If you are looking at a weekend with fun and frolic, you should think about planning a trip near Chennai to the Covelong Surf Music and Yoga festival, happening in August 2018 ( 17,18 and 19 are the dates)
I had a great time last year, by covering the festival on my own as a documentary. I was assisted by a couple of friends to cover the festival
Here are the 4 parts of the documentary that I had made. Do let me know what you think of the documentary and the festival itself
This is the fifth in series of my trip to Radisson Blu Resort Temple Bay in Mahabalipuram. I challenged a North Indian friend, who said there’s nothing to do near Chennai in the summers. I told him I could transform his life through experiences on a Saturday and Sunday. Lets dive in to the series! If you have landed directly here, Read Part-4, Part 3, Part 2, Part-1 and Part-0 for context!
Watch the Video series here
Labyrinthine Temple Bay
We wanted to proceed to the spa, late evening to check if we could pick a treatment. The resort is very big and at times labyrinthine to navigate, and we got slightly off path, where I went to the helipad, and then found my way to the Ayur Spa
Ola/Uber’s App Please
Since the resort is so big, we are at times, dependent on the ‘Buggy’ [electric vehicle that ferries guests]. One needs to pick a buggy by waving to a driver, if they are around, or call from the room phone or nearest centre to request for a buggy. An app like Uber/Ola for this could be too much, but it maybe a nifty feature to have a resort app to pass recommendations on activities around, and booking a buggy based on location. If you are not in a hurry like I was, the resort is a beautiful location amidst all the greenery and gardens to walk across from one place to the other
Once we were at the Spa, we decided to check, what would be better for us. I loved the walkway which was a rectangular perimeter walkway with the centre being open to sky, and having plants and flowing water there. Flowing water has this ability to appeal to the mind to mute off your thoughts and stay still. The grey buddha statue there in the centre, just added to the feeling of time standing still on an edge. The Bodhi Spa in-charge, took us to a room, overlooking water falling on some stones, and introduced us to some of the treatments and therapy chambers (interestingly named after Indian plants like Thulasi and Ashwagandha). Since Tej was exhausted, he opted for a deep-tissue Mandara massage
I went to the Ayurveda side and saw the card, and opted for the Shirodhara oil massage. I loved the feeling of warm scented oil dripping on my forehead, building calmness in the mind and body, one drop at a time! The index of a good massage is how they are able to softly exert pressure on the right parts of the body, and be able to get your mind and body to meet in silence. I slept during the course of the massage and went back to sleep more, after a quick pasta dinner over room service! For all the activity we did, the spa was quite the way to end the day
In the morning, after a pleasant night’s sleep, by the bay of the bengal, we woke up and hit the beach, and then came down to the swimming pool in our shorts to the zorbing place by the pool. The Orb is a transparent plastic ball, within which you roll on water.
We were to get in through the hole, and then pace our steps in a synchronised manner, so that we would be able to move the orb in the water, but guess what- we struggled to get it moving. If one of us, paced a step early or late, we would both fall down, while the orb would rotate. More on all the fun inside the Orb, you should watch the video embedded in the post.
That makes it a wrap for our series! I hope you enjoyed it.
This is the fourth in series of my trip to Radisson Blu Resort Temple Bay in Mahabalipuram. I challenged a North Indian friend, who said there’s nothing to do near Chennai in the summers. I told him I could transform his life through experiences on a Saturday and Sunday. Lets dive in to the series! If you have landed directly here, Read Part 3, Part 2, Part-1 and Part-0 for context!
Here’s the video story
If you want to read up stuff, here goes the blog post below
In Search of the Surfs in Mahabalipuram!
Tej walked out to the beach, eager to get himself acquainted with Surfing. He upped his swag with his dark glasses and shorts, intently feeling the wind as he made his way. Balaji, our guide from the resort, explained to Tej about certain precautions to take care. Tej could communicate well with Balaji, since they bonded well when we started with cycling.
Tej was asked to lie on the surf board with the head focussed towards the sea and in line with the surf board. After the wave has been caught, the surfer has to use his hands, keeping it close to his chest, to pop up the body and suddenly stand on the surf board and maintain that position until the wave knocks him over (Beginners will keep getting knocked off)
Surfboard tied/strapped to the leg, Tej made his way into the sea. Watch the video to know more on how it went!
Lunch by the Beach with Chef Mike
Post all of the water activities, we were invited for lunch by Chef Mike, who asked us if we were okay to learn a bit of cooking. We thought this may be fun, so we went ahead and agreed. I donned the Apron and the hat, and saw how Chef Mike went about his business grilling vegetables, and marinating sea food (which was appetising to Tej). It was fun trying to observe a part of the food being cooked on the beach, by the view of the sea in their new revamped Wharf 2.0 restaurant.
