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Wandering Taste Buds – New Blog

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I would like to tell my readers that we have started a blog exclusively on travel and Food. Please checkout our new blog “Wandering Taste Buds”. Visit . Do give your feedback on the posts. Happy Reading 🙂


Written by Priyanka Varma

August 21, 2012 at 5:25 pm

Posted in travel

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Dandeli – Paradise for Bird Watchers!!!!

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It was a good year in terms of travelling for me.  The year had started with a trip to Coorg, two trips to Waynad , visit to Orissa and now to Dandeli. This trip was planned just 2 days before.

Giant Wood Spider

Giant Wood Spider

3-days long weekend was ahead and so few of us got tempted to go on a short trip. Finally 4 of us decided to go to Dandeli – Vaibhav, Sushil, Sushmita and Myself.  The train ticket was booked in Tatkal from Bangalore till Alnawar by Rani Chennamma Express.  From Alanwar you need to take a jeep till Haliyal and then board a bus to Dandeli.

Reaching our hotel in the morning we found nice greenery around and the chirping of birds. When you have a camera and you are interested in photography, this view is a paradise for you. Leaving our luggage, we all took out our weapons(read Camera) to shoot the birds and the greenery around.

Malabar Grey Hornbill

Malabar Grey Hornbill

Dandeli is a nice place for wildlife photography, bird photography, bird watching and nature walk. Apart from all this we did mountain rappelling from not a very great height(just 67ft) and few rope activities. If you are lucky enough you can do Rafting which in our case couldn’t happen because of  less water flow.  But not very much disappointed as we had the option of roaming around in the jungle and spotting different types of birds,  spiders, animals.

We could spot and capture few birds – Malabar Pied Hornbill, Malabar Grey Hornbill, Green Bea Eater, Crocodile’s dentist, Adjustable Neck White Stork, Kingfisher, Woodpecker and many more of which I don’t know the names. On the jungle Safari we could find lots of spiders – mainly Giant Wood Spider. This Spider is a female Spider which eats the male spiders after mating. It weaves its web in between the two trees.

We could also spot the Giant Malabar Squirrel – a beautiful animal which jumps from trees to trees. You have to run behind them for capturing them into your camera. Also on the banks of Kali river, there is a crocodile track where you would find lots of crocodiles resting lazily in the river or on the banks.


Giant Malabar Squirrel in Action

Giant Malabar Squirrel in Action

For capturing the birds and animals in Dandeli, you don’t have to go to a jungle.  Just go for a walk or sit around where there are more trees and that you will find anywhere in Dandeli. Dandeli seems to be a house for different varieties of birds.

This trip was more of photographs, birds and wildlife. It was real fun to run and find a better place to capture the birds sitting somewhere behind the leaves and changing their position. Overall a nice trip !!!!

Written by Priyanka Varma

November 4, 2010 at 4:27 pm

Waynad HomeStay Experience

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My second visit to Waynad and that  too just 2 months after the first trip. 6 of us – Myself, Ujjwal and 2 of our seniors from college with their spouse accompanied us for 3 days trip. This trip was little different from my last trip to Waynad. This trip was more like relaxation. With lots of complexities going in mind, I wanted to be away from Bangalore and relax .

Chembra Peak

Chembra Peak

6 of us packed our bags and started our 6 hours journey to Waynad by road early morning. On reaching Waynad and having a sumptuous Kerala meal we visited Edakkal Caves. Not very much interesting we started towards our homestay. Yeah this time we had booked a homestay. Waynad is famous for homestays and this was my first stay in a home away from my home. Sundar Mahal as its called was actually beautiful in the interior with a big garden surrounding  it. You will feel as if you  are staying in the middle of a jungle with all types of sounds in the night.

As soon as we reached our homestay, there was Prabha (our host) waiting outside to welcome us. The warm welcome from Prabha and her husband Murali was accompanied by the banana chips and a hot coffee. Though I don’t drink tea or coffee but if you been to Waynad and you don’t try the two beverages there, you would miss something.

The homestay was a  nice blend of traditional and modern. The house was 100 years old with the old gramophones, old phone. We were served a nice dinner prepared by Prabha – mixture of north indian and keralite dishes.

