A Shoppers Guide to Singapore!

Find out all about shopping in Singapore right here !!!

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Bugis  Street & Bugis Junction Mall

Bugis Street is a cobblestoned, relatively wide avenue sandwiched between the buildings of the Bugis Junction shopping complex.The new ‘Bugis Street’ is a maze of lanes lined with stalls selling goods from souvenirs to boutiques selling local designer creations. 

We’d initially planned to spend only half a day at Bugis Street but that was before we realized this place is a multi-storey  shopping center filled with hundreds of outlets! A shopping paradise !

Bugis Street has a very interesting history. Decades ago it used to be something of a red light district where night markets took place. In 1980’s it was converted into a retail complex of mall, restaurants & night spots mixed with roadside vendors.

Although Bugis Street was located at a walking distance from our hotel , we decided to take the MRT to Bugis Station so as to save our energy for the sole purpose of our day . . . Shopping !!!

Soon we reached the world famous Bugis Street , Singapore’s largest shopping district! The ground floor is mostly for souvenir shopping,the upper floors are meant for everything from clothes & accessories to tattoo & foot spas. This street has a huge number of local designer boutiques providing products at competitive prices.

Much to our delight , at the entrance itself we could see rows of souvenir shops intervalled by juice & savory stalls. Juice stalls selling exotic fresh fruit juices for as less as 1 S$ ! Sipping on some of these chilled fruit juices to provide respite from the hot weather we started shopping.What an amazing collection of souvenirs each shop had !

Trying some of the Singaporean sweet dishes at the food stalls we continued shopping.By the time we completed browsing through the shops on the ground floor it was lunch time so we headed to the Bras Basah Food Complex located opposite Bugis Street.   

TIP – Try out the food complexes located in each locality to taste authentic local cuisine available at reasonable prices. Each food complex is filled with almost hundred food stalls giving tourists a lot of options to explore the food scene in Singapore.

Feeling adventurous we tried the Singaporeans Spicy Laksa which turned out to be an acquired taste. We then headed to the upper floors of Bugis Street.There was an amazing variety of designer clothes in each outlet, at very reasonable prices as well.

Tip : Must check out the Bugis Junction Mall and the Night Market taking place on Bugis Street.

Arab Street

Arab Street is the name of a road and neighbourhood in SG. Spices, textiles, basketry items and songkoks are sold along this row of shophouses with five-foot way at Arab Street.

Shopaholics, head to colourful Haji Lane – a row of multi-label stores, quirky boutiques as well as hip bars and cafes. Or pick up traditional wares such as Persian carpets, kebaya dresses and handmade perfumes from Arab Street and Bussorah Street.

Arab Street is known for its trendy boutiques. Here one can shop for Clothing’s, accessories & home decor items. The narrow lane is filled with colorful boutiques on both sides. Shops after shops we browsed, there were few jewelry shops selling gorgeous silver jewelry.

The home decor shops were filled with such awesome trendy and innovative stuffs that I wished I could take them all back! From what I observed though 60% of the shops were selling the same products, which was surprising as I had seen more variety on Bugis Street and was expecting the same here.

TIP – Shops open up only by afternoon in Arab Street. At the end of the lane we came across cafes and pubs where people were taking respite from the sunny weather.

A large building was covered from top to bottom with colourful wall art , which was a treat for  the eyes!

A cafe called ‘Wonderland’ situated near the graffiti work is quite well know & we decided to check it out ( Super hungry that we were J ). After trying exotic rich pastries like lavender cake & honey crumble, feeling on Cloud 9 we left for our hotel.

TIP – Must try pastries at Wonderland Cafe . . Droolworthy !

Orchard Road

Orchard Road, a 2.2 kilometre-long boulevard, is the retail and entertainment hub of SG. Often known colloquially as Orchard, the area is a major tourist attraction. This road got its name from the various orchards and plantations that existed in the area in the early 20th century.

Orchard Road is flanked by pedestrian shopping centres. Orchard Road contains numerous upmarket restaurants, coffee chains, cafés, nightclubs and hotels. 

Chinatown

Chinatown was lit up with colorful lanterns and inflated monkeys to mark the Year of the Monkey.

Chinatown is where Hindu temples and mosques sit right next to Chinese temple, Sri Mariamman Temple and Jamae Mosque are on South Bridge Road, as is theBuddha Tooth Relic Temple. 

TIP – Chinatown is a great place for souvenir shopping. Buy souvenirs in Pagoda Street, ‘bak kwa’ (barbecued meat) in New Bridge Road or traditional Chinese medicine in South Bridge Road.

There’s free Wi-Fi throughout the Chinatown area so you can continue to be plugged in while you sightseeing, shop and eat.

After shopping for a while we came across the Chinatown Food Street, an upgraded version of the food complex.  After trying some SG style dessert we moved on looking for the Chinatown food complex.

>>>Read About Chinatown Food Complex Here !<<<

Little India


Little India today is one of Singapore’s most vibrant districts. As you walk down Serangoon Road and neighbouring streets, explore their mix of Hindu and Chinese temples, mosques and churches.

The 24-hour shopping mall Mustafa Centre offers everything from electronics to groceries, or takes your pick from open-air Tekka Centre, goldsmith shops and sari stores. Great place in Singapore to try Indian food.

Joo Chiat/Katong

As one of the country’s best foodie destinations, Joo Chiat/Katong is also well-loved by many Singaporeans. Your culinary choices are endless: explore cool cafes that sit next to old-world coffeeshops selling the famous Katong ‘laksa’, ‘kueh chang’ (dumplings) and other Nonya delicacies.

Keen on shopping? Snap up a traditional Nonya outfit – ‘kebaya’ and ‘sarong’, beaded slippers and accessories, or poke about in the little shops offering Peranakan wares and handicraft.

Tiong Bahru


Mention Tiong Bahru, and locals will tell you it’s one of the most happening hoods in town.

Lined with row after row of quaint art-deco shophouses, the residential estate is jam-packed with some of the city’s hottest food and lifestyle establishments, not forgetting the heritage-rich places that offer a slice of traditional Singapore.

Carve out a day here in your itinerary, and be richly rewarded with wonderful eats, offbeat shopping, and a spot of culture.

& last but not the least . . .

Changi Airport

The Koi Pond


It is one of the largest transportation hubs in Southeast Asia. It is currently the World’s Best Airport . There are a mind-blowing variety of things to do here.

From Orchid Gardens, Butterfly Park, free foot massage machines, kinetic rain, duty free shops, spa & transit hotels with swimming pools.

One can spend a whole day here enjoying these services as there is an option of checking in 24 hours before your flight departure !

We decided to check in 4 hours prior. Enjoying the free foot massage machines at the airport, tasting new dishes at the numerous food stalls, shopping for cosmetics and perfumes we spent our remaining time at Singapore ! 🙂

Recently added extension to the airport is the ‘Jewel’ which one must visit to experience why Singapore is called the Garden City of the World !

[Info Credit: Wikipedia & Yoursingapore.com]

Singapore : 9 Reasons Why Kids Love It !!

If you have kids and are wondering where to travel to next take a look at this. Singapore is one of the most kids friendly places you can think of !

Read more articles on Singapore

Read more articles about travelling with kids

Sentosa Island

One of the most famous attractions of Singapore where you can spend a whole day. The name Sentosa is derived from the Sanskrit word Santosha which means peace, joy & contentment. 

Sentosa offers a variety of attractions, museums and other facilities to provide a variety of experiences, recreation and entertainment to visitors, children & adults alike.

Some of the attractions are Underwater Aquarium, Tussaud’s Wax Museum, Tiger Sky Tower, Merlion Plaza, Light & Sound Show at night, Cable Car ride, Wings of Time Show, 4D Adventure Land, etc.

Sentosa has a stretch of sheltered beach of more than 2 km (1.2 mi) on its southern coast, divided into three portions: Palawan Beach, Siloso Beach and Tanjong Beach. These beaches are artificial, reclaimed using sand bought from Indonesia and Malaysia.

Universal Studio

Universal Parks & Resorts markets the park as a “one-of-its-kind theme park in Asia” and promises that the park will be the only one of its kind in Southeast Asia for the next 30 years.

Universal Studios is a theme park located within Resorts World Sentosa on Sentosa Island, Singapore. Universal Studios Singapore is 20 hectares (49 acres) in size, occupying the easternmost part of the 49-hectare (120-acre) Resorts World Sentosa.

There are a total of 24 attractions, of which 18 are original or specially adapted for the park. The park consists of seven themed zones which surround a lagoon. Each zone is based on a blockbuster movie or a television show, featuring their own unique attractions, character appearances, dining and shopping areas.

Gardens by the Bay

It  is a nature park spanning 101 hectares (250 acres) of reclaimed land in central Singapore, adjacent to the Marina Reservoir. The park consists of three waterfront gardens: Bay South Garden, Bay East Garden and Bay Central Garden.

