Big Buddha, Phukhet

Hello,

Parking my other travel stories aside, those are yet to be told; I, for this time settled on an incredible view point.

Bangkok happened to me in December 2018 all of a sudden. I traveled with my friend Aarti, who by now have been labelled as my best travel companion. Together we marked out that our first destination will be Phukhet, followed by Pattaya and Bangkok. We chose the old town to stay instead of busy beach area to get a feel of daily local activity. Had it not been there, I am sure we would just be lazing around the beach.

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We zeroed in on Big Buddha as first site to visit. Local travel in Phuket is immoderate, unless your hotel is closer to beach. This is the only time in the course of Thailand trip that we felt the tweak of money. Yet considering the inhibitions of time, we did not restrict. The drive was for about 40 mins from our hotel but extended for another 20 mins when the taxi driver volunteered us to the Bee farm and was successful in making us purchase. I am no stranger to the fact that most of these drivers have tie up and get a small percentage for the number of visitor with their associated vendors, usually to stores selling handicrafts, food or any other local products/souvenirs. Keeping that in head and shopping was truly resisting. Nevertheless, I got a pain relief balm made of Bee wax. There were lot other beguiling stuff that was at display but then I told myself to control, for it was only our first day.

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Soon he drove us through up the hill to Big Buddha. As I alighted the taxi, within few steps on the left hand side are statues of Lord Ganesh, few other deities where visitors can offer dhoop sticks and pray. In hardly 20 steps from there was the magnificent statue of Lord Buddha facing sea, seated above a construction of concrete, a prayer room to be precise.

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A fantastic view then imprinted in my heart. Strong wind blew and all of us kept holding on to our dress or hat. My face was covered with hair as the wind blew harder, yet we managed some good pics. There were about 70 steps, not sure but nearly, to reach the statue. As said above, a prayer room under construction was nearly finishing; Yet one can offer prayer in silence. Also, noticeable was a tree with heart shaped metals tied with names of people. These are likely to be the wish lists, they are all around. Everywhere its just the clicks and poses, so did we pose and click 🙂 The strokes of sea breeze was truly angelic for the couple of hours we spent. It was too late in the afternoon, all kinds of growling was clearing heard. We ensured that the driver halted for a Thai food affair. Rest of the day was passed by the beach area gaping the on-goers and sport enthusiasts, who tried their bit in braving the sea.

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7 years of blogging

Hello,

It’s already 7 years that I have been writing. Feel so good. The number of posts have been gradually increasing. However, in comparison to many wonderful bloggers whom I follow and many others whom I don’t, lot more can be done. I am constantly learning to better my skills, whether it is writing or placing quality pictures. There is an unceasing push within.

To the rest of you out there, thank you for teaching me through your words, pictures and knowledge; whether it is travel, cookery, poetry, parenting or any other story. I have come across fantabulous content. Kudos la gente!

Wish me luck guys☺️ A big thank you and a hug for your support.

Loads of love,

Vannie.

A slice of Horanadu

I have been doing a sort of intense travel since December. Despite being a travelaholic, these travel came unexpectedly and not pre-planned. I did a bit of beaches and religious places.

Last week, I happened to visit Horanadu in Karnataka (never heard of this place before until I decided to travel few days ago). The only way to access the place was via road. Contrary to most other times where I do scribble about the place, things around home kept me held up for this activity, being rest assured of some sought of adventure and I was not disappointed.

It’s was only on my return through the curvy ghats, which houses coffee and tea plantation, spaciously private houses engulfed by herbs and flowering plants, creeping black peppers and laid back locals; I realized it was heaven tucked away amidst mountains. It seemed like spring but not even a single feel of summer in air for 40 odd kilometers.

Travelling by the state bus was real adventure as the driver did all he could to sway the passengers from one corner to other, while speeding through bends of the mountain. Not wanting to miss on hidden beauty, I pulled out my instant camera and captured few shots whilst on the move.

