Tag Archives: Monsoon

The Covelong Surf-Music-Yoga Festival 2018

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

Trailer

Part-1

Part-2

Part-3

Part-4

Images from the Covelong Surf, Music and Yoga Festival
Images from the Covelong Surf, Music and Yoga Festival
Images from the Covelong Surf, Music and Yoga Festival
Images from the Covelong Surf, Music and Yoga Festival

 

 

In The Land of Kurumba Tribes-Part 6-The Time at Kurumba Village

When I woke up on the last day of my trip, I decided I will maybe spend the morning sitting on the balcony waiting for the morning to slowly show its colours. It was lovely listening to the sound of the birds. I woke up early, and I was pleasantly surprised that I did. The previous evening, I was treated to a fantastic dinner by Chef Murali.

Our little private garden wakes up to the dawn at Kurumba Village
Our little private garden wakes up to the dawn at Kurumba Village

I had their chef  arrange a special halogen lit dinner by their beautiful treehouse in the woods. It took me 10 minutes to reach there as I had to walk down on the path, to find the tree house within their huge resort-cum-forest complex. I loved his pepper corn starters, Herb infused salads and his concoction of a coconut-ginger soup that had me going on for more.  I had about 3 extra servings because it was so tasty. I was always a fan of the Burmese-Thai soup that Freshmenu makes, but this was better than that.

Tree Top Dinner at Kurumba Village
Tree Top Dinner at Kurumba Village

Chef Murali is from the town of Palakkad nearby, and has come up the hard way by doing some great dishes and takes a lot of interest in making sure his guest’s eyes light up. People going beyond their call of duty, makes you develop a huge affinity with the brand-Kurumba Village. I certainly had! When I left the tree house, Chef Murali, briefly mentioned to me, that I should not be scared when I walk my way back, because elephants sometime get into the resort. The buggy was arranged to transport us safely.

Chef Murali of Kurumba Village
Chef Murali of Kurumba Village

The following morning, I woke up and spent my time looking at the valley from our garden, and walked up to the little stream that flows beside the resort’s eating area. The sound of a flowing stream, amidst the birds chirping is all you need on your ears, early in the morning. It has a way to make your brain soak in just the right vibes and feel at ease with the world. The resort not having telecom signals and a very fragile Wifi connection also helped me be disconnected from the world.

Our Portico overlooking the Garden! Chai Time!
Our Portico overlooking the Garden! Chai Time!

Know more of how the last day went in this little video. It features the following

  1. My little trip down to the stream
  2. Epic views of the clouds and mountains during breakfast
  3. Nandu getting to do activities with the naturalist
  4. Nandu and I playing in the pool all morning
  5. Our rides in the buggy back to my car

Cost of Staying

The resort is priced above 12,000 INR onwards on its rooms, and it differs depending on the room type. Browse through their website to book directly

Best Time to Go

There is no best time for a place steeped in the hills, but if you can just before the Europeans come here for their winter season (Dec-February), the resort is flush with the freshness of the onset of the North East Monsoon(Oct-Nov) and the Pre monsoon showers (June-September)

Getting There

From Chennai– You could take the train 12671 to Mettupalayam via Coimbatore and then take a taxi from there to the resort. If you are flying down, take a taxi from the Peelamedu airport in Coimbatore.

From Bangalore-The best way is to drive, through Mysore and Gudalur into Ooty, Coonor and then Kurumbadi, but if you dont prefer the hills, you can drive through Salem, Erode, Avinashi keeping the ghat roads to a minimum of 14 kilometres. For those flying or taking a train, you need to come to Coimbatore to then take a taxi.

From anywhere else in India-Fly in to Coimbatore and take a taxi/train to Mettupalayam

To get to Kurumba Village, its best you travel on your own in your vehicle. Whether you travel on your own or take a taxi for your rides, it should be another 6000-7000 Rs on your driving costs at the minimum.

If ever you wish to be adventurous, the way to do that is to take the train at Mettupalayam and get down at HillGrove, and trek down into the Kurunji flower areas, cross a little waterfall hoping you dont slip, and you will find yourself in 20 minutes at the resort.

The resort has only BSNL signals, so if you have anything else, it makes sense to call the resort from Mettupalayam/Coonor for directions, as there is no easy signboard to spot on your left, where you need to make a V shaped turn down the valley. If you are not sure how to drive down or drive up a hill, it helps if you can drive in 1st gear or get a driver who is at ease with driving in the hilly regions.

