A Few Good Things

"Traveling – it leaves you speechless, then turns you into a storyteller." – Ibn Battuta

A Few Good Things

Month: February 2012

Neeleshwar – A great place to unwind

The closest beaches from Bangalore are Chennai or Goa. Both are great beaches but very commercialized. Based on a friends recommendation we tried Neeleshwar – and it was a Wow !

Neeleshwar is a long drive from Bangalore ( 8 Hrs). Its 230 Kms from Mysore ( Mysore – Coorg – Cross the W Ghats and then Reach the Kerala Coast at Kasargod). We left in the evening – took a break at Mysore for the night and started in the morning. The 230 Km from Mysore to Neeleshwar takes about 5 Hrs.


Neeleshwar Hermitage is a wonderful homely resort that is located on the beach. The rooms are lovely, service is great and the food authentic Kerala Cuisine.  Its serene , quiet and peaceful and the perfect getaway for relaxation.

The rooms are well designed and have a view of the Ocean , The swimming pool is fabulous and it feels like its cascading into the ocean. The sand is soft & clean. Though the rooms have no TV’s you don’t miss it at all.

Few Imp Tips

1. There is a train from Bangalore – 16517 Kannur Express that leaves Yeshwantpur Jn at 20.35 and reaches Kanhangad at 10.19 the next day. The return train is called Yeshwantpur Express 16518 – leaves Kanhangad at 17.40 and reaches Bangalore at 07.05 .

2. Room rates are about 10 K / Night – Food is expensive – no restaurants close by – a room for 3 nights with family can cost you 50 K ( $ 1000) – and thats in off peak season

3. Limited activities around – there is a wonderful fort close by and you can take a House Boat ride for a few hrs, also some villages where you can see Jackfruits, Coconuts , Mangoes … and even pluck them

4. The Resort does organize evening cultural activities in peak season when the resort is full

5. Kids tend to get bored after 2 days – so a 3 night 4 day package may be a tide too long ( But with a 8 hr drive you don’t want a 2 day holiday !!)

You can plan a good 1 week trip to HK Macau. Its a great family vacation destination.  The biggest advantages are
1. Direct Flights 2 . No Visa 3. Lots of activities for kids to be Busy.
Day – 0 : The dragon Air flight from Bangalore leaves at 2.40 AM  and reaches at 11 AM – Bad Timing , cramped seats – but you have no other option from
Day – 1 : Straight to the Disneyland Hotel from the Airport. Its in Lantau island – a 20 min drive by car. We reached by 12.30. There are 2 hotels inside Disneyland – The Disney Hotel & the Hollywood Hotel. Disney Hotel is a little more expensive because you have all disney Characters joining you at Breakfast for photo Ops. Hotel is great – rooms are large & spacious and can accommodate 2 adults & 2 kids. After check in & lunch ( you have Indian food but its sad) we were ready to leave to Disneyland by 2.30.
Disneyland HK is small & Compact. There is a bus service from the hotel that  drops you – 10 min drive. The whole of Disneyland can be seen in 1 1/2 days – compare this to the ones in Florida & Los Angeles where you need 3 – 4 days and still cant complete everything. Queues here are reasonable  10 – 15 min wait. There are 4 sections each of which will take about 2 – 3 hours to complete. Its modeled exactly like the Disneyworld at LA with Main Street , Trains , Castle , Parades etc. Its open from 10 AM to 8 PM – and ends with a brilliant firework display at 8 PM.
Day – 2 : Breakfast was a fabulous spread ( over 100 items to choose from) and we had great photo ops with all the disney characters. Kids love it – my 4 year old thought that al these characters actually lived in the hotel and had come down for breakfast. After breakfast we sett off for Disneyland and spent the entire day there.