In the initial few minutes most of my attention went to the disturbing effect the wind had on the apron, which made it fly, and I as using my hands to quell it down, just like Marilyn Monroe did to her skirt. Comical
My conversation with Chef Mike was on how different are the reactions from the customers when it comes to ordering, since a Menu card can only bring out so much, as opposed to the rich wealth of magic that a chef can customise for guests. He said that a lot of foreigners coming to India usually go by the ‘Catch of the day’ while Indians usually go for predictable food options like breads/roti. ‘Catch of the day’ usually is a Prawn plus mashed potatoes and Indian flavours like lemon garlic. The chef was very welcoming and showed us his kitchen and sat down with us as we faced the sea, talking about cooking and travelling.
Tej and I sat and gorged on some Paneer Tikkas and a couple of mocktails. One of the mocktails had more ice than drink in it, but the other one was compensating enough. After enough paneer and liquids had filled the stomach, it was time to head out a bit in the evening to go out into the city.
Sculpting in Mahabalipuram
We went to Mahabalipuram town to and explore Mahabalipuram’s sculpting scene by meeting Murugan, who was a sculptor who studied in the little town. Murugan was originally from Bhavani (near Erode in Tamil Nadu). He told us that business demand for sculpting work was down in the last 2 years. He manages to eke time out for commercial work as well as creative work. As we sit and talk, I notice various heads of famous yesteryear people. There’s a head of MGR (Kollywood actor and former chief minister of Tamil Nadu) and a head of M.G. Gandhi (India’s iconic freedom leader). I also figure out that Murugan’s body of work includes an impressive stint as one of the sculptors for the Adiyogi statue in Coimbatore, which was inaugurated by Sadhguru Jaggi Vasudev in his Isha Yoga complex.
If you have read this far, there’s more in the video to know and sensorily feel the described experience.
To experience the same like we did, do sign up for the Summer Chillers program, and experience life’s finer moments packed into a weekend that could otherwise be spent waking up late ordering on Zomato, and getting stuck on a traffic jam. Is the choice not clear?
This is the third in series of my trip to Radisson Blu Resort Temple Bay in Mahabalipuram. I challenged a North Indian friend, who said there’s nothing to do near Chennai in the summers. I told him I could transform his life through experiences on a Saturday and Sunday. Lets dive in to the series! If you have landed directly here, Read Part 2, Part-1 and Part-0 for context!
Here’s the video story
Did you know that SCUBA was an acronym for Self-Contained-Underwater-Breathing-Apparatus? I had learnt this while taking my first diving lesson way back in Bangaram Island in Lakshadweep in 2009. I retained absolutely nothing from that dive as I would find out
Breathing Routine Change
To get into the water, I first had to wear the SCUBA Pro skin jacket. It needs someone to zip you from behind, and it feels quite tight. Black dress on a summer day in Chennai is not the recipe for relaxation at all, but I was to step in to the pool in just a few minutes. Rishabh from Temple Adventures was there to teach me the basics of SCUBA Diving. I had to put on an oxygen cylinder on my back, and a mask that had some space for my nose, and a little attachment that went in my mouth, having to tightly bite it. I now had to breathe in through the mouth and exhale out through my nose. It took a while to even set this in motion. It was even tougher trying to balance my legs as there are fins that are on your legs. That made me look extremely clumsy as i tried to balance myself, with an oxygen cylinder on my back. But with a little bit of patience, all is indeed well!
My first lessons were around communicating the signs properly in water, now made famous as part of common folklore since Bollywood addressed this in 2011 with the feature film ‘Zindagi Na Milegi Dobara’
The next lessons were around clearing water that gets fogged up in the mask surrounding the nose, when water finds its way inside. The other basic lesson was around moving your hands in a way that you reach out for an extension that connects to your mouth, through which you breathe. This extension is connected to the Oxygen cylinder. You need to keep it an angle, else the air/oxygen gets released and wasted.
Though it was bewitching inside, I could not quite breathe easily or swim easily. That’s when I asked the instructor if someone could dive without the cylinder. He spoke about free diving, and said that he could hold his breath for about 4 minutes inside the water.
I also learnt in my conversation with the instructor that Koh Tao is probably not the best place to go for SCUBA Open water dive courses, as there has been such a huge influx of tourists, that you are more likely to see humans than fishes there! i briefly thought about doing an Open water dive course, during my trip to Thailand last year around the Full Moon Party, but chose to rest after exploring town and Songkaran in Ko Tao
If you want to experience the same, as i did, do pick this package called the Summer Chillers, and learn a new way of life under water at Radisson Blur Resort Temple Bay, near Chennai.
This is the second in series of my trip to Radisson Blu Resort Temple Bay in Mahabalipuram. I challenged a North Indian friend, who said there’s nothing to do near Chennai in the summers. I told him I could transform his life through experiences on a Saturday and Sunday. Lets dive in to the series! If you have landed directly here, Read Part-1 and Part-0 for context!
