Yercaud – TGI Star Holiday Resort

This was our first holiday of 2019 and a much-needed break from the hectic city life. Yercaud is a small hill station situated in the state of Tamil Nadu.

We came to know about this place while searching online for a place not that far from Bangalore. Yercaud is around 225 Km from Bangalore. The roads are quite good throughout the journey.

NH 44

Rout we took was via Hosur – Krishnagri – Selum. We started at around 6.20 AM on Saturday. After reaching the silk board junction we came to know that it is very late if one must go on this rout on a weekend.

Highway towards Selum

There are tolls on this rout and total toll we paid was around Rs 600 in total i.e. for return journey. Plus Rs 90 on NICE Road, Bangalore from Electronic City to Clover Leaf.

Beautiful way after Selum

There was traffic on silk board & a long queue on the toll plaza just after the Electronic city flyover. It took us around 10 min to clear the toll. Then after the toll there was traffic on the highway as it was kind of long weekend, Monday leave gives 4 days as Tuesday was holiday on the occasion of Sankranti.

For b/f we stopped at Hotel Shri Krishna Inn, Shoolagiri. Food here is nice and priced reasonably. This was very crowded and that day and there was a waiting as well. There are 2 sitting option – inside and outside.

There’s a HP petrol pump, Mc Donald’s and Cafe Coffee day all located in the same complex.

After Selum the ghat section starts, Yercaud is around 30 Km from Selum. There are 20 Hairpin bends on this rout and the amazing thing is the roads are very well maintained and are quite broad.

This is how it looks

There are mirrors installed but only few are in working condition, rest are either damaged or stolen.

TGI Star Holiday Resort, Yercaud
Entering the resort

This time we wanted to stay in a place where we can spend some quality & screen free time with family. So after googling for some time we came across TGI Star Holiday resort located just 1 Km before the main town or Yercaud.

Resort & list of what all things are there to do

Main reason for going with this property is its family friendliness. This is a 3-star property with some amazing features. There are 2 categories of rooms i.e. Deluxe/Superior cottage and Suit Cottage.

The main difference in both the rooms is space, in Suit there is a living room with a sofa and one sofa cum bed plus the bedroom is also quite specious. Other one is normal size room. Both the categories have a private sitting space/balcony outside the room.

TGI Star Holiday Resort, Yercaud
Entrance to our cottage

We stayed in Suit cottage as we need some space for our daughter to run around when we relax in the room 😊. Other amenities include a welcome drink at reception, some snacks in the room, good quality toiletries in the bathroom.

TGI Star Holiday Resort, Yercaud
Cottages one on ground floor one on first

In suit it was a king size bed and it was quite comfortable. Lenin and towels are also of good quality and soft to touch. This place is located on a hill slope so first to reach you must get down from the main road and after you enter you must climb up & both the time it’s a steep slope.

TGI Star Holiday Resort, Yercaud
US time

There is ample of parking, you can either park at the front of the resort or inside at the end. There are small gardens with different varieties of flowers/plats in front of each cottage, which makes the stay more pleasing.

If we talk about the facilities of the resort, then there are a lot of things one can do with family. There is a spa, a restaurant which serves good and tasty food. An indoor games room with games like carrom, chess & Table tennis. A badminton court, swings for adults and kids, separate play area for kids and swimming pool.

If you are a dare devil and like adventure sports, then there is facility for that too. Adventure activities are conducted inside the resort and the instructor is very good.

Adventure activities..it was really fun

Activities have different difficulty levels and finally there is a zip line. So, if you are planning to visit this place and want to do this then do carry sports shoes.

TGI Star Holiday Resort, Yercaud
Inner Peace….

We took the spa after we were done with our first dose of adventure activities. Me and my husband both took the spa and we really felt good after it. All refreshed and recharged. The massage therapist for male and female are very good, and both were experienced.

TGI Star Holiday resort, yercaud
Morning view from our balcony

Price wise it’s very reasonable starting from Rs 1500 for Kerala massage to Rs 2500 for their signature package. They do have facial and other stuff also.

TGI Star Holiday Resort, Yercaud
Movie screening in Open Air Theatre

One of the most interesting and unique thing that I like about this place is there open-air theatre. Yes, you read it correct, they show a movie once it is dark in the garden space b/w the games room and badminton court. That too with a Bonfire 😊

TGI Star Holiday Resort, Yercaud
Main road inside the resort

First day it was an English movie and second day it was Tamil movie with English sub 😊. There is light in the badminton court, so you can play even at night just make sure you don’t make too much of noise as there are rooms just adjacent to the court.

TGI Star Holiday Resort, Yercaud
Swings for kids and adults and kids play area behind it

Food here was good, they have buffet for all 3 meals or if you want something else then you can order from the small AA-la-carte menu.

In buffet there are 3 veg dishes and 2 non veg dishes with 2 rice preparation and rasam. Chapatis are pre cooked and kept in hot case.

TGI Star Holiday Resort, Yercaud
Evening chai with bhajjis

One more thing that I really like is in the evening/night time their housekeeping guys come to every room to refill the snacks, tea coffee and ask if you need any other thing. They also ask you to provide feedback about the room cleaning and their service which was something new to us.

TGI Star Holiday Resort, Yercaud
Family time in the garden area outside the cottage

There is free Wi-Fi, but the speed is not good, there is no issue with mobile signals at least with Airtel.

Morning sun from the balcony

Whole staff of the resort is so courteous and friendly, we really like their hospitality.

TGI Star Holiday Resort, Yercaud
Morning sun, something different

We really like the time we have spent in this resort.