Time flies at Disneyland – and before you realize its 4.30 and the parade starts followed by the Fireworks display. Lost of restaurants inside Disneyland and food is not is a problem.  This may be smaller than the Disneyworld we had been to at LA many years back – but we were very contented that we covered everything and still had energy to walk. Lines were small. ( The biggest challenge in US is the huge Q’s and the size of the park is so large that even after 2 full days you would not have seen half the entertainments). We were back in the room by 8.30 PM.
Day – 3 After a lavish breakfast we headed for HK.  Stayed at a hotel in HK. Not much to see expect for the Peak  & they Malls. Shopping is prohibitively expensive.  By now we were tired of Pasta and hunted desperately for Curd Rice …., not a problem as there are many indian Restaurants in HK.
Day – 4  We head to Sea World  – its a cab drive away ( Metro is great – but we  did not try it) – this is a lovely amusement park where you can spend a day – Baloon rides, Zoo , Dolphins , Scary rides and many more things to do.
 Its easy to spend a full day at Sea-world – and you can cover almost all the activities there. Kids love it – so don’t miss this. Tickets are not very cheap.
Day – 5 : We head to Macau by Ferry.  You go thru immigration check  while boarding the Ferry. Its a 1 hr ride on high seas. Macau like Goa was a Portuguese colony till recently. Its now the Las Vegas of Asia.
We stayed at the Venetian – lovely suites and there is enough at the venetian to keep you busy for a day. The food court has multiple options of Indian Cuisine. We found more Indians than Chinese at Macau. At night we attended the Cirq De Soleil – Circus show – its out of the world and a must see ( Shows keep changing every 3 months)
  Day 6 : In the morning we go for a City visit , and are back in the hotel by 2. We leave at 3 for the ferry that leaves at 4. The ferry takes you straight to HK Airport – from where you can board your flight to Bangalore back.
A Trip to HK – Macau  can put you back by 3.5 – 4 Lac’s ( with limited shopping) – This is when you stay at good hotels and don’t cut corners on transportation / food etc. ( there are packages that offer deals .. not sure how good they are).
If you have kids in the age group of 6 – 12 , this is a great holiday from India.

Kumbakonam,Tanjore – 3 Day Trip

Kumbakonam & Tanjore is a good 3 night , 4 day holiday from Bangalore. There is so much of History & Culture tucked away here – probably the only place where you will see 1000 year old temples in every second street – empty , serene & peaceful.

A quick summary of “Whats the place famous for”

1. Temples, temples & more temples   2. Chola Bronzes & Rock Sculpture (Most temple figurines are crafted at Kumbakonam & Swamimalai and shipped from here worldwide )  3. Tanjore Paintings  4.  Silk Sarees  5. Good Food

This was the Capita of the Chola dynasty and one can but imagine the glory of the old times. Sadly things are in bad shaw now.

Getting There : 

Train from Bangalore –  The Mysore Mayiladuturai Express ( 16232) leaves Bangalore around 8 PM and reaches Kumbakonam at 7 AM in the morning. The train gets booked fast – so plan your tickets 90 days in advance. ( The return train Leaves Kumbakonam at 6 PM and reaches Bangalore at 5.30 AM)

We stayed at a Resort in Swamimalai – Indecco (Formerly called Sterling Swamimalai – http://www.indecohotels.com/swamimalai.html)rustic place – That has been renovated. The  Resort has all modern amenities and a pure Veg Restaurant. Includes room service / TV / Hot Water ….Priced around Rs 7000 / Night. ( they have a tie up with Club Mahindra) Swamimalai is a 20 Min drive from Kumbakonam station. 

Rustic Relaxing Resort

Things to Do 

Most temples are closed in the afternoon. You can  start at 9 come back by 1.30 , post a siesta again leave by 4.30 and return by 7.30. Resort normally has some cultural program in the evening

1. World famous Brihadeswara temple at Tanjore is a must visit. its a half day trip. Tanjore is about 40 Km from Swamimalai  and takes 90 Min to reach. You can spend a few hrs at the temple.

2. The 9 Navagraha Temples – located in different parts , all can be covered in 1 – 1/2 days.

3. The Uppaliappan Temple – In Kumbakonam ( Brother of Lord Tirupathi)

4. The Airatheshwaram  Chola Temple at Darasuram

5. Temple of the sacred rivers in Kumbakonam

6. Sarabeshwaran Temple

7. Vedanarayana Perumal Temple

8. The Murugan Temple at Swamimalai

and many many more –  you will see huge temples of Vishnu & Shiva and you can spend a week visiting them . Normally not crowded , and there is no pestering by the priests

8. At Tanjore – visits some galleries selling Tanjore paintings ( they are 30 – 40 % cheaper than those in Bangalore / Madras). There is a palace and museum of the Marathas ( They ruled before the British) –  not very impressive. You can also buy Tanjore Silk Sarees. Handmade

9. If you have time you can include a trip to Tiruchi which is a 2 – 3 hrs drive or Chidambaram , which is also a a few hrs drive. We kept these for another trip

Travel is easy , You need a good driver who knows the place , Strongly recommend our driver Bhaskar ( 9943664449) who made a big difference.  He was arranged from the Resort. Cars for the full day will cost you about Rs 2500/-. A full trip inclusive of 4 nights (You need to book the room for the day you arrive at 7 AM) will cost you about 50 K INR.

Best time to travel – Nov to  Jan. Summers can be very hot 40 Degree +. Winters are warm – no woolen clothing needed.

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