Monday, December 19, 2011

Six Places- The 10-Day 'You' Challenge

I started this challenge a long while ago, and I am STILL not even half way there yet. I just promised myself that I will complete this by the end of the month (and the year.) This list is all about six places that I never get tired of visiting, or those that I crave to visit someday.

1) Coimbatore. I've never lived here in the actual sense, except for holidays when I visit my aunt. But I've always considered it to be namma ooru and it is definitely home for me- maybe because my parents and I have been going there for the holidays ever since I can remember. I can never get tired of this city. Visiting the Murugan temple on top of the Marudamalai Hill, shopping around RS Puram, the beauty of the surrounding Velliangiri Mountains, the spectacular drive around the Anaikatti Hills, the numerous 'gossip' sessions with my dearest achema... these are certain memories that I continue to cherish. Here's my favorite photograph of Coimbatore. This was taken two years ago, when I was volunteering at a rural school, on the outskirts of the city. It never ceases to make me smile- Reminds me that life can be a bed of marigolds, if only we looked at it from the sunny side!



2) Avalanche. Many people are not aware of this paradise, a few miles outside Ooty, hidden deep in the blue Nilgiri Hills. Google tells me that the place derived its name from a mud avalanche that rocked the area in the early nineteenth century. Do not let the name alarm you- the scenic tranquil landscape is a sharp contrast to the turbulent images that the word 'avalanche' often brings to mind. I had the fortune of visiting this awesome spot twice- what's more I was lucky enough to camp here! Canoeing at Lake Avalanche, pitching tents in the middle of the woods beside the lake, the heady scent of eucalyptus trees in the air, sharing stories at dinner over a bonfire, gazing at the twinkling stars in a sky, pristine and unpolluted by the glares of city lights... I could go on. I would give anything to go here again. Enough said. I tried googling images for Avalanche and found one that I could instantly recognize from some long cherished memory of my childhood. Here it is!


Image courtesy: deals4travels.blogspot.com

3) Mussoorie. I grew up reading Ruskin Bond. And the mountains never cease to amaze me. So it's little surprise that Mussoorie, at the foothills of the Garhwal Himalayas, is on this list. Each time I pick up my copy of the Childrens' Omnibus by Ruskin Bond (which is quite often when I'm back home), I somehow or the other come across a story that has a reference to Mussoorie- Panther's Moon, for example, a touchingly written tale about Bisnu, a young lad in a Himalayan village, a few miles away from Mussoorie and how his village is plagued by a perilous panther on the prowl. Another favorite is the hilarious Life with Uncle Ken stories- how Uncle Ken, who seemed to be perpetually unemployed, took a group of American tourists, for a sightseeing trip around Mussoorie (or was it Kempti?) and got them all lost! These magical stories have created wonderful pictures of Mussoorie and the surrounding region in my mind's eye and I would definitely love to visit this place sometime in the future.

4) Kanyakumari. My geography lessons in school drilled it into my head that 'Kanyakumari, also known as Cape Comorin, is the southern most tip of the Indian peninsula'. Also, the fact that the city stands at the confluence of the Arabian Sea, the Bay of Bengal and the Indian Ocean. This guy tells me that sunrise and sunset at the confluence is a spectacular scene. Moreover, I have come across a number of slokas and bhajans, in praise of the Goddess at Kanyakumari (indeed the city itself is named after her) and I would like to visit the temple some day.

5) Oman. Since my parents are based in the Emirates, it's quite simple to drive across the border onto Omani soil. A six hour journey from Dubai, across the Hatta border, and you're in Oman! Now that my parents have shifted to Fujairah, in the eastern Emirates, the journey is shortened to three hours. Oman, without doubt, is a beautiful country. Largest among the six Gulf countries in terms of geographical area after Saudi Arabia, the country has many geographic variations- the Hajjar Mountains extends into the northern region, moving south one drives along the Gulf of Oman, followed by vast stretches of the Rub al Khali Desert (also known as the Empty Quarter), and culminating in the craggy Dhofar mountains, flanked by the Indian Ocean, in the southern most region. I have traveled a number of times to Muscat, and fondly remember its beaches, the harbor and the silver souq where Amma and I succumb to our greatest temptation- earrings.

