Travel Diaries

Cheeryal Laxminarasimha Swamy Temple

Approximately 15 kms from Hyderabad.

It basically feels like driving within the city considering the distance. But we will know we are no longer in the city once we cross ECIL. The buildings will start to thin. We get to see farm lands – if we are lucky, we get to see these farm lands in use.

It was the spur of the moment trip for us. So we did not know it was Utsavalu season. And we definitely did not expect crowd and wait in the queue for 30 minutes for darshanam. There was absolutely no one to guide people who are visiting this place for the first time. We were told that this place does not darshanam tickets, that’s how we ended up in the queue. Once we entered the main temple, we found a volunteer who guided us to get special darshanam tickets that will take you directly into the garbha gudi. Those 10 minutes in the garbha gudi we so peaceful and special.

The temple in itself is in a secluded place. One side of the road leading up to the temple has farm lands and the other side a small stretch of pond. It must be serene place without the loud speakers blasting and the crowds milling about. Probably we will visit this place another time in the evenings. We narrowly escaped from getting a sunstroke yesterday.

Travel Diaries

Birla Modern Art Gallery & Science Museum

Museums and art galleries are not everyone’s cup of tea.

Even if I did know this fact, it became painfully clear while I was at the Birla Modern Art Gallery, Hyderabad. People were just walking by the paintings like they were walking in the park. Not bothering to look at the finer details of the paintings, the artist name or the title of the paintings.

While I don’t claim to know art all that well, I made an attempt to understand what the artists were trying to convey through their paintings. It was most disappointing thing to see how this place was under appreciated and 75% of the time these halls were empty.

My personal favorite pieces from this collection are 1. Painting of three beautiful Nizam women and 2. A life size bronze sculpture of a serving girl. Beautiful thing about this sculpture is her eyes follow you around in the room. At that point in time, I was the only one in that hall and I was scared beyond my wits! With goosebumps adding to the eerie effect. But to create a bronze sculpture with effects like these back in 18th century was a marvel! Beautiful in a scary way!

Some of the excavated idols were displayed in the lawns of the property and along the way to science museum.

Birla Science Museum

This museum has four levels:

Ground level of the museum is scattered with a bunch of science projects/experiments. Pre-teens, teens and science geeks will be attracted to these projects. This level also has the oldest camera taking up an entire room on display, they also have first three generation computers on display. It was fascinating to watch big machines taking up so much space as computers versus the laptops we are using these days. Some optical experiments including concave and convex mirrors were fun. I was getting dizzy after watching few experiments, so skipped the rest.

Basement level is dedicated to the archaeological art. Some of the sculptures are too old and their forms were harder to decipher. The entrance to section was literally like a cave! I refused to enter it alone at first when the security guard showed me the entrance 😂. Then he helped me see the halls just beyond the entrance and the people walking about. This level had some more excavated idols on display – some in impeccable condition and others in unrecognizable condition.

The white marble art collection was like feast to the eye! The intricate designs of idols and the fine details on each piece was beautiful! And the black granite gopuram and dwaram – the precision with which they were sculpted. I have no words to describe how beautiful it was to watch them!

This level also has a collection of rare Chinese vases – huge vases!, Plaster of Paris sculptures, collection of perfume bottles in all shapes and sizes from 18th century, Thala Patralu in Sankrit transcripts, Porcelain figures collection from England. This last part is literally a doll collection and not everybody’s cup of tea. I have seen a bunch of young men running out of this section like their hair was on fire 😂. I suppose it wont hurt to appreciate art in the form of tiny doll figurines. They were beautiful set of dolls – calling to the little girl inside me😄. The museum had a strict no photographs policy. Otherwise, I would have taken thousands of pictures of these beautiful art!

The second level had a re-created model of submerged Dwaraka and model of Antarctica with tiny penguins! The rarest collection of pashmina carpets with the beautiful designs were a sight!

And the last floor is dedicated to Dinosaurium. They have skeleton of a dinosaurs on display along with other fossils and remains of dinosaurs. By the time I reached this floor (3 hours later) I had very little energy and patience to read the history and other material on display. I became the park walker by this time I was complaining about at the beginning of this article😅. Since other people were taking pictures with the skeleton – I thought I would need one too. 😄

It had been an educational tour for me. If only I had carried snacks to keep up my energy, I would have done justice to the last floor with Dinosaurs.

