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Old 12th September 2013, 23:54   #1
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Default Escape the Heat - A Monsoon Vacation

JULY 2013 - DUBAI
The sultry July sun played havoc with routine life. With temperature hovering around 50 Deg C, outdoor life was restricted to the minimum. Although the schools were closed for summer break, we didn't had any plans for vacation yet. But the heat made us crave for an escape to greenery.

The return air fares for summer vacation to and fro Kerala were exorbitantly costly. Being peak season of the year, it was Airlines' turn to milk those NRI's who want to spend some time back home. Finally, after endless permutations and combinations, by end of July, decisions were made; leaves were approved in haste for 18 days vacation.

Thus on Aug 2nd, we flew to Thiruvananthapuram. Descending through the clouds, we were so happy to see land and by evening, we were safely at home.
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I was so happy to be in Kerala. Monsoon had turned the place greener and the climate was cool. Every drop of rain on my face made me cry with joy. Splashing through pools of water brought out the child in me. It was so wonderful!
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Vacation time is also time to visit friends and relatives and catch up on old times. In between those visits, we managed to find some time for ourselves.

BACKWATERS
We decided to make a trip to the backwaters and headed towards the scenic Alappad. Alappad is a coastal village in the Kollam District once devastated by Tsunami. It is situated on a narrow strip of land sandwiched between the Arabian Sea and National Water Way 3. Itís the same place were Amrutha Puri is. The decision, however, turned out to be a major downer because of the nonexistent roads and the continuous downpour ensured that DSLR stays in the car.
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THANGASSERI LIGHT HOUSE AND HARBOUR
Laluks visit to the Thangasseri Light House ignited my desire to visit light house. The light house is hardly 2 kms away from our house and I've never been there. But this time too, hard luck was on our side and we reached there a little late. By the time we reached the Light house at 5.15pm, it was closed. So this time we had to be content with seeing it from outside.
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KAPPIL BEACH
Kappil offers scenic backwaters, beach and facilities for water sport and boating etc. One can take the sandy trail along the sea wall till the end where the lake joins the sea. I drove half way and parked. I was apprehensive about our OHC being stuck in sand but later found that many Altos and Swifts were returning from the beach. So my guess is that it is very much possible to take the car till the far end without any problem.
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KOVALAM LIGHT HOUSE
Kovalam Light House or the Vizhinjam Light House, first commissioned in 1960, is built on a rocky hill overlooking the sea. The place was full with local, other state and international tourists. While the Thangasseri Light House was calm and quiet, this one was buzzing with tourists. The view from atop the gallery was breathtaking and beautiful. The breeze atop was very refreshing too.
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View from the window
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Winding steps
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ARIPPA
Arippa Eco Tourism Project lies in Trivandrum Ė Thenmala highway and offers opportunity for trekking and bird watching. We took the Varkala - Madathara route from Paripally. Although there are some very bad stretches, most of the route was very much motor-able. The scenery and the twisty winding road made it an enjoyable drive.
At Arippa, we were in for some disappointment. The trekking could be arranged only upon prior appointment. They would arrange a guide who is a member of the tribal community and take tourists in the forest for a long trek. Since a guided tour was not possible on short notice, we decided to go on our own and parked our car near the Ammayambalam Siva Temple. The temple is under modification. A local told us to take the trail near the temple which would lead us to another temple inside the forest.
So we set out on foot. Treading cautiously, fearing for a snake to appear hanging from a tree, or lying camouflaged on the ground, we proceeded. The trail had two wheeler tyres marking and was littered with liquor and beer bottles. If people could use this place as a haven for booze, it should be less populated with reptiles, I thought.
Soon, we were isolated from the noise of highway and literally engulfed in the silence of forest. Every step, though done as silent as possible, startled a bird to chirp and fly startling us. The noises of forest were very soothing and frightening at the same time. The cries of some birds were totally new to us and we could only relate that to something which we heard in ĎAVATAARí!
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Then something frightening happened. We heard a loud cry of an animal. It seemed not so far away. It was neither the sound of a trumpet nor a moo of a cow. Was that a wild boar or a bear or a bison? Frozen with fear and no time to think, we made a hasty retreat, almost running and reached the entrance of the trail. We looked back and thankfully nothing was following us. We couldnít resist a laugh though. Was that foolish to run? Anyway, we decided to come back next time for a dayís stay and guided trek and returned to Trivandrum via Palode.
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Our ride. Somewhere near Palode.

