wild Hens, Wild Rabbits and all the wild life in full glory. We were back in the resort by about 1000hrs. Had breakfast and checked out to our next destination – Hikkaduwa.

Hikkaduwa was another 150kms from Yala. We reached by around 1500Hrs. (On the way we stopped near a small waterfall.) We were staying at Sunil’s Beach hotel, the worst place of stay during our visit. It seemed more like a senior citizens cottage with all the waiters and most of the guests being well above 60. The rooms were not great, food was bad and the pool was dirty. The only good thing about this place was the beach, where we spent most of the evening. For dinner, we were in no mood to eat from the same place and so ventured out to find an eat out and ended up in a small restaurant where they served some amazing chicken and paneer “rotty”. Back to the hotel and end of the day .


morning, after having breakfast it was decided not to continue our stay there and started to Colombo. Day 8 - 27Oct : The original plan was to stay in Hikkaduwa for 2 nights and then check out to Colombo. That Fortunately rooms were available in Colombo a day in advance. We started at about 110Hrs.On the way we visited the sea turtle hatchery. It was quite informative. We purchased some souvenirs and reached Colombo by 1500Hrs. We had booked our accommodation in Renuka Hotel. It was a good one, typically serving the corporate visitors we suppose. That evening we walked few streets in the city and had dinner in a small joint.

really cheap and you get good branded stuff. We shopped till evening and went for RA.One that night. Day 9 - 28Oct: The next morning we set out for shopping. Colombo is a great place to shop for clothes as its Probably the worst disaster after Sunil’s Beach Hotel was RA.One during our trip. Bad movie.

Day 10 - 29Oct: This being the last day of our trip, we spent the day relaxing and packing. The flight was at 1800Hrs and we started to the airport by 1500Hrs.

you can make the most of it only if at least a week is spent there.It felt like a long trip when we started off, but in the end it was over really quick and we were back in Bangalore on 29th night. We had a great time in Sri Lanka and it was an enriching experience to get a peek into their culture and life. We would definitely recommend a holiday to Sri Lanka to anybody, but

Thanking again Mrs.& Mr. Zukur for helping to organize such a wonderful trip. We would have been lost without their immense help in booking accommodation and without the car that you provided us with..!!

Photographers :  Brinda Shivaram, Meera Menon and Radhish Kurup

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Trip to Thekkady

Feb 17, 2011 to Feb 20,2011

Feb 17,2011

0615Hrs : I started my journey to Kotayam from Calicut in Shatabdi Express. I had mistook Janashathabdi for Shatabdi express.Difference is you don't get food in Janashathabdi express ! Poor peoples chair car but still 25% more expensive than other express train chair cars :-(

From Kotayam railway station took prepaid auto to KSRTC bus stand. Boarded bus to Kumily. It took me 210mi to reach Kumily. Had a great Kerala lunch with beef fry in a restaurant nearby. From there I went tot the Kumily police station where I met the station SI as advised by my cosine Rahul. The office helped me with the stay and the local arrangements.

Our stay was confirmed at Haritham residency( ). A great place to stay. Biju Mathew is the manager over there. He is a registered government guide and tour operator also. We can book our full trip through him. Mob No - 09447387344.
 Please follow my link below to see the pics of the room we stayed. Please note there is no in house dining available here. We need to walk to a nearby hotel for the same. Checked in to the room and called the day to an end.

Feb 18,2011

Rithwik joined me in the morning. We went to the forest wardens office and met the Warden to understand the procedures and permissions needed to camp in the jungle. It was the same as for Silent Valley Forest. The permits needs to be taken at Trivandrum.
For the evening we decided to go for a Nature walk. At 4.00pm we started with a guide allocated to us. The trking was really good. It was raining also. We had a great time. Got few sun set shots.

Feb 19,2011

Early morning we geared up ourselves for the Border Hiking. We were a group of 6 people. Only 2 of us Indians ;-) This was a 24 km long trek. Would not reccomend for Indians. The food provided was not great and very less in quantity. We dint get any good sighting also. Reached back by 1900Hrs. We were so tired that we dint even know when we went to bed and when we slept !

