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Ladakh - Planning The Trip

Over 2000 Km by road, in around 10 days. Stunning landscapes, wonderful people. That sums up our Ladakh trip. But how did it actually work? How did we make it happen? Read on to find out!  Leh, the capital of Ladakh , is accessible by air and road. Flying into Leh is the easiest, and time-saving option, while the road is the time consuming one, but with the added advantage of driving past some of the most beautiful landscapes in our country. Each option has much to recommend it, and we chose the road for just one reason – altitude sickness. Altitude sickness was one of my biggest concerns, since I suffer from motion-sickness. Yes, I do travel a lot, but that is despite my condition, and, over the years, have learnt how to handle it. I struggled with it when we visited Nathu-La in Sikkim, and wondered if I would be able to manage a week at the even higher altitudes that we would encounter in Ladakh. This was the reason we stuck to a basic plan, of only 9 days in Ladakh, though we

Termite hills / Termite mounds

There is something fascinating about termite hills or termite mounds, (ant hills as we usually call them).  You don't agree? Well, most of my family doesn't either, except Samhith of course! He has the same fascination for these huge settlements built with nothing but mud, and stops every time he sees one! Tirupati abounds in these termite hills - the Lord himself is said to have appeared in one, so undoubtedly there is something special about them! Well, we have seen many ant hills, some small, some even bigger than me.... See this one we photographed in the Zoo... Its about 5 feet high! We have often wondered what it would be like, inside this hill. It is believed that snakes live there too.... whether before or after the termites, I am not sure..... However, this time, the zoo not just gave us the opportunity to see some caged wild animals, but also some un-caged ones, among which were some termites - the hill had broken, probably thanks to some careless tourists -

Around Tirupati - Chandragiri

On our ten day Tirupati visit , we visited temples galore, waterfalls, museums, a zoo and even a science centre! The last place we visited was a fort, to round it off, so to speak! I would call the Chandragiri fort more of a palace than a fort, and that too, a rather simple palace, on the whole. Layout of the Chandragiri Fort According to Wikipedia , Chandragiri was built by the Yadava Rayas in the 11 th century, and they ruled it for over three centuries. It then came under the control of the Vijayanagara rulers, who moved here when the Golconda attacked their capital at Penukonda. It was annexed by the Golconda sultans in 1646, and finally came under the rule of the kings of Mysore. Around the end of the eighteenth century, the fort was abandoned, and it sunk into oblivion. Raja Mahal The main structure here is the Raja Mahal, literally the king’s palace. Compared to some other palaces I have seen, this was quite simple, and is now used as a museum, housing various artif

Around Tirupati - Sripuram Golden Temple

The Sripuram Golden temple at Vellore was one temple I had been hearing a lot about, but had no plans of visiting on my Tirupati trip. For one thing, it wasn’t an ancient temple which draw me much more than anything else, and secondly, I felt it would be a better idea to make a visit from Chennai rather than Tirupati. However, as it happened, we found ourselves taking the APSRTC package tour to Kanipakkam and Sripuram, thanking our stars for the decision, since it poured constantly all day long, and we saw flooded roads all along the route. We would surely have been stalled had we taken any other mode of transport! The Sripuram Golden temple has been built on 100 acres of land in Vellore by the Narayani Peetham headed by Shakti Amma. It’s a beautifully constructed temple situated in the centre of exquisitely laid out gardens and a pathway in the shape of a star. Cameras were not allowed inside, so I could not take any pics, but a google search yielded too many, so here are a few, as

Around Tirupati - Kanipakkam

The temple of Varasiddhi Vinayaka at Kanipakkam is one I have seen grow over the last few years I have been there. When I visited the temple this time, I found myself wishing that I had taken photos of the temple on my earlier visits (which, incidentally were before I began blogging!), for this time I was advised to leave the camera in the vehicle itself! Image from the internet The legend of the temple relates to three brothers, of whom, one was deaf, one was dumb and one was blind. They tilled their land together and made a living. When their well dried up, they dug another well, but were stumped when they were unable to dig further than a particular level. When they tried harder, the iron spade hit a stone which began to ooze out blood! The minute the blood oozed out, the brothers lost their deformities, and were stunned to see the sight! The villagers were amazed, and attempted to deepen the well further to see the origin of the blood. Finally, from the waters emerged an id

Around Tirupati - Gudimallam - A Lingam like no other!

Gudimallam is a small village about 31 Km from Tirupati. A few years back, I had read about an interesting temple there, and was determined to visit it this time. Getting an auto to the temple turned out to be the most difficult thing, for none of the auto chaps we met had heard about it! I was beginning to doubt the information I had gathered, when at last we met an auto driver who not only knew about the temple and agreed to take us there, but also regaled us with stories about Tirupati and surrounding places as he drove us from one place to another. The narrow concrete road twisted and turned as it made its way along hamlets and then rice fields, now and then giving us a view of the dry river bed of the Swarnamukhi, as we headed towards Gudimallam. The river was dry, but the fields were fertile, and there were plenty of birds around. We saw swifts by the dozen as well as small green bee eaters, a few cattle egrets and some pond herons…as well as other birds I couldn’t identify. Th

Around Tirupati - A Temple Tour by TTD Bus

There is no counting the number of temples in the vicinity of Tirupati, but the TTD maintains some of them, and they also run buses to these temples in an attempt to popularize them. While some are just small temples about which not much information is available, some of them are really beautiful and worth a visit. We took the TTD bus to make a visit to all these temples in a day. It happened to be Diwali, so we had the added  satisfaction of spending the festival in a memorable manner. Here are the temples we visited. Karvetinagaram Narayanavanam Nagari Bugga Nagalapuram Surutapalli Appalayagunta Tallapakka Chennakesava Swamy Temple Karvetinagaram Karvetinagaram , located about 48 Km from Tirupati, traces its origins back to the era of the Chalukyas, who had their capital at Narayanavanam. At some point, a forest was cleared and their new capital (Nagaram) was built here. Since the capital was built by cutting down a forest, this place came to be known as ‘Kadu vetti Nag