Small tour of the beautiful Property of TGI Hotels

There are quite a few things to see in Yercaud. Some of them are –

  1. Kiliyur falls
  2. Yercaud lake
  3. Ladies seat
  4. Gents seat
  5. Rose garden
  6. Few temples

We checked about the falls and came to know that there is no water in the falls so it’s not worth visiting it. Also, there are steep steps to reach to the falls, around 250 to 300. Going down is easy but climbing up is a tedious task. So if you are visiting in rains then only plan else you might regret.

Yercaud lake
Let me go @Yercaud Lake

Out of these we saw only few like rose garden, lake, ladies’ seat and while coming back from ladies’ seat I noticed a small aquarium just beside the lake.

Yercaud Lake
Beautiful Lake

Yercaud is a small town and the resort is located just 1 km from the lake. There is no proper or designated parking space at the lake, you have to park on the road side. Beware if you go on Sunday morning then there is a flea market on both the side of the road.

Yercaud Lake
Mommy & Baby in full swag

There is boating facility at the lake and one can choose from paddle boat, boat with oars or a motor boat. There are few good points to click pic with lake as background. Rose garden is 1.5 km around from lake.

The road is not in good shape and just before the main entry of the garden it is a single lane. So, if some vehicle is coming from other direction then one must go reverse. One can park vehicle inside the gate of rose garden or on the road side, parking is free.

Rose Garden, Yercaud
Inside Rose garden

Ticket to enter garden is of Rs 30 and for us it was not worth as there were only few plants were, we could see some roses. The garden was maintained well. From rose garden you can either walk to ladies’ seat it’s just 100 mtr. Or you take your car and park it there.

Beautiful valley view from Ladies Seat

Ladies seat is just a valley view point and nothing else. There is small shed from where you can see beautiful valley below. But what we feel is it will be worthier to visit in/after rains as the view will be clearer. This time it was all foggy/cloudy. But still it was beautiful.

A very important message

Gents seat is located again some 100 mtr from ladies’ seat and it’s a valley view point. So, we skipped it. While coming back from ladies’ seat google maps leads us to a road which was closed at the point where is meets the main road. So, we have to take a U turn.

On the same road there is a small aquarium which has 17 varieties of fishes including ‘Piranha’. The entry ticket to this place is only Rs 10 pp but parking outside is Rs 30. It’s a good experience for kids.

Over all we really enjoyed our 2 days of stay @TGI Star Holiday Resort and in Yercaud.

Note -
All the pictures are from our trip taken by us.

Europe Trip – Paris

Day 3

This is our day two in romantic city of Paris. If you have not read my previous blogs do read – my start of Europe trip here and our first day in Paris here.

We were tired on our first day as I have travelled first from India and then Amsterdam to Paris and finally not so good experience with Paris Metro. After our seine river cruise, we straight came to hotel had dinner and slept.

Seine

After a good night sleep, heavy b/f we head out to spend our day in the beautiful city. As mentioned in my previous blog we used bus for the rest of the days in Paris, well mostly. Bus stop was some ½ km from our hotel.

After you plan your day do check if stroller is allowed/feasible for those places else take baby carrier. There is no place to keep stroller if it is not allowed at an attraction. So, plan accordingly.

We started with Arc de Triomphe, took bus 22 from place near to hotel took around 35-40 min. It’s an iconic triumphal arch built to celebrate Napoleon’s victories, with an observation deck. It’s a 50 mtr high arch and the observation deck is on the roof.

Arc de Triomphe
Arc de Triomphe

There are 2 types of tickets for most of the attraction in Paris, one is normal where one must stand in line and wait for your turn. Second is skip the line where you can go directly to the front or say near to entry point.

Arc de Triomphe
Pose time 🙂

Normal ticket cost around € 10-12 and skip the line on viator will be € 14. We didn’t go on the roof didn’t find if worth as we have already booked summit ticket of Eiffel. But the view of ‘Champ Elysees’ can be enjoyed from the top.

Arc de Triomphe
Lucky me no cars b/w me and Arc

Arc is on the centre of a busy road, at this juncture 12 roads meets. You can get some beautiful pics here with the beautiful Arc de Triomphe. We clicked some pics and then headed towards our next Destination Notre dame.

You find all the useful information about Arc de Triomphe here.

Notre Dame
Notre Dame

Notre Dame has historic importance and it’s one of the finest examples of French gothic architecture. This cathedral witnesses the coronation as Emperor of Napoleon Bonaparte. It took quite long to finish the cathedral.

Notre Dame
Notre Dam towers

This is a beautiful cathedral from inside as well as outside. It’s active church and very beautiful. The entry to the church is free but there are tickets to enter the tower and treasury. Tower ticket costs € 10 and treasury € 8.

Notre Dame

One need to book the time slot on there app if you want to climb the tower and witness the view from there. There is no more waiting in line as there is an app ‘DuckTheLine’ where you need to book your slot in advance and be there on selected time.

Notre Dame
Inside Notre Dame

There is no price for the app or for the booking the slot, you just have to book the slot, purchase there € 10 ticket and be there on time.

Notre Dame
Colour full candles inside Notre Dame

This app even reminds you about your time. One thing that you need to make sure is be on time else they won’t allow you to enter as this happened with us, we have purchased the tickets and were late and they didn’t allow us.

Notre Dame

Illustration of the Last Judgement, central portal of west facade

Also make sure you book the slot as early as possible as the number of people per slot are limited and it is booked quite fast.

Notre Dame
Beautiful wooden replica of the cathedral

The line to enter the church was too big and it is usually big, we have waited for at least 1 hr to enter the church. There are benches where you can sit while waiting.

You can get all the information about the opening/closing days timing ticket pricing here.

