Appooppanthaadi – A Travel Group For Women

Ladies who love traveling but barely get a chance to travel due to so many reasons, you might want to pay attention to this post. If your reason involves lack of company, fear of traveling alone or skepticism to take the leap because you’ve never traveled ever, and if the seed of travel is still in you, I’m about to hook you up with one amazing travel group exclusively for the ladies – Appooppanthaadi.

WhatsApp Image 2019-11-16 at 9.31.20 AM.jpeg

Appooppanthaadi (Calotropis in Malayalam), the first born child of Sajna Ali, came into existence out of her love for travel and her realizing the need for a ladies oriented travel group. Now, they have completed over 200 trips, giving over 2000 women the chance to experience travel.

Pool at the Kavaledurga Fort
Appooppanthadi Trip to Agumbe

Over the years, women who have never travelled before, have taken up traveling. In addition to this, Sajna also gone on solo trips and encourages women to go on solo trips. I, for one, am terrified of solo trips and the thought that more women are taking up solo trips inspires me to plan one for myself. This is the kind of impact Appooppanthaadi is making.

I decided to write this post after going on two trips with them. In July 2018, I went on a trip to Agumbe and in April 2019, I went on their Tawang trip. I came to know of both the destinations through Appooppanthaadi and I was extremely skeptical about Agumbe as it was my first trip with the group to a never heard of destination. But during the trip, I realized that I hadn’t gone to a place more beautiful. Agumbe is one place I would return to, at any given point of time in my life. The Tawang trip was breath taking as well. However, Agumbe still beats it! I will be writing separate posts on these trips.

Near Snow clad Sela Pass - Tawang
Appooppanthadi trip to Tawang, Arunachal Pradesh

Appooppanthaadi’s way of operating is simple. They give out frequent updates of their upcoming trips on their Facebook Page. The seats get booked in a giffy. You are required to register and soon you’ll be contacted with the payment link. Once you make the payment, you’ll be added to the respective trip group wherein you can communicate with other travelers, clear your doubts and prepare for the trip. If you’re alone for this trip, you’ll definitely find other solo travelers in the group and you can easily befriend them. You never know! You might even find a friend for life from one of these trips.

Trip to Agumbe with Appooppanthadi
Trip to Agumbe with Appooppanthadi

Here are some pointers I observed throughout the two trips:

  1. You’ll be given a helping hand in case of any issues. You only have to ask for it.
  2. The trip isn’t restricted to youngsters but they encourage older people as well. 50-60 year olds easily joined us in our trips.
  3. The prices are affordable. We were charged Rs. 10,500 for the Tawang trip of 5 days. Though food and flight charges were separate, the rates were reasonable if you considered the extensive travel from Guwahati and back and the accommodation.
  4. They ensure that we get to try the local cuisine which, in my opinion, helps you soak up their culture better.
  5. Though the group is based out of Kerala, all the trips begin from the respective States or somewhere nearby. For instance, trips in Karnataka begin in Karnataka, the Tawang trip began at Guwahati and so on, so that the costs are reduced and people from all States can join from a common point.

Appooppanthaadi is a blessing for the Women who have been skeptical about traveling. Appooppanthaadi opens the doors wide for the women who never thought they’d be able to travel alone. It also forms new bonds, weaves new tales and makes hundreds of women dream.

The Eight Meter Guilded Statue of Budhha at the TAwang Monastery
The Eight Meter Guilded Statue of Budhha at the TAwang Monastery

If you know women who are still mulling over traveling, please let them know about Appooppanthaadi. Let them get a taste of how it is to fly high. Please feel free to ask any questions you have in the comments. Also, do you know of any other similar groups? Do you think you’ll take a trip with the Appooppanthaadis?

Their Facebook Page – Appooppanthaadi

One Day Trip to Udupi, Karnataka

I made a trip to Udupi and Mangalore last month. It was one among the 12 trips I am planning to complete in 2018. Udupi, among many other things, is famous for the Udupi Krishna Temple. The district is well placed. Being on the Western side of South India, it has the beaches. Gokarna is just 4 hours from here. Being near the ghats, it has its fair share of hill stations and forest nearby. It is no surprise considering the fact that Udupi shares its borders with Chikmagalur – A hill station.

The first thing I noticed about Mangalore and Udupi is that, the cost of living is very less. The streets and buildings have this old world charm to it and the town isn’t as commercialized yet. You get good food at very reasonable rates. And both the places are famous for their local dishes, former being a haven for non vegetarians and the latter for vegetarians.

Streets of Udupi with its old world charm - no filter
Streets of Udupi with its old world charm – no filter

How to Reach – It is about 9 hours from Bangalore and you have frequent buses to and from Bangalore. Alternatively, there are trains to Udupi. However they take longer than buses.

Accommodation – You can always find, clean rooms at very reasonable rates inside the temple. Simply walk into the temple and go around. You’ll find old styled buildings and lodges. Ask around or walk into these lodges and talk to the receptionist. They have single rooms for INR 150 and family rooms for INR 400.

Commute – This was one place where the rikshaw drivers were super-disciplined. They always turned on the meter. The base charge was INR 25 (Whaat!?) and no one charged me more than that. You can always rely on rikshaws to not rip you off. I never thought I’d be saying this in my life. Udupi has a couple of bike rental places. I took an Activa on rent from RR Bros. With a bike handy, my trip had taken a new turn. I could go anywhere in Udupi in my own time. The rent was INR 300 and fuel was my responsibility. Fair enough!


