About me

Am a contradiction of sorts. i love going out and having a good time with friends, and i can also stay home chill out over a book or a movie..

Am very passionate about writing, so give me a topic and watch me float away into wonderland... Love reading books- sometimes i read 3books simultaneously, crazy about music- need it all around me, all the time and ofcourse, i totally am ga ga goo goo over my 7yr old naughty brat- Floppy!! errr, Prince Floppy!! :)

Friday, February 26, 2016

Off to Rishikesh.. Part V

Hotel Sakoon, Dehradun at a glance... Part III 

Exploring Dehradun- Part IV

It was time to bid adieu to Dehradun and make our way to Haridwar, but we had to make a brief lunch stop over at Rishikesh at a friend's sister R's place. When we enquired at the hotel, the cab rates seemed quite steep, we decided to explore other options. Remember the Auto Ashok Uncle I had written about in Part IV? Well, we went back to ask him if he knew any reliable cab guys who would take us to Haridwar. He did know someone and the rate quoted was also reasonable. So we went ahead and asked the cabbie to come to our hotel by 9.15 so we could scoot by 9.30. 

The last time I visited these parts of the country was a good two decades ago, from College. We were about 100 odd girls from College who did a North India tour - 15days.. Delhi, Kulu Manali, Shimla, Chail, Haridwar, Rishikesh... was a fun trip, packed with quite a bit of adventure courtesy the rains and girls being girls... Haridwar and Rishikesh were fairly crowded, dirty messy and there seemed to be people everywhere. I wondered what it would be like now! With these thoughts I wandered off into la la land.. 

Next morning, we were ready by 9, but the cabbie arrived only by 9.30 and then there was a bit of tussle fitting the bags into the boot, la la la.. and we finally hit the road close to 10am. By the time we reached R's place it was 11.30.. The house looked majestic and grand from the outside and even more as we entered the gates. Since all of us had been to Rishikesh earlier, we were ok to just chill at their home and head out from there. 

We got a tour of the home and the temple, while walking around, I noticed the river was less than a km from their home and was filled with birds. Was told quite a few birds come there and recently there was like a million Siberian Ducks that had come down to the river bed. I spotted few Rollers, Hoopoe, Bee eater, Kingfisher, Red-wattled lapwing,  Cormorants along the way.. Was such joy! Apart from the birds, I also saw not one but two Mongoose during our brief stay there.. R told us that one day three mongoose had come inside their home, she opened the main door and they waltzed right out the door to the gate and beyond.. :O 

If there was one thing I knew it was that where there was a Mongoose there were bound to be snakes around.. oooh... probably the only thing that had me dreading living there, other than this I would have been a happy camper here.. The peace and silence all around was sheer bliss.. 

 We had a relaxed lavish lunch, post which we walked around all the way to the river bed to see the Siberian Ducks.. There were babies, there were adults and they were happily yapping away amidst each other.. 

By the time we got back from our walk, it was nearly 3pm and after a quick call to our hotel in Haridwar, we were reassured there were no traffic restrictions or blocks. Was such a relief [R and gang had been to Haridwar earlier for the Maha Kumbh Mela and they had to get off and walk nearly 10-15kms].. We left Rishikesh around 4pm and looked forward to the next two days at Haridwar in the Kumbh Mela..... I was quite excited and anxious about the Mela, wondered if the place would be packed or if we would have room to breathe.. Had visions of Sadhus, Naga Sadhus, and millions of people rushing towards the Ganges to take a dip... 

Skywatch Friday.. Listening to the waves

It was one of those days, I had decided to take off and spend it with a dear friend [who has recently moved to chennai and is in the Navy area]. Around 6pm she suggested we go for a walk and promised to show me the beach they had access to [almost private since civilians can't enter the area without permission]. It was a short 5mins walk from her home and it was beautiful. Quiet, serene and not a soul in sight. Only thing you saw was miles of sand, beautiful breeze and open skies.  I chose to ignore the trash and junk that had washed ashore[ probably during the rains, though i should mention they are in the process of cleaning up the entire stretch]

Here are a few photographs I clicked that beautiful evening....

