All Posts By

TheTravellerLens

India

Why you must visit the Kochi Muziris Biennale

It is that time of the year again when the streets of Fort Kochi become lively direction sign boards, banners and wall murals. Thanks to the Kochi Muziris Biennale, the fourth edition of the event has got India recognized in the global art forum

Kochi Muziris Biennale, an art exhibition and festival, is the largest of its kind in South Asia. The fourth edition of the Biennale will run from 12 December, 2018 until 29 March, 2019 at ten different venues across Fort Kochi. Artists from all over the world exhibit their art work in the fields of painting, photography, art installation amongst others at the Biennale, Cochin.

Visiting Hours: From 10 AM – 6 PM with free entry on every Mondays

Location map of the different venues of the KMB

The Biennale takes place in a range of venues centered around Fort Kochi-Mattancherry. All venues are open every day from 10 AM – 6 PM with free entry on every Mondays. Click here to access the official website of the KMB and see more information.

One of the buildings in the Aspinwall House Compound

The Biennale takes place in ten venues centered around Fort Kochi-Mattancherry. We suggest starting the day from the Aspinwall House and spending at least half a day here as it is the primary venue of the Biennale hosting numerous artist led projects and events spaces. The tickets for the Biennale are available here for INR 100 or you can buy them online as well.

Such lovely views from the Aspinwall House
Residential Bungalow in the Aspinwall House
The famous Gond Art from our Home State – Madhya Pradesh by Gond artists Durgabai and Subhash Vyam

A huge Tyre weighing 370 tonnes and made by JK Tyres is installed in the middle of the Aspinwall House and is definitely an eye catcher

Where photographs are able to recite a story themselves

Marzia Farhana’s excellent multi-media installation of what got destroyed is a painful reminder of the floods which caused havoc across the state of Kerala earlier in the year

The entry is free to all venues if you visit on a Monday. Various interesting workshops like clay modelling, wood carving, painting amongst many others are conducted in these venues during the festival.

the wood carving workshop in progress
Another intriguing installation at the pepper house, one of the venues of KMB
Metropolis by Lubna Chowdhary at the Pepper House
Hope you liked the blog, please help spread the word
error
India

Our Bucket List for Fort Kochi

Kochi is one enchanting city in the God’s Own Country. And Fort Kochi, a region in the city of Kochi, is literally an intriguing potpourri of various cultures which can be seen and felt in it’s every nook and corner. From Pardesi synagogues to the giant Chinese fishing nets to the Dutch cemeteries to the century old hotels & houses and lot more

A bit about Kochi History

Kochi traces its history back many centuries, when it was the center of Indian spice trade for hundreds of years. We had read about it all at the Indo Portugese Museum and took notes. In the 13th century, the floods in the Periyar & Pamba rivers created the backwaters. When the water receded, the city of Kochi (Cochin) was born and soon became a popular harbor. People from different places such as Arabia, Persia, China frequently visited the harbor & established their presence. In the 15th century, the Portuguese arrived & set up the first European settlement in India with its headquarters in Fort Kochi, constructed building and churches and did the trading of spices with the King of Cochin. In 1662-63, the Dutch came and conquered the city of Cochin from the Portuguese but gave away the city to the rising British power in the 18th century.

Getting There

Kochi, a growing metropolis of Kerala, is touted to be one of the most popular tourist destinations to visit when in India by foreigners and Indians alike. We took an early morning flight from Bangalore to Kochi which just took one hour and fit our budget as well. As soon as we landed in Kochi we were awestruck by the beautiful paintings and sophisticated decor at the airport. We were so impressed to know that Kochi Airport is the world’s first airport to be fully powered by solar energy. Quite impressive isn’t it.

Vibrant Mural paintings at the Kochi Airport

By Air: Kochi is easily accessible and almost all the domestic airlines fly in and out of Kochi. The Kochi airport is located a bit far from the city, around 44 km from Fort Kochi. One can easily get prepaid / uber / ola taxis at the airport to reach the city.

By Road: Driving down to Kochi is another fun yet smooth way of reaching there with the added enjoyment of driving through Kerala countryside

By train: Kochi is well connected to almost every part of India through the means of Indian Railways. It has direct trains running to either of the two railway stations in Cochin – Ernakulam Town Station and Ernakulam Junction Station from all major cities in India

By Water:  One can reach Cochin by water from destinations like Goa, Mumbai, Lakshadweep, Colombo and Male. There are regular yachts and cruise ship services on these routes and make for a scenic journey

Top things to do in Fort Kochi

When in Fort Kochi don’t go looking for a Fort since there isn’t any. The first part of its name comes from the Fort Emmanuel which was constructed by the Portuguese but was destroyed by the Dutch when they invaded Kochi. Today only the ruins of the Fort remains.

1. Kochi Muziris Biennale

Click here to read our detailed post on the Kochi Muziris Biennale

Kochi Muziris Biennale, an art exhibition and festival, is the largest of its kind in South Asia. The fourth edition of the Biennale will run from 12 December, 2018 until 29 March, 2019. Artists from all over the world exhibit their art work at Biennale, Cochin. The Biennale takes place in a range of venues centered around Fort Kochi-Mattancherry. All venues are open every day from 10 AM – 6 PM with free entry on every Mondays. Click here to see more information.

One of the buildings in the Aspinwall House Compound

We suggest starting the day from the Aspinwall House and spending at least half a day here as it is the primary venue of the Biennale hosting numerous artist led projects and events spaces. The tickets for the Biennale are available here for INR 100 or you can buy them online as well.

The entry is free to all venues if you visit on a Monday. Various interesting workshops like clay modelling, wood carving, painting amongst many others are conducted in these venues during the festival.

2. Kathakali performance

Furious Draupadi calling for Lord Krishna after the vastraharan

Kathakali is a story-play genre of art but amazingly distinguished by the colorful make up, costumes and face-masks and not to be missed when in Kochi. We visited the Kerala Kathakali Centre in Fort Kochi & attended the evening show. The group performed draupadi’s vastraharan and bheem avenging her by killing dushashan. and was quite enthralling. We watched the entire performance literally at the edge of the seat, totally thrilled.