A couple of years ago, my adventurous Appa decided that we (or rather he) would drive the 1000 km distance, across the Empty Quarter, from Muscat to the southern city of Salalah overnight. It was an amazing experience, given that the desert roads were unlit and there was no trace of civilisation whatsoever. Salalah is said to be the town of the Queen of Sheba. Myth has it that the Three Wise Men, who visited the stables when the infant Jesus was born, were also from this region. Salalah, in the khareef season, is said to be a splendid sight. Green wadis in full bloom, lush waterfalls, misty mountains... Unfortunately we visited in the wrong season (middle of December), and yet we were so struck by the wonder of this city. I cannot help but imagine how grand it would be to go there in the khareef.

Apart from Salalah, I would also like to explore Sohar (supposedly the town of Sindbad, the Sailor), the 'turtle town' of Sur and the historic al Hoota caves at Nizwa. As they say in this part of the world, inshallah! Each time we return from Oman, Appa says 'O Man, what a country!'

6) Bhutan. Some story I read donkeys' years ago introduced me to a character known as the Abominable Snowman. This supposedly scary creature is also known as a yeti and is said to be found in Himalayan regions. We were living in Dehra Dun at that time and I think, Appa, tired by my constant badgering about whether the yeti would attack us, said that it could be found only in parts of Tibet, Nepal and Bhutan. Coincidentally, at that point in time, I was fond of eating bread with a brand of marmalade called Druk. Appa patiently explained that Druk referred to the dragon, which is a reference to Bhutan. The interesting-looking dragon on the marmalade label and the yeti got me quickly interested in Bhutan. And then, like it happens to most children, I forgot all about it.

However, a little while ago, I came across a rather curious concept- Gross National Happiness. The term was coined by His Majesty Jigme Singye Wangchuk, the king of Bhutan, who declared that 'Gross National Happiness was more important that Gross National Product'. If this report is to be believed, Bhutan is one of the happiest places on earth. Moreover, it has some of the most amazing, jaw-droppingly spectacular scenes in the whole wide universe. Take a look at Paro Taktsang or the Tigers' Nest Monastery, hanging quite precariously over a cliff. My mouth just falls open (quite literally) every time I see this.


Image courtesy: bhutantour.bt

Mountains? Yes. Dragons? Yes. Mysticism? Yes. Monasteries? Yes. Happiness? YES!
Any other reason not to go there? :D

Post Script:
Namma ooru is a Tamil term which means my town or my village.
Achema is a term I use to call my aunt.
Slokas are traditional chants, invoking the blessings of God.
Bhajans are devotional songs.
Souq is the Arabic word for market.
Khareef is the Arabic term for the monsoon season in July.
Wadi, in Arabic, refers to a ravine or a valley.
Inshallah is a phrase that means God Willing.

5 comments:

  1. Oooh, enjoyed your post. Of all these places, the one I've seen properly is Kanyakumari. I really loved my visit there. I found a strange sense of peace in the place, even when in the hotel. And waking up in the morning, hoping to see the sun rise as if it were coming out of the water. Tranquil, the experience was.

    Would love to visit Bhutan someday. I love the mountains, just like you. I've been to Kailash, though. Did you read the post I did about Manasarovar?

    ReplyDelete
  2. Oh, and forgot to mention, nice new look. Love those swirls on the header. The main post area is kinda narrow and the background is stealing away from it. You could increase the width of the post area. Just a suggestion, of course. If you like it this way, it's fine too.

    ReplyDelete
  3. Thanks Sumitra! Your trip to Kanyakumari sounds like a lot of fun- am positively craving to go there. And OMG, you've been to Manasarovar? I'm jealous! Off to read the post, dunno how I missed it!

    About the new look- I was bored with the old one haha! Yeah, I agree I should try and widen the post area- but considering the fact that I'm rather a noob at this, it's gonna take some time. :D Any help on this from an experienced blogger like you will be most helpful :)

    ReplyDelete
  4. You've written so well about all those places that you've made me homesick with the mention of the Indian places now, Bad Bad person you are. :P

    I so want to go to Avalanche and Kanyakumari now, unfortunately have to stick it out in the cruel European winter :( :(.

    Will make sure these two spots are on the agenda on my next trip to the motherland.

    Cheers :)

    ReplyDelete
  5. @Atrocious, yes I'm wicked aren't I? :P
    You should go to Avalanche, it's a glorious awesome amazing fantabulous place. :D and Kanyakumari too!