For more beautiful skies, visit Skywatch Friday ... 

Thursday, February 25, 2016

Exploring Dehradun- Part IV

Now that we had satiated our hungry tummies, we decided to get out and explore the town of Dehradun. I had done some research and so had the friend, we thought we will see two places - one was about 6kms away and the other 12-15kms. Did not want to be greedy, or just visit many without actually spending time anywhere. After enquiring with the hotel, we decided it might be cheaper to head out and hail an auto. Friend and I headed out down the road, where we found an auto who agreed for a decent price. Little did we know that he would be such a treasure chest of information on Dehradun and show us more than what we had agreed upon! 

[The one place I had kinda wanted to visit was Ruskin Bond's home, but then it was a good 100 odd kms away.. Sigh~ that will have to wait for another trip..]

Auto Ashok uncle[Ph: +91 9997375724] is how I have saved his number on my phone and I would highly recommend him to anyone heading to Dehradun. 


Sahastradhara referee to “thousand fold spring”, and is quite popular among visitors.  You will find a small waterfall of sorts tumbling over rocks across places, and this water drips from limestone stalactites, making the water rich in sulphur which gave it the nickname "sulphur springs." The water is crystal clear and has healing properties, it is said a sip of this water is enough to cure any ailment in the human body. Apart from the water fall, there are quite a few caves, covered with plants with water dripping down the leaves. There are staircases to these caves but it gets slippery with the water flowing constantly, so be careful!  We noticed there was a ropeway to go up the hill but on that day the ropeway was down for maintenance. There is a small Shiva shrine along with Guru Dronacharya within a cave a few steps away.   

We noticed there was a waterpark nearby with colourful slides and play area, guessing the access is further up the road. 

We spent about an hour here.. it was beautiful!! As we left here, I could hear the water dripping down the plants and monkeys jump from branch to branch looking for some nibbles. 

Tibetan Monestary

Our original plan was to visit Sahastradhara and Tapkeshwar temple before heading back to the hotel. But our auto uncle had other plans, he told us he will show us few other places before Tapkeshwar, which was along the route. We said ok.. All along the ride, he gave us insights into the town, the history, and how things have changed over the years... It was fascinating..

So anyways, about 10kms from Sahastradhara he halted the vehicle at the Sai Baba temple where my friends went in for a prayer. I had a call, which I took casually strolling down the road. That is when I discovered the Buddhist temple/Tibetan Monestary next door to the temple. There was no one around and I ventured in cautiously with my DSLR dangling from my neck. The place was empty, calm and peaceful, but for a few monks standing in the building near the rear side. The main temple was closed, but I managed to walk around the campus and it was beautiful. According to a plaque near the wall, this was the Sakya Monastic Institute and was established back in 1964 by His Holiness The Sakya Trizin. Reminded me of the Namdroling Monestary in Coorg. Later when talking to a monk he mentioned since it was their New Year the temple shut early in the afternoon and would open the next morning only.

The others too joined me; we roamed around for a few minutes before heading back to the auto. The weather by then had gotten chill and the wind was blowing in our faces as the auto road along. Our auto uncle announced we were headed to Tapkeshwar. 

Along the way, he stopped at a Government place pointing out to the Helicopters parked there, saying these were used for people travelling to Badrinath [if I remember right]..


The vehicle came to a hault near a tree and the auto man told us we had to go down the flight of steps to get to the temple. Unlike our South Indian temples there are no flower vendors or bustling market nearby, it was quite silent.  We went down nearly 150 steps after which we turn left and walk down a slope of sorts to reach the cave that houses the Lord.

The Tapkeshwar temple was again a fascinating one! Situated by the forest side, the main Shivalinga at the temple is located inside a cave. Water drops from the ceiling of the cave trickle down over the shivalinga which is apparently quite a sight during rain/monsoon seasons.

Legend has it that Dronacharya [the teacher of Pandavas and Kauravas in Mahabharata] once lived here, which is probably why it is called Drona Cave. Story goes that it was here that Guru Dronacharya and his wife, Kripi, were blessed with a son, Ashwathama, and milk started dripping from this cave owing to the powers of Lord Shiva for Ashwathama who needed this milk. This mythical stories revolving around it has endowed the temple with a hallowed aura. The river flowing through this temple is the infamous Tons River of Dehradun.

