Category Archives: Experiences

Exploring South Goa-Part 1- Manveer’s Kitchen

Since the moment, I looked  up a beach place in South Goa, on AirBnb, my son was excited that we were going to be spending a weekend in Goa by the beach. I went over to the nearby Decathlon store to buy a swimming trunk and a float for my son, who quite loves spending time in the water. I had wanted a place that would be on the beach, and still be a little world cocooned from the honks and noise of Goa’s streets. After a lot of research, Google Maps and speaking to hotels, I arrived at Manveer’s kitchen, a place mid-way between a little homestay and a beach shack- in Agonda Beach.

Agonda is a place that still is not yet on the tourist’s radar. Crowds throng Calangue in the north, Baina and Colva in the center and Palolem in the South. Agonda is a couple of beaches above Palolem and comes with its own anonymity and village life, far removed from the tourist traps. It has a few beautiful beaches, if you care to explore on a 2 wheeler on its Northern (Cabo De Rama) and Southern sides (Talpona, Galjibaga, Rajbaga)

The streets of Agonda Village in South Goa (India)
The streets of Agonda Village in South Goa (India)

We arrived at Manveer’s place, after haggling with an auto driver from Cancona railway station over how much we should give him. The extra few metres that the auto drove were measured in an imaginary meter before an exorbitant number was put in front of me. Not wanting to spoil my holiday, I smiled and paid him an amount that was midway between what he quoted and what I felt was the price. I went mid-way on the price because of the 4 bags of lugagge that stared at me. Luggage is often the last resort of a taxi/auto to increase fares.

The house opens out on the road, which has a small backyard meant for parking vehicles. It leads into a narrow lane which has a couple of rooms and a store room, after which it leads to the beach, going through a little nursery.

View of Agonda beach from our door at Manveer's Kitchen (South Goa-India)
View of Agonda beach from our door at Manveer’s Kitchen (South Goa-India)

The little place, exuded a sense of Goan calm that only palm trees by the beach can give, and we proceeded to pack our luggage into our room and head out to the reception which was on the beach. Manveer and his wife Vinnie manage the place, while their son Manny keeps adorably crawling around. My little son, found his wingman in Manny as they started playing with the sand and toys. I rested on the beach easy-chair and ordered french fries with cheese and Lasagne, to slowly transition into a late afternoon.

The rooms were simple, but comfortable and the fact that there was so much greenery around made it a great pick for me. I am told that this is one of the few permanent structures in the monsoons as most resorts close down.

Greenzone at Manveer's in Agonda (Goa-India)
Greenzone at Manveer’s in Agonda (Goa-India)

Sleeping to the sound of the waves by the beach in Goa is an activity, and I was enjoying till the sunset, post which I went in to my room, and organised my items. On any trip one of the first things that make me comfortable is to make sure all devices are charged, and most of my items that I intend to use are in my see-able vicinity, and are easy to pack it back in when I intend to leave the place. I breathed easy post the sunset, and walked in to a halogen lit reception eating area, which was looking beautiful in the night. I met one of the hotel staffs, who helped me speak to a local bike renting shop, where I got a 2 wheeler the next day for trips to Galjibaga and Cabo De Rama.

The eating area at Manveer's Kitchen
The eating area at Manveer’s Kitchen

I woke up the next day, and took Nandu along the expanse of the beach, where he would stop every few metres and collect shells. He felt the water was still a little on the colder side to get in.

Winter morning hues in Agonda Beach (Goa-India)
Winter morning hues in Agonda Beach (Goa-India)

We waited for the morning sun to warm up the beach a little before we got in. In between Nandu decided to warm up by jumping around and loosening up on the beach. Our morning had well and truly begun and we dunked into the morning waves, shedding our inhibitions and fears that the winter can create when you need to take a bath in cold water!

Read more in Parts-2 and 3 coming up soon.