Exploring Andamans-Part 6-Monologue With Monsoon

This is part of a series, where I take my little son with me on my travels to help him understand responsible and sustainable tourism, so that he grows up to be a responsible citizen who can help inspire others to also understand the importance of respecting nature and nurturing it. In this series, we explore the Andaman Islands as part of #ResponsibleTravelForKids series. Can travel be made more meaningful and enjoyable for kids? Lets explore and find out. Check Part-0 Part-1 , Part-2 , Part-3 ,Part-4  and Part-5 so far.

I stood outside our hut for about 15 minutes, waiting for the dawn light to crawl inside the forest. This post is about those 15 minutes and the little walk thereafter. This post is about my monologue with nature before my little son wakes up.

There is something about the monsoons or the first rains, that leaves you spellbound or attracted to the world outside. It’s like the feeling of the world around you has been bathed and is singing joyously, while you explore the trees, the leaves, the pathways have its own morning monsoon glow, even as the earthy Petrichor fills your senses. Travelling to the Andamans from the mainland can be a little like time travel as you go catch the monsoon before it hits the mainland. You revel in the future by taking a piece of it, and then head back to the sweltering humid climate of Chennai and the world beyond it.

The morning walk across to the reception at Flying Elephants Retreat in Havelock Island-Andaman Islands (India)
The morning walk across to the reception at Flying Elephants Retreat in Havelock Island-Andaman Islands (India)
Reception of Flying Elephants Retreat in Havelock-Andaman Islands(India)
Reception of Flying Elephants Retreat in Havelock-Andaman Islands(India)

It looked like the rain had abated, and there was a sense of the wind and the buzz from the weather settling down. I actually wished it rained a bit more. There is something about a rainy day where you want droplets of water all around where you live. A blanket around you, a pot of tea and a book to lazily be transported mentally and physically into a different world of the book. The rain continuously falling could even be a GIF image that makes you feel bubbling with energy in the world that your book takes you to. I wanted to live within a book’s world, within the world that this green forest in Kalapathar Village was.  It was if there was a inner belief that rain has a way to heal the battered soul from the fast lives of the city. Rain has a way of making life pause, and take you on a different track for a new trip. It was like the movie ‘Inception’-Dream within a dream within a dream. Since it was not raining I walked out of the resort to the main road that curves its way amidst the chaperoning woods that would take me to the beach.

'Tip Tip Tip Baarish'- Kalapathar Village in Havelock-Andaman Islands(India)
‘Tip Tip Tip Baarish’- Kalapathar Village in Havelock-Andaman Islands(India)

As I walked outside, I saw the leaves had an extra layer of green and maybe a spring in their step. The heavens had within a few hours revived the beauty and done make up on its subjects below. The leaves and moss around were greener than usual, and the roads were beautifully filled with little brown puddles. I thought rain has its own art form, reflected on the grand canvas that earth’s layers were. It could be the sea, which could have a thousand ripples breaking into it, it could be badly made roads where the bitumen peals off drop by drop, it could be the mud on the roads, which has now become a chocolate ‘milk-shakish’ brown. Monsoon was art, and I was its connoisseur this morning.

That fresh feel of the monsoons- Kalapathar Village in Havelock-Andaman Islands(India)
That fresh feel of the monsoons- Kalapathar Village in Havelock-Andaman Islands(India)

The leaves around the betelnut trees, were up in arms, literally begging me to look at them. There was so much green around, that you felt like meditating into its gaze. Life was slow, Life was green and the world for a few moments was just me and nature. Mobile signals could not discover me here. Whatsapp’s carefully crafted ‘NASA predicts cyclone’ messages would not reach me. Arnab’s full throated voice or any kind of negative vibe could not find me. There was fun in this kind of hide and seek from media. Have you ever felt this?

Wet, Green and the Rains are around- Kalapathar Village in Andaman Islands(India)
Wet, Green and the Rains are around- Kalapathar Village in Havelock- Andaman Islands(India)

Click here to read the previous part, and the next part

G E T T I N G   T H E R E 

We stayed at ‘The Flying Elephants’ in Havelock Island (Kalapathar Village). Check room rates, and facilities here. You can reach Havelock Island by a ferry/helicopter from Port Blair.