Sainte chapelle
Inside Sainte – Chapelle

From here we went to ‘Sainte – Chapelle’. It’s a royal Chappelle. It is located with a palace where the king of France stayed till 14th century. It is also based on gothic style architecture.

Sainte chapelle
Beautiful Stained glass windows

The most famous thing about this place is it’s huge mid-13th century stained glass windows. This part is located on the first floor of the Chapelle. Even the ceiling of both the parts of the Chapelle are beautiful.

Sainte chapelle

The chapel’s rose window

The stained windows displayed different historical events and there are placards available in different languages which helps you understand what is displayed on which window.

Sainte chapelle

There is ticket to enter the Chapelle and they have an app through which you can zoom in the windows and know the meaning of the art on it.

Sainte chapelle
Beautiful Palace door where Sainte Chapelle is situated

Ticket cost is € 10 pp and it’s always better to book the tickets in advance to avoid the queue. When we went there the queue is not that big, but it was there. If you have tickets, then directly go the front show the tickets at the counter and enter.

You can get all the information about the opening/closing days timing ticket pricing here.

For tickets of Notre Dame and Sainte- Chapelle we have used official website of Paris convention and visitor’s bureau. Here the tickets are available in all sort of combinations unlike other websites where they sell guided tours only.

Guided tours are good for some but not always required.

Eiffel Tower
Iconic Eiffel Tower

After this it’s time to visit our last destination of the day and most awaited one – Eiffel Tower.

Eiffel Tower
Eiffel Tower from bottom

If you really want to enjoy this place and don’t want to wait in long queue, then you should spend additional money and book a priority entry ticket which might include small guide session on the second level.

Eiffel Tower
One of the leg of Eiffel Tower

We have booked out ticket from Musement. We paid € 72 for 2 and it include small guided tour on the second level and summit access. There office is in a lane near to Eiffel tower.

Eiffel Tower
Pose time on Second level

You can also buy the tickets from the official website of Eiffel tower and you have option of second floor ticket which will cost € 16 pp and summit ticket which is € 26 pp.

Summit ticket includes Second level access also. You need to select the date then available time slots will be shown.

Champ De Mars
View of Champ De Mars

Earlier you book better are the chances to get your preferred date and time.

Palais De Chaillot
View of Palais de Chaillot

One more benefit of booking from an agency is they will get you in, in a group so you don’t have to be in a line at the security check gate, then you don’t have to wait in a line at the lifts and you will get little history lesson by the guide at second level.

Paris City
Beautiful sunset view from the top

Eiffel is really an architectural beauty. Such a massive structure, standing for so many years. It’s huge. Lifts from the ground floor will take you to the second level and then if you have summit entry ticket they you can go. There is only 1 lift to go to summit.

Eiffel Tower
Going to summit with beautiful lift operator

It was our lucky day there was no queue to go to summit. We were alone with the lift operator lady. She also said you are lucky otherwise there are huge queue. There are stairs as well to climb up or come down.

Paris
Magnificent View

Once you reach second level the view of Paris is magnificent. We have booked our ticket for evening. Evening is perfect time as you can enjoy the view, sunset and then enjoy the Paris in artificial lighting.

Palais De Chaillot
Beauty of Palais de Chaillot at night from Level one

Believe me it was mesmerizing. When we there it was still cold and there is lot of wind, so if you are visiting in winter do carry good quality warm cloths else be prepared to shiver.

Champ De Mars
Champ De Mars at night

There is a restaurant at level 2 and on summit you can enjoy a glass of Champagne at an additional cost. There are restaurants on level 1 which has separate entry and you can not go to second level from there.

You can just visit restaurant, have food or enjoy a drink with a view and back on ground floor. There is one restaurant at second level as well.

Eiffel Tower
Eiffel Tower in Diamond Lights

After dark, diamond lights increases the beauty of Eiffel tower. These lights have that sparkling/glittering effect and it’s amazing to watch it.

We have waited 1 hour to see it as while coming down it happened, and it has an interval of 1 hours. It is there for 5 min or so.

Eiffel Tower when Diamond Lights are turned on

There are these road side vendors selling all kinds of souvenirs, most of them live together. There are Indians, Pakistanis, Bangladeshi, African. Even African were speaking Hindi (few words 😊). We bought few things – wooden alphabet train, electronic toy dog which my daughter lost before it could see India ☹, few fridge magnets relatively cheap compared to a shop.

This ends our day on a beautiful note with lots of memories.

** Do select the tour operator very carefully, as when we went to collect our tickets for Eiffel tower there were people standing who has booked the tickets with different operator and their shop was closed and no one was answering their calls.

Stay tuned for more details about our coming days in Paris.

Note - All the pictures are from our trip taken by us.

Europe Trip – Hotel, Paris Metro/Bus ride & Seine River Cruise

This is our day 2 in Europe and Day 1 in beautiful city Paris.

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Day 2

After going through all the trouble at Paris Nord and Paris Metro station near to Pairs Nord we finally reached our hotel all thanks to Uber. (If you have not read my previous blog do read it here)

For our 3 night 4 days stay in Paris we have booked MERCURE PARIS BOULOGNE APARTHOTEL. It’s an apartment hotel where you get a small kitchenette with refrigerator, microwave, ceramic hotplate, dishwasher. Safe, television, telephone, Wi-Fi. Bathroom with bathtub and hair dryer.

