All posts filed under: Karnataka

6 Offbeat Experiences Near Hampi.

After my soulful sojourns in the North-eastern and Garhwal Himalayas, I descended to Mumbai for some personal work. Three weeks of sweltering heat has left me craving the rains, and made me nostalgic of my monsoon adventures last year, when I chased the rains from Rajasthan to Hampi. Over two trips to Hampi, I’ve discovered experiences that go beyond the majestic ruins of the ancient Vijaynagara kingdom. Take my list, stay with the locals, meet the dwindling gypsy community, cycle amid dramatic landscapes, and indulge a little:

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24 Hours in Bangalore: Where to Stay, Eat, Chill and Cycle!

I’ve often thought that a nomad like me is just not cut out to enjoy a city. Time and again, my two years in Delhi reinforced that belief. But when I decided to pack my bags and make the road my home (Read: I’m Hitting The Road, Indefinitely), something unexpected happened; I fell in love with Bangalore. Even on a summer afternoon, Bangalore was a breath of fresh air. People hung out on the streets, quaint cafes lurked around every corner, breweries served up handcrafted beers, and the cool weather was perfect for pleasant strolls. Here’s my ode to the city, and a lowdown for your next trip to Bangalore:

In Photos: Life in Hampi, Karnataka.

Nothing could have prepared me for the boulder-strewn landscapes, majestic ruins, pristine lakes, and lush greenery that surrounds Hampi. Staying in a community-run retreat in the village of Anegundi, on the other side of the Tungabhadra River, we rode in coracle boats, swum in village lakes, and drove amid the remains of the 14th century Vijaynagar empire. Luckily for us, we beat the crowds, witnessed the monsoons, and captured a glimpse of real village life in and around Hampi:

coastal Karnataka, Karnataka beaches, west coast India, Karnataka photos

“You Can Shake The Sand From Your Shoes, But Not From Your Soul.”

The seagulls come calling, and off we go. The sea breeze slowly replaces the aroma of coffee (Read: Coffee and Conversations in Coorg). The soft rustling of the maize fields turns to the fierce roaring of the Arabian Sea. From the bus, we watch the sun set upon palm fringed backwaters. And finally at the entrance of our beach house, we stand mesmerized by the crimson red sky and sea. Far from the beaches of Goa and the backwaters of Kerala, this is coastal Karnataka; picturesque and untouched. Ram-anna and Sarsu-akka, a couple from the neighboring fishing village and caretakers of our beach house, greet us with broad white smiles. Ram-anna opens the small blue doors and windows of the house to let the sea breeze in, while Sarsu-akka follows meekly behind; a short, thin lady with years of hardwork on her face. When we ask about food, her eyes light up. Aap jitne din baitho, main khana layegi; stay for as long as you like, I’ll get you food. She keeps her end of the promise for all three …

Coorg farm stay, Coorg photos, Coorg blog, Karnataka rice paddies

Coffee and Conversations in Coorg.

The whiff of coffee awakens me on a damp morning in Coorg. I lazily walk into my balcony, to witness silver butterflies dancing above the coffee plantations and the forest bathed in warm sunlight. I don’t know it then, but this is just the beginning of my love affair with Karnataka’s coffee country. When our bus arrived at Hattihole the previous evening, a gentle mist had engulfed the rivers, rice paddies and sleepy hamlets. Watching the rains lash the forests through my glass windows, I tried my first ever Coffee Spa; scrubbed with grinded coffee beans and massaged with hot oils, ninety minutes of aromatic coffee bliss! When the sun finally emerges, we walk along acres of coffee, cardamom and pepper plantations, down to a river with a hanging bridge built by the village folk. Walking on its delicate planks, our local Kodava (Coorgi) guide tells us about the indigenous traditions and culture of Coorg, the Kodava food and berry wines still made in village households. Only a single restaurant in Madikeri (called Coorg Cuisinette) and a handful of …

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Up in a Tree House at The Hermitage.

My choice of travel accommodation has slowly transformed from anything-cheap-goes in my student days, to pampering value-for-money hotels / resorts during my short-lived corporate life, to anything offbeat that offers a chance to interact with the local people since India Untravelled happened i.e. now. With several of the latter under my belt since I moved back to India almost 9 months ago, I’ve decided to highlight, review & convince you to experiment with such off-the-beaten-track living in this weekly Sleeping Spotlight.

Of Rural India & The Aasha Build

The soul of an Indian is incomplete without a journey into the heart of rural India. The 2 weeks I spent in the slum region of Hegdenagar / Kamanahalli (to which I partly owe my long absence from the blogosphere) has transformed my perspective on India’s development, and my own ambitions and issues. Hegdenagar is an ignored little village, about an hour’s distance from Bangalore city, and a few decades’ development. Honestly though, I had imagined a replica of the Dharavi slums, and Hegnenagar’s cemented, albiet small and dilapidated houses, alleviated, if only for the shortest time, my anticipation of the living standards of our rural countrymen. I learnt later that most Dharavi-styled slums stand on illegal land, and Habitat India has fought its fair battle to abide by the law and take Hegdenagar through its first stage of development. The same houses which teased us with a heartening peek into rural life, home 8-10 families in their 300-350 sq-ft boundaries, math that left me bewildered. Constructing new homes for such families that could afford …