Between Port Blair to Havelock, there are 2 private ferries (Green Ocean and Makruzz) and 1 Government Ferry. The private ferries have online advanced booking, while the booking window for the government ferry is 3-4 days in advance. You would need a local/agent to book the government ferry for you.

There are daily flights to Port Blair from Delhi, Kolkata, Bengaluru, Mumbai and Chennai. Carriers that service Port Blair include, Jet AirwaysAir IndiaSpiceJet and GoAir. Round-trip fares vary in price depending on how early you book.  It usually costs a minimum of about 11,000 INR return from Chennai. A 15kg check-in luggage limit exists for most air-planes.

There are no international flights from Port Blair.

Goan Monsoon Musings-Part 1

The alarm rang at 7 am as planned, the snooze button was activated (not as planned) and I went back to sleep. I heard the sounds of droplets of water falling hard outside the floor of my hotel. It was raining hard. I was in the midst of the Goa n monsoon, and there was no escaping from the fury of the Goan Monsoon. The sea was raging too. I could hear the waves, as it crashed on the whatever was left off the coast of Sernabatim in Goa. I was at Furtardo’s Beach Café, which was perched on a slightly elevated platform, with the beach having been eroded. So the waves basically hit against the hotel wall, and I was that close to the monsoon’s fury. I stepped out of my room, and opened the door, and the main area was just fine. The fury had not swallowed my room. The beach shack’s garden, was glowing green all over, fresh from the rains.

Main Reception at Furtardo's Beach House in Sernabatim-Goa
Main Reception at Furtardo’s Beach House in Sernabatim-Goa

Umbrella clad, I stepped out to the beach below me. The rain had abated a bit, though the winds were strong. There were a handful of people on the beach, presumably locals who were maybe at their daily walks, suggesting that everything is normal. The coconut trees, were trembling and could not quite mask the calmness of the locals. The weather felt beautiful.

 

Winds and Rain-Goan Monsoon at Sernabatim Beach
Winds and Rain-Goan Monsoon at Sernabatim Beach

An hour and many droplets later, I was on the road. I had made my plans for the day to get outdoors and drive through the Goan monsoon. There’s a special charm to Goa in the monsoons. Its as if the whole state is painted with grey skies and green grass all over. If you had to fall in love, make love, or rekindle your vows towards a relationship, Goa in the monsoons is when you come. A little walk through Sernabatim village maybe.

As soon as I started walking, the sun chose to make a guest appearance. The paddy fields seemed to have 2 shades of green, gleaming in the morning sun. It was beautiful. The different shades were due to different sets of farming efforts maybe since there was a boundary in between separating the plots. But 2 shades of green was maybe all I needed to ramble along.

 

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The roads were empty. No Tourists, Just the locals, Just the way Goa functions normally, and I was put right in that situation. I saw a diminutive uncle, taking his wife on a cycle, amidst the tall trees and wet roads. For a village, these were pretty sturdy roads. I have lived in Bombay, Bangalore and Chennai, and at the first sign of rains in a remote colony, the roads disintegrate. There was just the odd puddle of rain water stagnating but the villages were pristine and un touched by all the tourism.

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I quite loved the colourful houses, complementing the contrast that the monsoon brings to Goa. On the red bricks, that anyway dominate most homes in the Konkan belt, you are bound to see moss and off shoots of plants, as borders between the house and the roads. Weak borders at that, which could fall anytime.

 

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If the houses, were not enough for color, the Goan vehicles too oozed off some quirky colours. I saw a greenish Bajaj scooter, over looking a Honda Activa parked in the distance. It was about 9 am, and I see a Goan youth, cozying up in the little space that is there as seats, to lazily read the morning news. It’s a working day for most part of India, but Goa is as relaxed as ever. It’s an alternate reality in Goa, which does good job of convincing people that life is ‘better in goa’(Like those T shirts).

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I come across a Goan Taxi stand, which is basically a shed, that was built in the middle of nowhere. The wall is basically their ‘Amul Advertisement type medium’ to let the world know that they could call these folks for a taxi. The Taxi union in Goa, I hear is very strong. They have not allowed private radio taxis/app based businesses to set shop in Goa, which protects local establishments, but works out not so well for travellers.

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More coming in the second edition!