• Sinnadorai's bungalow Mangorange Pandalur
    Tamil Nadu

    A colonial stay in the Nilgiris – Sinnadorai’s bungalow, Mangorange

    It is the end of April. Although intermittent rains bring some respite from the summer heat in Bangalore, the heart longs for the solitude and bliss of the hills. Especially the Nilgiris, for I haven’t been there in 4 years. Thus, when the chance of spending a weekend in the lower reaches of the Nilgiris presents itself, I do not waste a moment. This bungalow, approaching it’s 100th birthday, is the oldest of the Murugappa group’s lovingly restored colonial heritage stays. It dates back to a time when tea first came to these hills, and in it’s heydays, housed the deputy manager of the estate. Bangalore to Sinnadorai’s bungalow, Mangorange We start…

  • Valparai
    Tamil Nadu,  Travel Bag

    A weekend trip to Valparai

    When the idea of making a weekend trip to Valparai struck me, I discovered that the origins of this hill station, and the flourishing state of much of it’s tea estates are due in no small part, to pioneering gentlemen from the days of the British Raj. It comes as a bit of a surprise therefore, that history books are noticeably devoid of any mention of the beginnings of this place. Indeed, precious little is known about Carver Marsh, the man who introduced tea plantations to the Anamalai ranges.   Bangalore to Valparai If opting for a bus, Pollachi is the closest point that most buses from Bangalore will ply to. Most private, overnight buses from Bangalore take the Salem-Erode-Tirupur-Udumalpet…

  • Side Pockets,  Tamil Nadu

    RE-BLOG: A Higher Place, A Divine Treat | OPEN Magazine

    Cannot help but re-blog a few scintillating pieces of writing that I read recently. The first one begins with an introduction to the quaint British concept of hill stations and then delves into details of the writer’s experiences in the charming town of Kodaikanal. Rajni George paints a most endearing picture, one filled with fond memories, insights about the places that only somebody who actually grew up there can reveal, and most importantly, wonderful anecdotes about the people who live in Kodaikanal. Read on to find out more.. A Higher Place | OPEN Magazine. The next one is a lip-smacking, culinary journey through the temple towns of Tamil Nadu. V. Shoba guides us through a labyrinthine path across some esoteric and some famous…

  • Porthimund near Ooty
    Best of the Travel Bag Tales,  Tamil Nadu,  Travel Bag

    Uncovering the secret Porthimund lake in the Nilgiris

    There is a lot more to Ooty and the Nilgiris than the cliched tourist brochures and websites would have you believe. I couldn’t get enough of the Nilgiris during my last trip and knew for sure there were a lot many things that lay hidden. To uncover these, you either have to know people who know about these ‘secrets’ or be a Google ninja. Either way (and especially if you own a vehicle), sometimes the best map to follow may be your intuition. Parsons valley and Porthimund lake were just two best kept secrets that I unearthed through countless hours spent reading forums and blogs. And once a rough itinerary…

  • A hot tea in Dharamsala
    Best of the Travel Bag Tales,  Himachal Pradesh,  Karnataka,  Photo essays,  Tamil Nadu,  Travel Bag

    The smaller moments in travel

    Often during my travels, I ponder about the reasons why I travel and about what I’ll take back from my experiences. Most of it till now, has been about breathtaking moments that are steeped in visually arresting sights. Sometimes, it is also about astounding architectural creations that have withstood the ravages of time and the elements and given me a peek into fascinating historical accounts of the times gone by. However, bundled in between these are the smaller moments – the ones that have filled me with pure joy or added that bright spark to a trip and occasionally, left a profound influence on my opinion about various aspects of…

  • Misty forests near Dolphin's Nose
    Tamil Nadu,  Travel Bag

    Kodaikanal Trip Continued..

    [Contd from here..] With Mannavanur and Poombarai behind us, it was onward to Kodaikanal and only later did I realize that we had missed the beautiful town of Kukkal and the quaint and charming man-made lake in it. Something for the next visit I suppose, if there is one. But considering how breathtakingly beautiful Mannavanur was, I am optimistic there will be another. On the way, we spotted this huge, fallen tree in the jungle. Because of the way it had fallen, it had enclosed a patch of resplendent green grass that stood out in sharp contrast to the dark trees around it. As we walked towards the clearing, grass…

  • Mannavanur Lake
    Best of the Travel Bag Tales,  Tamil Nadu,  Travel Bag

    Discovering Mannavanur on a trip to Kodaikanal

    It was a lovely Saturday morning – not too cold, with a gentle breeze blowing. Our vehicle had stopped that day at a decrepit tea shop a few kilometers outside Salem. I asked the kid there for directions to the toilet. In response, he just pointed to the backyard and uttered a single word “kaadu” (forest). I was sure he had misunderstood my question, so I came back to the car with a bemused smile on my face. Kodaikanal to Mannavanur Our plan was to spend one day in the idyllic environs of Mannavanur, a small village 30 odd kms to the west of the popular hill station of Kodaikanal,…

  • Best of the Travel Bag Tales,  Tamil Nadu,  Travel Bag

    Exploring Avalanche and Emerald in Ooty

    2013 had dawned upon us and having traveled to Yercaud, Hampi, Chikmagalur, Belur, Halebid, Bijapur, Badami, Aihole and Pattadakal in the past 6 months, there was an ardent desire to kick in the new year with another trip. None of us had ever been to the Nilgiris and off-season is, I feel, always a better time to visit popular tourist destinations. What is more, I also had the beautiful twin lakes of Avalanche and Emerald in mind that are not exactly mainstream, touristy ‘places to visit‘ in Ooty. The Nilgiris, so named due to the mist induced bluish appearance and also due to the blue Kurinji flowers that bloom once in…