While walking inside the cave, we noticed there were quite a few shrines, including one of a standing Ganesha [orange in colour] upon whom people had stuck coins and Rupee notes. There was also a tiny room of sorts with a huge stone lamp that is said to go on forever..

As you get out of the temple you will notice another flight of steps leading to a bridge and a temple beyond the same. The one thing that kept running in my head was “how on earth did people discover these caves/temples and decide to build a temple, a bridge and connect them all”

We climbed back up the steps and paused every now and then to see a Sadhu sleeping on the sidewall, and in one spot we heard Michael Jackson songs playing from an old tape recorder….

Getting out of the temple, we finally decided we were done and asked auto man to drop us back at the hotel. But oh no, he wasn’t done. All through the journey back, he took us through Army cantt areas, showed us the Survey Of India building which is where all Maps are authenticated, the Doon School, the largest Blind school, the Braille printing press [which was unfortunately shut as it was late in the evening] and also told us of many other places that was scattered across Dehradun. We were mesmerized at how much the town had and the man knew!

He dropped us off at Paltan bazaar saying it was a good place to check out and that our hotel was just down the road on the other side.  When we asked him about considering becoming a tour guide, he smiled and said “No, but if I find people who are interested, I will definitely share what I know..”

We walked towards the market that seemed to be bustling with activity, there were shops on the  pavement and bigger ones as well, tucked between them were food outlets. Well, it was one packed market and we were all set to get lost with the crowd... 

I was already dreaming of what lay ahead the next day when suddenly I spotted a few guys sitting on stools applying mehndi on eager hands.. 

Monday, February 22, 2016

Walk along the streets of Kumbakonam - Part I

The morning began with a cup of hot Kumbakonam Degree kaapi and this time I was looking forward to enjoying it in the town it is named after. I was sitting in a small restaurant along the streets of Kumbakonam taking in the morning scenes and waiting for my Kaapi. It came in a small davara tumbler- filled to the top with froth and smelt divine.

The man who served me the kaapi said "ithu than original kaapi" . I was curious about the "degree" attached to the kaapi and when I asked around, I heard different interpretations... 

  1. The word "degree" was actually referring to the "Chicory" in the coffee which was called tikeri and eventually became degree.  
  2. Another was that it is to do with the temperature of milk used in the kaapi. 
  3. And one more I heard was it refers to the first decoction which is sometimes called the first degree..

I didn't really care what the real story was, but I did enjoy the Kaapi- was strong and hot,albeit sweet [reminder to self: ask for sugar on the side next time]... Was a bit stumped when the bill came, the kaapi was priced at Rs30 .. *Gulp*

The Temple Tank
Once I was done with that, I set out to explore the town. The guy at the Hotel front desk told me there are more than 100 temples and I did think he was exaggerating, but then as I walked out of the hotel, I spotted not one but three temples within 100 yards, which meant he was probably right. I turned right from the hotel and there stood the infamous Temple tank was location. It was a large one, and a lady selling flowers outside a temple told me this was the infamous Mahamaham Tank where the big festival happened, with over 10Lakh people coming to take a dip in the holy water. 

The temple tank is quite beautiful.. Spread across 6.2 acres and trapezoidal in shape, the tank is surrounded by 16 small Mandapams (shrines) and has 21 wells inside the tank. The Mahamaham is the Kumbh Mela of the south and takes place once in 12 years. The Masimaham is an annual event that occurs in in Kumbakanom in the Tamil month of Maasi (February–March) on the day when the star Magam falls..

There is a legend behind this great festival -Mahamaham.The whole world became submerged in a deluge on account of the wrath of Hindu god Shiva, the destroyer for the unaccountable sins committed by humans on this earth. Brahma, the Hindu god of creation, recreated the world during the beginning of current Kali Yuga (Iron Age). Lord Shiva (Easwara) pronounced that after the end of previous era, a divine Celestial Pot  carrying nectar -''the essence of life,''would reach a holy place and rest there.The Celestial pot floated down the flooded water across several places and at last settled down at a spot near the river Cauvery where the town Kumbakonam is located.

