Friday, October 31, 2014

Anuradha Goyal
Friday, October 31, 2014

Go Goa XXIII Naval Aviation Museum, Goa



Tucked away in a corner, near Bogmalo beach at Vasco, is this unique museum dedicated to flying machines of the naval forces. I am not an army / military / war person. I often skip the armory galleries in museums, but this one promised to be more of a display of technology and more importantly an introduction to a subject I knew nothing about.


We landed at the museum as soon as it opened in the morning around 10:00 AM and met many small helicopter and planes sitting in the lawns as if they are having a conference. A small plaque in front of each of them told about their make, year of manufacture, height, weight and carrying capacity. To my untrained eyes and mind they looked like over sized toys, specially when there were these young boys who were all over them painting them and doing minor repairs. However I did notice the indigenous planes made by HAL, Bangalore among mostly imported ones. Some engines were resting in their engine bays. For more details refer to Goa Tourism page on the museum.


A model named Chetak looked liked an auto of the aviation world, with a capacity to seat 5 and a condition that quite resembled our yellow black autos.


A Hughes machine with its bulbous front made me feel it is the Nano of Naval Aviation.


Inside the museum, there is a large exhibit model of INS Viraat. This was the best part of the museum, as I would have never guessed how it holds the number of aviation machines on its platform and within its belly. Real life pictures of the same actually made me believe what the model was trying to tell me. A quote on the wall said ‘In the business of Aviation, Best is ‘Just Enough’’ and how you wish every profession took it that way. From the top floor you get a glimpse of outside display with the backdrop of sea and that brings in a whole new perspective to the museum.



Other displays included – safety equipment like ejection seats and parachutes, war equipment like torpedoes, bombs, radars & rockets, parts of the machine like the black box, Insignias of various units of Indian Navy. There is a picture gallery that covers the major operations done by Indian Navy including the Goa liberation. A set of pictures takes you through the various uniforms of Naval officers and I liked the navy blue Sari for women officers with an elegant golden border. A short film is screened at 11:30 AM if there is power – unfortunately the day we went, there was no power so we could not see the film.


A time capsule is planted right outside the museum – on the day when museum was inaugurated in 1998. We were told it contains pictures of the place as it existed then and an instruction on the capsule says that it would be opened in 1948 to compare the two times, and may be another capsule would be put in place. Interesting concept, I do not remember anything like this elsewhere.

There is a small cafeteria that sells basic foodstuff, souvenirs and a bit out of place things like Hyderabadi pearls.

Open 10:00 AM – 5:00 PM. Mondays closed.


Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Anuradha Goyal
Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Sun Temple Modhera or मोधेरा का सुर्य मंदिर


कर्क रेखा पे
अपने ईष्ट देव की और
मुहँ बाये कमल पट्ट पे खड़ा 
मोधेरा का सुर्य मंदिर

पुष्कारणी में माला से
गूँथे हैं छोटे बड़े मंदिर
जिनकी छवि से हैं खेलते
जल जन्तु कच्छ और मच्छ

सभा मंडप है समेटे
कथाएँ राम और कृष्ण की
जन्म से मृत्यु की यात्रा
मधी है बाहिरी वर्ग पे

कोख रहित गर्भ गृह
कथा कहता प्रहारों की
जो खंडित तो कर गये, पर
क्षीण ना कर पाए तेज को

आठों दिशाओं में
दिशा देवो का वास है
शिलाओं में समाया
संगीत नृत्य उल्हास है

पुष्पावती है जिसे सहलाती
अपनी जल धार से
सूर्य जैसे हो प्रहरी
अपने इस प्रतिबिंब का 

A Rough translation....

On the Tropic of Cancer
Looking towards its deity
On the inverted lotus
Stands the Sun Temple of Modhera

In the Stepwell, stung like pearl string
are big and small 108 temples
With whose shadow 
play the fish and turtle

Assembly hall treasures 
stories of Rama & Krishna
Journey from birth to death
is carved on outer periphery

Womb-less sanctum tells
story of the invasions
that left it in ruins, but
could not diminish its aura

In the eight directions sit
guardian deities of each direction
each stone celebrates life
through music and dance

Pushpavati nurtures it
with its waters
The sun looks over it
its own reflection on earth.


PS: After a long time was inspired to express myself in poetry rather than usual prose. Tell me how you liked the change. 

