The (mostly south) India Darshan

Though my lack of the otherwise prolific stream of travelogues here would suggest otherwise, the past 1 year has been a great year for me in terms of travel. I don’t think I’ve ever travelled more in my life. Since it’s too late (and too lengthy) for individual posts on my trips last year; here’s a condensed travel feature. Hope this adds more options to your travel checklist.

Mumbai

Munmai

My first ever visit to the grand old city of India. Though I spent just a weekend over there, I was mightily impressed. The whole enormity of the city just takes you by storm – espcially for a small town guy like me. I need to go back and explore more. But that one weekend I was there; had the fun of my life.

Vagamon, Kerala

Vagamon

A rather unknown destination tucked in hills of central Kerala; Vagamon is a land of rolling meadows, pine forests and tea estates. It’s natural beauty makes it worth a visit. But more than the destination itself; it’s the journey that’s even better. The silent quiet hilly roads and the scenary surrounding it makes it one of the drives in Kerala. There are plenty of routes to reach Vagamon, but the most scenic drive (from Kochi) is via Thodupuzha, Muttom, Kanjar and then into Vagamon. The route is easy to miss though, there are not many boards showing directions. If you are unsure; the alternate route (in fact the more mainstream route) is via Erattupetta – but you are going to miss out the best parts of the drive then.

At Vagamon, I had stayed at a friend’s house which was part of an old tea estate. The views from there are exceptional. You can go and visit the meadows and get inspired by the vast majestic emptiness in the mountains all around you.

Kodaikanal, Tamil Nadu
Kodaikanal

Once the star amongst South Indian hillstations Kodai has lost its old charm by become way too touristy. It’s now basically a small city struggling to expand on a hill. Despite that, if you know the right places (or you have someone who knows the right places – in our case we had our Thomas) Kodai still has a few things to offer you. For instance, we had gone to this awesome orchard just a few kilometers from the city center and surrounded by peace and quiet. Nobody to disturb us for a long while. Unless you are willing to go off the beaten track like we did; I wouldn’t really recommend a visit to Kodai.

Ooty, Tamil Nadu

Vagamon

Just like Kodaikanal, Ooty too has dropped down from its glory days of being amongst the best hill stations in South India. The present city is a shadow of itself – I still have photos of visits to this place as a young kid; and the place has lost all its inherent beauty. The purpose of this trip for us though; was to meet up with my gang of buddies and catch up on the old times. If you stay at a decent hotel far from the city and not plan too many excursions and relax all the way; Ooty might still do the trick.

Mussorie and Dhanaulti, Uttarakhand

Dhanaulti

It was a quickly planned excursion during my short stay in Gurgaon in the beginning of this year. Mussorie is a typical British hill station; with its quaint buildings and streets. It offers a good view of the city of Dehra Dun at night. But apart from this there isn’t much to do here.

We met a guide in the city and he offered to take us to some off beat places further up the hills and we set off to Dhanaulti. En route to our pleasant surprise it was snowing there. Had a lot of fun playing around the snowed out landscape. The snow gave a peculiar look to the entire vista and it felt so displaced from the rest of the India we had just left behind.

Definitely worth a one time visit; if you are in and around Delhi. It’s just a 6-7 hour drive and if you have a weekend to spare; do give it a try.

Muzhappilangand Beach, Kerala

Muzhapilangad

India’s only drive in beach. The only problem is getting your car up there. The road up from Kozhikode up to the beach is in a rather dilapidated condition, the 80 km stretch took us nearly 4 hours to complete.

If you survive that though, the beach is pretty awesome. Just the fact that you can drive into the waters makes it an amazing experience. The beach in itself is pretty clean and not very touristy. The views around are brilliant.

Muzhapilangad is on the Kannur highway from Kozhikode and is around 80 km from Kozhikode and 12 km from Kannur.

Ramakkalmedu, Kerala

Ramakkalmedu

Ramakkalmedu is a not so well-known hill station located in Idukki district. The views from here are amazing as usual. You can see the expanse of Tamil Nadu as you look out from the hills. The green and blue contrasts leaves a lot of options for amazing photographs. There are also unmarked trekking paths you could try if you are interested.

Ramakkalmedu is around 40km from Kumily/Thekkady on the Munnar route.

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