Like I mentioned in the beginning of this article, Art galleries and Museums are not for everyone. But if you do want to brave them – go prepared to spare at least few seconds per painting and art to appreciate them.

Travel Diaries

Coorg and Ooty Trip

I booked Coorg and Ooty trip from BookmyTrip for 5 days and 4 nights. This is the first time in five years I am actually going on a vacation.

Our trip started at 3 AM on 13th April 2022. We had to wake up at the ungodly hour to catch our flight at 7:55 AM at Shamshabad airport, Hyderabad. We had our coffee/tea and started at 5:15 AM from Malkajgiri and reached airport by 6:20 AM. Boarded the plane and got some much-needed rest in the one-hour flight to Bengaluru. They did serve us with breakfast of sandwich, but the flight food lacks the taste we Indians are so used to. I was starving by the time we landed, and it was more than six hours since I woke up and nothing substantial in me to get me going.

We had our designated driver who picked us up from the airport. We were going to Coorg by road from Bengaluru via Mysore. But we did not stop in Mysore as we had to reach Coorg before nightfall. Though, we did stop on the way for breakfast. The drive was uneventful all through the outskirts of Mysore and lunch was unsatisfactory. Having rice in Tamil Nadu and Karnataka is not a good idea having eaten rice in Hyderabad. Rather, we are used to eating Sona Masoori rice and we were served with different variety of rice. That was a learning experience to us.

Around 5PM, we reached Khushal Nagar. Throughout our drive from Bengaluru outskirts to Khushal Nagar – all we could see on either side of the roads were fields of Sugar cane. We also came across a newly married couple who were having a photo shoot in the fields posing as scarecrows! The scene was comic for an outsider like me (though the couple also did not particularly seem to enjoy the situation) I do hope the pictures are worth the ridiculousness of it.

In Khushal Nagar, however, the paddy fields were more beautiful with the farmhouses. Rich farmers from the looks of it and cars parked in the driveway are any indication. This point onwards the forests leading to Coorg were creating a scenic background on either side of the road. Not that I don’t have greenery at home, and I have said this enough number of times. But enjoying nature on its own terms was something else altogether!

When we just made it to the parking lot of Tibetan Monastery (Golden temple of Coorg), the skies (which were cloudy on and off throughout the day) – opened up and it rained for all its worth! And I was certain – my carefully planned trip was gone for a toss! We had to abandon the Monastery, at least on that day due to the thunderstorm and make our way to resort in Coorg. We had all intentions of packing umbrellas, expecting light rain. Then thought better of it – if the rain is going to be ‘light’ we don’t need it.

It was a good 2 hour drive to Coorg from Khushal Nagar in rain – no, thunderstorm. After some point, it was difficult for our driver to see through the heavy downpour. So, we had to stop until he was able to see enough to drive again. While I was supposed to enjoy the rain, greenery, mountains, etc., I could not! We were lost trying to find our resort through Google maps. Note: Do not trust Google maps in Coorg and Ooty. They are unreliable.

Our resort manager called and guided us properly onto the property. I was drenched thanks to the thunderstorm and was shivering to the bone when the manager was getting us checked in. Thankfully there was steaming hot water waiting for us to get fresh and the room given for us was lavish!

All this while, the thunderstorm went on to the early hours of the next morning. Our room was tiled roof which gave a feeling of Kerala style home/Village style homes. At night we were told that were the only guests at the resort and the holiday crowd will start coming in the next day. That was enough to put me in a state of distress and very little sleep followed.

When the dawn came, I woke up like “little Heidi” (from the Japanese animated series) and opened the window currents with bright smile to the beautiful scenery of early morning Coorg Mountains! The property on which we were staying was beautiful too! It was 28 acres we were told by our housekeeping team. And the way we were treated at the resort made us feel majestic! The resort property also has coffee plantation and few spices they were growing. I did not venture into the woods but took videos on our way out on the third day.

Day 2 was our actual sightseeing day and we packed it out with four locations.

