Author: Ajita

Kanyakumari Travel Guide

Kanyakumari Travel Guide

Immerse yourself in the virtual tour of Kanyakumari.
I toured South India during June and July’19, covering 11 cities across three states. I wasn’t sure if I’d be able to complete this 2-month long tour without breaking down, and so when I reached Kanyakumari, I was extremely happy and proud of myself. And despite the exhaustion of a non-stop travel, I was looking forward to the last few days of the trip.
Read the complete Kanyakumari travel guide for an absolute travel immersion.

Hitchhiking Experience Turned Into A Great Realization

Hitchhiking Experience Turned Into A Great Realization

“Just take care when you are traveling, you are a girl!”
“Reach back home before it’s dark, you are a girl!”
“Avoid going to isolated streets, you are a girl!”
“Don’t trust anyone, you are a girl!”
..but how could I not trust someone who called me “Chechi (Elder Sister)” when we first met!

A Peek Into The Life Of Jaisalmer’s Village Kids

A Peek Into The Life Of Jaisalmer’s Village Kids

Shy and quiet, his dark black eyes peeping through his tanned face bedimmed by his greasy, neatly partitioned hair. A very lean body, and although I knew he was young, he looked a little older than his age – was it the work or just his genes, I can’t say. His hands small, but strong enough to pull half a tonne weighted camel.

This child was from a small, remote village in India. The families in this village are generally large, with many uncles and aunts staying in one home. The young boys of these families are sent away to attend tourists and give them camel rides on the desert or serve them in restaurants in the neighboring city. And the young girls of these families are sent to perform the traditional dance for these same tourists.

Traditional education is not a priority for these families. They are concerned about making sufficient money for daily survival, which is why they send the kids out to work at a very young age. However, when these kids meet national and international tourists, they learn new languages, become aware of the latest fashion trends, and start to understand the hospitality business. Many of these young boys grow to become business owners later in life.

Gaining responsibility of feeding large families takes aways a kid’s childhood away so soon. And although they start learning about more important things early in life, they most likely miss the best phase of human life, childhood.

There are changes needed, and not just in one country, but in a larger part of the society, irrespective of the nation, the religion, or the beliefs – the gap between the rich and the poor needs mending so that the lesser privileged parts of the society can also relish all significant phases of human life, if not more.

2 Days in Varkala – The Cliff Beach of South India

2 Days in Varkala – The Cliff Beach of South India

According to the details shared by locals, Varkala beach got famous around the 70s when many European travelers visited the then unexplored Kovalam beach. These travelers continued to move north of Kovalam and reached Varkala. The city’s sea-facing cliff is what impressed the travelers, and since then, Varkala became a world-famous tourist spot. Although not as many international tourists visit this city now as in the 70s/80s, Varkala has started getting famous among Indian travelers lately!
Here’s a quick travel guide to help you tour the Cliff Beach of South India!

PMS Is Real, So Is Its Struggle!

PMS Is Real, So Is Its Struggle!

Most of us feel uncomfortable talking about a woman’s period or its associated effects. We generally avoid discussion around this topic, unless there is something urgent that we need to talk about it to our gynecologist.

Apart from the stigma around period, there are also jokes about women PMSing on days they are frustrated.

PMS is no joke, especially for some women!

3 Days in Alleppey – The Ultimate Travel Guide

3 Days in Alleppey – The Ultimate Travel Guide

You cannot not think of backwaters and houseboats when you talk about Alleppey (also known as Alappuzha). I was very excited to visit Alleppey, the place that I had heard about since I was a kid. I imagined myself relaxing on a houseboat in the tranquility of the backwaters as the sun sets.

PS: This was just an imagination, I did not actually do it 😅

Chilling on a canoe in Alleppey (no there was no sunset)

Alleppey was the 8th stop of my South India tour. I toured the city with Alex, who I met at Poornodaya. Alex is a person of faith, so in addition to the backwaters and beaches of Alleppey, we also visited a few temples.

This is the ultimate travel guide that you will ever need to plan your trip to Alleppey.

How to reach Alleppey?

If you are coming from far, you can take a flight to Kochi (Cochin International Airport), which is around 80 km from Alleppey. From Kochi, you can either take a bus, train, or taxi to Alleppey. You can also rent a two or a four-wheeler and drive to Alleppey.

We were visiting Alleppey from Kottayam, so we first took a bus from Kottayam to the Thirunakkara bus stand. Then we took an auto-rickshaw (or tuk-tuk) to Kanjiram Boat Station from where we caught our ferry to Alleppey. 

Ferry from Kanjiram leaves twice a day to Alleppey. You can check the latest timings on the official website or confirm from the locals.

The ticket fare is just Rs 15 for the ferry ride, and it drops you at Alleppey boat station, right in the city center.

PS: The ferry ride is pleasant, and you’ll get your first backwater experience as well.

Kanjiram boat station Me and Alex as we set on our ride to Alleppey Open backwaters as seen from the ferry

Where to stay in Alleppey?

Alleppey is full of backpacker hostels, guesthouses, and BnBs, so you’ll not find difficulty in choosing the best place for you.
We were in Alleppey during the off-season, because of which most of the accommodations were empty and also cheaper than the regular rates. Alex and I stayed at Carpe Diem, located in a residential society at a walkable distance to the Alleppey Beach. The first thing that we noticed when we entered our hostel was its peaceful locality and the white paint on its walls that reflected positivity.
We stayed in a 10-bed mixed dorm, and I was particularly impressed by the clean room and sheets that still smelled of detergent.
Nets were put on each bed to protect from mosquitoes and other insects.
Each room looked onto a balcony with a view of the locality and the green trees.
Paul, who is also the co-owner of the property, helped us with tips on touring the city. He also arranged for the backwater tour for us. Common area of the hostel Dorm room where we stayed in Inside the room Patio outside the room View from the patio With Paul

Things to do in Alleppey

If you are not in a rush and want to spend your time leisurely in the city, here is a list of activities that you can do, and the places that you can visit in 3 days in Alleppey.

Spend a relaxing time at Alleppey Beach

As I mentioned above, Alleppey Beach was within walking distance from our hostel. So the first thing that we did after freshening up was walk to the beach.

Staring into the sea infinity – Alleppey Beach The beach was less crowded than usual because of the off-season, and it was also cleaner than what I had expected. The waves were fierce at the time and crashed right on the beach. So we avoided playing with the water and instead took a walk along the shore.
The first thing that you will notice at Alleppey beach is an old and broken pier that extends farther into the sea. It is quite a sight!
We spent our first evening at the Alleppey beach and watched the sun go down, reflecting its shimmering golden on the browns of the sand and whites of the waves. The old broken pier at the Alleppey beach People walking by the beach as the sun calmly sets down The next day we decided to sit and read by the beach. We walked to the Alleppey beach, and further towards Pozhiyoram beach. The waves were as fierce as the last evening, so we decided to sit a little farther from the sea.
It was the first time that I just sat down by the beach and did nothing, but only listened to the waves, and quietly pondered. Sitting by the Alleppey beach on a sunny morning

Watch the sunset at Marari Beach.

If you are looking for a much quieter beach in Alleppey, this one is for you. Mararikulam (or Marari) beach is around 15 km from Alleppey beach, and you can either hitch-hike or take a bus from Alleppey town to the Mararikulam village. Take a 5-minute walk from the Mararikulam bus stop, and the stunning views of the beach and backwaters will astound you.

Backwaters at Marari Beach View of backwaters by the Marari beach The quieter side of Marari Beach Looking eagerly at the fierce waves of Marari Beach Taking a stroll by the beach The fierce waves of the Marari Beach

Since it is a little far from the main Alleppey town, the beach is less crowded and even cleaner than the Alleppey beach. One can easily spend an entire evening here watching the waves crash at the shore, and the sun softly go down.

Sun reflecting its light on the golden sands of the beach Sunset scene at the beach

Take the Alleppey backwater Canoe tour

If you are wondering why didn’t I spend a night in a houseboat in Alleppey – houseboat stays tend to be quite expensive for solo budget travelers.

Houseboat on Alleppey backwaters Although we experienced riding on Alleppey backwaters on our way from Kottayam, Alex was eager to go on a canoe tour that includes riding through narrow canals along with the open waterways.
Paul booked the canoe village tour through Oscar Cruise, and the ride cost us Rs 800 per person (discounted rate due to off-season). Canoe ready to leave for the backwater tour View of backwaters from Canoe Laali, our canoe rider, in the background

The tour starts at 8:30 am when a motor-boat takes you to a nearby village, where you first have Kerala-style breakfast at a local’s place. The actual canoe tour starts after that, and it lasts for four hours with a snack-break in between. Post that you have lunch at the same place where you had breakfast in the morning, and get ready to leave for the main town.

