Festive hues

With just two days to go for the Festival of Lights, street sides wear a colourful look.

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Picture above: Lakshmi idols on sale at Tippasandra. Lakshmi Puja is part of Diwali celebrations in many homes.

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Picture above: Over the last few years, Chinese lanterns have taken the market by storm. Lanterns of various shades enliven a shop on a busy street.

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Picture above: Thanks to the presence of a tree in the vicinity, a seller found a novel way of displaying his stock of lanterns.

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Picture above: Lanterns illuminate a shop at dusk on Cambridge Road.

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Picture above: An attractive applique-work lantern on display alongside Chinese ones..

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Picture above: An array of lanterns catches the eye at a novelty store.

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Picture above: Brigade Road spruced up for Diwali.

 

Have a happy and colourful Diwali!

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A meal for a steal!

Those of you familiar with CMH Road in Indiranagar, Bangalore would  also be familiar with Gokul Kuteera. Gokul Kuteera isn’t someone’s home nor is it a fancy hut; it is an elegant vegetarian restaurant with a homely ambience. The food served here is mostly North Indian. Named after the famous town in Uttar Pradesh where Lord Krishna spent his childhood, this restaurant is a perfect place to take your family to. The dimly-lit interiors, wooden furniture with leather-cushioned seats, ample ventilation and enough legroom and space to move around makes dining here a pleasant experience. To add to that is the efficient and courteous service. The ceiling with geometric designs in plaster of Paris adds to the charm of the place.  The restaurant also has an air-conditioned section. You can enjoy your meal even as soft Bollywood tunes play in the background.
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Whenever I visit this place it is almost always to relish the mini Madras meal. This lip-smacking spread with food just in the right proportions is specially made to cater to the needs of the office-goers in the vicinity. It is easy on the pocket and costs you just 50 bucks. A couple of years back you just had to spend a meagre 35 bucks on this meal, the price having shot up recently. A thali will have three fluffy puris with an accompaniment, papad, sambar, rasam, rice and curry, curd and a dessert. And of course, there is a bowl of pickle on the table. If there are two of you, you could also order a plate of pepper mushroom fry which though a little spicy tastes out of the world. You could end your lunch by washing down the food with a glass of creamy lassi.

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The mini Madras meal is only served on week days. On weekends you will  have to settle for the special meals and of course there are plenty of other dishes you could choose from.
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In case you go there, happy eating 🙂

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Address:
21, 1st Floor,
(above Health & Glow)
CMH Road,
Indiranagar,
Bangalore 560038

A holiday in idyllic Coorg

This year my Dasara was memorable in more ways than one. I visited a temple almost every day. I sank in the festivities at Mysore when I visited the historical city most famous for its grand Dasara celebrations. And to top it all, I had a nature holiday at the ‘Scotland of India’ popularly known as Coorg or Kodagu. After a fleeting one-night stay at Mysore on a Friday, I arrived with my family on a fine Saturday afternoon at Hillstone Estate near Virajpet. We were ushered into a magnificent bungalow by Mr. Raju, the caretaker of the place. The bungalow was surrounded by a beautiful garden. Image The interiors of the bungalow were very inviting. A central garden in the large hall was particularly captivating. A sit-out with comfortable chairs reminded me of story books. Sadly, all I had with me was a self-improvement book. It made me wonder why on Earth I carried that and not a Wodehouse or Gerald Durell. Just as I was ruing about my choice of book, Mr, Raju invited us in. The four of us were shown into two impeccably furnished rooms. I shared mine with my little niece. Image Image Image Image Lunch followed. Mr. Joseph, the Malayali cook, cooked a sumptuous Kerala-style meal. Image Post-lunch I went on a recce. My niece was bowled over by the fireplace. She couldn’t wait to see it lit up. Image Image Image Image Image Image Image When I stepped out I noticed a kennel and from inside it peered a dog with an exceptionally large, grey face. As I approached the kennel, I heard a loud thumping on the wooden floor and endearing woofs. Eden, the estate dog, was as excited as we were. He was wagging his tail with great speed and asking to be let out. We were told that he is friendly and playful. On being let out, the adorable Neapolitan Mastiff stood up on his hind legs to give us all a hug. We had a great time playing with the fella. A dried coconut and orange served as excellent toys and to add to that there was a long twig that caught Eden’s fancy. After the awesome time we had with the majestic canine, we realised that all our clothes had large paw marks all over. The weather unexpectedly changed for the worse late in the afternoon. The incessant rains put on hold our plans of a walk through the coffee plantations surrounding the bungalow. Image Image Image Image Image Image Late in the evening was chai-pakoda time. We enjoyed our tea even as we devoured one crispy pakoda after another. The rains never ceased that evening. A game of badminton in the porch with my niece ended abruptly when I hit the shuttlecock onto the lampshade on the roof. Not knowing what to do next, we suddenly chanced upon a basketball near the fireplace. So for the next 15 minutes it was a game of bouncing the ball. The sound of us bouncing the ball awakened Eden who was unknown to us napping in his kennel. He started whining and wanted to join us. We couldn’t resist playing with him either. Keeping the ball aside, we marched to the kennel and let the big boy out. This time I gave him a good belly-rub. My niece found the big guy quite intimidating and watched the action from afar. Eden, was undoubtedly cherishing all the attention that the four of us were showering on him. The fireplace was lit up around 7pm. The four of us took turns warming ourselves. I spent the following two hours on the self-improvement book. Dinner was served at 9pm. Again, thanks to the rain, I decided to walk barefoot around the garden inside the bungalow instead of stepping out. Walking barefeet had a therapeutic effect and I walked for more than an hour. Image Image The next day I woke up around 6am to the chirping of birds. There were so many of them. Not surprising because the coffee plantation had hundreds of trees of various species. I spotted this very beautiful bird near the window. It was jet black with streaks of flaming orange. I went to grab my camera but by the time I approached the window the bird had flown away. Browsing the internet some days later I learnt it was the scarlet minivet. During the course of the day, I spotted many varieties of birds which I had never seen before such as the Vernal Hanging Parrot, Malabar Grey Hornbill, Velvet-fronted Nuthatch, Malabar Whistling Thrush, Golden-fronted Leafbird and some others which I am yet to identify. A Bottle-brush tree near the bungalow seemed to be a favourite with many of the birds. Image Image Image Image There was a slight drizzle in the air. After a breakfast of paper-like ‘neer dosas’ which melted in my mouth, my niece and I walked down the hills to the estate. Mr. Raju showed us around. We stopped near various trees and plants and our host explained the significance of each of them. It was truly a learning experience. A plantation worker’s children took us to a waterfall and a pond. By about 11am, were were back at the bungalow. The drizzle had by then stopped and we thought of playing badminton. Unfortunately, the game ended abruptly again when I skidded on the wet ground and sprained my muscle quite badly. I had to hobble around for the most of the second day. Lunch on Day 2 had ‘kozhukattas’ (steamed rice balls) on the menu. I relished them with a tangy sambar-like accompaniment. I did not play with Eden because of my painful right leg. My niece found a walking stick for me from the bungalow and we again had a walk though a small one down the plantation. Image Image Image Image Image Image The estate also had store houses and homes of plantation workers. Image Image Image We were leaving the next day, so I couldn’t resist the thought of playing with Eden. And again we had a great time with the big fella. I was so immersed in playing that I completely forgot about my injured leg. Later we noticed a basketball ring near the granary and my niece tried her hand with the game. Five pm was chai-pakoda time. After a round of bird-watching it was back to the bungalow. We warmed ourselves again at the fireplace after which I was back with the self-improvement book. For dinner, we again had a delicious Malabar spread. The speciality that night was ‘puttu’. I hit the sack around 1pm with a heavy heart. We had to leave the next morning. I couldn’t sleep that well and every now and then I could hear Eden shaking off the mud from off his body. He was walking around the garden. I would miss him the most. Image Image Image The final day

