Shutterbug's Blog

Living with Multiple Myeloma in Hyderabad , India . Random musings .


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Hyderabad to Pondicherry- Dec 2018

The plan was to visit Kanchipuram and Chidambaram while staying at Pondicherry. There is a direct flight to Pondicherry from Hyderabad. A one and half hour journey which is the best way to reach Pondy quickly. The other option is to go via Chennai and then drive to Pondy by road. One can also spend a few hours at Mahabalipuram which is on the way. We took the flight.

Here is a Summary of our stay in Puducherry.


What to see –

Beaches

View of Promenade Beach and the walking path from the Terrace of Le Cafe
Le Cafe and the Walking Path along the beach.
The Rocky , noisy Promenade Beach
Serenity Beach

There are four well known beaches namely the Promenade beach , Serenity beach, Paradise beach and Auro beach. We were able to spend an evening at the Promenade and Serenity beaches. Promenade is good for a nice long walk along the road at Sunset. Lots of rocks placed on the shore to prevent erosion. Serenity beach is good for spending some time in the water. Lots of fishing boats parked here. If you are adventurous try some surfing here. The sand is nice and white and the place is quite clean too.

Whitetown This is a part of the town which was colonized by the French and has several buildings (Official and Residential) built in European Architecture style . This area is adjacent to Promenade beach. One can take a stroll around the area to appreciate the architecture , visit the numerous restaurants, cafes , art museums dotted all over the place. Several villas have been converted into Heritage accommodations and have a colonial ambiance. The restaurants serve excellent French Cuisine.

Aurobindo Ashram

The building is quite big when seen from the outside , but once you go in your movements are restricted. Lots of containers with flowering plants greet you as soon as you enter the path leading to the Samadhis. Haven’t been to a place which is as calm as this place though there were a lot of people paying their homage at the Samadhi , which is made in marble and beautifully decorated with a lot of fragrant flowers . Several foreigners paying their respect and several others sitting nearby in quiet complemplation only to be disturbed by the shrieks of parrots. They have a bookstore with books translated from French into several Indian and Foreign languages. Books compiled by disciples from the various speeches given by Shri Aurobindo and the Mother. I bought books that were related to Healing and found that the gist of the writings are very useful for those who want to help / heal themselves in a Spiritual way.

Churches

There are several churches in Whitetown. We stopped at the Lady of Angels Church while going on a tour of Whitetown in a Rick.

Temples

Among the several Temples in Pondicherry we visited the Manakula Vinayagar temple in Whitetown. This is a popular ancient temple which a few centuries old and was revived in spite of several attempts by the french to demolish.

Street Shopping Every town has a few streets that are popular for cheap goodies. Nehru Market is supposed to be very popular and is crowded on Sundays. Our Cab driver told us that Vehicles are not allowed in these streets on Sundays. One can also do some shopping just outside the Vinayagar Temple.

Where to Stay –

Hotels / Villas / Homestays etc are available and one can choose as per their convenience. Several French Villas are converted into Boutique Hotels and do have a restaurant. There are several options closer to the beach too. We stayed in a Hotel as we preferred an elaborate Buffet Breakfast 🙂 coz we would be travelling the whole day and were not sure when/where the next food stop would be.

Where to eat –

Lots of South Indian Restaurants if you wish to try the traditional Tamil/Chettinad food. We went to Karai Chettinad and the Shrimp curry there was awesome. One must try French Cuisine at the several restaurants in Whitetown. Had Dinner at the open air restaurant in Le Dupleix. The food was too good with Live music.

Vegetable Ratatouille. A yummy dish with lots of veggies in a silken gravy and rice.

Auroville

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The Golden Globe . Matrimandir .
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One of the huge Banyan trees near Matrimandir.
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The Boutiques near Visitors Center
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One of the placards displayed in the campus.