Tip: Usually there are two evening shows & mostly go houseful, it is advisable to call & block seats in advance and the tickets can be later picked up from the venue. To make reservations you can call on +919895534939/ +919895860646 or click here to visit their website

Krishna consoling Draupadi after her Vastraharan by Dushashan

3. Chinese Fishing Nets

One of the most iconic landmarks of Cochin are the Chinese Fishing Nets or Cheena vala as called by locals. Catching a sunset is a must near these fishing nets. People do complain about the place being over-crowded & dirty but the sight of catch being brought in, and the nets being lowered back into the sea, is one not to be missed. Quite interesting to see how these nets works on the principle of balance, made of teak wood & bamboo poles

The Beautiful sun setting behind the Chinese Nets

4. Streets of Fort Kochi

You know what is one of the best attractions of Fort Kochi – It’s vibrant streets. These artsy streets have a lovely old world charm and house the European style quarters laden with beautiful bougainvillea and is undoubtedly the most buzzing part of Fort Cochin. Either rent a bicycle or a bike to comfortably explore around and soak in the beauty of these lanes

During our stay in Fort Kochi we aimlessly wandered around the Bastian street, Rose Street, Burgher street, Princess Street and River road to name a few and discovered such gorgeous local cafes, restaurants and shops. All these streets also have lovely graffiti arts painted on its walls and adds to the charm of these streets and not to be missed

5. Churches of Fort Kochi

In a city with so many churches, St. Francis Church and Santa Cruz Basilica are our favorites. The St. Francis Church is actually one of the first European churches built in India. Presumably it owes its origin to the Franciscan Friars who accompanied the Portuguese expedition in 1500 AD. Here in this church, Vasco Da Gama was laid to rest in 1524 AD until his remains were removed and taken to Portugal in 1538 AD

St Francis Church
Santa Cruz Basilica

6. Jew Town

A small neighborhood of Mattancherry, the Jew Town got it’s name in 1524 when the Jews migrated from Kodungallore and were given shelter in the city by the King of Cochin. Today, there are only handful of Jews who reside here but the local shops selling souvenirs, antique products and spices thrive in this neighborhood.

The lanes of the Jew Town bustling with local handicraft stores

When in Jew Town, dont miss visiting Sarah Cohen’s Shop. She is the oldest surviving Paradesi Jew of Cochin and perhaps the most photographed and fondly visited member of the community. Amongst hordes of tourist shops in Jew town, her shop is one of the last few authentic Judaica shops. The shop sells products like table cloths, runners, Kippa (cap) etc.

Situated in the middle of the Jew Town, The Pardesi synagogue is a historic Jewish site of culture, religious and artistic significance. It was built in 1568 by descendants of Spanish, Dutch & other European Jews. When visiting this synagogue, do notice the ornate glass chandelier that was bought from Belgium and the stunning hand painted 1100 floor tiles from china, none of them identical (Photography isn’t allowed inside the synagogue). In case you are interested to know more about the history of Jews in Kerala, do buy an information booklet available in the Synagogue for just 100 INR.

250 year old clock tower right outside the Pardeshi Synagogue

Click here for the Google Maps Location of the Synagogue

Visiting Hours: 10 AM to 1 PM and 3 PM to 5 PM on all days except Fridays (afternoons), Saturdays and Jewish holidays

7. Mattancherry Palace Museum (Dutch Palace)

The Mattancherry Palace is a must visit for any history enthusiast. The museum is housed in one of the sections of the Palace which was built in 1555. During 1665, this palace went under major repair under Dutch’s rule & hence came to known as the Dutch Palace. The most stunning part of the palace are the Mural paintings covering nearly 300 sq.m area depicting various scenes from the Ramayana. The palace museum exhibits oil paintings of the Kochi Rajas, their Palanquins, Dress, Weapons & a lot more interesting details.

Visiting Hours: 9 AM to 5 PM on all days except on fridays (Entry Fee – 5 INR)

Click here for the Google Maps Location

Mural Paintings in the Mattancherry Palace Museum

8. Indo-Portuguese Museum

The Indo – Portuguese Museum displays the eminent influence of Portuguese on the art and architecture of Kochi. Quite a good place to visit to know about Kochi History. Photography is not allowed inside the museum

Click here for Google Maps Location

Visiting Hours: 10 AM to 5 PM on all days except Mondays and Public Holidays.

Our 2 Cents

  • Hire a bike or a cycle to comfortably explore Fort Kochi. We rented a bike from Ocean’s Pride Tour at reasonable charges. Call Biju at 9746492193 / 9846960093 for more information. (Landmark: Alice Delices Restaurant) 
  • You can also choose to cover the major attractions in Fort Kochi via one hour auto ride. The auto drivers usually charge 100 INR for the tour but you may have to bargain with them
  • Stay in Fort Kochi as there are quite a few luxury & budgeted stay options available
  • Do not forget to bargain while shopping
  • Wear comfortable cotton clothes as it gets pretty hot and humid during the day in Kochi
  • Get up early in the morning and you will have the beautiful streets and the graffiti arts of Fort Kochi all for yourself minus the crowd
  • Buy spices from the Gujarati Bazaar near Jew Town as the locals shop from here. At other places you may be overcharged
  • Most sightseeing places in Kochi are closed on Mondays. The usual timing of these places are 9 AM to 1 PM and 2 PM to 5 PM. So plan accordingly
Hope you liked the blog, please help spread the word
error
India

Yercaud: Weekend getaway for a quick rejuvenation

Sometimes all you need is a quick quality escape from the daily hustle, a scenic road drive and a decent destination to head to. Yercaud definitely fits the bill for one living in Bangalore. Yercaud is not touted among the popular hill stations in South India especially in the western ghats, but as they say, beautiful places exist all around you, you just need to look for it

Yercaud is Located in the Salem district of Tamil Nadu and nestled in the Shevaroys range of hills in the Eastern Ghats. Some 20 km and 22 hairpin bends away from the Salem city, lies this picturesque hill station where you can drive down to rejuvenate.

1. Stay at the Regent Hill Side Villa

For us, a vacation becomes perfect when we get what we wish for. Stay in a vintage cottage constructed during the British era, delectable non vegetarian food, warm hosts who treat you as family members and lots of cute pet dogs and birds who will keep you occupied the whole day, what else we could wish for.

There are quite a few hotels and resorts to stay in Yercaud that suits everyone’s budget. If you wish to have a bit more luxurious stay, the following resorts can also be considered:

  1. Hotel Great Trails Yercaud By GRT
  2. Grand Palace Hotel And Spa
A beautiful English cottage filled with unique vintage collectibles

The entire place has its own amusing character which it displays with so much delight. Multitudes of signboards and frames display all the instructions and information in all it’s best sense of humor.

As this time we wanted a bit of a laid back vacation and as we have been to Yercaud earlier as well, we didn’t go extensive on the sightseeing and instead spent good time at the property playing with pets, taking a walk in the green lawn surrounded with beautiful flowers with birds chirping and flocking around

Being non vegetarians, we were in for a treat during our stay here. The in-house restaurant ‘Sweet Rascal’ serves all the delectable non vegetarian food one can imagine be it Indian, Continental or Italian. And top it with some really amazing milkshakes. But, if you are a vegetarian then you can skip this restaurant for food as you won’t get any choices to order from

To book accommodation at the property, please directly contact the owner, Mr. Vishu Kariappa at +91 94437 00000 (we couldn’t find the property listed with any of the travel websites)

2. Annamalaiyar View Point

The Annamalaiyar View Point is located around 8 km from the Yercaud city and undoubtedly offers the best views of the Shevaroys Hills. The road to the View Point is decent except for the last one kilometer which is a diversion from the main road and a bit steep and dilapidated.