To do a wee bit of bird-watching, I woke up around 5am. I went down the plantation at sunrise and again spotted a couple of vernal hanging parrots. For the first time, I also spotted a pair of woodpeckers. After about an hour, I made my way up the hill to the bungalow. Mr. Joseph served soft snow-white appams which just melted in my mouth. After 15 minutes of playtime with Eden, it was time to pack up. Bidding goodbye  to all was tough. The only consolation was that we could come back again for another holiday. Eden and his garden and the great hospitality we enjoyed at the bungalow will forever remain etched in my mind. Image Image     See also: Endless clicking on a road trip from Bangalore to Coorg and back https://sujnaturelover.wordpress.com/2013/10/20/endless-clicking-on-a-road-trip/ Dasara Doll Festival – I https://sujnaturelover.wordpress.com/2013/10/06/dasara-doll-festival/ Dasara Doll Festival – II https://sujnaturelover.wordpress.com/2013/10/08/dasara-doll-festival-ii/

Endless clicking on a road trip from Bangalore to Coorg and back

A week back, a road trip from Bangalore to Coorg and back proved to be more colourful than I had imagined. I travelled with my family on an SUV and unlike on earlier travels I had my precious DSLR camera for company. Seated on the backseat and near the window, this time I thought I would do more than just watch the world go by. I kept clicking. To many the idea may sound crazy but I revelled with this new found pastime. The car was travelling quite fast and most of the shots were out of focus or got blurred. Still there was a sizeable number of them that were quite publish-worthy.

I was awestruck with some of the rock formations:

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The lush green fields and greenery were a tonic for the eye:

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The roads were lined with a lot of colourful houses. Parrot green seemed to be a favourite colour with many. Houses in neon hues that would have been an eyesore in the urban landscape stood out brilliantly on the countryside.

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While some of the shopping centres were bustling with activity many others were waiting to be occupied.

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Every now and then I could spot a shrine done in bright colours.

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I was impressed with some of the building designs.

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Thanks to a stopover at Mysore, I got the opportunity to soak in the Dasara celebrations although for a short period.

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The palace looked ethereal when illuminated. Sadly, my hands were full and I couldn’t capture that moment. However I got to click the illuminated arch at the Dasara exhibition and spent a lot of time at a stall selling Dasara dolls.

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Dasara dolls on display at a stall in the exhibition:

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A bird’s eye view of Mysore from the hotel window:

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After an early morning breakfast of rava onion dosa, we were off to Coorg.

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There were more colourful captures on my way to Coorg and on the return journey. I particularly took a fancy to this novel toilet :

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I loved this picture of a grazing pony:

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Here a derelict edifice stands amidst wild growth and begs for attention:

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There were many of these artistic bus stops on the highway. Some of them were vandalized.

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I am looking forward to more road trips and better clicks 🙂

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See also:

Dasara Doll Festival – I

https://sujnaturelover.wordpress.com/2013/10/06/dasara-doll-festival/

Dasara Doll Festival – II

https://sujnaturelover.wordpress.com/2013/10/08/dasara-doll-festival-ii/