MERCURE PARIS BOULOGNE APARTHOTEL

kitchenette with hotplate, sink, dishwasher & small fridge

We choose apartment hotel due to 2 reasons one and major one was our daughter, as she was only 1.6-year-old, so we need to make food for her second in a medium long trip of 10 days we don’t want to eat outside junk food both the time. Eventually save some money 😊

MERCURE PARIS BOULOGNE APARTHOTEL
Small area with wardrobe and a small ottoman

We really didn’t cook full meals but cooking B/F as it was not included in the booking and dinner which was mostly a ready to eat Indian meal like pre-cooked rice, dal, pulao, chole etc.

MERCURE PARIS BOULOGNE APARTHOTEL
Bathroom w/o bath tub

Mercure is a mid scale brand of hotels b/w 3 & 4-star properties run by its parent company AccorHotels, a French multinational corporation.

MERCURE PARIS BOULOGNE APARTHOTEL
Our room for next 3 nights

Our’s was an around 32m sq. room with a double bed and 1 sofa bed. Bed was comfortable with lights on both the side of the bed, a small shelve on the full wall behind the bed to keep the things like phone, wallet etc.

MERCURE PARIS BOULOGNE APARTHOTEL
Small Dinning table

There’s a small dinning table places beside the wall in the kitchenette, space after you enter the room where we can keep the stroller and other stuff, one wardrobe to store all the luggage and one small stool.

MERCURE PARIS BOULOGNE APARTHOTEL
Sofa cum bed with storage and TV above it.

There is a storage cabinet above the sofa cum bed and beside it was a small TV. This storage was very useful during our stay as we kept all our raw/ready to eat food item there.

These was a big window on one of the walls, our room was a front room, so we could see the front road. This hotel is in the quitter residential area, sometimes it was nice to open the window and let the fresh air in.

So, after reaching and settling down, relaxing a bit after a tiring Metro run we went out as today evening we had our Seine river cruise.

Beautiful art on one of the most beautiful bridges in Paris – Pont Alexandre III

Deliberately we have opted for evening time as that time we can see the beautiful monuments in the day light and witness the beauty of Paris in the artificial lights.

To travel locally in Paris, you have metro & bus. Regular ticket cost 1.90 or say 2 Euro if you purchase per ride but there is a little cheaper option i.e. ‘Carnet’ which is a book of 10 tickets cost 16 Euro.

Seine River, Paris
Beautiful Seine

At Nord Station the machines through which we can buy Carnet was not accepting international credit card, but at other station it worked.

You can take help from local people there, they are helpful.

Green Metal Bridge, there is a metro line 6 above the roads

With the help of Google Maps, we found that we can take direct bus from a stop near to our hotel directly to the center where all the attractions are. So, there is no changing metro, no climbing stairs, we were very happy 😊😊

For the next 4 days we only used Bus, well most of the time say 95% as once you reach the centre then you must walk…walk…walk & walk… Saying it again stroller and baby carrier is a must if you have small kid(s).

Cour De Cassation, Paris

If one doesn’t want to walk then there is an option of Hop on Hop off bus, in these buses you can ride full day on a single ticket. You can Hop off at any attraction on their specific route visit the place and then Hop on again in the next bus to go to another attraction.

Seine River, Paris
Sunset time at Seine

We have done our booking from Vedettes du Pont Neuf after going through review of different service providers at different platforms. Normal ticket w/o any add on would cost maximum 14 Euros pp.

Vedettes du Pont Neuf
Washroom at the boarding point for the cruise, it was clean
Vedettes du Pont Neuf
Outside front sitting area on the boat

The boats are quite big and have 2 type of sitting options one is in open on the top and second is close below it.

Vedettes du Pont Neuf
Open sitting area on the roof
Vedettes du Pont Neuf
Entry for the roof

The tour is of 1 hour with live commentary informing about the monuments and places that are covered during the tour. If you choose the evening tour which might end up in late evening or night, then you can witness the beautiful monuments and bridges in night light.

Art on one of the bridges out of many bridges in Paris
Sailing on the Seine, Paris

It’s all Altogether a different experience in artificial lights. It’s amazing experience sailing in the Seine river.

This concludes our first day in Paris.

Stay tuned for more updates and details of the coming days in Pairs.

Note - All the pictures are from our trip taken by us.

Europe Trip – Emirates, Schiphol Amsterdam & Thalys

Day -1 & 2

(This is going to be a series of Blogs of my 10 days Europe trip, please be patient as these blogs might be lengthy as I want to provide as much information to help someone in their trip 😊)

The whole trip was planned by us which includes lots n lots of research, on call discussing with each other where to go what to see, how to go etc. many hours spent burning our eyes in laptop screen.

After all the hard work we really enjoyed and created some amazing memories. There is this amazing site and app inspirock which will help you to plan your itinerary.

This will tell you each and everything like how far the place is from each other how to go how much time to spend, how much spare time you have etc. This was great help in planning our trip.

It was March end of 2018 when I landed in Amsterdam, Netherlands, travelled through Emirates airline. It’s a 1 stop flight with around 1.30 hours of layover in Dubai.

After landing in Dubai to go to your connecting flight’s departure gate you must go through security check. This could take time as many people will be coming to same place to go to their respective gates.

If time permits, then you can relax and enjoy some food and drinks in Marhaba Lounges in Dubai Airport with your Priority Pass membership. Priority Pass is a program which provided Lounge access to its members across the world.

There are some premium credit cards that too provide International lounge access like HDFC Bank Diners Club card.

This was my first solo flight with my daughter, who was around one and half year old. Few points I want to mention which will be helpful if you are traveling alone with baby.

 1) Always carry some healthy food for your baby as they don’t provide baby food below 2 years

 2) Baby carrier is must as you must check in stroller while boarding and will get back once you reached your destination. Check my post on baby carriers for more details.