Beautiful sceneries on the way to the Annamalaiyar View Point
Magical view of the Shevaroys range of hills in the Eastern Ghats

3. Montfort School

Only seen in movies, we had never seen a boarding school in real. We always wanted to see one having beautiful campus, manicured gardens, and buildings displaying British era architecture. During one of the many conversations over tea, Mr. Vishu told us that he is an esteemed alumni of the Montfort school in Yercaud. And in an instant he could see the excitement gleaming in our eyes and offered to arrange a tour of the school for us.

The main entrance of the Montfort School
Manicured gardens and flowers everywhere in the Montfort School
Lovely colors and architecture in the Montfort School

Apart from these places, here’s a list of other places to see and do in Yercaud

  1. Yercaud Lake
  2. Pagoda View Point
  3. Killiyur Waterfalls
  4. Lady’s Seat
Yercaud Lake – One of the main attractions of Yercaud

Hope you enjoyed our blog post and found it helpful. Let us know in the comments or by sharing it with the social media links! We’d love to keep sharing travel tips so feel free to subscribe by e-mail. You can also follow us on Instagram and Facebook

Hope you liked the blog, please help spread the word
error
India

Jaipur – The travel guide to the Pink City

Ever thought to visit a place which has the beauty to charm you in every possible way. Jaipur – fondly known as The Pink City of India holds one such reputation that will take you back in an era & then will bring you back to its modern charm. Certainly, the city still maintains the intricate balance of history & modernity. We spent three days in Jaipur and wished if we could plan our trip for more days and with an empty suitcase, if you know what we mean. But that is for later. So lets get started

View from Nahargarh fort overlooking Jaipur city in Rajasthan
View from Nahargarh fort overlooking the City of Jaipur, Rajasthan

Getting There

Jaipur, the capital of Rajasthan, is touted to be one of the most popular tourist destinations to visit when in India by foreigners and Indians alike. We took an early morning flight from New Delhi to Jaipur which just took one hour and fit our budget as well.

By Air: Jaipur is easily accessible and almost all the domestic airlines fly in and out of Jaipur. The Jaipur airport is located around 12 km from the city center and one can easily get prepaid taxis at the airport to reach the city. 
By Road: If driving to Jaipur, Courtesy Rajasthan tourism, the highways in Rajasthan are decent and make for a smooth ride. 
By train: Jaipur is well connected to almost every part of India through the means of Indian Railways. It has direct trains running to Jaipur from all major cities in India. A special mention to the ‘Palace on wheels’ which makes a scheduled stop at Jaipur

Where To Stay in Jaipur

Being quite a popular tourist destination for foreigners and Indians alike, one can easily find a lot of options among top hotels, resorts, vintage Havelis, budget hotels, hostels & Airbnbs. We picked Hilton Jaipur for our stay. We did the booking through Make my Trip and got a good deal as they were running some promotions on the Hilton Hotels. The hotel lived up to its standards and the staff was very hospitable and always wore a smile but we particularly loved the hotel for it’s location as it is located in the city center with some of the popular sightseeing spots & markets within 8-10 km of the hotel. It was a very good decision as we could easily come back to the hotel midday to get some rest before resuming back

The King Room in Hilton Jaipur

Enjoy Jaipur with Zoom Car

One decision which really made our trip super comfortable and enjoyable was booking the car with Zoomcar. We booked a Ford Ecosport with Zoomcar, picked the car from the parking site with ease, which was pretty close to our Hotel (currently Zoomcar in Jaipur doesn’t offer airport pick and drop facility) The car was well maintained, clean, comfortable and had all the necessary papers. Having the car at our disposal meant that we could go out for drives at our ease, stop wherever we wanted to, Shivani shopping to her heart’s content without having to worry to carry the stuff around 🙂

A comfortable ride around the city with Zoomcar at our ease

Places to visit in Jaipur

We would suggest taking at least more than 2 days to enjoy and soak in what all the Pink City has to offer. One can easily get distracted, such is Jaipur’s charm. So Let us make it easier for you and share the list of top places that you should definitely make time for 

Amer/Amber Fort: 

Just 11 km drive from the Jaipur city, Amber fort is located on the Aravalli range of hills in Amer and is one the most magnificent forts in the entire state of Rajasthan. Constructed of red sandstone and marble, the palace is laid out on four levels, each with a courtyard. It consists of the Diwan-e-Aam, the Diwan-e-Khas, the Sheesh Mahal (mirror palace) and the Sukh Niwas

To fully admire the beauty of this fort, one must make a visit in the evening to see the lit up palace. The Light and Sound Show is not to be missed if you are interested in the history of the Amer Fort. The Show is quite fascinating with Amitabh Bachchan narrating the stories (in Hindi) of the valor of the Rajput kings with the exterior of the fort providing a perfect backdrop for the lights.

Show Timings*

  • English Narration: 6:30 PM (Oct-Feb); 7:00 PM (Mar-Apr); 7:30 PM (May-Sept)
  • Hindi Narration: 7:30 PM (Oct-Feb); 8:00 PM (Mar-Apr); 8:30 PM (May-Sept) 

*subject to change -based on general day-light conditions 

The entry fee of the show:  INR 250 per head

Contact: +91 141-2530844, 93516 17799 for any further information

Amer Fort in Jaipur, Rajasthan
The Amer Palace gleaming with glory 

Our 2 cents: 

  1. Wear comfortable shoes- as you will have to climb around 450-500 steps to reach the entrance of the fort.
  2. Hire a guide at the fort. We hired Mr. Naresh for the guided tour. He took the time to know us and tailored the fort tour based on our interests. He was very knowledgeable of the Amer Fort History and we thoroughly enjoyed the way he weaved in the anecdotes while giving us the tour. We would definitely recommend him for the guided tour of the Amer Fort. You can reach him at +91-9352396697
  3. There is a 300 meters walk from the parking lot to the light and sound show premises. Park your car at the parking lot and you can get a shared auto easily from there to the point (charge of INR 40- 50 per head) or you can choose to walk as well

City Palace:

Yet another jewel in the crown of Jaipur, where you would want to spend at least 2-3 hours to fully admire it’s beauty. 

The ‘Diwan-I-Khas’ or the ‘Hall of Private Audience’

The most resplendent & gorgeous sections of this palace are the Mubarak Mahal, Chandra Mahal & above all the most enchanting Pritam Chowk which is a courtyard with 4 most stunning and elaborately carved 18th-century gateways each representing a season- Peacock Gate that represents Autumn; Lotus Gate that represents Summer; Rose Gate that represents Winter; Leheriya Gate that represents Spring

A part of the palace is still being used as a residence by the royals. If you see the Sawai flag hoisted, it means that the king is currently in the palace, Isn’t that cool. There is a very interesting anecdote to the title of Sawai used in the honour of the Maharajas here. Impressed by his wit, Jai Singh II of Jaipur was given the title of Sawai (worth one and a quarter person) at the age of eleven by the Mughal Emperor, Aurangzeb. 