    ReplyDelete

Monday, December 19, 2011

Six Places- The 10-Day 'You' Challenge

I started this challenge a long while ago, and I am STILL not even half way there yet. I just promised myself that I will complete this by the end of the month (and the year.) This list is all about six places that I never get tired of visiting, or those that I crave to visit someday.

1) Coimbatore. I've never lived here in the actual sense, except for holidays when I visit my aunt. But I've always considered it to be namma ooru and it is definitely home for me- maybe because my parents and I have been going there for the holidays ever since I can remember. I can never get tired of this city. Visiting the Murugan temple on top of the Marudamalai Hill, shopping around RS Puram, the beauty of the surrounding Velliangiri Mountains, the spectacular drive around the Anaikatti Hills, the numerous 'gossip' sessions with my dearest achema... these are certain memories that I continue to cherish. Here's my favorite photograph of Coimbatore. This was taken two years ago, when I was volunteering at a rural school, on the outskirts of the city. It never ceases to make me smile- Reminds me that life can be a bed of marigolds, if only we looked at it from the sunny side!



2) Avalanche. Many people are not aware of this paradise, a few miles outside Ooty, hidden deep in the blue Nilgiri Hills. Google tells me that the place derived its name from a mud avalanche that rocked the area in the early nineteenth century. Do not let the name alarm you- the scenic tranquil landscape is a sharp contrast to the turbulent images that the word 'avalanche' often brings to mind. I had the fortune of visiting this awesome spot twice- what's more I was lucky enough to camp here! Canoeing at Lake Avalanche, pitching tents in the middle of the woods beside the lake, the heady scent of eucalyptus trees in the air, sharing stories at dinner over a bonfire, gazing at the twinkling stars in a sky, pristine and unpolluted by the glares of city lights... I could go on. I would give anything to go here again. Enough said. I tried googling images for Avalanche and found one that I could instantly recognize from some long cherished memory of my childhood. Here it is!


Image courtesy: deals4travels.blogspot.com

3) Mussoorie. I grew up reading Ruskin Bond. And the mountains never cease to amaze me. So it's little surprise that Mussoorie, at the foothills of the Garhwal Himalayas, is on this list. Each time I pick up my copy of the Childrens' Omnibus by Ruskin Bond (which is quite often when I'm back home), I somehow or the other come across a story that has a reference to Mussoorie- Panther's Moon, for example, a touchingly written tale about Bisnu, a young lad in a Himalayan village, a few miles away from Mussoorie and how his village is plagued by a perilous panther on the prowl. Another favorite is the hilarious Life with Uncle Ken stories- how Uncle Ken, who seemed to be perpetually unemployed, took a group of American tourists, for a sightseeing trip around Mussoorie (or was it Kempti?) and got them all lost! These magical stories have created wonderful pictures of Mussoorie and the surrounding region in my mind's eye and I would definitely love to visit this place sometime in the future.

4) Kanyakumari. My geography lessons in school drilled it into my head that 'Kanyakumari, also known as Cape Comorin, is the southern most tip of the Indian peninsula'. Also, the fact that the city stands at the confluence of the Arabian Sea, the Bay of Bengal and the Indian Ocean. This guy tells me that sunrise and sunset at the confluence is a spectacular scene. Moreover, I have come across a number of slokas and bhajans, in praise of the Goddess at Kanyakumari (indeed the city itself is named after her) and I would like to visit the temple some day.

5) Oman. Since my parents are based in the Emirates, it's quite simple to drive across the border onto Omani soil. A six hour journey from Dubai, across the Hatta border, and you're in Oman! Now that my parents have shifted to Fujairah, in the eastern Emirates, the journey is shortened to three hours. Oman, without doubt, is a beautiful country. Largest among the six Gulf countries in terms of geographical area after Saudi Arabia, the country has many geographic variations- the Hajjar Mountains extends into the northern region, moving south one drives along the Gulf of Oman, followed by vast stretches of the Rub al Khali Desert (also known as the Empty Quarter), and culminating in the craggy Dhofar mountains, flanked by the Indian Ocean, in the southern most region. I have traveled a number of times to Muscat, and fondly remember its beaches, the harbor and the silver souq where Amma and I succumb to our greatest temptation- earrings.