Sunday, October 26, 2014

Anuradha Goyal
Sunday, October 26, 2014

Sunday Shot: Rose Ringed Parakeet


Rose Ringed Parakeet
Its harvest season in Goa. In the paddy fields of Taleigao near our house, this Rose Ringed Parakeet picks up a strand of the crop from the fields as if saying - this is my share of the booty.

One of the pleasures of living in between the sea and the fields. You can see bunch of these fellows in your backyard.

Friday, October 24, 2014

Anuradha Goyal
Friday, October 24, 2014

Sahastralinga Talav, Patan, Gujarat



Just behind the gorgeous Rani ki Vav lies the Sahastralinga Talav – a structure if intact would have been equally if not more gorgeous. It pre-dates the Rani ki Vava and was another water management structure on the banks of river Saraswati and drew water from one of its canals and not only stored it but also did the water filtering / cleaning process.

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Anuradha Goyal
Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Andhra Avdentures XVII : Yadgirigutta – Abode of Narsimha Swamy


On the outskirts of Hyderabad lie many small gems to be explored.  Yadgirigutta is one of them and I visited it almost towards the end of my stay in Hyderabad along with Kolanpak and Bhongir.

Friday, October 17, 2014

Anuradha Goyal
Friday, October 17, 2014

Legacy of A Queen - Rani Ki Vav


Top View of Rani ki Vav
Rani ki Vav – an ornate step well that a queen had built in the memory of her husband, is the 2014 UNESCO world heritage site entry from India. There are many step wells in this area, one right behind this big step well, but all of them put together cannot match the grandeur of Rani Ki Vav. It is not only magnificent in terms of size but also the decorations that make it as much a work of art as a place of utility value. Whole structure is below the ground level, so when we were approaching it after buying the tickets, what we could see was green manicured lawns with pathways leading to a kind of hole in the ground.

Monday, October 13, 2014

Anuradha Goyal
Monday, October 13, 2014

Popular Gujarat – First Impressions

Sun Temple, Modhera


I have been to Ahmedabad a few times in last 15 years or so, mostly on business trips, but never beyond it in the state of Gujarat. The colorful visuals and the stories of the state always enchanted me. This time when I had the time to plan a trip to Gujarat, I chose to do the popular Gujarat with circuits around Ahmedabad and Vadodara – the two big cities in the state. I spent a week travelling around these two cities, soaking in the Gujarati landscape and its culture, trying to understand its entrepreneurial spirit and the business minded people. 


Tuesday, October 07, 2014

Anuradha Goyal
Tuesday, October 07, 2014

Malaysia Marvels XV: KL Bird Park



Located in the heart of the city, Kuala Lumpur’s bird park takes you amidst the nature as soon as you buy the ticket to it. A sprawling campus divided into zones, some of which let the birds fly free while others that restrict them to certain areas, needs quite some time if you are a bird watcher. Even if you are not, the walk in aviary will put you in awe, as you may have never been so close to some of the flying beauties.

Thursday, October 02, 2014

Anuradha Goyal
Thursday, October 02, 2014

Ramayana Paintings from Royal Palace, Bangkok


King of Thailand is called Rama - so its not surprising that the walls of the Royal Palace have murals depicting the story of Ramayana.

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Anuradha Goyal
Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Review: Devaaya Ayurveda & Nature Cure Centre, Goa


"This is my 4th stay at Devaaya and love coming here every year. Earlier I used to come for 2 weeks, now I come for 3 weeks. This is like staying in one quite corner of the world that lets me spend time with myself, while I tend to my body, mind and soul." Says a middle-aged woman who lives in Nottingham, United Kingdom as we chat over lunch overlooking the swimming pool and Mandovi backwaters. We are at the Devaaya Ayurveda & Nature Cure Centre at Divar Island in Goa.

Sunday, September 28, 2014

Anuradha Goyal
Sunday, September 28, 2014

Go Goa XXI– Bigfoot Museum, Loutlim


This museum is an attempt to re-create the Goan village seen as it used to be. There are various household, religious places, marketplaces and occupations depicted spread over a hill. Let me walk you through some of the key attractions of this museum.

Friday, September 26, 2014

Anuradha Goyal
Friday, September 26, 2014

10 Years of Blogging


Today, I complete 10 years of blogging. What a journey it has been!

Pausing at this milestone to look back and look ahead, sharing some of my thoughts.

