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Sunday, May 25, 2014

Hong Kong skyline

April 2014

Hongkong has the highest number of skyscrapers in world (I always thought it was Newyork, but for now I go with wiki). Most of these building are concentrated in Hongkong island (the other main area is Kowloon peninsula with connects to China by land) against the backdrop of Victoria peak.

Skyline seen from Kowloon peninsula
The skyline is viewed best from “Avenue of stars” across Victoria and from Victoria peak.

Laser show in the night
But Hongkong also suffers from poor visibility and long spells of wet weather making it very difficult to view the skyline. These photographs look stunning (link here) but it is not always clear. I had visited Hongkong few times but always had to struggle with overcast conditions.

2IFC building



But weather was much better when I visited Hongkong last month with my family. It was very clear on the days we visited Avenue of stars.



It turned out hazy on the day we visited Victoria peak but the views were much better than my earlier visit.



View from Victoria peak

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Siddara betta: A trek for my daughter

9 March 2014

I was feeling that it was right time to introduce my daughter to trekking world. While she enjoys travelling to different places, she was not into long walks. So, to acquaint her with trekking life, I thought about taking her to some easier but little demanding place. Siddara Betta was an ideal place; I had not visited it and also heard that it was an easy trek to start with.

Start of the trek
Trek to Siddara Betta was simple. Steps are constructed all the way to the top. Since the summit has a Temple with religious significance, we encountered people all along the way.


In trekking, the initial part is always tough. The body is not yet “warmed up” and resists any attempt to push it harder. My daughter was in that phase and she hated trekking very much. Encouraging words from me started to pull her up. Breaks were frequent to give her some rest.



As we started climbing up and scenery improved, Tanu started to get the flow. The walk seemed to be much smoother now though my wife started falling back!!


At midway, steps end where the rocky area starts. Railings were in place which made the climb easier. Here was a stretch where we had to walk on loose stones. My daughter had to struggle a bit but she could manage it. It was then a short climb to the top.



As mentioned, a Temple is constructed inside the boulders. A small tea shop and people selling the pujs stuff occupied the limited space in front of the Temple.  My wife found that coconut there was significantly cheaper than Bengaluru and purchased few of them!!


Tea shop
It is the caves Siddara Betta is famous for. They are really narrow, dark and deep. A guide and a torch are very much needed if we do not want to get lost in the labyrinth.


After the Temple the route still climbs up to the top of the hill. My wife and daughter decided to rest near the Temple while I made a quick visit to the top and retuned back.



Returning back took more time as the sun was up in the sky.



At the fag end of the trek, I asked my daughter whether she likes to come for more such trips. Her answer was “Yes”!! Lets see how it goes.


How to reach Siddara betta:
Siddara Betta is about 100km from Bengaluru. To reach the place from Bengaluru, drive towards Tumkur. Take a right turn at Dabaspet to Madhugiri road. Few kms after Koratagere, take a left turn to Siddara Betta. A board is clearly visible here.

The roads between Dabaspet to Koratagere is not in a good condition due to road widening and asphalting. While returning back, we took Koratagere-Tumkur road and reach NH-4 at Tumkur. It is a longer route but roads are much better.


Sunday, May 18, 2014

Nahargarh and Jaigarh forts

31st December 2013

Out of three forts in Jaipur city, tourists mainly visit Amber fort. The nearby Nahargarh and Jaigarh fort attracts less number of travelers. One reason is that many travel companies plan for a single day in Jaipur which is extremely hard to achieve if these two forts are included in the itinerary.

Madhavendra Palace in Nahargarh fort
The fort has some excellent views of Jaipur.



The main attraction of Nahargarh is Madhavendra Palace. A small Palace has some nicely designed rooms and halls.




The fort is situated at the edge of Aravali hills and one can see beautiful views of the surrounding hills.



A huge well in Nahargarh fort.


Jaigarh fort is few km away from Nahargarh. It is known for two main reasons. It houses the world’s largest cannon on the wheel.


The huge underground water tank is another wonder. People believed that it contained hidden treasures prompting even Indian Government to order a search!! Nothing was found though.



Amber, Nahargarh and Jaigarh fort are located near to each other and one can easily visit all three together. 



Sunday, May 04, 2014

Hawa Mahal, Jaipur

30 December 2013


Hawa Mahal is a widely known tourist place in Jaipur. When I first visited Jaipur in 2005, I had to be contented with a glimpse of it from outside as the building was being restored.  We got another opportunity last December when we visited Rajasthan.


Located in the Pink city (old city), Hawa Mahal is a part of the City Palace. The structure we see in photos is not the main entrance.


From the side entrance one enters a courtyard with fountains. In the photo below, you can also see Jantar Mantar in the background.


People are allowed to climb to the top of the building though the pathway becomes narrow at the top. From the top, nice views of pink city can be seen.



To get the front view of Hawa Mahal (what you see in photographs), we have to come to the main road.



A tip: All monuments in Jaipur require entrance ticket. There is also a “combined ticket” which works out cheaper. One can avoid standing in queue for tickets and the ticket is valid for 48 hours!!

Thursday, May 01, 2014

Hutridurga

2 February 2014

This was an instant trip planned with Krishna and Subbu. On Saturday evening, we suddenly decided to go somewhere. After little bit of googling, I suggested Hutridurga which was instantly accepted by them.

Hutridurga from village
There were two ways to reach Hutridurga. One via Magadi and other from Kunigal. The four lane road via Kunigal was attractive and we decided to take that road. Not many good eateries can be found on the way and hence we had our breakfast in a hotel in Bengaluru.


The drive till Hutridurga was uneventful expect that we missed the last deviation to the village. The last stretch to Hutridurga was on a small ghat section where we climbed a hill to reach a valley of sorts. We had reached Hutri village nested amidst two hillocks. The village was in a picturesque setting but the villagers seemed to be poor.

Hutri village
Having parked our vehicle at a place reserved for cowshed (!!) we started our walk to the hill. The path was well marked and clear. It was now clear that the climb would be quick and simple as we had already gained significant altitude on ghat road.




There was one point of confusion at the entrance of the fort. The main route was hidden behind the bushes. Thanks to a villager, we could easily locate it else, we would have spent a long time finding it. The climb was mostly on rocks with steps carved out of it. We crossed several gates in the fort and crossed the last section of rocks to reach the top.


A temple is situated on top of the fort providing some good views.



We had just taken about 30 minutes to climb!! We decided to explore little bit rather than lying idle in the Temple. There is quite some area on the top. Rocks, grasslands and dried pools!!




We spent another hour exploring the fort. Also tried to find an alternate route to come down. We almost succeeded but could not climb down a section which was rocky. As sun grew stronger we abandoned our effort and climbed down on the same route.


One thing I liked about the place was its relative isolation from the crowds. Although widely known, it does not attract lot of visitors. Even on that Sunday, we were the only people in the fort.




For the first time, I was able to have lunch in my Home after completing a trip near Bengaluru!! It was so quick and simple.