  1. Sri Krishna Math – Udupi is famous for the Sri Krishna Temple. Legend has it that the sage Kanakadasa being from a backward caste was denied entry into the temple. He stood outside and began to sing Lord Krishna’s praises. Seeing his devotion, the idol of Krishna turned around to give him Darshan. There are documents that disprove this too.
    Udupi Sri Krishna Temple
    Udupi Sri Krishna Temple

    Anyhow, you can visit the temple in the morning. The entire temple vibrates with all the chantings and the rituals. The Black Krishna idol is decorated so beautifully in diamonds and silk, and the little Krishna looks magnificent and different every single time. You can have the local Udupi breakfast from the temple premises. Udupi is famous for the South Indian vegetarian breakfast and snack items.

  2. Varanga Jain Temple – If you have a thing for Jainism and Jain Temple, this place is a must visit. One of the three temples – Varanga Lake Basadi, Varanga Jain Mutt and Neminath Basadi – here is located at the middle of the lake. Varanga is about 40 Kms from Udupi. The road is one smooth stretch with barely any vehicles. The scenery alternates between tall trees that are similar to Eucalyptus, some vast expanse of yellow-green fields and thickly populated trees on either side. The journey itself is beautiful.
    Varanga Jain Lake basadi
    Varanga Jain Lake basadi

    Follow the Google map. Once you reach the temple, you need to take a ticket for the boat ride. It costs Rs. 10 and that is all the expense you’ll ever incur. In the Jain Mutt, you will get Lunch (Prasad). It looks like a typical Kerala house and you can sit there for as long as you want, enjoying the nature. The Neminath Basadi was made completely out of stone and seemed abandoned. It has a monolithic stone pillar right next to it.

    The entire trip takes about 4 hours in total. If you like a day without crowd, without much activity, just by yourself, this is the place for you.

  3. Malpe Beach – Malpe Beach is one of the most famous and crowded beach in Udupi. On my way back from Varanga, I proceeded to Malpe beach. But I had another destination in mind. So I went to the Govt boat office and bought a ticket worth Rs. 250 to St. Marys Island
  4. St Marys Island –I came across this island a week prior to the trip and since it was reachable for me, I spontaneously went for it. The island is famous for the geological formation of basaltic lava. The island is one of the four geological monuments of Karnataka and one among the 26 in India. The rock formation is said to have happened due to volcanic activity millions of years ago.

    This slideshow requires JavaScript.

    Facts apart, this is a tiny island with relatively clearer water, whiter sands, lots of greenery and dark brownish-black rock formations. These contrasts make the island breathtakingly beautiful. It is a picturesque location and if you are a beach lover, you must go here. Period.

  5. Other Beaches – There are many other beaches in Udupi. I found one point in google map where the beach tapers and ends in water. It’s called Bengre beach. Due to lack of time, I couldn’t go there. But if you are an explorer please go. Because I bet it’s going to be beautiful. I did go to Hoode beach though because a friend suggested and I was told that it had barely any crowd which is what I prefer. True to her word, it was comparatively empty.

    Hoode Beach, Udupi
    Hoode Beach, Udupi

That was one day in Udupi. On my way back, I got into a fine dining restaurant – White Lotus –  and had one of the best food I have had in ages! I ordered a platter with mushroom, mashed potato, rice and cooked vegetables. It was super-delicious and extremely reasonable. My dinner was done in less than 160 bucks and that’s pretty cheap for a fine dining restaurant.

Mushroom Platter from White Lotus restaurant
Mushroom Platter from White Lotus restaurant

Udupi has many more temples and there are many places to visit nearby. If you do your research well, you can have the time of your life there.

Have you been to Udupi? Have you heard of any other must visit places in Udupi? Do you have anymore questions? Let me know J

A Beginner’s Guide to Hyderabad

When Hyderabad called us, Jose and me, we had no idea about the place and its culture. We began planning in advance for a 3 day trip and we made a list of places to go to, gradually getting clarity on what each of us wanted to do.

He had only one thing in his mind – Ramoji film city. While I, researched and fell for the Golconda fort. So after much deliberation, these were the destinations we fixed -Charminar, Golconda Fort, Lad Bazar (Or any of Hyderabad’s famous markets), Ramoji Film City. By the time we were done with the trip, we realised the enjoyments and the blunders that came with not knowing much about a city.

So this post is for anyone who is clueless about Hyderabad. I’ll list the places we visited and also the ones we missed for anyone who has zero knowledge of the place.

  1. Charminar – A mosque made of four pillars, it was planned and designed by Persian City planners and epitomizes the Persian style of architecture. One can go up the spiral staircases that run through these pillars, and as you do, you’ll find information about the specialties of Hyderabad, places to visit and things to buy written at various corners, which makes Charminar the first place to visit once you are in Hyderabad.

    WhatsApp Image 2018-03-23 at 8.31.13 PM.jpeg
    The inside of Charminar
  2. Mecca Masjid – One of the oldest and one of the largest mosques, Mecca/Makkah Masjid is located near Charminar.
    WhatsApp Image 2018-03-10 at 11.30.47 PM (1)
    Look at the gorgeous Masjid!

    Muhammad Quli Qutb Shah, the fifth ruler of the Qutb Shahi dynasty, commissioned bricks to be made from the soil brought from Mecca, the holiest site of Islam, and used them in the construction of the central arch of the mosque, thus giving the mosque its name.  – Wikipedia

    Enough said. This is a beautiful place filled with flocks of pigeons. Women, please ensure that you carry a stole or dupatta when you go inside.