 3) Limit your hand luggage as with baby it’s hard to manage with heavy luggage

 4) Flight staff was helpful. So, feel free to ask for any help needed

After landing in Amsterdam and clearing the immigration’s, me and my little daughter came out and looked for hotel shuttle service. Hotels near to Schiphol, Amsterdam provide shuttle service which is free of charge to pick and drop their guest.

The frequency of this service depends from hotel to hotel and what time of day but mostly it is in every 30 min.

I stayed in NH Hotel Schiphol, it’s nice big hotel with lot of facilities present in it. I just stayed there for a night so didn’t use any of the facilities like gym, indoor heated swimming pool etc.

The room was quite cozy and of good size, you can even request for a kid’s cot w/o any extra charge. Check in and check out was smooth as we have already paid the charges.

Earlier you book cheaper it is and if you go online payment with Zero refund option then it is cheaper than the full refund option. So, it’s better early you decide, might get good deal in full refund option.

We were little late in planning as we were planning with my brother & sister in law who were supposed to join us from London. Ours was 128 Euros + 7.30 Euros in city tax.

Where ever you go in Europe city tax is charged additionally and needs to be paid either at the time of check in or check out in cash or card.

Next day took train from Schiphol to Paris Nord. Our tickets were in Thalys First Class. Full train journey was covered in just 3 hours.

Train ticket prices also increased as the journey date comes closer. Our ticket price for 2 adults was 190 Euros. So, if you are planning a trip by your selves then finalize soon and book everything to save some money.

First class of Thalys is quite amazing and can be more amazing if you can get the single seats. So basically, in first class coach the seat layout is 2×1. Seats are comfier and broader and recline a little then the one in economy class.

Other benefits of first class are like – free faster WiFi with more data, paper & magazines, there lounge access, priority boarding etc.

There are attendant in each first-class coach, they will great you at the station and might help with luggage (depends on person to person). A  separate space to keep your luggage and it is there at the start of each coach.

In 3 hour of journey we were served 2 times, yes you read it right there is free food or say included in ticket price of first class. As ours was morning 9.34 AM train so we were served, B/F and small snack.

In B/F we got a multi grain bun, sugar coated puff,delicious cake, fruit, juice, yogurt. It was nice tasty and makes you full. 1hour before the scheduled time to reach Paris Nord, we were served some snack.

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It was delicious chocolate cake, with drink of your choice like, juice, tea, coffee or wine. The trains in this part of the world are very punctual. They come on time, depart on time, the highest speed that I saw on the display was more than 250Km/hr.

After this amazing journey we finally reached my dream destination – PARIS.

Reaching our hotel from Paris Nord was a big task and took us more than 1 hour to figure out how to reach there, which metro to take, which direction to go etc.

Believe me Paris metro stations are not at all stroller friendly. These stations are very old, and they have lots and lots of stairs. It was very difficult for us to climb up and down with stroller, heavy suitcase and bag with small kid.

So finally, after lot of struggle we finally book Uber 😊 and it was costly ☹. We paid 22.5 Euros and finally reached our hotel.

Stay tuned for more details in my second blog like hotel we stayed, places we visited with some amazing pics 😊

Note - All the pictures (except one) are from our trip taken by us.

Gandikota and Belum Caves

Gandikota is a hidden gem, also known as Grand Canyon of India. Gandikota is a small village on the banks of river Pennar in Andhra Pradesh.

Planned 1N/2D road trip from Bangalore to Gandikota and Belum caves. Gandikota is around 292 Km and it’s NH 44 i.e. highway to Hyderabad.

The roads are awesome, it’s a 4-lane highway and state highway after Kodur with quite less traffic.

NH 44
Somewhere on National Highway

Route took

Outer ring road from home till Hebbal Junction and merged into NH 44.

Bangalore – Kodur – Muddalakuntapalli – Sunnampalle – Mukkandlavarikothapalle – Kadiri – Kutagulla – Kanampalli – Venkatpuram – Rachumarripalle – Muddanur – Ananthagiri - Gandikota

Bangalore to Gandikota
Bangalore to Gandikota

There are toll on this road. The state highway is also in good condition with occasional bad patches.

Bangalore to Gandikota
Some ware on State Highway

If you love to drive fast, then you will fall in love with this highway (please don’t drive fast you will save few minutes but will be risking your and others life’s).

Bangalore to Belum
Beautiful view on NH 44

We started around 6.00 AM from our place, it took 1 hour to cross the airport toll from out place. There are good options for B/F few kilometers after the toll. We stopped at Indian Paratha Company.

Indian Paratha Company
Indian Paratha Company

Heard a lot about Indian Paratha Company from friends and were thinking to visit this place from long. Finally, we got a chance and made our first stop here.

Indian Paratha Company
Outside sitting @ Indian Paratha Company

It’s quite good option to have heavy B/F with large glass of tea. They have 2 sitting options few tables inside and then outside. It’s quite nice to sit outside in the morning as there is less traffic, less noise and pollution.

Indian Paratha Company
Yummy parathas @ Indian Paratha Company

Taste was good, they serve parathas with achar, curd & chutney. As it was early morning time, we had ginger tea which they served in a big glass. Tea was priced heavily around Rs 60, but taste was good. Toilets are not that clean and small toilets.

After having heavy B/F we stopped one more time as washroom break then directly to the hotel in Gandikota. We reached around 1 PM and after checking in directly came for lunch.

Bangalore to Gandikota
Beautiful way to Gandikota

There is only one place to stay in Gandikota and that is Haritha Hotel which is run by APTDC i.e. Andhra Pradesh Tourism. There are limited rooms available here and can only be booked through APTDC website.

Do carry print out of booking confirmation.