Lunch at a local’s home after the ride

The canoe takes you through narrow canals and streams, passing through many villages. The most enjoyable part for me throughout the ride was observing the routine village life of the locals – everyone busy in their daily chores, undisturbed by tourist boats passing by their houses, doing laundry, cleaning utensils, and catching fish.

Passing through villages during our canoe tour

Try a Toddy

Toddy is the local alcohol of Kerala made of coconut and palm. If you are doing a canoe tour, you can ask your boat rider to buy you some on the way. We bought a 1-liter bottle of toddy for 200 Rs that 3 of us from the group shared.
PS: Toddy is best consumed fresh when it is prepared in the morning because it gets bitter and stronger with time. We got Toddy in this bottle from a local shop

Watch the world-famous Snake boat race

Alleppey hosts around 15 snake boat races throughout the year, of which the Nehru Trophy Boat race is most famous. If you are in the city during the time of the race, you can witness one of the most enjoyable boat races. All villages of Alleppey district compete in the race, and you can see a 100 people seated on one boat rowing strenuously in synchronization. It’s a captivating sight!
If you are not able to watch the actual race, you can still see the practice, which starts a month before the race. Snake boat race practice

Visit the revered temples of Alleppey

Right in the city center of Alleppey, you’ll find many adorned temples.
The first temple that we visited was the Mullakkal temple. It was hosting a dress-up ceremony of a God’s idol for its new home(or temple). Many priests were playing music on the traditional instruments while a few of them were chanting and performing the ceremony. It was glorious. Inside Mullakkal temple Priests dressing the idol in Mullakkal Temple Priest playing traditional musical instruments during the ceremony Gardens surrounding Mullakkal temple

Next, we went to Kidangamparambu Sree Bhuvaneswari Temple, which was just a 10-minute walk from the Mullakkal temple. This temple was architecturally rich, with many gods carved on the temple walls. There was some function happening here as well, so we left quickly after paying our respects.

Inside Sree Bhuvaneswari Temple Many idols adorning the walls of the temple

All in all, we were able to cover many places of Alleppey in 3 days, and also spend some quiet leisure time.

The Right Kind of Education and How To Impart That!

The Right Kind of Education and How To Impart That!

We can produce the best-ever next-generation if each one of us takes responsibility to teach the right things to our kids.
If we don’t teach our kids how to respect fellow beings, then I think we are failing as a society!
Read more on what is the right way of educating our future generations for a better world.

Why 9 To 5 Doesn’t Suck?

Why 9 To 5 Doesn’t Suck?

We are accustomed to reading articles and watching videos where people discuss their struggles of working at a 9-5 job, and not being their boss, not being able to follow their passion, and just being a slave. It is very uncommon to see articles written by people who are happy and contented with their jobs and do not feel any of the things that I have mentioned above.
This article represents people who love their job and don’t feel stuck in a 9-5 cycle. They are happy and satisfied with whatever they are doing. This article is for people like me, who don’t have work satisfaction but also do not hate their work environment as much!

My First Cataloge Shoot – Experience as a Model

My First Cataloge Shoot – Experience as a Model

This year in January, I modeled for a women apparel brand, Vinnhi – my first ever catalog shoot.

Check Vinnhi’s Instagram I’ll admit, the idea of dressing up and posing in front of the camera had been quite fascinating – All the lights and all the eyes on you! But let me remind you, not everything is as fancy as it seems 🙂
posing with an umbrella and sunglasses

I received a message from a friend in December, where he informed me about a probable opportunity of modeling for a friend of hers, Vineetha. At the time, I was (or better I still am) in an experimental phase of my life, and I was trying almost everything that I had ever fascinated. So considering it an opportunity with a no-gain no-loss situation, I said yes. And that’s when the process began!

The First Call With The Designer

Have you ever heard of “friends on the first call”? That is what happened with Vineetha(founder of Vinnhi) and I. We gelled instantaneously and were comfortable talking about the work, requirements, and expectations more freely.
We were in different cities at the time, so we had to coordinate and get minimal things ready for the shoot beforehand. We had a few initial conversations on the phone, where Vineetha told me about her work, her vision for the brand Vinnhi, and her plans for the shoot. Both of us were new to this domain, so we tried to discuss as many details of the process as we knew. Vineetha and I laughing casually post-shoot Vineetha and I laughing casually post-shoot

A Day Before the Shoot

I reached Pune from Bangalore a day before the shoot had to start. I met Vineetha and the photographer, wherein we discussed each look in brief, that included hairstyle and make-up, and location of the shoot for each saree. We also looked at a few sample pictures of other models for motivation. Vineetha also showed me the beautiful sarees that she had designed before I left.

PS: If it is your first catalog shoot, make yourself comfortable with the designer, and any other person who is involved in the process- photographer, make-up artist, business manager, etc. It reduces the pressure of posing in front of strangers at the time of the shoot.

discussing something during the shoot During the shoot – while discussing something!

First Day of the Shoot

Nervous and Excited- just like on the day of a school exam!
A day of trying out something completely new, but appealing. I was looking forward to the day because I didn’t know what to expect.

We planned to start the shoot by 10 am, so I reached Vineetha’s place an hour before that to be able to get ready (dressing-up, make-up, and hair-do) in time.

The weird thing at the time for me was putting a lovely piece of saree and getting adorned with jewelry and make-up (however light they were) early in the morning.

Posing in a red saree All dressed up early in the morning And so it began..
I felt a little self-conscious as I walked out all dressed-up in front of the photographer and his team. But since I was now friends with Vineetha and her husband, their presence comforted me a bit.
After a few minutes of testing light, focus, and angle, the photographer started clicking pictures. The discomfort was clearly showing on my face – with the photographer pushing me to get rid of my tensed expressions. Lost and worried axpressions I was completely lost at the moment!

The first photo session was a pretty uncomfortable experience, with the photographer instructing me to smile, but smile less, not look directly at the camera, but look somewhere, act thoughtful, but be natural, choose better expressions, pose this way, and again change, and change, and again and smile again!

series of multiple poses Quick change of poses!

It was all so overwhelming for me in the beginning that it was hard to focus on the shoot and not be stressed.

I was so tensed and worried about not being good enough. I wanted to stop right there and call the whole thing off. But Vineetha, who was blindly relying on me, I did not want to leave her hanging in the air and not fulfill what I promised. I am so glad, Vineetha and her husband were cheering me and just being kind, that I could overcome this feeling.

With each costume taking at least an hour, by the time we finished the first half of the shoot, it was 2:00 pm. It had been almost 4 hours since we were changing, posing, ideating, and clicking. The whole process was very exhausting, but I was now more comfortable in front of the camera and the people around me.

Jumping and smiling pose Thanks to Vineetha, I was able to jump more freely after multiple attempts! A candid capture when I was managing my saree A candid capture when I was managing my saree

If your dress is comfortable, you’ll feel more at ease during the shoot. I myself was able to pose freely and express better in the sarees and blouses I was more comfortable wearing.

The second part of the shoot after the lunch-break went more smoothly, although it was a little challenging to get in flow after the meal since I felt more sleepy and tired then.

Sleepy pose Sleepy head after lunch By the end of the shoot, we were happy about the success of the first day but too exhausted to have a full-fledged retrospective discussion. So, we relaxed for a bit and then separated.
The day was mentally tiring, although I did not use much of brains apart from listening to everyone and focussing on being confident and posing better. It was physically tiring too because we were standing for the most part of the shoot – quickly rushing and changing.

There were 5 dress changes in a matter of 7 hours! 

Last pose of the day Last pose of the last saree on the day!

Second Day of the Shoot

Because of the experience that we gained on the day before, we were more light-minded and were able to start the second day a little earlier than the last one. But the challenge that day was modeling in public places.

Posing in a public park Awkward poses in a public park! I remember the first video I shot in a park in Bangalore. I was recording the introduction and the conclusion for this video. Even shooting this very basic video in public was a challenge for me. And now here I was, all dressed-up, posing in a public park at 10 in the morning, with a giant camera setup following me.
PS: It was one of the most awkward moments for me! Posing in a Public Park Again I gradually got more comfortable with shooting outside and was able to care less about the people passing by. The best part throughout these uncomfortable moments was the support from Vineetha, her husband, and our mutual friend.
The sarees were also more comfortable than the last day, and I could easily dance and jump around these(in short, just be me). Posing on the footpath by a busy road Posing on the footpath by a busy road!
Be confident!
Your confidence will reflect in the pictures.

