Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Goa In Monsoons- This Time It Was Palolem!!!

From the moment I finalised this year's plan of Goa, the excitement level was at all time high. Last to Last year I had seen Goa in monsoons and believe me, since then I was trying one thing or another to take out time and be there again in the same season. Last year I went in June, I loved it at that time of year too but felt some thing was missing. I had never been to the southern most part of Goa, Canacona made famous by Palolem Beach. It's less touristy as compared with the beaches in the north but during season time it can also get really busy.

I was there for 5 days. I took an evening flight and landed in Goa in the night around 9.30pm. This time around I booked 1 night in Marriot, Panjim in the north and 3 nights in The Lalit Glof and Spa resort. Marriot is a beautiful property on the Miramar beach. A beautiful 5 star property. The infinity pool is small but beautiful. I specially loved their swim-in bar stools where you can still in the water and enjoy your drink. It rained almost through out the night and continued till the morning. The rain had painted everything green.

Couple Enjoying A Beautiful Evening at Marroit

Miramar Beach , North Goa

Off To Fishing!!!!

With A View Like This, Who Would Like To Leave???

Marriot, Goa

Garden View From The Room


Next morning I left for Palolem. BTW the local transport in Goa is extremely costly. Taxi from Miramar to Palolem was 3800/- and that too from an outside taxi stand. The hotel quoted me 4800/-!!! As soon as you enter south Goa the huge buildings of the north give way to open paddy Fields in the south. I have always loved South Goa. It's much calmer, beautiful, great beaches and the pace is slow. The drive was so beautiful that I felt like stopping the cab every now and then to take pictures.

Beautiful South

Lush Green Paddy Fields As You Enter South Goa

Just Couldn't Stop Clicking!!!

Beautiful Drive

Reached The Lalit in the afternoon. Lalit is a beautiful, well maintained Golf resort spread in over 85 acres on Rajbag Beach. It's hardly 2 kms from Palolem. The rajbag beach itself ia a beautiful beach and I would say more prettier than palolem itself. The property is huge with all suites room. They have close to 220 suites. Some of them are room facing and some are sea facing. They even have few Villa which they rent out as single unit. Every villa has its own private pool. You have to spend a Lakh a day to live in one of those.

Golf Course At The Lalit, Cancona, South Goa 

After a smooth check in I took a bike on rent for which I paid 300/- a day. Rode the bike to Palolem and spent the whole evening there. It became a daily ritual for 3 days. Because of Off season there were not many options to choose from. Most of the shacks were still not operational. I had my dinners in a restaurant on the beach named Dropadi!!! Funny name for a restaurant but location was brilliant. Though I'll not rate food too great may be because I had better food in Goa. My favourite food joints in South Goa are Fisherman's Wharf (Near The Leela) and Martin's Corner. They serve some amazing dishes.

Evening At The Palolem Beach

View Of The Palolem Beach From Dropadi Restaurant

Girls Wanna Have Fun!!!

Beach Patrol

The Beautiful Palolem Beach

Some local suggested me this little Italian restaurant named Magic Italy. I must say, it serves authentic Italian food. I had a small conversation with the lady who runs the place. The family is  Italian and are running this place for past 15 years now. They get most of the ingredients from Italy. Loved the Meat Lasagna and Pizza that I ordered. The portions are huge !!!!

Magic Italy !!!!

Colourful Sunset At Palolem

Most of the evenings were spent watching the Sun go down from Dropadi Restaurant. All the below images that you will see were taken at Rajbag Beach. 

Drift Wood

Morning walks on the beach are refreshing and are usually highlights of my trip. 

Dead Fish

What A Play Ground For Football!!!

The kids from nearby village come in the evening and play football. I was lucky to witness a local Goan festival. It was Raksha Bandhan and in the evening people came from nearby villages to celebrate this festival in which they worship the Ocean. It was a riot of colour. The women came dressed in their best of dresses and there was suddenly fun and chantings in the air. The ceremony lasted about 2 hours. 

Goans Celebrating A Local Festival 

Pleasing The Ocean God!!!

I have always loved Goa in the monsoons and this time around the feeling became even stronger. The rains bring out a different Goa. A Goa which is green, less crowded and with beautiful cloudy skyline flooded with colours. There's magic in the air. Till next time, I will miss you Goa!!!!

Places I stayed and will recomend:-

1. Marriot Resort and Spa, Panaji, North Goa.   http://www.marriott.com/hotels/travel/goimc-goa-marriott-resort-and-spa/

2. The Lalit Golf and Spa Resort, Rajbaga , Canacona, South Goa. http://www.thelalit.com/the-lalit-golf-and-spa-resort/overview

I will also recommend this beautiful property named The Ciarans. It's a small 4 bedroom property right on the beach in Palolem. 
Word of caution- It may get a bit noisy in the day during peak season time.  http://www.ciarans.com/

If you planning to stay for a longer period say 6 months to a Year and looking for a 1 Bedroom or a studio apartment then you can checkout Ruby Residences which is nearby in Chawdi, Canacona. I went to their property, it's a safe and gated community. It can be a good option for a single women traveller. They charge somewhere between Rs 15000/- to 20000/- a month for a fully furnished 1 Bedroom apartment. 
Check out their link- http://www.bharatdevelopers.com/rentals/

There are lot of beach hut options during the peak season time in Palolem. Beach huts are dismantled during monsoons and are rebuilt every season. For moving around, bikes are easily available in the palolem market area. Charges are anywhere between Rs 200/- to 500/- for a day. 

Here's last my year trip report of Goa where I have recommended some other places to eat and stay in Goa. http://karantraveller.blogspot.in/2012/12/goa-india-different-world.html

Thursday, August 8, 2013

Kuari Pass Trek- Not All That Wander Are Lost!!!

