• India,  Karnataka,  Travel

    Christmas Eve at Wonderful Western Hills, Sakleshpur

    In our last holiday trip of 2018, we were returning after a wonderful weekend stay at Attihalli, Sakleshpur. Our hearts still yearned for some more time in the hills. My husband happened to notice a rickety signboard, Western Hills, beside a dusty path that disappeared into the hills. It looked interesting, so we followed our instinct. It was 24th December. I didn’t expect to find rooms for six people. However, Hemanth, who manages the place offered us a spacious dorm-type of a room overlooking the coffee plantation. We got the room for 3000 rupees for six people, which fit our Christmas budget quite well. The small property makes for a…

  • Poetry,  Writings

    A Shikara Ride

      Still are the waters, Tranquil, alive and poised Bouncing the sun off, From behind the hills high above The Shikara forms a silhouette, Quietly advancing at the horizon.   As we travel further, Colors emerge, then slowly fade away. Images blend into reflections. Holding a poignant past. Almost melancholic, almost sad.  

  • India,  Jammu and Kashmir,  Travel

    Srinagar, Shikara and Kehwa

    We started back from Pahalgam for Srinagar. Again beautiful views on the way, saw many houses with apple trees in their backyard, apart from the traditional larger orchards. Apple Orchard Stopover On the way, stopped over at Apple orchards again, where the owners sell fresh-cut fruits as well as freshly squeezed juices, cartons of apples of both varieties- Golden & regular red apples. The former can stay fresh for 3 months, but Red variety gets spoiled sooner. We tasted the apples and also had the freshly squeezed juice(made by hand-operated machine). It tasted heavenly, and unlike anything, I have had before. Naturally chilled in the fresh Winter air and seemed…

  • India,  Orissa,  Travel

    7 Best Street Foods In Bhubaneswar, Orissa

    Earthy, simple, and full of flavors – Oriya cuisine offers a range of hearty dishes. Oriyas love their meals accompanied by plenty of veggies, fish or mutton, and something crispy, like fried potatoes and Karela chips. We also adore our snacks – sweet and savory. Growing up in Bhubaneswar, I remember evenings were spent in informal gatherings where people would eat snacks, chat and just while away time (called ‘katti kariba‘ in Oriya). During the festival of Raja, all Oriya families prepare special sweets called Pithas. And, many of these Pithas are available in select outlets, such as at Ekamra Haat. Pithas are different types of sweet rice flour cakes, flavored with saunf…

  • India,  Jammu and Kashmir,  Travel

    A Short Autumn Trip to Kashmir: Pahalgam and Apple Orchards

    Part 1 in a series of posts on Kashmir. The extraordinary, almost unearthly beauty of the Kashmir valley made it a strange conflict to cover. In the morning, the window of my houseboat on the Dal Lake would be open, and as I lay in bed I could see the reed cutters and fishermen. The shikara canoes would be in the foreground; behind were the bridges and waterways, the willows and poplars, and the orchards of apricots and almonds. There were children paddling in the shallows and girls carrying brush-wood bundles on their heads. Beyond stretched the old Mughal watergardens and, above them, the mulberry trees of the silk farmers. Crowning all…

  • India,  Karnataka,  Travel

    Hampi – Beauty is Truth, and Truth Beauty

                       Memory (Written by Agni Barathi  – Technologist, philosopher, poet, and wanderer.) Who would remember the sighs, the groans the cries, the howls, the laughs, the smiles? Who would remember, the great grand works of he who tilled these fallow lands of he who carved the unyielding rocks of she who sang a song of new spring of she who drew kolams at dawn? Who would remember them whose sighs, groans and cries, and howls, laughs and smiles still echo off these magnificent rocks on which the monkeys climb and play in oblivious abandon. Hampi My first glimpse of Hampi was of a granite…

  • Coffee Connections

    Back again in a coffee plantation

              This post is a part of a blog series on Coffee by Tushar Shukla. Living in South India for over a decade, I have visited coffee plantations quite a few times in Coorg, Chikmagalur and Tamil Nadu (Honey Valley, Ozone Valley, Makkithitta, Chingara, Club Mahindra Madikeri and Virajpet, Lake Forest Yercaud etc.). And Coorg being a favorite for us, have fond memories of driving over from the busy city streets and finding solace in the rejuvenating lush valleys full of coffee and pepper plants. Most of the homestays and resorts arrange estate walks, which gave us an opportunity to explore the terrains on foot. One…