World is divided in three parts – one I have lived in and I know intimately, the one I have visited and is like a friend and the one I am yet to visit and is still a mystery no matter how much I read or heard about it. When someone says the name of the place – my mind visualizes the map of the place in two colors – visited and not visited before the conversation begins.

Travel = Trust - When I reflect on what travel does to people, based on my travels and based on numerous couchsurfers that I hosted at my home, I realize the biggest ROI of travel is Trust. Travel establishes trust among strangers. It brings humanity together by establishing understanding about each other. When you visit someone you come back with a bond and it is nearly impossible to hate people you know. Take a minute and think about all the places you have visited and compare them to the perception of places you are yet to visit. I owe the pleasures of my travel to the people who guarded me when I needed security, who told their life stories to me, who shared a laugh and sometimes food with me - always building a bond of trust.

We are more similar than we think - Differences across geographies and cultures exist on the surface – the way we look, the way we dress, what we eat and what language we speak. Scratch the surface and we all go through the same rigmarole of life – our emotional journeys are not very different. Sources of frustrations can be different, but our joys come from more or less the same sources.

Discovering Art, History & Art History - I was a typical science and technology student and do not remember anything else that I studied throughout my student days. It is my travels that introduced me to the world of art, history and art history. It started with observation that led to curiosity that took me to reading about the art and history. In time, I took small courses in art history and now I am an eternal student of ancient Indian Art history. I do not think I am capable enough to write about it yet, but whenever I have attempted a post or two on Indian Arts, the response has been amazing and I hope to do it more often. 

Living a dream - Blogging connected me to so many diverse worlds both in real and virtual world. I meet people who are unlike me from various walks of life. I receive e-mails from all corners of the world – appreciating, admiring, connecting and most of all telling me that I have managed to touch people I may never meet. In the offline world, people have acknowledged being aware of my work and more importantly my thoughts. Could I have asked for more? I can only express my gratitude to all those whom I met on the way and e-way. Traveling, reading and writing and living in a place of your choice - is that not living a dream.

It was totally a road untraveled when I began as blogging itself was a nascent space. 10 years later, I am a part of a thriving tribe called Travel Bloggers. And as the cliché goes – Most exciting time for bloggers are yet to come.


PS: If you have not noticed already – the blog has a new web address – www.IndiTales.com and a new video channel.

Monday, September 22, 2014

Anuradha Goyal
Monday, September 22, 2014

Go Goa XX : Cotigao Wildlife Sanctuary - A walker's paradise



Located at the southern edge of the Goa, bordering Karnataka, this lesser known wild life sanctuary is a nature walker’s delight.  It cuts you off from the mundane world and surrounds you with sheer greenery amidst flowing water almost everywhere.

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Anuradha Goyal
Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Reclining Buddha at Wat Pho, Bangkok, Thailand



Wat Pho – the largest Wat or temple in Thailand is home to the wonderful and giant gold plated reclining Buddha statue. I had a very hurried visit to this Wat, which is actually a complex with many things to offer and many interesting structures inviting you. In the absence of leisurely time, I decided to spend time with the Buddha who is getting ready for his Mahaparinirvana in all his glory. You are not allowed with your shoes on inside the chamber of Buddha, but the funny part is you are not even allowed to keep it out, Instead you are provided with shoulder bags in which you must carry the shoes with you. It defies my logic of why shoes should be kept out but as they say ‘do in Rome as the Romans do’, I carried on.

Friday, September 12, 2014

Anuradha Goyal
Friday, September 12, 2014

Thoseghar Falls – Satara, Maharashtra



Thoseghar Waterfalls were the best part of our trip to Satara and Kaas.  The roaring falls vie for the attention of both your eyes and ears as you stand on the viewing platform.

Sunday, September 07, 2014

Anuradha Goyal
Sunday, September 07, 2014

Hellfire Pass Memorial – Thailand


The tourist circuit in Western Thailand bordering Myanmar or Burma is centered on the historic Burma – Thailand rail link that was built during Word War II by the Japanese forces. The story is simple – Japan wanted to reach India with its war material and the route via sea was risky and they wanted to reach via a road route. So they decided to build a 400+ kms of rail link and they wanted to build it fast. They started work on rail link at both ends in Southern Burma and in Thailand and the two links met in Oct 1943 at Konkoita in Thailand. Today about 130 kms of this rail link is still operational between Non Pladuk and Namtok. Majority of it was destroyed during the World War II itself when allied forces air raided the area.