  3. Lad Bazaar – Located just next to Charminar, you get lots of things in this market, most important one being the lac bangles. You get them in metal base as well as clay base. If you, or someone you love are crazy about bangles, this is the best gift you could give them from your Hyderabad trip. The market is a feast for your eyes and hence, is not to be missed.
  4. Nimrah Cafe – While in Hyderabad, you must try the Irani tea. On the same side as Mecca Masjid, but closer to Charminar is this simple cafe that will definitely not catch your attention. But, you shouldn’t miss it. Go to this tea shop, try their Irani tea and the Osmania biscuits that they give with it. You’d definitely buy a box of it. The biscuits are so soft and buttery that they melt in your mouth. They have many other cookies which you could taste and ask for boxes full of them.
  5. Gulnar & Co – This is a tiny shop almost opposite Nimrah cafe. I have to mention this because, they have the most fragrant Attars (Perfume) at very low prices. I am not a fan of Attar as I believe it is too strong smelling and too sweet. But these guys have some really cool fragrances which I carried home to gift some friends. I ended up keeping 3 for myself.

    Attar tip – They let you try their Attars. So do Try their Raat Rani (completely feminine) 😉 and Arabian (Unisex).

  6. Chowmohalla Palace – This is near Charminar as well, but we didn’t go there as my friend wasn’t much of an architecture enthusiast. I’d love to visit this place some day and I’d suggest you do it too. Hyderabad is all about the Persian architecture and the culture. If you intend to go there, it is always better to soak completely in it.
  7. Golconda Fort – Up until now we were in and around Charminar. Golconda fort is about an hour away from Charminar. It is one beautiful place you must not miss. If you want to take your time, go and explore every bit of the fort, it will take you about 3 hours. But if you are just about running around, getting a glimpse, you can finish it within an hour. The timings are from 9.30 am to 5.30 pm.
    In any case, the light and sound show that begins at 6.30 PM is not to be missed.

    WhatsApp Image 2018-03-10 at 11.30.47 PM
    The Fort all lit up!

    They give you glimpse into the history of the Fort, the Kings who ruled and how it fell into the current state. One cannot afford to miss Golconda Fort while in Hyderabad.

    WhatsApp Image 2018-03-23 at 8.31.13 PM (1)
    Just one bit of the large Fort
  8. Salarjung Museum – Another famous place we did not visit and I’d suggest that you do because, this is another identity of Hyderabad. I had kept this for the last as Charminar, Golconda and Ramoji were our priorities.
  9. Ramoji Film City – This is coming from someone who is NOT a movie buff, and someone who couldn’t see the place completely due to lack of time. It had a park, bird sanctuary, various types of sets including Bhagavatham and Bahubali, and some live shows. The Bhagavatham set looked magnificent and I found a show, where they explained how they added sound and other effects, informative.
    Bhagavatham Set
    The Scintillating Bhagavatham Set

    Beyond that, there was no wow factor for me. I’d rather have visited the museum, palaces and the masjids. So if you aren’t a movie buff, I’d suggest you read up about the film city and then decide whether or not to visit as it will require two days to see it fully.

    One of the most beautiful statues at the Bahubali set
    One of the most beautiful statues at the Bahubali set
  10. Finally, Hyderabad is also famous for their pearls (which I have no idea where to get)and their biriyani. We did go to the famous Paradise Restaurant and Oh my! The Chicken biriyani was indeed flavorsome! The Mutton biriyani was a big turn off though. So while there, stick to the chicken biriyani. The Chicken biriyani at Rayalseema Ruchulu was good as well.

Hyderabad is a city that keeps a balance between culture and development and so if you are expecting a place that brims with night life everywhere (it does have nightlife), you’d be disappointed. Some parts of it have the old world charm and close up early in the night, some look like someone was building the city and at some point of time forgot about it. Instead of going there seeking for things you want, go there to see and experience what the city has in store for you and you’ll be surprised.


Ending the Year with a Trek to Tadiandamol 

It was 6.30 am and we were welcomed by a chilly 13 degree morning, dew filled greens and the slender rays of sun gently caressing the hilltops. I pulled my sweater around me tightly and tried to suppress the rising chatter of my teeth in the morning chill. The first thing that caught my attention was the abundance of greenery. On one side, the landscape descended to reveal trees of various shapes and sizes while on the other side, it ascended, teeming with coffee plants bearing ripe, red coffee cherries.



It was a splash of reds and browns against fresh, dark, lush greens.

The Coffee Cherries. The seeds are coffee beans.

As we explored the dew kissed plants, I had begun to feel a sense of belonging in this pretty home in the town called Virajpet.


This is where I spent my New Year. Right from the beginning, I was determined not to spend my new year in Bangalore, fighting the traffic, getting groped, struggling for space and struggling with the deafening noise in a pub or holing up in my room. I wanted to leave Bangalore and go somewhere peaceful and closer to nature. After days of hunting for trips and facing disappointments, I found a package for Tadiandamol trek.

Traveling and me

I am not an avid traveler and I don’t see myself becoming a globe trotter in future. But I’d like myself some new sights and experiences once in a while. As a child, I haven’t traveled at all. Tours and excursions were a rarity in our family. I used to yearn to go on long vacations like my friends, but that just didn’t happen. Instead, I found those adventures and new friendships in the books I read. Hence, this was a beginning for me where the world of traveling opened itself before me.

The Beginning

Our group comprised of five of us; my sister Devu, my friend Balu, my colleague N, a friend of hers and myself. We boarded the bus that was arranged by the tour operators by 11pm and soon we were joined by the rest of the party who had signed up for the trip.

Our group. All set to scale the mountains. 

We reached the homestay by 6.30 am. It belonged to an amiable, friendly lady named Ponnamma. In the little span of time I got to know her, she seemed like a loving, motherly warden in a hostel; the kind that every child would love. We freshened up, had breakfast and left for the trekking point. We had to travel for about an hour to reach the base point or our trek. The path was filled with trees and the road was long and winding. 

