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.

Advertisements

Beach, Temple & Food @ Goa

It was pre-decided to make the following day peaceful. As part of the plan, we woke a little late and headed straight to the beach for a morning walk (I am an early riser). Damn that morning, a serene atmosphere and I just wanted to lay at the beach that did have less than 20 people other than the fishing community that was ready to go sailing. The waves kissed my feet a hundered times whilst I stood gazing far beyond where the sky and sea touched. Well, this is what I call “A moment in life time”.

IMG_2094

Morning walk @ beach

Once back, after morning breakfast we hired a bike and to explore nearby places. Though, I was keen on getting a Thunder Bird, I ended up with an Avenger. Visitors usually flock to Northern part of Goa, nevertheless South Goa too had lots of attractions and we had many suggestions pouring in. But with two kids, plan was made keeping their choices in mind. The me..first went to seeking blessing and where….to temple. My father’s reaction was, to temple in Goa; Usually people head to churches that speak of its fame. He then did affirm, that I was unlike others ūüôā

Why I chose temples over churches? Well, in my research, blogs or tourist information were filled with information famous churches, be it Jesus Basilica or Lady of Immaculate Conception. I have read, seen and heard over and over again. It was my chance to bring in something beyond churches. While I did my search there were handful of temples that were famous but not as of those churches and zeroed on a couple of them. The one that attracted me the most was the Shanta Durga Temple. My personal recommendation for “Temple Lovers”.

IMG_2124

Shanta Durga Temple

We attended the pooja that went on until noon.  The premises had a small underground canteen where meals was being served, probably at a nominal price but chose to look for options outside due to large crowd in waiting to dine at the temple. Since there were fewer options and google was a bit slow due to connectivity issue, I kept asking for people for descent vegetarian joint. After making a couple for circles in the same area, the restaurant or hotel was located, a house that had its front yard converted to mini restaurant with about 5-6 tables serving fresh food. Undoubtedly, I had one of the best local dishes. The ripe mango curry was my favorite, for, its my first time.

IMG_2129

Afternoon Lunch, with a ripe mango curry, dal, beet flavoured buttermilk, chole, roti and rice

After fulfilling my taste-bud, I headed towards Panjim, via Madgoan. At Madgoan, we halted by local market to make some purchses. Fishes everywhere and prawn were so damn cheap @ 100/- , which I would end up paying 400/- in Bangalore. We got a couple of variety for the next two days before heading to our next point, that was about 30 kms.

The road was wide, mostly connecting the highway yet, with less traffic.¬†As we saw the surge in moving vehicle, I knew we were closer to Panjim. I quite liked the view of Panjim port, for the huge steel vessels were not a common scene for someone living in landlocked city. Unfortunately, since we were on the other side, I was a little hesitant to cross over with two kids wanting to run behind wherever I stop. Though I was keen on more photographs on my way back, it didn’t really happen.

 

IMG_2130

My first ride in Avenger! 100+ kms covered!!

Just before we reached the popular beach, I fell off my bike along with my little one, something not very nice that I wish to remember. Flashback–while I stood at a crossing , relatively smaller one with hardly 20 vehicles from all sides, for other vehicle to cross and next moment lying down with the bike over me and my little one. Thankfully, it was a lighter vehicle, nor was I speeding and crowed was slow moving. Neel crying for about 30 mins is still echoing….Despite no fault of mine, I did not forgive myself for his pain. I guess it could have been a blink of¬† my eyes. With bruised feet and hand, broken mirror and footrest of the vehicle, I managed rest of my journey with pain, yet with determination. My parents were shocked and were in pain too. No sooner we got to the beach and an ice-cream was able to bring back Neel to normal while not allowing him to concentrate on the wound.

.

IMG_2156
The crowded Panjim Beach

As sun was setting, and visibility turning poor, I decided to wind up not spending much time. It was a long 45 plus kilometers to the resort. The ride was careful.

Next day was meant only to relax, while kids spent hours in the pool, I was busy making a couple of variety of sea food dishes. The whole mood of sickness to mind and body was balanced.

DSCF5599

Morning @ Rogers, Benaulim

The following day, I decided to explore Benaulim that was very close to my  resort. I woke Neel early, while Reshu decided to stay back with parents. A much smaller and a bit of sleepy town, that housed Taj Hotel facing the beach, also had a cleaner stretch with water activities morning was catchy with majority crowd from nearby resorts. We then headed to Rogers Beach shack for an English breakfast, while watching local and foreign tourist float and relax.

IMG_2320

Morning at the beach shack

Spending two hours gaping at the sea, while Neel was hoping, running, jumping and playing in the sand was a memory I will hold close to my heart.

DSCF5594

Morning breakfast

 

Awaiting my next Goan trip, hoping to explore the famous churches and much spoken backwaters………

Nainital in Winter 2016-Part 3

It was mid noon by the time we reached Naini Lake. Instead of dropping us by the lake, the driver first drove us to hill top, from where Himalayas was visible to naked eye. He did this because,  as the day progresses the view gets duller and vague.  My joy grew over and over at the very sight and kept gazing for few moments that I know will last for fewer moments. It was a dream come true.  Being a mountain person, I wished for a more closer view, specially of the Nanda Devi peak. The weather was chilling to the core, when I realized that  I was not properly covered whilst most of visitors,  if not all were hidden under woolen clothes head to toe. Did I have a better resistance? i probably need to test my-selves.

DSCF5072

Peddle boats surrounded by Fishes

Our next point was Eco Cave Garden, that was on the way to Naini Lake. With an up-slope entrance leading towards the caves, well demarcated points guided to different rocky structures naturally built named after animals (probably once inhabited). Getting in and out was more of an adventure via the narrow path way with sharp edge stones, pointing out. These rocks were relatively cold. Enough care needs to be taken if older people wish to walk through, as the steps are uneven, slippery and narrow. It is common that people get stuck, unable to find way out or sometime feeling uncomfortable in the darker corners trying to put the foot at right place. Despite this, we jumped through for I loved these “Monkey Type” activities right from school days.

