Travel Stories – Episode 1

I have always been a backpacker. While travelling the most important thing I want are food, water and places to see with a preference for places with historical importance. What falls on the bottom of my list: clean clothes, hair dryer and  travelling iron, not that clean clothes are not important but just that I have more things to do when travelling than washing clothes. I like meeting new people, specially locals at the places I visit, it might be a random conversation but its still a feel good thing. Most of my friends are people I have met while travelling and it also make existing relation better, an opportunity to know yourself better and also know the other person better.

Often I travel with groups of people sometimes strangers and sometimes friends and sometimes alone and sometimes I have had strange experiences. But one experience that will always stay with me is when we were travelling to Keylong. The temperature was in single digits (a rarity for a south Indian to have) and at 11 in the night I got woken up by one of the girl I was sharing the room with asking me if I had an Iron box, unbelievably she was washing her jeans at 11 in the night at a place where the temperature is about 9 degrees on the celsius scale. I wonder how she planned to dry her jeans in keylong

Well my response, my other roommate thought I will kill the girl. AS it happens that was just the beginning of my adventure with her, well I call it an adventure coz we came back in one piece and we did not get to blows. But I guess its all in a days travel

Coorg

I have been reading up about Coorg for sometime but something always happened to change my plans to visit there. Finally earlier this year I managed to visit the district of Coorg and in a sentence… The place caters to every kind of traveler.

Coorg is well connected from Bangalore by govt and private buses. The road is very good till
Mysore and a lil rough there on. But once we set into the district of Coorg as the bus goes through the ghat road.. the view is breath taking and the roads are lined with coffee and spice gardens. The air is perfumed with the smell of eucalyptus and coffee.
I started my Coorg trip at Bylakuppe. Bylakuppe is a Tibetan settlement and is also know as the second home for His Holiness Dalai Lama. The monastery here is famously know as “The Golden temple” was established in 1969 and houses about 4000 Monks.
This monastery houses 2 golden statues of Buddha and one statue of Tara which stand about 60 feet tall. The monastery is extremely quiet and peaceful during the week and is a lil crowded over the weekend with the weekend visitors.

This place also was heaven for the foodie in me. Across the temple are a few Tibetan restaurants and a must try here would be the Momo’s.
After a day at Bylakuppe I headed down to Dubare Elephant camp which is about 12Kms and one can easily get there with an auto or a taxi. The elephant camp is on the other side of the river and is accessible by a boat. The place is managed by Jungle Lodgesand is a Eco-resort.
Dubare is home to a wide range of animals like the wild gaur, spotted dear, Sambar and a wide range of birds along with the famous Asiatic elephants. The highlight of the Jungle lodges trip was the interaction with the elephants at the camp. One gets to help the manhout in giving them a bath and watch the elephants being groomed and fed.

The early morning Coracle ride at the camp is an experience one must not miss as the sun cuts
through the thick fog and the birds welcome the day with their pleasant chirping.

Overall the stay at the Jungle lodges was wonderful and the people here are very pleasant and helpful and made our trip memorable.
We headed further down to Medikeri, the district headquarters of Coorg and the name loosely translates as “dense forest on steep hill”. The road from Kushalnagar to Medikeri is a uphill drive with coffee and tea plantation on the side of the road and breath taking views.

We spent a lazy evening the streets of Medikeri and watched the sun set from the Raja’s seat. The legend here is that the King supposedly spent their evenings here. The sunset is spectacular with blue skies and the valley spread below. This place also has Musical fountains and a lot fun to watch.
Later we headed to Talacauvery, from where the River Kaveri orginates in Bhramagiri hills. A lil away from the temple is a path that led us to the top of the hill and with an great view. people here belive that Saptha Maharishi’s performed yagnas here.
A few more places to visit are The Abby falls, Omkareshwara temple, raja’s tombs, Bhrama Kundike/Bagamandala.
Coorg is famously known for their home stays where people let back packers stay in their houses for a nominal price and one gets to experience the culture. The lady we spent a day with was very helpful and guided us on the places to see and the best ways to commute.
No trip for me is complete without shopping 🙂 Like any tourist destination these places have a wide range of things to offer. I ended up with a huge Fan shaped showpiece from Bylakuppe with Chinese painting, a silk scarf and home-made chocolates from Medikeri.

