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Writer’s Notes From Agonda Beach, Goa

a person on agonda beach goa

A Writer’s Diary from Agonda Beach Goa (India)

 

It’s almost afternoon. We have taken a corner table in the restaurant of our Agonda beach (Goa) guesthouse. Sunlight is abundant but we aren’t under direct sunlight.

Indian ocean rush to the sandy shore. When the high waves crash against the beach, I get transported to the balcony of my parent’s home. I close my eyes. Standing in the verandah of my two-storey childhood home, I see our neighbor’s roof. Since I was little I have seen a mound of dry wooden logs and cow dung cakes kept under a blue plastic sheet on their cemented rooftop. In my lucid dream, I hear the sheet rattle in the wind. The covers writhe and clatter under the brittle branches and rusted metal junk but they can’t let loose. Soon my father calls me inside.

I open my eyes. The ocean is free.

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Who Knew Basavanagudi in Bangalore Could Be So Beautiful

flowers sold in basavanagudi bangalore feature

Going Back in Time in Basavanagudi in Bangalore

 

Spread symmetrically around parks and temples, Basavanagudi in Bangalore was a surprise to me. I was taken to this old locality of Bangalore by a dear friend Julia.

Julia is a French woman who married an Indian man mostly for her love for Kolkata (sorry Sudipto) — she met her husband there. As destiny had it, Julia happened to move into the flat below our rooftop abode in HSR Bangalore. From my terrace shed, we stalked the blood-red moons together. Christmas was celebrated at her home and Diwali was at mine.

In December 2020, when the lockdowns had been lifted and the cases were receding, Julia took me to Basavanagudi. I hadn’t explored the locality. If Julia hadn’t suggested, I may have never visited the ancient lanes, intriguing parks, and the historic temples in Basavanagudi.

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We Dared to Hike to Shikari Devi Temple (Mandi Himachal) On Our Own

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Hiking to Shikari Devi Temple Mandi Without a Guide At the Onset of Monsoons   Deciding To Do The Shikari Devi Trek Since we arrived in Mandi (our trip began at Pangna going through Chindi) we kept hearing about the Shikari Devi temple. Locals religiously believe in Shikari Devi and used to walk to her …

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Amazing Karnataka – From Ten Years of Travel

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Timeless (And Best) Places to Visit in Karnataka India And All About the State — From a Local

I have spent six years (if not more) in Karnataka, spanning over a decade. And finally I’ve moved out (for the unempteenth time) to have a life on the road.

It seems yesterday when I had gone to Bangalore to work at a software company. Ten years ago, I wasn’t going to Karnataka. I was moving to Bangalore, the capital of the state and the software hub of India. This crowded city of Bangalore seemed like a state of its own. My local Kannada friends told me the city wasn’t so jammed and hotch-potched in their young days. They grew up cycling under the canopy of trees, taking the local bus, and spending time in parks. 

Since Bengaluru became the Silicon Valley of India, millions of employees and employers came to the city with their families. As the city wasn’t planned by any civic planner, it expanded in every direction in an unruly manner. Concomitantly, the infrastructure got so bad that everyone living in Bangalore wanted to go out to the places to visit in Karnataka rather than staying within the busy city.

But today I’m not here for Bangalore. Today I want to tell the story of Karnataka — the state of the jungles, so let me get to that quickly.

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Homestays in India – Pros and Cons, Tips, and Tried Homes

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Finding Cozy, Green, and Affordable Indian Homestays With Amicable Hosts For Short and Long Stays

I wrote in detail on homestays in India in this recent piece on accommodations in India. I won’t repeat all I said there about Indian homestays, but I would share my experience of traveling in India and staying in different places. 

I’ve been living in India for more than thirty years(I’m an Indian), but I’ve also been traveling in India for about 18 years. My journey started with living in paying guest houses across Rajasthan when I was 15. Then I spent four years in a girls hostel in Delhi, followed by a short stay in a shared Mumbai apartment. Finally I shifted to living full-time in Bangalore, Pune, and Delhi homes. 

Those were my engineering and corporate years. In between, I traveled within India and experimented with various kinds of stays(both with friends and alone). Now I travel full-time. After putting up at hotels, resorts, hostels, paying guests, serviced apartments, I often choose Indian home stays over other guesthouses. 

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A Stunning Sunset at Mandalay’s Irrawaddy River

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A Myanmar Sunset on the banks of the Irrawaddy River, Mandalay

I saw one of the most ethereal sunsets of my life on the banks of the Irrawaddy River in Mandalay. That Myanmar sunset was enough to convince me to wake up before 5 every morning for my twenty day trip in Burma.

It was the last day of 2019. My friend and I had just spent the day roaming around Mandalay ruins, discovering pagodas and ancient temples in the historic town of Innwa, and strolling around Innwa villages. There was a hot pot lunch in between at a place called the Little Panda Hotpot and BBQ Buffet. It wasn’t one of my brightest ideas to stop for a hot pot when we had hired an auto-rickshaw to show us around Mandalay. But the kind driver waited patiently for an hour. Also, I could not be blamed for the do-it-yourself hotpot for I didn’t know the restaurant would ask us to grill and cook everything ourselves without even helping us light the fire under our wok. Let us blame everything on the language barrier.

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Your Guide to Finding Isolated Hotels in Madikeri, Coorg

hotels in madikeri coorg

We all have been stuck inside homes for about six months now. Though usually, I am planning a birthday trip around this time of the year, as September approached I got anxious that I might want to go somewhere. But would I be able to step out of Bengaluru or even my house?