We had planned to shoot pictures in the next saree outdoors as well, and it was funny how we rushed to a mall to quickly change.

Everyone, especially Vineetha, pampered me throughout the shoot – I was assisted for the most basic chores as well, that included carrying items like a phone, or a handbag!

Vineetha, her husband, our common friend, and me in one pictures From left – Vineetha, her husband, our common friend, and me!

I am not used to people helping me around, and it was difficult for me to fit in a character where even when a Pallu (the loose end of a saree) falls, I’ll have someone rushing towards me to correct it.

But mind you, it was not all pampering. It was also following commands and instructions, especially when you are in front of the camera (at least when you are a beginner and a novice).

Laughing and Posing Vineetha trying to make me laugh and feel lighter! Phased out pose Phased out during the shoot- helped me pose better

As the shoot was nearing its end, I was happy to have stayed strong despite many uncomfortable moments. I was glad that I could deliver what I promised.

Last saree of the day! Last saree of the day!

The pictures came out nice, and Vineetha is doing well in her business.

Now at least I know what it feels like to be a model. It was an unexplored fantasy, and I am glad I gave modeling a try but ultimately decided to not pursue it.

How could you make your first modeling experience better?

Here are a few concluding points that I can share from my personal experience to prepare you for your first assignment.

  • Know what to expect.
  • Be open to suggestions.
  • Get comfortable with the photography team, because they’ll be the ones to guide you throughout, about the poses, angles, expressions, etc.
  • Share/exchange your ideas with the team early on, so that you spend less time experimenting and trying, and more time on getting the work done.
  • Stay happy and engage in whatever cheers you up because that will reflect on your face when you are getting clicked.
  • And remember the more comfortable and stress-free you are, the better the whole presentation will be.
Smiling as the sun sets
Kochi in One Day – Top things to do in the Port City

Kochi in One Day – Top things to do in the Port City

Kochi was not a part of my original South India travel itinerary. It was instead an impromptu plan that the volunteers made with the director of Poornodaya Vidyanikethan, Anish, on a Friday evening.

Kochi is most famous for Fort Kochi, the fortification that was built around the city a long time back. You do not see the fort anymore now, but most of the points of interest lie within its plausible boundaries.

You can see most of the city in one day on foot! Amazing right?
So if you are on a tight schedule, this is how you can plan your time to explore Kochi. Read the complete post to know more!

Coimbatore Travel Guide – Top things to do in the city

Coimbatore Travel Guide – Top things to do in the city

The 5th stop of my South India travels was Coimbatore, one of the major cities of Tamil Nadu state. I made a stop here to take a break from a continuous two weeks of travel across tiny villages.
Coimbatore is a big city, and I did not expect a lot from it. But it surprised me with beautiful, majestic views when I drove a little over 10 km from the city center.
Here is a detailed Coimbatore Travel Guide to help you spend your time in the city pleasantly, without worrying about the “big city” noise and pollution.

How to reach Coimbatore?

I took a direct Tamil Nadu state bus from Ooty to Coimbatore that cost me Rs110 for the ticket and 3.5 hours of the bus journey.
If you are not coming from very far, you can take a train or the state/private bus to Coimbatore. You can also take a flight to Coimbatore from any major city. On my way to Coimbatore

Where to stay in Coimbatore?

I am not a huge fan of hotels, so I decided to stay in a Bed “n” breakfast property.

The place is owned by Mr. Suresh, who found his calling in the hospitality industry. His love for his work was clearly visible from how the property was maintained.
The moment I entered the room allotted to me, I felt at home. The room was well-lit and extremely neat. The bedsheet was covered with another sheet to prevent dust from soiling it. The bathroom had all the essential toiletries.
My room did not come with a kitchen, but there were basic utensils, tea and coffee sachets, and filtered water to get the day started.

If you are also in Coimbatore for a few days and are looking for a homely stay, this place is just perfect.

PS: Mr. Suresh was really helpful in guiding me about Coimbatore’s places to visit and food to try.

A clean comfortable double-bed The rooms comes with a table to work at View from room

Things to do in Coimbatore

Eat Tamilian food at Annapurna Restaurant

When in Tamil Nadu, try Tamilian!

If you are a food enthusiast and love spicy food, Annapoorna Restaurant’s thaali is a must-have. It is one of the oldest restaurants in Coimbatore, serving South Indian meals for more than 50 years.

Enjoy an authentic Tamilian lunch meal at Annapoorna for just Rs 110.

PS: The service is not the most polite, but the place promises good food.

Tamilian meal

Pray at Maruthamalai Hill Temple and enjoy scenic views

Maruthamalai temple is situated on a hillock, around 10 km from Coimbatore city. Lord Murugan of Hindu mythology has the temple dedicated to him.
The temple is supposedly very crowded during peak hours of prayers. Luckily, when I visited the temple, there weren’t many people. I had enough time to look around and appreciate the intricate architecture of the temple. The panoramic views of the city and the hills around are another reason to visit the temple.

PS: The temple was not the cleanest, but if it is for the faith that you are visiting it, this should not matter much.

On the way to the temple Nestled between the hills, is the Maruthamalai temple

Visit the magnificent Adiyogi statue at the Isha Yoga Center

With a backdrop of the hills, the Adiyogi Shiva statue looks so mesmerizing that it is so difficult to take your eyes off it. It is the world’s largest bust sculpture, and will surely leave you spellbound.

In addition to the Adiyogi statue, you can also pay a visit to the other parts of the Isha Yoga center, including the Dhyanalinga and Theerthakunds.

PS: You can rent a vehicle or take a bus to the Isha Yoga Center. It is only 30 km from Coimbatore city.

There are many more places that you can explore if you are in the city for a longer time. Ooty is just a 3-hour drive from Coimbatore. You can visit Kovai Kutralam waterfalls on your way to the Isha Yoga Center if you have sufficient time.

Indulge into the greens of Kerala – Wayanad in 2 Days

Indulge into the greens of Kerala – Wayanad in 2 Days

If you are from India or a tourist in India, a place that you would never want to miss apart from the chilly mountains, is the God’s Own Land, Kerala. And so like many others, Kerala had been in my “must-visits” since a very long time. After a few years of failed plans, I was finally visiting this beautiful green land of India.
The first city I visited in Kerala was Wayanad, and I instantly fell in love with its endless greens.
Here is a detailed itinerary to help you plan your trip and cover the beautiful places of Wayanad in 2 days.

How to reach Wayanad?

If you have read my preceding posts about my trip to Mysore, and Coorg, you would know that I was in Coorg before I visited Wayanad.

From Coorg/Mysore:
There is no direct bus that goes from Coorg to Wayanad. So, I planned to go to Mysore first, spend a night there, and then take a bus from Mysore to Wayanad.
Regular KSRTC buses leave from Mysore to Wayanad. It takes around 4 hours by road to reach Wayanad from Mysore, and the general KSRTC bus ticket costs just Rs 140.
From Bangalore:

Many KSRTC and private buses go from Bangalore to Wayanad that take around 7 hours to reach.

From anywhere else:

If you are coming from far away, you can either take a flight to Bangalore and Mysore and choose the options mentioned above.

And finally, you can always rent a two-wheeler or self-drive car, or hire a cab to reach Wayanad.

Where to stay in Wayanad?

Wayanad is full of hotels, retreat centers, resorts, hostels, and homestays. I chose a homestay for myself, Kudajadri Drizzle, in Kanyambetta, a village near to the main town of Kalpetta of Wayanad district.
It was the first time I was staying in a homestay, and I could not ask for a better experience.
Kudajadri Drizzle is amidst the greens, and it was great waking up to the chirping of the birds every morning. My room had an attached bathroom, and it gave a feeling of rural lifestyle combined with the comforts of the urban world. The daily home-cooked Kerala food and endless conversations with the family made the overall stay a very comfortable one.

Places to see in Wayanad

You can hire a private taxi, or rent a scooter, or a self-drive car, or take local buses to tour around the city. Most of the viewpoints are within the range of 30 km from the city center, so it is better to either rent a two or a four-wheeler or take a private taxi. This way you can save some time commuting to the viewpoints.

And it goes without saying, the roads are beautiful and some times more intriguing than the actual destination.

Sit by the serene Karlad Lake

Famous amongst the adventure seekers, Karlad Lake was opened to the public some time in the starting of 2016. Apart from the many adventurous activities that the place offer, you can boat in the calm and serene waters of the lake or just sit by its quiet surroundings.
There are a few paid parking spots just outside the lake entrance, and also a few restaurants by them.