A major attraction in Puducherry after the beaches and Whitetown is Auroville. Its a half day trip 10km up north of Pondicherry. As we reached the visitors centre we learnt the tickets to enter Matrimandir were sold out. One has to buy tickets in person. It was a disappointment but it appears they want people to visit the place two times. We watched the Intro video at the visitors center and started walking towards Matrimandir which is 1km from the VC. I preferred taking the battery vehicle which caters to those with kids and elders. I requested to let me go in the vehicle though I didn’t belong to either of the groups and they obliged 🙂 . On our way back I preferred to walk. The place is a young artificial forest , 20 sqkm ,with a variety of trees. The path is beautiful and shady. Only Bicycles and Bikes are allowed inside the campus. Highly advisable to rent a Bike/Bicycle to go around the campus. The Boutiques near the VC, which have a beautiful display of handicrafts and hand made items. Clothes, Crockery , Lamps , processed foods made with Organic produce like jams , snacks etc. We also visited the famous Auroville Bakery . One should stay and spend a few days at Auroville to get a feel of the place and for the mystery of Auroville to be revealed.

How to travel within Puducherry –

Several modes of transport are available. Most youngsters rent a Bike/Bicycle which is actually very comfortable as the traffic is quite less compared to other big cities in India. Several Online Bike Rentals are available and there are a lot of choices. Ola cabs service is good. At the end of a trip , Ola drivers will invariably ask you if you have other plans to travel around Puducherry. When we told them about our plans to Kanchipuram and Chidambaram ,they quickly arranged a cab for a reasonable price compared to the prices quoted by a travel agency. There are autos too plying around but I haven’t seen too many.

I will definitely want to visit Pondicherry again to spend time on the beaches , walking along the streets in Whitetown , eating Chettinad food and French cuisine and also spend more time in Auroville .

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Nature Therapy : Random road trip around Himayatsagar lake , Hyderabad

I love looking at various places all over the world on Google Maps. I enjoy going through the photographs that people post there. Gives a vicarious pleasure 🙂

Each time I look at Hyderabad , my home town , on Google Maps , the two prominent lakes namely Osmansagar and Himayatsagar always attract me.

Very often I zoom into the areas around these lakes and imagine driving around these places. Thankfully , construction activities are not permitted in the catchment areas of these two lakes . I see lots of Farms/Resorts around the lakes and the place looks beautiful from up above :)) . I always wanted to go there some day. That someday finally arrived . Went on Sunday .Mom too wanted to go for a long drive with the kids just before she gets her eye operated for cataract . Mom and I have this craze for exploring/visiting open farms and fields . Went there yesterday along with my Mom, niece and nephew . The area adjacent to the lake obviously has sufficient ground water and the whole area is cool , nice and green even during peak Summer which we are now experiencing.

Here are a few pics from the drive.

Spotted an Ibis, a black bird with a long curved beak.

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These women were cutting Spinach and tying them into bunches which will be sold in the markets.

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Got freshly picked Bhendi’s and Bottle Gourds from one of the owners.

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Car Dikki 🙂

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The kids had fun playing with the cool water flowing from a Borewell pipe.

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Another farm had Chukka koora, also called Khatta Palak in Hindi.

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The owner gave us some Chukka koora.

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My Nephew was excited to see Chicken and Eggs in this Poultry farm. He came back screaming “I saw eggs !! ” 🙂

We should have picked up a few dozens of Eggs too 😉

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We saw a few buffaloes which were being milked . Wanted to ask if they would sell some milk but we didn’t have any container either. Our Driver suggested we use the water bottles. We were on the fag end of our trip so we quickly gulped the leftover water and filled two bottles with fresh milk 🙂 .

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We took the road less traveled. Lots of Narrow paths leading to these fields. Would have been risky if it was  the rainy season. We did see a lot of fruit bearing trees Came across lots of farms with Mango, Lemon , Jack-fruit and Sapota/Cheeku trees.

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Thanks to Google Maps and GPS , I was able to easily guide our driver around these narrow paths . Came back home with some fresh goodies and a great experience.

Lot more areas to be explored around these lakes. Will go back for more :).

 


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Road trip from Hyderabad to Kavali

Time for my yearly sojourn to Granny’s village near Kavali. From 23 Dec 2017 to 27 Dec 2017.

Drove from Hyderabad to Kavali via Nalgonda-Narsaraopet-Chilakaluripet-Ongole.

 

hyd to kavali

Started at 7am and planned to have breakfast at Village Aharam , an organic restaurant which is around 20km after exiting the ORR. We saw huge crowds  and so decided to go to NGrill resto which is 50km from the ORR. This was equally crowded and had to wait for a table.

This stretch is a busy one , with lots of people driving between Hyderabad and Vijayawada and prefer to have breakfast in one of these places.