Nandu posing at Agonda Beach
Nandu posing at Agonda Beach
Nandu jumping around at Agonda
Nandu jumping around at Agonda

Reaching Manveer’s Kitchen

From Chennai– Board the Lalbagh express at 1535 hours and reach Krishnarajapuram in Bangalore by 9 pm. Uber your way to Hebbal to board the 22:00 Udupi bound private bus, which goes through Mangalore. The passenger train at Mangalore starts at 6:10 am, and arrives in Udupi at 7:30 am. So get off accordingly to go and board the train to arrive at Cancona

From Bangalore– If possible get on the 2015 KSRTC bus from Majestic Bus stand, and get down in Udupi at 5 in the morning. You would have enough time to refresh and board the train at 7:30 am to arrive at Cancona

From Hyderabad– Board the bus to Panjim and then take a taxi to Agonda, which is about 100 kilometres. If you want to cut down costs, you could board the local train at Karmali (Near Panjim) that goes via Madgaon to Canacona.

Your other chance is to board the bus from Hyderabad to Gokarna and then catch the train from Gokarna Road railway station, where a significant part of the journey is missed on the Konkan Railway route.

The only reason I am reccomending a train to reach Canacona is due to the bewitching Konkan lagoons and landscapes

From Canacona railway station, its about 10-12 kilometres and about 200-250 by Auto from the railway station. You could instead also walk up a kilometre to the Chaudi bus stand, visible from the railway station and board the local bus to the Agona Church, from where Manveer’s is a half kilomere jaunt away.

If you are travelling by Air to Goa’s airport, its an hour from there by a taxi, or if you want to cut costs, you could board a train from the nearby Vasco/Dabolim railway station to Madgaon and from there to Canacona. Train tickets come at 1/100th the cost of your taxi ride

 

On How India Plays Holi

Growing up in the southern confines of Chennai, I was walled from how the rest of India celebrated a festival called Holi. The Chennai I knew started in Thiruvanmiyur and ended in Mylapore, with my catchment area being Adayar and Besant Nagar. Since growing over 30, I have had the opportunity to attend the Holi function outside Chennai, to witness what a fun festival it is. I thought I shall document some of my shots of how India plays Holi. If you have an opinion on Holi as a function, do head to the comments box, and lets get a conversation going. Tell me places that I can go to cover holi!

 

Holi Party in India- Bengaluru
Love the way the girl is surrounded in a pool of Holi Colours and is not done yet!

 

Holi Party in India- Bengaluru
I quite love the way different colours come into the frame. Pretty much like how different people co-exist in a single space!

 

Indian Holi Party
Like the energy in the frame, with all that Holi Powder visible as particles.

 

India Holi Celebration Party
The mad scramble for Holi Powder on the Cart

 

India Holi Celebration Party
Like the way the guy is emptying all his holi powder, before he heads home!
India Holi Celebration Party
View from the change rooms! Holi party never stops!

 

India Holi Celebration Party
The Blue clouds of powder look surreal. Or is it just Surf Washing Powder 🙂 ?

 

India Holi Celebration Party
Lord Krishna is on Earth. Coming soon to a Holi Party near you!

 

India Holi Celebration Party
When the blues get over, Pink Power takes over!

 

India Holi Celebration Party
When Pink Power needs a makeover!

 

India Holi Celebration Party
From the blue Zone to the Pink Zone!

 

India Holi Celebration Party
The kids shaking a leg to some music and targeting innocent bystanders!
India Holi Celebration Party
Kids enjoying at the holi celebrations!

 

Indian Holi Party Celebration
Kids are Killing it! My son playing Holi, and loving being dirty in green!

 

Indian Holi Party Celebration
Me with my son at the Holi Celebration!

What’s Your Poison…err…Tea?

What?

There is a Tea Festival, happening at JW Marriot Hotel on the 18th and 19th of March 2017. The festival is to make people aware of the beauty and aroma around Tea and to discuss the possibilities of Tea based Tourism. Maybe I will have a few more places to visit over a cuppa tea

Who?

