Friday, 31 July 2009
Suzumi - Ikebana - Spiritual Journey
I love flowers. If the flower arrangements represent Nature and her elements, then I fall in love with the arrangements. For me, something spiritual lies in each of the flower arrangements. It's difficult to explain, but, yes, it's spiritual for me.
Whenever I am a little low, one of the things I do to brighten up is that I flip through a book that has lovely pictures of colorful flowers and their arrangements. On the pages of the book, the colors blend so beautifully with its descriptions. I really pep up!
We got an opportunity to visit an exotic Ikebana exhibition, which was held at Ladies Club, Infantry Road, Bangalore. The Sogetsu School of Ikebana conducted this exhibition in the aid of an Abalashrama on D. V. G Road, Bangalore.
Elaborate ikebana filled the entire hall. Messages about peace and global warming were placed in front of a few arrangements. The concept behind each of the ikebana was amazing. I must appreciate the creativeness of the ladies. You will agree with me when you see a few photos of the ikebana.
If you are at Bangalore during August 15th, do not miss to visit Lalbagh Flower Show. This show will also exhibit some stunning ikebana. I have watched the women give their passion a form using flowers and Nature's elements. It's beautiful.
Thursday, 30 July 2009
Kanva Reservoir - By Chance!
One Sunday morning, Ram and I decided to drive out of Bangalore, explore the outskirts. We were off on Mysore road though our destination was not Mysore. We touched Bidadi - once upon a time, my father's ancestors owned some portion of this place and had donated lands for improvement of the place (I believe). My father very proudly recollects his memories of his grand parents and his childhood friends, and about their adventures near the railway tracks. Those days people enjoyed small thrills in life!
Whenever we drove by Bidadi, we stopped at a hotel near the police station (I think the name was Revanna's Thatte Idli Hotel or something), eat Thatte Idlis and drink hot filter coffee, and then continue our journey. Once papa and I walked to the railway station to see the Gulganji tree and to collect a few Gulganji, fallen on the ground. I think I still have those Gujganji at my parents' house. Bidadi was still a cute place then.
Today, you find many hotels along the roadside, modernized houses, lesser trees, neater bus stands, and so on. Oh, yes, you can see Toyota and Coca-Cola manufacturing units. And you are correct, you can also enjoy a day's outing at Innovative Film City.
This time around, we didn't stop at Bidadi, but continued to Ramanagara. This place is famous for silk. You can see mulberry bushes and breeding of silk worms. At the market, you can see people carrying bags of cocoons. After these cocoons get processed, voila, you get silk and the silks gets woven into pretty sarees. It's not as easy as I write here; during my childhood, we saw a silk processing unit at Ooty. The cocoons were put in boiling water, and then layers of silk can be extracted just like a cotton candy!
Before I digress further, let me drive back on our track. This place is also famous for hills, rock climbing, and left overs of the movie, Sholay. It's fun to drive around or just climb one of the hills. Most of the fun is lost when you see litter everywhere or people throwing beer cans or food wastes. Near the mosque on the highway you find fresh cucumbers - they melt in your mouth. Don't forget to taste them. During summer, this place hosts loads of watermelon. You also find baskets of custard apples along the roadside. Go on, and taste them.
We drove past Kamat Lokaruchi, http://www.kamatyatri.in/Locations.asp?id=12, decided to stop on our way back. We reached Channapattana - land of toys. We visited Meenakshi Handicrafts, bought a few wooden items and sandal incense sticks. The toys displayed in the shop were a feast to the eyes - revisiting one's childhood. It's sad that we don't encourage our kids to play with such toys. Oh, yes, we need to save trees; adapt to world of plastic and metal.
A few kilometers from here you see sign boards guiding you towards Kanva reservoir. Well, this reservoir is about 60 plus kilometers from Bangalore. The almost made road cuts across a village and farms or cultivated lands. The rustic houses have cattle, creepers of flowers or vegetables, and aroma of hay. Lovely! The cattle own the roads, and you have to wait for them to cross the roads.
As we drove, a big cobra crossed our way. Ram hit the brakes of our Scorpio. We got out to see whether the snake escaped. It did escape. Beautiful snake with shiny skin! When we reached the reservoir, we were suprised to see very few people around, and the neatly painted reservoir. We walked hand-in-hand on the walk path. Awesome breeze and romantic weather! The photos give you a glimpse of the reservoir.
Seeping in the silent melodies of the water, we drove back to Kamat Lokaruchi. We had delicious Obbattu, maddur vadas, basundi, sugarcane juice, and buttermilk. Whew... We roamed around in the Janapada Loka, saw pottery making, but could not visit the museum. Light drizzle showered on us like chocolate scrappings on ice cream! We sat for a while, and then bought pottery from the lady (Anasuya). This lady gave me an idol of Lord Ganesh, free of cost. Wow... Eventful day, I say!
