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!! :)

Monday, June 17, 2019

Vijay Vilas Palace, Mandvi, Gujarat

We were done with Bhuj and Kutch and before winding up the trip, one last stop was required. That was going to be Mandvi.. Had read about the historic significance of the place and so was quite curious to see them all. 

The first place we headed to was the Vijay Vilas Palace. As we drove into the gates, we spotted a few  camels making their way towards the trees. After picking up tickets [@Rs10 each and Rs50 for the camera] we made our way into the campus. A short walk and you see the majestic Palace in front of you. 

Built way back in 1929 by Rao Vijayraj, this palace is small but has some amazing architecture across the rooms and floors. We started on the ground floor, exploring the space, the corridors and getting a sneak glimpse into what life must have been like back in the day.  Built using red sandstone with one central dome, it also has Bengal domes at the sides, a bastions at the corner, and coloured glass windows all across. The palace resembles a English country home from certain angles, esp the plush garden and the way it is laid out. 

Artisans from Rajasthan, Saurashtra and Bengal were commissioned to work on the Palace, including Mestris and Suthars from Kutch, all of which reflects in the aesthetics of the palace.  

What was meant to originally be a summer abode for the Kutch rulers, the palace thereafter became the Royal family's residence as well. A portion of the palace has been converted to a Resort [but we dint get to visit that property]. And many Bollywood movies have been shot here [ *eye roll*]  

As we made our way up the spiral stair case to the terrace, I noticed how some portions were wood but others were concrete, which made me wonder how much repair work had gone on over the years.  From the terrace, you get a view of the entire area around the palace. The sprawling space some of it remains a forest, other is used by the Resort. All through the palace, the tile work, the flooring, the art work on the pillars, the intricate stone carving & jali work and murals are the highlights of the palace.

While we were walking around the space, a guide kept telling us snippets from the years gone by about the King, his fondness for hunting, the many many photographs of tiger hunting sessions, the stuffed tigers and then showed us the long dining table that could fit more than 20 people. He soon got dramatic and stated this is where the entire team from Lagaan has a meal in the movie in that scene.. and then in this room is where the scene from Lagaan & Hum dil de chuke sanam movie was shot. While I understand that most of the heritage buildings in our country have become renowned for the movies shot in them, I feel sad that history is forgotten. People today relate to places based on which movie was shot there, or which dance sequence they remember... Another aspect that irks me is when the guide tells us "come here and click a photograph, you will be able to get a good selfie here.. and so on"... Sometimes people who travel are so focussed on getting a good shot, that they fail to soak in the place for what it is....  Sigh ... am just venting and this isnt gonna change anything I know! But still.. 

As we left the place, walking back towards our car, I wondered how happy the Royal family were living in this palace.. What was their life like during the earthquake, and since then...  

The palace is 7 km from the center of town, 
Timings- 9am-1pm and 3pm-6pm. 
Entry is Rs.20 per person & Rs50 for camera.. 

Friday, June 7, 2019

Things to do in HongKong during a long layover....

[Images courtesy RA & yes he said it was alright for me to use em..]

A friend of mine was travelling to Seattle, via Hong Kong... He had a layover of about 14-16hours in Hong Kong and so asked me to help him plan what he could do in that time frame. 

I haven't been to Hong Kong [ many did tell me I should have spent a day or so in the city before flying back to Chennai when I was coming back from USA, but well did not plan ahead..] so did not know off hand what one could do in that city.. Therefore had to do some research and talk to friends/family to get ideas/inputs. After all that digging around,  here is what I finally put together... 

Things to remember

Most Important: Make sure you have the pre-registration print out (alternate to HK visa)the print out charges in airport is 300 HK$

1.    Take into account immigration time when you land in HK
2.    Check your next flight timing
3.    do you have to pick up baggage or does baggage go straight?
4.    Make sure to return to airport with 1.5hrs to your flight cos there are a gazillion gates and its long walk..
5.    Get octopus card from airport, this is the only place u get the octopus card with ur credit card, otherwise, suffer during whole trip, while going back,   return card and get money refunded back
6.    The metro from Airport to HK city is very convenient, 20 mins, and to-fro ticket for full day - 115 HK$
7.    Airport express train
Travel comfortably between the airport and hong kong Central in just 24 minutes on the Airport Express. Trains depart at 10-minute intervals
Fare – HK$115 [USD14-15]
     7. Use local taxis [ uber is not cheap]

Things you can do during layout in Hong Kong

1) Tsim Sha Tsui Promenade & Sky100 – 
Total of about 4hrs

(a) Taking the Airport Express train to Kowloon Station. From there, go up to ICC 
(International Commerce Centre) - the tallest building in Hong Kong. On 100/F, 
there is Sky100 - a paid sight-seeing spot, allowing you to have a 360-degree view 
of Hong Kong/Kowloon and the harbour. The height is similar to that of the peak 
but from a different angle.