The “Cloud mountain” itself is an intricate structure, consists of a number of levels, each with a different theme. . It features a 42-metre (138 ft) “Cloud Mountain”, accessible by an elevator, and visitors will be able to descend the mountain via a circular path where a 35-metre (115 ft) waterfall provides visitors with refreshing cool air.

The Flower Dome

The Flower Dome features seven different “gardens” as well as an olive grove with a bistro and a central changing display field has also been incorporated to enable flower shows and displays to be held within the conservatory.

Supertrees are tree-like structures that dominate the Gardens’ landscape with heights that range between 25 metres (82 ft) and 50 metres (160 ft). The Supertrees are home to enclaves of unique and exotic ferns, vines, orchids and also a vast collection of bromeliads such as Tillandsia, amongst other plants. There is an elevated walkway, the OCBC Skyway, between two of the larger Supertrees for visitors to enjoy a panoramic aerial view of the Gardens.

Garden Rhapsody

At night, the Supertrees come alive with a light and music show called the OCBC Garden Rhapsody. It is unlike anything i have seen before! A must watch when you visit the Gardens ! 🙂

Merlion Park

Exit the Raffles Palace MRT and head towards the Esplanade for this.  Merlion Park, a landmark of Singapore, is a major tourist attraction at One Fullerton, Singapore, near the Central Business District (CBD). Half-fish and half-lion, the iconic Merlion resides at the waterfront Merlion Park.

It is not as much a park as it is a standing symbol for all of Singapore. Spread out over 2,500 square meters, or about 27,000 square feet. Two structures of the Merlion are located at the park. The original merlion structure measures 8.6 meters tall, whilst a Merlion cub located near the original statue measures 2 metres tall.

Singapore Zoo

Singapore Zoo occupies 28 hectares (69 acres) on the margins within Singapore’s heavily forested central catchment area. The zoo was built at a cost of S$9 million and opened on 27 June 1973.

It is operated by Wildlife Reserves Singapore, who also manage the neighbouring Night Safari, River Safari and the Jurong Bird Park.

There are about 315 species of animal in the zoo, of which some 16 percent are considered to be threatened species. 40 hectares of secondary forest were later developed into the Night Safari.

Shows are conducted at the zoo where visitors get to interact with the animals. Their latest attraction is the River Safari.

Night Safari is a one of a kind experience that I would recommend to all! You get to travel past the open enclosures in a tram. The children & adults enjoy it equally !

Be sure to check out the show timings before you plan your visit to the zoo.

Tram Ride [pc-wrs.com.sg]

Jurong Bird Park

Jurong Bird Park is a tourist attraction in Boon Lay, Singapore. The bird park, managed by Wildlife Reserves Singapore, covers an area of 0.2 square kilometres (49 acres) at the western foot of Jurong Hill, the highest point in the Jurong region.

Jurong Bird Park is now a world-famous bird zoo where there are specimens of magnificent bird life from around the world, including a large flock of flamingos. It is currently the world’s largest bird park in terms of the number of birds and second largest both in the number of bird species and land area . There are 5,000 birds of 400 species in Jurong Bird Park, of which 29 are of threatened species. There Bird Shows conducted as well.

Botanical Gardens & Orchid Gardens


SBG is a lovely old garden created almost 200 years ago. It still retains its original primary rainforest patch. Although now totally surrounded by housing, busy roads and more development, this lush garden is still home to some adaptable species of wildlife.

It is one of three gardens, and the only tropical garden, to be honored as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

The Botanic Gardens has been ranked Asia’s top park attraction since 2013

The National Orchid Garden, within the main gardens, is at the forefront of orchid studies and a pioneer in the cultivation of hybrids, complementing the nation’s status as a major exporter of cut orchids.

Aided by the equatorial climate, it houses the largest orchid collection of 1,200 species and 2,000 hybrids.

More than 10,000 species of flora is spread over its 82-hectares area, which is stretched vertically; the longest distance between the northern and southern ends is 2.5 km (1.6 mi).

The Botanic Gardens receives about 4.5 million visitors annually!

Chinese Garden

Chinese Garden also commonly known as Jurong Gardens is a park in Jurong East, Singapore. Built in 1975 and designed by Prof. Yuen-chen Yu, an architect from Taiwan, the Chinese Garden’s concept is based on Chinese gardening art.

ThThe Chinese Garden is modelled along the northern Chinese imperial style of architecture and landscaping.

[pc – indianruminations.com]

It is located next to Chinese Garden MRT Station and connected to the adjacent Japanese Garden by a bridge.

You will see the twin pagodas, lake, bonsai garden, tea house and other such features.

MINT Museum of Toys

It is a museum showing a private collection of vintage toys. MINT [“Moment of Imagination and Nostalgia with Toys”]. The museum collection includes more than 50,000 unique vintage toys and childhood memorabilia from the mid-19th century to mid-20th Century!

All the toys displayed in the museum are the lifetime collection of Singaporean, Chang Yang Fa. Exhibits on display include Disney toys, Astro Boy, Batman, Popeye the sailor, Pre-war Japanese toys, including a ‘Door of Hope’ Chinese doll collection dating from the turn of the 20th Century,Teddy Bear collection as well as Chinese comics and comic covers dating from 1920s, and the Adventures of TinTin collectables.

The memorabilias are from more than 40 countries. Largest collection in South-East Asia. It is suitable for all ages.

Also it is one of the safest places to travel to and the great transport network makes travelling a breeze ! So next time you wanna plan a Vacation with Kids, you know where to go ! 😉

Read more about Singapore here : https://flymetothemoontravelblog.wordpress.com/exploring-asia/

Read more articles on Travel With Kids here:
https://flymetothemoontravelblog.wordpress.com/travel-with-kids/

Why you must visit Pyramid Valley International, Bengaluru at least once. . . . 

Are you looking to achieve peace, explore spirituality, heal your body without medicines and much more ; then Pyramid Valley International in Bengaluru is a must visit place for you !

Disclaimer : This is not a sponsored post. I just want to help make people aware of the possibilities of meditation. 🙂

I usually like to get out of the city, go on a mini trip OR go on a shopping spree on my birthday. This year I craved to do something different, bring in my new year on a different note. And since we had to travel with a toddler, we had to think to of a kid friendly place.

Recently I have started to explore my spiritual side. So i thought- ‘what better way to start the year than by attaining some enlightenment ! 🙂 ’

We left home around 12:30 pm, a little later than we planned to.  .  Would advice you’ll to leave as early as possible if you wish to explore the place at a more relaxed pace.

It was a gorgeous sunny day and the sky looked lovely! There is just something about the Bengaluru skies, you can’t help but stop and admire it. Soon we were on the NICE Road heading towards Harohalli where the centre is located. The NICE road wasn’t as smooth as we remembered it, but it definitely beats getting stuck in traffic. Thanks to the warm climate Aadya soon dozed off and I could relax a bit.

We reached Kanakpura Taluka around 2pm , passing by the Art of Living entrance we carried on. Around 1km ahead we came across the MTR board on the right, taking the deviation we soon entered the restaurant. We were clueless as to where we would have our meal, but coming across MTR took care of this problem.

MTR is one of Bengaluru’s oldest and well known restaurants that serve authentic South Indian cuisine. The food here is rich in ghee and made using only high quality ingredients which melts in your mouth! You can rest assured that your children will love it too ! Feeling recharged we drove on.

Pyramid Valley International Centre

Getting off the highway, we entered the village area leading to Pyramid Valley. Driving on the narrow but concrete lanes we soon reached the place without any difficulties.

Founder Brahmarshi Patriji’s vision for the place was to create a common platform where masters of the world could unite.

This place is the nucleus of the activities of  The Pyramid Valley Spiritual Society[PVSS].This society has set up meditation centres all across India where one can go to learn and practice meditation.

Their objectives are to spread awareness about the power of meditation & vegetarianism.

[Pyramid Valley is spread over 28 acre campus with various facilities including conference halls, library, meditational pyramids, dining hall and cafeteria, residential cottages, rooms, and dormitories.

Meditation is taught free of cost to all visitors. Multi-day residential workshops on meditation and spiritual science are regularly conducted in this campus.  Hundreds of thousands of visitors benefit from this magnificent international center every year.

Since its inception in the Year 2003, over four million people have learnt meditation. Over 1,500 programs and workshops were conducted with participation of at least 100,000 spiritual seekers. As part of its “ Daily Annadana ” free meals programme, over two million free meals were served to-date. Source – pyramidvalley.org]

Entry to the centre is completely free. Parking is available in the facility itself. Picking up our free coupons from the reception we entered the centre.

The centre is beautifully designed, a visual delight ! Walking on the path covered with trees on both sides, we spotted the amphitheater & the Mahatma Gandhi statue to the left. There are clean restrooms located at numerous spots within the vicinity.

We then proceeded towards the ‘Maitreya Buddha’ – the first mega pyramid in the world built solely for the purpose of meditation. I had seen pictures of the pyramid online, but it looks grander in reality! It is a 160ft*160ft piece of architecture.

Did you know ? A Pyramid is built at an angle of 52 degrees, thus attracting cosmic energy within it. This is why meditating within this pyramid multiplies the effect of the meditation by 3 times!