As we drove back, we revisited all the places that we had passed by. Nothing had changed, except our perception. It's nice to be on a path of unplanned exploration. What unfolds can be mysterious, thrilling, and also mesmerizing. You never know! :)
So, go on, explore your destinations.
Tuesday, 2 June 2009
Pagoda Point – This is a lovely view point situated on the south side of Yercaud. We drove there early in the morning, thinking that the place would be quiet, and we could enjoy the peace, which is a rarity in the city. Three pagodas, built of loose stones, surround a small temple. We also added a stone to one of the pagodas. And then watched the Sun split the clouds and peep out.
As with all the beautiful spots in our country, this place was littered and defaced. A dog was chasing the solitary bus that was raising a cloud of dust as it drove through the village, children and women fetching water from a common water tap, and men lazing around on stone benches were but some of the sights of a village visible from the view point.
Spices, Plants, and more – No trip to a hill station is complete without carrying back the local flavor and flora of the place. On the Lake-Sterling Resort road, we visited a nursery, which was well-stocked with plants. To our surprise, we discovered that most of the plants were suitable to the local climate of Bangalore. We were also provided a number of tips on how to acclimatize the plants to the local climate before replanting them. We took home a few plants to plant the memory of Yercaud in our garden. We also stopped by a shop to purchase spices, and then we returned to our resort to check out.
At the resort, we picked some lip-smacking marmalade and mixed vegetable pickle. A walk around the resort, lazing around, and we were ready for lunch. After filling our stomachs with tasty food, we bid goodbye to Yercaud.
Yercaud… Truly a place to rejuvenate.
Tuesday, 12 May 2009
Continued from http://asha-ram.blogspot.com/2009/04/yercaud-drivecoffee-and-cuddle.html.
Lake - We drove past the lake many times, but wanted to visit is last. This lake is small and cute. No, this lake did not stink; nor was it dirty. There is less number of boats, and so, you have to wait for your turn. Several shops surround this lake, and on Sundays, there is a fair – vegetables, fruits, spices, clothes, and pulses – that attracts people from the neighboring villages. You can taste chilli bhajjis, boiled groundnuts, ripe mangoes, and others. You can drink hot coffee or tea. Of course, we ate the chilli bhajjis!
We watched the Sunrays dancing on the almost-still lake. We also watched people inside the boats, gliding on the silver-blue water. Both of us were enjoying the silence, peace within, and dancing water. Such joys are to be treasured! We also visited the nursery near the lake, admired the newly planted plants, and sighed because the nursery was not yet open for public to purchase plants.
Sterling Resort - We strolled into Sterling Resort for lunch. See http://www.sterlingresorts.in/customers/ycaudresort.html. As you enter the property, a big map of Yercaud greets you. You realize that best gifts come in small package – Yercaud too is one such package! And, the staff is courteous at Sterling. While the chef cooked delicious lunch only for us, we sat immersed in each other and in Nature. The view from the Sterling Resort is breath-taking. You can see the curved-roads up the hill. You can view the hills sliding behind the clouds. Lovely property! But, oh, you have to climb up and down a bit on this property. In case, you have elders with you, ensure you get a cottage that does not require too much climbing.
Thursday, 30 April 2009
Our plan was to finish our business at Chennai, drive to Yercaud, and then return to Bangalore. We bid goodbye to Chennai and its extremely humid climate. As we drove out, we looked like baked potatoes, perspiring even though air-conditioner was switched ON. Only Mu, our travel companion, was not affected by the weather. Rain or shine, Mu smiled. Some other time, we want to stay at Chennai for a few days to know it more.
When we reached the entrance of a coffee estate, the darkness and silence greeted us. We stayed at Grange Resort; we thank our travel agent for booking this resort for us. For information about this resort, see http://www.grangeresort.com/. The resort manager and staff were courteous. At the first sight of the resort, we fell in love with it. In the lap of coffee estate, cute and comfortable cottages stood to welcome us. The coffee flowers were in full bloom, and looked like pearls on dark Green carpet. Amazing! Oh, the aroma of those flowers; we were intoxicated!Our cottage was surrounded with coffee plants. It seems that bison come close to our cottage during 2:00 or 3:00 A.M. We were so lazy to wake up at that hour to see if the bison came.
In the morning, we woke to the melodies of birds. It was soothing to cuddle in the warm bed, listen to such melodies, and smile inward. The aroma of coffee flowers seemed to be knocking the door gently. The virgin breeze tried to squeeze its way through gaps to tickle us. The sunrays stretched long enough to stroke us. Ah, what a treat early in the morning! Nothing to worry about, no honking of vehicles, no hurry to race against time, and no pollution.We walked down the road, admiring the Pink lilies that grew wild alongside the roads. At the tea stall, we drank hot coffee, and got into conversion with the tea stall owner. Everyone wanted to sell bungalows or plots to us; we politely refused. Imagine, if people start chopping down trees to construct stay homes, hotels, and bungalows. The beauty of Yercaud will be lost. Up the road were several bungalows, stay homes, and a view point. We walked a few roads to reach the view point. The valley looked neat. Due to the rain, all the vegetation looked clean and Green.