Oh we collected a guest too!! A leech had found itself comfortable under my wifeís feet. How it sneaked in under her feet, we donít know and we found that only after we reached Nedumangad. A disgusting creature it is, the first reaction was to pluck it away. And so did we and it started to bleed profusely. However, the bleeding stopped soon.

It was the last day of our vacation in Kerala. Next day we were to board our train to Mumbai and from there to Pune. It would be with heavy heart that we leave our homes. We will be taking some sweet memories to cherish till next time. The beauty of Kerala always lingers in our mind and very often do we praise about it. Especially when living in a desert.

However, the fly in the ointment is indeed the waste disposal in Kerala. We are the second most literate, highly cultured and educated. I am proud of being a Malayali that when in Kerala I keep my head high, lest, if I look down, I see heaps of garbage strewn everywhere on the streets, tarnishing the beauty of landscape and harbouring mosquitoes and flies. We have high regard to personal cleanliness that we keep ourselves and our homes clean and deposit garbage in front of otherís house! Government has proved their impotency in resolving the issue. Now itís our turn to contain the situation ourselves for the benefit of the community.

KONKAN
I was more than 12 years since Iíve traveled through Konkan. So on 15 Aug, we boarded Rajdhani Express to Panvel for a nostalgic journey through Konkan. With the rains, Konkan was at its best. Monsoon in Konkan - Itís just awesome. The rich greenery, yellow flower beds and contrasting muddy waters were feast for eyes.
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Konkan begins. Somewhere after Mangalore.
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Muddy waters and greenery.
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Paddy fields.
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Konkan meadows.
We reached Panvel on 16th night and we were received by my brother and we stayed at his apartment.
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Old 13th September 2013, 00:27   #2
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Default Escape the heat - A Monsoon vacation.

PUNE
Pune, was our second home for many years during our education. This time, our agenda was only to visit our old friend, her parents and a nostalgic trip to our College. So on 18th morning by 5.30am, we left Navi Mumbai in my brother's Chevy Beat and drove through the Mumbai Ė Pune Exp Highway to Pune. It was a first time experience for me. Google maps came in real handy to keep us on route. I wish Google had some arrangement to point out the large craters on roads too.
We reached our friendís home at 8am. After hearty breakfast of Pohai and chai, we went to meet her parents and then to our College in ShivajiNagar.

COLLEGE OF AGRICULTURE PUNE
It was twenty years ago that I had set foot on this college to pursue my B.Sc. Agriculture. Man, I was the same nervous kid once again after twenty years. A lot has changed. The main building is now marked as a historical monument and all the offices and lecture rooms shifted to new building. The Main Building was locked and I couldnít go inside the Main Building dome. I walked around the building, clicking some photographs, while my wife and friend went to visit their old hostel.
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Our ride for two days at the entrance of the college.
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The old building.
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My daughter, friend's niece and son. Will they ever wish to join this college?

After spending some nostalgic moments, by noon, we returned to our friendís home for a heavenly Maharashtrian feast. I havenít had such a tasty meal in last 12 years. That was so yummy!

KATRAJ LAKE
The evening was spent at the Katraj Park catching up on old times, while children played.
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LONAVALA
Next day morning, we left Pune for Mumbai and enroute, we dropped in at Bushi dam for old days sake. We first drove towards the Lion point but due to heavy fog we returned from the Air Force Station. We then went to the Bushi Dam.
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View from Bushi Dam
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Gushing water from dam.

Being a Monday, it was less crowded. However, the place was littered beyond any civic sanity. The hawkers have set up shops right till the upper part of the dam. I wonder who has given permission to do business with least care for cleanliness.
Avoiding those hawkers, we sat down those steps, the cold water drenching us, cooling down every nerve. It did not rain but was cloudy. We wished it rained as well.