Stopped for lunch after crossing Narasaraopet . Found a kachcha road on the left and parked under a tree.

A pleasant drive with all the greenery and great weather. This time of the year is beautiful for travelling by road. Excellent roads especially the stretch from Chilakaluripet to Kavali which is part of the National Quadrilateral. It is an 8 lane express highway  , maintained beautifully and is as good as any interstate highway in the USA and other developed countries. Thanks to our erstwhile Prime Minister Mr Atal Bihari Vajpayee , we are able to drive on such roads in India.

We drove through a variety of fields . It is the season for various crops like Chilli , Cotton , Tobacco and Paddy during this time of the year.

Reached Kavali by 4pm. A non-stop drive would take 7 hours.

Life in a village is like life on another planet . They have their own set of joys and challenges.

Here are a few sights along the drive :

A Marigold field.

The Krishna river near Miryalaguda. The left bank of the river is in Telangana and the right bank is in Andhra Pradesh.

There is a Restaurant above this Toll gate.

Following pics are from our village :

 

Paddy fields.

Spent a few days in our village which is 5km from the Bay of Bengal. The population in the village is around 500 . Each time I visit , I  see a few developments in the village . One of the road leading to the village is being widened as a small harbour is being developed around this part of the ocean . Lots of Autos in the village now . The erstwhile Bus has been stopped due to increase in the number of Autos. A water tanker supplies water to every house in the village for washing/cleaning  purposes. There are no water supply yet, though pipelines have been laid. Filtered drinking water is also supplied in 20 liter plastic drums from a water treatment plant for a decent price. The underground water in this area is salty and not fit for drinking. There is just one well on the outskirts of the village which has sweet water. One of them in the village has bought a Car and an Air Conditioner. The first signs of urbanisation in the village 🙂 Sign of prosperity .

Recently TTD has started construction of a Rama temple in the village.

IMG-20171004-WA0015Smartphones are being used to check weather conditions , levels of water in the surrounding lakes as the irrigiation is through canals . They also check information about government schemes.

Enjoyed fresh unpolluted air and fresh food. Started back on the 5th day at 9am and reached Hyderabad at 5pm. Had our packed lunch under a huge tamarind tree . Had Tea at Vivera restaurant near Narketpally. One can buy some fresh veggies too at this place.

Back to the hustle bustle of the city…as we enter the Financial district in Hyderabad …

Till my next visit…..

 


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Vacation time !!

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It’s been 5 years since we three
, my son, hubby and i went for a vacation.
The last time we travelled was to Delhi and Ranthambore wildlife sanctuary in 2010. Our son was was growing up so we had decided to travel every year.
But destiny had some other plans for me.
I was diagnosed with Multiple Myeloma in Oct 2011,  been going through all the ups and downs all the while. Finally I now have the courage to travel . I had promised my son that we will go once he joins college.
After checking out various locations we zeroed in on Dubai. We began planning for the trip. We started exploring various options. We didnt want to go through the regular travels agencies like Thomas cook or cox and kings etc. We then decided on the dates, the Airlines that we want to travel with , the various hotels that are available, the local tourist spots etc.
I expressed my desire to travel , to my Oncologist, my Ayurvedic doctor and my Physician.
All of them said I can go and wished me well. When I asked my Physician to suggest any medication for problems like stomach upset etc, she immediately pulled out a sheet and quickly wrote down medications for cold, cough, fever, stomach pain, gas in the stomach, pain killers, diarrhoea etc.
Said I need not worry as the trip is just for a few days.
We booked tickets and hotel accommodation and also applied for online Visa from the Emirates website as we booked tickets on Emirates.
We just received our visas by mail.
Our trip is from 16 Feb to 21 Feb.

I have been planning about the foods that I would be eating while I am travelling.  Having just recovered from severe stomach upset and asthma , I am lil worried about having food outside. 
I have made a list of snacks that I would carry from here.
I checked if there is a supermarket or grocery near the hotel that we booked and thankfully there is one in the adjacent lane.
I plan to raid this supermarket as soon as we land there and pickup a lot of fresh fruits and some veggies like carrots , cucumbers etc.

Hope to travel safe and get back home intact.

-‘Sarve janah sukhino bhavanthu’ (May all be happy)