Abbey Falls:

The way down from entrance to the falls can be a good 1-1.5 kms walk. Well, they are mostly stairs. The falls might not be Niagara Falls, but they were beautiful. The rocks from which the water was flowing look exactly like black kryptonite! The stream from the falls previously had a bridge to the other side of forest. Now it is in unusable state for a good reason too. There could be any sort of wild animals on the other side. I guess for that reason they had a mesh put on the either side of stairs leading to the falls. That and they were growing pepper and other spices on the property around the falls.


For the drive up to the peaks, we have to rely on Jeeps or safari rides, because the roads leading up to the peak are not suitable for regular cars. If you are travelling with elderly parents, let them stay back or skip this place altogether. The drive in itself will be rough and after that there is a good walk of 2 kms up to the peak.

The view from the peak is absolutely breathtaking. Mountain tops and clouds are more of the same. But the view will be worth the rough drive. So many mountains for as far as you can see!

There were points where we had to pay entry fee per head and we were expecting them to maintain basic necessities. The toilets smelt from 10 feet away and were absolutely unusable. Most of the tourists took resort of forests to relieve themselves.

Coffee Plantation:

There is a paid tour of 200 per person in the coffee plantation. The tour in itself is of 15-20 minutes and shows how the coffee plants are maintained throughout coffee bean production. They are maintained at 3 feet height at any given point in time. And they are grown along with white oak trees. Apparently they don’t water the plants at all because the white oak trees retain enough rain water to sustain the coffee plants all through the year. And it was raining every evening during our stay in Coorg. Not just any rains – thunderstorms!

Apart from coffee, they were some spices too in these plantations like Cinnamon, Cardamom, Cloves, Small chilies from which cooking wine is prepared, etc., They also have fig trees, Cocoa and sandal wood trees. Again, apparently as per government norms, any plantation is allowed to show the Sandal wood trees up to 15 years from the time they were saplings. To avoid situations of smuggling.

At the end of the tour, we went through the coffee processing and saw how coffee is prepared. We were even given a cup of coffee at the end of the tour. I did buy one big packet of coffee. Well, I asked for instant coffee powder – he still gave me the filter coffee powder. Anyway, the tour was good but not worth 200 per person.

Raja Seat Park:

I was okay to skip this spot, but our driver insisted it was a place not to be missed. Raja Seat Park is any regular park with beautiful flowers, neatly trimmed plants until you go to the end of the walkway. It is a beautiful view of mountain tops and coffee plantation. Not as scenic as Mandalpatti but will do for a spot within the town of Coorg.

And just when we were closing the day with sightseeing at 4:30 PM, the skies were getting ready to open up again. Luckily, our driver dropped us off at the resort for the day before the thunderstorm set-in. It gave us an opportunity to enjoy hot cup of coffee from the balcony of our resort room with good view of the property around us.

Our stay in Capitol Village Resort in Coorg was really good and the staff took good care of us with anything we needed in terms of food, coffee, extra blankets, etc., at any given time.

Day 3 we checked out of our resort but not before enjoying a good breakfast and coffee. When we were packing for this trip, we were prepared for weather of 28o C and when we actually reached Coorg due to untimely rains the temperatures went down by 10o C at 18-19o C. And all we packed is light cotton. Although we were given extra blankets in the resort but day time without a winter jacket was difficult to manage. And so on our way from Coorg to Khushal Nagar we had to make a pit stop to buy winter gear.

Next stop was Tibetan Monastery. But before that, our driver wanted us to visit Nisargadhama Deer Park. We made it to the place but it was jam packed with the tourists, cars waiting for kms on end. We waited for good 20 minutes and people coming back from the place were telling those of us waiting on the other side of the road that it will take more than 2 hours to get a parking slot. This was our real taste of holiday traffic. I was anyway not so keen on seeing this place to be waiting in line for hours on end. And so we gave up and made our way to the Monastery. Tibetans settled in this place since 1980s and built a beautiful Monastery.

The Monastery was huge and the main temple was beautiful with murals and huge Idols. This place is also referred to as “the golden temple” by the locals.

After the Monastery, we were on our way to Ooty via Mysore highway. The drive through the outskirts was uneventful. We touched the Chamundeshwari temple hill on the way, but could not stop because we were short on daylight and had to reach Ooty before nightfall. Only when we reached Bandipur forest the drive got interesting. The entire drive of one and half hour was feast for people who appreciate wild life!

Stay tuned for the second segment of my article on Bandipur forest wildlife and Ooty adventures!