December 13, 2010

The Hampi Escapade

 Yet another back to back trip.... not that I cannot take the fatigue, but the only complaint is that I have to rush up my blogs to avoid forgetting stuff (overlapping memories :P ) and in normal scenarios I take all the time in the world to write. This time it was different and so where the destinations which were worlds apart. One was focused more on the nature which is so far untouched by man while the other was how a creation by one man is destroyed by other.

The ruins of Hampi are truly magical. Usually whenever we visit a structure of the yore it will be with all probability a standalone one with few structures of the same period giving it company. But in this case nearly the entire city of half a million people is preserved and totally transports into a different world altogether, a time when King Krishnadevaraya ruled this truly flourishing city.

Day 1 (4/12/2010)
Bangalore-Anantapur-Gooty-Adoni-Mantralayam (420 kms)

This day was dedicated for travelling and a stopover at Mantralaya, the holy place of Raghavendra Swami's samadhi. Actually it was mom's wish to visit this place and a search of tourist places nearby resulted in narrowing down and deciding our final destination to be Hampi. Left early in the morning at 6 am and travelled along the airport road/Hyderabad road. This road is a part of the North-South Corridor (Kashmir-Kanyakumari) corridor, hence as expected the roads were superb and had very little traffic after the airport detour.We had more or less the entire 4 lanes all to ourselves :).

Had our breakfast at Kamat Upachar, some 5-10 mins after Chikkaballapur bypass. Food was decent. This was probably the only decent restaurant we came across along the highway for the entire ride. Just after Anantapur we bought some Guava's.... 20 bucks for nearly 10 of these huge fruits ... and they were the best I had in a really long time.... Juicy , crisp and delicious.... After we reached Gooty took a diversion towards Adoni and from here to Mantralaya. Roads are good except for the few patches enroute on this 2 lane highway. Initially we had expected a good 10 hr journey but due to the good road conditions we reached within 7 hrs.... Reached at around 1 pm, directly went for darshan and reached just in time for the prasada lunch (11 am  to 2 pm ). This annadhana done in various temples across South India is a commendable and selfless act of kindness. So many people's livelihood depends upon these kind of programs (Superlike :P).

Went to the nearest lodging facility (Pankaja Paradise) and got rooms for decent rates (400 + 2*50 for extra beds, pretty much off season). In the evening went again for darshana and having dinner in one of the numerous vegetarian hotels and we retired quite early for the day.

Day 2 (5/12/2010)
Mantralayam-Adoni-Bellary-Hampi (200 kms)

The internet was not helpful regarding this stretch of route between Mantralayam and Hampi. Had checked various blogs , but I guess people do not normally take this circuit of Hampi and Mantralyam in a single trip. So we were in complete darkness regarding which route to take. Enquired with the hotel manager and he told the best route (lesser among the evils :P) was via Adoni-Bellary-Hampi. Hence we set of early in the morning again (6.30am). As with the previous day the road till Adoni was good , had a stopper here for our breakfast. After Adoni the quality of the road goes downhill, but manageable. At various sections there will just a single lane road with huge drops on either side (nearly 1 feet), so if caught behind a bullock cart or any other slower beings you literally have to go at their pace :(.... until you come across the overtaking section, where the road briefly widens to 2 lanes but just for some 100 metres or so where you got to do all the overtakings :P.
Virupaksha Temple Complex
But this route was dotted with so many of Sunflower fields, and they looked pretty in the morning sun. Had stopovers at various points for photo sessions. As we entered Karnataka the size of the potholes seemed to double up in sizes.. No surprises here :P. Reached Bellary and took the NH-63 to Hospet. The condition of this national Highway was also below average, with many bad stretches enroute. This route is dotted by a number of  really huge industries.... Steel particularly... and due to lots of mining truck activity in this route it more or less feels like travelling in a desert.

Just about 10 kms from Hospet, there is shortcut to Hampi via Kamalapura. This route is marked by a mantapa at the entrance. In fact this village road is much-much better than NH-63 and saves nearly 20 kms of going via Hospet... Reached Kamalapura and directly went to the main centre of Hampi.  Reached around noon.. Nearly 5.5 hours to traverse through 200 kms... seems pretty odd when compared to statistics of the previous day :P.