But the best deal of all was at Bangalore, I bought about 7 pairs of footwear(I hope my Mom never reads this line of the post!!!).
Most websites refer to Coorg as the Scotland of
India… I haven’t seen Scotland yet… but I would say Coorg is one place one must see. The ideal time I would suggest to visit Coorg would be late in winter and in spring.
Oops I almost forgot my picture with the elephant 🙂

Goa Again

The people you are with makes a difference to how well you enjoy the place. In that case Priya defiantly scores higher. 3 years later I still feel nostalgic when I think of the Goa trip we did together.

On this trip I saw a different parts of Goa but I felt a little wasted as we had to spend a lot of time at restaurants or just waiting or thinking. Anyway that water under the bridge.
One place that is a must visit in Goa is Orzan Beach. Tucked being a hill and a hillock is this small and exquisite beach with barely any people. On one one end of this beach is a rock carved with face of Shiva on the stone. The carving is supposed to be a couple of hundreds of years old and done by a Portuguese man.
This beach is frequented by reclusive and by people who enjoy the silence. Just up the beach is are small guest house build of Bamboo and are pretty comfortable and nice to live in with basic comforts.
A walk in the evening on this beach to watch the sunset is an experience that will remain with you for a long time.
(Unfortunately this is one trip I have no pictures of, blame it on stupidity)

Illusions – The real Messiah


I was reading a the book “Illusions, The adventure of an Reluctant Messiah” by Richard Bach and a few lines caught my attention and kept me thinking. Richard Bach is an American writer and hugely popular for his famous book “Jonathan Livingston Seagull”.

Extract:
The master answered and said, “Once there lived a village of creatures along the bottom of a great crystal river. The current of the river swept slowly over them all – young and old, rich and poor, good and evil, the current going its own way, knowing only its own crystal self.

Each creature in its own manner clung tightly to the twigs and rocks of the river bottom, for clinging was the way of life, and resisting the current what each had learnt from birth.
But One creature said at last ‘I am tired of clinging. Though i cannot see it with my eyes, I trust that the current knows where it is going. I shall let go, and let it take me where it will. Clinging, I shall die of boredom.’

The other creatures laughed and said ‘Fool! let go an, that current you worship will throw u tumbled and smashed across the rocks, and you will die quicker than boredom!’ But the One heeded them not and taking a breath did let go, and at once was tumbled and smashed by current across the rocks.

Yet in time, as the creature refused to cling again, the current lifted him free from the bottom, and he was bruised and hurt no more. And the creatures down stream, to whom he was a stranger, cried ‘ See a miracle! A creature like ourselves, yet he flies! see the Messiah, come to save us all!’

And the One carried in the current said “I am no more Messiah than you. The river delights to lift us free, if only we dare to let go. Our true work is this voyage, this adventure.’ But the cried the more ‘Saviour!’ all the while clinging to the rocks, and when th
ey looked again he was gone, and they were left alone making legends of a saviour.”
The above text rightly describes the current state of living. The creatures us, the people of the universe, the current the Change and the The one or the Messiah is the one who is willing to flow, learn and accept the change.
The Messiah or the One or the different name we use like the Buddha, the Christ, and Rama or the Krishna. We fail to realise that our Messiah have raised from within us and have refused to cling to the existing system but to accept change and live life to their content.
In our society when one refuses to cling to the existing system and refuses to accept the existing legends, he is abused, broken and bruised as the creature in the extract, like the current is testing to see how far the one would go to accept the change and then the current lifts it higher than one could hope and it goes ahead to make its own legends.
Most of us follow a religion and practice rituals, but do we even wonder why we are doing it instead of following it like blind bats. Once upon a time our rituals had a lot of meaning and were performed for a reason. Today we perform them even when the reason does not exist and the meaning long forgotten.
We live in a society that focuses on 2 things – Survival and Dominance. The ancient civilizations like the such as the Indus valley, the Hopi and the Mayan the education was focused on the overall development – Mind, Body and Spirit. But over a period of time education shifted to mind centered education and focus on gaining skills was believed were needed for survival.
In the beginning the survival skills were related to War and it was believed that one had to eliminate everyone who is perceived as a threat to ones own survival. The life of survival have paved way to industrial and technological revolutions that we live in the present moment. However our focus for skills has remained constant over the time – Survival and Dominance.
In reality we try to dominate what we fear and we fear what we do not understand. We dominate when we cannot conquer our inner fears. To conquer our inner fears we need to focus on the development and growth of our Spirit and look through the darkness to reach the light.
“If God spoke to directly to your face and said ‘I COMMAND THAT YOU BE HAPPY IN THE WORLD AS LONG AS YOU LIVE’ what would you do then? ‘In the path of our happiness shall we find the learning for which we have chosen this life time. ” – From “Illusions, The adventure of an Reluctant Messiah” by Richard Bach
All our scriptures and our holy books talk about trying and being happy and content as long as we live and to fill our lives with peace, joy and happiness. Its a pity that we look up to a Messiah but do not follow their footsteps or learn from their learnings. We are are creatures clingling to the rock and twings of our ignorance and most of the time we hold up people who want to let go in the ties of the system.
We believe in the rise of the Messiah to help us change the world. Maybe its time for us to realise that we are our own Messiahs and together break the web of the twigs and rock of us system and let the light come in!

