Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Essential Andaman in 8 night / 9 days - Detailed Travelogue - DAY IV

Day 4 - 20th Jan

The main attraction for this morning was to visit Elephant beach. Elephant Beach is very much on the main island of Havelock and can be trekked by foot from SH 4, which happens to be one of the two main roads , other being SH 5, on Havelock. I am told it takes about 45 minutes on foot from SH 4 and that one has to wade through knee deep water for some distance, may be 100 meters.

Leaving our resort by about 0830 hrs, we reached the beach next to Jetty in about 20 minutes. Here we were met by our travel coordinator who put us with the boat navigator. Once the number of passengers were gathered, we boarded the boat and were promptly handed one life jacket each.

It must be mentioned that all the operators at Andamans, of every service, are very particular about things that are important. Yesterday, at Radhanagari Beach, the street vendors were very particular that no tourist  litters the beach. The boat to North Bay island at Port Blair as also the boat operator of this boat going to Elephant Beach did not move the boat unless all passengers had donned their life Jackets. I felt that only way responsible tourism can progress is this, very proper behavior by all working in tourism sector.

The boat journey was fun and lasted for about 30 minutes. Once we disembarked, we were delighted with a compact and pristine white beach. We were happy to see all the options of water sports that were available at North Bay island were available here too. While the ladies of our group did not enjoy most of the water borne activities, they decided to just soak in water at beach.
Elephant Beach

Since I had already done fun dive at North Bay, I wanted to do Snorkeling at this place. One more member also joined me and we did snorkeling and enjoyed the underwater beauty of the fishes, corals and other sea species.

Snorkelling guides
Post Snorkeling we all decided to do a trip on Glass Bottom Boat. The Russian Boat experience at North Bay had made us skeptical about this tirp but to our surprise we found this ride enjoyable, much better than the Russian Boat Ride and way economical than that ride.

On our return to the beach we had change of clothes (very logical step). While change room and fresh water facilities were available on the beach, the water in Andamans is not as saline as it is on main land. Hence all of us dropped the Bath part. All that was left for us before getting back in the designated boat was usual fill of eatables and tea, etc.

We left Elephant Beach by about 1230 and reached Havelock is about 30 minutes. By then we were hungry. We had read about a place called “Something Different”. We looked for this place and liked it in our first look. We decided to have lunch there. This place is located nearly on a beach (Beach No 2) where one can go and enjoy view of shimmering blue water.
Emerald Green water at Beach No 2

Beautiful Mangroves 

One more Snap

Coast at Beach 2
They have a very big place with multiple type of seating starting from lower ones to tall tables. The choice is of the customer. We found a suitable seating of our liking and ordered our food on the recommendation of the Captain there. The food also included a full tandoori fish. While the food was good and we enjoyed it what lingers even today in our mind is the Tandoori Fish and its wonderful appearance and taste.

Wow, No Wifi. Happy tp Naote

Seating Orthogonal Chairs

Tall Seating

Normal Seating

Low Seating, Almost Indian Style

Innovative Table Mat

Another Look

Tandoor Fish, looked and tested good

Post lunch we retired to our room at TSG resort and rested till about 1530. The rest was followed by our visit, second one, to Radhanagari Beach (at walking distance from TSG Blue). The sun was bright at that time and having been to water yesterday, we choose to just sit and enjoy till we get to see sun set.

When we reached there, it was bright sunshine. We thought the clouds would obliged us today and we could view the fabulous sunset from this beach. That however did not happen. Just short of sunset, the clouds landed up and obscured the sun. Luck was not our side. 
Bright Sun at radhanagari, But Clouds Lurk

Beautiful Cloud Pattern but our Sunset Ruined

Post sundown, the weather becomes less hot and the breeze picks up. It was nice to be on the beach for some time. 
Me - Bheed ke Beech Aakela (Just Joking)

Loungers on the Beach

It's a Popular Beach

We returned to the resort after some time, had our dinner and slept off. 

Saturday, March 18, 2017

Hello from Meghalaya and Assam Day VIII

Day Eight

This part of the blog is devoid of photos as Photography is not allowed in the museum and rest of the day was pure road travel

Originally we were scheduled to leave early from Shillong to Kaziranga but Don Bosco museum that was closed was yet to be visited. It was thus programmed for a early visit today. Leaving after breakfast we reached Don Bosco Museum at 0930 hrs. 

It is museum run by a Christian organization hence there is religious tone to some of the galleries but that not withstanding this seven story multi gallery is a virtual window to culture of all the states of North East India. May it be costumes, houses, etc, this place is rich in its displays and information. 

We found it better to visit two floors that are below ground level and then take a lift to top floor, visit their sky walk and come down the stairs through various galleries on various floors to ground floor. Apart from well displayed galleries, this place also stands out for excellent amenities like toilets, a café, etc. It is worth noting for benefit of elderly people, all the floors are serviced by the Lift. Taking a leisurely trip in the museum we departed by 1130 hours for Kaziranga. 