Visit Asia’s second-largest dam, Banasura Dam

Apart from being Asia’s second-largest dam, Banasura dam also had India’s largest floating solar power plant. Located around 3 km from Karlad lake, you can visit both of the places in one day.
With magnificent views of the water, Banasura Dam is a perfect place to adore the vast greens and blues of Kerala.
It was raining when I visited the dam, so the views though beautiful, were quite misty.

Enjoy the magical greens of Kerala from Phantom Rock viewpoint

This was a completely unplanned stop that I made on my way to Eddakal caves (another commonly visited tourist point).
As I mentioned before that the roads and the scenic views on the way to your destination might grab your attention, and you could have one of the best experiences of your trip. My stop at Phantom rock viewpoint was one such example.
I was driving by when I saw a beautiful turquoise color water body that was so enchanting that I couldn’t resist stopping by. While I was enjoying the view when the owner of a restaurant opposite to where I had parked, signaled me to go further and climb up a few rocks, to maybe get a better view. I followed his instructions, and I was welcomed by the most mesmerizing views I had seen so far during my whole trip.
There was not a single person on the trail and at the viewpoint, and I had the whole place to myself.

PS: It was on my way down, that I realized it was the Phantom rock viewpoint.

Walk back into the pre-historic times at Edakkal caves

I skipped Eddakal caves, because at the time I had not researched the place thoroughly, and didn’t know what it was famous for. Assuming that it will also have a similar valley view as was from the Phantom Rock viewpoint, I decided to skip my visit to Edakkal caves altogether.
But when I saw pictures of the caves later, I regretted not visiting it. Edakkal caves have ancient scriptures and carvings of the pre-historic time, which make them all the more interesting apart from the scenic views.

Visit the ancient Sultan Bathery Jain Temple

Sultan Bathery Jain temple dates back to 13th century. It served both as a religious site as well as a place where Tipu Sultan kept his armory (or battery) when he invaded Kerala. And this is where the town got its name from, Sultan’s Battery (Sultan Bathery). The temple is now a protected site under the Archaeological Survey of India, but you can still visit it inside and see the old temple ruins and statues of Jain Tirthankaras.

Hike to the highest peak of Wayanad district, Chembra Peak

Famous for the heart-shaped lake that you see on your way up to the peak, the climb up to the Chembra Peak is very scenic, surrounded by lush green tea plantations.
You need prior permission from the forest department for this trek. During monsoon, the hike to the top of the peak is forbidden, so do a little bit of research before you make your plans.
And as for the heart-shaped lake, I saw one on my way to Banasura dam. So if you are most excited about just that lake, you can skip hiking to Chembra peak.
I could not visit the peak because of lack of time and the required permissions, but I am sure the hike and the views from the top are gorgeous.

Crazy greens, cozy homestay, lovely hosts, and scenic views – my experience in Wayanad was full of it.

Two days in Coorg – The Scotland of India

Two days in Coorg – The Scotland of India

I am currently touring across South India, and Coorg (or Kodagu) was the second stop I made after Mysore. Also known as the Scotland of India, Coorg is a perfect stop for nature lovers. It is a hilly district of the Karnataka state, which is why the temperature here is a little more cooler.

I met my friend from college, Ankita here and we spent two days exploring this beautiful town. Read the post to know how our experience was and also get tips to plan your trip to Coorg.

Mysore in One Day – South India Travel Guide

Mysore in One Day – South India Travel Guide

Having stayed in Bangalore for some time, I had heard a lot about the city of palaces from friends. Mysore had been in my “must-visit” list for a long time, but somehow I never made a deliberate plan to visit it.

I was in Hyderabad when at an impulse, I decided to do a South India tour before I returned home. I planned Mysore to be the first city that I’ll visit as part of the “official” tour. Here’s a complete personalized guide to help you plan your trip to the “City of Palaces”, Mysore.
The top places to see in Mysore.

Death Valley – Why you should not miss this adventure?

Death Valley – Why you should not miss this adventure?

I don’t remember when and why the name of the place popped up in my mind, but since that time, it was under my to-visit radar. I reject 2-3 travel plans – my own and a few with friends because I wasn’t going anywhere else until I see what this valley of death has in store for me.

At the time, I was in Seattle and, I along with 2 of my friends in the city, my sister who’d be coming from Irvine, California, and one of her friends, who’d join her in Irvine, planned a 4-day trip to Death Valley and Las Vegas (best combination ever – nature, adventure, and fun).

More about Las Vegas in another post. In this post, I’ll share with you a 2-day itinerary to tour Death Valley National Park, and also any other handy tips that I have.

How to reach Death Valley?

Depending on which corner of the United States, or the world, you are coming from, the mode of transportation might change.

If you are coming from a little far within the States, you can take a flight to Las Vegas or Los Angeles, whichever is more convenient for you. From there, you can rent a car, and drive to Death Valley National Park.
You can also book one day trip around Death Valley from Las Vegas, in case you do not intend on driving.

A few things to keep in mind, before you hit the road to Death Valley.

  • Fill your car’s fuel from the city, reasons being, you’ll not find many gas stations, as you enter the desert region, and second, the fuel price is notably high at those gas stations
  • Download an offline map of the place, because there is no network

Where to stay?

There are 4 hotels located inside the national park, including, Stovepipe Wells Village, The Oasis At Death Valley, The Ranch At Death Valley, and Panamint Springs Resort. These hotels provide rooms, as well as camping, and RV accommodations. Other than these, there are a few options outside the park, which are at least 25-30 miles from the park.
We, however, stayed at Longstreet Inn & Casino in Amargosa Valley, which is around 25 miles from the Death Valley National Park.
The hotel rooms were decently clean with an outdoor pool and view of the mountains. There are not many restaurants around the area, so the only place to eat was at the hotel restaurant. The food was average for vegetarians, though it had better options for non-vegetarians.

Once you have sorted your commute and stay, this is how you can plan your travel itinerary in Death Valley.

Day 1

Our flight had landed in Las Vegas, and we reached Amargosa Valley by noon. The day was cloudy, so we didn’t plan a lot of places on our first day, just one, Badwater Basin. And since we took a longer route, we had to drive almost 90 miles (actual distance from our hotel is 50 miles) to reach the Badwater Basin.

Badwater Basin

The lowest point in North America, Badwater Basin is a vast dried up land with hexagonal salt formations created as the water from the scarce rains evaporated. The point is almost 86 m below sea level. You can see a spot marked “Sea Level” on the mountains facing the basin.

Apart from the Badwater Basin, we got down at several points in between to appreciate the magnificent dry landscapes. I am not very sure of the exact locations, but you’ll find many such spots on your way too.

Day 2

The second day was much more clearer than the first day with clear blue skies and scattered clouds throwing their shadows on the mountains below.

Zabriskie Point

Formed due to water washing off the rocks and forming gullies giving it a landscape that exists now. You can also take a walk around these badlands – it is around a 2.5 hike that takes you to Gower Gulch and back to the Zabriskie.

Mesquite Flat Sand Dunes

A vast stretch of dunes, one of the fewer places in Death Valley that had sand gathered from rock erosion and winds. The dunes are not too high, and you have to walk further into the stretch to experience slightly higher dunes. Stovepipe Wells resort is nearby, and you can make a quick stop here for snacks.

Ubehebe Crater

Ubehebe Crater is one of the younger craters, and possibly still active that was formed due to magma eruption. The groundwater that had come out as steam exploded the rocks above, and thus created the crater cavity. You can also walk around the crater, it is approximately 1.5 miles. You can also climb to the top to get a better view of the crater bottom.

Wait for the starry night in the desert before you head back to Las Vegas.

Exploring Mahabaleshwar – Places to see in one day!

Exploring Mahabaleshwar – Places to see in one day!

Mahabaleshwar is one of the most visited hill stations in the western ghats, especially by the people from Mumbai, Pune, and few places in Gujarat.
Also known as the strawberry city, Mahabaleshwar is full of strawberry fields all around, and even one of the most famous sharbat/squash brands, Mapro, started here. With so many viewpoints and places to see, you can spend an entire weekend visiting these and be taken aback by the breathtaking views of the surrounding hills.

The best time to visit Mahabaleshwar is after the monsoon, for a greener scenery. But I visited the city in March when the weather was mildly hot, and the hill ranges were not so green.

How to reach?

I had taken an overnight bus from Bangalore to Mahabaleshwar. But there are many other ways to reach the city, depending on your choice of transportation mode.


If like me, you are coming from a distant city, you can book a flight to Pune or Mumbai, and then take a bus from there to Mahabaleshwar. You can even hire a local taxi or drive yourself to the city, especially if you are coming from Pune because the Pune-Mahabaleshwar distance is not too much.