After a delicious breakfast, we planned to visit most of the tourist spots. We stopped by the lake to make quick phone calls to our houses, and then took the road to Lady’s Seat. The Shervaroy hills are a pleasure to visit. During May, Yercaud celebrates a festival. It also hosts flower shows. We were too early for the event.
Servarayan Temple - This temple is the highest point in Yercaud. The deity stands inside a cave; bend low enough to avoid a bump on your head. It seems that this cave leads to Talakaveri (in Karnataka). The view point from this place is serene. Though the vegetation is not dense (, you wish it were,) the climate is cool. The Bauxite mines have loosened the ground, and to some extend destroyed the vegetation. However, gardens are in the making on a few uprooted patches. We hope they plants more and more trees to save Yercaud.
Rajarajeshwari Temple - This temple was founded by Tirukovilur Thapovanam Srila Sri Gnanananda Giri Swamigals Parampara (1983), and is on the way to the Servarayan temple. The goddess is stunning, and is accompanied by goddesses Lakshmi and Saraswathi. The temple also has a Sri Chakra, and an adorable Ganapati. Aromatic oils, perfumes, and herbal cosmetics are available at the perfume shop here. Also take a pack of fresh Yercaud cardamom and pepper.
Montfort School - This school is impressive. Neatly maintained campus, beautiful garden, cute little zoo and aquarium, and playgrounds. There were rabbits, ostriches, love birds, peacocks and peahens, goat, geese, and other birds. The aquarium was indeed colorful. The school building stood majestically, made of stone. Many parents and students waited in classrooms; probably for admission or to collect report cards. Ram couldn’t stand the stink from the ostriches; however, I spend time with those birds. I also wanted to let them free; hate to see them caged.
Wednesday, 8 April 2009
Our thoughts were as scattered as the clouds on a cloudy morning. We drove out of Bangalore to travel to the Dubare Elephant Camp located near Madikeri. After a hearty breakfast at the Kamath Lokaruchi Janapadaloka hotel, we continued our journey, enjoying the weather and the scenic countryside. We marveled at Nature and its various moods – from sunny to cloudy, a slight drizzle here and bright sunshine there... That day we saw it all!
We reached the camp a little before noon. We were asked to park our vehicle in the camp’s parking space, and then climb onto a boat that would take us to the camp on the other side of the river. We were surprised at this arrangement! The boat gracefully cut through the water of the river. The cool breeze over the river, combined with the melody of the flowing water was a balm for the city-weary souls.
After reaching the camp, we decided to look at our rooms and rest for a while. The cottages were awesome – log houses – with a hall, a big room, a huge bed, comfortable sofas, and windows. The cottages boarded the river, and yes, there were hammocks along this board just outside the room. Every cottage has a sit-out, opening to the river. How cool is that!
The lunch was served hot at the dining hall made of wooden logs. The coals under the food trays kept the food warm on a rainy day. We were all hungry, and I (Asha) was shivering too due to fever. The heat from the charcoal warmed me; however, it was fun to see and hear my teeth chatter like a sewing machine.
After lunch, we lazily walked around, and later the guide took us for a walk in the woods along the riverside. The trees stood royally like pillars of a palace but no laid paths to this palace. We entered this palace like kings and queens, following our guide who made the pathway for us! It was mesmerizing to see the sunlight squeeze its way to the denser parts of the wood. Away from pollution, noise, and stress, this indeed was our own private palace. And, Ram and I were falling in love, again… Night fell like a heavy curtain on our sleepy eyes. We sat by the fire for a few minutes, and later retired in silence. Oh that precious silence!
The next morning, our guide knocked on the door to take us for safari. Due to the rains, we opted to stay indoors. We slept – sleep being such a rare commodity. After a lazy breakfast, we went to the river to see the elephants. One after another the elephants along with its mahout walked into the river, the elephants got a nice scrub and bath, and definitely, had a lot of spectators!
We were amazed at how the elephants enjoyed its bath. The dirt and mud on its back fell off into the river. As the mahout scrubbed its skin, the elephant regained its lovely original color. Oh, the elephants played in the water; they twisted the trunks, sat-rolled-fell-slept in the water! I do not think we enjoy our baths as much. We also touched one elephant and clicked photos with it.
What a soothing effect the elephants and the environment had on us! This trip helped us build and strengthen our relationship, and also de-stress completely. When the boat took us back to the parking space, we let the melodies of birds and the river fill us; the raindrops seemed like blessings for our future. With sweet memories in us, we were ready for the city life again. Eeks, the noise, the traffic, the stress, and the pollution!
For more information, see:
1) Dubare – http://www.junglelodges.com/V2/Dubare.htm
2) Madikeri – http://www.madikeri.com/
3) Kamath Lokaruchi Janapadaloka – http://www.kamatyatri.in/Locations.asp?id=12
Make a trip to this place and let us know if you liked it.
Friday, 3 April 2009