Covering  the distance at a good speed on good roads we reached Jorbat, a T junction joining Shillong road to Guwahati – Jorhat road. This was about 1400 hrs, time for lunch. There are series of Dhabaa on the road side and we also had lunch on one of these dhabas. 

Post lunch it was straight to Bonhabi Resort at Kaziranga. Our trip to Don Bosco museum at Shillong had delayed our movement to Kaziranga. Remember the fact that in the NE India the sun sets very fast hence it was dark before we reached Bonhabi. In fact the resort called up our driver to find out why the delay?

Having reached the resort by about 1830 and after a cup of tea we surveyed the place and liked it. Local representative of our travel company confirmed our Elephant and Jeep Safari for the next day morning by about 1930 hrs. After that only thing left for us was to have our dinner and sleep because our Elephant safari was booked at 0630 hrs (first safari being at 0530 hrs and there are only three Elephant safaris in the morning with none in the after noon.

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

History Under Your Feet - a single source about many people and events of Indian History

The heritage that India has has been discredited or neglected by British educated and / or Marxist historians. Very rarely we were and our younger generation is told about the glorious tradition of our nation.

We were colonised by Mughals and British and a image is created in the history narrative and books that we Indians just gulped being a second class citizen in our own country. This is actually very far from truth. In every era we had heros who fought for the freedom of our beloved motherland.

I enjoy peeping into India history, its heroes (and villains), monuments, fort and battles. whenever and wherever I get something to read about India and its past I feel compelled to read. In that context I came across a blog of Ratnakar Sadasyula who seems to have one and only one mission - to cover as much he can of past glorious history of India.

What a veritable  treasure trove it turned out to be. Every time I visit this blog, I just can't stop reading. So many things to read, Shivaji, Nana Fadanavis, Ahilyabai Holkar, Ram Prasad Bismil, Savarkar and the list goes on. More you read more hunger develops.

Is the writeup supported by citation from various records? Baring few quotes, no citation is provided but the writer also does not claim any where in his blog to be absolutely accurate. However, whatever little I know of the historical figures of India, his blog posts narratives appear to me, very close to reality.

Do visit his blog to see for yourself. Also do pass on this information to you friends, family and particularly younger people who know very less of Indian history and more of European, British or American history (not their fault, it is fault of these lest leaning text book writers who intentionally kept our text book that way).
His blog can be reached at -https://historyunderyourfeet.wordpress.com

Do read the blog and enrich the  information of Indian history that you already have.

Thursday, March 9, 2017

Essential Andaman in 8 night / 9 days - Detailed Travelogue - Day III

Day 3 - 19th Jan

It was a day of transfer to Havelock Island through Boat Journey from Port Blair.  We were booked on private ferry called Green Ocean. The ferry was scheduled to Depart the Marine Jetty at 0645. We got ready, checked out and reached the Jetty at 0600 (realized later that we were expected to report one and half hour prior to departure). First we had to stand in security clearance queue and later in the check in queue (reverse of the sequence at Airport routine). Finally we made it to the boat at 0640, just in time.
Posing opposite Green Ocean  Boat

The boat left for Havelock island at 0645, on time. It is a one and half hour journey. Green Ocean is a Air conditioned boat. There is a deck also which is open to air and thus not air conditioned. Initially, till the safety briefing is done (about 30 min in the journey), no one was allowed to go to upper deck. Once the briefing was over, people were allowed to go to upper deck which had a small counter selling eatables and tea, etc.
In the Boat
While the boat was reasonably stable there were few people who were feeling motion sickness (called sea sickness by mariners). Those people were first ones to rush on upper deck. It was a good feeling for all of us to be on upper deck and enjoy sea breeze on our face. After spending some time and having a cup of tea, we returned to the below deck air conditioned space, however, our friends continued on upper deck.

After about an hour in the journey we were surprised to hear some music. Music in the middle of the ocean? Upon trying to find out, we realized that upper deck has been cleared in some areas and a DJ is playing songs. People were dancing to the tunes of those songs. Surprise, surprise, those who were supposedly sea sick for most of the journey also were dancing away.

Dance Floor

The fun dance came to an end about 10 minutes short of our reaching Havelock. Upper deck was cleared and people were sent down so that crew could prepare the boat for going alongside the Havelock jetty.

Once the boat was alongside, we came out of jetty and looked for our local tour organizer. Once he was located he gave us a vehicle to go to our place of stay, TSG Resort on Radha Nagari Beach road and also told us our programme.

