Wednesday, December 12, 2012


A unique day..
12 surprise gifts..
Once every hour..
Placed everywhere in the room..
Call from her for the clue..
Like treasure hunt in my room..
What a day it has been..
For an everlasting memory..
On my birthday..!

Thank you dear for everything :)

Thursday, December 6, 2012

No more..

No more travelling 3 hrs daily..
No more submitting MiTime weekly..
No more preparing report xls monthly..
No more appraising half yearly..
No more calculating 9:15 average yearly..

No more of Infosys..

When I started my career 9 years back @ Infosys, I thought I never would.. But as time progressed, I realized it’s now or never…

Memories of an ex-Infoscion..


Monday, October 8, 2012

Kerala Trip in Pics

We had an amazing tour of Kerala from 19-Aug to 25-Aug thru Nirmala Travels availing Soumya's LTC. Rather than writing down all days activities, I thought best to put them in pics. Also, not much time to write (psst...). Here it goes....

Day 1: Waynad

Day 2: Guruvayoor

Day 3: Kalady, Munnar

Day 4: Munnar, Thekkady

Day 5: Thekkady, Alleppey

Day 6: Cochin, Malampuzha

Day 7: Return to Bangalore

Overall, it was an enjoyable trip. The other co-tourists also were were friendly and we all stayed like a family during the entire journey. I strongly recommend Nirmala Travels for any of the package tours and great hospitality. Looking forward for more trips with them...

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Day 4 - Cuttack

We were ready by 9 AM when the Indica having Uncle and Aunty came to pick us up at our hotel. We drove to Cuttack, most commonly called as the Silver City, in the hot sun. We had to cross the long bridge over Mahanadi river. Cuttack city is mainly an island.

Cuttack is also referred to as the millennium city of Orissa. It is also called the Silver City because it is world famous for its silver filigree work. Also, it is referred to as the business capital of the state. It was the previous capital of Orissa until the capital was shifted to Bhubaneshwar. Its perhaps only the second lowest city in the world after Amsterdam which is below sea level. Cuttack is protected from the mighty Mahanadi and Kathjodi by the Baimundi Mark which acts as an embankment to the city.

First we went to the famous Cuttack Chandi Mandir, which is located near the banks of the River Mahanadi. Its a small well maintained temple and the idol of the Goddess was magnificent. It was covered entirely with silver filigree works.

We then had a look at the ruined Barabati Fort but didn't get down as it looked more like a garden. On our way we saw the Cuttack Cricket stadium.

Further, we travelled for around 25 kms to reach the Dhabaleswar Temple, which was on the other side of the river and at an other end. The temple, located in an island on River Mahanadi, is embellished with stone carvings that date back to the early 10th and 11th century. We crossed the river over a suspension bridge and went straight to the temple.

There was a huge rush by the time we entered the temple, and we had to stand in the queue. As it was moving quickly, we had the darshan of God in 20 minutes. We then went to the roof of the temple to have a full view of the surroundings.

The old couple were feeling hungry and so they had small vadas at a local shop. We avoided it. We then crossed the bridge again and left for Cuttack.

Out of the 4 places to be covered in Cuttack, 3 had been over. The fourth one - Netaji's birth place, was not even aware for the driver himself. So we went on asking for directions. En route, we stopped at Naya Sadak, which is a famous street for Silver filigree works. We stepped into some shop, had a look at the filigree works and were impressed by their intricate designs. The cost forbid us from buying them.

We finally reached the Netaji Birth place Museum and entered it by paying fee of Re. 1 per head. This old house where Subhas Chandra Bose was born had been converted into a museum. There were around 10 rooms converted to galleries, each housing events of his childhood, college life, letters to his brothers and dad, his political life and freedom struggle, his great escape to Germany to meet Hitler, the anthem of Azad Hind, among others. The room where he was born also has been displayed. This museum is a great source of information to all things related to SC Bose.

The interesting part which caught my attention was a portrait of his daughter, Anita. She was so cute, along with her mother Emilie. Little in history is known that Subhas was married!

By the time we left the museum, it was already ringing 2:30. We were in desperate search of a hotel, and found one somewhere. The hotel was crowded, but they didn't have all the stuffs printed on their menu. Uncle and aunty left the place as they didn't like anything. We settled with Biryani as only rice items were available. Later, we found out that the old couple had pizza from a nearby shop :)

We then left for Bhubaneswar and we got dropped off at a shopping street nearby our hotel. We exchanged address and telephone numbers and told we would visit them when we come to trip in Maharashtra, and vice versa. We strolled the long market street, but found nothing worthy to buy. We took a rick and came back to our hotel by 5 PM.

As we had to catch the 5:45 train back to Bangalore the next day, we started packing early, and had early dinner and slept soon.