Children below 6 years are not allowed within the pyramid as it is a ‘highly silent zone’. So one of us stayed back with the little one as the other went inside the pyramid. First time visitors are briefed regarding the importance of meditation.

Meditation

It was extremely insightful and inspiring to learn about meditation. We all know of meditation as a form of yoga; but it is a lot more than that.

Meditation is such a powerful act which, if done correctly and for the required duration, one starts getting blessed with small gifts bestowed by divinity.

Meditation is an act of connecting with our creator.

According to the briefing given, I learnt that we are made up of 7 layers, our physical body is just our 2nd layer. When we come to this earth we carry with us our previous sins known to us as ‘karma’

Meditation if done properly helps in [4 Reasons why. . .]:

  1. Cleansing us of our previous sins.
  2. Once we are emptied of the negativity, we are then filled with the light of the universe – thus becoming light bearers.
  3. It is believed that through meditation alone we can heal our bodies of  health issues. We can be free of medicines !
  4. Attaining peace, energy , a strong calm mind are just some of the benefits of meditation.

After the briefing we get to enter the meditation cell located at the centre of the pyramid. One can feel the strong energy in this place. The ‘king’s chamber’ is situated at the centre of the cell, at a distance of 1/3 the pyramid height. It is at this spot that maximum cosmic energy is focused.

Coincidently it was a full moon night that day. On such a day, the pyramid is kept open all night as people come to the centre to meditate all night. Full moon is a powerful occasion when the benefits of the meditation intensifies great.

After exiting the pyramid, in a relaxed state of mind we headed to the cafeteria for a tea break. The menu is limited but worth trying.

The centre has numerous grass lawns where one can enjoy strolling, let the children run around, have a picnic, or just daze away .

View from the cafeteria

Next we planned to visit the Sunset Point or the Tapastali where the Shiva statue is situated, but Aadya was exhausted and we had to give it a miss.

They even have accommodations available for people wanting to stay over. There are many other spots to check out in the Pyramid Valley such as Adi Shakti Dhyan Kshetram, Hilltop view points, Pagoda cottages & meditation lab.

One can truly leave the stressful life of the city behind here. Feel rejuvenated ! We then left the centre. With the sun setting, we headed back to the city with one very exhausted child ! 🙂

Meditation can be done by us at anytime and anyplace. It is free of cost and provides us with so many benefits ! Yet most of us don’t practice it as we lack basic knowledge about it. This is why I feel everyone must visit the Pyramid Valley at least once in their lifetime to be introduced to this phenomenal way of living.

Have you been to Pyramid Valley International ? Do share your experience with me ! Comment below !

RoadTrip-Part5 : Udupi – Marvanthe

Come join us on our road trip from Chikmagalur through Sringeri – Agumbe – Manipal – Udupi – Marvanthe and finally to Gokarna !

pic credit – udupi.nic.in

Day #4 Contd.

Udupi

Distance from Manipal to Udupi is only 8Kms. It is a district in the State of Karnataka, South India. It is know for it’s temples. The 13th century Udupi Shri Krishna Matha , the ancient Anantheshwara Shiva Temple.

Udupi Shri Krishna Matha [pc – wikipedia]

Udupi is famous for it’s beautiful beaches and St. Mary’s island. A must visit in Udupi ! but unfortunately for us , we were scheduled to reach Gokarna and still had to have our lunch so we moved on.

St. Mary’s Island [pc-tripoto]

We finally stopped at Kundapur to have our meal.

Udupi to Kundapur is around 35Kms and can be covered in under an hour

Kundapur, also spelled Kundapura, is a coastal town in the Indian state of Karnataka. Kundapura is surrounded by water from three sides.

Interesting Facts – [Due to its well organized local bus system Kundapura allows you to reach the Western Ghats, Karnatakas Hinterland and other lovely beach strips in no time. Further mobility is secured by the train station which has frequent trains to Bombay,Goa and Kerala.]

Yakshagana [pc – starofmysore]

While in Kundapur on can visit Kode Beach & Marvanthe Beach . One must also Watch Yakshagana. It is a popular local traditional theatrical art.

Soon we were back on the road. Reached Marvanthe Beach late in the afternoon. Distance from Kundapur to Marvanthe is 18kms and can be covered 30 minutes.

Trasi Marvanthe Beac

It is a strikingly beautiful beach. What a scenic drive it was !

This very long iconic stretch of beautiful beach along NH 17 with its clean white sand offers a beautiful view of the Arabian sea on the west and Sauparnika river with the background of Kodachadri hills on the other side.

A drive along this beach is a memorable experience especially during the sun set ! Beach, cottages, sea and back water boat riding, snorkelling and Scuba diving facilities are provided by the private operators.

Marvanthe Beach Stretch [pc – shyamji tours]

The drive from Chikmagalur to Gokarna turned out to be longer than we expected. Passing the river Aghnashini, we finally neared Gokarna !

Gokarna Beach

Distance from Marvanthe to Gokarna 125km and takes around 3 & ½  hours to complete.

Watching the sunset as we entered Gokarna, we proceeded towards our stay there.

Coming Next Week – Post on Gokarna  ! Do check it out !

RoadTrip-Part 4 : Agumbe-Manipal

Come join us on our road trip from Chikmagalur through Sringeri – Agumbe – Manipal – Udupi – Marvanthe and finally to Gokarna !

Day #4 Contd. :

Agumbe

Pic credit – unknown

Agumbe is one of the wettest places in India which receives the 2nd highest rainfall. It receives an annual rainfall of 7620mm. It is known as the ‘Cherrapunji’ of the South.

It is a treasure trove of flora and fauna. Agumbe is a popular destination for bird watchers and photographers and trekkers. Surrounded by Western Ghats and lush rainforests it’s known for its many waterfalls, such as Onake Abbi, Bakarna and Jogi Gundi falls. It has a dense population of cobras, also called as the ‘King Cobra Capital’.

pic credit – on a cheap trip

Interesting Facts – [Agumbe lies in the West coastal region of South India(Shimoga District), 357 km north-west of Bangalore. It is approximately 24 km from Shringeri and 55 km from the Arabian Sea and the coast of India at Udupi town. The elevation of Agumbe is 643m.

 As part of the Western Ghats mountain range, Agumbe lies in a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Agumbe is near the Someshwara Wildlife Sanctuary and the Kudremukh National Park.

The Agumbe Rainforest Research Station (ARRS) was founded in 2005.The “Foundation for Revitalisation of Local Health Traditions” (FRLHT) recorded 371 plant species in the MPCA at Agumbe, of which 182 were medicinal.Agumbe provides an environment for large and small mammals, some of them are endangered species.

The Agumbe Venugopalakrishna Hindu temple is an old structure known for beautiful architecture and peacefulness. The temple deity is Sri Venugopala Krishna. An annual fair is conducted each year in February in honour of the deity.

Many episodes of the famous TV show Malgudi Days(1985) were filmed in Agumbe.]

pic credit – Quora

Passing through the Ghat section in Agumbe is nerverwrecking as well as exciting ! Nervewrecking as the ghat is full of steep curves. Exciting due to the dense forest, extremely pleasant weather and well maintained & continuously winding ‘roller coaster like’ roads.

As soon as the few kms of Ghat Section ended, the weather changed from cool to one of scorching heat. We soon reached Manipal City.

Manipal

pic credit – manipal.info

Distance from Agumbe to Manipal is around 45kms and takes around  1& ½  hours to complete.

Manipal is a locality of Udupi city, located 7 kilometres from centre of Udupi City in Karnataka.

Interesting Facts – [Home to the Manipal Academy of Higher Education, the town attracts more than twenty five thousand students every year and hence consists more of student population.

Manipal University (pc – unknown)

It is one of the most cosmopolitan towns of India, attracting students and faculty from around 60 countries.  It is called the campus town by the locals. ]

Passing Manipal , we made our way to Udupi enroute to Gokarna.

Varanga, Udupi (pc – udupi.nic.in)

To be contd. in the post coming up next weekend . Don’t forget to Log in ! 🙂

RoadTrip-Part 3 : Sringeri

Travel to the Temple Land of Sringeri in South India with us ! 🙂

Sringeri Peetham , pic credit – Sringeri.net

Day #4:

The distance from Chikmagalur to Sringeri is around 90kms by road which takes around 2hours to travel.

We took the Chikmagalur-Sringeri road which turned out to be a forest road. A well maintained road with a thick cover of trees on both sides.

The route was a continuously winding one , not meant for weak stomachs ! After stopping for a light snack at Hotel Advaith Lancer at Sringeri, we headed towards the temple.

Sringeri

Sringeri is home to a number of historic temples. Of these, Sri Sharadamba Temple and Sri Vidyashankara Temple are very prominent. Other historic temples nearby are Hornadu,Kollur .

Sringeri Matha Entrance

 Interesting Facts – [Sringeri Sharada Peetham is one of the four Advaita Vedanta monastery (matha) established by Adi Shankara around 800 AD in Sringeri (Karnataka), the others being Dwaraka (Gujarat), Govardhana (Odisha) and Jyotirmath (Uttarakhand).