This is being hosted by Susmita Das Gupta, Entreprenuer of ‘The Smart Ideas’ and a passionate Tea enthusiast, who has conducted many tea tasting and tea meet up sessions.

When?

18th and 19th March. From 11 am to 8 pm on the weekend.

Why?

Katchutravels is interested in understanding the possibilities around tea tourism. Also the next time, I travel to a hill station, I’d love to know more about the leaves and the various varieties of tea, which is right now limited to the ‘dip-tea’ that I have.  I will be covering the event in its entirety. Do look out for regular updates on our Facebook and Twitter Handles.

But the raison-d’etre of the festival is that India is actually the largest exporters of the various varieties of tea, which has been commercially produced in India since 1820 (and being around from 750 BC), so we have a reason to celebrate

‘Katchutravels’, is happy to be displaying travel images at a Photo Exhibition [running as part of the Tea Festival] scheduled at 11 am on the 18th and it runs till 8 pm on Sunday.

Photography Exhibition at the Tea Festival-JW MarriotPhotography Exhibition at the Tea Festival-JW Marriot

How?

There are interesting tea workshops through which people, would be able to understand the intricacies of Tea and its impact on health. Here are some of the ones I plan to attend. Though you should know that these are priced moderately between Rs 650-850 which can be booked on Eventshigh hosted by Celebri-Tea folks!

  • 18th March- 12 pm- Know your Tea Workshop
  • 18th March- 2 pm- A Journey to Rediscover Tea
  • 18th March- 3:30 pm- Tea and Health
  • 19th March- 112 pm – Tea Appreciation Workshop
  • 19th March- 2 pm- Tea and Chocolate Pairing.

PS

Interesting to note that 3 artists whom I admire a lot, were also Tea Lovers! Kishore Da, Sachin Tendulkar and Bob Marley

Tea Festival India
Tea Festival India

And Tripoto says ‘Happy New Year’

As I sit in a shack in Goa and type this, I am thrilled to announce that Tripoto, one of the premier travel blogging and planning platforms in India, has selected KatchuTravels in their “20 Best Tripoto Itineraries of 2016”. Do hop over #15 to view the article written here. This post talks about exploring the monsoons in Goa, through their rainforests in the Bhagwan Mahavir National Park. Looks like its entertained 23,000 people to get inspired to travel so far, so that feels heartening.

Here are a couple of images from the post.

 

Goan Rainforests in the Monsoons. Shot at Bhagwan Mahavir National Park
Goan Rainforests in the Monsoons. Shot at Bhagwan Mahavir National Park
Trekking through the railway tracks in Goa on the Dudhsagar Waterfalls Trail
Trekking through the railway tracks in Goa on the Dudhsagar Waterfalls Trail

#TravellerStories-05- Of Emptying the Arabian Sea and other stories

This edition of the #TravellerStories features Mandar Malshe, who builds software for a living for the oil and gas sector and being as gentle as he is, loves Kalariyapattu.

Why the need for such a series like TravellerStories? We hear so many travel stories, but we’d be able to appreciate the travel stories at a relative level, only when these same questions are put to people at different place, we’d probably have a sense of awe towards how geography and history places a bias on our thinking. So these are nice postcards that you want to quickly rummage through, over an evening snack. Yes, just meant over tea and biscuits.

A) Where are you from and what do you do for a living?

I am from the beloved, crowded, beautiful, bustling ‘Aamchi’ Mumbai. However, its been 7 years since I haven’t lived more than a week there; as I have moved around Chennai, Bangalore and now – London. I earn my livelihood working with an IT firm, managing large IT/Infrastructure projects for oil and gas giants

Mandar Malshe

B) What’s the most cliched thing that outsiders say or feel about your city/country?

All of my ‘phoren’ friends and colleagues feel that Indian food means spice! They think we have a template which we apply to all dishes that we prepare, and this is – Onion, Ginger-Garlic paste, Coriander powder, Cumin powder, Turmeric, Curry leaves and of course – Red Chili powder and Green chillies; and voila! – an Indian dish is ready. I have tried many times to steer folks towards a coconut rice or a ‘Puran poli’, but guess the votes have been already cast.