Getting to Breakfast
Soon after we finished cycling, we went over and had our breakfast at the Water’s edge cafe. It was a good spread, but we were late and needed to finish it before they close. One thing we observed was that due to the searing heat, seats near the glass area were less air-conditioned than the ones inoculated from the heat. The summer is usually un-relenting for a body that is not used to such heat, and we had to find a cozy corner where the effect of the sun, does not eat into the air-conditioning. I had a couple of fruit juices along with Idli/Dosa and bread for my breakfast.
All Terrain Vehicle Ride
I had told Tej about the ATV ride at the beach, and we wanted to go and try it out. Both of us were excited about speeding in the sand, and turning at angle, throwing mud in the air. Some primal things as a kid, stay in our memory and pop up while outdoors like our wish lists.
Things to be Aware
These ATV machines need a strong grip to get used to. That may take about 5 minutes as the hands bonds with the controls. My ATV seemed to be inclined to curve right as opposed to go straight.
Tej was a little stronger than me, and he loved the ride on the sand. He went quite fast on the sand, and won the competition to ride better! But hey, never forget to have fun!
Secondly, the real fear is when you drive fast, what if you lose control and get into the sea. If the ATV gets into the sea, it will be a problem, as such devices/cars are not supposed to be in salt water, while they can otherwise be driven on wet sand.
A few weeks before, a friend of mine from Delhi, had reached out to me, and was asking about some place he could travel from Delhi over a weekend. His whole point was to travel out on a Friday and return to work on a Monday and be amazed in those 2 days.
Delhi’tes have the mountains above them, but don’t really have a beach. I knew if I could customise a nice beach experience with some activities, he’d probably go back feeling excited.
I told him to not worry so much, and told him I will keep him in air-conditioned comfort by the beach, and in a largely sylvan environment of greenery. My aim was to give him a bunch of experiences that only a sea town could provide and over just a weekend. So I met him on a Friday night at the Chennai airport and drove him down in my car to go show him that “Summers can be fun around Chennai’s coastline”
Presenting our next travel series titled ” You Know What We did This Summer? | Temple Bay Tales”, where I take my Delhi friend Tej to a series of activities where we rough up on the sand in an ATV, defy gravity in a Zorb, attain zen state over Shirodhara, Do some diving under water, Try sea side surfing in the morning, cycle our way to the shore temple and enjoy some sea side mocktails, learning how to fry veggies and fishes! All of this in a 48 hour weekend at Radisson Blu Resort Temple Bay (as part of their Summer Chillers program)! I am sure when Tej landed in Delhi, he must have landed a little heavier thanks to the memories he gathered from the weekend!
Here’s the trailer! The main series premieres from May 16th in a 5 episode all month long on Katchutravels! Let me know how you found it!
Our little documentary on the Covelong Surf Festival is all set to release in November. The festival was conducted in August, and was getting sewn up in the edit room all this long. Here’s a little trailer and a couple of images. Let us know how you found it!
Its interesting to see how a city’s looks and roads can change in the monsoon season. The Konkan coast has a raging sea of brown and is green all around on land, while the east coast of India is more susceptible to cyclones coming its way and changing the way the city looks. Trees are uprooted, roads are swallowed by stagnant water, the land is enroached by the sea, electricity takes a break and the city starts to look a little different. Here are a few clicks from the savage Chennai rains of the 2015. So this series of the postcards is about how different cities can look due to a changing season!
“This series, called the Travel Postcards are basically the short story version of a single frame. Some tales are told between 2 sips of your juice. These are those tales. Not too long, Not too short, a little context, a little perspective and yes, they do act as a pill, that you can pop up for some travel inspiration”
Do you have any thoughts on how different your living space looks? Do let us know.
Covelong near Chennai, is home to the annual 3 day beach fest with Surfing, Music and Yoga as the main attractions by the beach. Usually the 3 day festival happens in August or September. To know more about the festival and latest dates click here. Go further to read what happened in 2016’s edition of the Covelong Surf Festival
The real beauty of a music festival by the beach is not as much about the music, as much as it is about the vibes that evening. Its about a crowd that wants to jive about, its about a musician who wants to get the crowd involved, even if they don’t understand the music.
Usually the Covelong music festival has an acoustic stage and a beach stage through the day, but its the night that takes centre stage. The colours, the scent of the salted sea, the colours of the locals and fireworks, and yes the Bass thundering its away besides the raging waves makes for 3 evenings of high octane raving over music. I didn’t quite understand the music, but shaking a leg and feeling lighter is probably the key, as I would discover.
Fuzzculture’s Arsh was engaging with the audience really well. He looked like the singer KK when seen from behind with long hair, and a guitar round his shoulder.
