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Vagamon – Pristine Beauty of Kerala

Vagamon – Pristine Beauty of Kerala

I was really looking forward to this roadtrip. For financial and personal reasons, somehow we couldn’t take any trip last year. So I was very excited to begin our nomadic lifestyle after a break of almost an year. This time we would be gone for a month.  We chose to drive through the Western Ghats of Kerala.

I just had a family vacation of 15 days at my hometown Ahmedabad and was now ready to fly to Kochi via Mumbai. It was a long boring flight but the thought of driving to Vagamon from Kochi Airport after being picked up by my husband, really excited me. (My husband was already on his Roadtrip around Kodaikanal since last 15 days)

The road from Kochi to Vagamon via Thodapuzha was one of the most beautiful roads that we have drove through. I must say we almost decided to retire and make a house in Thodapuzha!!!!! Such an idyllic place it was.

Once we crossed Thodapuzha the ascend started & so did the beauty and serenity. Kerala is so so so green, especially for a person like me who hails from Ahmedabad and who has just spent last  15 days at an average temperature of 40 degree Celsius. The breeze around the Western Ghats was very soothing and cool on my skin. It rejuvenated me so much  that I almost forgot that I have been up since 4 am in the morning and had a tiresome flight journey of 5 hrs.

On my way to Vagamon through Thodapuzha

 

Right from your childhood all that you know about Kerala is Tea Gardens or Backwaters. And now that I am finally here. I cannot resist to take a selfie (though I am nto much of a selfie person because I can’t take one!!!!!)

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And as we traveled further, these Tea gardens were omnipresent. When you drive through them you feel God definitely must be a painter. The symmetry, color and the vastness just overwhelms you.

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And after a flight journey of 4 hours and a drive of 3 hours we reached Vagamon Holiday. It is a beautiful holiday home amidst the Tea Gardens of Vagamon called Holiday Vagamon. If you are looking for a Digital Detox with your loved ones, this place is just perfect for you. As soon as we arrived, I was pleased to see how spacious and clean our room was.

 

After settling down we just took a walk in the premises and were more than happy to do this. Just what you need for a cup of tea in the evening. A hammock !

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The premises & the overall property was very scenic and calm. We had tea gardens, plants, flowers and trees all around us to relax our mind. And when that happens you just doze off. So did we.

Next day we had a grand breakfast(included in tariff) that was simple yet fulfilling. I have always been a fan of local cuisine and a farm fresh fruits wherever I go. Oh I just forgot to take the pic of the buffet breakfast because I was so busy in eating !

But take my word the breakfast they offer is grand, simple, nutritious & light on you stomach. Thats what you just want when you are traveling.

Sightseeing in Vagamon

Since Vagamon is quite a small place, the sightseeing places are just limited. Perfect if you are planning to travel juts over a weekend.

Vagamon Pine Forest

We skipped it because it was too crowded as it was a weekend. We skip any place that is congested with tourist crowd. But if one is interested, it can definitely be visited. Worth a try.

Vagamon Falls

Since we visited this place in May, the waterfall was not active. But should be visited  from June to September.

Vagamon Lake

Now this is one visit that is memory of a lifetime, at least for me. Its a beautiful small lake amidst the Tea Gardens and very picturesque. Boating is very affordable and you can opt for Kayaking and Paddle Boating. We did both.

When we were paddle boating, the climate was very nice as you can see in the pictures.

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After enjoying our paddle boat We decided that we will go for also Kayaking (as we never did that before). I think that was the best decision we took over. By the time we bought our tickets for Kayaking, it started raining heavily.In Kerala, rainfall can happen anytime, even in May.

And just like that something as simple as just Kayaking became an adventure for us out of nowhere. Other tourists and visitors left the lake since the rainfall was very heavy and the visibility also was very less because of clouds. Nobody except the lake administrator was around the lake. And that’s what you want just to make that perfect & romantic for the lifetime.

We continued with the Kayak amidst heavy showers and cool water. It was difficult to see ahead because of heavy rain. One could see the rain droplets taking the form of beads & diamonds over the surface of water till the horizon  below you. Also water is falling all over you in the form of thousand knives from above because the water is cold and the rain is sharp. And you have to keep moving the paddle with your hands amidst all this, in sync with each other to take the path ahead. Isn’t that is how a relationship is ?!!!1

Oh! what a sight & experience it was. I wish I was able to capture it in a video or photographs but it was too risky to take out the camera amidst the heavy showers. But you can imagine looking at the photographs what this place must be like when it showers heavily.