A couple of years ago, my adventurous Appa decided that we (or rather he) would drive the 1000 km distance, across the Empty Quarter, from Muscat to the southern city of Salalah overnight. It was an amazing experience, given that the desert roads were unlit and there was no trace of civilisation whatsoever. Salalah is said to be the town of the Queen of Sheba. Myth has it that the Three Wise Men, who visited the stables when the infant Jesus was born, were also from this region. Salalah, in the khareef season, is said to be a splendid sight. Green wadis in full bloom, lush waterfalls, misty mountains... Unfortunately we visited in the wrong season (middle of December), and yet we were so struck by the wonder of this city. I cannot help but imagine how grand it would be to go there in the khareef.

Apart from Salalah, I would also like to explore Sohar (supposedly the town of Sindbad, the Sailor), the 'turtle town' of Sur and the historic al Hoota caves at Nizwa. As they say in this part of the world, inshallah! Each time we return from Oman, Appa says 'O Man, what a country!'

6) Bhutan. Some story I read donkeys' years ago introduced me to a character known as the Abominable Snowman. This supposedly scary creature is also known as a yeti and is said to be found in Himalayan regions. We were living in Dehra Dun at that time and I think, Appa, tired by my constant badgering about whether the yeti would attack us, said that it could be found only in parts of Tibet, Nepal and Bhutan. Coincidentally, at that point in time, I was fond of eating bread with a brand of marmalade called Druk. Appa patiently explained that Druk referred to the dragon, which is a reference to Bhutan. The interesting-looking dragon on the marmalade label and the yeti got me quickly interested in Bhutan. And then, like it happens to most children, I forgot all about it.

However, a little while ago, I came across a rather curious concept- Gross National Happiness. The term was coined by His Majesty Jigme Singye Wangchuk, the king of Bhutan, who declared that 'Gross National Happiness was more important that Gross National Product'. If this report is to be believed, Bhutan is one of the happiest places on earth. Moreover, it has some of the most amazing, jaw-droppingly spectacular scenes in the whole wide universe. Take a look at Paro Taktsang or the Tigers' Nest Monastery, hanging quite precariously over a cliff. My mouth just falls open (quite literally) every time I see this.


Image courtesy: bhutantour.bt

Mountains? Yes. Dragons? Yes. Mysticism? Yes. Monasteries? Yes. Happiness? YES!
Any other reason not to go there? :D

Post Script:
Namma ooru is a Tamil term which means my town or my village.
Achema is a term I use to call my aunt.
Slokas are traditional chants, invoking the blessings of God.
Bhajans are devotional songs.
Souq is the Arabic word for market.
Khareef is the Arabic term for the monsoon season in July.
Wadi, in Arabic, refers to a ravine or a valley.
Inshallah is a phrase that means God Willing.

5 comments:

  1. Oooh, enjoyed your post. Of all these places, the one I've seen properly is Kanyakumari. I really loved my visit there. I found a strange sense of peace in the place, even when in the hotel. And waking up in the morning, hoping to see the sun rise as if it were coming out of the water. Tranquil, the experience was.

    Would love to visit Bhutan someday. I love the mountains, just like you. I've been to Kailash, though. Did you read the post I did about Manasarovar?

    ReplyDelete
  2. Oh, and forgot to mention, nice new look. Love those swirls on the header. The main post area is kinda narrow and the background is stealing away from it. You could increase the width of the post area. Just a suggestion, of course. If you like it this way, it's fine too.

    ReplyDelete
  3. Thanks Sumitra! Your trip to Kanyakumari sounds like a lot of fun- am positively craving to go there. And OMG, you've been to Manasarovar? I'm jealous! Off to read the post, dunno how I missed it!

    About the new look- I was bored with the old one haha! Yeah, I agree I should try and widen the post area- but considering the fact that I'm rather a noob at this, it's gonna take some time. :D Any help on this from an experienced blogger like you will be most helpful :)

    ReplyDelete
  4. You've written so well about all those places that you've made me homesick with the mention of the Indian places now, Bad Bad person you are. :P

    I so want to go to Avalanche and Kanyakumari now, unfortunately have to stick it out in the cruel European winter :( :(.

    Will make sure these two spots are on the agenda on my next trip to the motherland.

    Cheers :)

    ReplyDelete
  5. @Atrocious, yes I'm wicked aren't I? :P
    You should go to Avalanche, it's a glorious awesome amazing fantabulous place. :D and Kanyakumari too!

    ReplyDelete