Showing posts from 2012

Virupapur Gaddi - The Beach of Hampi (minus the sea)

Experience has taught me that early mornings are the best time to arrive into a new place. It was nice to witness the bustle at dawn near Virupaksha temple, which has been standing somberly near Hampi Bazaar since the 15th century. Devotees took a bath by the river before entering the temple for Darshan, but what was I doing by the river side early morning? Well, I was waiting for the boat. For, I had decided to stay on ‘the other side’ - Virupapur Gaddi(VG) popularly known as Hampi Island. Separated from Hampi Bazaar and the main temple complexes only by the Tungabhadra, it is one of the best places to base yourself during your stay here. Connected to the Bazaar only by a boat service(20 with luggage, 15 otherwise), there are several reasons why VG scores over pretty much everything else around but I chose it primarily for a distinct traveller vibe that is felt quite prominently on this side. Life here seems laidback and chilled out. It is just like being on a beach, except that the …

Kishkindha - Vijayanagara - Hampi

The mention of Hampi is enough to evoke many images at once. Students of history would recall the great Vijayanagara empire, the illustrious King Krishnadevraya and South India’s answer to Birbal - the wise Tenali Rama. Fans and believers of the great Indian epic Ramayana will recount the Vanara Kingdom of Kishkindha where, Hanuman met Lord Rama and Lakshmana for the first time, where the great battle between the two Vanara kings Sugreeva and Bali was fought and several such stories that abound in this region. Hampi for me was a combination of the two versions. Having grown up on a healthy dose of Amar Chitra Katha, stories from the Ramayana continue to fascinate me even though I might not be a staunch believer. The medieval period in the history of India holds mixed emotions for me. The continuous invasions, the Hindu-Muslim rivalry and the bloody wars fought between several local and foreign rulers and the eventual end of this period with the discovery of the new trade route between…

Kudle-Om-HalfMoon-Paradise - The Great Beach Trek

It was a windy morning and the sun light felt good after a cool night. After polishing off a heavy and a rather European breakfast of muesli with fruits, curd and honey I was ready to trek to the other three beaches with a friend. A water bottle, a cap and a small backpack was all I had with me. The route to Om Beach is straight forward from Kudle. You climb up the southern incline and arrive at a plateau which stretches out for about a kilometer or so. It leads to a concrete road, from here the sea is visible. Just walk down the slope, past the toll booth and take the first left that leads to the steps of Om Beach. The steps make it easier to visit this beach and hence a lot many tourists visit. However, a decent number of cafes and guesthouses make it possible to stay on the beach too. The sun was beating down now so we decided to continue our trail. A small sign leads you onto the trail to Half Moon beach. 

There are many trails that seem like the route but what we stuck to the one …

The ear of the cow - Gokarna Town

To get to Gokarna, one has to reach Ankola where local buses run every half an hour to Gokarna bus stand. The first bus from Karwar to Ankola leaves at around 530 and almost all buses towards the south pass through Ankola. I boarded the first bus and reached Ankola within forty five minutes. The first bus to Gokarna leaves at 7am. I waited patiently and soon enough a rickety bus arrived. The ride to Gokarna is quite pleasant. Passing through the countryside, the quaint NH17 is always full of sights and surprises.

I saw Drongos flitting past, there were numerous Kingfishers and Bulbuls sang as we passed a mighty river. We then turned right, off the highway and the final stretch to the holy town of Gokarna had begun. The many faces of Gokarna is what makes this quite coastal town so interesting. It is home to Sanskrit schools and to beach shacks, it is where lies the Atma Lingam - Shiva's most potent weapon and a beach shaped like Om. On one side you have saffron clad priests walkin…

Gurudev's Beach

There is always a persistent temptation to run away from this city. To settle down in a much slower, quieter part of the country. However, that involves a lot of logistical issues and emotions. But travel is the perfect temporary solution. So on an early morning of November when everyone was waking up to begin celebrating Diwali, I was escaping the madness on a suburban train headed to Dadar to board a blue(long distance) train headed to Goa. Janshatabdi Express is a wonderfully swift train within 8 hours, we were in Goa. At Madgaon, I walked to the bus stop where a crowded mini bus waited for me to take me to the bus stand. My destination for the day was Karwar. A small coastal town lying between the Western Ghats and the Arabian Sea. It is also famous for its sea food delicacies which I was really looking forward to. So I decided to skip lunch in Goa and boarded a Kadamba bus headed to Karwar.
The bus rolled down on NH17 passing through quaint villages and brightly coloured bungalow…

Dogs of Schoen House - Wodehouse Road

Wodehouse Road is a holy road. It houses the Cathedral of Holy Name(famous for it's stained glass paintings) along with the residence of the Archbishop of Bombay and also the CBI headquarters of the Mumbai region. Apart from it few colonial structures such as Clark House, Janjira Chambers residences of railway and defence personnel (with armed security guards vigilantly manning the gates) However, walk a little ahead and you will come across an old bunglow with a German name - Schoen House.

An unverified blogpost states that it was built by a Parsi man and used to house a German Jew who was a dentist and later interned by the British, thereafter no one is aware of his whereabouts. A few newspaper reports also report of a school being run within the bunglow inspite of it's dilapidated state. It looked vacant when I visited. I was keen on locating a few animal carvings on the pillars and I was lucky to find Dogs etched on the four corners of all four pillars holding the balcony…