Tia- The Graceful Lady Dog

Tia- The Graceful Lady Dog

The food had a taste which would make you feel homely and if the hosts themselves serve you then it increases the homely factor. After a delicious dinner, we had a long discussion with Prabha and Murali on all types of topics ranging from travel, politics, education, agriculture, tourism, kerala drinking problems and the conversation seemed unending.  Even our hosts were so much fond of talking that we didn’t feel like stopping the interesting conversations.

The next day morning started with soft idlis and a hot coffee. After recharging ourselves with the idlis, we headed towards Chembra Peak.  With the pleasant weather favoring us, we trekked on the peak till we found the “heart shaped lake” on top of the peak. After the trek we wanted to be back to the comfort of the homestay. On getting back Murali showed us few of the memorabilia of the house – the gramophone, the record signed by Gandhiji and Sarojini Naidu, pics of Shashi Tharoor with the family and few articles which featured Murali.

Vishnu, son of our hosts, was on his visit to his home for  his vacations. The night was spent with again a sumptuous dinner prepared by Prabha and 2 of our lady accompaniments . I preferred not to join them in preparing the dinner as “Too many cooks spoil the broth” :). The night was spent again with a delicious dinner with nice home made sweets and again a long conversation. Prabha is a very keen learner and was very much trying to learn Hindi and also doing a course of tourism. Though we all were tired, we didnt want to sleep as now only one day was left in the homestay.

Next day we stayed back in the homestay . Ujjwal, very fond of dogs, got a friend Tia. She was a very graceful lady dog but being very much afraid of dog I could just admire her from far.  Though Ujjwal tried a lot to get me near to her, I could gain the strength only to just sit and pat her from back.

Our Lovely Hosts

Our Lovely Hosts

Finally we had to end our trip and get back to Bangalore. We had few photo shoots with our hosts. It was really a nice homely feeling in the homestay. It was a home away from home in true sense. If you are planning a trip to Waynad with a small group, just catch hold of the host of Sundar Mahal, bring in few books with you and just enjoy the time with the family, reading books with the coffee. An ideal place for relaxing.

Enjoy another blog by Ujjwal on the HomeStay Experience!!!

Written by Priyanka Varma

September 15, 2010 at 7:06 pm

Posted in travel, Waynad

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Waynad – Walk in the Rains

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The rainy season and who would not love to enjoy the walk in the drizzling rains. My first trip to Waynad and that too in the rainy season was really an enjoyable trip. The 2 days in Waynad in the rains was totally experiencing the Kerala at its best.

Beautiful view on reaching Waynad

Beautiful view on reaching Waynad

A group of 8-10 of were in the green lush of Waynad welcomed by the rains. The resort we booked was amidst the mist-clad hills with the waterfalls gushing out. Banasura Hill Resort,

Resort Interior View

Banasura Hill Resort Interior View

a resort set in the natural and scenic view of Waynad, is also a great place to spend your vacations.

We reached our resort and without worrying about the rains started towards the Banasura Dam. With an awesome scenic view of the waters with layered hills, enjoying the rains, we spend some time capturing the beauty in our cameras , our eyes.

You visit Kerala and if you miss the fish and the boiled rice, you will miss one of the nicest delicacy. With hungry stomachs we had a sumptuous lunch of fish curry and boiled rice served on the banana leaves with papad and not to forget the rasam.

An evening walk through the forest and slope road led us to a spectacular view of the Meenmutty Falls with water gushing out in full force giving a beautiful white colour.  Roaming around in the rain , we were now fully drenched and were back to our resort.  The day ended with a nice dinner and good sleep in the cosy, palatial rooms of the resort.

Banasura Dam

Banasura Dam

Early morning waken up by the chirping of the birds we decided to explore the surroundings of the resort. Walked though the forest and finding out the paths we were able to find one of the most beautiful waterfalls. With our camera tightly in our hands, protecting it from the waters we rushed through the waterfall. Enjoyed the chilled water of the waterfall giving a shivering feeling all through the body.

