Bhadrachalam Trip : A fitting farewell to 2012

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When vinod’s relavites wanted to go to a devotional place – we had 2 options : Srisailam and Bhadrachalam. As Srisailam had no railway, we opted for Bhadrachalam. We started the tour off a relatively short notice. After winding up my office work the before day, we spent the entire evening packing, shopping and more packing.

The train started from Hyderabad to Bhadrachalam road ( Kothagudem) at 11:45 and we reached there by 5:30 AM. Bhadrachalam temple road is almost 40 kms from there, and the auto wallah minted money from us, seeing the little kid in our hands and our luggage. Vinod’s friend was gracious enough to get the TTD Soumitri Sadam accomodation arranged for us. We checked in around 7:30 in the morning. As the train was overnight, no body slept. We did not pack blankets as everyone underestimated the chillness in the weather. For the first time in her life, Saanvi slept in the topmost compartment of train, and she was so thrilled to be on top of everybody!!

The temple is around 10 mins walk from the accomodation. One cannot but remember the telugu movie “Sri Ramadasu” while roaming in Bhadrachalam. We went for Dharma Darshanam and it took us around 40 minutes to see the God. It’s definitely crowded, but the  people near the god weren’t very cruel to the devotees. It’s magical to see Lord Sri rama inside the garbha gudi.  The entire afternoon and evening were spent resting, as everyone was sleep deprived and were nothing short of zombies.

The next day morning, me and lavanya ( my sister by relation) went to the temple early morning. Being sunday, special archana carried out in lord rama’s garbha gudi were cancelled. Tad disappointed, we walked to Prasadam Counter and got all the prasadams. When we spent around 1 and 1/2 hour in the temple roaming around, the counter for special darsan got opened and we were fortunate enough to get tickets. The queue went very long in a short time. And with 20 Rs, we finished our darshan in less than five minutes. This time, we stayed even long. Being morning, everyone was fresh and no body even asked us to go away, when we kept watching lord’s idol.

Afternoon, we went  to Parnashala. That’s a village which is around 37 kms from Bhadrachalam. Major attractions are a temple, the parnashala kutiram that has lord rama’s, and sita devi’s foot imprints for us to see. It is hard to describe the feeling you get, when you stand at a place where lord rama and sita once stood. Exhilirating, that’s the word.

Half kilometer from there, we went to a broad rock. It is said that lord rama and sita stayed on the rock for 5 days every month. We could see the saree imprint and dhoti imprints on the rock. Also, the place where sita devi used to sit, the place where lord rama used to sit , the place where they used to play. Fortunate is the word to describe who can lay their feet and stand in such a holy place. There was a place where lord lakshmana cut the nose and ears of surpanaka. The guy over there asked us to take 3 stones with left hand and throw them on the stone pile in front of us. By doing so, we will avoid the difficuilties that rama and sita have faced in their lifes.  We debated later on, whether the stone throwing will really remove the difficuilties. No body won, but the journey turned interesting.

Later in the evening, we visited the banks of Godavari and paid tribute to the nature mother over there. We could see less water and more and more sand. It’s sad that the natural resources are evaporating at such a pace. I wonder what would remain for my future generations to eat, enjoy and live.

We returned by ASPRTC 7646, which started at 9 PM and we reached Hyderabad bus station by 4 AM in the morning. The bus journey was much much better than the train journey. Almost everyone caught a nice nap at night.

We could not visit Papi kondalu due to time and situation constraints. When I close my eyes on the return trip, I can imagine the entire temple, lord rama’s statue and the rock at parnashala. My heart fills with joy. It is at this moment  I decide a goal for 2013 : To listen to Ramayanam by China Jeeyar Swami.

Overall, a fitting end to 2012. What more can one want, than stand on the holy land of Bhadrachalam where Lord Rama and Sita devi has once roamed?

Have a great day and keep rocking!!

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Ocean World Manly

This Sunday, we had a long trip to Ocean World, Manly. A train to Circular Quay, followed by an awesome 1/2 hour trip to Manly. It’s a very nice area, and the ocean world is a mini version of Sydney Aquarium we visited earlier. Saanvi did enjoy a lot, as she remembers the fishes and was so excited to see so many colorful, and varied fishes and other sea animals over there. The little penguin cove opened, but for some strange reason, all the penguins just hid inside. Overall, if you already visited Sydney Aquarium or planning to visit, you can easily give this a miss.

Manly beach is very famous, but the cold weather forced us to cut back the trip and head home. On the way, Casino lured us and robbed a bit of our hard earned money 🙂

How was your weekend?  Have a good day, and keep rocking!!

The luna park, Sydney – experienced!

Today, we went to Luna park. Because of my little daughter, we got Sunday funday passes at $2.5 each. This park is located at milson’s point reachable by all means of public transport. We took train while arriving and ferry during departing from Luna park.

The best part is free entry. I was bored of rides, my daughter was young and the others were simply not interested. So, the free entry was good, so we can see what’s inside.

If you have kids >; 2 years, take them and buy a red man ticket. They will love the kids-only rides behind looney island. My daughter kept insisting that she sit on the rides, and I bought her a ticket. However, she didn’t enjoy going alone on rides, without us around. So, even if the height permits and your baby insists, do think twice. They may not actually be ready.