The Sringeri Peetham has been a library and a source of historic Sanskrit manuscripts. Along with other Hindu monasteries , the contemporary Sringeri matha has been active in preserving the Vedas, sponsoring students and recitals, Sanskrit scholarship, and celebrating annual Adishankaracharya jayanti (gurupurnima).]

Most temples in South India have a magnificent tall tower at the entance. This one turned out to be a very colourful tower with intricate carvings. What an attractive sight! Ofcoz i couldn’t resist from taking a snap of it . 🙂

How beautiful is this !?

On entering the matha (temple complex) you encounter an open hall to the left and the two temples to the right. The temple which is closest to the entrance is the Shri Sharadamba Devi Temple, formed in 820 AD.

Sharadamba Temple

It is a temple dedicated to the Goddess of Knowledge & Wisdom – Saraswati Devi. You will witness many parents bringing their children here for the ‘Aksharbhyasa Ceremony’ .

pic credit – Sringeri.net

It is a Hindu tradition, which is observed in the season of Aksharabhyasa or Vidyarambham. In this ceremony, preschoolers are introduced to the alphabet and the world of learning. The ceremony is usually performed during 10th day of Navratri(Saraswati Puja). But it is not uncommon to see people performing the rutual on other days as well.

Aksharabhyasam , pic credit-poojalu.com

During the ritual, children sit on the lap of either of the parents and are made to write their first alphabet with their index finger on a plate of uncooked rice. The sign of the alphabet is also made on their tongue.

Interesting Facts – [The Sharadamba temple, has grown from a simple shrine dating to the time of Adi Shankaracharya. In the fourteenth century, Vidyaranya is said to have replaced the old sandalwood image with a stone and gold image. The temple structure itself continued to be made of wood till the early 20th century. After an unexpected fire that damaged the structure, the current structure was built in the traditional south indian style of temple structure. Fact Credit – Wikipedia]

The temple further away in the complex is the Vidyashankara Temple, dedicated to Lord Shiva (built during the Vijaynagara Empire era (1338 CE)).

Vidyashankara Temple

It is ancient looking, made completely of stone and reminds one of the bygone era. You can’t help but feel in awe of it.

Interesting Facts – [ The temple architecture is also an exhibition of the astronomical expertise of medieval south Indian temple builders. The main temple hall features 12 pillars designated for the 12 signs of the zodiac. Windows and doors along the temple walls are arranged such that equinoxes sunrise views reach the deity. The northern and southern gates enable the sunrise view from the hall during solstices. The Vidyashankara Temple was built in the year 1338 A.D. It is a unique monument built entirely of stone combining both Hoysala(Chalukya) and Dravidian architectural styles. Fact Credit – Wikipedia]

To the end of the complex is the river bed of Tunga River and a bridge to go across. Here on the temple side of the river you will see fishes as big as your arm fighting amongst themselves to be closest to the river bed! Trying to get first to the food that is being offered to them by the devotees. A major tourist attractions here, especially for the little children.

What a sight it is ! To watch hundreds of fishes at the river bank fighting over pieces of flattened rice being thrown out to them !

These fishes are considered Holy and are called ‘Devare Meenu’ in the local language which means ‘God’s Fishes’

Trying to get a picture of this scene was indeed a difficult feat to accomplish ! More & more devotees crowded up the spot as we made our way out of there.

Tunga River Bed

There are few other tourist attractions in Sringeri that one can visit, they are mentioned below :-

Sri Parshwanath Swamy Basadi

Sri Parshwanath Basadi (Digambar Jain Temple) is situated in the heart of Sringeri Town. The date of construction comes to about 1150 A.D. The main temple is 50 feet long and 30 feet wide. Completely built of stone.

Sirimane Falls

Sirimane Falls is located at a distance of 5 km from Kigga near Sringeri, a popular pilgrim center.

Kigga, a small village which houses the beautiful waterfalls. Kigga is about 16 km from Sringeri. Water from falls feeds coffee estates and paddy fields in the downstream. A moderate entry fee is collected to maintain the walkways and viewpoints.

 The money collected also supports a small hydraulic power plant which is built adjacent to falls which lights Kigga houses. The entire activity is controlled and maintained by local bodies.

Hanumanagundi Falls

Hanumanagundi falls also known as Soothanabbi falls is located on the way to Hornadu Via Kudremukh. Distance between Sringeri and the waterfalls is 36 km. Waterfalls lies inside Kudremukh National forest which is famous for Shola Forests. Gangamoola , the birthplace of Tunga, Bhadra and Netravati rivers also lies in this region.
Fact Credit – Wikipedia

Next Post Link given below. . . .

RoadTrip – Part 4 : Agumbe – Manipal

RoadTrip-Part 2 : Chikmagalur

Travel to the Hill Station of Chikmagalur in South India with us ! 🙂

Sunset point in Attigundi

Chikmagalur

Distance from Bengaluru to Chikmagalur is 243kms and takes around 5 hours to cover by road. Distance from Belur-Halebidu to Chikmagalur is 25kms and can be covered in an hour.

Interesting Facts :

[ Chikmagalur literally means The Land of the Younger Daughter. It is said to have been given as a dowry to the youngest daughter of Rukmangada, the legendary chief of Sakrepatna.

Chikmagalur is a hill station in Karnataka, a state in southwest India. Chikmagalur is famous for its serene environment, lush green forests and tall mountains. Baba Budangiri, Mullayanagiri, Hebbe Falls, Bhadra Wildlife Sanctuary and Kemmanagundi are among the must visit places while in Chikmagalur ]

DAY# 1 : Back to the trip ! We reached Chikmagalur late afternoon . After experiencing sunny weather throughout the journey , we were looking forward to enjoy the chilly hill station weather !

After resting for a while and spending sometime with our family in Chikmagalur city, we left to visit Rathnagiri Bore.

Sunset at Rathnagiri Bore

Fun Facts –

[ Rathnagiri Bore also called Mahatma Gandhi Park  in chikmagalur has turned as a star of attraction to the local people as well as tourists for evening outgoings and weekend holidays.

This nature park was previously an open mini-forest which was later converted to beautiful garden, designed with pavements and lawns with a site of iconic Mullayanagiri hillock in the backdrop. The park has a wide collection of colourful flowers and ornamental plants. Among other attractions of the park are the lotus pond, Nehru Rose Garden, green house, and a children-cross bridge. ]

        It has a kilometre long fun toy train ride for children as well as adults around the hill ! A must try for all , specially around sunset. It has the Darjeeling train ride feel to it .

After enjoying the sunset there we headed to the market to pick up spices and filter coffee powder and headed back home.

Rathnagiri Bore [pc – exploremytour]

TRAVEL TIP : Visit Rathnagiri Bore  atleast an hour before sunset to be able to enjoy the place properly. Also, when in Chikmagalur do pick up spices and coffee ! 🙂

DAY# 2 :

After enjoying the hearty breakfast of neer dosa, sheera, ghee roast eggs, mangalore buns & dahi poori so lovingly prepared by our aunt we left.

Next we were headed towards Nature Nirvana Homestay, Bynekhan Estate, Attigundi.
Having spent around 12,000/- for a 2 day stay @ Nature Nirvana (a bit on the expensive side for a homestay) we were looking forward to living in luxury.

TRAVEL TIP : You will get lots of budget homestays which are not situated in coffee estates.

On our way we passed Kaimara and headed towards Attigundi. Soon we were welcomed by coffee plantations on both sides.

Few kilometres ahead we could view the hilly ranges ahead. What a spectacular contrast it was ! The hilly range on the right were covered with plants & trees , while the hills on the left seemed naked , sparsely covered with shrubs.

Enroute Attigundi

Although we stopped several times to try to capture this beauty, the snaps were just no comparison to reality ! So after a few tries we finally gave up & proceeded.

Soon we reached the entrance to the coffee estate. The homestay was located around 7 kms inside the estate providing extreme seclusion.

Since Attigundi is at a high elevation I was a bit dejected as the 7km diversion from the main road was one of continuous decent. We took almost 30 minutes to cover the 7kms ! This road was meant for SUV’S & Jeeps ! Thankful that our Hyundai I20 has highground clearance we moved ahead.

Finally we reached the homestay ! We were welcomed by the site of 3 adorable little dogs running towards us, greeting us as if they have known us forever ! A sight etched into my mind for years to come.

Coffee Plant at the Estate

My first sighting of cherry red, ready to pluck coffee seeds got me super excited ! Simply a beautiful sight to see ! I plucked few of those gorgeous seeds & leaves to take back as souvenirs.

Nature Nirvana is at a distance of 34kms from Chikmagalur, but the drive took us 2 hours to reach ! The coffee estate is being run by the owners since 1970.  The accommodation was quite basic for the price we were charged which i was not happy about .

The estate has hills, lake & a small waterfall, something that is common amongst all coffee plantations. Enjoying the clean, fresh, pollution free air we set out to explore the estate.