Tuesday, September 02, 2014

Anuradha Goyal
Tuesday, September 02, 2014

Kaas Plateau - A Valley of Flowers


Kaas Plateau is also called the valley of flowers – Maharashtra’s answer to Uttarakhand’s famous valley of flowers. Both the valleys bloom around the same time during late monsoons season in India i.e in the months of August and September.  While the later requires you to trek through the tough Himalayan terrain after reaching the foothills, you can drive right up to the Kaas plateau that lies on one of the many hills of the city of Satara.

Saturday, August 30, 2014

Anuradha Goyal
Saturday, August 30, 2014

Review: Baba's Wood Cafe, Panaji


I have been in Goa for good 8 months now but have hardly tried eating out and lot of it has to do with the fact that I am vegetarian and Goa is primarily known for its sea food. 

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Anuradha Goyal
Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Bridge over River Kwai, Kanchanaburi, Thailand


There are places that have historic stories in their wraps and its takes a filmmaker to unravel them and present it to the world. I saw this phenomenon in Schindler’s museum in Poland and now in Kanchanaburi province of Thailand. Film Bridge over River Kwai brought the world focus on to this small bridge – a part of a historic rail link built during World War II. Though the film was shot in Sri Lanka, the place got its due with the blockbuster film.

Friday, August 22, 2014

Anuradha Goyal
Friday, August 22, 2014

Go Goa XIX: Walking with Birds in Maina, Curtorim


One fine morning while Goa was still waiting for the rains we walked through the narrow streets of quaint Maina village close to better know Raia and Curtorim. It is a typical Goan village with narrow roads passing through the paddy fields. While the fields look like a green carpet on earth, the blue sky provides the contrast and the clouds here and there move around to provide the eternal change. Hills Stand on the horizon as if guarding the fields. Coconut trees loom on here and there. Water forms natural ponds and attracts many birds.

Sunday, August 17, 2014

Anuradha Goyal
Sunday, August 17, 2014

Thailand’s New Latitude Wines


East is exotic for various reasons, but wine is not a part of those reasons. So when we were told we are driving out of Hua Hin to do some wine tasting, my curiosity went up by a few notches. The road leading to Hua Hin Hills Vineyard was deserted and passed through many fields, hillocks that eventually gave way to rolling hills forming layers of peaks and valleys.

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Anuradha Goyal
Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Go Goa XVIII: Budbudi Tal aka The Bubble Lake, Netravali, Goa


Clap and the lake bubbles, is the famous legend associated with this tiny lake that actually looks like a small temple pond with a structure standing in the middle of it.

Thursday, August 07, 2014

Anuradha Goyal
Thursday, August 07, 2014

Tiger Temple, Kanchanaburi, Thailand



I have never been this up close and personal with tigers, getting within a few centimeters of them. Some of my fellow travelers even patted them and played with them, I did not have the courage, but after a while I was comfortably moving around with many tigers tied to various trees in an open dusty ground. Standing there I realized the difference between reading and hearing about some experiences and actually being a part of them. I was scared and excited at the same time. Some instinct gave me the courage to stand there with ease and click pictures and videos, may be it was the chains around the necks of these big cats or was it the volunteers in shining pink color or the monk who was treating them like children and playing with them. I did go a bit white every time they opened their mouth and showed those long sharp teeth sometimes to yawn and sometimes to make a bit of noise. At the same time, when I saw their movements being restricted by the chains around their neck, it felt sad. I felt an empathy for them with an impulse to open their chains.

Saturday, August 02, 2014

Anuradha Goyal
Saturday, August 02, 2014

Thailand - Almost First Impressions


I was in Thailand exactly after 15 years. While standing in the Visa on Arrival queue I was flipping through pages of my passport and realized in 1999 I had traveled to Thailand exactly on the same dates 21-27th July – weird co-incidence. That was when I still working in the corporate world for a flamboyant American company that took us around the city and on cruises over a weekend. This time I was on a trip on the Invitation of Tourism Authority of Thailand. Kanchanaburi, Tiger Temple, Bridge of River Kwai, Hua Hin and some classic Bangkok were on the itinerary this time. So here are some near first impressions from the trip:

Sunday, July 27, 2014

Anuradha Goyal
Sunday, July 27, 2014

Go Goa XVII: Pre-historic Rock Art, Pansoimol, Goa


I came to know about these rock art carvings at the Goa State Museum and had put it on my to be visited list, but it was an article in the newspaper with pictures of this rock art that made me get up and drive down to this rock by the river Sharawati and admire them first hand. It is a long drive from Panaji  - good 70+ kms in the southeast direction. We were thankfully staying at Arco Iris and the drive was about 30 kms from there, but since we were searching for this it took us almost an hour to reach the place. Till the village of Rivona and Colomb, we could follow a straight road when a small hand painted board on the right directed us to take a right turn. After this we were on a road that was not kuchha but it was not pucca either. After following some fallen ASI boards we reached a dead end and all we could see was a small rivulet and a thatched hut there. We got down and a man in tomato red T-shirt stepped out wearing a welcome smile almost like the one you expect from a cast away when he gets to see a human being after a long time. He was the ASI guard for the site and we crossed his office cum hut to reach the huge rock, where his own cloths were spread out to dry.

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Anuradha Goyal
Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Review – Arco Iris, Curtorim, Goa


Curtorim is a small village off the main city of Margao in South Goa, almost touching the backwaters of Zuari River. Unlike villages of North Goa, South Goa villages still remain with the native population more or less. So, you see big houses from bygone era in different states of conservation. Some have been well maintained, some constructed afresh and some make you feel you have walked into the 19th CE. As we were driving towards Curtorim, I wondered how it would be have a house restored to experience the erstwhile living and Arco Iris turned out to be the perfect reply – a majestic house in lime yellow color with wide pillared corridor running all around it and a patio to sit and admire the sheer nature in front of it. 

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Anuradha Goyal
Thursday, July 17, 2014

Padmanabhapuram Palace, Fort & Town


This huge wooden palace – in fact the biggest wooden structure in Asia is an erstwhile palace of the kings of Travancore who ruled from here between 1552 -1790 CE that includes the rule of its famous king Martand Varma of the dynasty. Today it technically falls in the state of Tamil Nadu and can be seen on the way if you are visiting Kanyakumari from Trivandrum. It is still managed by the Kerala circle of ASI as historically and heritage wise it belongs to Tranvancore state that is now a part of Kerala.

Saturday, July 12, 2014

Anuradha Goyal
Saturday, July 12, 2014

Go Goa XVI: Reis Magos Fort


If I could swim and cross the Mandovi river, just off my home in Goa, Reis Magos lies on the other bank of it, but it took me good 6 months to drive to this quite fort on the edge of North Goa overlooking Panjim and the commerce on Mandovi. 

A bow tie shaped fort has had quite a journey since it was first erected towards the end of 15th CE. Standing on a steep hillock it overlooks the vast expanse of Arabian Sea. A perfect location to keep an eye on the incoming vessels and that was the purpose that this hill was fortifies. Today though it provides a beautiful vantage point to get a top view of the sea that lets you feel its vastness while the roaring sound of waves hitting the walls below remind you the power it holds within itself. From the tiny bastions that are now aesthetically protected by thick glass sheets you can feel the sea like nature’s light and sound show. Height is such that even the birds fly below your eye level – a treat for bird watchers I guess.

Monday, July 07, 2014

Anuradha Goyal
Monday, July 07, 2014

Go Goa XV: Celebrating Monsoons with Sao Jao



Come third week of June and the Goans are ready to jump in the well – literally. No, they are doing it for any wrong reasons, but to fish out the gifts hidden there on the occasion of Sao Jao – the festival that celebrates the feast of St John the Baptist. The wells are full of water around this time of the year and people enjoy jumping in the wells, in rivers or just dancing in the pouring rains. It could well be the rain festival of Goa. It happens in almost all villages in Goa around their wells, rivers, canals or ponds. In the more urban areas, swimming pools or artificially created ponds suffice for the purpose. Village of Siolim is famous for its Sao Jao celebrations as it hosts a boat festival as well, and this is where I went to see the festival.

Wednesday, July 02, 2014

Anuradha Goyal
Wednesday, July 02, 2014

Go Goa XIV: Goa Chakra - A tribute to the Wheel

Intricately Carved Wooden Wheel
Goa Chakra is a part Goa Chitra Museum with a huge hall dedicated to carriages from various eras and from various states of India. 

Friday, June 27, 2014

Anuradha Goyal
Friday, June 27, 2014

Padmanabhaswamy Temple, Thiruvananthapuram


This temple dominated the public memory across the country for the astonishing amount of gold that was found in its age-old vaults. The images created of the vaults jostled in my mind as I walked to this temple from the main road along with the story of the kings of Travancore who consider themselves the servant of the Lord Padmanabhaswamy here. The dark wood palace stands right next to the temple.