Soon, I started shivering out of cold but never wanted to step out of the water. My daughter was enjoying every bit of it. But soon, she also started shivering and we decided to leave for fear of my daughter catching cold. After drying up and a hearty breakfast packed by our friend, we left for Mumbai but of course only after buying some chikki.

Some more views of Lonavala
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Rajmachi point views
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Some more views from old Mumbai Pune Highway.
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Drive back to Navi Mumbai was uneventful. With the help of google navigation, we reached my brotherís apartment without any hassle. Rest of the evening was spent packing our luggage and strolling down streets of Nerul. We got introduced to some new variety of snacks at Gupta Snacks. Grilled sandwich!! No thanks!We just want our Sev Puri Chaat.

Next morning, we bid farewell to my brother and family and left for airport in a taxi. A Toyota Etios it was. The ride was scary. The morning traffic was light and the guy was speeding, talking to his phone often, the car crashing into craters yet it felt composed, finally, reached airport after an hour and checked in. Thankfully the flight back to Dubai was comfortable.

Both of us were almost silent the entire flight. Memories of past weeks kept us thinking. Asking questions of which we do not know the answers.

Thanks for reading.
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Old 13th September 2013, 11:49   #3
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Default re: Escape the Heat - A Monsoon Vacation

Mr. Dhar. Thanks for 0083.Jpg. It made my day. "Both of us were almost silent the entire flight. Memories of past weeks kept us thinking. Asking questions of which we do not know the answers"- poignant words to complete a superb travelogue.
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Old 13th September 2013, 19:09   #4
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Default Re: Escape the Heat - A Monsoon Vacation

The Nature is amazing and wonderful. And your pics Superb. Hope you had an enjoyable stay in our Motherland.
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Old 14th September 2013, 09:21   #5
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Wow ... Loved it from start to end. The silent flight back is so true . Even we were so dull n sad on our return from Kerala even when konkan was blooming around us !

Glad to see all pics are without any tweaking
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Old 14th September 2013, 09:29   #6
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I think you should write about how you felt driving my bunny beat after having driven only big meaty cars in Dubai for a long time! Would give a great perspective . Well add the classic OHC too
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Old 14th September 2013, 10:31   #7
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Default Re: Escape the Heat - A Monsoon Vacation

Dhar, Nice vacation you had. Arippa incident was hilarious, eventhough it was not a good idea to venture in to the forest without a guide. Wild animals are comparatively harmless but the boozers can do more harm.

Your travelogue remembers me about my bachelor days where I used to visit kerala just to enjoy the rain. Thanks for the nice photos.
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Old 15th September 2013, 14:23   #8
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Default Re: Escape the Heat - A Monsoon Vacation

Quote:
Originally Posted by venkatt1800 View Post
Mr. Dhar. Thanks for 0083.Jpg.
Thanks Venkat!
Those paddy fields were somewhere near Ratnagiri. It was a sight which we missed in Kerala.

Quote:
Originally Posted by JoseVijay View Post
The Nature is amazing and wonderful. And your pics Superb. Hope you had an enjoyable stay in our Motherland.
Thanks Jose!
Yes. We had an enjoyable stay.

Quote:
Originally Posted by rawkeron View Post
I think you should write about how you felt driving my bunny beat after having driven only big meaty cars in Dubai for a long time! Would give a great perspective . Well add the classic OHC too
Thanks Rawkeron
The Chevvy Beat (Petrol) actually surprised me. The engine was surprisingly smooth and the ride was pretty compliant. I did not rev up the engine neither did I test its cornering abilities. I was the lone driver in express highway adhering to speed limits!

Quote:
Originally Posted by iVento View Post
Arippa incident was hilarious, eventhough it was not a good idea to venture in to the forest without a guide. Wild animals are comparatively harmless but the boozers can do more harm.

Thanks for the nice photos.
Thanks iVento.
You are right. Boozers could cause more harm than wild animals. Hopefully, next time I'll arrange a stay and guided trek inside the forest.
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