Tadiandamol Trek

Tadiandamol is the highest Mountain in the Kodagu/Coorg district and the 3rd highest in Karnataka. It forms a part of the Western Ghats. It doesn’t look that tall does it? But it was pretty tiring for a beginner. 

The peak on the right was the one we set out to conquer

We reached the base A by 11 am. Our trek was supposed to begin at the next level, Base B, which was about 1.5 Kms farther. As there weren’t any Jeeps available, we had to start from point A. This meant that we were about to cover about 7Kms. I, being a beginner sans any kind of physical exercise, had no idea what that meant.

Since it was December, the weather was cool, the path was dusty and deprived of any water content. This meant zero leeches (Yay!). The initial ascend was interspersed with sunny, dry paths, dusty mountain sides, and cool shady woods flanked by tall trees and thick shrubs. I would lag behind as I walked into the woods, clicking pictures, examining beautiful spots that were formed out of roots of age old trees. We sped up once the flora reduced and the redness of the land enveloped us.

The beauty of standing out, being unique, not fitting in...
The beauty of standing out, being unique, not fitting in…

After about 3 Kms, by when we had crossed base B, we had left the woods behind and were climbing up the bare mountain. We passed areas with red slippery soil, we climbed boulders, we dodged groups of tiny stones that waited for unsuspecting trekkers. One wrong foot and they’d roll you down. We were sure footed but slow, and I aced at the slow race. 😛

The summit looked closer but it kept moving farther as we moved. When about a Km or so was left, I decided to give up. Not because I was tired, but because the path was steeper, more slippery, the land assured you no grip and I am an over-thinker. Before I placed a foot, I thought a thousand times whether it was the right step, of what would happen if it weren’t.

I looked at the summit, not so longingly. I had come this far. But it didn’t matter to me if I did not finish it. My life mattered more than my determination to conquer a peak. I was sure of that. I asked Devu and Balu to go on and that I’d wait. They weren’t leaving without me. They needed double the courage; for themselves and for me and they had it for all of us. After that tricky bit of land, I was more pumped up and we soon reached the Summit, exhausted but contented.

It was about 2.30 pm, quite hot with the sun beaming a bit too strongly and the view was good. If I am to give my honest opinion, I was a bit disappointed. I think I expected cool breeze, mist and lots and lots of greens or colors, but most of it looked dry as opposed to my expectations. Maybe the noon and the heat sort of spoilt it. It wasn’t too bad, but it wasn’t magnificent either. I loved the walk through the woods with tiny streams cutting across the path more. I absolutely loved it and if I had known what was coming, I’d have rather explored the winding paths that led into the dark shola forests. I am more of a forest person than a mountain person.IMG_20171231_150205_01.jpg

We had our lunch and began our descend. I remember discussing how the descend was worse as the gravity joined the cunning stones to pull us down. At one point of time, they succeeded! I fell, first on all fours, scraped my knee, and my palms. My hands were burning for a long time, but I had no scratches whatsoever. I had made myself a washed out, torn jeans (on the knee) that I could now sell for double the price. 😛

I was slow on the descend too. Once the steep, hilly areas were done, we felt a sense of accomplishment. We completed the remaining trek thirsty, hungry, muscles screaming in pain and happy. It was the last day of 2017 and it couldn’t have been better. The return trek was only about 5.5 Kms as we got the Jeep from point B.

The jeep ride reminded me of Kareena Kapoor’s dialogue from Jab We Met. ‘Bas Bhagwan. Ab aur excitement mat do. Boring bana lo is din ko.’ It was cramped with 10 people apart from the driver, the road was way too bumpy and by the end of the trip, my head was lumpy. 😦

Palace, New Year, Namdroling Monastery and Home

While we awaited the bus, we visited a Palace nearby. We then walked to where the bus was parked and on the way, had juicy tender coconut and watermelon. The store owners knew Malayalam as Coorg is very close to Kannur. They were happy to see some of us speaking the tongue and enquired our whereabouts. After some chitchats, we made our way back.

Even though we were exhausted, we shooed our pains in the steaming hot water and prepared ourselves for the campfire. The food arrived, drinks were opened and this was when we got introduced to each other. Most of us were from other parts of the country, but settled in Bangalore. We talked, ate and danced our way into the New Year. We played some games and gradually, one by one disappeared.

Next morning, we packed our bags, bid farewell to our host and left. On the way, we visited the Namdroling Monastery, Mysore which is the largest teaching center of the Nyingma lineage of Tibetan buddhism in the world (Source: Wikipedia). More about it in the next post. It was 10pm by the time we reached Bangalore, having spent one of the best New Years.

‘Mind in peace and body in pieces’ go well with my situation for the next couple of days. Oh and finally I get to strike off Coorg from my travel list. 🙂

Package Details

Organized by: Escape2Explore + Adventure nation

Rate: 3500+GST per head

Inclusions: 4 Meals, Transportation from and to Bangalore, Accomodation


I am on the lookout for places to visit near Bangalore. Do leave your suggestions regarding them here. Two day trip spots suggestions are welcome, but I’m specficially looking for Saturday evening to Monday early morning getaways as I work on Saturdays. 🙂

Narikulam Tharavadu and Nedungad Boat Jetty (Part II)

Narikulam Tharavadu Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Read Part I of our trip here: Trip to Kuzhippilly Beach & Narikulam Tharavadu

When the previous post ended, we were seated at the Narikulam Tharavadu dining table, with widened eyes, grumbling tummies and ready to pounce on a sumptuous feast. Before I continue, I’d like to rewind a bit here.