Sunday, June 22, 2014

Anuradha Goyal
Sunday, June 22, 2014

Is it worth that Picture?


I took the above picture at Isle of Wight in Scotland way back in 2003. I had just bought my first digital camera and this was my first trip after I got that toy in my hand. I was looking at the cliffs and such clear blue waters for the first time in my life. I was excited to say the least. To take this picture I lied down on my stomach on a slanting rock. One small slip and I would have been history. The reason that lived to tell the tale can only be attributed to my good luck and some divine forces of nature that did not give me that slight push.

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Anuradha Goyal
Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Go Goa XIII - Caranzalem beach, Just past Sunset

River Mandovi flows through the capital city of Goa -Panjim or Panaji and merges into the Arabian sea near Miramar beach. The U shaped land here extends from Aquada Fort area on northern tip to the Raj Bhavan, Dona Paula beach at the southern tip and is perfect place to witness the placid Mandovi joining the calm Arabian seas at the base. A few yards south from Miramar beach is Caranzalem beach area visited largely by the locals living in the area, like myself. Snippets of this peaceful beach for you:


Just past the sunset, all the sea birds have already left for nests, skies are clear and the beach is serene. Few ships form the background of the seas and the tip of landmass on either side just visible.

Thursday, June 12, 2014

Anuradha Goyal
Thursday, June 12, 2014

5 reasons to chose ITC’s Raviz Ayurvedic Resort & Spa at Kollam


On our trip to Kerala we stayed at ITC’s Raviz Ayurvedic Resort & Spa at Kollam – a beautiful property located on the southern edge of Ashtmudi Lake – a lake that is still virgin in the overtly touristy Kerala. Now as an ITC property you expect impeccable service and sustainable luxury and you get it. You get all that you expect in a resort that is like a destination in itself like various sporting facilities and evening performances. The location in the middle of backwaters is like an icing on the cake. Being in Kerala, it also presents the local flavor in every possible way like a boat filled with spices in the lobby, the temple wall murals in the rooms, Kathakali dolls at the entrance. So let me tell you what stands out over and above these expectations:

Saturday, June 07, 2014

Anuradha Goyal
Saturday, June 07, 2014

Ponmudi – Southern end of Western Ghats


Ponmudi or literally the golden hill is a hill station at the fag end of Western Ghats, not too far from the city of Thiruvananthpuram. Honestly when I read about it, I expected it to just another hill station near a big city. I could not have been more wrong. It turned out to be nature’s extravaganza – with rolling hills, roaming clouds and narrow winding roads.

Monday, June 02, 2014

Anuradha Goyal
Monday, June 02, 2014

Tamil Nadu Tales XII: Kanyakumari – The land’s end



In Kanyakumari, no matter what your focus may be, you cannot miss the giant statue of Thiruvallur – the ancient poet and philosopher of Tamil Nadu, who is said to have lived in Kanyakumari. This statue was installed at the dawn of 21st century on Jan 1st 2000 that makes it a modern Indian marvel. Literature on this statue says that it stands on 38 feet platform to mark the 38 chapters of virtue in his work Thirukurral. The stone statue is 133 feet high with face alone some 20 feet high. It seems it has been handcrafted under the supervision of stapathi and on the principles of vaastu shastra. Pity is that there is no in situ documentation or guide service that explains this when you are there. Should his literature not be available at the same place? The ferry does not stop at this island and you just pass by it, but you can see it from the Vivekananda Rock Memorial quite clearly.

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Anuradha Goyal
Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Tamil Nadu Tales XI: Vivekananda Rock Memorial, KanyaKumari



Going to Kanyakumari was a long-standing dream, probably since the time I first heard the term Kashmir to Kanyakumari for India. I lived in Kashmir as a child and Kanyakumari was always very far off for a long time. It was that thrill of visiting the tip of India, to be able to see the sunrise and sunset at the same time, to be able to see sun going down and moon coming up on a full moon night.  It was only when I started living in Bangalore it seemed feasible but for some reason it always remained elusive. I planned a trip many times, but it remained jinxed for many years. This month when we planned a South Kerala trip with a clear intent to do Kanyakumari, it still tried to play hard. A hurricane in the Indian Ocean brought in incessant rains in Trivandrum, where we based ourselves and everyone said we would not be able to visit the Vivekananda Rock Memorial there. I was inclined to believe that jinx was still on and coming so far has not helped, but against popular advise decided to go and see whatever is possible and hope that rain gods will take a break and allow us to visit the famous rock.

