Travel Tales 2.0

A holiday in Kerala will fill you with reminiscence. The pristine backwaters with snug houseboats, lush green hill stations, waterfalls, and plantations of tea and spices along with the pleasure of an ayurvedic massage and exotic cuisines complete the picture of peace and calm and make Kerala State one in all the foremost sought the place for hill stations.


Popular Hill stations of Kerala:
Weather:
With the onset of monsoons by the end of December, Kerala enjoys moderate weather with the average temperature that ranges between 30°C during the day and 24°C at night.


Munnar
Munnar is well known as the “Spice bag of Kerala” snuggled within the Kannan-devan hills at an altitude of 1600 m above sea level rinsed by the assemblage of three mountain streams namely – Mudrapuzha, Nallathanni, and Kundala. A destination of summer retreat for the bygone British Empire is a scenic ideal town with colonial bungalows, comfort hotels, rich green tea estates adorned in condensation and mystery, forests, reservoirs, waterfalls, lakes, magnificent views, and winding lanes create a special charm. Anamudi a mountain that rises at an altitude of 2695 m noted for its trekking tracks and “Neelakurunji flowers” that blossoms every twelve years covers the hills in blue creating Munnar one amongst the foremost haunted after hill stations in the Nilgiris.


Major Attractions:
Sightseeing places -Tata Tea Museum, Anamudi Peak, Mattupetty Dam, and Eravikulam National park.
Things to Do:
Explore the beauty of the verdant coffee and tea gardens, Shopping- tea, green tea, coffee, cashew – nuts, homemade chocolates, and spices at decent prices.
How to Reach:
Kochi (Cochin) airport is the nearest which is 130 kms/4hrs drive by road to Munnar.


Thekkady
Thekkady noted as the “Wildlife destination of Kerala” has unique and abundantly rich with flora and fauna.
Major Attractions:
Kathakali show and Elephant ride, Periyar Lake which flows through the Periyar tiger reserve.
Things to Do:
Kathakali show and Elephant ride. Boat ride in Periyar Lake which flows through the Periyar tiger reserve and watch the wild animals like Elephant, Bison, Sambar, Deer, etc. are roaming on the shore. Apart from this, it has various other options such as Trekking, Wildlife train, Bamboo rafting, Border hiking, and Rock climbing.
How to Reach:
From Munnar 110 kms/3hrs drive by road to Thekkady.


Alleppey Houseboat
Weather:
The sea temperature enjoys moderate weather with an average temperature of 28°C.
Major Attractions:
The hottest backwater city “Alleppey” which is known for its traditional houseboat called the Kettuvalam/Cruise. This enchanting cruise/traditional houseboat experience across Alleppey and Kumarakom by houseboat are sure going to be a lifetime experience.
Kumarakom is the world’s best-known Backwater Destination and recognized by many International Tourism organizations and Travel Magazines. In the latest statistic, the resorts here are ranked as the best Backwater Resorts. Visit Kumarakom bird sanctuary. In the evening go for a sunset cruise or enjoy the beauty of Backwater with lovely views all around by just relaxing near Vembanadu Lake.
How to Reach:
From Thekkady 137 kms/5hrs drive by road to Alleppey and from Alleppey Houseboat to Kumarakom 32 kms.

Travel Tales 1.0

Through the peaks of Everest and Kanchenjunga, I made my last year trip to Bhutan and came back home brimming with ideas.

Bhutan is one of the happiest countries in Asia with a healthy, optimistic attitude about life!

Weather

Most of Bhutan is covered with snow between the end of December till March. The flowers bloom in the month of April, especially the famous Rhododendrons. If you want to witness any of the local festivals and get a glimpse of the rich Bhutanese culture, and also weather-wise, I recommend you to visit Bhutan between the end of September to December.

I had gone to Thimpu – a couple of hours drive from Paro. Did you know? Thimpu is the only capital city in the world that has no traffic lights! On the main street, there is just one junction and you can always see traffic police regulating the traffic using hand signals. 

All buildings in Thimphu have adopted a design aesthetic close to the ancient Bhutanese architecture, and thus the old and new buildings sit together beautifully.

Then, I headed towards Tashichho Dzong, a top-rated Bhutan attraction. It is given to the royal and government offices, the sprawling complex opens to tourists between 5:30 to 6:30 in the evening.

From the guide, I learned that Bhutan has never been colonized, perhaps a reason why its traditions and culture have been well protected and passed on across generations.

