Chungdi Malai – Out of the many variabilities in the seafood platter, Chungdi Malai is a delicious non-vegetarian dish. It is essentially a creamy prawn curry that gets its richness and silkiness from coconut milk. The dish is further enriched by treating the curry with humble and mild spices that make the prawn curry a very popular dish. I enjoyed this finger licking dish with hot steamed rice.
The trip to the Eravikullam National Park was very thrilling. The wild safari amidst the dense forest was a great adventure for me. It was now time to head towards one of the famous hill stations of Kerala known as Munnar. Munnar means the 3 rivers in Tamil and it is located at a point of mergence of 3 hill streams.
The hill station is a beautiful place for all to get some trekking adventure on its highest peak Anamudi which is 2695 metres above sea level. The lush green surroundings of the place, the winding lanes, waterfalls and the river streams all make Munnar an exotic holiday destination. Clouds fly at very low altitude and the winds are filled with mist which offers stunning views to all the tourists.
The flora of the hill station is very amazing as both forests and grasslands can be found at Munnar. The hill station also has a unique variety of flower known as Neela Kurinji which blooms only once a year. I also got the opportunity of doing para gliding, and tried a little rock climbing too which was a thrilling experience for me.
The nature walks at the valleys and also the bird watching tours is sure to relax the minds of every soul. The place is also famous for its tea trade as more than 30 tea gardens can be found in and near Munnar. One can also learn about the process of tea plantation at one of the tea plantations.
Besides these many other tourists places can also be found near Munnar which includes Lake Mattupetty, Top station, Rajmala Wildlife Sanctuary, Echo Pint, Nyayamakad waterfalls, Valara Waterfalls, Lock Heart gap and Marayoor.
Munnar surely is one of the top hill stations in the country. it is an ideal place to visit if one wants to go and spend some time with nature away from the hustle bustle of city life and pollution of the metros. After the visit to Munnar Hill station, i headed for the last place on my tour before I headed back which was the Bekal Fort at Kasaragod.
It was finally the last leg of our Hyderabad trip. And we planned to end it by visiting one of the most talked about national parks in the region.
The beauty of biodiversity in India is effortlessly reflected in conservation parks as these. With less human activity and freedom for every beautiful being to enjoy space and privacy, this is completely a marvelous place to enjoy. Mahavir Harina Vanasthali National Park, Hyderabad was named after a Jain saint and has been focused to preserve and enjoy the beauty of biodiversity. Located in the previous hunting lands of the Nizams, today the project has brought to notice the rich wildlife source this place can offer.
The deer park was set up for the purpose of preserving precious heritage as well as to rehabilitate this area with its natural species. The animal species which fills this area are blackbucks, porcupines, Indian pond herons, egrets, cormorants, short-toed eagles, kingfisher and various rich species of birds. Also, the surrounding areas are so attractive that flocks of beautiful migrating birds settle around here.
While we were visiting, we could notice the rich fauna variety is present in this area. This place also offers space for some beautiful stocks of floral diversity. Flowering plants, herbs, and other wonderful floral beauties are present here. This adds a new level of elegance and aroma to the surrounding area. Jungle grasslands are a common covering area here, and it’s impossible to not notice how graceful the place looks.
Sandalwood, Palas, albizzia, teak, acacias, amalthas, and rosewood are the variety of flora present in this area. The energy of hills and the scenic elegance is worth a visit. Over 30 species of reptiles, as well as 120 species of birds, live here with a black buck, civet, peacock, cheetah, deer and panther roaming the land.
It is a place of ecotourism and has been attracting thousands of visitors for years since its inception. Guided tours around the park will show you how rich and beautiful nature is. With a perfect guide, this will be the destination you would like to visit very often. Flocks of birds took us to the paradise of beauty.
This is where our journey ended. It was amazingly relaxing and so refreshing to catch up with old friends and spend good time together. I am going to miss them even more!
It had been a few days since I came to Guntur. A budget traveler by all means, I love to use buses and trains the most for my travel because I believe that I can know the place better being with the local people. My friend remarked that Guntur is one of the populous cities in Andhra Pradesh No wonder, the city is known for its industrial development and exports of quite a few commodities such as chilies and cotton.
No doubt, we were becoming more spiritual with our visit to temples. Guntur offers a lot of reasons for pilgrims to visit with its temples. Our next and last sightseeing place was Sri Lakshmi Chennakesava Swamy Temple, which is located in Macherla district.
A historical temple, it was built in a way back in 1113 AD and was known to be a Shaivite temple. Later, it became a Vaishvanite temple. People in the ancient days divided among themselves in the names of God in Hinduism. Shaivites were those worshippers of Lord Shive, while Vaishvanites worshipped Lord Vishnu.
A history buff in the temple explained further that Buddhism came into India because of this difference and it vanished when Adi Sankaracharya spread the philosophy of Advaita, which explained that ‘God is One’.
Sri Lakshmi Chennakesava Swamy Temple is tagged as the oldest temple of the 13th century AD. We reached the temple before the closing time. I was curious to find a tall Dwajastamba Swamy idol on the main gate of the temple. It was made of bronze and wood. There were other idols, which were called Srimannarayana Avataram, Srimad Bhagavatam, Srimad Ramayanam, and Srimad Mahabharatam.
We went in to offer prayers. I purchased a few tickets for performing archana in my family members’ names. The Lord looked elegant decorated with flower garlands. We were offered prasad. The surroundings of the temple offered tranquility.