The return journey was a little boring, as usual. The entire coach was in bad shape with dust and tapes. An elderly couple joined us in the same compartment all thru the journey. The lady was telling few facts of Bhubaneswar, Rajamundry, Godawari river, etc. Also the train passed very close to Chilika Lake between nearly 4 stations. Chilika is HUGE! The food on train was better than the onward journey. We reached Bangalore by 12:30 PM, half an hour delay against the expected arrival. We were at home by 1 PM, exactly after a week.

Over all, we had a good time and enjoyed the trip. We were overwhelmed when someone asked - "Oh, you went to Orissa? Rarely someone goes there for a trip" :). Had we planned a little carefully, we could have covered Kolkata as well, we thought. No regrets now.

Post trip, while reading about various articles on places which we visited, I came to know that Puri is part of the Char Dham pilgrimages for Hindus. The Char Dham defined by Adi Shankaracharya consists of two Vaishnavite, one Shaivite, and one mixed site. They are: Badrinath, Dwarka, Jagannath Puri, and Rameshwaram. Among these, except for Badrinath, I've visited the rest three. Time for a North India tour next... fingers crossed.. :)

Day 3 - Puri & Konark

We turned up at the OTDC counter by 8:15 AM and started our Puri-Konark trip in an Innova this time. There were only 5 people for the tour including the old couple. We drove thru Pipli village, which is famous for its applique art. We thought we could shop here on our return journey. First we went to Puri.

Puri is about 65 kms from Bhubaneswar and it took us a little more than an hour to reach. The vehicle had to be parked a km away from the temple and we had to board a private bus to reach the temple complex. Cameras and mobiles weren't allowed inside the temple, so had to be deposited in the lockers. As soon as we reached the temple, we were surrounded by local 'Pandas'. Uncle hired one of them as they couldn't stand in queue and thought he would take around the temple easily. We also joined them.

The majestic temple of Lord Shri Jagannatha at Puri is said to have been built by emperor Anangabhimadeva, during the 11th Century. The temple consists of four structures called (a) the Vimana or Bada Deula sanctum sanctorum) (b) the Jagamohan or Mukhasala (the porch), (c) the Natamandir (the audience hall) and (d) the Bhogamandap (the hall for residuary offerings) built in a row in an axial alignment in east-west direction. The temple faces the east. In the vast open area in front of the main eastern gate, there is a monolithic pillar about 10 meters high. This pillar is known locally as the Aruna Stambha. In Hindu mythology Aruna is the the charioteer of the Sun-god. The world famous Konark temple was designed in the form of a stupendous chariot and this monolithic pillar with the beautifully carved Aruna seated on its top was installed right in front of the porch of that temple. When the temple was abandoned and there was no presiding deity in it, this pillar was removed from Konark to Puri and was fixed in front of Jagannatha temple where we see it now. The temple stands on a high pedestal though a major portion of it is buried in the ground. The visible portion shows three mouldings, which are richly carved.

Lord Jagannath, the symbol of universal love and brotherhood is worshipped in the Temple along with Balabhadra, Subhadra, Sudarshan, Madhaba, Sridevi and Bhudevi on the Ratnabedi or the bejewelled platform. The Deities, Lord Jagannath, Balabhadra, Subhadra and Chakra Sudarshan are made of margosa wood. There is a wooden pillar on top of which Lord Garuda is placed, and one has to pay obeisance to the Lord standing behind it. We had a glimpse of the 3 deities over there, as it was at some distance and couldn't be seen with full eyes due to the rush. This temple was also so commercialized that to go a few steps nearer, the Pandas were demanding Rs. 50 per person. And everywhere around the temple, its the money which counted!

There are other smaller shrines around the main temple including Lakshmi, Ganesha, Surya, Sakhi Gopal among others. We visited all of them. Next, our Panda took us to the kitchen hall where food was being prepared as offering to God. The Panda told that daily food would be prepared in fresh earthen pots placed on 12 steps above burning fire. About 100 quintals of rice would be prepared daily and distributed to people in evening after Aarti. We were surprised to hear that daily 56 varieties of dishes will be served to God first! He then showed the southern entrance where a life size statues of Bhima and Dushyasan of Mahabharat fame stood.

After seeing the entire complex, we came out of its premises to the front entrance and paid the Panda. In some website, I had read about a library from which the entire Jagannath temple could be seen. I spotted the Loknath library just opposite the main temple, paid the librarian Rs. 50 as donation and climbed to the top of the building. The view of Jagannath Mandir from this spot was splendid. The Grand Road (Bada Danda), where the Rath Yatra is held also could be seen.

Uncle was also interested in seeing this and photographing it. So I bought them again with me claiming they were her parents. We couldn't take our eyes off from it.