Beautiful Waterfall behind the resort

Beautiful Waterfall behind the resort

Time to pack the bags and leave the resort, visit Suchipara Falls in the heavy rains we bid goodbye to the beautiful place of Waynad. Really it was “Walk in the Rains” for the 2 days in the Gods’ Own Country .

Written by Priyanka Varma

July 26, 2010 at 4:04 pm

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Camping @Coorg

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Me rappelling at a height of 120 feet

Standing on the edge of the mountain at a height of 120 feet with the support of a rope tied to the tree,  scared to see down, convincing myself that rappelling is easier than walking down 120 feet through the paths. Giving me an adrenaline rush it seemed quite daunting to take the first step towards walking down the vertical slopes. But somehow I took a couple of steps and Voila it seemed as if I was natural at rappelling.  Enjoyed the further journey of climbing down swaying left to right, taking breaks in between to give my hurting hands a rest.

That was a part of the mini-micro meet of ma Alma mater alumni at Coorg organized by Thrillophilia.  Loved the two-days doing bakar, camping , playing mafia – ‘the GAME which dominated the minds of the people till the next day’, having nice food, adventuring out with rope walking and trampoline – and ALL in the silence away from the city with no power, no internet.  After a long time saw the beautiful sky full of stars which is a very rare scene in the city these days.  The camping site was a good one with all sports facilities though people glued to their all time favorite cricket. Twas in the jungle with a nice scenic view of mountains covered with trees.

Thanks Thrillophilia for arranging the trip and ALL for making it a nice and enjoyable one.

Written by Priyanka Varma

April 1, 2010 at 4:27 pm

Posted in Bangalore, Coorg, life, travel

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A Trip to Hunkal Woods

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After a lot of planning and last minute drop outs the Pankhudi Bangalore Team was finally on its way to a 2-day trip to Hunkal Woods and Belur. 9 of us, brimming with excitement reached the assembling point on Friday night. Let me first introduce to all my trip mates/team mates/friends.

Srikanth – Our travel coordinator 🙂 . A hard-core trekker, kick-boxer and an awesome photographer. The amazing thing is that the most simple-looking things also captured by him looks so much beautiful in his photographs that you are bound to appreciate the beauty of those. Very much leech-friendly. Has got a great endurance power.

Vaibhav – Our Pankhudi Bangalore leader. He is a gadget-freak(lots of gadgets but all of them gifted to him), techie person and internet-freak. Such a Java-geek that while watching animated movies he tries to judge by going into the coding level, dedicated blogs on java stuffs. Loves photography. Very much optimistic person.

Ajay –   A very much cool dude 🙂 . Always searching for the motivation of his life.  A very caring  and a fun-loving person. Enjoys teasing people a lot. But very much supportive.

Vivek – Lovingly called as “Vivek Anna“. Good at entertaining people. Always cheerful and a very fit person.

Ram – The “patent” guy. Little serious. Everyone always pulling his legs but he never minds. Very much cool-headed.

Lipika – A leader in every way. Was way ahead of us leading our way during the trek. Very good at playing antakshari. Remembers lyrics of songs which we never would have heard of.

Minu –  A silent and a soft-spoken person but quite a determined person. Doing a research on cancer. Kills rats 🙂

Nitin – The youngest of all. Loves getting his pics clicked.

The Team

From L to R: Nitin, Srikanth, Ram, Minu, Ajay, Vivek anna, me, Lipika, Vaibhav

After a spicy dinner, we started towards our destination by a 13-seater TempoTraveller. We had brought some DVDs so that we could watch during the night but unfortunately it could play only the CDs and we didn’t have any option but to watch a Kannada movie. Watched it for 15mins and we couldn’t tolerate it and so most of us decided to spend the night sleeping except Vaibhav, Ajay and Vivek anna who were busy talking, laughing on their own PJs and sometimes discussing on Pankhudi-related stuffs. In between had to wake up Srikanth from his sound sleep for directions.

Early morning at 5:30am we reached Chikamagalur and started towards the final destination to Hunkal Woods, a coffee estate. The road from Chikamagalur to the Hunkal Woods was awesome with green mountains covered with the clouds. We stopped on the way to watch it closely and capture the beauty in few of the photographers’ cameras. And then continued on our way. Finally, we saw a board indicating to take a left for Hunkal Woods. This road was around 3.2km long and was quite a narrow one. If it would have rained, it would have turned into a muddy road and would have been little difficult to drive.