Nahargarh Fort:

Visit this fort before the dusk & enjoy the beautiful sun setting in the back drop of the Pink City. Moreover, the night views of the “Pink City” Jaipur are spectacular from the fort. Situated around 6 km from the Jaipur City, this fort was used as a defense fort to the city of Amer in its days 

Fort Timings: 10 AM – 5:30 PM

Entry Fee: Overseas Tourists – 300 INR and Indians – 25 INR

sunset at nahargarh fort
Catching yet another mystical sunset at the Nahargarh Fort
The famous stepwell at the Nahargarh Fort
The famous stepwell at the Nahargarh Fort
the stone wings at the Nahargarh Fort
Shivani playing around with the stone wings at the Nahargarh Fort
The spectacular night views of the Jaipur City from the Nahargarh Fort
The spectacular night view of the Jaipur City from the Nahargarh Fort

After touring the Nahargarh Fort , we stopped by at the restaurant ‘Once upon a time’ for some good beer and fascinating night views of the Jaipur City   

Patrika Gate

Patrika gate is yet another example of symmetrical and intricate architecture and not to be missed. Standing tall right in the middle of Jawahar circle, this Pink color gate symbolizes the rich heritage & vibrant culture of Rajasthan. You will find all the famous temples, forts and landmarks of Jaipur hand painted on the walls and ceilings of the gate 

An Early Sunny morning at the Patrika Gate, Jaipur
An Early Sunny morning at the Patrika Gate
The Gorgeous Patrika Gate in the Gorgeous Jaipur
The Gorgeous Patrika Gate in the Gorgeous Jaipur

Hawa Mahal

Hawa Mahal to Jaipur is exactly like Eiffel Tower is to Paris, such is it’s charm. The five story fort was built in 1799 & was designed in the shape of Lord Krishna’s crown. It was built for the Royal Rajput ladies so that they can enjoy every day street scenes to royal processions on the street without being seen by people. Hawa Mahal, Jaipur has 953 honeycomb-shaped windows on the outside walls, which allow the breeze to blow through the palace making it perfect for summers 

The Iconic Hawa Mahal
The Iconic Hawa Mahal in Jaipur

Gatore Ki Chhatriyan

Undoubtedly one of the most underrated attractions in Jaipur is the Gatore ki Chhatriyan (Royal Gaitore Tombs). We hardly found any tourists here and thus ended up spending quite a lot of time exploring, photographing and playing with the pigeons in this complex of temples and tombs surrounded by the hills 

Gatore ki Chhatriyan in Jaipur, Rajasthan
Gatore Ki Chhatriyan or Royal Tombs in Jaipur, Rajasthan
Multitude of pigeons in every nook and corner of Jaipur

Albert Hall Museum

As luck would have it, This one place we couldn’t visit from inside as we had we planned to visit the Albert Hall Museum on a Tuesday (which was our last day in Jaipur as well) & once we reached, got to know that from October to March, it remains closed every month’s last Tuesday & April to September Every Monday for maintenance work. But nevertheless we spent quite a good time in front of the museum playing with pigeons, feeding them and framing and capturing the spectacular architecture and design of the building.

Albert Hall Museum in Jaipur
Albert Hall Museum, An Abode to the Pigeons in Jaipur
Albert Hall Museum in Jaipur
One of the rare pictures of us two, together

We were just spell bound by the Spectacular night views of the Albert Hall Museum gleaming and changing colors every minute. We’d suggest to take a stroll around the museum at night to enjoy the outstanding view at leisure.

Jaigarh Fort:

Perched on Cheel ka tilla (hill of eagles) and located on one of the peaks of the Aravalli range of Hills, Jaigarh fort has some stunning views of the Jaipur City & boasts of having the world’s largest cannon on wheels

Anokhi Museum of Hand printing

As the name suggests The Anokhi Museum of Hand Printing is a museum dedicated to the art of block printing. The museum also houses a shop that carries a selection of hand-crafted merchandise including clothing, furnishings, jewelry, books and cards. The museum is located in Amer & you can club your visit to this place with the Amber Fort.  

Timings: 

Tuesday – Saturday: 10:30 AM – 5:00 PM; Sunday: 11:00 AM – 4:30 PM. Closed on Mondays

Jal Mahal

Jal Mahal is located around 4 km from Jaipur and is located on the main Amer-Jaipur road. We made a quick stopover at this place for some photographs while returning from the Amer fort as it lies on the same road.

Jal Mahal, Jaipur
The night view of the Jal Mahal was prettier than what it may seem from the picture

Last but not the least, do make time for driving around the city to enjoy the night views. The charms of Jaipur wrap themselves in different colors be it the Albert Hall Museum, Jal Mahal, Hawa Mahal or Amer Palace.  

Hope you enjoyed our blog post and found it helpful. Let us know in the comments or by sharing it with the social media links! We’d love to keep sharing travel tips so feel free to subscribe by e-mail. You can also follow us on Instagram and Facebook

Hope you liked the blog, please help spread the word
error
Vietnam

Driving the coveted Hai Van Pass

Hai Van Pass:

There’s beauty everywhere, all you have to do it to look around. Stunning seaside views, mountainous landscape, low lying puffy clouds, wide open road, fresh air, and the thrill of discovering what lies around the next bend aptly describe the Hai Van Pass. Driving on this much-coveted road is everything a traveler and photographer can ask for. This 20 km of picturesque roadway winds up and over multitudes of mountains, connecting the city of Da Nang with the town of Lang Co in Hue province.

Hai Van Pass

The Gorgeous Hai Van Pass

Stunning views from the Hai Van Pass. How can you not fall in love with it !!

Being from India, knowing to ride a motorbike was a given. But since we had never done a motorbike trip on a vacation before, we exercised a bit of caution. We researched thoroughly while putting our itinerary in place and decided to take the bike on rent from Motorvina – one of the highly rated bike rental agencies in Vietnam. We did the motorbike booking online in advance as well since we wanted to leave from Da Nang before the crack of the dawn to catch yet another majestic sunrise from the Hai Van Pass and add it to our list of successful sunrise chases. But as luck would have it, we landed in Da Nang the previous night only at 2100 hrs due to flight delay and could only take the bike for rent the next day around 0700 hrs. But nonetheless, Hai Van Pass for its scenic and an unforgettable drive will still remain one of the highlights of our Vietnam trip.

One of the most beautiful and unspoiled Panoramic views we have ever seen !!

The Locals trying to get a perfect shot of the Hai Van Pass. Would advise against taking such risks on the highway though

Lang Co Beach:

The Hai Van Pass ends at the Lang Co beach which is an attraction in itself. the beach is about 8km long, located along with the National Highway 1A, and has been known as one of the most popular beaches of Vietnam. With long stretches of white sand, the vast blue waters of the ocean and rainforests on the undulating mountains, the Lang Co beach is definitely a delight for any beach lover.