If you are also coming from Bangalore like me, you can take an overnight bus till Satara and then from there take a local taxi to the Mahabaleshwar. Other options are to take a bus till Wai or Nipani, depending on whichever place is closer to your hotel.


The nearest railway station to Mahabaleshwar is in Pune and from Pune, you can take bus, taxi, or bike to the hill station.

PS: It is very hard, maybe not even possible to rent bikes in Mahabaleshwar because of a strong taxi union that wouldn’t allow this. So taxis are your answer when you need a conveyance to tour the city and do have one of your own.

Where to stay?

There are many beautiful resorts, hotels, and homestays in Mahabaleshwar. You can check the list of accommodations here.

I stayed with Hotel Mahabaleshwar Fragrance and while the building was fairly new, the rooms were very neat and spacious too. The highlight though was the location of the building and the view of the hills from the room.

There is an adjacent strawberry farm, a free tour of which is included as a part of your reservation.

The staff was also really polite and quickly accessible.

With our hotel manager, Mr. Sushant

The two things that you would need to consider though, one there is no elevator in the building, but the staff will help you shift your luggage, and second not all the rooms have best views, so make sure to check with the management before you make your booking.

Places to see

I had my friends from Pune also visit the city at the same time. We effectively had only one day in Mahabaleshwar, so we tried to fit in as much as we could on that day.

Mapro Gardens

We started off the day by visiting Mapro Gardens. Located in the neighboring town of Panchgani, it is a massive garden, with a restaurant, and a retail outlet for Mapro products.

We had our breakfast here and also the Strawberry Cream Ice Cream – Fresh cream, strawberries, and ice cream all layered up in a glass.
It is a great place to sit and relax with your friends amidst scenic views of the hills and strawberry fields, and good food 😅
You can also buy Jams, Syrups, Chocolates, and Juices from their outlet.

Triveni View Point

My hotel’s manager had suggested us to visit Triveni point, hike to which started right opposite to the Mapro Gardens. So that is where we went next with our tummies full till throats.

Not many tourists know about this place – apparently, it is not shown or suggested as part of the tour packages that some people take. But it is a perfect location for both sunrise and sunset.

A small trek through jungles and you are welcomed by the crazy 360 degree views of the surrounding peaks.

Tapola Dam

Also known as the mini Kashmir of the west, Tapola Dam would definitely be a treat to the eyes during monsoon. I could not see the mini Kashmir as it’d be, but it was still quite impressive. A vast stretch of clear blue water, sparkling with yellow colors of the sun.

The ride from Mahabaleshwar to Tapola is even more incredible – passing through jungles and crossing tiny villages. We made multiple photo-stops in between just because each view looked prettier than the other.

We stayed at the dam for a little time and had tea from nearby stalls before we headed back to the city.

Sunset Point or Bombay Point

It is a typical touristy point, I would say. We reached the point way ahead of time and much to our surprise, it was full of people – I have never seen a viewpoint so much crowded.
While the sunset view was good enough, I’d suggest you to explore other viewpoints for the sunset.

As we rode back to the city, the sky got darker and the stars brighter. We made a “not so quick” photo-stop to capture the starlit night. It was one of the best moments ever, standing by the road and looking above to an absolutely silent star bed.

Starry night

I so wish I had a few more days in the city. There’s just so much more to see!

2 Days in Chopta – Explore the Unspoiled Land of Uttrakhand

2 Days in Chopta – Explore the Unspoiled Land of Uttrakhand

Welcomed by a Himalayan background, serene lakes, and lush green forests, Uttrakhand is unmistakably nature’s paradise. Visited by tourists all the year round, there are still some unexplored parts of this divine land that you can visit for a truly enthralling experience.

Chopta is one of the lesser explored hill stations of Uttrakhand. It serves as a base camp for treks to Tunganath Temple and Chandrashila peak, and Deoria Tal. And that’s not the end of it, a few days in Chopta is an entirely new and different experience. Life in Chopta is like a stand-still, with very little access to the digital world and basic necessities of life, like electricity and warm water.

How to reach Chopta?

Depending on where you are coming from, you can either take a direct cab to the village or break it down in different chunks of travel. Use this link to book your self-driving car You can take a flight to Dehradun which is around 225 km from Chopta. From there you can either take a taxi or a bus to Chopta. Another option is to take a train to Rishikesh or Haridwar and then again from there take a taxi or bus to Chopta.

Where to stay in Chopta?

We had decided to camp at “Moksha” a little ahead of the Chopta city center. But due to heavy snowfall in the area, the roads beyond the city center were blocked with a series of vehicles stuck in the snow. There was no way we could get any further, so we decided to get down in the market and looked for accommodation nearby. Vehicles stuck in snow after a snow fall in Chopta, Uttrakhand Vehicles stuck in snow Pro Tip: There are many guest houses in the city center if you are not very particular about where you want to stay. We stayed at Baba Holiday Home which was a very minimalistic guest house. Baba Holiday Home in Chopta, Uttrakhand On the top left – the white and blue building is Baba Holiday Home

The best part about staying in Chopta

The is no electricity in the entire village, and everything works using the solar energy consumed during the day. So we literally spent the night in the dark with dead phones and freezing cold water flowing in bathrooms. It was an amazingly crazy experience living a life away from our comfort zones and without any unnecessary luxuries. PS: We paid Rs 60 for a single bucket of warm water every night for bathing.

Things to do in Chopta

Day 1

Tunganath Trek

This trek to the highest Garhwal Shiva temple gives the most spectacular views of the Himalayan peaks. While one will admire the gorgeous view of snow reflecting the sun rays in the morning, but the setting sun looks all the more stunning with a tinted orange sky. It is a must-do trek for solace seekers, nature lovers, and adventurers alike.

My Experience

The 3 km hike to Tunganath temple from Chopta, otherwise easy, gets a little trickier in snowy winters. We kept a constant steady pace climbing up, and it took us almost 4 hours to reach the top. It was just so amazing seeing an infinite sheet of white snow reflecting the sharp sun rays. As we reached the top, we were joined by the oh so furry mountain dogs, and they looked the cutest with their bright shiny eyes. And once we were there, entering the temple, it was one of the most beautiful feelings. Everything that we had just passed by seemed so tiny in front of the panoramic Himalayan range. Each step that we took to reach the top seemed worth for! Climbing up was definitely tiring and exhausting, but getting down was even more difficult. The sun was bright and sharp the whole day because of which the snow had started melting. We had to be more careful now about not stepping on the ice. After reaching down, we quickly freshened up and went to the closest Dhabba for dinner. Warming ourselves with the flames of the burning stove was one of the coziest feelings at the point. Our hands and feet were cold and soar, and a little warmth seemed heaven.

Day 2

Deoria Tal

While you are in Chopta, you cannot miss this magical piece of land. Just a 45-minute drive from the town and a convenient 2-hour hike from the Sari Village is Deoria Tal. Surrounded by snow-clad mountains, protected by green meadows and forests, lies this beautiful lake reflecting the colors of the sky and the trees. No picture, no words can do justice to the magic of this place. The kind of beauty that leaves you spellbound and that wants you to keep staring at it, but you still can’t get enough of it, that is what Deoria Tal did to me. The hike is pretty simple especially since there was no snow and it was a gradual steep. We spent good 4 hours relaxing at the Tal before we finally half-heartedly decided to descend back.
Trekking through snow to Tunganath temple was one of a kind experience. Excited and scary, cold and warm at the same time. Constantly slipping on icy rocks, helping one another to reach the bottom before it gets dark or before you lose hope of returning in one piece!
All that nauseatic feeling driving through mountains is worth for when you have the fascinating views like the one from Tunganath Temple and of Deoria Tal.
Top Free Things to do in Vienna – a 2-day itinerary

Top Free Things to do in Vienna – a 2-day itinerary

The intricate architecture of Vienna is so intoxicating that you can spend hours just staring at the artistic marvels in the city. But that’s not it, Vienna also boasts of baroque styled gardens and parks visited by tourists and locals alike.
I spent two days in Vienna walking around and exploring the free gems of the city. Here is a day-wise itinerary of things that you can also do for free in Vienna.

Day 1

Relax in Burggarten

Close to city center but away from the touristy crowd

Located inside the Ringstrasse, is this greener belt surrounded by many historic buildings, including Hofburg and Albertina. The park is full of architectural statues and sculptures. But the main highlight though is the discrete statue of Mozart located right in the center of the park. If you need some time to chill and absorb in the Viennese beauty, Burrgarten is a perfect place for you.