Hampi Bazaar and Viruspaksha temple in background
 We got a Hampi guide book which is highly recommended if u planning to explore the ruins... also has a map attached and which is also dirt cheap. Went to the main temple complex, Virupaksha Temple which is pretty much well preserved .This is one of the few temples in Hampi where pooja is still performed and it being a sunday was buzzing with tourists. Both the westerners and the natives alike were mesmerized with this 6 centuries old structure. The entrance is a huge gopura and inside it there are various sections until reaching the main gudi. Another interesting fact is that the entire city which remains is made from stones, the stones which are easily available in this area... Complete utilization of one's surroundings. In the main temple temple there are various nook's and corner's to be explored. Also there is one section where the shadow of the main gopuram appears inverted based on the principles of pin hole camera... smooth... If at all these guys knew how to produce photographic plates :D.

Achutaraya Temple Complex

After this we took a stroll along the Hampi Bazaar which is pretty much commercialized to modern times. This is supposedly the place where they used to trade rubies, gems and other precious items, but now it has Dhaba kind of hotels and memorabilia shops. In fact this centre of Hampi is where majority of the  tourists are... and visit to other sites reveals very few visitors and we can explore to our hearts content.From Hampi bazaar we climbed a mountain just opposite it. There is Nandi statue. Our parents decided to rest here and me and my brother continued until we reached the Achutaraya temple complex... the first ruin we have laid our eyes upon. Very few tourists were at this place and we explored to our hearts content... one unique architecture of the temples of hampi are that there is dark passage created around the main gudi for pradakshina and illuminated badly by few holes in the wall. These passages are inhabited by bats and the fumes of their excreta is pretty much nauseating.

The Inner Gudi

Courtesans Street
In front of the temple complex is the Sule bazaar or Courtesans court...... this street is really huge both in length and breadth. Returned back to the Hampi bazaar, joined with our parents and where thinking of searching for a good hotel and lodging nearby. Just then we encountered a minor hiccup.. had our first flat since using our car for the last 9 years :P. So changed the tyre which we had in half an hour flat... it would have been quicker if not trying to loosen the screws by rotating in opposite direction :D.

Vitthala Temple
But to be frank there is no such decent restaurents or even lodges in this ruins... so we referred to the Lonely Planet and it took us to KSTDC Hotel Mayura Bhuvaneshwari, Kamlapur which is a good 3 kms from the Hampi bazaar. This Govt establishment is a bit pricey with a 3-bedroom AC room + 1 extra bed costing us nearly 2K/day. But on the other hand the entire hotel was quite spacious and we were allotted cottage type of rooms which is pretty much isolated from others. Had a buffet lunch , which was average and after some relaxation decided to go towards Vittala temple complex, home to the world famous stone chariot.

Stone Chariot

Kings Balance

There is a mud road right upto this temple complex and as we were parking our vehicle was witnessing some awesome silver lining from the sun hiding behind the clouds. We entered the complex and the first thing which captivates your eyes is the stone chariot... A masonry marvel... It had various inscriptions on it.. including Portuguese.  The sun was making its way quickly to the horizon and the mute stones simply started to glow in the evening sun. Visited the Kings Balance (where the king used to weigh gold equivalent to his weight and donate them) and further down Purandhara Dasa Mantapa on the banks of River Tungabhadra where he used to write. Was treated with a beautiful sun-set among the boulder filled mountains. By nightfall returned back to our hotel and played UNO. My parents played it for the first time and superliked it :P.

Mirror For the Sun

Day 3 (6/12/2010)
Hampi-Bellary-Chellakere-Hiriyur-Tumkur-Bangalore (360 kms)

Queens Bath

 Today we were to complete the remaining sites of interest which was left off the previous day. First we visited some unknown temple early in the morning followed by an octagonal bath. After this we returned back to our hotel and had our breakfast. Returned back and went to Queens bath.....This Royal Splurge was beyond any of our common mans imagination. A huge tank in the centre and a great structure around it. This huge tank filled and drained just for one bath by the queen. And we thought bath tubs were waste of water. One of the caretaker showed us the various plumbing features. The water inlet where water was drawn from a stream nearly 2 km away and the point where it was drained out.