Lord Shiva , taking the guise of a hunter, shot an arrow at the divine pot and broke it, making its contents spill and the pot disintegrate into small fragments.  The spilling of essence of life  resulted  in the revival of life on the planet. Kumbham meaning the pot and Konam meaning crooked - the pot that  was broken by Shiva's arrow. Here in the heart of the town, the pot broke into many parts and scattered around. The various spots became the sites of a score of temples in this town.  Kumbeswara, Someswara, Kasi Viswanatha, Nageswara, Kamata Viswanatha, Abimukeshwara, Goutameswara, Banapuriswara, Varahar, Lakshminaryana, Sarangapani, Chakrapani and Varadharaja,etc.  Brahma prayed to Shiva to allow pilgrims to visit the tank during the sacred occasion Maham. Accepting his request, it is believed, Shiva  along with Vishnu and other celestial deities  made their divine presence at the center of the tank. 

From Astronomy point of view, when the planet Jupiter passes over Leo on the day of the festival, it is believed, it will bring all water bodies together and enrich the tank with minerals. Similarly, a lake in Kotihar in Jammu and Kashmir gets full supply of water the same day, which otherwise remains empty during the other 11 years. 
[Content courtesy: http://navrangindia.blogspot.in/2015/02/the-interesting-legend-of-mahamaham.html]

I couldn't imaging that many people, the town is fairly small you know! 

Well, shall share more from my Kumbakonam diaries in next post... 

Friday, February 19, 2016

Hotel Sakoon, Dehradun at a glance... Part III

A Hi, hello and a trip is born..-Part I

Here we go, up and away to Dehradun.. Part II

A 30km ride away, a few phone calls later the hotel finally came into our vicinity and so did apprehension.. We wondered how good it would be, whether it would be decent... And this was one destination where I had a room to myself.. Friend thought places wouldn't allow an extra bed... Well, I ain't complaining... 

The only issue we had with Oyo was that they do not reveal the name of the Hotel, this one we got lucky.. Friend noticed a review that said "we found Sakoon in Sakoon" and so we knew the name. Else, only option is to call the Oyo number given along with your booking to retrieve the name of the Hotel and their number!

We stayed at Hotel Sakoon which we had booked via Clear Trip and must say OYO has been quite impressive in the North!  

We saw the hotel, walked into the lobby and looked forward to the rooms. Much to our surprise, the rooms were beautiful- they were large, spacious and just wow! There was a huge bedroom as you opened the door, and then there was a smaller room with a wall to wall cupboard beyond which was the bathroom. It was neat, clean and beautiful.

The hotel offers,
- Free Wifi
- Food in room service [ they don't have a restaurant]
- Prompt service 
- Courteous Staff
- Good food
- Air condition
- TV with Tata Sky
- Kettle with tea bags, milk powder & sugar packets.  
- A decent parking space and terrace in the back where they also host weddings/parties
-  Slightly off the main road and so is fairly quiet

You can walk down the road and will be greeted by the majestic schools and posh homes along the street. At the end of the street we were able to find auto to take us around, also spotted quite a few fruit vendors selling some delicious looking Strawberries.. 

Room- 5/5
Service- 5/5
Price- 5/5- we got the rooms for about Rs1500 odd which is quite a steal. Booked via Cleartrip app 
Location- 5/5 -conveniently located! 

A hotel I would definitely recommend to anyone travelling to Dehradun! 

Wednesday, February 17, 2016

Here we go, up and away to Dehradun.. Part II

Well, in case you haven't read Part I, go on read it already... :-) 

What began as a "Lets do the 40hour train journey to Dehradun transformed into lets just take the flight out to Dehradun, we still reach on the same day as planned" and that was that! I managed to convince the friends R&A [should say Spicejet also helped since the flights weren't too expensive] and on 10th Feb morning 4am, I was getting into the cab with my one small suitcase to pick them up and head out to the airport. 