Haritha Hotel Gandikota
View of rooms @ Haritha Gandikota

Rooms are air conditioned and cost very nominal i.e. Rs 1500/night on weekdays and Rs 2000/night on weekend. Nothing is included in the price but the food here is quite cheap.

Haritha Hotel Gandikota
Mommy baby posing on stairs to terrace

There is no other restaurant near by as this is located right next to Gandikota Fort, which is far from nearby towns.

One of the speciality of this hotel is you can drive your car right up to your room and park it there itself.

Volkswagen Polo
German beauty soaked in over night rain

Nearest towns are namely Tadipatri, Gooty and Guntakal. The road after the highway to the hotel is single lane road but in good shape. You might be able to see Tatireddy Narasimha Reddy Dam at a distance and Pennar river on the right.

Tatireddy Narasimha Reddy Dam
View of Pennar river

It’s a decent property with big room and small washroom. Room was nice decently cleaned and doesn’t smell foul. They do have TV and set top box. There is option to stay in tents, as this is a government property, they have lots of open space.

For full review of this property please check my TripAdvisor.

Food was OK here, mostly they have limited options. Taste was OK, and price was low we paid around Rs 770 for 4 meals and evening snack for 2 persons.

Bangalore Gandikota
Somewhere on the way to Gandikota

Best thing about this hotel is the view and is located right next to fort. They do have some outdoor activities at additional cost like kayaking which is organized by some other organization. For it you have to track down to Penna river which takes around 40 min.

Haritha Hotel Gandikota
Road to Haritha & Gandikota Fort

After lunch, went to relax for some time. After freshen up head out to visit the main attraction – Grand Canyon of India. It is called Grand Canyon because a spectacular gorge formed by river Pennar which goes through the Erramala hills.

Grand canyon Gandikota
Mesmerising view of gorge

You can take you car inside the fort and park it near the Mosque. From there walk/climb/jump/balance to reach the point where you will be mesmerized by the beauty of the gorge and river Pennar.

Gandikota Fort
Way to the gorge inside Gandikota fort

As it’s full of rocks so please do wear comfortable shoes and relaxed bottom wear.

Gandikota Fort
Mosque inside fort, this is the place where we park the cars/2 wheeler

Gandikota Fort
Erramala hill and Pennar river

Sunrise/Sunset view must be amazing here. We couldn’t witness the sunset as it was all cloudy that evening and we had rains in the night.

Gandikota Fort
Granary behind the Mosque

After enjoying the evening at the gorge came back had some snacks with a cup of tea and then went to room to relax.

Gandikota Fort
Beautiful landscape view from the top of temple wall

There is one positive point about this place is there is no or very limited cellular n/w, so you can totally enjoy the time with friends and family.

Gandikota Fort
Relaxing and enjoying the view

But has one drawback Google map won’t work so download the map of this region in advance.

Gandikota Fort
Mommy and baby soaking the natural beauty

After dinner we slept early, had a good night sleep and then woke up early. Went to the terrace of our room (one unique thing about this place is each room has its own terrace). The morning view was simply amazing. Click some pics and then went down to get ready to leave.

Haritha Hotel Gandikota
Morning view from room terrace

After B/F we checked out and head to Belum caves, it’s around 61 KM 1.30-hour drive. It’s a state highway and nice road with traffic as you have to cross towns.

Gandikota to Belum Caves
Gandikota to Belum

There is ample parking space and the entry ticket costs Rs 50 -60 for Adult and Rs 30 for child.

Belum Caves
Belum Caves Entrance

The caves are largest caves in India. We visited after the rainy season and major part of the caves was closed as it was filled with water and mud.

Belum Caves
Area to descend to main cave

There are lights and large fans installed to keep pumping fresh air so that one won’t feel suffocated. If full cave is operational then it is advisable to take a guide.

Belum Caves
Inside Belum Caves

Belum caves are natural caves formed by underground water. The entrance looks like we are going in a pit and only after entering that pit you will be amazed to see the hug and amazing caves.

Belum Caves
Marks left by water

Belum Caves
View of one of the pits from the inside

It will be humid and hot inside the caves; cloth selection should be accordingly. Walking path inside the cave is nicely laid so you can take stroller, but it will be bumpy. Our daughter was small, so we carried her in her carrier.

Belum Caves
Mommy busy exploring the cave while baby is relaxing in her carrier

We spent around 1 hour in the caves and came back, if it was fully open then one can spend around 2-3 hours exploring the caves.

Coming back to Bangalore from Belum it was different route

Belum – Bugga – Tadipatri – Anantapur – Rapthdu – Kodur – Bangalore

Belum caves to Bangalore
Belum to Bangalore

From Rapthdu you will merge on NH 44 till Bangalore. Kilometer wise it is few KM more around 10-15 KM. One can plan a trip the other way as well i.e.

Bangalore – Belum – Gandikota – Bangalore

On our way back, we took lunch at NH 7 Refuel which will come after Indian Paratha Company. You must take ‘U’ turn which is little ahead but not too far.

NH 7 Refuel
NH 7 Refuel

Food was Ok here it was based on Punjabi theme so major food item was non-veg and we are pure veg. so after digging in the menu we finally settled for Makki ki roti sarso ka sag and chole bhature.

NH 7 Refuel
Makki roti sarso ka saag

Makki ki roti and sag was good but they didn’t serve any gud (jaggery). Chole bhature taste wise were nice but bhatura was too oily. Service was kind of slow and less staff.

It is a huge place with 2 sitting option out of which one is inside in the main hall and other is upstairs in open with a view of highway and landscape.

Nh 7 Refuel
Sitting space

Over all it was amazing experience exploring the huge natural caves for the first time and the view of Gandikota and Panna river.