Click here for the location of the Lang co Bay View Point on Google Maps

View from the Lang Co Viewpoint. Doesn’t Lang Co bay look like a postcard picture !!

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

We were welcomed by a beautiful sunset at Da Nang

Quick Tips:

  • Don’t be misled by the short distance of the Hai Van Pass. You will definitely take more time as you would want to stop for a photograph or two every 5 minutes on it. So plan accordingly.
  • If you plan to drive all the way to Hue from Da Nang and enjoy Hai Van Pass on the way, then would suggest you to either stay at Hue or return by car if you want to come back the same day. The two-way bike ride from Da Nang to Hue can be a bit tiring given the distance and humid weather.
  • We rented Suzuki GZ150 from Motorvina for a one way rental of 45 USD (The two way rental for the bike was around 33 USD). The bike was pretty comfortable and had two luggage racks. You can contact Motorvina at +84 935922866 for any more information. Other gears and accessories (apart from the helmets) were also available at a nominal rent. We came back by a chauffeured car and paid 45 USD for the same. (Use – motovina2018 for 10% discount while booking with them)
  • The bike rental agencies usually insist upon keeping the passport towards security. Check with them and instead carry and give them some other ID proof along with a credit card deposit.

Hope you enjoyed reading this post? Let us know in the comments or by sharing it with the social media links! We’d love to keep sharing travel tips so feel free to subscribe by e-mail. You can also follow us on Instagram and Facebook 

Hope you liked the blog, please help spread the word
error
Vietnam

Your Guide to Hanoi Street Food

Those who know us well know that we are foodies. For us, the culinary experiences form an essential part of our travel escapades. While traveling to places, we love to explore around and try the local cuisines as they are the cultural gateway, the dishes and drinks get us deeper into a culture, leading to interactions with local people and incredible travel experiences !!

The Vietnamese cuisine is one of the most delicious and healthy cuisines in the world. Thanks to its tropical climate and diverse landscape, Vietnam is blessed with a variety of plants and herbs which make its way into the food bowl. When in Vietnam, we were pleasantly surprised by seeing the high healthy quotient in the food consumed.

Paul Prudhomme once said – ‘You don’t need a silver fork to eat good food”. When it comes to Hanoi food culture, this is true to the core where you get a great variety of tastiest street food in the narrow bylanes of its Old Quarter. We spent hours strolling in the Hanoi Old Quarters exploring the local eateries, enjoying the sumptuous food and exchanging pleasantries with the locals. As the Old Quarters swarms with such eateries, it is important to know these hidden gems tucked away in some corner that serve the most popular (with locals) and authentic food which becomes overwhelming at times to find. To make it easier for you, after a lot of research, we bring you our Hanoi Street Food Guide which lists the dishes that we treated our taste buds with and would highly recommend you to to do as well. So let’s get started.

1. Bun Cha:

Bun Cha is one of the most popular local dishes in Hanoi. Some say this dish originated in Hanoi & can only be found in Northern Vietnam. Bun Cha is barbequed pork two ways with flavourful broth served with rice vermicelli and generously sprinkled with greens, herbs & dipping sauce to the side. You will find many roadside eateries serving Bun Cha but instead, head to Bun Cha Dac Kim on Hang Manh Street which is quite popular amongst the locals and is known for serving the most authentic Bun Cha in town.

Click here for the location on Google Maps

Bun Cha Dac Kim

Bun Cha – Our First Meal in Vietnam

Bun Cha Dac Kim

Bun Cha Dac Kim on the Hang Manh Street

2. Egg Coffee:

Yes, you read it right. This mysterious beverage, favorite among locals (also known as Cà Phê Trứng), is made by beating an egg yolk with sweetened condensed milk until it makes an airy, creamy fluff. This eggy goodness is then slowly poured on top of the hot espresso or iced coffee. There are many cafes that serve Egg Coffee but it was Mr. Nguyen Giang who invented this coffee & opened Giang Cafe in 1946. Since then, this cafe has been a local favorite.

Click here for the location on Google Maps

Egg Coffee at Giang Cafe, Hanoi

Egg Coffee at Giang Cafe, Hanoi

3. Pho:

Originally from northern Vietnam and had by rice field workers, Pho today is one of the most iconic and staple dishes of Vietnam, usually eaten for breakfast. Pho consists of a clear beef or chicken-based broth, rice noodles, greens and herbs, and thinly sliced meats. We tried Pho across various places in Vietnam but the best Pho bowl we had was in Hanoi at Pho Bat Dan. It is undoubtedly one of the most frequently visited places by locals & tourists alike.

Quick Tip: Do not get intimidated by the old character of the place and the meat pieces hanging at the shop food counter. Just order a Pho bowl and slurp on it.

Click here for the location on Google Maps

Pho

All the goodness of meat, greens, and herbs in one Bowl of Pho

The old rustic charm of the restaurant

4. Hoa Qua Dam:

Simply put, Hoa Qua Dam resembles fruit custard and was the most refreshing dessert we had in Hanoi. It is a bowl loaded with seasonal fruits mixed & topped with coconut & condensed milk, yogurt, crushed ice & few drops of flavored jelly. We treated ourselves with Hoa Qua Dam while roaming around in the weekend market thus won’t be able to share the exact location but you can easily spot local street vendors or shops selling this.

5. Beer Street:

Ta Hien, famously known as ‘The Beer Street’ is a small street lying in the famous Old Quarter of Hanoi, near Hoan Kiem Lake. During the Day, this street looks like one of the many streets of the Old Quarters in Hanoi. But during the night, especially on weekends, it transforms itself into one of the most crowded and happening streets in the Old Quarter bustling with people. Foreign travelers and locals gather in this small street and enjoy Bia Hoi, a local favorite draught beer. We earned a very different experience for ourselves -  sat on small-sized plastic chairs on the street, sipped beer after a long day of exploring Hanoi and enjoyed looking at the cluttering charm of Vietnam.

6. Cong Caphe:

This place was not there on our list but as luck would have it, we were destined to visit this place. Fortunately, we discovered this cafe one fine evening while looking to save ourselves from a sudden rain shower. We were welcomed by a very cute and excited pug dog who was intent to lick everyone as a customary way of him greeting people. We instantly fell in love with the rustic charm of the cafe and a variety of beverages listed on the menu. Would strongly recommend trying their Coconut Coffee.

Coconut Coffee at the Cong Caphe

 

The recommended places to eat in the Old Quarters of Hanoi

Hope you enjoyed reading this post? Let us know in the comments or by sharing it with the social media links! We’d love to keep sharing travel tips so feel free to subscribe by e-mail. You can also follow us on Instagram and Facebook 

Hope you liked the blog, please help spread the word
error
India

Your Guide to a Picturesque Road Trip to Munnar

Lush green tea estates in Munnar

Envision a place that takes you through an amazing sensory expedition and every time you take a step further, it holds you back to soak in the aroma one last time. Brightly colored houses, lush green tea estates, low lying clouds, shy but ever-smiling locals – Munnar is a different world of its own full of beauty, charm, and surprises.