Our guides were the 2 adorable super excited dogs who were enjoying showing us the way around , patiently waiting like bodyguards while we took in the view around us.

Being dog lovers we loved the attention we were being given by these cute little furry animals .

Exploring the Estate with Browny

After visiting the small lake in the estate we went on to look for the mini waterfall. The soothing sound of the water running down the stream all the way to the waterfall and beyond, can be heard all around the estate .

Stream at the Estate

Enjoying the view of the water gushing down the fall and after taking a few snaps we moved on to find the sunset point. Failing to find the sunset point and as the sun was setting already, finding the best spot we could we took in the moment.

At 5:50pm the sun started setting into the hills. Fascinated by the myriad of colours filling the sky . Within minutes the magnificent orange globe of light changed to red as it disappeared.

We then headed back to the homestay to enjoy coffee made from beans grown at the same estate with a plate of  bhajiyas, sat enjoying the chilly weather. Ah Bliss !!

As it grew dark we could get a clear sighting of the stars & the halfmoon. What a view ! My husband decided to try a shot at capturing this scene and set out with his Nikkon & Tripod . While I decided to enjoy the beautiful chilly weather with a walk accompanied by me new bestie Browny !! 🙂

DAY #3:

Woke up to the sound of gushing water and birds chirping . ! If only every morning was this chilly and the air this fresh !!

The view of the sun, light falling on the hill range makes the moment seem magical.

Coffee seeds air dried at the Estate

Dewy plants around us, the ground wet from the mist, even our car was covered with dew ! Such a refreshing site for a city dweller !

I couldn’t help but hope that my generations to come would get to enjoy nature like this!

Hope that our world will be preserved & protected for the future generations.  .

We left for Baba Budangiri. The harsh winter heat scorching our skin with all it’s glory.

Fun Facts –

[ 36 km from Chikmagalur, Baba Budangiri (also known as Dattagiri & Chandra Drona Parvatha) is a mountain in the Baba Budan range with 3 large caves said to be holy.. At an altitude of 1895 m, this is one of the top places for trekking in Karnataka .

Trails through forests and grasslands lead up to Mullayanagiri Peak.The best time to visit Baba Budhangiri is from September to Early March. Road access is also available till Budangiri peak.

Baba Budangiri is named after the Muslim saint, Baba Budan who used to reside here.

This place is also important for Hindus as Dattatreya Peetha. A cave here is believed to have been the residence of Sri Dattatreya Swamy. An annual Jatra or Urs, which is held for three days after the Holi Festival according to Hindu calendar, is attended by both Hindus and Muslims. 

Timings to enter are 8 AM – 5 PM .
The main peaks in this range are the Mullyanagiri  and Baba Budangiri. Collectively, these peaks are known as Chandra Drona Mountain Range as they naturally form the shape of a crescent moon. Mullayanagiri (20 km from Chikmagalur, on the way to Baba Budangiri) is the highest peak in Baba Budangiri Range with an altitude of 1950 meters (the tallest peak in Karnataka). ]

          The ascent was narrow with hairpin bends but it was the scenery that took our breath away ! Watching the hilly range covered mostly with grass & shrubs we proceeded. The folds created in these hills over the years give these hills an awe inspiring beauty !

Baba Budangiri [pc – Flickr]

On our way we saw a small lake amidst the many hills on top, very unlike what i was imaging Baba Budangiri to be. There was a huge cellphone tower on one of the hills but absolutely no network on our phones ! Staying there our biggest problem was no network coverage.

It was December end when we visited Chikmagalur, coincidently we were there during the 3 days the annual Jatra takes place. Due to the security and the crowd we decided to not visit the holy caves.

We then headed towards the Manikya Dhara Falls.

Fun Facts –

Manikya Dhara Falls

[ At a distance of 7 km from Baba Budangiri Dattatreya Peetha, 36 km from Kemmangundi & 29 km from Chikmagalur, Manikya Dhara Falls is situated in the dense forest of Baba Budangiri hills in Western Ghats of India. It is another popular attraction not to miss in a Chikmagalur

With a height of about 30 feet, the waterfall is situated midst dense Forest offering great views of Baba Budangiri Hills. Locally known as Nellikayi Theertha, this waterfall is considered as a holy site by Hindus as well as Muslims. Manikya Dhara, which literally means a string of pearls, is the ideal site for people looking for a peaceful and scenic atmosphere. According to the legend, saint Baba Budan along with his 4 disciples came to the site in search of water. After their prayers, they were blessed with water flowing from the mountains in the form of this waterfall.

People believe that bathing in this fall can cure various ailments. It is one of the main attractions of Baba Budangiri Hill. There are several shops around the fall that sell herbal medicines. The specialty of the fall is that it does not get drained during the summer ]

         The topography here was very different from that of Baba Budangiri. There were flat farmlands and some hills at a distant. The waterfall actually looked like a string of pearls with the sunrays falling on it. There were numerous people standing below it, enjoying getting drenched.

Before leaving we caught a glimpse of a temple at the tip of  a hill at some distance , since we were short on time we did not get to explore it.

View from the Falls, Sighting of the Temple located on the pointed hill.

Heading down we spotted a connecting hill which seemed isolated & decided to do a mini trek of our own. Managing to get some lovely pics we headed towards Mullyanagiri.

Mullyanagiri is at a distance of 20 kms from Baba Budangiri. It is the highest peak in this range with an altitude of 1950 meters.

Fun Facts –

[ Regarded as the highest peak between Himalayas and Nilgiris, Mullayanagiri is one of the best treks in Karnataka and among the top trekking places to visit in Chikmagalur. It is also one of the top attractions you must include in Chikmagalur.

The peak gets its name from a small temple at the summit, which is dedicated to a Tapasvi Mullappa swamy, who is believed to have meditated at the cave near the summit. For adventure enthusiasts, the location offers an opportunity to engage in activities like mountain biking, trekking and road biking. Being the highest peak in Karnataka, it offers some very interesting trails. The trek route to the peak begins from Sarpadaari, which is connected with Chikmagalur by road. This is 3 km long moderate level trek which is fairly steep and takes about 1.5 hrs to reach the peak. Direct road access is also available closer to the peak which needs less than 1 km trek and take about 20-30 mins.

The valley views from the top of Mullyanagiri are breathtaking. The landmarks on the trek path are a small stream, a Nandi statue and a cave with a small water source inside. The Sunset presents a spectacular view from the peak. ]

Mullayanagiri

        The steep narrow road upwards is in a bad state, filled with huge potholes and is definitely not safe for cars with low ground clearance and less horsepower! The higher you go the more scarier the route gets due to the steep slope and bad road conditions.

And the fact that there are no railings along the sides makes it really dangerous. At one point I even thought we were gonna fall of the cliff !! Once you ascend, due to the narrow slope it is not possible to turn back halfway so Beware !

TRAVEL TIP : Do not attempt going to Mullyanagiri without an SUV ! Also you need to have real good driving skills for the ascend here !

      Struggling to get to the top after ending up burning the car tyres at the dangerous curves, hoping the risks were worth the view, we finally breathed a sigh of relief !

The view from the top was more impressive than the one from Baba Budangiri. To reach the top of Mullyanagiri one has to climb alooot of steps.

Mullayanagiri

As we had done enough trekking for the day we decided against it. The view from where we were standing was spectacular enough. So we found a nice isolated cliff to go sit & enjoy the view from.

The glorious view of sunrays falling on the hills & the valley below was a one of a kind experience ! 

The decent down . .

Taking in this beautiful moment we sat longer, unwilling to leave. The need to navigate the risky descend before sunset , made us get back in the car. Soon we had put the nerve wrecking descent behind us. It was time for sunset already ! Finding a good spot by the road we stopped to enjoy the sunset . Happy with all we had achieved to do in the day, we went to sleep listening to crickets chirping and water rushing down the stream.

TRAVEL TIP : If staying in Chikmagalur make sure to stay in homestays which are not situated deep in coffee estates if you do not want to have to spend 20-30 mins just getting outside & inside the estate. Something which we found to be extremely inconvenient especially without an SUV.

DAY #4 :

Leaving the estate early next morning we were able to reach Chikmagalur city by 8am as the way back from Attigundi to the city was literally traffic free! After refuelling we headed towards Sringeri . And thats a story for the next post !

Link RoadTrip Part 3 – Sringeri . .

RoadTrip-Part 1 : Belur – Halebidu

This is a 20 days road trip from Bengaluru and back covering lots of places. To give a detailed depiction of the places covered, it is divided into parts. . . Stay tuned for the next excerpt coming soon !

Both my husband & I crazily decided to go on a long roadtrip, something unlike anything we’ve done before . . . and crazy awesome it turned out to be ! We went from Bengaluru – Halebeedu – Belur – Chikamagalur – Sringeri – Gokarna – Badami – South Goa – North Goa – Bengaluru in a span of 20 days !

Having watched loads of Hollywood movies where friends went on road trips – neverending roads and sceneries to treasure, I have always had it on my Bucket List and finally I was going on one !!

We planned out the duration and booked most places in advance as the trip started in December End and we didn’t not want to risk not having a place for the night .