Some memories can never be captured but only be cherished. And that is what we are doing now while writing this post.

Good luck if you can experience something similar when you visit this region. Because that is the best part about this place.  It can rain anywhere anytime.

Tips

  • Always carry an Umbrella or Rain Jackets with you because in Kerala Ghats it can rain anytime anywhere
  • Take Room no 4 at Holiday Vagamon, if you want to be secluded and have a view of Tea Garden from the bedroom window
  • Alerts
  • When you walk through the Tea Gardens, be careful about the leech. Wear socks or high ankle shoes.

 

 

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Yana Caves : The Small Wonder of Western Ghats

Yana Caves : The Small Wonder of Western Ghats

Yana  is a village located in forests of Northern Karnataka, India which is known for the unusual Karst (Asteroid) rock formations.

Proximity : 175 km from Goa & 53 km from Gokarna. If you ever happen to visit any of these famous tourist places, Yana Caves is perfect for a day trip with your family.

How to reach there : If you are opting for a roadtrip with your car or a hired Taxi, take a diversion from NH-66 near Kumta towards SH-69. Its a 30 km drive from here. On SH 69, one can find a Tourism board for Yana village on left side. Take a left from this point and drive till the end of the road and you will reach Yana Caves entrance. From here its a 2 km trek into the forest till you reach the caves.

I am not sure if this place is accessible through any of the public transports like Bus or Train.

Alert : After you reach the entrance, the 2 km trek into the jungle takes almost an hour. The level of difficulty is moderate. First half of the trek is walking through the inclines in the jungle whereas other half requires climbing ~350 stairs. The trek is not recommended if you have company of elderly people. 


Roadtrips are our preferred mode of travelling because they give us access to the hidden & unexplored territories which would have been difficult to reach otherwise. Also, it gives you the chance of discovering some beautiful places on your own. Yana Caves is one such untouched & hidden gem in the Jungles of Western Ghats that we are proud to have explored.

The two rock hillocks, known as  Bhairaveshwara Shikhara & Mohini Shikhara surrounded by thick forests and streams, rise sharply above the surrounding area up to almost 100 meters near Yana village. In the first rock hill, Bhairaveshwara Shikhara, there is 3 meters (9.8 ft) wide opening in the rock face that leads into a cave and hence Yana Caves.

Well, I can not talk enough about the scenic beauty of this place. Right from the time you take the diversion at Kumta on NH-66, the scenic beauty starts intriguing & enthralling you. The road is narrow (two lane) nevertheless idyllic & fun to take a drive on. One drives through thick & lush green forests with surprises of quick showers of rain, interspersed all through the journey till you reach the caves. (That’s the fun of travelling & driving in Monsoon in India)

Once you reach the entrance, there is a dedicated parking area which could easily accommodate a good number of cars, large vehicles & of course two wheeler. Also, one can find a small shop vendor selling biscuits, snacks, fresh lime juice & water bottles. Its good to buy some snacks & bottles if you are not carrying your own as the trek will demand you to stay hydrated.

Car Parking at Yana Caves
Small Shop at Yana Caves Entrance

Also, having snacks & water with you is a good idea as one can always have a nice family picnic while trekking through the jungles. The Tourism dept has made several stopovers with small huts, benches & dustbins along the trek to help you have a fun & eco-friendly picnic.

Trek to Yana Caves
Yana Caves Trek
Yana Caves Trek

And the trek, of course, is nothing but beautiful. It’s so refreshing to have a walk through the jungles with a river passing just next to you with small waterfalls, streams, bridges & wood logs. Only once in a while you get to move along these rather than cars & traffic jams.

Yana Caves Trek
Yana Caves Trek
Yana Caves Trek
Yana Caves Trek

There are at least two spots along the trek along the river with beautiful small waterfalls & wood logs for you to sit, hangout & enjoy. If you have time, do stop by & take a dip into these fresh rainwater natural pools.

Fresh Rain Water Pools at Yana Caves
Fresh Rain Water Pools at Yana Caves

After almost an hour & 2 km trek, you get to see the two gorgeous rock formations just like the ones you come across in those sci-fi or fantasy movies. You feel like you have time traveled to some ancient era. Below the rock formations, sits a temple of Lord Shiva which has historical as well as mythological significance.  It is believed that the fire, that emanated when demon king Bhashmasura placed his hands over his heads enticed by the beauty of Mohini, was so intense that the limestone formations in the Yana area were blackened.