**Just before Sun was up

 

**River Bhadra

** Tall standing trees playing hide and seek with the Sun

Annavaram, a reserved Temple town

East Godavari District in the state of Andhra Pradesh is popular for temples those were built thousands of years ago. One such shrine is that of Lord Satyanaraya, perched above a hill in the quiet town of Annavaram. This temple is the main reason for the place to gain prominence.

Locals from near by districts and adjoining states flock in huge numbers year on year. Specially if there is marriage at your home, the couple visits the shrine to seek blessing by performing Pooja meant for the newly weds. Mass marriages are conducted often and I got to witness this, on the day of my visit. All of these marriages are planned on auspicious day, hence it is expected for the temple to be overpacked. Prasadam made of broken wheat and jaggery(food that is first offered to God) is very famous and visitor buy in large quantity to distribute to their friends and relatives.

Annavaram, is easily accessible from both Vishakapatnam and Vijayawada by rail and road.

My Godavari Experience

Hello folks,

My post this year delayed by over a month. Last couple of years, I stuck to self made resolution for at least a quarter before breaking it. I credit myself for having done this despite my stories from Bali, Goa and Bangkok trip was hovering in head waiting to find a quick spot on my blog. There is no pride in procrastinating, yet shamefully admit the fact.

Scouting the Southeast region of the country in Andhra Pradesh came easily and unanticipated, as part of a project assigned at Vizag(Vishakapatnam) . I took advantage of this trip and became accustomed with localities around whilst using public transport.

With a couple of days at my leisure, best use was self mandate. This because I don’t see a reason to return for work purpose in near future. Despite the fact that Araku Valley was firmly fixed on my head with Greener pastures surfacing often. I was adamant about a bike ride through the valley, which can’t be the case for now. Options of rail and road were convenient to nearby attractions yet, for some reason the usual me did not decide as quickly as I did.

Amidst the discussion, Badrachalam, famous for Shri Rama Temple caught my attention. I had an ardent desire to visit the shrine ever since a Telugu movie introduced this place to me. Without wasting much time, I did my homework and decided to see Lord Shri Rama. A periodical spiritual awakening is mandate for self realization.

Upon my research, I learnt that the first leg of my travel was to Rajamahendravaram (popularly known as Rajamundry), via bus followed by boat service to Badrachalam. Alternatively, one can take a bus without being ferried. I was excited about the boat trip, for I did day dream of me waving to the villagers on the banks, to the passing boats. Getting a confirmed train ticket is out of question, hence unwillingly chose bus service. Now that I nearly perfected the art of packing light, the burden of packing was never felt arduous and I was all set to leave Vizag for a\n solo adventure.

My bus from City complex was at 11:00 and supposed to drop me off at 4 am at Rajamundry. However, on duty enquiry officer confirmed that OSRTC bus going to Vijayawada via Rajamundry, usually is an hour late. My expectation from OSRTC was similar to that of APSRTC, because of my past experience. On the contrary, it turned out to be a real nightmare, at midnight waiting endlessly…phew. You see Aries don’t like waiting nor do keep others waiting, unless there have been unusual occurrence of situation out of ones control.

Nevertheless, to my surprise I was dropped off by 4:30 am at the bus station and had another 2 hours to kill before the vehicle that would transport me to the boat arrived.

Drowsy and tired, I decided to stay half awake guarding my mini luggage, specially after repeated warning of theft. Then came the pick up van near Kothipalli bus station, to drop all of us waiting to a larger bus. Honestly, I wasn’t prepared for a bumpy road trip. Yet this was the only way to reach Singanapally to board the boat.

My first naked eye view of Godavari in the morning was magnificent. The town was slightly covered with mist, traditional boats parked waiting for the owner to begin the day, the bridge over the river almost disappeared at the other with vehicles plying over it…….The driver was kind enough offer to photograph me with the bridge at the background. Soon we started the journey to Singanapally, which as the journey began I knew was via the famous Polavaram Irrigation Project. The bus ride through out uneven roads reminded me of first offroading with IBC to Penukonda. For an hour in the journey river Godavari was alongside us with a clear view before entering the dam site, that is expected take at least over 5 years to complete. The ride to Singanapally was a real bumpy one. As the destination approached, contrary to my imagination, there is no harbor or proper place where the boats anchor. Rather, a parking space nowhere the mountain side.