Water Inlet: In Short Tap

Doors Made Of Stone

 From here we moved to Mahanavami Dibba, which were a group of monuments which was built by King Krishnadevarya in celebration of his victory in Orissa. On top of a platfrom we get a eagles eye view of the Hampi town. Nearby was the puskarani i.e. the water tank and the entire aqueduct system which has been restored. These aqueduct or in short pipes were made of solid stone and the first impression one gets after laying their eyes on them is that they are for beautification. Also there is one underground chamber nearby where the king used to hold secret meetings (Chamber of secrets :D), but alas the roof of this room has collapsed. Nevertheless the tunnel which leads to this room is in perfect condition and it was pretty exciting travelling along these pitch dark pathways.

Tunnel To The Secret Chamber


Further we moved to the Royal enclosure where the Royals actually resided. First was the Hazara Rama Temple which was one of the most preserved temples among the ruins. There was various depictions of Ramayan and Mahabharatha on the walls.Also the inner sanctum had 4 pillars made from stone unlike any temples in these regions. From here the royal enclosure is just a stones throw away. As we enter the Royal enclosure protected by nearly 20 foot walls the first thing which catches your attention is the Lotus Mahal which is the palace for the both the Queens of Krishnadevaraya. Also he had built 2 separate residential Mahals from Sandalwood which was completely burned down by the raid of the Deccan Sultanates and only the stone foundations remain. It is observed that the royal enclosure buildings have a lot of islamic architectural influences.

Lotus Mahal

Elephant Stables: Check Out The Domes

 Behind the palaces are the elephant and horse stables. The latter being completely destroyed. The elephant stables are huge structures keeping in the mind the original inhabitants of the place. Also there are 9 cubicles and each one has a dome at the top... the domes represent hinduism, Jainism and Islam respectively . Talk about  religious tolerance. There are also 2 small museums within the Royal Enclosure which pretty much shows before and after restoration images.

Watch Tower
From here moved along the road to underground shiva temple.. This was bit of a disappointment since it was not as I expected. It was just below the ground level and hence underground.. what logic :P... also the main sanctum area is filled with water due to it being built upon a water stream. Also we visited the Ugranarasimha statue and the huge Shiva Lingam adjacent to that. Continueing on the same road we reached the Krishna Temple and we were pretty much saturated with our interest for the inscriptions and other stuff. Also visited the Sasivekaalu Ganesh and decided to return back since we had covered most of the important places. In fact there are so many not so popular buildings which can be explored for even a week as done by some westerners. And the best means of transportation are bicycles if not too hot. Otherwise most of the important places are accessible by car if not much bigger vehicles.

Underground Shiva Temple

Before leaving we decided to pay a visit to the ASI Museum at Kamalapura. It had stuff like coins, weapons, pots ,photo's of excavation during the British Era,  statues and other stuff which are deemed unsafe to be kept in the ruins. Also there is a miniature replica of the entire Hampi city. The entire museum can be checked out in about one hour and is pretty decent with their collections.


Finally it was time to leave for Bangalore. It was nearly noon so we decided to have our lunch in Bellary. We took the Hampi-Bellary-Hiriyur-Tumkur-Blore route since online forums said this was way better than the much popular NH-13 which is supposed to have huge craters thanks to mining trucks. So we moved back to Bellary and after Bellary the roads were really awesome. This 2 lane road was potholeless, smooth, had very less traffic and we were averaging  100+ constantly. Reached Hiriyur and joined the Golden Quadrilateral all the way to Bangalore. Had a stopover for Dinner at Kamat Upachar just after Tumkur. Reached Bangalore and awesome Flyover started from Nelamangala. Took the Nice ring road till Mysore road and right to our home avoiding any traffic bottlenecks even on a Monday evening. Took nearly 8.5 hrs from Hampi which includes lunch and dinner.

Krishna Temple

Overall a great getaway place for a family. And if anyone is an architectural freak then you have got yourself a gold mine. Immensely popular among the westerners and now I see the reason.. It was really enchanting even spending just 2 days in the ancient city. Also it is the only ancient city of such magnitude preserved in southern india , which makes it all so special.