Feb 20, 2011

This was the last day and relaxing day for me. Rithwik went to the nearby jingle for capturing birds with his new tele lens.We were ready to leave Thekkady by 4.00pm. I had my bus back to Bangalore from Thekkady itself. Rithwiks bus to Chennai was from Theni.

Sharing some moments of our trip ... click here

Saturday, March 12, 2011


Wayanad – A trip to the God’s own country.
Jan 13th – 16th’ 2011.

Naveen and I were discussing about a photography cum vacation trip and after sifting through a few locations, we zeroed in on Wayanad. Later Shivaram and family decided to join us as well…So on Jan 13th, we set out on the three day trip. Our plan was to stop over at Mysore on 13th night and proceed to Wayanad on 14th morning.

Meera, Naveen and Divya met at Shivaram’s house and they started at about 3.30pm. I joined them later on the way at Kamat, Mysore Road. We reached Mysore at about 7pm. Our stay was booked in Ginger. The room was good and our stay was comfortable.

Our dinner was already booked at Pai Vista…had some good food and drinks and retired for the day.

The next morning – 14th Jan, we started to Wayanad at about 10am after breakfast and reached there by 1pm. Our stay was at Haritagiri Hotel and Ayurvedic Spa. This is situated in Kalpetta. Though this place would not ideally qualify as a resort, it is well maintained and since it is situated with in the town itself, it is easily accessible. The food was average, although the complementary breakfast was excellent. As it was already 3pm by the time we finished lunch, we decided to relax for the day. The kids had a good time at the swimming pool and we all had an Ayurvedic massage. A word about the massage, few of us found the massage excellent while some of us were disappointed….so I think it will depend upon the condition of the person who massages….!

We started early next morning and our first stop was at Karlad Lake. The drive was through some small village roads which were still being laid and when we reached, we were the first set of tourists to arrive…took some good photographs of the lake and we went for boating. The lake was very small, so the boating lasted for about 20 min and the kids enjoyed it thoroughly.

Our next stop was at Banasura dam. Well, not much to watch here. We took a jeep from below to reach the dam. As it was midday, it was quite hot and we relaxed a bit in the shade there. After about an hour, it was time for the next spot.

Next, we went to Kuruwa dweep. This is basically a collection of small islands and the fun part is to hop on to each island and spend some time there. It was already 4 pm by the time we reached and as this place closed at 5 pm , we were reconsidering to come the next morning. Finally, on Brinda’s insistence, we decided to take the plunge and finally took the boat to the dweep. As we were late, we decided not to go on to all the small islands and had some fun in the water on the first island.
This place was a nice experience, taking us back to a different age of life in jungles and in between trees and water. It was really unfortunate we could spend only about an hour here. Next time, we thought if we ever come here will come to the island first thing morning.

Finally before calling it a day, we went to Tirunelli temple to offer our prayers to God. It was about 45min drive from Kuruwa dweep.

We started back to the hotel at about 6 30pm and the drive was for 60kms. It was a terrific drive through the ghats and thoroughly enjoyed it…although the co-passengers wouldn’t agree…. Reached hotel in an hour and cancelled our trip to water falls the next day as we thought we need a day of relaxation before returning to Bangalore.

Next day was relaxed and we enjoyed a late breakfast and some drinks by the pool. The ladies went for a second round of Ayurvedic massage and after lunch it was time to start back home…. We had a brief halt in Kamat for dinner and reached home by 10 pm.

Wayanad would qualify more as an extended weekend getaway as it would easily take 2 days to visit all the places in and around and a day totally in driving. Our trip was nice and relaxing. As we probably didn’t cover Wayanad fully, would love to go back there for a longer trip.

The trip costed us RS 7000 per head ( inclusive of everything ).

Sharing some captured moments of our trip......
......Please Click here .