He had quite an aura emanating, when the smoke from the stage were seen in the background of the lights. The independent music scene and the musicians surely had me think, that I should probably move beyond bollywood and popular music.
The crowd genuinely seemed to be interested in listeing to the musician and it was nice to see the local fisherman also getting involved trying to sample the music.
The front stage is not where all the action happens. I briefly went behind and saw the stage from behind, and it looked like the cover of a music band, with all colours of the spectrum lit against the dark of the twilight playing into darkness’s hands.
The local flavour at the beach near Chennai was the corn seller selling corn. It was not overpriced like a lot of commericalised corn. I took some corn, rested on the sands, looked at the moon in the distance, its reflection on the sea and thanked providence for providing a beautiful experience of music by the Bay of Bengal. I would come back tommorow for the surfing. Till then, it was time to get to Mahabalipuram and go and catch the highlights of the India-West Indies T20 games being played then in Florida.
I came back the next day to watch some surfs and was spellbound by the magic they created in traversing the sea with their artistry
I am always fascinated by the prospect of listening to music at the beach, and also have the waves crashing by. It’s a world of your own, when you are at sea. India’s east coast is usually not privy to having the infrastructure required for music, and entertainment by the sea. Over the last 3-4 years, Chennai’s outer fringes have seen a spurt in sporting activity with surfing being adopted in Covelong and Mahabalipuram, and even further in Pondicherry. I decided to go check what the festival was about.
Given this was happening about 40 kilometres from where I live, I thought it would be fun if friends come along, so on reaching the location, I updated my Facebook check-in, to let friends know, that they could come over anytime during the day. I was pleasantly impressed with space created for parking 2 wheelers and cars. There was a separate apartment enclosure by the sea, and there was enough space to park vehicles as long as you were early enough to find a good slot.
The surf festival is about professional surfers, competing with themselves in the sea, with a context. I was perched in the sea, trying to capture the way they communicate with the ocean to surf along with the wave. The first day was about some surf and music, and that’s what you will see in greater detail in the next part. For now, here’s a glimpse into my trip.
As I walking down the crowded North Mada Street, and proceeded to turn right at the Ponnambala Vaidhiyar Street, the fresh smell from the flowers vendor’s catch, warmed me up for the gastronomic fare that lay ahead. I had heard about the ‘Window Shop’ (Jannal Kadai )store, that serves delicious evening snacks and breakfast near the temple, but had never managed to go there, despite being a local in the city of Chennai now for 26 years.
I was a 100 metres away from the ‘Jannal Kadai’, and I had to wade through the sea of people who were walking in and out of the majestic Kapaleeswarar Temple. The temple, was facing one of its less crowded days. I have been here during the Mahashivratri festival and have seen crowds swell here, so today was mildly pleasant, also helped by the fact that Chennai was going through a rainy spell, so the humidity was bearable.
I walked a bit further and tried to spot where this shop was. A little further down the road, I saw a bunch of people crowding near a window. Could it be a flower vendor shop, or was it ‘THE JANNAL KADAI’? I saw people holding plates and consuming food. Maybe this was the place. I moved a little closer to the window, and saw a man, at the counter sitting at the level of the window, cross legged and collecting cash into a box. Flanking him were a couple of his team mates who were making ‘Bajji’, ‘Bondas, ‘Idli, ‘Vadai’ and ‘Dosai’. A quick 5 course (you-could-call-it-that-way) menu of an evening snack, by the temple.
The window to the shop, was partially covered by dried lemons and the image of a demon occupying space. Usually this is a sign of warding off evil spirits, usually found in many parts of South India at estabilishments, and even on vehicles. The more colourful are found on national lorries that ply on highways. The Tamil comedian Vivekh, takes a pot shot at such beliefs against Colourful demons-on-Lorries’ in a yesteryear movie called Minnale. [Watch it here from 1:50 to 4:25]
As we lounged inside, and spoke to the person at the cash counter, we are told that this place is about 10 years old. Maybe he meant it for the business, but this was operating out of an olden days house, and the house must be a lot older. We settled for 2 plates of Dosai’s and 1 plate of ‘Molaga Bajji’. Just as we ordered, a fresh batch of bondas was placed by the windows to help the consumers make their choices easily, in the absence of a menu card.
We chose to give the bonda a miss, since I needed to be home. The Dosai, was made wet by Sambhar and chutney on it. The plate finished in double quick time, and I was gastronimically ready for a few more, but since I had to be at the other end of the city, I chose to settle the bill, and come back to Mylapore for a more detailed date with my stomach at the various eat outs in Mylapore. The Hindu newspaper, has done a good job in listing the places in Mylapore that you should keep a look out for. Do view them here, and come back to this blog, for more detailed reviews of all of these eat outs.