Thursday, May 22, 2014

Anuradha Goyal
Thursday, May 22, 2014

Ayurveda for Travelers


You cannot go to Kerala and not experience its Ayurveda and it’s a privilege when you can do so surrounded by backwaters. Imagine sitting in the spacious spa room with water and greenery soothing your mind too. When I reached Kollam I was drenched for 3 days in the unexpected rains of Trivandrum and had cold and fever. This is something that we travelers face quite often, At Kollam, we stayed at ITC’s WelcomeHotel Raviz Resort & Ayurveda Spa – a beautiful resort in the Southern edge of vast Ashtmudi Lake and I took this opportunity to ask their doctor how can Ayurveda help us. Here are the tips from Dr Vishnuraj Prakash on How Ayurveda can help travelers:

Saturday, May 17, 2014

Anuradha Goyal
Saturday, May 17, 2014

South Kerala – First Impressions


Just back after spending a week in South Kerala – Trivandrum, Kollam and a bit of Cochin and here are the first impressions for you.

  1. Kerala is a Jal-Pradhan or water dominant region, you can never be too far from a water body and this is the same water that brings tourists from all over to the state. I do not know if they have yet created a deity to worship the same.
  2. Waterways are marked like highways on the map and used for transportation. There are ferries running between cities – though they take much longer than the road travel, but they are still being used by the local people to travel. During the day waterways belong to tourism and transportation industry and at night to fishermen.
  3. Rail and road network is excellent and you can reach most areas through public transport if you want.
  4. Always carry an umbrella with you in Kerala – you would need it for either sun or rain. My most imposing visual of Trivandrum remains a street full of primarily black umbrellas in pouring rain.
  5. Always carry a white lungi with you if you want to visit temples of the state – if you are a woman not in Sari. For men you must remove your shirt – have bare upper body and wear the same lungi. This can be annoying but you really do not have a choice if you want to see those magnificent temples that are much better preserved than elsewhere.
  6. Autos in Kerala are better than rest of the country, they charge reasonably and do not try to fleece you just because you are a visitor. Since they quote reasonable, you waste no time and energy in negotiations.
  7. Sheer amount of dark wood in old structures here makes you think about the amount of wood they would have had and the sheer longevity of the wood – some of them have been standing strong for many centuries. However I found the dark interiors a bit depressing.
  8. Black or darkest shades of blue and green are the favorite color of women – all around on the roads I could see women either in their traditional white Saris with a small golden or colored border or they were in black – as if other colors were not on the horizon.
  9. Kerala Railway stations still have old wooden Higgin Bothams book shops that if I am not wrong are extinct elsewhere – at least in their wooden avatar.
  10. Appam & Stew that is sold all around India as Kerala dish is hard to find in general eateries. They all have it in their menu but most would not serve it. I could get it only on the last day and that too on request.
  11. Water is always served hot here that I found strange given that it is such a hot and humid place. In some places it was pink colored and I can only guess that it comes from Kokam like fruit.
  12. Finally, I think God has a certain shade of green reserved for Kerala – you see it only here.
Will write about the destination and experiences soon enough.

Monday, May 12, 2014

Anuradha Goyal
Monday, May 12, 2014

Germany Gem IX: Sculpting Wine




On a warm afternoon we walked into an idyllic surrounding of a quaint vineyard in Dresden- Pillnitz run by Klaus Zimmerling and his polish artist wife Malgorzata Chodakowska. Vineyards and wine tasting tours are quite common in this part of the world with most big vineyards having a tour brochure that for a fee takes you around the vineyard, let to have a look at the grape vines, show you the unique process of wine production and let you taste the wine that they eventually hope you will purchase. It is an experience that one can definitely explore at least once in a lifetime, even if you do not drink. There is a certain romance associated with vineyards and wines in this region that is so much an essential part of the culture here.


Wednesday, May 07, 2014

Anuradha Goyal
Wednesday, May 07, 2014

Go Goa XII: Butterfly Conservatory, Ponda



Who is not enchanted by the colorful butterflies flying around them. Have we all not tried to catch them as kids? Have we not wondered at these fragile being that carry so many colors. Butterfly Conservatory of Goa is one family's effort to create a haven for butterflies...

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