We are a part of this amazing community on Facebook called Eat Kochi Eat. Facebook really came in handy with this group, where Cochin Foodies post their reviews about the new eateries, their discoveries and all sorts of dishes from all sorts of food joints. Within the last four months, I realized that I haven’t visited most of the must visit food joints here. And so, I already covered 4 the week after exams! 😛 This is where we got to know about this Homestay. We had added it in a ‘to-attack’ list and suggested this place to the group for our trip. Before going to Narikulam tharavadu, you are supposed to inform them about the visit, give them a list of food you’ll want and the headcount. We had ordered Chicken fry, chicken curry, beef, Fish fry, chappati & Appam. The quantity of each depended upon who likes what.


Yummilicious appam, chappati, fish fry, chicken fry, beef
Yummilicious appam, chappati, fish fry, chicken fry, beef

The food was amazing and very much filling. In fact, almost a quarter of it was left after we were done. So, I am talking about high quantity Naadan (Authentic country-side) food, comprising entirely of non-veg at affordable prices! You read that right. The food along with Payasam (Dessert) cost us just Rs. 200 per head. I’d like to add that prices differ with the type of fish you opt for. Even so, the experience was worth much more than this.

We thanked Paul chettan for the food, clicked some more pictures and as per his suggestion, made our way to the Nedungad Boat Jetty nearby. How do I even begin to describe it? As the land tapered to end in the Kollam Kottapuram Waterway, we found ourselves surrounded by water and myriad species of birds. It cannot be compared to a normal beach or a lake view since the landscape was such that, at one point, all we could see was water. I am in loss for words and so, I’ll let my friend’s pictures speak from now on.

The path towards the Boat Jetty area is lined with coconut trees which finally tapers into the water
The path towards the Boat Jetty area is lined with coconut trees which finally tapers into the water
There was a tiny hut and some lambs playing around. :)
There was a tiny hut and some lambs playing around. 🙂
Coconut trees and backwaters - True essence of Kerala
Coconut trees and backwaters – True essence of Kerala

The Boat Jetty was unplanned and the uniqueness of it made the trip all the more memorable. If you plan a visit to Kochi anytime, and if you are looking for a Homestay and authentic Malayali Non-Veg food, Narikulam Tharavadu Homestay is the best choice. I cannot comment on the Vegetarian food since we didn’t have any. Besides, I always have a soft corner for the Tamil Vegetarian dishes. So, I strongly recommend this place for the Non-vegetarians. Also, they have homestay package at Rs. 2000 per night with food for a couple. As promised in the previous post, here are the details:

WhatsApp Image 2017-02-13 at 6.02.39 PM.jpeg
Here are the details of the Homestay. Enjoy!

I sign off with a picture of us – The kachara team! The Minions! The Chipmunks! Five extreme people with entirely different characteristics that gel so well with each others’, and ofcourse the Homestay! 😛

Looks too beautiful right?

Pic Courtesy – All the images here were clicked by these guys ^ 😀

Trip to Kuzhippilly Beach & Narikulam Tharavadu

100 Happy Days – Day 90

I had made a bucketlist 2016 when this year began and one of the elements in it was to make at least 5 trips this year. I don’t think the number went very well. But as unexpected as life could be, I found myself in a few immensely beautiful places a couple of days back – Kuzhippilly Beach, Narikulam Tharavadu and Nedungad Boat Jetty.

Writing professional exams could just wear you off big time. So, the five of us and a qualified CA decided to meet up, spend a night together and go on a trip the next day. Nothing fancy, somewhere in or around Kochi. After a night full of clicking pictures, non-stop chattering and barely few hours of sleep, we drowsily picked ourselves up and went for breakfast. Nothing else could shun your drowsiness better than food. So after the breakfast, we were on fire! We made our way to our first destination. The Kuzhippilly beach.

Lined with pine trees and rusted benches, this beach is more beautiful than the famous Cherai beach. Situated in the outskirts of Kochi, Kuzhippilly beach is around 4 kms (Source: Google Map) away from Cherai. For those who prefer less crowd and more shade, this place is the best option. With lots of tiny brown crabs (I think they are called Sand Crabs) running around and emerging from the sand, and the thatched roof Umbrellas, this is one of the most picturesque beaches near Kochi.

Pine trees at the Beach

We spent about 2 hours in the waters, clicking pictures & walking amidst the shady pine trees. We found a beautiful shell and, after ensuring that the owner had deserted his home, my friend pocketed it.

When the thought of food started creeping into our heads, we made our way to destination number two, the highlight of the trip (Food always comes first) – Narikulam Tharavadu.

A View enroute to Narikulam Tharavadu
Kerala - God's own country
Those white cranes were everywhere!

Tharavadu is generally an ancestral home in Kerala where people lived as a joint family. Nowadays, most of these families have split and live separately, but many of the ancestral homes remain. Situated near St. Augustine Church, Nedungad, Nayarambalam, is the Narikulam Tharavadu. Set amidst the lap of nature, with greenery all around and a canal behind it; they have preserved the house so well that, if you are a Keralite, a wave of nostalgia hits you the moment you enter the premises. Such houses are the true essence of Kerala.

Paul chettan gave us a very warm welcome and patiently explained everything about the place. He answered all our queries, showed us around and made us feel at home. As they went about preparing our food, we were left to explore the place.

One of the things that fascinated me was, the way they had managed waste and artifacts that were no longer in use. They had used dried seeds and parts of the palm tree to decorate the house. We even found two shoes outside with plants in them. They also had grown plants in an old, rusted Kindi (pitcher) and an Aattukallu (Wet Grinder). The base stone, Arakkallu from the grinding Apparatus was used as the base for the pitcher. They gave an aesthetic look, placed around the Nadumuttam (The central area with a meshed ceiling) and never for a second did they seem out of place.