(b) from Sky100 to Tsim shat sui- 3 to 4kms
** Take the Line973 bus from Mody road [10-11mins] or taxi [3-4mins].
** There is a direct bus departing from Mody Road and arriving at Western Harbour Tunnel. Services depart every 20 minutes, and operate every day. The journey takes approximately 10m.

2) Ride on Ngong Ping 360 cable car and see the Big Buddha – Total of about 4 hours
** How to go to Ngong Ping 360 Cable Car:
1.             Ride the MTR Station from Tsim Sha Tsui (Tseun Wan Line or the Red Line) and get off at Lai King Interchange [ 20mins ride]
2.             From there, just across is the Tung Chung Line. Ride that line and alight at Tung Chung Station [40min ride]
3.             Exit at Exit B
4.             You would then see the City Gate Outlet Mall, beside it is the entrance going to the Ngong Ping 360 Cable Car Ride
5.             Things to see- Big Buddha, Po Lin Monastery, Tai O fishing village, etc
6.             If you are up for it, can climb up the steps to the big Buddha.. else roam around down in the streets, eat, shop etc.. the citygate mall is a good place to kill time, have a drink as well..
Cable car ride – 25- 30 mins
Single standard cabin cable car to go up – HD$315 [US$40]

At the hongkong Airport

1)  Aviation Discovery[museum & simulation ] and UA IMAX
Theater [movie] – 2-4hrs

If there are other things one can do, please share them, will include them in the post.. Thanks in advance.. 

Friday, May 17, 2019

Sidi Saiyyed Mosque, Ahmedabad...

There I was, in the city that held so many fond memories- Ahmedabad. My first visit was back in 20015, when I spent a whole week here, just that back then I wasn't into this kind of travel mode and so did not explore the city too much.. Plus the agenda was different... 

This time around, I was here with nothing but travel and curiosity on the agenda... I was gonna spend two days in the city before moving on towards Bhuj and beyond!! On the 1st day, after breakfast and settling in, we decided to check out the International Kite Festival. While it was fun, it was quite hot and we walked around the place for an hour before making our way towards The House Of MG [Mangaldas].. A friend wanted to go check out the rooms and food, she had guests coming down in a few staying and staying at the property. The other 3 of us decided to wander the property and explore the area around before coming back for a cup of cool lime soda or chai. 

As you enter The House of MG, the first thing you see is the Menstrual tree installation and on the right side is the Tree of life.. Both are quite impactful, and on the tree of life , there was a board that spoke about the Jali work from the Sidi Saiyyed mosque. When we googled the place, we discovered it was right across from where we were standing. 

We hopped across, and entered the mosque premises, took off our shoes and wandered about the place. It is a fairly small space, and there is a marble board near the entrance that talks about when it was built and by who etc... 

The Sidi Saiyyed Mosque was built back in 1572-73 AD by Sidi Saiyyid....  The mosque is entirely arcuated and renowned for the ten intricately carved stone latticework windows or jalis as they are known. You will find these on the arches both inside and on the rear side. The intricately carved window with the Tree with intertwining branches is the Indian Institute of Management Ahmedabad's logo. The workmanship is just wow, mesmerising and almost looks like filigree work... The one surprising element was the small window in the center which is plain and has just a wall on it. I also heard that the place was not completed, as the Mughals invaded Gujarat by then. Even though this mosque is much smaller than the Jama Masjid, and does not have the huge courtyard, the craftsmanship and details across the structure is unparalleled.  

As we made our way out of the campus, we heard prayers from the speakers and people slowly piling in. I sent an image of the wall with the Tree on it to a friend who is from IIM and he replied "wow, I have heard of this place, but not visited in even once during my years studying at the campus".. :-) 

The traffic was crazy, and it took us a good few minutes to cross the road and take shade at the cafe in The House of MG and wait for our friend... 

Monday, May 6, 2019

Anantya Resort near Kanyakumari... The birthday getaway

I started this tradition few years back.. For my birthday I would get away, be away from Chennai... Over the years I have been to many different places.. Invariably, it would be a place I haven't been to before, unless there was little time or not much options cos of the time constraint. 