Click here to know how to reach Munnar

You must be thinking why one needs to read about such a popular destination beforehand. With Munnar being one of the most preferred destinations where tourists flock from all parts of the world, it still has some unexplored parts slightly less untouched. And it goes without saying that one gets the perk of soaking in the beauty of these places in solitude. So let’s get started.

1. Staying at the Wind, Chinnakanal, Munnar

Imagine waking up every morning to hear the chirping of the birds, see the sun’s golden rays kiss the mist-clad hills. watch the clouds as they drift away slowly and sip tea on the balcony with a panoramic view of the green valley. We got to experience all of this during our stay at the Wind. 23 km away from Munnar town, the resort is secluded from the city hustle bustle and is nestled on the cliff’s edge.

Click here for the Google Maps Location

We stayed in the cliff edge cottage that offered tantalizing views of the green valleys and misty mountains. With a limited number of cottages, you also tend to enjoy the solitude at the resort. However, the downside is that you have to book way in advance to get to stay here. Funnily though, we were so intent on staying here that we postponed our Munnar trip once due to unavailability of any rooms here.

A special mention to George, the hotel manager who accommodated all of our requests, the hotel chef who customized all our meals as per our liking and the staff who always wore a smile and made us feel like at home.

The breathtaking view of the valley from our cottage balcony

These beautiful birds paid a visit to us every morning in our cottage balcony

2. Sunrise from the Kolukkumalai Peak

I feel the sky above changing colors, I feel the mist in the air, I feel the mountains around me, I feel the flora and fauna awakening, I feel the rays of the rising sun, I feel blessed, I feel contended !!

Some places should be seen with your own eyes to believe that they do exist. One and a half hours away from our resort, the Kolukkumalai Peak is snuggled in the clouds and is more magical than what we could manage to capture. We still remember this morning as if it was yesterday – the chill in the air, the serenity and the magic unwrapping as the sun rose and lit the mountains.

Kolukkumalai is home to the highest tea plantations in the world and is also famous for its panoramic views and the rugged mountains that surround it. Undoubtedly the best Sunrise spot in Munnar.

Click here for the location on Google Maps

The beautiful sky changing colors just before the sunrise

Breathtaking sunrise view from the Kolukklumalai Peak

Kolukkumalai was around one and a half hours away from our resort (if staying around Munnar town do start two hours before the sunrise, you don’t want to reach the peak after a bumpy ride and still miss the magical sunrise). George was kind enough to arrange for a Jeep for us and we woke up and started from the resort before the crack of the dawn around 4:30 AM. After 60 min of an extremely bumpy ride and a couple of hairpin bends, we reached the Kolukkumalai peak.

The memorable bumpy ride to the Kolukkumalai peak that shook us, literally 😀

Believe us you won’t regret starting at 4 AM and going up a rugged road, the magical sunrise and panoramic views at the peak make up for it

The panoramic view of the Western Ghats from the Kolukkumalai Peak

Watching the sunrise in its full glory

Kolukkumalai Tea Estate

The Panoramic view of the Kolukkumalai Tea Estate

3. Chinnakanal

Chinnakanal has some stunning panoramic landscapes in its vicinity with some major attractions like Lockhart Tea Estate, Periyakanal Tea Factory, Power House Waterfalls and Anayirangal Dam amongst others which one can enjoy by avoiding the hordes of tourists. We found Chinnakanal to be more calm and serene than Munnar. We spent hours driving around in Chinnakanal and stopping at every nook and corner to capture its beauty through the lens

Click here for the location on Google Maps

the beautiful roads of Chinnakanal

Periyakanal Tea Estate

Walking through the beautiful tea plantations soaking in the sights and aroma

Taking a stroll in the lush tea estates near the Power House Waterfalls

4. Lockhart Tea Estate

“Our happiest moments as tourists always seem to come when we stumble upon one thing while in pursuit of something else”

We realized the true meaning of the wise words by Lawrence Block in Munnar. After having a great time in Chinnakanal, we decided to explore some popular tourist spots around Munnar town on the third day. Being a weekend that day, we hired a chauffeured car for the whole day to save ourselves from driving in heavy traffic and wasting time in looking for parking spots. Although after witnessing hordes of tourists at all the spots we decided to head back early. But as luck would have it, we crossed one of the most charming and picturesque tea estates of Munnar on our way back to Chinnakanal – The Lockhart Tea Estate. And we got really lucky to watch the sun setting behind the manicured tea estates across the rolling hills.

Quick Tip: We paid around 1200 bucks for the full day car rental and would strongly recommend hiring a car if you plan to  peacefully visit the tourist spots near the Munnar town over the weekend

Click here for the location on Google Maps

Lush green tea estates in Munnar

Lush green tea estates in Munnar as far as the eye can see

 

The Sunset from Lockhart Tea Estate was just breathtaking

Lockhart Tea Estate

The Panoramic view of the Lockhart Tea Estate

Apart from the pristine Tea Estates, here’s a list of other things to see and do in the area

  1. Mattupetty Dam and Lake
  2. Anayirankal Dam and Lake
  3. Echo Point
  4. Spice Garden
  5. Horticulture Garden
  6. Top Station

Getting There

The most convenient way to reach Munnar is to fly to Kochi and rent a car from there (Munnar is approx 160 km away from Kochi). But given the excellent conditions of highways in South India, we decided to do a road trip all the way to Munnar from Bangalore. With Shivani not well versed in highway driving meant that I only had to drive all the way to Munnar. Since our resort was in Chinnakanal (23 km from Munnar towards South) we decided to break our journey at Dindigul. We started from Bangalore in the afternoon hours to halt and spend the night at Dindigul and cover the rest of the distance in the morning to reach Munnar. Dindigul was a much bigger town than we expected. We stayed at Praniv Plaza, a budgeted hotel, located in the heart of the town and okay to spend a night. When in Dindigul, you can also treat your taste buds with the Thalapakattu biryani but brace yourself with some spiciness

Click here for the Google Maps Directions

Did you enjoy this post? Let us know in the comments or by sharing it with the social media links! We’d love to keep sharing travel tips so feel free to subscribe by e-mail. You can also follow us on Instagram and Facebook 

Hope you liked the blog, please help spread the word
error
India

Gems of Hampi

If you really want to go back in time and get lost in the glory and relics of a bygone era, there is no better place than Hampi – an ancient land of temples and ruins amidst hills, boulders, farms, forest, and a beautiful river. We did a road trip to Hampi last month and must say that we really enjoyed that feeling of traveling back in time by looking at the remains and thinking about how magnificent it would have been back then.