Walk around the old city


Take a walk along the magnificent Hofburg – an Imperial Palace and its museums, including, Sisi Museum, Imperial apartments, and Imperial Silver collection). If you want to check all of these from inside, make sure to buy a city pass (or card, whichever fits more to your plans) – it’s a great deal if you have enough time and if you want to visit many tourist attractions.


Climb up the painted stairs to Albertina Gallery onto the terrace that looks down at the city with a backdrop of the State Opera House.

Free entry to the museum with a Vienna Pass.


Right in the center of Judenplatz standing above a medieval synagogue, is a memorial dedicated to the Austrian Jews that lost their lives during the Holocaust. It bears the names of the concentration camps, where the Austrian Jews were killed.

The entry to the Jewish Museum & Museum Judenplatz is free with a Vienna Pass.

Day 2

Admire the grand Schonnbrunn Gardens

Schonnbrunn Palace and Gardens boast of magnificent Baroque architecture. The entry fee to the palace is €17,50 but it is free with a Vienna pass. You can, however, roam in the gardens for no cost at all. The gardens are huge, and you can relish its different parts, including, Great Parterre, Neptune Fountain, Gloriette, and much more.

Visit the very interesting Naschmarkt

An outdoor market with around 100 stalls of food and a few stalls that sell clothes and antiques. Take your time walking across the market, tasting food samples, buying some fresh fruits, and looking through the souvenirs.

Get Amazed by the magnificence of St. Stephen’s Cathedral

Conveniently located in the city center, in Stephansplatz, is this giant gothic beauty. It takes you back in the time, and you can easily spend 30-40 minutes inside the church praising its grand architecture.
The entrance to the church is for €1 in the name of donation, and if you want to do an underground catacomb tour, or climb the 343 steps of the south tower, you’ll need to pay €5 – €6 for each.

Watch Sunset over Danube river

Take a 30 minute U-Bahn ride from Stephansplatz to Neue Donau, the closest station to Brigittenauer Bridge. Walk over to the bridge, and you can see the sun go down on the other side. You can also sit by the lake in Donau Park just under the bridge for a relaxed evening.

Traveling to Salzburg – Free things to do in the city

Traveling to Salzburg – Free things to do in the city

Salzburg – a heaven on earth.

Salzburg is famous for being the birthplace of Mozart and for the filming of the movie, Sound of Music, but there’s so much more than that, that you can see and do for free in the city.
Having spent 3 days in Munich, one of the expensive cities, I was a little reluctant to spend more immediately and wanted to keep my budget in check.

So, when I was drafting out a rough itinerary, I decided between places or experiences that I really wanted to have and the ones that I was okay to miss and spend less.

Travel experience is all about the choices you make!!

Stay at YoHo Hostel

Just a 10-minute walk from the train station, YoHo International was a good budget hostel with clean and comfortable rooms. It had a complimentary bread, butter and jam breakfast with an option to upgrade to a full-fledged breakfast buffet. The staff was also very accommodating and readily gave amazing travel tips for touring the city.

PS: You get a free welcome shot of Apfelstrudel!

Apfelstrudel shot in YoHo Hostel, Salzburg, Austria Apfelstrudel shot

Day 1

Visit an Alpine Salt Mine

Interestingly Salzburg means, Salt Fortress, and it has been the center of salt extraction for thousands of years. You can visit the salt mine at any of these three places surrounding the city – Hallein, Hallstatt, and Alatausee. The experience will be very similar in all of these places as the tours are organized by a single company.

I went to the mine at Hallein – it was a pretty fun experience, learning about the history of the salt mining business in the city.

Before the tour started, we were given overalls to wear to avoid soiling our own clothes. After that, we rode on a mine train that took us across the Austria-Germany border under the Alps. This was followed by a slide down deeper, under the ground. The tour ended with a boat ride across the briny water lake.

In addition to all these rides, you can also be more experimental, and actually taste the water inside the caves. And if you are lucky enough, you can also get a salt crystal from the mine to take home as a personalized memento.

Depending on the mine you chose to visit, you can plan to accommodate touring the nearby areas as well. At Hallein, you can also visit the Celtic village located right next to the salt mine and get an experience of the old Celtic times.

Tour Hohensalzburg Fortress and the surrounding gardens

I am a sunset lover and what better way to watch the sun go down – magnificent city views and the picturesque Alps in the background.
You can either hike up or take a funicular to reach the fortress. I preferred walking, and I swear the views kept getting better as I climbed up.

If you continue to walk straight towards Mönchsberg and not turn towards the fortress, you’ll reach the gardens.

Now there are two reasons to go to gardens first and watch the sunset from there, one, it is far less crowded than the fortress, and the views are definitely unbeatable, second, you get a free entry inside the fortress after 7:00 pm(so if you want to save on some money!!).

Enjoy open-air Opera performance on a big screen

I was lucky enough to be in the city during the Siemens fest. The fest runs for 5 weeks (from July-August), during which the selected concerts and opera productions are shown on a big screen in Kapitelplatz. So just reach before the screening starts and grab a seat for yourself.

opera screening in Salzburg Austria

Day 2

Walk around Old Town Salzburg

Take the Love Lock bridge to go across the Salzach river and to the city center. Spend some time roaming around the streets, and see places including, Mozart’s birthplace, old market square, Salzburg Cathedral, and Kapitelplatz (with a giant chess board placed on the road).

Visit Mirabell Palace and it’s gardens – FREE Tour

Fun fact – A few clips of the “Do, Re, Mi” song from the movie Sound of Music are shot in the Mirabell Gardens.

I was not able to roam around the Mirabell gardens because it was raining outside, but I have read great things about it – the statues, fountains, and the landscaping that is done.

In your urge to relax in the gardens, do not forget to tour the Mirabell Palace. A grand palace with baroque architecture and angel statues adorning the 3-level staircase. You can also take a look inside the Marble Hall which is now used for weddings.

As you continue to explore the city

  • Dine in cozy cafes of Salzburg!!
  • Visit the weekly local market held every Thursday right opposite Mirabell Palace
My Favorite 5 Restaurants in Gurgaon

My Favorite 5 Restaurants in Gurgaon

In the last few years, Gurgaon has become a big technical hub employing lakhs of people each year. With most of the jobs demanding a lot of work and time, it is very natural for so many restaurants and cafes to open up in the city to keep it a little light-hearted. Not only that, with the start-up culture growing so much, many cafes are opening up to solve the purpose of a freelancer’s working space. I worked in Gurgaon for a year and a half and for sure I needed a break on weekends to go out, sit and relax in a cozy cafe, or to a new restaurant that has just opened up or to try out different cuisine. Below are my five personal favorites that solve the purpose of good food and cozy ambiance.

Fat Lulu’s Cafe & Bar – Cross Point Mall, DLF Phase 4

The first thing you’ll notice about this cafe is its smart utilization of area. The way they have arranged the tables with bar and kitchen on one side leaves a lot of convenient walking space. The cafe has a very pleasing ambiance with good music. It is also work-friendly with good wifi and comfortable seats. The food is here is really great and reasonable too!! Cheese Nachos in Gurgaon Cheese Nachos Toffee Caramel Waffle Sweet in Gurgaon Toffee Caramel Waffle

Yum Yum Cha – Cyber Hub

I am really in love with this place. The restaurant has a lot of vegetarian and non-vegetarian Asian food options, including dim sum, pho, sushi, noodles, and so on. The service is overall quick and polite with the staff open to recommending options according to your taste, just in case you get overwhelmed looking at menu items. vegetarian pho yum yum cha gurgaon Vegetarian Pho Basil Noodles yum yum cha gurgaon Basil Noodles Spicy Jade dimsums Yum Yum Cha Gurgaon Spicy Jade dimsums veg sushi yum yum cha gurgaon Vegetarian Sushi

Delhicacy – Galleria, DLF Phase 4

Crazy about street food but fear getting sick? Then this restaurant is a must go for you. Located in one of the central areas of Gurgaon, this restaurant is every chaat lover’s favorite. Large portions, amazing taste, and a large variety of North Indian food options, I am a big fan of Delhicacy. bhelpuri in delhicacy gurgaon chaat in delhicacy gurgaon food in delhicacy gurgaon