DSCF5081

Magnificent view of our own “Himalayas”

DSCF5091

The lake from up above

Out of the rock garden, passing through the pine and deodar trees, the driver dropped us¬†right at entrance of the lake from where boating begins. However, we chose to explore the place by walking around, tired of sitting in the car most times that mademe dizzy in the twists ans turns. Meanwhile, hunger struck me and couldn’t help but notice a pani puri vendor. We hopped and sat for a while soaking in the sun and gulping the little puris. The adjacent stall, sold Moong Dal Cheela (one of my favorites). It was an open kitchen, hence I ordered one, just to see how he made it. It was quite simple, and a variation to what I made, usually in the form of dosa.¬†

We then walked through the shade alongside the lake reaching a point where crowd was gathered to witness the ongoing cricket match. Never, did I expect a cricket ground amidst the hills. Then I said to myself….its “India”, and cricket can be everywhere. Adjacent to the ground is the Naini Devi temple that also has Hanuman Mandir and Gurudwara close by. The temple was overlooking the lake and the goddess was decorated attractively. I also spent considerable amount of time at the Gurudwara, for, this was Neel’s first visit. The temple was surrounded by shops selling attractive stuff, specially clothes, toys, eatable etc. Ones out of the temple, it was boating time and I had to walk back to the entrance. The walk through slightly stoned path was relaxing.¬†Brrrrr…tired yet the determined me..pushed a little hard telling stories to my little one soon reaching the boating point. We hired a boat and got ourselves with protectives that were stuffy, heavy and uncomfortable. Yet, what kept me distracted ¬†were stories from our boatman, who had been in this business for more then 20 years. Neel was engrossed and kept asking about the tall trees, crocodiles and fishes. It was 4 pm but seemed like 11 in the morning for the sun was up and shining bright.

DSCF5132

Pani Puri

DSCF5117

DSCF5111

DSCF5119

My little spidy…..walking along

DSCF5136

Our story teller for that hour

Next was the best thing..shopping. I fell for the woolen clothes and colorful candles. There were scented ones too. Every street was bustling with shoppers filling bags with woolen stuff that probably I wouldn’t get in Bangalore or any other city. I picked a stole and some candles. I was now feeling a bit torpid with hand full of stuff and searching for the driver who promised to take us to Hanuman Ghari on our way back to the hotel. After a couple of calls back and forth, we boarded the cab and headed of to Hanuman Ghari, which was not too far. As I reached the temple, the Sun was slowly dipping and I kept gazing and captured both with my eyes and camera lens. I felt deep sonder as thoughts of similar moments flashed by. A memorable long day winded with roti, curry and steaming cup of tea.

DSCF5156

Sunset @ Hanuman Ghari

Nainital in Winter 2016-Part 2

Our first morning in Nainital, more aptly to say was in Bhimtal, a subset of Nainital. By 8.00, the cabbie arrived. As I boarded the cab, first task was to find an ATM, for this was post demonetization period and cash withdrawal was limited. We were driven to the closest ATM, only to find that it was closed. Nevertheless, the driver assured to find one for us on the way. This time I determined to carry extra cash, which usually is not my practice as a matter of safety.

DSCF5051

The silent lake

Our first point was to the Bheemeshwar Mahadev Temple, right by the lake. The early morning mist took my joy to a new level, making it more spiritually inclined. As I walked past a small path way by the lake, that could easily have geared and non-geared pass by; I saw very few visitors returning from temple and this was an indication that I could have peaceful visit. It’s only because of the breeze from the lake and hills that sent chill air and kept fewer people around. I did not regret choosing off-season for travel. Once in the temple, I had to remove the socks only to step on the floor that was real cold and then I kept skipping to the shrine, that was relatively warmer inside the temple premises. What attracted me was a big tree right in the center where one can see number of bells tied.

DSCF5050

A misty walk

DSCF5061

The temple

The temple was nearly empty with not more than 5-6 people, including us. The “Shivlinga” was beautiful and decorated with locally available flowers. This is the second time, I found lucky to witness very close darshan, after Triambak a couple of years back. Those few moments instilled abundant energy in me. After satisfying my soul, it was the turn for my stomach. In search for local delicacies, I walked past few shops to see what they had to offer. To my surprise , there were eateries that served egg, which is not a common sight at least near any holy shrine. We hopped on to a small hotel and ordered for paranthas (aloo & gobi). I made no mistake, for it was one of the best paranthas I ever had.

DSCF5059

Entrance to the temple

DSCF5057

Tree with bells

After a delicious breakfast, our next point was to Nainital lake. On our way the driver told us many stories and kept Neel busy and inquisitive. One such story was about local dogs that guarded the sheep from Tigers and Leopards. We ¬†were told that these dogs are gigantic and many times resembled Lion, due to the presence of fur that is not common among dogs but those in hilly region. Between, the driver pulled by a point where one could see far off view points with the help of telescope for a mere Rs.20. Some of these view points included, Indo-Chinese border, famous temple, Indian Airforce base( that had no access to civilians), Wild life sanctuary, movie shooting point etc. At this place was a small vendor selling Oranges. I learnt that this fruit was not an Orange but Malta, which is more sour than an Orange. The driver promised to deliver few at the hotel by dawn, since Neel tasted them and preferred to have them with salt. We reached Naini lake by noon and spent rest of the day……

DSCF5066

Yummy paranthas

DSCF5069

View of villages

DSCF5068

One of the view points

DSCF5070

Malta

 

Rest of day at Naini lake to be covered in next part……