Day 1 – Starting Point : Bengaluru

Distance from Bengaluru to Belur – Halebidu is 220km by road and takes around 4-5 hours to cover.

Leaving at 7:30 from home we managed to exit the city in an hour thankfully ! The route till Kunnigal was filled with acres & acres of farmland intervalled by small settlements and tiny water bodies. Swathi Delicacy in Kunnigal has been our all time preferred stopover. Clean washrooms, delicious food & excellent service unfortunately meant cramped parking lot. Being wedding season, people were on their way to their native places. Having our teas we got back on the road.

Off we went listening to my list of Bollywood songs, Mumbai girl that I am 🙂 Although i have lived in Bengaluru for a while i still am a Mumbaikar at heart. Being a Bangalorean himself my hubby does not care for desi music but he had no choice . . hahaha

So enjoying the never-ending stretches of plantations and hilly areas on both sides we headed towards Belur. The greenery a soothing balm to our city weary eyes. . .

 Listening to my husband disrupting the flow of music to educate me with the history of the places we were passing by, we carried on. My husband is a history buff with a vast knowledge of Karnataka’s history. Even though I’ve always found textbook history boring, it’s endearing to watch him talk so passionately about the state he has lived in for most of his life, so i don’t disturb him 🙂 .

Paying toll after toll after toll we proceeded on the extremely well maintained roads. Zigzagging across the road, overtaking the numerous vehicles we went on, looking forward to the adventures awaiting us.

Windmills in the distance. . .

In the distance I spot windmills on the hills, signalling the start of Hassan. Crossing Hassan we head towards Belur, now listening to Grunge music(sigh ! ) thanks to my husband. Wind energy & solar power trying to be utilized as much as possible in many places like Chitradurga in Karnataka and hence the windmills.

Yawning my way though some more grunge music we headed on. . .

Halebeedu

Halebidu

As Halebidu (also known as Halebeedu) comes first enroute we headed there. Had heard alot about the beautiful temple carvings from my husband and was curious to see it.

On entering the gates my first impression was that it looks just like any other ancient temple you get to see at Hampi. Being a stone temple it tends to look dull and dark from a distance.

Unfortunately for us it seemed to be a ‘Trip to Belur-Halebidu’ Day for many of the nearby schools. The place was cramped to the limit which made us want to turn tail and run ! But since we were already there we decided to give it a shot. We were surprised to find out that the temple was active!  An active Shiva Temple. And boy were we happy that we had entered the temple! The carvings on the wall were unlike anything I’ve seen before!

Such exquisite detailed carvings on the walls, just blows your mind away. Levels and levels of carvings running continuously from one wall to the other all around the temple!

A broken piece of the carvings

Each layer told a story, stories of Ramayana, stories of Gods & Goddesses, stories of wars. Each figure carved on the walls with a lot of effort, skill and patience. Every piece as beautiful or more than the previous one. So fascinating are the carvings that you could spend all day staring at them.

Exquisite craftmanship

2 giant Nandi Statues were placed in a covered area with similar carvings. There is also an Archaeological Museum in the vicinity which is closed on Fridays, unfortunately for us, the day we went there.

Nandi Statue

In front of the museum stood a tall statue of Mahavir in all its glory against a green backdrop. Finally we left from there wishing we could have stayed longer, but as were on a tight schedule that day we headed for Belur.

Statue of Mahavir in Halebidu

Belur

We reached Belur in an hour. Belur is a larger temple complex. The temple is called Channakeshwara Temple.

Belur entrance

The entrance to this temple reminded me of the entrance to the Virupaksha Temple of Hampi.

Carvings of Belur
Krishna’s Footprint

Like Halebidu, Belur is also an active temple. An active Krishna temple.

Belur & Halebeedu temples do have a few similarities but mostly they are quite different visually. The carving techniques used for both are not the same. Belur even has ancient Kannada scriptures written on some walls.

Personally i feel the carvings at the Halebeedu Temple were more stunning as compared to Belur Temple, so if you are short of time and can visit only one of them then you know which one to visit 🙂

We then reached Chikmagalur by 4 pm . . To read about Chikmagalur please check the link – RoadTrip-Part 2 : Chikmagalur

Mangalore, the gateway to Karnataka

The city of Mangalore gets it’s name from the 9th century Mangaladevi Temple located 3kms southwest of the city centre. Mangalore now officially called Mangaluru is the chief port city of the Indian state of Karnataka. It is situated at a distance of 350 kms (7-8 hours by road) from Bengaluru. It is one of the fastest developing cities in India. It is a mix of the old and the new, of tradition and modernism.

Puttur, Mangalore

The people of Mangalore are very friendly and are always ready to give a helping hand making this one of the safest cities to travel to. Solo/Women travellers must consider this as an option while choosing destination. It is located close to other tourist attractions like Murudeshwar , Mysore and Coorg .

Being a coastal region summers get really hot and humid , monsoon season brings in heavy showers which lasts for hours and at times more than a day without much respite. So the best time to visit this green city is from the month of October to February when you get to enjoy a lovely chilly weather.

There is no shortage of budget , mid range or luxury hotels in Mangaluru. Lots of service apartments have also sprung up all over the city to cater to the evergrowing demand.

While in Mangalore one must try the local delicacies specially the seafood variety, but rest assured vegetarians wont be disappointed either !  Snacks like the Mangalore bhajji, Mangalore buns , variety of dosas,vadas & idlis and many other local dishes can be found at the numerous udupi style restaurants available all over the city. Nendran banana bhajjis at Woodlands Hotel has always been my all time favourite ! Neer Dosa , Patrode , Kori-roti, ghee roast dishes, bangude gassi , chicken sukka ….oh the list goes on and on ! And if that isn’t enough I still have to mention the Konkani community specialities like bibbe-upkari, val val , kadgi chako etc, or the delicacies cooked by the Mangalorean Catholics like pork bafat, sanna dukra maas, sorpotel etc…A real foodie haven it is ! The munchies like banana chips, chaklis, coconut macaroons, ghee cakes, plum cakes are a must try as well. Those looking to be adventurous must try Khali(toddy), a country liquor prepared from coconut flower sap .

Gadbad @ Ideals Ice Cream Parlour !

Leaving Mangalore without trying the mouthwatering famous sundaes at Ideals Ice cream parlour would be a crime ! If you visit one of the popular branches you will find a huge line of people waiting patiently for their turn to have a taste of the popular sundaes like ‘Gadbad’(a must have!), ‘Chocolate Dad’, ‘Tiramisu’ & ‘Parfait’ to say the least. The good news is that the line comes to an end before you know it and you will not regret the wait . It has even earned a place in Wikipedia as the biggest ice cream manufacturer in Mangalore with a market share of 80% !

Apart from the mouthwatering food, Mangaluru is also known for its holy temples & pristine beaches. . . . . Some of the must visit places in Mangaluru are :-

Kateel Shri Durgaparameshwari Temple – Kateel is considered to be one of the holiest temple towns in India and is located 26kms away from Mangalore. The temple is situated on an islet in the middle of the sacred river Nandini. Thousands of devotees visit the temple daily to seek the goddesses blessings . . .

[pic credit – kateeldevi.in]

Kadri Manjunath Temple – This temple is located in Kadri,Mangalore itself. It is a historic temple said to be built in the 10th or 11th century. The bronze idol of Lokeshwar about 5 feet high is said to be the oldest of the South Indian Temples. Annual Jathra Mahotsava – a 9 day festival is held here during the month of January.

Kadri Temple [pic credit – mangala travels]

Mangaladevi Temple – It is situated at Bolara in Mangalore. It is dedicated to Hindu Goddess Shakti in the form of Mangaladevi. It was built in the 9th century. People looking to find a good lifepartner often visit the temple to give offerings and receive the goddesses blessings.

Mangaladevi Temple [pic credit – mangaluruonline.in]

 Pilikula Nisargdhama – it is a multi-purpose tourist attraction located in Vamanjoor, Mangalore. It has a huge lake where boating is carried out. There is also a zoo, Manasa water park, botanical garden, 3d planetarium and  golf course situated there.

Boating @ Pilikula Nisargadhama [pic credit – hello travels]

Mantra Surf Club – India’s first surf club is located at Mulki just 24kms away from Mangalore. People looking to learn surfing can do so right here in India!

Mangalore has many clean and beautiful beaches, to name a few :-

Panambur Beach – It is the most popular of all beaches thus making it the most crowded as well. It is one of the safest and best maintained beaches in India. Horse rides, buggy rides, water sports such as jet skiing, parasailing, surfing, boating can be enjoyed here. This beach is known for its stunning sunsets. Every year in January the International Kite Flying Festival takes place here.

Kite Festival @ Panambur Beach [pic credit- around mangalore]

Tannirbhavi Beach – It is less crowded than Panambur beach. The long sandy coast with calm waters makes for a very soothing, peaceful scenery. There are food stalls available here. Water sports facilities such as boating , jet skiing and surfing are also available. There is no public transport available to this beach. One should take their own vehicles or a ferry from Sultan Battery. Do stay back to enjoy the mesmerizing sunset.