Snaps Link:

Trip 'O' Meter ------> 1080 kms

Route Map

December 3, 2010

Lakshadweep : A Paradise On Earth

Sun kissed beaches lined up with white sand, turquoise shaded transparent sea water, minimal human interference and activity.... if this doesnt qualify for my version of a paradise then I dont know what does. The only thing missing are the female species for us to admire at and that is one point where Goa scores over Lakshadweep, but other than that these group of islands are far ahead from any competition. (Havnt been to Andaman yet :) ).

Lakshadweep islands are a group of 36 coral islands. These islands have recently been opened for travel and also requires permission if travelling on our own. We had gone through "Coral Reef Package" offered by SPORTS ( which is a 5 day cruise package including 3 days on 3 different islands. There were totally 7 guys for this trip (Shashi, Vineeth, Harish M , Jenny, Shantu, PPR and myself)

Day 1 (25/11/2010)
Departure From Home Port

We landed in Ernakulam junction at around 5 am after taking the overnight Kochuveli Express. With nearly 3.5 hrs more to kill and slight drizzle outside we decided to spend some time in the station some catching up with sleep, some with current affairs and some catching up with nothing :). This light drizzle was a grim reminder of the weather prediction giving an "occassional thunderstorm"  filled rains in Lakshadweep for all the 5 days :(. After having our breakfast we decided to move towards Lakshadweep office in Willingdon Island, which is just 30 minutes drive away from the station. After bargaining with a lot of autos one autowaala agreed to take 7 of us in one single auto + luggage :P.... packed to the brim :D. As we entered this port island it was more or less desolate with strict security and CISF personnel guarding all the entrances. Landed in front of Lakshadweep office at around 7.30 am with no one in sight. Finally one person came and told us to wait till 9 am when the officials will arrive.

A Warehouse At the harbour

So in order to kill time we decided to roam around. And roam around we did ,  to such an extent that we even got confused with the route back to the office. At 8.45,  we again tried our luck and officials had already arrived. These officials were very courteous and friendly unlike one would expect of a Govt babu. Were provided with our tickets and complementary "Lakshadweep" t-shirts and caps. Were led into another location where our bags were x-rayed for anything illegal (drinking in strictly prohibited in the islands).

Our Ride

Vineeth chatted with Tom a Lithuvanian who was travelling alone across India. For the next 2 days he was more or less a part of our group until he reached his destination of 6 days at Kadamath.These westerners don't have a policy of saving for the future. In his own words "I travel as soon as I have enough money and make it poof " :P... cool :).

Chinese Fishing Nets

After this were taken to the docks in a bus, dont know why they take people to 3 different places. Its like in airport where ticket counters, security check and boarding are 1km apart. As soon as we entered the docks we could see the gleaming white beauty "M.V Lakshadweep Sea", a brand new(25 days old)  medium sized cruise ship and our home for the next 5 days. We were led into the ship and to our bunkers. The bunkers  The interiors were clean and the facilities were awesome. Dont know whether the same applies for much older ships or not. The total number of tourists in our ship came around to 30 with the majority of  them mumbaikar's working for Voltas.

Double Exhausts

Even though many of us boarded the ship at around 10.30 am , the ship only started the journey at around 4 pm. This left as nearly 5 hrs to roam the ship entering into crew only zone , getting scolded by the captain (only shashi got in this case :P). We explored every nook and corner of the ship we could find and not that we did that intentionally. The passageways were so confusing that within no time we would be lost and roaming aimlessly here and there :P. A perfect maze in the middle of the sea :P.

Sunset In the Open Sea
Were served lunch at around 1 pm. As a matter of fact the same ship is used by both the tourists and the localites and they even share the same bunk spaces and canteen. The only difference is that the canteens have different timings for both the tourists and the passengers. Finally at around 4 pm the ship started. We had a lot of dolphin sightings at the mouth of the port and unfortunately couldn't capture any(was able to capture while returning :) ). Spent time either by watching the endless seas from our hangout spot (a spot below the control room) or by playing games such as dumb-charades, UNO etc. Matter of fact is there is no other entertainment provided on board. Everyone is left to fend for their own.