These rock formations are perfect for photography lovers or anybody who likes to be inspired by nature & create something. These rocks are just stupendous. I will let pictures do the talking.

Mohini Shikhara Yana Caves
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Bhaireshwara Shikhara Yana Caves
Bhaireshwara Shikhara
Rock Formations at Yana Caves
Rock Formations at Yana Caves
Rock Formations at Yana Caves
Rock Formations at Yana Caves
Rock Formations at Yana Caves

Mystery intrigues us all. This is one place that will leave you thinking so.

Overall this place should be visited at least once if  you are a hiker or pilgrim or just a travel enthusiast like many of us. It’s ideal for a day trip or family picnic or even a romantic long drive with some one special.

Tips:

  1. Always carry an umbrella or rain jackets if you are visiting this place in Monsoons.
  2. There is a washroom facility at the entrance but not anywhere along the way once you start the trek.
  3.  The trek gets really slippery in the Monsoon. Avoid heels or any fancy shoes that will not take good care of you.
  4. Spare some 2-3 hours after you reach the entrance to completely enjoy the place like taking a dip in the river along the trek, spend some time at temple, a visit to the caves & take lots of photographs.
  5. Have some fresh lime juice at the entrance once you come back from the trek. It’s tasty & invigorating.
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Meditating with the Sunsets

Meditating with the Sunsets

“Lost, Yesterday, Somewhere between Sunrise and Sunset

Two golden hours,

Each set with sixty diamond minutes.

No reward is offered for they are gone forever” — Anonymous

Why do people often get so sentimental when it comes to Sunset?

May be because we are too absorbed in the beauty to think about anything else. That absolute emptiness of not having a single thought around, is what makes us feel complete. What else is meditation meant for.

They say when you travel , one thing you shouldn’t miss at any single destination is Sunrise or Sunset, may be even both. And so did I.

As a Digital Nomad, it became a routine for me to meditate over a sunset wherever I have been. That personal space, where you are alone but never lonely, is endearing. These days, enjoying your own company is a luxury, many cannot afford.

Though I have witnessed many sunsets, some of them were too stunning to be not shared. I am sharing the best ones.

At times there is not much you can describe with the words when the images speaks for themselves.

1. Thar Desert, Rajasthan, India.

2. Dudhni Village, Gujarat, India.

3. Thol Bird Sanctuary, Ahmedabad, India.

4. Timber Trail Resort, Parwanoo, Himachal Pradesh.

5. Rann of Kutch, White Desert, India.

6. Pushkar, Rajasthan, India.

7. Kalo Dungar, Gujarat, India.

8. Sabarmati River Front, Ahmedabad, India.

9. Mandvi Beach, Gujarat, India.

10. Tithal Beach, Valsad, India.

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What did I accomplish, gain and realize by traveling ?

What did I accomplish, gain and realize by traveling ?

Accomplish

  • Understand the concepts taught in school, which got ruined by profession.
  • Finish the resolutions I made every year, in time much lesser than a year.
  • Find the dream, I would like to dedicate my life to.
  • Spend quality time with myself/family, that was always demanded and well deserved.
  • Learning to love and appreciate the things around to their fullest and earnest.

Gain

  • Wisdom and clarity to channelize my thoughts and actions.
  • Answers to questions, I have been asking for long.
  • Fitness & health I always coveted.
  • Expertise in at least one field that I thought was not my cup of tea.
  • Relationships and people who came and left at the right time in my life for me to grow.

Realize

  • Blood is not thicker than water. You will find people who will influence and love you better than your family for whatever little time they had with you.
  • You actually don’t need anything beyond food and shelter to live happily.
  • Loneliness is not that intimidating.
  • If nature is a revelation of god then art is the revelation of man. This is the only way, these two entities can communicate and should communicate.
  • The two most overrated things in this world are sex and money.
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We are Nomadified

We are Nomadified

Is travelling all it’s cracked up to be? People leaving their jobs, routines and homes to explore the world outside. The thought itself is romantic, isn’t it? But not realistic. I am sure many of us would agree to that. Then what is realistic?