I personally felt that, 3 rides (regret for forgetting the names ) were good enuff for adventurous elders. The elders ticket costs at $40, you can save some money by booking online.

There’s plenty of place to sit, relax and lot of game stalls. We played a few, and the last one gave us a big big balloooon, which we spent half an hour filling, once reached home.

All in all, don’t expect a Disneyland. If you stay in a reasonable distance and have kids, just come around for couple of hours. You will not regret. In any case you did, circular quay is one stop away.

Have fun and keep rocking!

Blue mountains!:)

This Easter long weekend, we started our australia tours with the famous blue mountains.

Booked with: oztrek
Driver/guide: Jim, a quirky Aussie
Tour time: depart at 8:30 from strath field, return at 6.
Bus breaks: morning coffee, lunch break
Things to do: a view of blue labyrinth, three sisters, katoomba waterfalls and 3 rides in scenic world
Children: our daughter, 20 mths came along with us all the rides. However, check out scenic railway. Shy babies may not appreciate a train going at 52 degree incline.
Food: if you plan to, can pack your food. There’s a YHA place, where you can peacefully sit and have lunch. Lots of places to eat. Vegetarians, there’s subway – so, relax.
Overall : 3.5/5

What I liked the most?
Rainforest view
Scenic railway
Scenic walkway

Here are some pics:

Agra – Mathura – Vrindavan Trip

This weekend, we went for Agra , Mathura and vrindavan trip. It’s 5 hour drive from our home in gurgaon. The driver arranged by Ms. Mallika,  www.uniqueindiatour.com was good, except his continuous chewing of gutka, and irritatingly stopping the car to spit out. But, when you have company from our house to the driver, there is nothing to complain of. I have nothing against people who chew gutkha, but – please spare us by keeping your mouth shut. It will save my stomach from futher discomfort.

Ok, I think i cribbed enough. What to do, this is my solace point to crib on things that cannot be shouted aloud….

Coming back to our wonderful trip, We first went to Agra, and stayed at Royal Residency. Neat, and good. Pretty liked the place. the next day free breakfast was also filling with poori, poha and other western stuff too.  The TajMahal is very near, and we visited it late in the afternoon. Wow, what a breathtaking beauty!!! I could only stand in awe and look at the grandeur and its magificience. One tip though – go with a guide. If you are lucky, you’ll get a good one – we got a goverment guide for Rs. 475. When I looked at him in suspicion – he asked us to give the money only if we are satisfied. True to his word, he took some great shots, and showed us lot of things other usual travellers didn’t see.  I didn’t climb the taj – to roam around the duplicate coffins  – somehow thought that it’s not needed.  Taj – there is nothing to describe here – If you have the money and time — do pay a visit, and keep the image stable in one corner of your heart…

After that, we went to the famously disappointing “sound and light show” at agra fort. Sitting there out, and freezing my young one – all I could see is darkness, with lights on and off and a famous poet’s commentary behind. Needless to say, I came out in 10 minutes. come on, I studied all the moghul history for years, wasting my  childhood.. Avoid..!!!

Next day morning,we visited the Agra fort, and had a loooong walk – the fort never ends ! From the fort, we could see Taj in dense fog, and it was a great shot as well. Visit the fort with comfortable shoes, and  ready to walk and explore the moghul grandeur.. Worth the visit..

Our empty stomachs were filled by Indiana restaurant and Udipi. I would rate Indiana restaurant a 0.5 / 5 , mainly because of the worst customer support, followed by uneatable food, followed by exorbiant bill. Udipi – 3.5/5, for good customer support, above average tasting south indian food, and bearable bill. Best part was, they even prepared dinner for my little one, on our request !! 🙂

Next destination was Mathura, where Lord  Sri Krishna was born. We missed the main temple – it was closed. Got to seee Sri Krishna Janma Sthali, and few other exhibits. An overwhelming lot of emotions in display on my face. The architecture was also something to see and appreciate. Like Taj, this biggest temple in North india was a beauty in its own. We got an old guide, who was good enough to recite some verses of Srimad bhagavadgita and make us more happy.

The final stop was Vrindavan – Sri Ranganath temple. The guide, a young chap explained meticulously on the history, and guided us through the temple and outside. One thing that remained in my mind is : Asking us to clap and smile, as we pray to god. The reason is, Lord Sri krishna spent his childhood at Vrindavan and no body should ever be sad. The temple  darshan was great. Although other famous temples were in the itinerary, my mother in law’s health  didn’t permit and we drove back to gurgaon.

Mathura, Vrindavan and Agra are in sharp contrast to my expectations – that of decent homes and good facilities. Just outside world famous monuments and historical places, you will fall short counting the number of slums surrounding it. It’s high time Ms. Mayawati, the honorary chief minister of Uttar Pradesh, atleast try to think about these things.

My end of journey was rather mixed – I felt so great watching Taj, Agra fort and Lord Sri Krishna’s abode – but also felt very heavy in heart looking at so many poor and unnourished children and families.