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Note - All the pictures are from our trip taken by us.

Kalasa

This was much needed break for both of us as we didn’t go anywhere outside Bangalore is last 6 months.

Came to know about Kalasa through one of my husband’s friend as he posted some amazing pics of this place. Kalasa is located near to Chikmagalur around 85 Km.

Distance from Bangalore – 315 KM

Route took

Outer Ring road till Yeswanthpur signal then turn left on Tumkur road took flyover - took left on Nelmangla road NH 75 till Hassan - then on SH 57 Belur Road - in Belur take left on NH 73 from Nehru circle – continue on NH 73 via Halekote – Banakal – Kottigehara, from here you have to turn left on SH 66 – after traveling around 6.5 km turn left on SH 106 till Kalasa.

Bangalore Kalasa
Route we took

Till Hassan the road is 4 lanes, not that much traffic if you leave early. After Hassan mostly, it’s 2 lanes but the condition of the road is quite good even the ghat section which is around 34 Km is also in good shape.

Hassan Highway
Highway looks like this

There are tolls on the Hassan highway. Total one side toll is Rs 165. Trip was completed under one full tank (diesel). ¼ fuel was left after parking our car back home.

We stopped 3 times and it took us 6.5 – 7 hours to reach our stay. First stop was at Kamat upachar, kunigal which is around 87 Km from our home which took 1-1.5 hour.

Kamat Upchar
Kamat Upchar

Kamat upachar has clean restrooms and good food which is what we require while traveling. There is big parking and kids play area beside parking.

Kamat Upchar
Kids play area

There are other options as well little ahead of this place like – Swathi Delicacy which is on the right side of the road and Halli Mana on the left. These two are in front of each other. Then there is Dhruvathare which is relatively new and modern wrt all these places.

Food is good at all these places as we have tried all in our other journey i.e. to Sharavanbelgola.

Our second stop was 5 min which was restroom stop. We stopped at a small restaurant named ‘Pushpagiri’ or something like that. Please don’t stop at this point as the toilets are very dirty, as we were not sure if we would find any good place ahead, so we managed somehow.

After going ahead, we could see much better places where one can stop, and one such place was Ibbani cafe. Again, it’s a small café which sells raw spices and other stuff with nice view. Clean toilet and good freshly prepared tea.

After all the stops we finally reached out homestay at around 1 PM. We stayed in Mudra Homestay, Kalasa. It’s a town homestay i.e. not like other places which are out of town inside some estate with narrow roads. This place is located on the main road left side easily visible once you enter Kalasa.

Mudra Homestay Kalasa
Mudra Homestay

It’s a commercial building on ground floor, residence of owner on first and homestay on second. Restaurant is on the roof. They do have lift which is quite slow but helpful with luggage.

Mudra Homestay Kalasa
Second floor which is Homestay

Mudra is not that old will complete 5 year in sometime, and it’s maintained very well by Vikram our host and his staff.

This place has around 6 – 7 rooms and each room are designed differently. There is a small theatre present on one side of second floor. Vikram is a kind of antique collector as he has decorated Mudra with old musical instruments, paintings, artifacts, car, bike, scooter parts etc.

Mudra Homestay Kalasa
Common sitting area

Over all it was looking nice and room amenities were good. We had a bigger room which was kind of 1 BHK flat as it has one big living space, big bedroom and huge bathroom a small dining area, kitchen with gas, induction, microwave and fridge and finally a wash area with automatic washing machine and drying hangers.

Mudra Homestay Kalasa
Bed room

Mudra Homestay Kalasa
Living area

We were really surprised with this kind of setup. This room was joined with the adjacent room with a door for big families.

We have opted for food also, so we had all the 3 meals at this place and it was quite good. Every meal menu was different and was a mix of local dish + one north Indian dish.

Mudra Homestay Kalasa
One of the our meal

Taste was superb. The staff was very friendly polite and well behaved, and they took care of our daughter so well that after a long time we have enjoyed our food w/o running after her or worrying about her activities.

Even though this homestay was in town but still the view was magnificent i.e. lush green mountains covered in clouds.

Mudra Homestay Kalasa
Morning view from roof

Price per night – Rs 2900 which include b/f. Lunch & dinner costs Rs 250 per meal, as mentioned above it’s a buffet.

Places we have covered in our trip are –

  • Kyatanamakki Hills
  • Shri Kalaseshwara temple
  • Vasistha Theertha
  • Amba Theertha
  • Samse Tea estate
  • Soormane falls
  1. Kyatanamakki Hills

This place is simply amazing, it was such an amazing panoramic view which will leave you awestruck. It’s a off road drive and only 4×4 vehicles can reach to the top.

Vikram has already informed us about all the spots and how to reach there and arranged a vehicle both days. Charges are separate.

Kyatanamakki Hills
Beautiful sunset view

Best time to visit this place is sun rise or sun set.

Kyatanamakki Hills
Final stretch before we reach the top

  1. Shri Kalaseshwara temple

This is the main temple in the town and it was located just a walking distance from our homestay.

Kalaseshwara temple
Kalaseshwara temple

It’s the first thing that will come once you enter the town. It’s small, old and important temple here. Men can enter the temple only after removing the top wear.

Kalaseshwara temple
Main entrance

Kalaseshwara temple
Pillar inside the temple premises

There are 2 entrances one is from the main road, there is small parking on the front side of the temple and the second one is from behind.

Kalaseshwara temple
Second enterance

Main benefit of second entrance is that you can take your vehicle and then don’t need to climb any stairs.

But there is limited parking as it’s a narrow road.