The plant in the pitcher placed atop the base of the grinder. What you see behind is the Nadumuttam.
The plant in the pitcher placed atop the base of the grinder. What you see behind is the Nadumuttam.

My favorite part about these houses is the Nadumuttam. During the day, it is the source of natural light that gives a mellow glow to the surroundings and during the night, you can watch the stars. Don’t get me started on how it looks when it begins to rain. I can’t believe that these houses are dwindling with time!

A peek at the interiors of a typical tharavadu
A peek at the interiors of a typical tharavadu

We spent a lot of time outside, near the canal awed at the abundance of nature, clicking pictures and wondering why we never got to know about this place earlier. A photographer’s paradise, my friends simply couldn’t stop clicking pictures. Our grumbling tummies showed us the way to the dining table and now I’d call it a Foodie’s paradise too!

So we saw this irresistible spread on the table… Er… Isn’t the post getting a bit too lengthy? Besides, I am reminded of all the food we ate that day and I so need a break. I’ll be back with part 2 of this post; all the yummy food and a surprise thereafter. Heads up: The Food part is focused on the Non-vegetarians & it is going to be a bit heavy. So, ensure that you are filled up. If you wish to visit this Homestay, the details will be given in the next post – Narikulam Tharavadu and Nedungad Boat Jetty (Part II)🙂

Image courtesy for the first 3 pics – My dear friend Hrusheekesh Anilkumar

Bangalore Calling

100 Happy Days – Day 81

The year began on a really happy note. A trip with friends.

Being a woman from Kerala, there are some of the privileges I haven’t enjoyed and so, my wishlist has got these simple wishes that weren’t easy to fulfill. Yes, ironic it is. Being a woman, certain simple things are hard to get. A few among them were fulfilled during the the second week of Jan in Bangalore.

  • Having food at midnight from a street side stall (Thattukada in Malayalam)
  • Strolling in the city streets after midnight.
  • Going to a pub (The moral police in many of you just woke up and you are judging me with your flaring red eyes, smoke escaping through your ears.)

Let me back up a bit. After our CA Final exams, a few of us decided to go on a trip to Bangalore. Many of our common friends are working there and so, we had to go there! After lots of planning, researching, discussions & creation of whatsapp groups, everything was set. It wasn’t a simple trip with friends. For me, it was an experience;

  • Traveling with tickets that are not confirmed –Three tickets were confirmed, while two were still in RAC status. The numbers were almost close to confirmation and so we hoped they would get through. But unfortunately, even after talking to the TTR, we were in no luck. At times I have wondered how it would be to travel without confirmed tickets. Not bad huh?We started off by playing Dumb Charade and soon the lights were off making it impossible to see anything. We began singing and talking alternatively. After a couple of hours, we tried to sleep; two in one berth which backfired terribly! All of a sudden, all of us were hungry and so; we had bread & aloo bhujia. It isn’t bad, you know! We spread the bhujia on the bread and hogged away.We sat up and with lots of efforts – note the point: only and only due to our efforts – it dawned! :DIt wasn’t difficult after that. Bangalore was nearing and sure enough, we were beginning to feel the cold. The view outside – the sunrise, the green fields, the waters half hidden by fog – was magnificent.
  • Cricket & Kayaking –We met up with the rest of the team exchanged some really loud pleasantries, clicked way too many selfies and reached our first destination, a resort, by lunch time!
    I love cricket and I have always wanted to play. I used to play with my cousins as a child and after that, I didn’t have a chance. And so, the nine of us decided to have a really serious match.  I gave the bowlers strict instruction that they HAD to aim at the bat my hand. 😀
    Amidst the game, we lost the ball to a coconut tree and while two of them went to get another ball, we sat on the floor and played Uno, the way people gambled with playing cards!This was followed by some lovely Kayaking in the pond. I was a bit frightened due to the fact that I didn’t know how to swim. I have rowed in a coracle before and so this wasn’t too difficult. It was super fun when I knew I was closer to the bank. Though these two weren’t on my long term wishlist, they totally got in there and was checked off! 😀

    Kayaking at Urban Valley
    The Captain is in control of the Ship

    For those interested, this was in Urban Valley Resort, Bangalore.

  • Trekking –We had planned on a midnight trekking at Skandagiri. The trip turned out to be a twisted one and that story could wait.
  • Street Food –What do we do when something goes wrong? Eat! We so a couple of roadside stalls and got out to have some tea. This was followed by halting at another location. We had lots of omelettes and some maggi. In this manner, my wish to have street food at midnight was fulfilled. The best part is, when half a dozen hands are tearing one omelette, you really enjoy even that little piece you have had!
  • The Pub –The crowd was nice and it wasn’t too shady in here. We danced for a while, sat for a while and commented on others, again danced when peppy numbers came up, ate something (I have no clue what that was since the others had ordered), danced again and so on. By the time it ended, there were some really amusing events that I shouldn’t mention here. You know, the type where your friends were embarrassed, you rolled on the floor laughing and promised not to tell anyone?
  • The Midnight Food Hunt –My favorite part. We started walking in search of a food joint. A friend was very very hungry and so the walk began. We found some authentic eateries, but apparently they weren’t the type that would satiate his hunger. Anyway, we walked & walked & walked until I sat down on the street. Though it was painful, it was nice. 1 am, not so empty street, five friends, just walking aimlessly; I haven’t experienced that.