Sunset @ Tannirbhavi Beach

Someshwara Beach – Located in Ullal, it is famous for its picturesque sunsets and its rocks called ‘Rudra Shilas’. There is an old Someshwara Temple at the end of the beach which is visited by many devotees and tourists.

Someshwara Beach [pic credit – trip advisor]

Kapu Beach – This beach is situated about 45kms to the north. There is a lighthouse situated on this beach which adds an old time charm to the place. The lighthouse is open to visitors. One can even try their hand at scuba diving at this beach is what i’ve heard !

Kapu Beach

There are so many more temples , churches and beaches to visit in Mangalore, so yes one must definitely think of Mangaluru while choosing a destination to explore ! 🙂

Day Trip to Shivanasamudra & Talakadu

Jpeg
Talakadu

Jpeg
Shivanasamudra Falls

Shivansamudra in English means’ Lord Shiva’s Sea’ . Shivanasamudra is a small island town of Mandya district , situated on the banks of the Cauvery River. Shivanasamudra Falls is ranked among the top 100 waterfalls in the world ! This is also the site for one of the first Hydro-electric power stations in Asia which was built in 1902 and is still functional. We visited the place after monsoon last year , the best time to visit any waterfall – FYI.

TIP – Vasu restaurant in Kanakpura is well know for its masala dosa , so it would be a good stop enroute  for breakfast. After a 3hr drive from Bangalore via the Kanakapura main road, we reached the falls. Thankfully the parking spot was only half full when we reached around 11am. Grateful that the place would not be too crowded we proceeded towards the falls.

Barachukki and Gaganachukki waterfalls are together known as the Shivanasamudra Falls. The eastern branch of the waterfall is known as Barachukki while the western branch is known as Gaganachukki. These falls are located at a distance of 130 kms from Bangalore and 68kms from Mysore.

view from top
Shivanasamudra Falls

There is a watchtower located near the entrance to the falls from where you can view the entire surrounding area, falls et all. The falls were not very visible from this place .It felt great to view all the greenery around us, the bounty of nature all around. As for the waterfall, all I could see was a few narrow series of waterfalls in the distance. Feeling a little disappointed as i was expecting the falls to be magnificent we moved towards the entrance.  But the more closer we reached to the view point, the more scenic the falls seemed. Feeling my spirits lift and with a little spring in our steps my husband & I reached the stairway leading to the base.

The journey to the bottom consists of around 200 concrete steps fenced with railings on both sides to provide safety . There were even lookout points placed midway for those who preferred not to go all the way down. One could even rest here for sometime on the benches placed here before descending  the staircase further. We witnessed many people struggling to climb their way back up from the base, using the railing for support and breathing heavily.

As we had had a light breakfast and it was almost lunch time , feeling a bit low on sugar I began to feel bit nervous about  the climb back up . But that wasn’t enough to douse my exuberance and curiosity to reach the base ! Nooo it didn’t ! Enjoying the easy descent we soon reached the bottom.

Jpeg
Coracle Ride

The place was crowded !  Filled with people  enjoying getting wet in the water gushing by. As the flow of the falls was not too strong the coracle rides were in operation. Families were eagerly awaiting their turn for the coracle rides so they could get closer to the falls.

All we could feel was the joyous energy around us and the thundering sound of the falls! The falls looked magnificent from here! This is the place where the water from the Cauvery River drops off from the Deccan Plateau at height of about 69 metres forming the famous ‘Barachukki and Gaganachukki Falls’.

After spending sometime enjoying the view, observing all the activity taking place around us and taking few snaps of the gorgeous falls before us we started to ascend the steps. Halfway there i was already lightheaded due to an empty stomach ! TIP – Do not attempt to descend these stairs without   some ’ pet pooja’ (some yummy in your tummy ! 😀 ) and enough water to prevent dehydration & also a cap or umbrella to avoid sun stroke !!!

We unfortunately having not thought of any of the above as we were not aware of the steep decent, had a tough time getting back upstairs ! Never have I been so relieved to have the climb behind me ! Soon we left Shivanasamudra Falls looking for a place to have lunch.

TIP – Finding a descent meal is difficult around these areas so try carrying food from Bangalore itself.

Talakadu

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Temple @ Talakadu

Talakad is a desert-like town located on the banks of river Cauvery, at a distance of about 35 km from the waterfalls. It is a historic town and a famous pilgrimage area of the Hindus as it has several temples. Talakadu once had over 30 temples that today are buried in sand.

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Temple Carvings

Except for the Vaideeswara temple built by Raja Raja I, all the other temples were buried under sand dunes. Out of these, the temples of Pataleeswara, Maraleswara, Anandeswara, Arkeswara, Gauri Shankar, Kirti Narayana and Chowdeswari have been excavated by the Central Archaeological Department.

There is a myth behind this – A story of a curse! Vijaynagar empires viceroy Rangaraya’s wife  Alamelamma is said to have cursed the King and the town before drowning herself in the Cauvery river near Talakadu.

temple1When we visited the place , it was recently opened to the public after the temples were excavated. Talakad is a small town with narrow lanes and small houses. To our surprise there was a looong line of cars waiting to enter the town. Curious visitors and pilgrims looking forward to visit the temple ruins. We could see locals trying to make some income by offering food or acting as guides for the tourists.

After some wait we finally managed to find a parking spot  in an already crowded  lane. No sooner had we parked, a local came upto to us offering to be a guide for a small amount. So off we went with our guide to see the temples some of them which were still active.

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Talakadu

Talakkad is famous for the Panchalinga Darshan – a rare darshan of five Shiva temples. The temples of Pataleeswara (Vasukeeswara), Maraleswara, Arakeswara, Mallikarjuna and Vaideeswara constitute the Panchalingas and are believed to represent the five faces of Siva. The Panchalinga darshana is a popular festival held once in 12 years on New Moon Day in the month of Karthika.

Today this sleepy little town is at the epicenter of some of the latest advances in horticulture and wine making. Often referred to as Bangalore’s Gourmet Valley by name Cauvery Valley, it is still a secret many chefs choose not to share. Fine wines, exotic Zero Pesticide fresh produce, artisan cheese and diverse culinary experiences are changing this once sleepy hamlet.

Day Trip to Hogenakkal

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A year back we decided to visit the Hogenakkal Falls as it is one of the many tourist attractions near Bangalore. . Also called as the ‘Niagara Falls of India’ by many it is located at a distance of 180 km from Bangalore making it a perfect one day getaway. It is located in the Dharmapuri district of Tamil Nadu. This place is famous for its medicinal baths and coracle boat rides . Carbonatite rocks in this site are considered to be the oldest of its kind in South Asia and one of the oldest in the world.

JpegAs the monsoon had just gotten over at this point we were hoping to get a good show at the falls. . After an early breakfast we left from our place and within 3-4 hours after following the Google Maps we had reach the falls. . Can’t imagine going on a road trip without using Google Maps anymore. . Gone are the days where one reached the destination by using the scarcely placed signboards or  asking people by the road who, are as clueless as you for directions. . The most funny thing about asking people for directions as i remember is that even though they are not aware of the way they still want to help you and you end up having to reroute ahead after getting contrasting directions from the next direction giver, hoping against hope that this time its the right direction ! 😀

Of coz not like Google Map makes your life any easier, sometimes it takes you on a route not meant to be taken on 4wheelers or a route which is not exactly the shortest or the most convenient route . . We have ended up cursing Google Map the  innumerable times we have had to reroute or ended up on a longer than needed route recommended by it. But yes in the end we always end up using Google Maps again anyway ! 🙂

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On entering the Gates to the fall all we could see was water everywhere. . Letting on a sigh of relief to know that we would be able to see the falls in all its glory we proceeded ahead .

Crossing the small bridge where the water was overflowing  causing our shoes and pants to get wet  we walked on. . soon we could see many people getting  ‘Tel Malish’( which i call desi style spa 😛 ), sitting in rows enjoying the pampering session which I was finding a bit humorous.

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Tel Malish happening in the background

You will see lots of local masseuse waiting to get clients. Place was crowded with people getting head massage, body massage. Sitting with eyes closed listening to the sounds made by the gushing waterfall, getting a massage must make it a very energizing experience! probably why you will see many people going for it. After getting a massage people would go bathe at the falls within an enclosure meant for this purpose.

One will also come across lots of snack stalls selling fried fish and other delicacies caught fresh downstream. Freshly caught fish are sold by the gorge and also various vendors selling water and snacks go up and down the gorge rowing their coracles. The fish caught include katla, robu, kendai, keluthi, valai, mirgal, aranjan and jilaby. .

Passing the path leading to the main falls watching the water rushing by , we soon reached the bridge from where one can view the falls.You will see lots of monkeys near the falls as well. The water looked muddy due to the recent showers.