C) What’s that one dish travellers should try out at your city and where?

Since I have lived across multiple cities, I would say :

  • Pav Bhaji @ Sardar, Tardeo, Mumbai
  • Prawns @ Mahesh Lunch home, Juhu, Mumbai
  • A variety of seafood and meat platters @ Bon South, Bangalore
  • And of course – Vada pav and Misal – Anywhere in Mumbai !

D) Reg exploring places outside your city, which is your favourite place (and why)

I love to visit Kerala, whether it is Waynad, Munnar or any other place. It’s always a treat to enjoy the local cuisine and the lazy afternoon rains. This time, on my visit to Munnar, I enjoyed some cultural shows such as Kathakali and the oldest Martial arts form – Kalaripayattu

E) Of all your travels on work, which city charmed you the most and why?

I loved the small, but neat and elegant setting of Singapore. Its hard to fathom that the entire country is just around 700 sq kms! Due to unavailability of land, they have come up with ingenious ways to save space. Despite this constraint, it’s a paradise for tourists who wish to experience the grandeur of Universal studios, Underwater aquarium and Tussad’s museum, without spending the big bucks to travel to the US or the UK. Crime is very low – in fact I didn’t see a single policeman on my travel (except at the airport of course!); and barring 1-2 sections of the city, its spotless clean!

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F) What is the craziest thing you have ever done while travelling?

This is actually with a fellow college-mate– We had decided on a roadtrip over a weekend; but hadn’t decided where we would want to go. We just packed an overnight bag, got in the car and put in the GPS – ‘Places 200 kms from Bangalore’. We zeroed in on Sakleshpur, a nice hilly region near Hassan. We enjoyed the local cuisine and the next day decided – We want to go to a beach! On we drove towards Mangalore and directly landed on Ullal beach; but not before we emptied the Arabian sea of all the seafood it can produce

#TravellerStories-02- Off Missed Sunrises and Other Stories!

Let’s meet Arnav Mathur who is second on this series called  #TravellerStories. He’s a traveller from New Delhi (who is passionate about going green and sustainability) who blogs at Eat,Travel,Live and Repeat. He works as aSocial Media Coordinator and Content Writer at JustWravel Pvt Ltd. In this episode, we throw a few questions at him and find out what he likes and doesn’t. Since this is an experiment, feel free to comment and help us out with interesting questions for the next set of travellers to be featured.

Arnav Mathur

 

Why the need for such a series like TravellerStoriesXX? We hear so many travel stories, but we’d be able to appreciate the travel stories at a relative level, only when these same questions are put to people at different place, we’d probably have a sense of awe towards how geography and history places a bias on our thinking. So these are nice postcards that you want to quickly rummage through, over an evening snack. Yes, just meant over tea and biscuits.

A) Where are you from and what do you do for a living?

I am from Delhi but have spent all my life in different towns of India as my father is in the army.I have stayed in places like Wellington and MHOW which are like alien cities to people living in metro cities. I am a Civil Engineer by profession passionate about Green Buildings and Sustainability. I have been freelancing for a travel company and travel blogging and am enjoying every bit of it.

B) What’s the most cliched thing that outsiders say or feel about your city/country?

Indian food is spicy and unhealthy.

Well not all Indian food items are spicy and unhealthy, their is a healthier less fat, sugarless option for all sweets available these days.Of course, some Indian food is spicy, but we never cook too spicy items at home and usually ask for a medium spicy alternative of a dish while ordering in restaurants. The street food of India is hygenic if taken from a decent looking populated vendor.

C) What’s that one dish travellers should try out at your city and where?