Our trip ended with a visit to the Bannerghata Biological Park. My good friend and an awesome blogger Anoop had written about this place in his blog and that is how I got to know about it. It was a day well spent. You don’t always see tigers, leopards, bears, lions & white peacocks. My favorite was the marmoset. We did not click his picture, but I could show you one from the web and you’ll know why I loved him.

Courtesy: BERND SETTNIK / Getty Images via Buzzfeed

Though they belong to the Monkey family, are only around 20cms in length with a huge tail. I wonder how they carry them.

The trip ended well and it gave a fervent start to this year. I do not know what the year has in store for me, but at this moment, I am at peace! 🙂

This blog post is inspired by the blogging marathon hosted on IndiBlogger for the launch of the #Fantastico Zica from Tata Motors. You can apply for a test drive of the hatchback Zica today.

Some Rare Sunrises

Happiness is watching Sunrise
Last week this day, I witnessed one of the most beautiful Sunrises. It is amazing how the same Sun sets and rises everyday. Yet, he manages to astound many people in many ways from many different places, Every – Single -Day.
I have never seen the same sunrise or sunset twice.
This is in Nandi hills Bangalore. If you haven’t been there, you must go at least once in your lifetime, specially during winter. It is quite cold, but the view is worth it. It looks like the Sun just woke up on a bed of clouds. Doesn’t it?
Have lovely Sunday 🙂
PS – I don’t always witness sunrises. But when I do, I ensure that it is Legen -wait for it – dary! Legendary! 😀

16 Tips to Make Your Year Productive – I

Fed up of making resolutions and dropping them midway? Then chuck resolutions and prepare a set of achievable and interesting goals. By goals I mean, all those one-time-things you have always wanted to do. You can even do them side by side. Here is how.

The year glides by and before you know, it is December. In the end, you ask yourself, ‘What have I achieved this year?’ and you can’t think of anything much. Deep inside, you know that the year was just okay and you are in the same position you were, when the previous year ended. 365 days whooshed past and you have no clue what you did. To change that, I prepared a list of things I wanted to achieve this year. When I wrote My Bucketlist for 2016, it was well received by the few who read it. That inspired me to write this post.

Resolutions are mostly recurring, boring and general in nature. That is partly a reason for us to stop them midway. Most of us keep resolutions to make a difference in our lives and at the end of the year, we are back to square one. Isn’t it time to change the pattern? Yes! Prepare a list of achievable goals. Things you have wanted to do but never got to doing or fears you wish to overcome! Anything that would be a propulsive factor to you, something that does not require a forever routine.

Why Replace Resolutions with Goals?

Know the difference in this context 🙂

Let's drop the resolutions and pick up the goals
Let’s drop the resolutions and pick up the goals


  • The reputation – Most of us do not take up resolutions anymore because we know it is not going to happen!
  • The Recurring Routine Nature – Most of the resolutions have a routine nature and picking up routines isn’t easy. People get bored when they hit the gym on the tenth day or eat boring dietary food everyday. There is nothing interesting to pep it up.
  • No Defined Plans – To hit the gym regularly, to read more, to meditate, to diet, stop procrastinating are the regular items on the list until the list goes missing. No one defines what regularly means and how to achieve that, what more means in ‘read more’, how to meditate and what dieting means according to you. With no plans, they all vanish into thin air.

Here is an extensive, but not an exhaustive list of goals you could prepare:

1. A Bank Account to Enjoy Life – If you are earning, open a Recurring Deposit account, give a standing instruction so that a portion of your salary automatically goes into the RD account. This will be your account for enjoying life. I have seen many of my friends work a lot, spend carelessly and then struggle for money when they want something they have been dreaming for long.

Now, what is your passion? Is it traveling, reading, shopping or partying? If you transfer enough per month, you will have enough in the end, to go on that trip, buy all the books, go shopping or partying. Did I hear you say that you already have good investment plans? Even then, you need an account for splurging. It is an assurance that you can have fun at anytime! I saved a bit when I earned earlier and used it for a recent trip. Trust me! You won’t regret it. 🙂

2. For Book Lovers – Many of the book lovers do not manage to read as much as they used to. I, for instance, read barely 3-4 books last year. The books I intended to read in 2014 are still pending.
The best thing to do is, to prepare a list of books you intend to read. Keep going through the list and soon, you will find yourself remembering about your goals more often. Movie lovers can do the same with movies.In a year, there are so many moments we waste unknowingly. Always carry a book around so that you can read whenever you get a free time. In this manner, you won’t get bored and you will achieve your goals.

Prepare a list of books you want to read
Prepare a list of books you want to read

3. For Globetrotters and Bikers – Whether you are a Globetrotter or a crazy biker, prepare a list of places you wish to visit. I know that most of the guys prefer impulsive rides. You can have that. Preparing a list makes it easier to decide. But most importantly, like I mentioned earlier, looking at the list urges you to travel more.
When you get tied up with work or studies, you don’t realize that the year is coming to an end. It is in the end that you look back and regret that you didn’t do much that year. The list will be a reminder. When you look at the list, you’ll look at the calendar. The fact that you haven’t covered much of the items will make you go for an impulsive ride or trip.

4. Learn Something New – I decided to learn a new language. You can decide on anything you have an aptitude for. Here are some tips:

  • Martial arts
  • Music or musical instruments – Indian or western.
  • Dance
  • Knitting or stitching
  • Painting of any kind – Pots, Mural, Fabric, there are a hundred options.
  • Craft and DIY tricks
  • A degree in a subject that you are interested in – Fashion, Vedas and Sanskrit have been in my mind for quite some time. But not this year.
  • Sports – I am not listing anything here. You know it better.