Ciclo Cafe – Sector 29

The first thing that impressed me apart from the beautiful decor is the cordiality of the staff.
The whole experience becomes better if the service is good.
With so many bicycles on display, the cafe is promoting the bicycle trend and a healthy lifestyle. Apart from the traditional items on the menu, the cafe also has a variety of healthy and gluten-free meals. It is one of the quieter restaurants in the noisy hub of sector 29. Mango, Melon, and Quinoa Salad in Ciclo Cafe Gurgaon Mango, Melon, and Quinoa Salad Mushroom Salad in Ciclo Cafe in Gurgaon Mushroom Salad Nachos in Ciclo Cafe in Gurgaon Nachos Fresh Carrot Juice in Ciclo Cafe, Gurgaon Fresh Carrot Juice

Burma Burma – Cyber hub

If you love trying different cuisines, then Burma Burma is a place for you. I just love their Khao Suey and bubble tea and always tend to over-eat whenever I am here. Burma Burma offers pure vegetarian food and is generally for a wholesome dining experience. Oh No Khao Suey Burma Burma Gurgaon Oh No Khao Suey Nutella Bubble Tea Khao Suey Gurgaon Nutella Bubble Tea Oh No Khao Suey Burma Burma Gurgaon Khao Suey Toppings Onion and Garlic Steam Buns Burma Burma Gurgaon Steam Buns
A few restaurants that do not make it to the top 5 list but are a good choice for any day!
Tossin Pizza – for their over the top dips on the pizza. Large portions and really tasty. Tossin Pizza Gurgaon Pier 38 – one of the many bars in CyberHub, with great food and impressive presentation. Pier 38 Gurgaon IHOP – a breakfast kind of cafe with a variety of egg meals. Ihop Gurgaon The Classroom – love them for their creamy soft Kejriwal eggs and many indoor games options. Kejriwal Eggs in The Classroom Gurgaon
Mountain in Oils – Painting Tutorial for Beginners

Mountain in Oils – Painting Tutorial for Beginners

This is an oil painting video tutorial suitable for beginners.

PS: I have used a brush to paint the mountain instead of a knife.

Traveling To Prague – Things to do and tips to keep in mind

Traveling To Prague – Things to do and tips to keep in mind

Prague is a beautiful-budget city with colorful historic buildings, narrow alleys, intricate architecture, and a river that divides the city.
I was in Prague for two weeks in mid-August and the weather during this time was just perfect, with no rain on most of the days.
I had enrolled in a 10-day European Summer school, so it helped me experience Prague both as a local as well as a tourist. In this post, I will share the top things that you should do while your stay in Prague and some tips to keep in mind as you explore the city.

First things first – Where to get your money exchanged?

The best solution to get local currency is by using your international debit or credit card to withdraw money from the ATM, given that bank charges are not too high.
If that doesn’t work for you or you have carried enough cash from home, you can exchange your Euros/Dollars that you have from trusted exchange offices. One of the biggest scams in the city is money exchange, so you need to be wary of where you get your money exchanged. There are so many exchange offices that will claim to offer you the best conversion rate but do not fall for them. Most of these places will take a commission that will leave you with much less amount after exchange than what you’d normally get.
Most accepted currency in Prague is Czech Crowns (CZK). We exchanged our money at Praha Exchange located right in the city center on Jindřišská street. It offers one of the best rates and zero commission.

PS: Many places don’t accept credit/debit card for payment, so do ask before you purchase anything.

Buy a SIM card?

I decided to not buy a SIM card during my stay in Europe and it worked perfectly fine for me. You can read more details on how I managed to survive without a SIM card for 30 days here.

Buy a Public Transport Ticket

Prague is well connected by public transport, that includes trams and buses throughout the city. You can get the tickets from the vending machines or ticket offices at the metro stations, newsstands, or tourist information offices. If you are in the city for more than one day, I would suggest that you buy a pass instead. There are several options for the passes, ranging from one day to annual. Check their official site for the latest ticket prices.

Grocery Shopping

If you are a budget traveler who likes to buy and cook their own food, I am sure grocery shopping must top your list of ToDos on reaching a new city. There were many small supermarkets near my hostel, Botič Student House
on the main Vršovická Street where you could get all kinds of basic items. But a few things to be careful of are, one, if you are tight on cash and need to use the card, make sure to ask before you start selecting items. Second, I bought some food without checking and it was expired. So make sure you check the dates before you buy anything – you don’t want to waste all that you bought.
Also, you can buy the same item at different prices in different places. Although, I don’t exactly remember the rate difference.

If you want to go to a proper supermarket, I would suggest Tesco Express or Lidl for more trustworthy purchases 🙂

Breakfast Items from Tesco, Prague

Visit Pubs and Party in the Best Dance Clubs

Prague is famous for its beer and is often referred beer capital of the world. With frequent hopping to different pubs and clubs in Prague, I’ll list down a few of my favorites.

The Pub – It had a fun concept of pouring your own beer at the table and also monitor the amount of beer you have had and the price for the same. You can also compete with other tables, with score directly proportional to the amount of beer consumed at a table. With average food and rude staff, this place is best only if you want to have good beer and hang out with friends 🙂

Hangar Bar – My personal favorite because of good music and ample space to dance. With a non-stop music, we were dancing pretty much the whole time we were in the club.

Hangar Bar in Prague

Golden Tree – Crowded yet fun, mainly because of a good choice of songs they were playing. Despite the creeps that were trying to enter our group and broken glass and beer on the floor, we didn’t get bored here 🙂

Karaoke Night in Jampa Dampa – We visited Jampa Dampa on a Karaoke night on Thursday. Hidden between streets in the basement, is this small fun club. We were a group of multiple nationalities and the person on the computer was kind enough to find our countries’ songs and play for us. Check out the video:

Eat Drink Repeat!

Prague is full of cafes and restaurants that offer a variety of cuisines. From coffee to pizza to Indian food, the city will not disappoint you. Check out this link for tried and tested food options in Prague.

Have a Barbecue in Stromovka Park

Take some time out of visiting the touristy spots and spend an evening with your friends barbecuing in the park. There are some parks in Prague where grilling is illegal, therefore find a park that allows it and if the weather permits, then you are all set for your picnic time 🙂
We had BBQ near the Vltava Canal in Stromovka Park. In maps, you can see it as Stromovka – Grill Bod 5. Enjoy your grilled cheese and burgers with chilled beer. Go for a swim or paddleboarding in the small stream that flows nearby. Grilled Cheese with Burger in Stromovka Park


Just a few steps from our BBQ spot was a small stream flowing. After having lunch, some of us went for paddleboarding there. You can find rental shops in the park where you can rent a paddle board from.
It was my first ever experience standing on a paddle board and river waters were quite calm for the first-time paddleboarders 😊. PaddleBoarding in Stromovka Park, Prague

Other Points of Interest

Petrin Hill & Prague Castle

Surrounded by nature, Petrin Hill is one of the best places to see the sunset and the city from. You can reach the top either by a tram or walk up the stairs. But the best way was to climb up the hidden paths through the gardens. Once there, you can also go to Lookout Tower to get even better city views. I did not do that because the views from the hill were pretty good as well.

You can also visit Prague Castle since it is just around the corner a few minutes walk from the hill.

Charles Bridge & Lennon Wall

Flooded with tourists throughout the day, visit Charles Bridge for its history, statues, and live music. But the best way to get a good view of Charles Bridge is from Alšovo nábřeží. It is a walkway between Charles Bridge and Mánes Bridge right by the river.

PS: Alšovo nábřeží was suggested by a friend and we happened to see a beautiful sunset from this place and it wasn’t as crowded as well 😁

As you cross the Charles Bridge, get down a few stairs on the left and make a stop at Lennon Wall. With tons of artwork done on it, it’s a must visit to reminisce about the history behind the wall, when people used this wall to express their emotions.

Lennon Wall, Prague

Museum Of Communism

I wouldn’t say it was the best museum, but it worked quite well for me since I did not have a lot of information about European History. It was like a physical Wikipedia and the reading walls made it a bit boring.

Vyšehrad Hill

Get past the gardens after getting down at Výtoň station to St. Peter and St. Paul Church and then to amazing views of Vltava river and the city from Vyšehrad Hill.

Wenceslas Square and Old Town

Stroll around Wenceslas Square, Old Town, and Jewish quarters admiring the beautiful European architecture and get a hint of the city culture and history.

Day trip to Cesky Krumlov

Cesky Krumlov is a beautiful city just 3-hour drive from Prague. It is famous for it’s State Castle, that is surrounded by Vltava river in the south and Polecnice stream in the north. After touring the castle, you can sit in a river-side bar and enjoy your beer.
End your trip with a rafting in the surrounding river.