Then I remembered the article I had written on traveling in the Pandemic. For those who have read the guide know that I only suggested traveling by car to an isolated homestay or a guesthouse near the woods. Thus you can change your view, hike around, be in nature, and even work with the lush forest swaying in front of you. 

Remembering my idea, I decided to travel in Karnataka and started searching for isolated hotels in the state. But as I pored over hundreds of hotels and guesthouses over various websites, I decided to dedicate an entire guide to isolated hotels in Madikeri, Coorg as most of the properties I liked were from this area. 

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Hampi Photography – A Walk Through History

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Hampi Photos: Stories in Stones.

I visited Hampi twice, once in 2014, and then again in 2019. Though I have been to Hampi two times and have spent about ten-eleven days in the area, I am still nothing less than dazed by not just the ruins and temples of Hampi, but by the green Hampi villages, the crispy dosas that have a different flavor in that part of Karnataka India, the variety of animal life that is running around Hampi fearlessly, but now more so in national parks such as Daroji, and how it all just dovetail so perfectly together.

My Bangalore to Hampi road journey was no less than an adventure. In the linked guide you can read all about that Bangalore-Hampi road trip studded with aesthetic windmills. This 7,000 words guide is also almost a Wiki for exploring Hampi monuments, its surrounding villages, experiencing its local life and food, and understanding Hampi’s history.

As I have already written about the logistics of traveling and the history of Hampi in the aforementioned travel guide, allow me to jump right into Hampi pictures. I clicked most of these photos with my Nikon DSLR and Google Pixel. Other photos (mostly old Hampi photos) have been taken from around the internet to contrast between the past and new Hampi. I have also added some ancient photos just to give more context to a temple or a carving or a view in case I didn’t have enough relevant pictures.

I hope you enjoy these Hampi images for I had a lot of fun putting this Hampi photography essay together. Machu Picchu could be one of the world’s wonder, Bali is on everyone’s bucket list, Himachal Spiti’s Valley is a craze amongst travelers, but Hampi stands right there in the line.

Let’s go.

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Serendipitously Spotting Sloth Bear and Leopard in BR Hills, Karnataka

cheetal in br hills sanctuary

From Bangalore to BR Hills – Venturing Into the Hearts of Karnataka Jungles.

Biligiri Rangana Betta hills or popularly known as BR hills lie about 180 km south of Bengaluru. 

Just a 4–5 hours drive away from Bangalore, it is no surprise that the hills make for a perfect weekend getaway. Having been stuck in the city for two months straight, I was in desperate-need-of-greenery-and-fresh-air and quickly finalized upon Biligiri Hills as my weekend destination in Karnataka. The trip was with my husband so it had to be short to accommodate his full-time job. But even a 2–3 days road trip soaked us in so much nature that we savored it through the next few months of the dry pandemic era in which even stepping out of our tiny abode for groceries felt like a luxury.

I hadn’t expected to see much wildlife in BR hills, as my ventures into the hearts of Karnataka jungles (such as the Dandeli Sanctuary) before hadn’t borne me much fruit; I never saw the big cats or even the tail of an errant elephant. But little did I know that my desire to see Karnataka wildlife would finally come to color in the Biligiri Rangana Hills, officially known as the BR Hills Wildlife Sanctuary which was formed in 1974. 

At an altitude of 3500 feet above sea level, BR hills stand where the Western Ghats meets the Eastern Ghats, and make for an ecological hotspot. In addition to the location exoticism, the BRT wildlife sanctuary is quite large, 540 km² in the area to be precise, and is also an official tiger reserve.

 

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Map of the Nilgiri Biosphere Reserve(part of Western Ghats). Source: http://www.cepf.net/ / CC BY-SA

 

Not only did we see two sloth bears, at different times, sprinting across in front of our jeep, but we also spotted a leopard hidden behind the thickets, wild bisons appearing all macho, mama and baby chital(spotted deers), an Indian grey mongoose tottering around, a tortoise couple resting on a log in a pond, vultures and owls perched on high and dry tree branches, lone sambar deers, barking deers melting us with their innocent eyes, Malabar squirrels nibbling through nuts perpetually, colorful birds of various kinds, langurs, wild monkeys, and wild boar. Phew. 

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Important Things I Have Learned So Far

_pottery- everything I have learned so far

The Artist is no other than he who unlearns what he has learned, in order to know himself .

E.E. Cummings

While writing full-time for almost three years now, I have spent a lot more time looking inwards (and would continue to do so) than I did before. When I reflect on myself, I see how imperfect I am. With this self-knowledge, I am able to look outwards with more compassion. I have also realized that life, though, complex, is also simple. It all depends on how we look at things.

These growing insights into the external and internal world lay the foundation of my personal growth and creativity, both of which, in turn, help me understand more. (Update May 2022: I’ve been reflecting inwards for close to five years now. And I’m updating this list of things I have learned as per my current understanding.)

Learning paves way for more learning.

In this piece on the most important lessons in life, I share everything I have learned so far. I have penned down the ways that help me simplify things. I believe that all that is important must have made itself available to my mind and heart while I’m writing the article. And if I have missed something, either I do not care about it enough or the learning will appear in some form later.

This collection of lessons is more a cheat sheet for me and less a guide for a reader looking for life’s wisdom. But I do hope I have shared experiences that will help one sail along this immense sea of life with a bit more ease.

This list of life learnings is long with sections randomly arranged. If you like the article, consider bookmarking it to return to it later at a time of need.

While you are here, also consider checking out my collection of deep meaningful quotes on life. I have put these together from years of reading.

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