We shopped for a few items on street and proceeded towards car parking by the same bus. We asked the driver to stop at a good restaurant for food and he did it. The lunch at Puri was perhaps the best lunch we had on our trip. Post lunch, we asked the driver to take us to Puri beach. The sun was on top of our head but still we enjoyed getting wet in the sea. Puri sea beach was calm, with hotels by the road. We thought we could see some sand sculptures by the famous artist Sudarshan Patnaik, but we couldn't. As time was running out, we left for Konark by 2:30 PM.

We drove thru the marine drive and reached Konark which is 35 kms from Puri, at about 3:15 PM. On the way, we saw the Chandrabagha beach, but didn't get down as we wanted to spend time at Sun Temple. We had to walk thru a small lane of shops from the main road to get to the Sun Temple. There was an entry fee of Rs.10 as it was maintained by the Archeological Society of India. The first view of the Sun temple stunned us.

The name Konark is derived from the Sanskrit word Kona (meaning corner) and word Arka (meaning sun). The Sun Temple, built in the thirteenth century, was conceived as a gigantic chariot of the Sun God, Surya, with twelve pairs of exquisitely ornamented wheels pulled by seven horses. The temple takes the form of the chariot of Surya (Arka), the Sun God, and is heavily decorated with stone carving. This is built in black granite by King Narasimhadeva-I of the Eastern Ganga Dynasty. At the entrance of the temple is a Nata Mandir (Dancing Hall). This is where the temple dancers used to perform dances in homage to the Sun god. The main sanctum (229 ft. high) which was constructed along with the audience hall (128 ft. high) having elaborate external projections. The main sanctum which enshrined the presiding deity has fallen off. The Audience Hall survives in its entirely but of the other two viz the Dancing Hall(nata Mandir) and the Dining Hall (Bhoga-Mandap), only small portions have survived the vagaries of time. The poet Rabindranath Tagore wrote of Konark: "Here the language of stone surpasses the language of man."

The huge wheels carved at the base of the temple are one of the major attractions. The spokes of the wheels serve as sundials and the shadows cast by these can give the precise time of the day. Each wheel has 8 spokes and in between these spokes, there is a line of 24 beads representing 24 hours of the day.

The temple is famous for its erotic sculptures similar to the temple in Khajuraho, which can be found primarily on the second level of the porch structure.

Legends describe a lodestone on the top of the Sun temple. Due to its magnetic effects, vessels passing through the Konark sea were drawn to it, resulting in heavy damage. Hence, this temple was also called as "Black Pagoda". According to the legend, the image of the deity or the statue of the Sun God was built of a material with iron content with 1 large magnet on top of the temple, 1 in the basement and 4 large magnets in the interiors to make the statue hang / float /suspend in air.

Now as per the locals, both the magnet and the idol of Sun God rests in the British Museum in London.

After having a look at the ruined temple complex, we bought souvenirs of a few miniature stone models of Puri Jagannath temple and the Sun dial of Konark. It started getting dark by 5:30 PM and so we left back to Bhubaneswar. On the way, uncle asked us if we had any plans for the next day tour. We told we were planning to go to Ghatgaon trip which was specially conducted only on Tuesdays by OTDC, as we had a day to spare. He suggested we could join them for a tour of Cuttack which was only 35 kms from Bhubaneswar and see places around it and be back by 6 PM, as they had a train to Kolkata to catch at 8. We instantly agreed to this tour.

We reached Bhubaneswar by 7 PM and got a taxi booked for the next days' Cuttack trip in the same OTDC counter. We then came back to the hotel, had early dinner and slept.

Day 2 - Chilika Lake & Narayani

We arrived promptly at 8:45 AM as said, but had to wait for other passengers till the tour kicked off. For the day, a Tavera had been organized as the number of people were less. Finally, one by one came and we started from Railway station only by 9:30. To our surprise, the old couple from previous day tour joined us along with 2 other ladies.

It took about 1.5 hours (100 kms) to reach Barakul, the starting point of the boat ride on Chilika. There were a few people waiting already and as soon as we joined, got tickets for a 3 hour boat ride at Chilika covering Kalijai island and the bird sanctuary. The 20 seater boat costed Rs. 850 per hour, and we were around 15 people by then. We started the ride by 11:30.

Chilika Lake is Asia's largest brackish water lagoon, spread over the Puri, Khurda and Ganjam districts of Orissa state, at the mouth of the Daya River, flowing into the Bay of Bengal. It is the largest coastal lagoon in India and the second largest lagoon in the World. The lake is home to a number of threatened species of plants and animals and provides largest wintering ground for migratory birds. The best season to visit Chilika was October to December and we were at the right time :) It’s so huge that you feel you are in the middle of a sea, with no visibility of the shores.

After about half an hour into the lake, we reached the Kalijai island where a small temple of Goddess Kali is located. We went to the temple and then later adored the beauty of Chilika Lake.