After a short road trip we reached the resort. The first feeling was, this is the place to stay. Right from the reception to cabins, everything was in wood finish. Two bed room cottages were not big were good and functional. After settling down and relaxing for some time we had lunch.
Corridor of cabins
TSG Blue Havelock Accommodation
Grand Trees

Beautiful Garden

restaurant at TSG

I had a swim in the swimming pool in the afternoon and at about 4 pm we walked to Radha Nagari beach which was a small walk of about 20 min. Radha Nagari Beach is famous for its sun set similarly, every place in Andamans has a beach for sun rise and a beach for sun set). It is a long stretch of pristine white sand with some sitting areas and also change rooms and bathrooms for people to use post a dip in the ocean.
Swimming pool
After lounging into the sea for considerable time and doing lot of “masti” in the water and playing with waves we came out and waited for sunset. Sun was going down at its own pace and then a villain landed up between us and the setting sun, a thick and big cloud. The fun of watching setting sun was killed by that cloud and we had to just gulp it. Who can win against the nature.

Approach to Radha Nagari Beach
Young Couple at Radha Nagari Beach

Enjoying the Surf
Promising to make yet another trip tomorrow to Radha Nagari beach, we had our bath and returned to resort. By that time it was already dark. We had a good cup of tea, rested yet again (what else is the objective of holidays) and then went to the restaurant.

Day ended for us after dinner and a stroll post dinner.

Friday, March 3, 2017

Hello from Meghalaya and Assam Installment VII

Day Seven

We were planned to visit Don Bosco Museum of NE which opens at 0930. It is known to be closed on a Sunday and this day being a working day, the plan was made to start the day with visit to this place. This was done with a thought that we would be able to spend lot of time there.

But that had not to be. As we reached that place at about 1030, we found that the museum was closed. It looked unusual till we read the notice that apart from Sundays the museum is closed on important days of Christianity. It was All Souls day and hence the place was closed.

We decided to make it to the museum tomorrow before our departure from Shillong to Kaziranga. We moved on to Lady Hydari Park. This is a small but well kept park with a compact Zoo in it. Though it was hot and sun was beating down, we enjoyed a trip through the zoo. We like the place but in few cases we felt animals had very small enclosure. Few of them need bigger and taller enclosures for them to pursue their natural activities (like vultures would like to fly a bit). After visiting the Zoo it was a stroll in the park with its pond and ducks and pelicans.

Wild Cat at Lady Haidary Park

After this place we went to Police Bazar, a famous bazaar (though we did not feel that its fame is justified as it looked to us like any other city bazaar) of Shillong. First thing we noticed was wafting smell of baking. But we left that exploration at sometime later. We roamed around the bazaar for sometime and then returned towards the main square to look for that bakery from where good smell was emanating and also Tettoria, a local Khasi food joint famous for its dishes. That bakery turned out to be Legacy, The Cake Shop, a big bakery store stocking various delicious baked items, biscuits and cakes. It was impossible to leave this place without picking up some of the items that were on sale. I cannot remember what we purchased but I can vouch that whatever we bought was very good stuff.

Tettoria turned out to be a pure Khasi food place (as expected) thus also nearly fully non-veg restaurant. I would not say that there are no options for vegetarians but that would mean just rice and one odd accompaniment. We were on a exploratory mission hence we ordered three meals with variety of dishes in each. Some things were usual like finely cut salad, mashed potato etc but some other stuff, though usual for locals, was tough on us, particularly the fermented black bean sauce. The fermented fish sauce was also pungent but manageable. The food, obviously, was not of a taste that we knew but trying it out has been a different experience. Unfortunately, I am unable to locate few photos that we took.

My wife and mom played safe and went to Pizza Hut. After lunch we went to a unique fully transparent Meghalaya government lottery. This was something very similar to numbers that were taken out once upon a time by “Matka” operators except that matka numbers were opaque here they are very transparent. This is daily lottery again similar to matka. How does it operate? See next paragraph.

All over Meghalaya, there are authorized stalls accepting bets for first round numbers and second round numbers (set of two numbers of two digits each). So ones sees things like 25  59 Written on these stalls. One wonders as to what are these numbers. Obviously, the bet is on predicting these two set of numbers for that days draw, not through usual methods but by a unique and out of the world method.

Two rounds of draws are taken out daily by a set of over 30 archers firing 30 arrows each on a single cylindrical target mounted on a pole, placed at equidistance form each of them (as they sit in semi arch facing the target. Based on season, the draw time is at 1530 (first round) and 1600 (second round) in winter or 1600 and 1630 in summer.

Arrow Infested Target of Tir Lottery
We found it very interesting to witness this unique lottery draw. I consider it a worth visit when in Shillong. I have already put detailed blog on Tir Lottery. That blog can be read at http://harshad-datar.blogspot.in/2016/12/most-transparent-and-random-daily.html 

After this, we checked up about the Cherry Blossom Festival to be held on 14 Nov (this day being only 02 Nov). It was told that most trees will blossom by that day but few trees have already blossomed at Ward’s Lake (a park cum lake in heart of Shillong where boating also takes place). One round of ward lake gave us viewing of at least four or five Cherry Blossom trees and one of them fully blossomed. It really blossoms one’s heart looking at the fully bloomed trees.

Cheery Blossom Flowers

One more Shot

Cheery Blossom Tree - Fully Blossomed

One More Such Tree

By the time we were finished with this visit, it was getting dark. We returned to our place and spent the evening peacefully.