To celebrate my 40th birthday, I’m sharing the 30 best food and dining experiences I had during my thirties covering Europe, Asia, and the Americas!
To celebrate my 40th birthday, I’m sharing the 30 best travel experiences I had during my thirties covering Europe, Africa, and the Americas!
Today our guest contributor, Rohit, takes us to the hill stations of India. But these are not the commonly known mountain getaways. These 5 hill stations are some of India’s best kept secrets…
Although Andrew and I were disappointed to leave the Taj Kumarakom so soon, we were looking forward to our last day in Kerala. About a year ago, I read an article, in a travel magazine, about exploring the Kerala backwaters by houseboat and I was excited to spend our final day doing just that.
Nothing is ever quite as easy as it seems in India. Although our driver picked us up right on time that morning, we had quite a distance to travel to get to our boat. As time ticked by, it became apparent our driver didn’t know where he was going. I was getting worried. We only had four hours to enjoy our houseboat trip before we had to leave for our flight back to Bangalore.
One of the highlights of our recent travel to India, was visiting some of the spectacular Hindu temples.
While staying in Bangalore, I was invited to join a girls-only outing to Lepakshi, to visit the 16th century Veerabhadra temple. Four of us hired a car and driver for the day and made the 120 km journey north of Bangalore. On our way back to the city, we also stopped at the Bhoganandishwara Temple in the Nandi Hills.
The Veerabhadra temple is famous for its intricate carvings and immaculately preserved paintings. The Bhoganandishwara Temple is lesser known but has beautiful carvings. Rather than try to describe them in words, I’d like to share a photo essay of our day-trip to the temples of Lepakshi and Bhoganandishwara.
“What do you mean the train is 16 hours late?” I looked, in shock from my friend to Andrew.
“Well, it comes from Delhi so maybe this one just got cancelled,” she shrugged. “I’ll go call the travel agent.”
With only 48 hours left in India, Andrew and I were eager not to miss the Kerala portion of our travels. Our friends had managed to score us an incredible rate on what promised to be a beautiful resort. I was also very excited for our houseboat tour of the Kerala backwaters. But now I wondered if we’d get there at all.
“Ok, there are no direct flights between Goa and Kerala, but you can fly back to Bangalore with us and then back to Kerala from there,” said my friend, the miracle worker. “You’ll be there tonight instead of tomorrow, so you have an extra night at the hotel.”
From the relief on Andrew’s face, I knew he was happy with the plan. This time, we surrendered to India, and she bestowed a wonderful gift on us – an extra night at the Vivanta by Taj, Kumarakom.
Despite being India’s 3rd most populated city, Bangalore is not typically on the tourist trail. That doesn’t mean you should overlook it as a place to visit. Andrew and I were lucky to get a unique insight into this modern city, by spending a week living with our Indian friends. Having our very own local guides gave us an inside scoop on everything Bangalore has to offer.
“This guy could kill us, take all of our stuff, dump us and no one would ever find our bodies.” Even while saying this to Andrew, in the back of our cab, I was oddly zen about the whole situation. Andrew merely nodded in agreement. He too was decidedly blasé about our impending doom.
We had arrived in Bangalore, in the wee hours of the morning. The flight from Brussels, via Frankfurt wasn’t bad. In fact, we both managed to get a bit of sleep. In retrospect the naps probably only added to our groggy states. However, it was our quest to find our friends’ house, on the other side of the sprawling city, which threw us for a loop.
Bangalore airport is modern and quite well organised. Although it was busy, we found our driver quite easily and loaded our bags into the trunk. We clambered into the back seats and attempted to fasten our seat-belts. There were none.
Welcome to India. Surrender to your fate.
It’s been over two weeks now, since we returned from India, and I’m still processing the experience. There are so many posts I want to write about our time there, but describing this amazing country in words seems an impossible task.
The country’s new tourism slogan is Incredible India. I’ve seen it in travel magazine ads and on TV for the past couple of years. It wasn’t until I visited that I truly got it.
These days we tend to define incredible as something we really like; That cake was incredible. But actually, I think India’s tourism slogan is closer to the original definition of incredible – so extraordinary as to seem impossible.
Because India does seem impossible; the contrasts are truly hard to believe.