The dream of going to Kuari Pass finally took shape when me and my trekking partner, Dr. Anil Agarwal agreed to do Kuari Pass over a pint of beer in DLF city club Gurgaon. Kuari Pass also known as Lord Curzon's trail is a beautiful trek in the Nanda Devi sanctuary The trek passes through alpine meadows and crosses several major streams. It will not be an exaggeration when I say that the view from Kuari pass can be described as one of the best in the Himalayas.  Kuari Pas trek offers beautiful views of Trisul (7,120m), Hathi Ghoda Peak, Kamet (7,756m) and  Nanda Devi (7,817m) which is the second highest mountain in India. After a weeks of preparation we started for this beautiful hill station called Auli, from where this trek starts. 

Delhi to Auli is 500 Kms by road. 

How to reach Auli from Delhi-  

We broke our journey at Srinagar(Uttrakhand), which is around 100 Kms ahead of Rishikesh. Next day we started early and reached Auli by afternoon. Auli is a popular ski destination in India and is at an altitude of around 2700mts above sea level.

View From Auli

Another Religon Of India

In India you can find people playing cricket in any place possible. Here you see them playing at an altitude of close to 3000 mts. 

Dr Anil at a Temple on the way to Gorson Meadows

DAY-1 - We started a bit late in the morning with our guide Vicky and our two porters because day one was an easy walk of around 5-6 Kms to Gorson Meadows. 

View From Gorson Meadows


DAY-2 - As you can yourself see the beauty of the place that I don't have to write much about it but still the place was breathtakingly beautiful. 

Early Morning At Gorson Meadows

Views From Gorson 

Gorson Village

The walks around the village while it was raining were beautiful. These huts that you see are of Shepard's who come here with there sheep and mountain goats when the Grass Is Green!!!

To Gorson Peak

The peak that you see on the extreme left of the above photo is Gorson peak. The idea was to cross the peak before 2.00 pm because it usually gets cloudy and starts raining. 

Lammergeier or The Bearded Vulture

There's a lot of wild life that you encounter throughout your trek. While on our way to Gorson Peak, we spotted this might bird of prey, Lammergeier also known as the Bearded Vulture. It is a huge bird with wingspan between 7 to 9ft. It was a delightful sighting. 

Lammergeier In Flight


No, its not a Rat as you might be thinking. It's PIKA. He belongs to the family of Rabbits and Hares. Pika is a beautiful small mammal and is native to cold climates. 

Right On The Edge- Gorson Peak With Vicky, Our Guide 

The moment that you see in the picture above is one of those moments which you want to relive again and again. While sitting on the edge I recalled what Jonathan Waterman, a climber, photographer and a writer once said 

"...by bringing myself over the edge and back, I discovered a passion to live my days fully, a conviction that will sustain me like sweet water on the periodically barren plain of our short lives." 

The final climb to Gorson peak is a bit hard but it's worth every drop of sweat. The views from the Gorson peak are just awesome. It feels as if you are sitting in our own private place in Heavens and looking down at mother earth.  Some of the peaks visible from Gorson peak are Nilkanth (6596m), Narayan Parbat (5965m), Mana peak (7272m), Kamet (7756m), Abi Gamin (7355m), Nilgiri Parbat (6474m), Rataban (6166m), Hathi Gora Peak (6727m) and Dronagiri (7066m).

After Gorson there's a sudden descend and in no time you are in a thick forest. After clearing the forest line, we pitched our tents in Talli. It was a tough day and after early dinner and bonfire, we were off to sleep in our sleeping bags. 

View Of Hathi Ghoda Peak From The Tent

DAY-3 - I was sitting and praising the beauty of the place when Dr. Anil took this shot. Once you wake up to these views, it's very difficult to wake up to an alarm clock at home!!

Hathi Ghoda Peak 

Crossing A Ridge To Reach Khullara

Camp at Khullara

After walking the whole day we reached Khullara. It's a beautiful campsite. As soon as we reached and pitched our tents, it started to rain. But after some time the rain stopped and we started to search for dry firewood. By the time we collected the firewood, it was almost dark. Food was served and we tucked ourselves into our sleeping bags. 

View Of Valley From Kuari Pass

Day-4 - We started early morning for Kuari Pass which was a short climb from Khullara. The above photo shows the other side of the valley from Kuari Pass. There were clouds all around and it was extremely windy. 

The rest of the day was spent exploring the place around Kuari Pass and  Pangarchulla Peak. As the day progressed, the clouds gave way to mighty views of the snow clad Himalayas.

The our tents pitched at Khullara and the white lines seen are sheep and mountain goats.

Dr Anil enjoying The Argumentative Indian in the evening. 

Day 5-  This was the last day of the trek. We started early after the breakfast as it was a long walk but mostly downhill. We enjoyed every bit of it. We walked the whole day and reached Tapovan in the evening where our jeep was waiting to take us back to Auli.  Kuari Pass is an easy trek. I will recommend it to anyone who loves to walk and is reasonably fit. 

Trekking Company Used- I must say that I must have been in some kind of  luck when I contacted Vivek Kumar aka VICKY. He owns a adventure company in Auli http://www.xra.asia/  and is a local. He is a professional Skier and a Snow Boarder. He has represented India in various Countries. He accompanied us on the trip and knows every nook and corner of the area. Everything was perfect from day 1. I would strongly recommend him. He has also made few cottages in Auli which are at a beautiful location. 
Contact - XRA (Xtreme Real Adventures)  http://www.xra.asia/  Mobile no - +91 9412018299, +91 8126965636For Cottages- http://xracottage.com/

On way to Tapovan from Khullara