Many lives, Many Masters – DR. Brian Weiss

Slightly different from the books I normally read.. the book ‘Many Lives, many Masters’ gets you thinking about life and purpose. The multi coloured book cover and the name of the
woman in the book caught my attention to read this book.

A graduate of Columbia University and Yale Medical School, Brian L. Weiss M.D. is Chairman Emeritus of Psychiatry at the Mount Sinai Medical Center in Miami. Dr. Brian Weiss maintains a practice in Miami. Dr. Weiss is the author of several top selling books based on his experiences.


His first book’ Many Lives, Many Masters’ is his experience with one of his patient who recalls her past life trauma which are the cures to her depression and anxiety attacks.

Through her regression, she channels messages from the time between lives which contain remarkable message for him from a higher life forms regarding life and his own family,

Dr. Brian Weiss has written this book to share his new-found knowledge about immortality and the true meaning of life. Whether one believes in reincarnation or not, the book ‘Many Lives, Many Masters’ will get you thinking about inter-connectedness and our purpose on this plane of existence. All in all an interesting read.

The end of an Era of Moon Walk


Michael Jackson debuted with music at the age of 11 and the music entertainer and the biggest pop star of the generation, also refer as the king of Pop. One of the very few entertainers to be inducted in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame twice and with 13 Grammy awards and 13 solos, selling 750 million albums worldwide and for almost 2 decades of being on the top of the charts. He is the most successful entertainer of our times and it is possible that there is not another artist who would come any where close to him.


He will always be remembered in his on stage appearance. His black sequined jacket, silver shirt, black fedora and black trousers that skimmed the tops of his white socks and finally his single white glove, studded with rhinestones. His dance style combined with movements
from break dance and quick spins and sliding around and his signature dance move ‘Moon walk’, an ability to keep one leg straight as he glides while the other bends and seems to walk requires perfect timing and his patented black shoes that let him lean forwardly beyond his center of gravity.

He has made his contributions to the world in his own way, Music. ‘Heal the world‘ has never failed to move me to tears. It has given a hope for a better and brighter tomorrow.

Michael Jackson has been in the news.. always. There was intense curiosity about his physical metamorphosis, his nose operations, and his personal life. However a lot of us are unaware of his contribution to make this world a better place.
  • 1985 – $1.5 million settlement to the “Michael Jackson Burn Center” which was a piece of new technology to help people with severe burns.
  • He was awarded by the American president, Ronald Regan for his support to charities that helped people overcome alcohol and drug abuse. He donated his $5 million share from the Victory Tour to charity.
  • From 1985 to 1990, Jackson donated $500,000 to the United Negro College Fund, and all of the profits from his single “Man in the Mirror” went to charity.
  • In the year 1992 he founded the ‘Heal the world’ foundation and had the under privileged children visit his theme park on ‘Neverland’ Ranch. The foundation also sent millions of dollars around the globe to help children threatened by war and disease.
Al Sharpton rightly said “Michael Jackson made culture accept a person of colour – way before Tiger Woods, way before Oprah Winfrey, way before Barack Obama, Michael did with music what they did in sport politics and music. No controversy will erase his impact.”

His story is an inspiration to millions. Born in a working-class family, son of Joseph Walter “ and Katherine Esther, he was the seventh of nine children, who started his career in music at the age of 11 and his journey in life to being the ‘King of Pop’. His story of larger than life dreams has given hopes to millions of others. His distinctive musical style has influnced many other artists like Justin Timberlake, Mariah Carey. His work has left “unparalleled” level of worldwide influence over the younger generation through his musical and humanitarian contributions. He was not just a singer or a dancer but a culture on to himself.