Last year, I was in a bit of a dilemma.. I knew the birthday was coming, I knew I wanted to get away, its like the itch knew when to appear and I was lost wondering where to go. I ran through a multitude of options in my head, ruled out most of them, cos they needed atleast 5-10 days to do justice.. I picked up the phone and sent a message to my bestie about this and within an hour I had arrived on one decision- I was going to indulge and do a holiday like none I have done so far...  

For those who know me, know that most of my trips are budget trips, under 20-30k [for a 10day trip, including travel accommodation food etc... ], and so this time when I zeroed in on where to go, I was excited.. While breaking my head on where to go, I remembered this place a friend had visited about a year earlier.. hunted around on Instagram for their photographs, messaged him and that was that, my mind was made up!

I was headed to Anantya Resorts, Kanyakumari. The property was located within 100 acre Rubber plantation and along the Chittar lake and was on TN- Kerala Border.. It is one of the few properties that has a brilliant Instagram feed/stories and a property that I wish I could go back to... 

I booked myself for 2N/3D at their Chakra Cottage [ they also have a Siddhi Villa which comes with its own small pond of sorts and a gazebo] , and had reached out to them asking about transport [pick up/drop]. The property is an hour from Nagercoil station, and about the same from Trivandrum Airport as well.  I love trains, and train journeys, so booked myself on the train headed to Kanyakumari. The property was sending me a cab... Ta da... I was set.. ;-)

There was this adrenalin rush and excitement like I had never felt before.. Maybe because my earlier birthdays were all kinda spent on the road going from one place to the other, or had been in places I had heard off/read about plenty and this place held some mystery element to it.. 

After a fun train journey, where I scandalised a few fellow passengers [who have never seen a girl travel alone...], I was out of the train and on the road towards the resort. The cabbie was a chatty guy, and asked if I knew Lakshmi madam [who's the owner of the property], he went on to share that she was currently in Chennai and asked if I was here on her recco.. We then chit chatted about the places around that I could visit, enquired about the distance to Kanyakumari and lo behold we had reached. 

The reception area is near the main gate, but the cottages are a short hop skip away, the path is rugged but the view ahead is what caught my eye. I was in Chakra Cottage #101 if I remember right [ I did lose my way once or twice but was happy to just be lost and wander about...].. 

The cottage was a few steps from the lake, as were all others. I was told all Chakra cottages on one side, and Siddhi villas on the other.. the lake was like a U around the property.. Am not gonna go on about the room or the property, it will make me go all nostalgic and so am gonna let the photographs tell the tales.... 

All I will say is if ever you are looking for a place to getaway, no signal [atleast no Airtel or Vodafone], and want to do nothing but walk, chill, eat good food, swim, get a massage or two then this is the place for you!! Totally worth every single paisa... 

During the 2nd morning breakfast, connected with a fellow traveller who was there for a quick getaway with her family. Rather she initiated the conversation seeing me alone at the table. Was surprised I was travelling alone that too for my birthday! Came to know she worked in Bangalore, in an IT firm and was into CRM, specifically Salesforce. She infact suggested I sign up for a course at one of the best centres that offered salesforce training Chennai if I was looking for a career shift. Her husband had apparently undergone salesforce admin training in Chennai and today was a VP at a company in Bangalore as well. Her parents chit chatted a while, they too were surprised I was alone, and asked if I wanted to join them for the rest of the day. I politely declined and told them I enjoyed my own company and headed out for a walk along the lake....

This is one of the joys of travelling, meeting interesting people from various walks of life and getting a sneak peek into what the other part of the world lives like... :-)

The sprawling open space around the cottages along the lake..

My Cottage...

The game zone, and the dining area beyond along with the pool and spa..

Artwork on a wall..

Greenery everywhere you see.


My cottage...

The lake as the sun sets..

The sit out area from the room...

The dining area..

Gaming zone,, chess, scrabble, books, pallankuzhi and more..


Breakfast/meals with a view...

Now that you have feasted your eyes, let me tell you it is a place you can go alone or with friends or family and will definitely have a blast.. They also have a court that you can use for tennis/shuttle or if basketball is your thing head over to the next space.. There are fun sitting options along the way- a low hammock or a funky hanging chair of sorts.. And if you wanna get some fitness in, grab a cycle and bike around.. You can also request a tour of the plantation, which takes about 1.5-2hrs and is good fun tour..

Anantya Resort 
State Highway 45, Kaliel Village, Chittar Lake, Kanyakumari District, Alancholai  
Phone: 044 2823 2013