After that, the ride continued for an hour before we reached the bird sanctuary. Its a mind boggling sight at the sanctuary with water covered everywhere and birds flying all over at a distance. Sigh, I'm not a bird watcher ;)

We could make out 5-6 different species of birds, but not their IDs.

After being there for about half an hour, we drove back to Barakul and it took a little more than an hour to reach the boarding point. This was the longest boat ride I've ever had earlier. Thoroughly enjoyed each and every minute of the boat ride both sides.
We thought lunch would be arranged by the time we got back at Panthanivas, but we were disappointed on hearing that the lunch timings were already over as it was 3:30 PM. They gave some kind of pulav rice which we managed to eat somehow as it tasted bad and we were really hungry.

After food, we went further down Chilika to a small temple located on the hills - Narayani temple. It is about 6 kms from Barakul. Goddess Durga is worshipped here. We quickly had darshan of the temple and proceeded back to Bhubaneswar as it started getting dark by 5 PM itself.

We reached Bhubaneswar at around 7 PM and did the bookings for next day’s Puri-Konark trip which costed Rs. 350 per head. He asked us to be by 8 AM the next day, but we knew what he meant!

Day 1 - Bhubaneswar Local Sightseeing

After a hurried breakfast, we rushed to Panthanivas, the office of OTDC on Lewis road, which is about 4kms from Priya Hotel. We enquired about the trips available and as had been decided booked the local sightseeing tour for 29th. An AC tempo traveller had been arranged and it had pick up point at Railway station also. There were only 8 people on board - a family of 3, an elderly couple, and we both. The cost was Rs. 250 per head.

First we went to Nandankanan Zoological Park, which is about 10 kms from the city. The main attraction of this zoo is the white tiger. Other common animals and reptiles were also there as in other zoos and includes the Kanjia lake aswell.

Next, we came to the caves on the twin hills - Khandagiri and Udayagiri. These caves belongs to Jain munis of ancient times which dates back to 2nd Century BC. The main caves at Udayagiri are the double storied Rani Gumpha (Queen's Cave), the Hathi Gumpha (Elephant Cave) and Ganesha Gumpha. All the 3 caves have artistic carvings.

On the opposite Khandagiri hill, a Jain temple is present atop the hill. We rock climbed the hill and from the top the city of Bhubaneswar could be seen as well as the entire Udayagiri caves.

For info on Khandagiri & Udayagiri caves: click here.

Next, we proceeded towards Dhauligiri which is towards the south of Bhubaneswar. Legend has it that King Asoka renounced his bloodthirsty campaign and turned to Buddhism after the Kalinga war at this place. The rock edicts of Dhauli stands looking down on the plains where the gruesome war was waged on Kalinga. The river was then filled with blood and Asoka felt so bad at the sight, so named the river as Daya. The edicts here are as old as 3rd Century BC, and well preserved! The Shanti Stupa or the peace pagoda, is built here through the Indo-Japanese collaboration. For more info, click here.

At Dhauli, we had lunch at an OTDC restaurant which was not good for the price we paid. Later, we proceeded towards the old town of Bhubaneswar where some of the old famous temples are located. First we went to Lingaraj temple, which is undoubtedly the biggest among the temples and the oldest one. There are numerous Lingas all over the complex around the main temple. And, majority of them were located underground. The temple tower (Gopura) is full of beautiful carvings. It has, in fact, been described as 'time quintessence of Orissan architecture'. Unfortunately, photography is prohibited inside the temple. More info here.

From there, we went to the 3 temple site which are very close to each other - Mukteshwar, Siddeswar and Kedar Gowri.

The small and elegant Mukteswara temple (c. AD 950) is often referred to as the "miniature gem of Orissan architecture". The 'torana' (arched gateway) of the Mukteswara is an extraordinarily beautiful sculpture including elaborate scrolls, graceful female figures, monkeys, peacocks, and a wealth of delicate and lovely decorative detail. Several small shrines are noticed within the compound, many with lingam inside. Details here.

Finally we concluded our day trip by visiting the Orissa state museum where ancient edicts, coins, scripts and writings and other stuffs are preserved. Its worth a watch for historians.

We were back at the Railway station by 5:15 PM and our first day was almost over. We enquired about the next day tour & the OTDC guy told that there was a special tour to Chilika Lake and Narayani temple only on Sundays, lunch inclusive. We booked the tour and were the first to book it. The cost of this tour was Rs. 400 per person.

Thinking of what to do for the rest of the evening, we decided to check out for any theatre for any hindi movie. To our luck, there was a theatre very close by to our hotel called Kesari (I'd googled it before). We went there by a rick and were surprised to see that RA.One was playing there and the 3D version of the movie was about to start at 5:45 PM. We were lucky enough to get the tickets for only Rs. 60 per head and went on to watch the movie. For a SRK movie, this was the best price ;). Movie was all bakwaas as expected, but some time pass for us. After the movie, we walked to our hotel, had dinner and slept.