My first sight as I stepped off the bus was this boy around 12 years, who had a live traditional cooking in the open. Flame was on, supplemented by the scorching Sun, the boy seemed to be an expert in cooking chicken in bamboo and targeting potential buyers who are set for the boat ride. Since the package included breakfast, lunch and evening tea; I decided not to spend on any additional stuff but enjoy the view of unfolding stretch of mountains.

The host, who is a young man around 24 years kept all of us entertained. Idly & vada was served for breakfast and typical Andhra meals for lunch. The speakers were too loud and I chose to escape and moved to the air conditioned lower deck. Yet the noise managed to follow me though the intensity lowered. Families were merrily dancing and singing to the local numbers. I knew a few of them, not a movie buff you see……

My OnePlus 6 did a good job for the surroundings were simply stunning. The stretch reminded me the drawing I did as a kid, those of mountains and rivers with Sun peeping from behind. From about 10:30 am until 4:00 pm, I was amidst mountain and our boat Jalasri was sailing in straight line equidistant from the banks. I spotted tiny villages that lived on solar system completely, with a mere population of approximately 25. Eco living was permitted to tourist upon early reservation, as there were only about 6-7 tents/huts. The demand was huge for this rustic experience.

The route via Papikondalu was breath taking as the boat swiftly pushed clear waters. Such landscape is for sure a one-time experience, unsure of its life owing to climate change caused by human intervention. On the other hand, it was devastating to see people littering with plastic covers and beer bottles. Furthermore, there was no awareness signboards from AP tourism. Before alighting, lecture to boatman was not missed and I had my peace of mind.

 

At around 4:00pm, we were dropped at Pocharam, the last point. A Tata vehicle, that was poorly maintained but with an entertaining driver, who apparently identified me being a “Hyderabadi”,(probably with the accent) dropped us off to Badrachalam which was 2 hours if driving.

Kolar temples

When there comes a impetuousness to take deeper plunge in spiritual mood for various reasons, be it to praise the God, trying to purify oneself, asking for forgiveness, praying for strength to overcome challenges or any other untold reason; We are naturally drawn towards where He is closest. It is usually our little prayer room/corner at home or a temple. For long, I haven’t had a spiritual tour and indeed it was sending a disagreeable chill into my spine. There was a desperate need for self fulfillment. Well, this is normal to all believers of God, especially when guilt takes over for not having prayed enough.

It was spiritual time. Taking into account, the travel time and leave consteaint, day trip was most appropriate. I pre-booked a cab, to visit 4 temples which will cover approximately about 250 kilometers. On my list was, Kotilingeshwara, Bangaru Tirupathi, Mulbagal Anjaneya Temple and Kurudmale MahaGanapathi temple. On the day of travel, I started at 5 a.m. via Hoskote Toll, passing Narasapuram, Kolar and then crossing Bangarupet(the famous pani puri place) thus covering 90 kms. The cab reached by 6:45 am and we awaited for the temple to open. At 7.00, the ticket counter opened and a nominal fee of Rs.20/- was charged for entry. Being a weekday, there were less than 15 people, even on a Monday (the day of Shiva).

As you enter a narrow path, advancing towards the short door (where a taller person may have to bend), one can see an array of Shiva Linga’s. Notably, these are not of same sizes, presumably because the Linga’s were donated by people based on individual financial capacity. As an age old story goes, the aim is to install 1 crore Shiva Linga’s. Walking past the beautiful pathway, at the center there are two main temples. One, where the Trimurthi’s (Brahama, Vishnu and Maheswara) are housed and second that housed the first Linga. The view was divine and peaceful, for the Deighty was dressed up in flowers while the priest chanted slokas admiring the Lord. After my prayer, I followed the path that led me to the tallest Linga (38m) outside the main temple premises. Facing the the Linga was a big Nandi which cannot go unnoticed. Post spending a little more than an hour, I left for the next destination at 8:15 am. To be precise having spent some me in solitude may be next to impossible on peak days and presume one might take about two hours or more.