Our final destination was Changangkha Temple, a Buddhist temple established in the 12th century. The Camera was not allowed inside the temple. But I did get back with my memories.

Next, I headed to Punakha, It’s a quaint town that offers a quiet vacation. On my way to Punakha, the first stop was Dochula Pass, which has a shrine constructed in memory of the Bhutanese soldiers.  

Locals from in and around Punakha had set up makeshift stalls selling things of daily need. Various items caught our fancy – Red shiny Bhutanese chilies, Incense powders and herbs, Handmade kinds of stuff.

The Food was made using fresh, local produce vegetables and was seasoned with herbs rather than spices. Traditional cooking methods were used to restore the flavor. Hardly any oil was used and all the taste came in from ingredients used.

 I spent the next day in Paro visiting other attractions including the Dzongs, trying their local food, taking long walks in the evenings, relaxing reading my books and even doing some writing.

And the final was the trek to the Tiger’s Nest Monastery, one of the most revered monasteries and the icon of pride of Bhutan.

I woke up the next day and was spellbound by the landscape that I saw. A row of mountains stood tall, some of their peaks covered by the clouds, a river quietly meandered by my guest house, the gardens were filled with flowers colored red, pink and yellow. People here begin their routine early in the morning. Interestingly, only women used to work in shops and restaurants.

I embarked for the trek to the Tiger’s Nest monastery. It is believed that Guru Rinpoche( Guru Padmasambhava ) arrived at this spot on the back of a tigress from Tibet and meditated in a cave for three years, three months, three weeks, three days and three hours in the eighth century. The sacred spot houses a temple complex that appears precariously balanced about 900 meters high cliff.

Although slightly tiring, it was worth the trek and I was blessed with the lush panoramic view of the town.

I came home from Bhutan feeling rejuvenated and with a lot of memorable experiences. It became one of the best travel experiences which made me try things that I hadn’t tried before – food or stay or trekking and gave me a better perspective of bigger things in life.

Seashells under my Papaya Tree

I was amazed when one day I discovered these “Unicorn Horn Long Spiral Top Spike Tan Seashells” in my Pot. Yes, you read it right. These were growing under my small Papaya tree which I was growing in my pot. I mean how it can be possible as these are usually found on the seashore.

I really don’t know it was ants or small animals that excreted its outer surface. So I have researched more about this to help solve my curiousness.

These spiral shells are formed from minerals, not mollusk cells. They continue to excrete calcium carbonate so their shells continue to grow. Mine has grown up to 5 inches in length. These belong to the Strombidea family and are commonly known as ‘True Conch’ Shells. They have a long, slender, spiral top and are slightly heavier than most seashells, and have a thick wall.

Baby Seashell growing under my Papaya Tree.

So, I have used them for home decorating 😉

Do you know? The shells on the seashore that are left behind are due to mollusks death. Mollusks are invertebrate animals usually wholly or partly enclosed in a calcium carbonate shell secreted by a soft mantle covering the body.

These shells have a very special significance in Feng Shui, the Chinese version of Vaastu Shastra. It invites good vibes into your home or the workplace. Because of their association with the sea, it symbolizes that it connects distant places and strengthens long-distance relationships. They also provide relief from stress and offer a protective shield.

However, Feng Shui lays great emphasis on the direction in which they are placed.

But before placing them, make sure you clean them thoroughly.

  • If placed in the Southwest direction in the bedroom, it strengthens the relationship.
  • If placed on a window. It ensures protection and gets good energy.
  • If placed on a tabletop by the front entrance door it brings prosperous career.
  • To strengthen the relationship with the specific person. Decorate the photo frame with seashells.
  • The bigger, the better. Place the shell in the south direction of the living room; it increases the reputation of the occupant.
  • If placed in the southwest or the northeast direction of the living room. It improves better learning for children.
  • In Feng Shui, flowing water fountain symbolizes money flowing into the house. Decorate it with seashells to protect the money.
  • If placed in the Kitchen, it would bring harmony and strengthen family ties.

The Taste of Tongue through Curries

I recently visited Sri Lanka and I was searching for some really sweet tangy flavor. As I am a vegetarian so I was looking for a veggie option. Curries feature heavily in Sri Lankan food with flavourful of spices added in it. To name it a few Chicken Curry, Fish Curry, Potato Curry, Garlic Curry, Jackfruit Curry, Dhal Curry, Beetroot Curry. They use different types of curry powder, dependent on what ingredients are in the dish. Plain curry powder is used for vegetable dishes and roasted curry powder for Non- Vegetarian dishes. So I ordered Raw Mango Curry and it was Yum!