We have been taught life is a bitch. It is tough. It is unfair. But no, It is not. It is pretty easy. It is easy to stay at a cozy and comfortable house of your own. It is easy to embrace your paychecks to keep stuffing your fridges and wardrobes even more brutally. It is easy to follow the protocol. Get a degree, a job, a spouse, children and again inspire them to be nothing but to follow the same protocol. It is easy to survive. But what is difficult is to live. To live for what makes you happy. Well, somehow we managed to do that.

Two years ago, I got married to the man I love. We had everything that a young regular couple needs on their palette. A beautiful house, professional success, well paid secure jobs, fulfilling social life, peers reputation and what not. But we wanted ‘more’ out of our lives.

We decided to take a break from the routine and take road trips across India. Travelling was more of an escape than a passion then. But now it is more than even that. It is our lifestyle. Maybe our future.

The nomadic lifestyle comes with its own costs. We had to give up our comfortable urban lifestyle. We had to give up our jobs and hunt for remote jobs. This was the biggest and the toughest part. Apart from that, making small compromises to accommodate a travel plan that was spread across 4–5 months is not easy. It is easier for students and bachelors to adopt this lifestyle but not for couples. This adjustment is magnified and multiplied to two when it comes to two. But anyways we took a chance. Here is why this chance is worth taking at least once in your life.

CHEAPER

When we compared our monthly expenses while travelling to our expenses in regular lifestyle, travelling turned out to be not only an affordable lifestyle but also cheaper. In the routine, we pay huge rents for accommodation and even if we own a house, EMIs make a deep hole in our pockets. Apart from that cost of basic amenities, food, domestic help, maintenance so on and so forth left us with very little to spend. Even if travelling was not cheaper but as expensive as my regular lifestyle, I will still opt for travelling for it allowed me to have a quality life at some of most scenic locations. I don’t have to depend on my savings or incentives to come my way for planning my family holidays.

We got to stay at some of the most beautiful and scenic accommodations at very affordable prices during our trip. Even best of the resorts or hotels (usually overpriced) we usually rely on for weekend getaways cannot give you such experiences. We felt a sense of belonging while staying in these admirable accommodations. A home away from home.

Tent House in Dholavira, Rann of Kutch, Gujarat
Tent House in Rann Utsav, Dholavira
Tent House in Dholavira
Atithi Guest House in Pushkar
Atithi Guest House in Pushkar
Atithi Guest House in Pushkar
Atithi Guest House in Pushkar
Bishnoi Village near Jodhpur

 FRIENDZONED

Blah Blah figure salary and how well the house is maintained are no more the criterias you judge your spouse on. On this journey, we became friends than being mere responsibilities. Words ‘Husband’ and ‘Wife’ comes with a lot of baggage and are plagued with stereotypical expectations. When routine responsibilities were taken care by others, we found much more time left to ourselves to appreciate and invest in each other.


SELF DISCOVERY

It is in the paradigm of extremities that blogs of self-discoveries are written. On my travel, I came across many physical and psychological challenges that helped me to discover myself. Such profound moments gave me the strength to tackle my life and its mysteries with maturity. Things inside and around made sense to me now. My inner peace and happiness helped me to love myself. And when you are able to love yourself, you are also able to receive it as well.

 

COMMUNICATION

One issue almost all relationships fall prey to is ineffective communication. Sometimes we get so busy that we don’t even know how the other person is feeling, forget about addressing the issue. Does that mean a relationship is finished? Routine ruins us all and we have no time to be companions. While travelling, we had many things to discuss, plan and share which brought us on the same page and helped to complement each other. I had some of the most memorable and romantic moments of my life with my spouse on this journey, which would not have been possible otherwise.

 

PROFESSIONAL GROWTH

With the nomadic lifestyle, you have ample time to follow your hobbies, rejuvenate yourself and make some significant self-improvement that makes you even more professional. Our efficiency and productivity improved while travelling in spite of working for only a few hours. We were able to realign our career goals and make some sincere efforts to improve our profiles. We read and studied a lot during these days that not only strengthened our knowledge in our respective domains but also added the dimension of satisfaction in the jobs we do.


We made road trips across 5 states of India (Himachal Pradesh, Delhi, Uttar Pradesh, Rajasthan, Gujarat, Maharashtra) for 150 days, transcending through several Highways, Cities, Monuments, Rivers, Forts, Mountains, Oceans, Deserts and back. The experience was rewarding as well as revealing. This odyssey made us a bit nomadic and romantic both. And now we take pride in calling ourselves ‘Romads’.

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