    Pic courtesy: via
    Pic courtesy: via

5. Cook – Ladies and Gentlemen! Cook something new. Not Indian or Chinese! Something very very different whose name you can’t even pronounce! Be it Mtuzi Wa Samaki from Africa or Char Kway Teow from Singapore or Fiori di Zucca from Rome. I have no idea what these are, but you get the point. Later, if you feel up to it, you can prepare a four course dinner for a family or friend. Who else can you experiment on? 😉

Along with this, you may also take up learning actual cooking. It is a goal that will help you throughout your life. Eating is something we cannot stop. It is only natural to know how to cook. A bit of burnt curry a day is better than hotel food for an entire year. It is no rocket science; you’ll pick up with practice.

6. Meet a Friend You Haven’t Met for Many Years – Outside the city! I said that because, you can also check out a place from your travel list. Write down the name of that friend you haven’t met for years. Maybe more than one. Call them up, discuss your plan. Keep in touch with them and discuss your visit more often. By doing this, you have already done half the job. They will remind you, your goals list will remind you and the universe will conspire to make you both meet.

7. Face Your Fears – I am not the right one to say this. I have lots of fears and I am too skeptical to face them. This is for those people who are more daring and who will have the guts to put this down in their goals list. Pick up one of those fears; whether it is facing the public, heights, clients or anything else, decide to go for it and get it over with. Er… I shouldn’t dwell much on this. 😛

Read on to find the remaining 9 tips…


The Butterflies and Mighty Waterfalls

Thumbormozhi and Athirappilly Episode

Our trip began with Ezhattumugham about which you can read here. This is the continuation of the trip.

3. Thumbormozhi

This is a butterfly garden situated next to Ezhattumugham. There is a separate entrance for the same. But if you are crossing the suspension bridge, it will take you to the backside of the park. When I heard about the place, I expected to see multicolored butterflies fluttering all around the garden. But, I was wrong. There were many brown butterflies and a few blue ones. The blues where enigmatic I must say.


You can see a lovely blue butterfly below. She was very hesitant to open her wings. I stood there for a long while expecting her to spread the wings with no luck.



The one at the rightmost corner is bold enough. The blue is still all tightened up. 😀


4. Athirappilly Waterfalls

Known as the Niagara falls of India, Athirappilly waterfalls is the biggest one in Kerala. To see it close up you have quite a bit of walking to do. But in the end, it is totally worth it. Here are some glimpses of the path. There is a steep side through which we could reach the bottom really fast, but it is dangerous. For those who do not prefer that, there is a path laid from rocks. You will spot many monkeys on the way.



Bamboo fences.



After walking down for some time, we reached the waterfalls. The closer I got to the falls, the faster I walked. You cannot stop yourself when you see it so close! I sat there watching the water lash the rocks. I felt like I had reached the end of this world and the swirling white milky mist was a pathway to another more beautiful and enchanting world. If I could, I would have stayed there, watching the waters and feeling the cool sprays. It was sheer bliss.

The mighty misty waterfalls
The mighty misty waterfalls
The water turns into clouds they say 🙂
Rocks basking in the love of water


A rather unclear picture of me on the rocks 😛


This is how close you can go to the waterfalls. They don’t let us go beyond that rope. It is a very dangerous area and they might open the dam at any moment. They have written the warning in many places. There is another place where you are allowed to enter the waters. It is more shallow and safe.

A Proof that I was here and I took the pictures 😛

At the end of the day, the image of the waterfalls is what lingered. It is definitely a heavenly place. If you are planning to go, ensure that you have enough time to sit on the rocks and enjoy the falls. 🙂




The Seven Faces

100 Happy Days – Day 77

A Trip to Ezhattumugham and Athirappilly waterfalls – Ezhattumugham Episode

I heard of the place Ezhattumugham from my good friend Teny for the first time. I had made a mental note to go to this place when my aunt arrived from US, my cousin suggested this place and all of a sudden I was thrown into a cab and taken here. 🙂

You might have wondered about the title of this post. Ezhattumugham means Seven faces of the river.

The river at one point of time, divides itself into seven parts due to the islets and boulders. Hence the name Ezhattumugham. 🙂

I have divided this post into four parts, half of which I am updating in the next post. I know that long posts could be such a pain. I assure you that there are more of pictures in here and less words.

  1. En route to Ezhattumugham

We took these pictures on our way. To simply put it, this is how most of Kerala looks like. Most of the houses here, have a window that faces trees, shrubs and lots of greenery. I am not referring to the cities, though.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Reading between the lines
A capture by my sister

2. Ezhattumugham

Ezhattumugham is famous for its suspension bridge and the fact that it gives an opportunity to the visitors to actually enjoy in the water. I say this because, generally when we visit water bodies, many women do not enter the water due to many reasons. Fear of slippery rocks, water current etc being few of the reasons. Here, the water is shallow, not so slippery and there are many boulders to hop over or sit down. It is a different place as you will see.

What intrigued me was the fact that the suspension bridge here, connects two districts of Kerala – Ernakulam and Trissur. 🙂

The water seems more like a sheet of glass
Nature manages to astound me every single time
The Suspension Bridge with the Trissur side visible

In the images below, you can see the rocks amidst the water. The water here is very shallow. We walked across this place for a while.

Hop atop the boulders and splash through the waters


This is a tree house we found there. Normally, these houses have a rope ladder attached to them. We did not find it here.

The places I went to that day, are beautiful in their own way. No camera can capture the beauty. There is nothing like viewing them in reality. Even though images speak louder than words, I don’t want to cram too many images in one post. Hence, I have compiled rest of them in the next post. To see the mighty waterfalls & the butterfly garden, Read Part II of the post Here