Finally we landed in front of the estate bungalow, few of us ran towards the hammock to enjoy a nap after a night journey. It was 8:00 am and we spent some time wearing off our tiredness, sipping coffee, chatting with the caretaker, playing Table tennis and then a heavy breakfast.

We started for a long trek at 10am. I was worried about only one thing – LEECHES. Our guide Nizam(who was called as Nizamuddin by our Vivek anna) was very much sure that we will be getting lots of leeches on the way. Anyways with fear of Leeches, I joined the others for the trek. Initially my eyes were always looking on the ground searching for the leeches but after few minutes of walking, the spectacular scenery of the green mountains around with streams of water flowing caught my eyes and I was out of the terror of leeches for sometime. It was quite a steep way but we walked and walked enjoying the beauty of the nature, cool winds and the sound of the leaves and the gushing water and also the jokes by Vivek anna. When we thought that we had reached the final trek point, we realized the toughest and the best part of the trek was still left. We were going towards the source of a waterfall crossing numerous creeks. The way we took was steep, full of slippery rocks and leeches, all types of insects, wild plants and thorns. This was little scary one as I had a good fall from a slippery rock hurting my back and another one when my head bumped into the hard rock. But when we reached the waterfalls, we forgot all the injuries. It was truly worth all the pains on the way.

The Hunkal WaterFall

The Hunkal Waterfall

Rightly said “No gains without pain” .  We enjoyed the fall of the chilled water for sometime and started towards our return trek. I thought the return would be less eventful. But this was also fun as descent of the steep way was not so easy. Luckily I did not become the victim of the leeches. But at the end I was little disappointed also for not having experienced the leech attacks. Srikanth seems to be a good friend of the leeches, fully bitten but without worrying he was busy with his camera.  Others too were bitten but were enjoying the return walk. Finally we were back to the bungalow by 4pm all very much hungry. Rushed towards the sumptuous lunch after getting freshened up.

With filled stomach and a round of hot coffee, we decide to play some outdoor games. Me, Minu, Ram and Vivek anna decided to play badminton – All of us awesome badminton players 😛 . Ajay, Srikanth, Vaibhav and Nitin started with badminton and then cricket but not for too long. Lipika was too tired and sleepy. Ajay went off to take a good nap and Srikanth in the good company of his camera taking pics around the place. We enjoyed the rain showers with hot pakodas. Then it was time for bonfire. We sat around for a less time and then our guide Nizam realizing that few of us were afraid of the ghosts, started scaring people with the ghost stories. We sat sometime on the tree house called as “machan” in the dark for sometime till the dinner was served. We had a good dinner and then again started for a night walk towards the jungle. But we did not continue the trek for too long as it was too dark and little dangerous. So, we were back to our rooms by 12, spent some time chatting, taking pics and then off to the bed.

Next morning, we had to check out at 8. But all were so tired that we could wake up by 8:15am. Seemed no one wanted to leave the place and everyone was too reluctant to leave the place. Everyone had coffee – seems people never got tired of drinking coffee on this trip! We got ready to go back, had a heavy breakfast and then bid adieu to the awesome nature-friendly place.

We headed towards Belur, located in the Hassan district. The main attraction of Belur is  the Chennakesava(handsome Vishnu) temple. We took a guide who explained us the about the beautiful architecture of the temple. It had took almost 100 years to complete this temple. The intricate sculpture includes elephants, lions, horses, episodes from the Indian mythological epics, and dancers. After roaming around the temples for sometime and enjoying the nice rain, we headed towards for South Indian meal to Hassan. Reaching Hassan, we could see more of liquor shops than the eating places. We had a nice meal and then headed back to Bangalore sleeping, playing Antakshari and chatting.

In  all was a fun-filled adventurous, absolutely fantastic trip in the company of wonderful people.

Image Courtesy:  Our own Pankhudian Photographers:  Srikanth’s Gallery, Vaibhav’s Gallery

Written by Priyanka Varma

August 17, 2009 at 8:12 pm

2days/3nights Stay!!!