It would definitely have to be the Tandoori Momos and the Vodka Momos. I heard their names for the first time in my life when I moved to Delhi a year back, and have become a momo addict ever since.Tandoori Momos are available in Hunger Strike, Amar Colony and the Vodka Momos in Queens Boulevard, Amar Colony.Read more here

D) Reg exploring places outside your city, which is your favourite place (and why) and send us a photo with you in it

My favorite city till now would have to be McLoedganj, Himachal Pradesh without any doubt. It was my first trip after relocating to Delhi, India and it spearheaded the urge to travel and explore. It was the perfect catalyst for my Wanderlust. It was a weekend trip after 3 months of hectic job so all we did inMcLoedganj was Eat, Sleep, Relax and Repeat. The place is so welcoming to travelers with so many cafes offering cuisines from around the world and free wifi in all the cafes. I had my life’s best Pizza till now in Carpediem, McLoedganj, so yeah!  McLoedganj is my favorite place till now and will always hold a special place in my heart.

E) What is the craziest thing you have ever done while travelling?

During my trek to Chandrashila Summit in May 2016, it was made clear by our Team Leader the importance of time hence we started early morning at 3 AM for the final summit trek.After walking for nearly 2 hours we reached a spot, where we were told our destination was not that far.While others were still to resume the walking, I took some giant steps and took a good 500 m lead which eventually led to a 1 km lead.When I reached Tunganath Temple, I was crazy enough to halt for 20 min for no rhyme and reason.As a result I reached the summit at sharp 6 AM but missed the sunrise by a mere 15 min. That’s when I realized the importance of time on the hills.I definitely should have been crazier to not take a halt at all and instead just kept moving forward.

Arnav Mathur missing his sunrise
Arnav Mathur missing his sunrise

 

 

If you would like to be featured and tell your stories that may be of interest to the traveller community, do write in to us at Kartik@katchutravels.com

#TravellerStories-01- Of Camping at Wimbledon and Other Stories

Let’s meet Verushka Ramasami who inaugurates this series called #TravellerStoriesXX. She’s a traveller from Durban (which she thinks is the best place in South Africa) who blogs at SpiceGoddess. She works as a Travel and Tourism lecturer and is a lifestyle blogger when the sun sets over Kwazulu Natal. In this episode, we throw a few questions at her and find out what she likes and doesn’t. Since this is an experiment, feel free to comment and help us out with interesting questions.

Verushka Ramasami
Verushka Ramasami

 

Why the need for such a series like TravellerStoriesXX? We hear so many travel stories, but we’d be able to appreciate the travel stories at a relative level, only when these same questions are put to people at different place, we’d probably have a sense of awe towards how geography and history places a bias on our thinking. So these are nice postcards that you want to quickly rummage through, over an evening snack. Yes, just meant over tea and biscuits.

 

 

 

 

A) Where are you from and what do you do for a living?

I am from Durban ,South Africa. By day I am a Travel and Tourism Lecturer and by night a Lifestyle Blogger. My blog has a focus on Food , Travel and Culture.

B) What’s the most cliched thing that outsiders say or feel about your city/country?

” Do you live in a treehouse ?”
” Do you speak African ?”
” Do you have a Lion as a pet ?”

C) What’s that one dish travellers should try out at your city and where?

Definitely a Bunny Chow ! No there are no bunnies harmed in the making of this dish. The dish is a quarter loaf of unsliced bread that is hollowed out and filled with either a vegetable or meat curry. It is eaten by hand so no cutlery. The dish originated from the indentured Indian laborers who came to work on the sugar cane fields in South Africa and use this as a way to transport their food to work.

D) Reg exploring places outside your city, which is your favourite place (and why) and send us a photo with you in it

I love travelling and have travelled to some pretty amazing places around the world. For 2016 my favourite place is Kerala , which was my first trip to India.

E) What is the craziest thing you have ever done while travelling?

I think every trip has a crazy adventure. But one that sticks out is while I was in London and we camped on the road for tickets to Wimbledon. It was worth it though as we got centre court tickets.

If you would like to be featured and tell your stories that may be of interest to the traveller community, do write in to us at Kartik@katchutravels.com