I know, who on earth takes such an early morning flight right.. well, apparently we do!! Reached the airport, hungry, sleep deprived we had to deal with security folks who thought people in Chennai spoke nothing but Hindi..  I know the language but was pissed off at how these folks seem to just rattle off in hindi.. There was a lady who brought a print out and asked the guard at the main entry gate to ask where she was to go. He, instead of figuring out what she wanted, went on in hindi asking her what she was flying and where.. She looked lost. And similarly, inside in the ladies security zone, the lady there again shouted in Hindi asking women in the 2nd half of the queue to go to the other line for frisking/check. And she was rude & loud... 

When it was my turn for the security check, the lady inside the booth said "Namaste ma'am, kaise ho" and I stared at her with a blank look and then she changed it to "hello ma'am, how you are?"... Well, showed you didn't I!!

Grabbed something to eat, and headed off to the aircraft which was parked somewhere near my home [am convinced].. Why do I say that? Well, the shuttle bus went on and on and on for nearly an hour...alright I exaggerate, but it did drive down all the way around the airport till it went past the cargo zone as well and then reached the airline.. Phew! I thought for a second we were gonna be taken to Dehradun by bus... [take that you *40hr train journey skipping passengers...*]

The flight was a few minutes late, the seats were tight, I felt like I was a colour pencil inside a box of 24, where you need to empty them all out to find the one colour you want.. We were rubbing more than just shoulders, the backrest was made for vertically challenged folks and so I ended up leaning on the window and catching a nap [ there goes all the years of - do not lean on the door/window].. The stewardesses were grumpy, not even a smile when greeting us Good morning and they did the safety routine like they had a stick up their bottoms.. [I kid you not.. and if you think I made all these up.. d'uh]

Now that we are done with all this, the pilot finally decided to take off and we reached Delhi half an hour later, which meant we had lesser time in Delhi airport.. yay!! 

After an eventful morning, we finally made it in one piece [two airlines and twice the security checks later] in beautiful cool Dehradun... 

Monday, February 15, 2016

A Hi, hello and a trip is born..-Part I

About a month or two ago, the bunch of us met for a Tamil play.. A friend’s sis had also come down and she joined us. It was during the few minutes I spent talking to her that she mentioned we should do a trip to Rishikesh enroute to Haridwar for the Ardh Kumbh Mela. Now, I have been wanting to attend a Kumb Mela just to experience the energy and witness the crowd that comes down. So, when she gave us an open invite, it was all that I needed. A friend[couple] and I planned the trip, booked tickets and then came the drama.

With this friend, nothing is what it seems. The Trip began with him, his folks and Me doing the trip, and what finally happened was he+his wife [also a friend] and I ended up going on the trip. We booked onward journey tickets, but that changed over time and then came the return.. The hotel bookings were done literally the night before we were to fly out. If that isn’t last minute I don’t know what is.. 

Well, that is how I first official big trip of the year 2016 began. More to come in subsequent posts. But for now all I will say is that the trip was quite the interesting, insightful one.. I firmly believe that when you travel with someone is when you actually learn about them, and discover if the friendship is what it seems.. True to this, it was one hellova trip!! No regrets!!


According to Hindu mythology, 'Ardh Kumbh Mela' takes place when the planet Jupiter enters Aquarius and the Sun enters Aries. Kumbha (meaning pot) Mela (meaning fair) is considered a very sacred Hindu pilgrimage. It takes place at the following four sacred places across India:
  • • Allahabad (Uttar Pradesh)
  • • Haridwar (Uttarakhand) 
  • • Ujjain (Madhya Pradesh)
  • • Nasik (Maharashtra)

The Ardh kumbh Mela in the holy city of Haridwar is from January 2016 to April 2016. 

Main Bathing (Snan) Dates of Haridwar Ardh Kumbh Mela 2016

DatesEvents on this Day
14th JanuaryMakar Sankranti
12th FebruaryVasant Panchami- the date when we planned our trip!
22nd FebruaryMagh Purnima
7th MarchMahashivratri
7th AprilChaitra Amavasya
8th AprilChaitra Shukla Pratipada
14th AprilMesha Sankranti
15th AprilRam Navami
22nd AprilChaitra shukla Purnima

You can read more about the Kumbh Mela here