When I came back home. For the very first time I gave it a try to make a Raw Mango Curry and it came out really well. I loved the juicy, flavorful, tangy, pulpy cooked raw mango in spicy curry. It takes about 15 minutes to cook and is loaded with a number of vitamins and minerals, which make it an effective antidote for summer ailments.

Raw mango cures Stomach Troubles, treats Scurvy, takes good care of Liver, Heart, and Intestine and protects From Intense Heat and Dehydration.

All we need is

  • Raw mangoes peeled cut into wedges – 4
  • Mustard Oil – 1 tablespoon
  • Mustard seeds – 1 teaspoon
  • Cumin seeds – 1 teaspoon
  • Curry leaves – 7
  • Cinnamon stick- 1 inch
  • Onion chopped- 1 medium
  • Turmeric powder – 1 teaspoon
  • Curry powder- 1 teaspoon
  • Red chili powder- 1 teaspoon
  • Ginger-Garlic paste – 1 teaspoon
  • Fresh coconut scraped for Garnishing
  • Coriander seeds – 1 teaspoon
  • Dried red chilies- 2-3
  • Brown sugar/Jaggery- 1 teaspoon
  • Salt to taste

Heat oil in a pan, add mustard seeds, cumin seeds, curry leaves, cinnamon, coriander seeds, and mix. Add onion and saute till golden brown.

Add turmeric powder, red chili powder, and curry powder and mix well. Add ginger-garlic paste and dried red chilies and mix well for 2-3 minutes.

Add raw mango and mix. Add water to cover raw mangoes and cook on medium heat for 5 minutes.

Add brown sugar/jaggery and salt and mix well. Continue cooking for a minute.

Garnish it with some fresh scraped coconut.

Enjoy this meal with rice, Chapati or Bread.

The Sacred Flower that blooms once in a year.

Amazed with the title! Yes, you read it right. I was too amazed when I came to know about it from my maid that sacred flower is Brahma Kamal. I was so carried away by its fascinating facts and beliefs. So I thought why not I share my Information with you Guys.

Brahma Kamal botanically known as Epiphyllum Oxypetalum blooms only once a year. The flower is white in color and has a pleasant smell. It blooms after 7 PM onwards and takes about two hours to bloom fully. It remains in full bloom only till daylight and is also known as Night Queen.

Epiphyllum Oxypetalum

Epiphyllum Oxypetalum

It has several other Common names which vary with region. I’ll name some of the popular ones like Orchid cactus, Queen of the Night, Nishagandhi, Keng Hwa, Tan-Hua, Gul-E-Bakawali.

It is native to Southern Mexico. It belongs to the Cactaceae family. It is popularly known as Brahma Kamal in South India which is named after the Hindu god, Lord Brahma. It is believed that wishes of the people are fulfilled while the flower is blooming as you get a rare chance to see it bloom. So, consider yourself lucky to see it bloom!

Cultivation: It is an easily cultivated plant and grows very fast. It is a shrub and is perennial. Simply cut a leaf and put it deep inside the soil and water it after every two days. It flowers in late spring through late summer.

Description: Its stems are greenish-white, erect and profusely branched. Flowers are produced from flattened portions.

Flowers Blooming from leaves.
Flowers Blooming from leaves

Besides, it is also packed with Medicinal Properties. The flower is finely chopped and a soup is made from them. It is effective in treating Urinary Tract Infections, Liver Tonic, Cold, Cough and is a good Appetizer.

I recently brought it from a nursery and has cost me around 500 bucks. Let’s see when I’ll consider myself lucky to see the flower blooming.

Fly Geyser

The Unfolded side of Nature.

Simranjitkv

Fly Geyser commonly known as Fly Ranch Geyser is a man-made accidental creation.  It is a small geothermal geyser located about 20 miles north of Gerlach in Washoe County, Nevada.  But unfortunately, it is not open to public.  The only access is via road when travelling from State Route 34.  It continuously spouts hot water about five feet high into the air and gets collected in many terraced pools.  It all started in 1917 as part of an effort to make a small portion of Black Rock Desert feasible for farming.  A well was drilled and a hot geothermal boiling water was encountered which was not suitable for irrigation so they abandoned the well. Eventually it started depositing Calcium Carbonate and a 12-foot cone was formed.

In 1964, a geothermal company started exploring for all possible sources of geothermal energy.  So, they drilled a well at the same site and…

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