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Misty formation at the falls

Hogenakkal Falls is a series of narrow falls along a long line of rock formations with a drop of around 20 meters. Watching the milky white water pouring continuously down with a thundering noise is an amazing experience. Hogenakkal means ‘smoking rock’ in Kannada – the force with which the water gushes down hitting the rocky structure on the other side creates a smoky, foggy effect giving it it’s name.

The water after falling down the falls gushes through a narrow route passing through rock formations on both sides. The river carries sediment which makes the downriver land fertile due to which it gets it’s unclear muddy look. Soon after the falls the river takes a southerly course and enters the Mettur Stanley Reservoir.

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Bath Enclosure

Unfortunately for us coracle rides were not allowed this day due to heavy water flow. Boating in Hogenakkal is allowed during the dry-season as the water falls are not strong enough to disrupt the passage of the boats. One can even swim downstream in off season.

From the bridge across the main Falls one can even view the bath enclosure.People wearing basic essentials hung on to the cage rods enjoying their baths, seeming very much like monkeys caged in a zoo ironically. The entry to the other side of the bridge was closed as well and soon we left the place happy to have witnessed the mesmerizing falls. While researching we had come across a crocodile sanctuary online and as we had time to kill before leaving back for Bangalore we decided to visit it.

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The croc sanctuary turned out to be a small sanctuary with a very small entry price. Here old as well as injured crocs were taken care of. We even saw lots of cute baby crocs here. . A nice place to spend around an hour before we left back for Bangalore.

Other places one can visit in Hogenakkal are –

  • Krishnagiri , a fav picnic spot ,one can even trek to Yelagiri Hills.
  • Melagiri Hills , for trekking.
  • Theerthamalai , Subramanya Siva &  Parameswari Temples.

Singapore – Part 2

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Hey friends ! I was supposed to write this post last week but traveling to my native place didn’t leave me with much time . So here it is now ! [Check out Part 1 posted previously 🙂 ]

DAY 5 – The last 3 days at SG had been quite hectic, so we decided to keep this day a bit relaxed (comparatively ! 😀 ). We left late morning to explore the Singapore Botanic Gardens. The weather was quite humid as we walked towards the MRT, so we decided to window shop at ION Orchard Mall for a while. By the time we reached the Botanic Gardens the air was so thick one could cut it with a knife. Even though there was so much open space around us we felt suffocated & although we very much wanted to explore the Gardens we realized that walking all those miles would be extremely difficult due to the weather conditions. So we rushed back to the air conditioned environment of the MRT with a sigh of relief.TIP – Keep a copy of the MRT map with you for convenience .

We soon made our way to Chinatown. It was evening by the time we reached there. No longer had we started browsing the souvenir shops it started raining. Soon the weather improved and we started exploring Chinatown. TIP – Chinatown is a great place for souvenir shopping.

>>>Read About Chinatown Shopping Here !<<<

We then moved on to find the Chinatown Food Complex is a great place to try authentic dishes. It was a lot further than we expected it to be. Passing the market place again we came across the Buddha Tooth Relic Temple, a stunning sight indeed.

Unfortunately it was late and the temple was closed, finally we spotted the Chinatown Food Complex situated opposite the temple.

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Buddha Tooth Relic Temple & Museum

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Inside the Food Complex

TIP – Food complexes do not stay open till very late. Half of the stalls were already shut by the time we reached there. My sister was very keen to try the Singaporean Crab Chilly dish , one of SG’s specialities. We managed to find a stall specializing in this dish with the help of some friendly food stall owners.

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Crab Chilly !

And before long my sister sat with gloves on her hand ready to tackle the dish. Gloves were provided to avoid hand contact with the spicy gravy. Intimidating as it seemed, my sister got right to it. So after a satisfying authentic SG style dinner we caught the train back to our hotel.

DAY 6 – With only 2 & ½ day left in SG we wanted to make the best of it. As we had already visited the Jurong Bird Park & Singapore Zoo on our previous trip to SG we wanted to explore other places.

TIP – Shops open up only by afternoon in Arab Street.

>>>Read About Shopping in Arab Street Here !<<<

After resting in our room for a while we left for the ‘Gardens By The Bay’. Collecting our entry tickets we proceeded towards the 2 large man made domes – Cloud Forest & Flower Dome.

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We first entered the Cloud Forest Dome, my personal favourite of the two. One gets a feeling of having entered a rainforest in this dome. After spending almost an hour walking around inside, admiring all the work put into creating this unique structure we finally exited the dome.

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View from Cloud Forest Dome

Next was the Flower Dome , where there was a never-ending  varieties of plants flowering & non-flowering species. There was a wedding taking place in the glass house present within the Dome. We soon left to witness the Garden Rhapsody show which was to take place in the Super Tree Grove area.

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When we reached the Super Tree area we felt like we were Alice in Wonderland, the huge tree like structures were lit up making the place look so magical ! We could see people walking along the skywalk which seemed quite fun . Although there was a long waiting for entry to the skywalk people waited patiently to experience it. As it would soon be time for the show we decided to sit on the ground with others waiting  for the show to begin. Soon with music ringing in our ears and the lights on the Super Trees twinkling, the show began. . It was a fascinating experience, watching the change of lights on those humongous trees to the beat of the music.

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The show went on for 15 minutes after which we headed towards Marina Bay Sands to get a 360 degree aerial view of SG.

TIP – The Light & Sound show called OCBC Garden Rhapsody takes place daily twice in the evenings at the SuperTree Grove area. Must check out ! 🙂

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Marina Bay Sands

After waiting in a long line to reach the top, we finally reached the observatory deck. The sun had set and the darkness had filled the sky by this time. We could clearly spot all the well lit attractions of SG from here ! The SG Flyer, F1 track, Helix Bridge , Art Science Museum , the Domes & Super Tree Groves @ Gardens By The Bay, and others !

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TIP – Try to view SG from the observatory deck at sunset or after for a well lit & colourful sight.

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After enjoying the view from the top we headed down and came across a very attractive bakery on the ground floor of Marina Bay Sands tempting us to try their sumptuous desserts. After tasting some of the lip smacking pastries we went looking for the Helix Bridge.

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35 -wmPassing though The Shoppes stores we finally found the Helix Bridge. Much to our delight the laser Light & Sound Show had started and the images were being projected onto the walls of the Art Science Museum. We watched this magical sight for a while mesmerised by the play of colours on the lotus like structure of the museum and the music playing all around us.

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We spent a couple of hours mall hopping on Orchard Rd. [ Read about Shopping in Singapore here!] Browsing brands familiar & ones we hadn’t heard of yet we whiled our time away. As we had enjoyed at Bugis Street so much we decided to go back to Bugis.

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Chewy Junior ! ❤

Getting down at Bugis MRT we walked through the subway and came across a small stall selling colourful and yummm looking cheese puffs & cupcakes called Chewy Junior . They were the best we’ve had so far! The most chewiest puffs & the most gooey cupcakes we’ve tasted !TIP – When in SG do try cheese puffs & cupcakes from Chewy Junior ! 🙂

We then headed towards Bugis Junction Mall. There were independent stalls placed right outside the mall, a flea market like setup with stalls selling clothing, accessories, eateries & all so checked those out too! Soon we were too tired to walk and left for our hotel.

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In the evening we reached the Clarke Quay station and found our way to the riverside. What an awesome sight it was! Couldn’t think of a more happening place to spend our last night in SG at! There were people sitting by the river side watching the play of colours on the other side of the river, restaurants lined by the river on the opposite side all lit up with music playing there.

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So passing the mall along the river we moved towards the bridge leading to the other side. As we reached the other side we realized that there were a lot more pubs & restaurants on the inside here. It felt like we were teleported to Las Vegas! There were bright colourful pubs & restaurants everywhere, belly dancers dancing in front of a Mediterranean restaurant, bollywood themed pubs, sports pubs, people everywhere enjoying the night life, tall umbrella-like structures covering the skyline to provide respite from the erratic rains. The extremely humid & stuffy climate played a real spoiler for us though.

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And That’s how we spent our last night in SG ! ❤

DAY 8 – Our flight back to Bangalore was at night so we had enough time to visit the Merlion Park, one last attraction left on our list! So after an early breakfast and completing our last minute shopping at Bras Basah, we headed to the MRT.

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Near Fullerton Hotel

Getting town at Raffle’s Palace station we started walking towards the Merlion Park. The Park was not located very close to the station and after receiving directions from friendly Singaporeans we soon reached the Park.

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One can view Esplanade – Theaters by the Bay from here. .

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We first came across an adorable cub version of the Merlion ! The large Merlion Statue stood tall facing the water with gallons and gallons of water pouring out from its mouth all day long. The original merlion structure measures around 9 meters tall, whilst the Merlion cub located near the original statue measures 2 metres tall.

 

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One can view the Marina Bay Sands & Art Science Museum across the waterfront from here. After enjoying the view for a while, we left to pick our luggage from the hotel and head towards the airport. Although our flight was late at night, we wanted to spend a couple of hours at the SG airport as it is one of the best in the world !

Enjoying the free foot massage machines at the airport, tasting new dishes at the numerous food stalls, shopping for cosmetics and perfumes we spent our remaining time at Singapore ! 🙂