PAYANIGA

Travel Blog by Prashanth M

Memories of Mahabalipuram

March 27, 2014 by Prashanth | 9 Comments

First of my many visits to Mahabalipuram was ten years ago. Those were the days when I was not yet bitten by the travel bug. It was a hot sunny day in the month of May 2004 when I got down from the bus – definitely not an ideal time to visit the coastal heritage town. With no fixed agenda, the day was spent roaming around the town visiting the heritage sites – the shore temple, stone chariots, cave temple. I stumbled on these photos after a long time and had me going back in time reliving those days and my visits to Mahabs.
Memories of MahabalipuramMemories of Mahabalipuram

The first visit was followed by quite a bit of short visits – main goal of the visits being to break the monotony. Get ready to office a bit early in the morning, then drive down to Mahabalipuram – either to catch sun rise at the beach or enjoy the it while on the way. Spend an hour or so at the beach looking at the waves & sun and then head back directly to office with a coffee break in between.
Memories of MahabalipuramMemories of MahabalipuramMemories of MahabalipuramMemories of Mahabalipuram

When the wild elephants chased us

January 20, 2014 by Prashanth | 4 Comments

This article first appeared in CLAY – Club Mahindra blog in April 2009 titled ‘A tryst with the pachyderms’.
payaniga_wild_elephants_2Tholpetty Wildlife Sanctuary, Wayanad.

The sun was setting down. My eyes were looking out of the jeep mechanically while the mind was still at Kuruvadweep thinking about the missed chance in visiting the place. It was my third jeep safari in two days, the first two were in Muthanga Wildlife Sanctuary. With Shashank settled in co-driver’s seat, I was all alone in the back. Except for some deer and bison sightings it was getting more like a jeep drive in a remote village. Blame it on the weekend crowd. We had completed almost three fourth of the safari and had to stop because of a traffic jam. It took us few seconds to understand what was happening. There was a herd of wild elephants which were crossing our path. Or to put it in a correct way, we were crossing their path and had to wait for our turn. There were 11 elephants in the group including couple of calves and the leader was standing in the middle of the jeep track while rest of the gang crossed the path. There were two jeeps between our vehicle & the pachyderms looked as tensed as us. We were third in the queue waiting for the way to be cleared while there was another vehicle, a Toyota Qualis behind us (yes, private vehicles are allowed in Tholpetty Wildlife Sanctuary as long as it’s a four-wheeler).

The elephants took their own sweet time to cross the road while the leader kept an eye on us. The leader was not too happy with our intrusion & noise (engine & hush voices). As if this was not enough, a jeep came from the opposite direction, which meant we – the two jeeps in front of us & our jeep – were sandwiched between a not-so-happy-looking elephant & a vehicle some 15-20 meters behind us. The driver of the jeep who joined the party late understood the situation and slowly backed off. And our wait game continued.
payaniga_wild_elephants_3
payaniga_wild_elephants_1

After what seemed like eternity (it was just a couple of minutes )the captain slowly gave way and started moving into the woods. The driver of the first jeep mustered up the courage and slowly moved ahead. Then the one in front of our vehicle started moving and we followed them. It was not all over but it was time for more drama. It started with the vehicle in front of us. We could not fathom what got into the driver of the jeep for all of a sudden he started honking while he sped away. We were then moving almost parallel to the leader elephant which was some 15-20 meters away and the pachyderm turned towards and started chasing us. I was looking out of the jeep to see the big mammal running towards us. It was the moment, the mind went blank. No thoughts, just void. It was a mock charge to shoo us away from its territory.

Today, the experience is etched in my mind. I’ve had similar experiences of getting blank few times, but this stands first in the list. Whenever I see a photo of an elephant or a video, I go back to my seat on the back of the jeep in Tholpetty.

Year 2013 in pictures

December 30, 2013 by Prashanth | 1 Comment

In terms of travel, year 2013 was a year of hibernation. Year started on a good note with a weekend trek in Western ghats, climbing Narasimha parvatha near Agumbe. Then followed a long dormancy of six-seven months. After that all my travel plans never made it further from planning stage. Remaining months were followed by couple of road trips with the family, a weekend cycling ride in Coorg & Kasaragod, a short visit to Singapore on business and few one day hikes around Bangalore to break the humdrum days of the year. Here are few photos from my dormant year, with a hope of a better year ahead.

And wishing all the readers a happy & wonderful new year. Godspeed.

On top of Narasimha Parvatha

On top of Narasimha Parvatha

Kabbalu Durga

Kabbalu Durga

Makali Durga

Makali Durga

A weekend of cycling from Bhagamandala to Kasaragod

A weekend of cycling from Bhagamandala to Kasaragod

KRS backwaters

KRS backwaters

Savanadurga

Savanadurga

A short visit to Singapore

A short visit to Singapore

Channarayana Durga

Channarayana Durga

Singapore: First Impressions

December 5, 2013 by Prashanth | 12 Comments

Just when I was thinking that I’m not getting chances to travel around, I had an opportunity to visit Singapore last week. Unfortunately my trip started on Monday morning and ended on Friday evening (yes, not the an ideal itinerary to explore the place). And on top of it since it was a business visit, I was confined till evening attending meetings & trainings. Even then after long hours at office, I somehow managed to sneak out of the four walls couple of evenings and roam around. Here are few observations/ impressions – (my observations are more or less like a blind man commenting on an elephant just by touching one part of it)

Marina Bay Sands

Marina Bay Sands

An isotope of the UK
The moment I got into the taxi at airport and started towards the hotel, I felt I was in the UK. You take a big bustling city from the UK, cut it out of the country and throw it away into the sea somewhere neat the Equator – that’s Singapore for you. Having spent some time in both England and Scotland, I couldn’t stop myself in comparing the two countries. I saw so many similarities – infrastructure, the tubes & buses, driving rules, unpredictable weather. and yet the place is so different in many ways – the culture, people, the languages.

World shrunk into an island
Talking about the people and culture, Singapore is a place where the world is shrunk into an island. You find people from all over the world, of different countries, races, and speaking various languages. I heard quite a few different languages from different parts of the world. And as with the world’s population ratio – it’s not surprising that there are more people of Chinese & Indian origin.

WiFi yes, Sim card no
Most of the roaming around on the evening of day one was spent in searching for a prepaid Sim card for me to use. But the search went in vain, maybe I was searching in wrong shopping malls since they were not in the regular tourist area and they were close to the hotel I was staying. Surprisingly, I was connected all through out thanks to WiFi networks – I could find WiFi networks almost everywhere I went, but not Sim. After looking out for the Sim for two days, I decided not to buy since I could live without one for next 3 days.

Architecture
One of the evenings, I found myself in front of Marina Bay Sands and then decided to roam around aimlessly. Perhaps the best thing I did during my stay there. The walking around went on for couple of hours, close to 10 KMs. I was left gaping at the buildings with amazing & wide variety of architecture – starting from the Marina Bay Sands, Esplanade, many more buildings unknown to me.

It’s raining, no it’s not
Being closer to the Equator, Singapore doesn’t have distinct seasons – it rains, shines, thunders 365 days a year. On the first, I looked out the window to see dark clouds gathering and within no time it started pouring like I had never seen before. After 10 minutes, there you go, there was no sign of a single cloud and it was a clear sky. When I stepped out for lunch in another 30 minutes there was no sign of a single drop on the ground as if it had not rained for weeks!! And if you are not a sound sleeper, you are bound to get awakened by the loud thunders during night :)

That was Singapore through my eyes. I might be wrong here, but that’s how I got to see the island country.