Night On the Deck

Day 2 (26/11/2010)
Port Of Call : Kadamat

First Rays Of The Sun

Got up very early nearly at 5.45 am to catch the sunset. The same process is repeated in the quest of a perfect sunrise and sunset in the middle of the ocean and we were disappointed with this regard for the entire duration of the cruise.  When we came to deck it was total darkness .. but in that darkness we could see the lighthouse of Kadamat giving a friendly invitation that our first stopover was just few moments away

After having our breakfast and other stuff (morning ablutions in a rocking ship :P ) we were ready for the island. The ship had stopped at a very far distance from the shore and we had to rely on smaller fishing boats to transport us to the islands.The reason for this is the islands are surrounded by very shallow lagoons. But sadly it had started to rain :(. So we were made to wait for the an hour or so. After some time the rain subsidized becoz it knew that rain or no rain we were going to enjoy in the islands , but the only hindrance was boats which didnt operate in bad weather.

Soon all of us boarded a fishing boat and off we moved towards Kadamat island. As we moved closer towards the island the shade of the water slowly started to change to emerald green and became more and more transparent.Transparency to such an extent that we could see the ocean floor. Sea water of this shade and that too almost transparent is a phenomenon most of us had never witnessed before. So naturally we were excited.

Reached the island and we were welcomed by coconut water. It was still drizzling a bit , but not paying much heed we hit the beach. The beach was totally desolate and pristine. White colored pure sand, untouched. Was simply beautiful.... 2 eyes were not enough to grasp the beauty of this place place. Also since the lagoons were isolated from the main ocean the water was calm and waveless and was teaming with aquatic live forms.
The Docking Point
Colourful Inhabitant
Initially we were given life jackets and spent time playing water volleyball and some illegal games like chasing each other in water and hitting with the same ball :P.... After this the instructors came and took us to snorkeling sessions. By this time the sun was out and shinning with full glory, After giving the initial introduction the instructor led guys handheld one by one into the waters. When my turn came donned the glasses and the breathing apparatus. Even though i know swimming to some extent , snorkelling in these clear water is an awesome experience. Visibility is never an issue. Got to see various number of fishes and one very colourful fish (having some 15 different shades :) ). But this session lasted only for about 15 mins and we were not satisfied with it.

Once snorkelling was done there was an urge in me to do my favourite pastime in beaches......i.e. running along the beaches.... and how could I miss the oppurtunity in such beautiful settings and also convinced others to do the same so as to not to look like a sole lunatic :P.

After this we went for kayaking. This was very relaxing and fun at the same time. Kayaked to our hearts content and returned back. At this time some people were readying themselves for a scuba dive. So we too had an urge to do it. So we went to the "Laccadive Dive Centre". Were greated by 2 good looking women. They informed that for beginners there was only a lagoon dive for depth upto 2 m , lasts for 20 mins and costing 2.5 k and we would be handheld by dive experts. Somehow we didnt feel this was worth it... 2 m depth is not scuba diving in our dictionary :P. (Best option would be to do a 4 day open water scuba diving course and be certified)

North Point
Returned back , had lunch followed by a game of volleyball. This was one game in which I didnt have much exposure so initially the ball moved in random directions which no one could predict :P. After this we were taken to sight seeing. This sight seeing to various factories in the island was something very boring and least looked forward during the next 3 days. We were taken to a coir factory, coconut packaging factory and finally to the north tip of the island, which offered good views. After spending some time we returned back to the resort to have our evening tea and return back to the ship.

While deboarding the ship in the morning we were told to leave all our luggage in the bunkers which didnt have any sort of locks. So when we returned back noticed that my brand new sandals was missing :(. Not just me others baggage too seemed to have roughened up and we had missing things like chargers, deodarants and even some laddoos :P. When we complained to the ship crew they were clueless and they told us to keep our luggage in their compartments from the next day. If at all there has to be a low point in this trip this does qualify.  After this freshened up and went to our favourite hangout spot and started singing like drunk maniacs. Also learned a new game "Poker", which we played using cards as fake currency. Even then had so much fun. Gambling is surely addicting :P.