The Hampi ruins are a UNESCO world heritage site. Hampi was the ancient capital of Vijayanagara and was one of the richest cities in its prime. But as legend has it, the city’s temples and palaces were ravaged by the invaders and burnt down.

Best Time to visit

As Hampi is situated on a rocky terrain and with not much greenery around, it tends to get unbearably hot in the afternoons. And since one has to cover ruins on foot, visiting Hampi should definitely be avoided during summer months (Apr – July). The best time to visit Hampi is during winter months (Oct-Mar) as the sun is calm and the weather is relatively pleasant. You can also time your visit with Hampi Utsav also known as Vijaya Utsav which happens in January every year.

Getting There

The most convenient way to reach Hampi from Bangalore is via train. The Hampi Express runs overnight between Bangalore and Hospet – the nearest city from Hampi, around 12 km away. We recently drove to Hampi although the drive wasn’t very scenic and road widening work in patches and traffic added to the woes. The total driving distance is around 350 km and usually takes 7-8 hours depending on the flow of the traffic.

Capture.JPG

Quick Tips if doing a road trip:

  1. Avoid driving on the patch from Bellari to Hampi as the road is in a really bad condition although Google suggests the Bangalore – Anantpur – Bellari – Hampi as the shortest route. Not sure why?
  2. Leave as early as possible in the morning – to avoid city traffic and save time and so to reach Hampi before the heat becomes oppressive and the driving becomes uncomfortable.
  3. Surprisingly we didn’t find a lot of quality highway eateries on the way from Bangalore to Hampi. So better stuff your car with some food, munchies and a lot of water.

Staying there

One can find a variety of accommodations from budget to luxury in Hampi. If looking for the budgeted Homestays in Hampi – One can stay on the other side of the river in Virupapur Gadde (commonly known as the Hippie Island) in bamboo huts at the edge of the paddy fields. Since we had our car at our disposal we preferred staying in Hospet (around 12 km from Hampi and 20 min drive) as it offers more comfortable accommodations. Below are the hotels where we stayed on our two trips to Hampi

  • Hotel Malligi is one of the oldest and finest hotels in Hospet and offers all the amenities and hospitality of an upscale property. The Hotel’s restaurant ‘Temptations‘ offers a variety of appetizing food to suit everyone’s palette – North Indian, South Indian, Continental or Chinese. Also, their Blue lagoon swimming pool was a saving grace for us from the scorching heat of Hampi. Afterall, who would not love a sip of beer and a dip in the pool in the hot Hampi afternoons. Budget – 1500 – 2000 INR per night for the stay. Click here for the google maps link
  • Vijaysree resort and Heritage Village is situated 8 km away from Hampi on the way to Hospet. It boasts of traditional Rajasthani charm, comfortable cottages, lush green landscaping and satvik lifestyle (meaning no indulging in alcohol and non-vegetarian food). We had a decent stay here and would recommend it for its proximity to Hampi and preferably for families with kids as the resort conducts art and cultural activities in the evenings. Budget – 3000 – 5000 INR per night for the stay. Click here for the google maps link

Gems of Hampi

1. Sunrise from the Matanga Hilltop

Why would you wake up early in the morning and trek for half an hour over the boulders before the sunrise? Simply to witness the rising sun painting the sky with a variety of hues and the magic unraveling. Also watching the sunrise really lifts our mood up and gets us going for the day. The highest point in Hampi, the Matanga Hilltop offers some stunning landscape views of the ruins amidst the rocky terrain if you are willing to trek a bit.

Hampi sunrise point from the Matanga Hilltop

Aerial view of the Achyuta Raya’s Temple complex from the Matanga Hilltop

TIP: Avoid following Google Maps to reach the base of the Matanga Hill as it will take you to the parking spot of the Virupaksha Temple and the hike from there is longer. Special mention to our guide for the trip, Parshuram who took us through a different route to a short but a bit steep hike to reach the hilltop faster. We parked our car at the Shri Hemkut Temple and started a bit steep but a short hike from there and it took us 20 min to reach the hilltop. Click here for the google maps link.

2. The Coracle Ride

The coracles have been used in India for eons. During our first visit to Hampi, we missed doing the coracle ride and we made sure to do it on our second visit. Must say that the ride was quite delightful, and special mention to the spin in the water at the end that boat rafter gave us. We took the half an hour ride and paid 300 INR per person (the charges for an hour boat ride were 500 INR)

Coracle Ride in Hampi

Click here for the Google Maps location

TIP: Try to avoid going in the afternoon hours (11-4 PM) otherwise with the harsh sun and no shade in the coracle the boat ride will be quite unpleasant and you won’t be able to spend enough time in the coracle.

3. The craftsmanship of the Vitthala Temple Complex

The intricate architectural symmetry and engineering in Hampi without having any modern age technology makes you wonder of the craftsmanship that existed in those times. Located in the northeastern part of Hampi and on the banks of the Tungabhadra river, the Vitthala Temple Complex is a classic example of exceptional architecture and craftsmanship that existed in those times. The complex houses the very popular Stone Chariot, Musical Pillars and the Lone Tree

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Click here for the Google maps location

TIP: Ensure you carry along the entrance ticket bought at any of the monuments as the same ticket gets you free entry at other monuments as well

4. Hemakuta Hill

The Hemakuta Hill is one of the most popular places in Hampi and is generously scattered with many ruined remains on a rocky expanse which give a perfect Hampi backdrop for photography. It is also a popular place to catch the sunset on a low terrain if you don’t feel like trekking.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Click here for Google Maps Location

TIP: Hampi being a UNESCO heritage Site, you are not allowed to use camera tripods at any of the monuments without prior permission from Archaeological Survey of India which has to be obtained 15 days prior to visiting the monuments. Also there is a prescribed fee for commercial photography. If you plan to use a tripod, would suggest to check for this before visiting Hampi to avoid disappointment.

In spite of the Hemakuta Hill being one of the most popular spots for sunset, we decided to go there again in the wee hours to avoid the crowd, have some solitude and must say we were fortunate to witness yet another beautiful sunrise and the beauty of the ruins under the sky changing colors.

Sunrise at Hemakuta Hill Hampi

Breathtaking Sunrise as seen from the Hemakuta Hill

Click here for the google maps location

5. Multitudes of Ruins

We would also recommend to cover the following ruins as well in Hampi for their intricate architecture, symmetry and flawless engineering

  • Virupaksha Temple
  • Ugra Narasimha Statue
  • Badavilinga Temple
  • Pushkarani
  • Lotus Mahal

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

6. Our Guide for Hampi

As they say, people who you travel with are as important as the destination. Our tour guide, Mr. Parshuram deserves a special mention here as without his guidance our trip wouldn’t have been so memorable. He took the time to know us and tailored the day based on our interests. He was very knowledgeable of the Hampi History and we thoroughly enjoyed the way he weaved in the anecdotes while giving us the guided tours of any of the ruins. He infact came along with us for the Matanga Hilltop Trek in the wee hours and made us discover the shorter route even though that was not a part of the guided tour package. We would definitely recommend him for the guided tours in Hampi. You can reach him at +91-9449119485 and [email protected]

Book a travel guide in Hampi

Hope you liked the blog, please help spread the word
error
India

Pondicherry: A bit of France in South India

Sightseeing in french quarter Pondicherry

Whenever we want a quick run away from the maddening chaos of the city, we look no farther than Pondicherry. This tropical paradise has so much to offer in abundance – serene coasts, green seas, bright sunshine, French architecture, delectable food and the list is endless. Since during our earlier trips to Pondy (3 times to be precise – told you that we love Pondy), we had been to its major attractions, this time we decided to explore Pondicherry slightly differently by also adding some offbeat places around to our itinerary and must say we were glad to have done so. So let’s get started !!