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2day/3nights stay, not in Taj or Oberoi or any deluxe hotels but in a train from Bangalore to Guwahati . Checked in with my bag and baggage at around 10:45pm on 14th Dec. to find that all my neighbors,infact almost everyone having paid the rent for the stay was Assamese. The signal goes green and the everyone after arranging their luggage and chattering with their mates gets prepared to go to their bed. Lights off and people are snoring, college students chatting but no adavantage of overhearing them. Why the hell no Non-Assamese going to Guwahati except me??

Wake up call by the chai-wallah, coffee-wallah, newspaper-wallah and you have to leave your nice, comfortable bed and freshen up yourself to start a new and exciting day ahead. Now people start getting familiar with other fellow travellers and getting excited to find someone from their own locality or college. It seemed to me that Guwahati is a very small place. You may be wondering how could I understand Assamese. I catched the english words and some words similar to Bengali in their conversation. and May be by the end of my stay, I would be able to understand Assamese too. 🙂 .Seems not very much difficult.

Now let me make you familiar with my 7 neighbours – A one-year old married couple , a boy and a girl who seemed to me as a couple initially who had just started with their professional life like me(the girl looked to be very stubborn but turned out to be a nice gal), two college guys and a mast chinki gal. They having a nice talk with each other with almost everyone discussing on the most common topics – food, traffic, IT life, hang-out places in Bangalore and taking notice of me that I was trying to make out what they were talking about. Me being too reluctant in getting into the discussion and making their tongue switch from the Assamese to Hindi/English, the married couple took the initiative to include me into the gang. Exchanged some basic information about each other – profession, college, family history, staying place and all one could talk about oneself. The couple had brought nice home food – puri and pickles. Delicious!!!!!

Spent the first day chatting with each other on all topics – from daily life issues to elections in Gujarat to disturbance in Guwahati to situation in Pakistan. The college guys having fun in between flirting with the chinki with we having fun pulling their legs. It didn’t seem as if we didn’t know each other. Sometimes they would start talking in Assamese and realizing that even I was there, they would switch to Hindi. Didn’t realize how time passed and it was time to go off to sleep. Wishing goodnight we were off to our bed with the temperature getting lower as our moving lodge was approaching north.

The morning was a foggy one with we having reached West Bengal. All of us were waiting for home made food which the couple’s relatives were planning to bring for them at Kolkatta station. So we had biryaani, pulao, puri, rasogulla, samosa in breakfast and lunch. After having a nice lunch, we made our small staying place a theater with a guys laptop playing a documentary movie “Riding Solo to the Top of the World”. It was a nice film about the solo motorcycle journey of the filmmaker to Ladakh with he himself as the cameraman. Actually the couple had plans of going on a bike trip to Arunachal Pradesh for 10 days. Feels so exciting and adventurous.

It seems as if people find their journey to be incomplete without antakshari. So finally we also planned to play but it was mostly dominated by Assamese songs. My neighbors now treated me like a foreigner. They told me about Assamese culture, food, scenery,hang out places in Guwahati. They were so happy to tell about their place to someone. They also sang some nice Bihu songs for me. I couldn’t understand the words but still I could enjoy the music and recorded some of them. It was already very late but seemed that none of us wanted to go to sleep and even the couples’ stoppage was at 4am. So we planned to play card games. I had never played card games but I learned one game(Can’t remember the name). It seemed we had become good friends – exchanged our contact numbers promising to be in contact and meet on reaching back to Bangalore. Can’t believe I was on a night-out for people who were strangers two days ago. As everyone’s stoppage came we bid goodbye. All were so much concerned for me, as I had come to Guwahati alone and also for the first time and when situation there was not good, that they even called me up the next day to confirm that I had reached safely to my destination.

It was totally a nice and a new experience for me. First time enjoyed my train journey so much. Was looking forward to have same experience like this on my return journey but all in vain. Seems some experiences occur only once. Signing off with some nice memories. Hoping to be in contact with my train friends.

Written by Priyanka Varma

January 1, 2008 at 1:10 pm

Posted in Feelings, life, travel

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