Day 3 (27/11/2010)
Port Of Call : Kalpeni 

As with the previous day,  today too we were greated with rains in the morning. But today we were quite optimistic since the previous day the clouds had clreared up as soon as we landed in the islands. As we landed on hard ground we were taken in pickup trucks to the SPORTS resort. As promised the views in Kalpeni is quite different from those in Kadamat. So many small islands filled with coconut trees dotting our line of sight. This greatly reminds me of the famous default wallpaper provided in windows xp :P.

Gurgleeeeeeeeeeee !!!!!!!!!!!

After having the compulsary welcome drink we were taken to one such desolate island. Here the activities offered were snorkeling and kayaking. Since we were  itching for more snorkeling action, within no time we doned the snorkelling gear and were into water. This time we were left unassisted and we could explore on our own and in any direction we wanted in this shallow lagoon. There were so many lively fishes in these waters.. blue , green, black, yellow, grey, zebra strips, etc etc and swimming along with these fishes was an awesome experience. The corals were not that colorful as I had expected, but they were compensated by the fishes residing within them.

As we approached near the fishes they would run helter-skelter to find the nearest shelter and if we swam over these corals we could see nearly 10-15 fishes poking their head to check whether the coast is clear.... this scene was simply memorable. Other than fishes I came across eels, water snakes (dint linger around them much) and finally a clam locally known as Kaaka. It had dark and light blue stripes on it and it was around 15 cm radius. Initially didnt know what it was and only one localite was near to me. So asked him what it was , he just told that it was known as Kaaka locally and took one small stone and kept on the clam ...... and to my shock and surprise the clam closed its mouth... simply felt whoahhhhh..... the high point of the Lakshadweep trip :P. But later when we searched for it couldnt locate it much to others disappointment. Looked like these images.... clam1image and clam2image. After snorkeling to our hearts content we were called back to the coast and taken to the resort in the main island.

Folk Dance

Kalpeni Lighthouse

Had another session of  beach volleyball. Lunch was followed by a folk dance by locals. These group of locals comprised of men right from teens to late 70's ..... 3 generations of localites :). The folk dance was quite interesting , even though it had its highs and lows and some other unnamed people where having their afternoon snoozes :P.

View From The Top

Spiral Staircase

Folk dance was followed by local sight seeing ...yawn... some more factories... this time khadi and baniyan factory...but after that we were taken to the Kalpeni light house... which offers some breathtaking views of the islands from the top. Every inch of the island is covered by coconut grooves..... From this lighthouse were taken to the northmost point. The shores here is dotted with dead corals for a long long distance. A different view altogether.

Again returned back to the resort and took a boat back to the our waiting mother ship. Overall we enjoyed this island the most. Strikes a balance between views and activities available to tourists. Again night was spent playing cards. Since day 1 we had started using a place near a stair case for our playing purpose. After seeing us use this place there was huge demand to use it and constant competition between us and the voltas guys to reserve this place :P.

Northern Point

Day 4 (28/11/2010)
Port Of Call : Kavaratti 

Today we had a stopover at Kavaratti, the capital of Lakshadweep. As expected this island was much bigger in dimension and the population density to match it. Not as desolate as the previous 2 islands. As usual were greeted by morning rains. Landed in the capital island. Were joined by some 10 tourists of  M V Arabian Sea which was also anchored in this island. Some good looking girls were also present among them. So we were positioning ourserlves to get good views.... a group of despo guys :P.

The Flying Ganiga
The initial part of the day everyone was just relaxing we decided to do some stunts and entertain the others :D. Everyone did their best to look awesome in a capture... but the major accolades was garnered by shashi.. the "flying ganiga" doing a somersault . After this we played some football until our feet were paining and some other games. By this time the organizers had started to take people for glass bottom boat rides in batches which lasted for nearly an hour or so for each batch. 