I had never been to temples of such ancient ones. It is quite interesting how it was built associated with puranas, explaining the reasons behind it. To my surprise, the temples and the epics associated with them spread the oneness and uniqueness of god, which over the years people failed to understood it. Thankfully such temples like Sri Lakshmi Chennakesava Swamy Temple still exits to remind the significance of Advaita, a truly great philosophy that existed hundreds of years ago.
With great satisfaction and enlightenment, we started back to our hometown.
I had very hectic days at work for past couple of weeks and I was totally exhausted both physically and mentally. I wanted to get away from the monotonous daily schedules. It was my dream to visit Visakhapatnam again. From the internet I have learned that I have more places to explore in this city. It is a place of beaches, hilltops and wildlife sanctuaries. Being an adventure lover, I chose Vishakhapatnam. One of my friends wanted to accompany me and hence, I booked tickets online for us.
I end up finding a suitable train to Vishakhapatnam and booked my ticket on the East Coast Express. I could also manage to find out a best hotel deal on flight hotel deals for Visakhapatnam and booked my room in the RR Grand Vishakhapatnam.
I packed my things and went to the railway station at around 5 o’ clock in the evening. My friend told me he will reach the station on time. The train was scheduled at 5.42 pm. The station was crowded and somehow I managed to get a seat on the platform and waited for my friend to come. He reached the station in 15 minutes. The train reached the station on time.
It was a great experience traveling in train from Jajpur, the scenic beauty of the setting sun was mesmerizing and I enjoyed the nature from the swift train. The train halted in several stations. It was quiet comfortable traveling in train and being a budget traveler I love to travel in trains as they are cheap and best.
At night we were talking about Vishakhapatnam, it has a lot to offer to its visitors. The visitors can enjoy 8 beaches, hill tops and scenic beauty, temples monuments and museums. It is a perfect place to indulge in adventure spots and is also a suitable place for nature lovers and there is a wild life sanctuary which was in my agenda.
We ordered our meal in the train itself and it was tasty. After a long chit chat I started reading my favorite book and slept for a while. We reached Orissa at 3.55 pm and the cab which was arranged online was waiting to take us to the hotel.
As my stay continued in Pune, the next monument that I was very keen to visit was the Aga Khan Palace located at Nagar road beyond Fitzgerald Bridge in Pune. The official timings for visitors are 9am to 6pm. So I had my breakfast and headed towards the palace in the morning itself. I also carried my camera along with me so that I could shoot as many pictures of this embodiment of India’s freedom struggle.
The Aga Khan Palace was built by Imam Sultan Muhammad Shah Agakhan III in the year 1892. In the year 1969 this palace was donated to India by his descendent Aga Khan IV as a token of respect to Mahatma Gandhi. This monument is of national importance as it narrates the story of India’s freedom movement.
Succeeding the launch of the Quit India Movement in 1942 mahatma Gandhi along with his wife Kasturba Gandhi and his secretary Mahadevbhai Desai were confined in this palace from 9th august 1942 to 6th may 1944. Kasturba Gandhi as well Mahadevbhai Desai both passed away during this two year long duration of confinement in the Aga Khan Palace.
Their Samadhi were located in the campus of the palace itself. Erected near river Mula the palace is a memorial stands as a constant reminder of Gandhi’s indomitable struggle for India’s free future.
This place serves as a very famous site for tourists from all over the world, both because of its historical significance as well as archaeological charm. It was developed as an international place of pilgrimage and witnesses more than one lakh visitors from near and far off places who come to pay homage to the Samadhi located in the vicinity.
To sprawling garden that encompasses this structure adds to the beauty of the palace. The famous movie “Gandhi” was also shot on this site that has witnessed two years of the life of Gandhiji.
Due to its historic significance in the struggle for freedom of India, a couple of public functions including Martyr’s day, Mahashivaratri, Independence day, Republic day and Bapu’s birthday are also held in the Aga Khan Palace.
It was a wonderful view, one I had never seen in life. A huge lotus flower like structure was dazzling in the bright sunlight. Even before entering, I could feel the very peaceful and serene atmosphere. The entire structure was made of pure milky white marble, which looked fantastic from a distance. It is also called the Bahai temple and was designed by the Canadian architect Fariborz Sabha and finally completed in 1986.
The temple was constructed by marble, cement, dolomite and sand. It’s the last of the seven major temples of Bahai constructed around the world. The lotus symbol was chosen as it is common to Buddhism, Hinduism, Islam and Jainism. The Lotus Temple is open to all people regardless of their religion. Anyone can go there to worship, meditate or just spend a peaceful time with themselves or with their family. It is an example of equality and openness encouraged by Bahai laws.
The temple has a magnificent design. There are 27 beautiful large white petals of an unfolding lotus flower made with marble. The temple has nine doors and nine inner petals and is surrounded by nine pools of water and walkways. The 9 pools of water signify the nine spiritual unifying paths of faith. The pools of water light up in natural daylight. At around 5 pm, in the midst of sunset the view was breathtaking.
No one was allowed to talk there as the temple is meant for worship and meditation. The central hall is plain and flat covered with ceramic tiles and around 34 meters high. There were inscriptions of sacred Bahai scriptures all over the petal alcoves. The beautiful green gardens around the temple give rise to a very pleasing atmosphere. Amidst all these I experienced calm and quietness like never before.
It was around 6:30 pm, that the temple was looking astounding when it was all lit up amidst the dark night. It was my last day of stay in Delhi. I planned to visit one more location the next day and then go back to Orissa. I decided to visit the Teen Murti Bhavan, the former residence of our first Prime Minister as my last and final tour.