PS: Thanks to European Summer School Organisers for all the trips and excursions we had together

Diving into nature’s lap from 13,000ft above Pacific Ocean

Diving into nature’s lap from 13,000ft above Pacific Ocean

There is a funny story behind how I landed up here. I was in the US in Nov’16 on an official trip when I took some personal time off as well. I went to see my sister who was in Irvine, California at that time. Two days before the activity, I was casually talking to a friend who said that she might be going for sky-diving. My adventurous self said to me, I should do that too. This is the normal me – always excited about trying but step back in the end either because I am too scared or I am too lazy. In a moment of excitement, I told my sister about my unplanned plans to go for sky-diving. She got even more excited than me and started looking for options. I, on the other hand, had changed my mind by now. When I told her this, she persuaded me and bought tickets – so there was no going back since I had the tickets now. The next day, I took a train from Irvine to Oceanside, then a bus to the nearest bus stop from GoJump Oceanside, and finally walked to the location. All this time, I was scared, worried, shy, excited, nervous, so many emotions at the same time. But here I was, and there was just one option for me now, to go jump!!
One Month in Mumbai – from learning how to act to living in the most expensive city

One Month in Mumbai – from learning how to act to living in the most expensive city

Going to the city I hated the most!
But it was a city of dreams in real essence!!

My immediate plan after coming from the US to India was to join Anupam Kher’s Acting classes in Mumbai. This is one thing that I wanted to try from quite some time and now since I didn’t have any commitments, it was the right time for me to try it out.

I had been to Mumbai twice before to meet my friends, and I hated it so much that I decided to never come back to the city. It was sad to see everyone struggle for a one bedroom apartment in a clumsy locality.

Flats in Mumbai
A posh society in Mumbai surrounded by dirty water drains
But my visit to Mumbai in July’18 was going to change that perspective to some extent. I had booked a hostel, The Social Space near my classes so that it was convenient to walk to the class and I could save some time and money on the commute. I didn’t have many hopes from the hostel or the locality since Mumbai is an expensive city. But I was really excited about my classes and the people I was going to meet.
Just like Kota (a city in Rajasthan) streets that are full of IIT coaching Institutes, Mumbai West Andheri, where my hostel was located was full of Acting Institutes. I, on the other hand, believed there are just a handful of acting schools in the city 🤦🏽‍♀️

How did I spend my time in Mumbai?

I started my life in Mumbai by recording every expense I made. Since I was on a budget and didn’t want to spend so much on fancy food and entertainment but focus on what I was there for. It didn’t continue after the first week though 👩🏽
I had my classes in the evening, so to keep myself busy, during the mornings, I spent time working on my blog and also figuring out a plan for the coming month. I even posted my first camera facing YouTube video during that time.
Starbucks was my day-time home and internet provider for first two weeks 😁.
Through this blog post, I also want to thank Starbucks for providing working-space to so many people everywhere. I don’t think you get thanked enough, so kudos to you 🙌🏾.

The Must have Mumbai Local Experience

I had applied to work with an NGO while I was in Mumbai. On a random day, 10 days before I had to leave, I got an email from the NGO inviting to attend an orientation meeting. I knew I might not be able to work with the NGO because of the limited time I was in Mumbai, but still, I was super-eager to do something useful for the society and hence I decided to go to a faraway place in Mumbai. I was living on a budget and didn’t want to spend a 1000Rs on my commute, so I decided to take the Mumbai Local train.
Oh, it was such a funny experience, I actually didn’t have to put in a lot of effort to climb up and get down the train because there were soooo many people to help you do that. Imagine yourself as a part of a group that moves together and stops together, something like this ↴

Moving Together

My Experience in The Social Space Hostel

Like any other new place, I was skeptical about the hostel and the people I was going to meet. After taking my own time, I started making friends with other hostelers. TSS is a very cool place, and by the time I left, it was more of a small family than a group of strangers. Every night in the TSS was like a night in college hostel where we spent time discussing how our day was, playing games and general gossiping.
There were people from different parts of the world, including Egypt, Bahrain, Ghana, Russia, and of course India, and a few others. Most of these people were working with NGOs, so they were there for a longer duration. The rest of us included solo travelers, fashion designer, makeup artist, actors, directors, traders, experienced chefs, musicians, and so on. Oh, it was a group of people from all over the place and it was so amazing to talk to each one of them and learn something new every day.

My Experience with Actor Prepares

The very first day of the class was like starting a school and thinking you might be the worst. It was amazing to see students with ages varying from 14yrs to 65yrs and with varied experiences, all gathered in one room to learn sincerely. The group had a mix of people who were already into acting schools, others who were experienced professionals, then a few fresh out of college and of course 2 kids who were still in school. Many of us were in Mumbai just for the classes for a month, some with the support of their families and some on their own giving some excuse back home.
The classes started with awkward “Hi’s” and “Hello’s” but by the end, most of us had formed close bonds.
I had signed up for both dance and acting classes as part of the part-time course. In dance class, we learned choreography on 4 Bollywood songs and the group worked together and helped others who needed extra help and guidance.
The acting class will be a little more detailed. The first week included group activities so that everyone gets to know each other and gets comfortable on the stage. It was more of a ramping up week for the activities in the coming weeks. The first exercise was creating a still picture with static body action and facial expressions. It progressed to acting without words and conveying the meaning through gestures (also called, Mime ). This was followed by coming up with a situation and acting it out in a group. The classes progressed through, imagination development, practicing Navarasa, and speaking and breathing exercises. These were accompanied by regular improvised performances where we used the techniques learned in the previous classes. The final week was more focused on our monologues for the final performance.

The final performance

On the last day of the class, we had to showcase, whatever we had learned in the last 26 days. We were allowed to invite our friends and families for the performance. Rest of the audience was our faculty, the acting and dance teachers.
The dance performance went by too quickly and before we even realized it was over 😭. It was followed by monologue acts in the order that was pre-decided. I was the 26th person to go on stage. I was a little nervous but funny enough “you don’t have many options once you are there on stage😉
I performed my act and while I was doing that, I tried to include my teachers’ feedback and did a little better than the practice sessions I guess.
You can check my video here.
The realization of the one month of hard work and scoldings and praises has come to an end was such a bad feeling. Most of us went for an after-party after the ceremony and the night ended with hugs and kisses and promises of meeting again 😇.

What I Learned as a Person in The Class

These classes were a real help not only as an actor but as a person as well. My fear of stage had reduced to a great extent. I was able to explore the emotions in me that I didn’t think I even had. And I am really really thankful to our teacher Mr. Alok Arora for all the effort he had put in and the genuine feedback he constantly gave. And thumbs up to our dance teachers, Mr. Shivam Sahal and Ms. Urmila for teaching in the most basic way possible so that everyone could easily pick up. And of course to all the people in the class for supporting and giving regular feedback to each other for a continuous improvement as a group.

My first introduction audition

My friend from class had told me about an audition that was going to happen that day for Fulcrum Films. Nervous, excited and clueless about what it is like, I went to the shared address. It was then that I realized the places where auditions are done are not generally fancy looking offices. The place I was going to was hidden behind a few shops and though I felt a little skeptical, I got all calmed down when I saw a hugeeee queue of people (all guys) waiting for their audition. As I climbed up the stairs I was told, girls could enter the room and have a seat. I felt glad but a little sad for all those guys who must have been there already before me. I sat on a couch and watched all the introductions go on waiting for them to call me for my turn. It was after some time that I realized, once in the room, you have to get up and go yourself whenever you feel ready. While I was preparing for my intro, it started raining heavily outside and most of the guys who were waiting outside were told to come the next day — “yes this is the story of how most auditions and introductions go”. I was lucky enough to be in that room and finally complete my introduction and leave.

The Star Encounter Experience

The only star-encounter experience I had was of Gul Panag. It was when I was working in Starbucks that she entered with her family and sat on the table just next to me. Trying really hard to be patient, I did not directly look at her and by the time I calmed down, she moved to a table with space for more people. But before leaving I smiled and waved at her and left without imposing myself too much on her. – Just a happy moment 😊

And finally, I never thought I will fall in love with Mumbai, but I was already missing it when I was about to leave it 🙁

Final Goodbyes
Rape is not Consensual and Why we need to Teach this to our Children

Rape is not Consensual and Why we need to Teach this to our Children

The motivation for this post is this VIDEO.

It really made me question the type of upbringing we are doing and the kind of things we are teaching to the future youth of India. And we as a nation, hold responsibility for it.
The elders of the society are responsible for educating their children. If we are passing the wrong knowledge to them, it is very difficult to expect a brighter future for the nation.
We can all start with educating one child each and try to bring the transformation that we aim for!

PS: While the video talks about one cultural group, this post is not intended to target a particular group of people. It is intended to create more awareness among people and direct them towards teaching the right thing to the younger generation.