Also we went inquiring about scuba diving , but the Dolphin Dive Centre guys told that the compressor was not working.... which was the final nail in the scuba diving chapter. And were also informed that there was some malfunction in the glass bottom boat which had gone out and that it would take some time for our turn... so we decided to do some mind calming kayaking in the open sea. This time I got a solo kayak unlike the previous time and this was way too unstable..... one small wave and it almost tips to one side :P....We rowed and rowed towards the deep sea and occasionally stopping to enjoy the calmness

Found Nemo: Clown Fish.. Sadly they didn tell us a joke :D
By this time the glass bottom boat returned and it was our turn in it... all of us got into it..... slowly the marine life became alive from this boat... so many colorful fishes.... the advantage of this ride over snorkeling is that u can actually take pictures from a normal camera. (had searched like hell for single use underwater camera in Bangalore and had even called Kodak head-office :P ). Also finally got my wish of seeing orange colored clown fishes... ala Nemo :P.... Also the boat took us to the boundary where the shallow lagoon ended and the deep sea started..... at this point there was blue everywhere... and so many schools of fishes had made their home right here. Another highlight of this boat ride are turtles... i could manage to see only one while others managed to see as many as 3.

Lunch followed this and after this relaxed an hour or so in the beaches. Where again taken to island sight seeing... this time it was desalination plant, an aquarium and a ride through the island. The fossil section of the aquarium was quite interesting..... it was here I came to know the clam was called as clam :P. Were taken to a part of the island where a huge cargo ship had drifted too near to the island and had got stuck in the corals beds. After this we returned back to our resort and there was another folk dance presentation by local kids.

A dotting mother checking out her daughters performance
After the folk dance we were told to return back we decided to get Shantu all wet... but in the process we too decided to have one last adios dip in the Lakshadweep sea. Dripping water we returned back to ship with many people staring at us for the entire length :P. Thus we were leaving these beautiful islands far behind. The only thing remaining for this trip was the return journey back home.

Day 5 (29/11/2010)
Back To Base 

Were woken up in the morning for a spectacular sunrise... but sadly missed the perfect thing by a few seconds. Nevertheless the sunrise was pretty spectacular. Today was the last day of the trip... so everyone was feeling a bit down. The ship finally reached the Kochi port at around 10 am and this time was able to capture some dolphins in action.


We were earlier informed that after docking it takes nearly an hour or so to exit the ship... hence we started playing card in our bunks.... but after some time it occurred to us that the entire ship was deserted... :P.... so quickly we came out and saw that everyone had already left we were the last people leaving the ship... thank god they didnt lock up the ship :D.

As I landed on the ground started to get wobbly feeling. This phenomenon I had never heard of... Heard about sea sickness but never land sickness....but this does occur usually in first time cruise passengers and I was the only one affected in our group. This sickness lasted for some 3 days with the first 2 days being the worst. The reason for this was the inner ear was accustomed to the rocking of the ship... but after landing on firm ground it has a hard time reverting back to older setting.

St Francis Church

Vasca Da Gama's Temporary Resting Place
In Kochi we still had some 6 hrs to kill so we decided to do some sight seeing. We directly went to Fort Kochi from the Willingdon island and our first stop was the St. Francis Church built in the 16 th century. Also Vasco Da Gama's body was kept in this church before being moved to Portugal. Some 300 m away is the Santa Cruz Basilica, which is a lot more colorful in the interiors. Had our lunch in an nearby restaurant which lasted for a good 2 hrs. With some more time we decided to visit the Jewish Synagogue which is some 4 kms from this place. Finally it was time to take the bus back to Bangalore. Went to the KSRTC bus stand and took the 5.45 pm bus. But to our bad luck it had a puncture even before leaving the stand and hence the departure was delayed to 6.30 pm resulting in half day leave in office the next day :(.

Santa Cruz Basilica
This cruise was in short a totally different experience. Surrounded by seas in all the directions, our bunkers, the islands it was a good relaxing trip. But one thing dawned on me... India is so big and so diverse it surely requires a lifetime to be able to say that one has really visited the entire country. Got to explore our country more before I start thinking anything out of it :P.

Total Cost (Per Head including cruise, food, activities, transport etc) ------ > 14K (13K for the cruise including the tax and the agent commission)

Cruise Package Details ----->
Agent List --->

Snaps ->

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