  1. Vasistha Theertha

The narrow road behind the Kalaseshwara temple leads to this spot. Some part of the road is good some is not good, but you can take your car. Need to park the car little ahead of the main spot.

Vasistha Theertha
River Bhadra with beautiful background

This is located on the bed of Bhadra river and there is a long hanging bridge which connects the 2 shores of the Bhadra river.

Vasistha Theertha
Suspension bridge

There is one Linga and Nandi present on the banks of the river which people workship and there are few submerged in the river.

Vasistha Theertha
Pose time

It’s a beautiful spot to take pictures.

  1. Amba Theertha

This is another river spot, this is rocky terrain and in and after rains when there is good flow in river this place looks amazing.

Amba Theertha
Beautiful Bhadra River

At Amba Teerth when the water level is little less you can find a spot and put your feet in the cold fresh and clean water, relax and enjoy the beautiful surroundings.

Amba Theertha
Baby enjoying her sleep and mommy enjoying the nature

Amba Theertha
Bhadra flowing through mountains

  1. Samse Tea estate

As per the name it’s a beautiful tea estate with Ganesha temple inside it. If weather is good, you can climb up the hill to have beautiful panoramic view of the full estate.

Samse Tea estate
Beautiful tea estate

There is small shop in front of it where you buy local spices and nice tea. They also sell freshly made tea, there is sitting space behind the shop with river view which is nice.

Samse Tea estate
Mommy enjoying her time

  1. Soormane falls

It’s a small but beautiful fall located in a private property. Once again, the roads are not in good shape, so you need car with big wheels and high ground clearance.

Soormane falls
Beautiful water fall

As it’s in private property they charge some royalty which is Rs 100 per vehicle (also depends if it’s mini bus then it will be more)

Soormane falls
She really enjoyed the water fall

The main area of the fall i.e. just below the fall is around 6 ft deep, rest of the area has water below knee so no need to worry. Water is very clean, and it looks beautiful when there is good flow.

Soormane falls
Random click

Baby and mommy enjoying.

As most of the road leading to the places mentioned above are not in good shape our host suggested us to take 4×4 instead of our car. After visiting the places and seeing the roads we were happy that went with his suggestion.

Price paid Rs 3500

Mudra has their own 4×4 and the driver is nice guy, they have fixed rated to cover all the places.

We came back via same route and for lunch stopped at Hoysala Village resort. we have seen it while coming and decided to visit it while coming back. It’s located in Hassan. While going to Kalasa it will come few Km after Hassan town and before while coming back.

Hoysala Village Resort
Entrance

We left Kalasa around 10.30 AM and reached Hoysala around lunch time i.e. 1.15 PM. It’s a big resort with man made lake inside it.

Hoysala Village Resort
Restaurant

Hoysala Village is very beautiful, calm and clean place. One can go here on weekend just to relax. restaurant was decent means not very good but not that bad as well.

Hoysala Village Resort
Buffet section

We have opted for buffet which has decent options with live counter as well. After this we didn’t stop anywhere and reached home around 6.20 PM

Final verdict – Kalasa is beautiful place one must visit after monsoon and till Feb as river and waterfall will have good water, there will be greenery everywhere and the climate will be better then what we have in cities.

Note - All the pictures are from our trip taken by us.

Coorg – Scotland Of India

Coorg is also known as Scotland of India due to its vast natural beauty, hills and cold climate.

Coorg was on our travel list from long time the time, the time when we came to know about Orange County Coorg, I remember it was in 2013.

After we move to Bangalore it was our top most priority to visit Coorg but again delayed as I was pregnant 😊. So, after delivery and baby is big enough to travel long distances & buying our first car it was time to visit Coorg.

Done some research online, trying to find some nice home stays and luckily, we found one in our budget on MMT(MakeMyTrip). It was Silver Brooks Estate; this home stay is run by a couple Revathi & Yogesh. Yogesh was in hospitality business for long, so these guys knows what all things are required and how to manage and maintain a property effectively.

Route we took was – via Mysore highway till a round about from where we need to take exit on KSR Road then Belagola – Yelwala – Mallinathpura – Hunsur – then on Mysure – Medikeri Road till Kushalnagar. Continue on same road via Suntikoppa – Kedakal – Boikeri.

Bangalore Coorg

It was around 250 Km from our home and took us 5.30 – 6 hours with 2 stops. Our first stop was at Kamat Lokaruchi – Ramanagara, it’s around 50-55 Km 1 hour drive, nice clean toilets and very good food.

Kamat Lokaruchi
Kamat Lokaruchi

Kamat Lokaruchi
Food, first time saw idly made inside leaf

Parking is on the road side. Second stop was Café County which is around 125 km from Kamat Lokaruchi and 70-75 Km from out stay. It’s café cum restaurant here you have snacks coffee or full lunch/dinner as per the time.

Service and cleanliness is not good, less staff and until you call them they won’t bother to come to your table, so better find some other place if you want a second stop.

We had one of the cakes with coffee (don’t remember the name) but it was delicious. Small but clean toilets 2 type of sitting options i.e. inside and outside.Other than these 2 stops we stopped at 2 attractions before Coorg.

    1. Namdroling Monastery:

Namdroling Monastery is center of Tibetan Buddhism, it’s very calm and peace full place. There is a parking facility outside the monastery behind the shopping complex. Entry is free, there is large beautiful Buddha temple in the center of the complex. It is surrounded by beautiful gardens. 

Namdroling Monastery
Main temple top

Namdroling Monastery
Inside the temple

2. Nisargadhama:

Nisargadhama is an island formed by river Kaveri. This place is situated near Kushalnagar. There is ticket to enter the island, you have to cross an hanging bridge built over Kaveri.

Nisargadhama