Love him or hate him, i can bet that you must have appreciated atleast one track of Michael Jackson. He was quoted as “the most popular artist in the history of show business” and “extremely important figure in the history of popular culture” . He has been spoken about for almost four decades.

Rest in peace Michael Jackson. You will be greatly missed. You will live in our hearts and memories. We love you!

Change!!

After reading ‘Fiction’ for a long time, i finally switched to reading ‘non fiction’ and managed not to doze off after a few pages. I am currently reading books by Brain Weiss. Dr. Brian Weiss is a traditional psychotherapist who has written books on past life regression and past life therapy.


The book in the next post ‘Only Love Is Real’ is a book about soul recognition, and gives us a glimpse into the human soul. Something that changed my life for good. So the next few posts for Brain Weiss.

Holiday @ Hampi

” If dreams were made out of stone, it would be Hampi”


When you first set foot in Hampi, the sound of the temple bells at a distance and the rustle of the flowing river and the huge towering rock greet you. Hampi is place stuck in time, when you get there you can’t help but move back into time. Life here is simple and slow, all of a sudden your mind..tunes to a higher vibration of peace and a profound calmness grips you and all the hustle bustel of the city modern existance..material comforts…. all forgotten.

Hampi is located on the banks on River Tungabadra and is popularly known today was the medieval capital of the Hindu empire Vijayanagara which meant Victory. In Hampi at every turn there is a surprise. Every monument hides more than what they reveal.

Hampi is charismatic even in its ruined state. Dotted around the hills and valleys are 500 plus monuments. Among them are beautiful temples, basement of palaces, remains of aquatic structures, ancient market streets, royal pavilions, bastions, royal platforms, treasury buildings.., the list is practically endless. Hampi is a backpackers paradise.

Hampi is about 460 Kilometers from Hyderabad, 830 kilometers from Mumbai, 320 kilometers from Goa and 320 kilometers from Bangalore.

There are multiple options to reach Hampi. The closestest town is Hospet with is well connected to Hampi with a lot of state run buses, autos and taxies. If you are taking a train or bus your train connection should be to Hosepet. KSRTC runs buses from various towns and cities to Hosepet. You can book your bus tickets to Hosepet here.

Hosepet is well connected by train. You can book your tickets here. The code is for Hosepet is HPT. The best way to get to Hosepet by air is to take a flight to Bangalore and take a bus to Hosepet from there.

Hampi is a short bus ride from Hosepet and the buses are well maintained and cheap. You can also take an auto from Hosepet and usually costs anywhere from INR 100 – 150.

Hampi has lots of guest houses to stay. Most of the locals have run guest houses and little food joints. Stay at Hampi is not too expensive, Guest houses with attached baths and hot water cost between INR 400-600.

One can rent out cycles or bikes to travel around Hampi. This is ideal as it gives you freedom to do things per
your comfort. It cost apprx INR 50 to rent out cycles and INR 150 to rent out bikes. There are no gas stations in Hampi. The closest gas station is on the outskirts of Hosept. However petrol is sold by the people who rent bikes and is little more expensive that a gas station.

The places one must not miss and my personal favorites are Virupaksha Temple, Vittala Temple, Hampi Bazaar, the Queen’s palace, Stepped tank, Narsimhaswamy statue, Hazara Rama temple and the Royal Elephant stables. Also one must do the Coracle ride on the river Tungabadra

Hunting with Fear – Kay Hooper

Murder at Golden.

Diabolical serial killer kidnaps victims and set up torturous ending and challanges he lawmen to arrive in time for a last-second rescue. Lucas Jordan has an extraordinary, he locates missing people. He is called in to investigate a series of ordinary kidnappings-for-ransom, but he immediately realises that the situtaion is far from ordinary. Because a brilliant, twisted madman is out to win a sick game, matching his wits against the best hunter he can find: Lucas.

Samantha Burke, a former lover who ends up on the case when she arrives in Golden working as a sideshow psychic for a traveling carnival. Her warnings meet with skepticism from the local police but spur Jordan on to do what he does best: hunt fear.

Jordan must get past his emotions to access his own psychic talent when the kidnapper turns his gaze on Samantha Burke.