Bangaru Tirupathi temple is about 20 minutes from Koti Linga, I reached at about 8:35 in the morning. Located, amidst a sleepy village with less than 4/5 shops selling pooja articles and couple of vendors selling eatables, the gopuram(gatehouse tower or entrance) of the temple stands out. Since the temple was above the hill, one has to climb roughly about 70/80 steps (an estimate, never really counted). Just as I entered the temple gopuram, there appeared a beautiful pond that housed a smaller temple like structure(very common in South Indian temples) right at the centre. I was in the company of chirping birds and monkeys that were waiting for some coconut/banana to be offered. Now this is what I call “soul satisfaction”. Moving on from the pond, passing by another entrance, I started climbing the deserted steps that welcomed me with trees on both sides. In about 7 minutes, the small temple shrine was nearly ready for visitors with the priest almost done with cleaning.

An uniqueness about this shrine was that the deity was visible via a window rather a door; one has to bend slightly to see the Lord. Taking advantage of being the first visitor, I stood looking at the beautiful idol and prayed to my hearts content. Icing on the cake was the spectacular view, that stretched as far as one’s sight can reach. Aaahhh…each of us need something like this to re-energize ourselves. After a couple of photographs, it was time to move to the next destination. It was quarter past 9, which means I spent a little less than an hour, yet to my heart’s content.

Mulbagal, was 17 kms drive. Since the road were not busy, I was ropped in about 30 minutes. Unlike, previous places, this one was a crowded town and notably a good number of muslim population had chosen to settle. This 5000 year old temple was centrally located attracting good number of people, irrespective of weekend probably due to its proximity to the town’s bus station. This was a older temple and was evident from the inner walls, pillar and the Deity himself. These aged old temples, if any of you have had the experience, has a distinguishing fragrance filled with divinity. Well, it is for sure not because of any perfumed incense sticks. Personally, this was my favorite from this trip. The sight of Lord Venkateshwara on an ekadashi day was stunning. So was Lord Hanuman. It was time to head toward the last destination on my list, Kurudumale.

For those, who wish to take a break, A2B is on the highway after exiting Mulbagal, though a small detour may be required. MahaGanapathi temple is relatively near from Mulbagal and took about 15 minutes. The idol of Ganesha is one the biggest that I have seen.

Whilst preparing for this blog, the very guilt of not spending more time was hitting me hard. For those, who are planning a trip around these aged old shrines it is advised to choose a weekday to unwind from maddening work that gives no time for soul.

Hope this write up is useful for those planning for a break outside Bangalore.

Saree Day @ Work

Hola!

What if you are on a job that keeps you glued to the seat, and many times just elapses unknowingly becoming plodded. Agreed, it does keep me on my toes and my head running. Amidst this, planning a colorful day, especially while working for a company that is live and not the back-end support types, is not easy.

A common union or, more aptly a small form of celebration is ethnic day. Yes, it was gradually planned after a couple of procrastination’s; This is because women usually drape saree and men in kurta as ethnic wear, not always the state dress, which is actually meant to be. Yes, everyone is aware that saree it the traditional Indian wear. Nevertheless, today’s women, including me don’t often drape it that regularly as earlier women in our age.

Well, is it the ease to wear? I don’t think so, because my mother, aunt or an old neighbor carry it much easily and do house hold chores. Unquestionably, it’s because of practice/habit coupled with serious attempt of aping western cultural trends that, today saree it not a daily wear anymore, in cities. Nonetheless, to the best of what I know, heard or seen, village woman in Western and Southern Indian states drape saree everyday.

Today’s informal corporate gatherings, is an attempt to keep saree tradition alive and ethnic day is a medium.

Here is a capture from ethnic day celebration at work….

 

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Krishna and gopika 🙂

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With close buddies

Cheers,

Vannie