Getting There

The best way to reach Pondicherry from Bangalore is via road. The total driving distance from Bangalore to Pondicherry is 380 km (This is not the shortest route – google usually suggests the shortest one, but definitely the most comfortable one. The majority of it is a 6 lane highway which you would really enjoy cruising through (except from Vellore to Tindivanam ~100 km which is a single lane road). Alternatively, you can take a flight to Chennai and drive on the ECR road to reach Pondicherry, just 170 km away from Chennai.

When driving from Bangalore, though you will find many eateries on the highway but SaiSangeet has a special mention for its authentic South Indian vegetarian mouth-watering food and a quirky souvenir shop. En route to Pondicherry and 160 km away from Bangalore, it is a perfect pit stop to indulge in some appetizing food and shop for some handicrafts and souvenirs

Click here for the Google Maps Location

Where to Stay

Pondicherry is a popular tourist destination for domestic and foreign travelers alike and boasts of a variety of accommodation options from budget to luxury. We usually prefer to stay in White Town. This lets us stay very close to the promenade beach, major restaurants, and the Pondicherry market. If you wish to have a luxurious stay away from the city and in a resort then our pick is Le Pondy Resort. Away from the city hustle bustle, the resort boasts of huge green landscapes, private opening to the Paradise beach, beautiful pool and sumptuous food

Must-Dos when in Pondicherry

1. Catch Sunrise at the Beaches

Sunrises usually are the highlights of our travels. We just love the way the skies get filled with the glorious beams of the first rays of the sun, falling on our skin and faces while the skies change colors in just a matter of few seconds and there unravels a majestic view before our eyes. It also means getting up really early, not getting late and sticking to the schedule. Pondicherry has quite a few sunrise points but our favorite is the Promenade beach. It’s a long stretch and thus make sure that you reach 15-20 min before the sunrise happens to find the perfect spot for you and settle down.

TIP – Go close to the Pier, away from the Mahatma Gandhi Statue for an ideal spot to watch the sunrise. There you will also find the local fishermen bringing back the morning batch of sea fauna.

Click here for the google location

Serenity Beach although 20 min drive from the Pondicherry town is second close and deserves a mention as well.

Click here for the google location

Sunrise from the Serenity beach

2. Ousteri Lake aka Lotus Lake

Imagine rowing your boat through a sea of floating lotus flowers that expand as far as the eye can see. Dreamy isn’t it? But you can experience this for yourself at the century-old man-made Ousteri Lake. Also referred to as Osudu Lake, It is definitely the hidden gem of Pondicherry and is situated about 10 km (20 min drive) from Pondicherry town and is ideal for nature lovers and birdwatchers (though you will have to time your visit with the season of the migratory birds).

Click here for the google location

The carpet of the lotuses over the Ousteri Lake

3. Sivan Temple of Villianur

South India is generally known for its vibrant temples and the Sivan Temple of Villanur is no exception. The Villianur Temple in Puducherry is named after the place where it is located, just 8 km from Pondicherry and very close to Osudu Lake. TIP – Avoid going in the afternoons as it gets really hot and you won’t find a lot of shade in and around the temple.

Click here for the google location

View of the Sivan Temple of Villianur from the reservoir

4. Auroville

Auroville is not just a tourist spot but a small town in itself where people are devoted to their passion towards humanity, looking beyond just earning a living. In the middle of the town is the Matrimandir, which was conceived by Alfassa as a symbol of the Divine’s answer to man’s aspiration for perfection. Silence is maintained inside the Matrimandir to ensure the tranquility of the space and entire area surrounding the Matrimandir is called Peace area. Inside the Matrimandir, a spiraling ramp leads upwards to an air-conditioned chamber of polished white marble referred to as a place to find one’s consciousness.

Click here for the google location

Maitrimandir

View of the Maitrimandir from the Entrance

TIP – Auroville is very spread out and large, so if you want to get around freely, rent a scooter or motorbike.

Auroville, usually flocked with Foreign travelers, boasts of some amazing cafes and bakeries. One such place worth mentioning is Bread and Chocolate. It is a VEGAN restaurant and every single item here is prepared with exquisite perfection and fresh ingredients. Must try place for Breakfast.

Click here for the google location

5. Explore White Town

Walking down the lanes of the white town, Pondicherry is always a treat to your eyes. Vibrant French houses with hanging veranda, bougainvillea covering the entrance and for a change spick and span clean streets is what you will be welcomed with by the White Town.

Click here for the google location

You can start your day by visiting the Immaculate Conception Cathedral. In a city with so many churches, this one remains our favorite. Built in the early 1790s, it is one of the oldest tourist sites in the city and was visited by Mother Teresa during her visit to Pondicherry.

Immaculate Conception Cathedral

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

There are lots of good restaurants worth visiting in White Town. We are just listing down a few that we visited and would recommend you to visit as well.

  • Baker Street
  • Cafe des Arts
  • Cafe Xtasi
  • Villa Shanti
  • Le Cafe
  • Kasha ki Asha
  • Gelateria Montecatini Terme (for some awesome Icecreams)

6. Go Shopping

In addition to being a great getaway to relax, Pondicherry is also a great place to shop. Most of the major shopping places are centered on Mission Street. Among other souvenirs, the travelers should shop for ceramic tableware and ornaments, terracotta toys and trinkets, incense and scented candles, handmade paper lampshades and stationery, Buddha and Ganesh figure stone carvings, brass statues and lamps and dream catchers. Special mention to some shops. We are just listing down a few that we visited and would recommend you to visit as well.

  • Auroboutique – Click here for the google location
  • Bon Appetit – Click here for google location
  • Janaki – Click here for the google location

Travel Budget: INR 1500 to 3000 per day

  • Accommodation in mid-range hotels and homestays: INR 800 – 1500
  • Food in cafes and restaurants: INR 500 – 750
  • Local transport in local taxis: INR 400 – 700
  • Sightseeing & Guided Tours: INR 100 – 1000

We hope that you have an amazing time in Pondicherry! We can’t wait to go back one more time!

Hope you liked the blog, please help spread the word
error
error

Hope you are enjoying the blog? Please help spread the word !!