Tuesday, 25 October 2011

Rann Utsav 2011 - Join us!

This December, Travel Another India & IndiaOffroads invite you to an incredibly Indian getaway at the White Rann of Kutch. Imagine a flat expanse of land, with nothing around as far as your eyes can see, covered with a solid layer of salt that you could easily mistake for snow. Imagine the colors, music and dances of Kutch come alive at the Rann Utsav, on a night that’s only lit by a full moon, reflected by the salt below, with more stars than you’ve ever seen. Kutch is perhaps India’s most ecologically and ethnically diverse regions, and at the Rann Utsav, we celebrate this diversity.

Rann Utsav. Photo credit: Chitra Shastry.
Stay with us at the Shaam-e-Sarhad Village Resort in Hodka, which taught and inspired our co-founder Gouthami to set up Travel Another India. Shaam-e-Sarhad, meaning Sunset at the Border, is completely owned and managed by the residents of Hodka Village in Northern Kutch. The resort is designed in local mud architectural style, as the twelfth hamlet of Hodka. You’ll be charmed by the Kutchi hospitality and impressed with their myriad forms of Kutchi crafts. The White Rann will be at your doorstep from here, and you’ll fall in love with another India, serenaded by the music of Hodka. 

Shaam-e-Sarhad Resort, Hodka.

When: 9-12 December, 2011.

Where: Gujarat. This trip is Ex-Ahmedabad.
How much: Rs 13,000 / person, inclusive of accommodation & food for 3 days.
Early Bird Special: 5% off on all bookings in October.
To reserve your spot or get more details, RSVP here with your contact details,
email us at book@travelanotherindia.com
or call us at +91 9811 442 927 or +91 9900 193 873.

Wednesday, 12 October 2011

Scarecrow Festival 2011 - Oct 15-16

Ever fancied building a Scarecrow for a farmer’s field? 

As the crops start ripening this season, we invite you to gift something unique to our farmers – a Scarecrow! Let your creative juices flow, team up with your family, friends & kids, and participate in a one-of-a-kind Scarecrow Festival at Ecogrid this weekend.  

When: Saturday & Sunday, 15th - 16th October 2011.
Where: Ecogrid, a back-to-nature getaway located between Bombay & Pune.

How much: Rs. 3,000 per adult & Rs. 2,000 per child, inclusive of accommodation & food for the weekend.

We'll provide you with bamboo & coir rope to make the frame of your Scarecrow, while you can dig for artistic things in your storeroom to decorate it. The three most artistic and strong-standing Scarecrows will also win a prize. What better way to fill the lull between the Dussehra & Diwali festivities?
For more information or to reserve your place, please email us at book@travelanotherindia.com

See you there :)

Pichavaram: Of Mangroves & Oysters.

Written by Guest Blogger, Kalyan Emandi.

Pichavaram has the only Mangroves which were untouched and undisturbed by the tsunami. I had never heard of this place before and it was never on my list to visit. A friend asked me to visit it as it was on the way. Till then, I had only seen Mangroves on Discovery or National Geographic channels, so on hearing this, I was delighted and made up my mind. 'Do not hire a motorboat hire a boat with oars' and 'do pay the guide a bit extra' were the two most important suggestions I got from him.

I reached Pichavaram at about 8:30 am and purchased a ticket and hired a boat. Within a few minutes, I saw two women in the water, they were moving gradually as if they were searching for something. On asking, the guide said they were catching shrimp/prawns by hand! The second surprise was that the water was only two-three feet deep.

The next 15 minutes I was just out of words as ours was the only boat and the entire area was absolutely serene. We moved into the denser parts of the Mangroves, where the passage turns to be pretty narrow and the boat is rowed by a single oar. This is the most beautiful part of the entire boat trip; 
you will be taken to a small cave like opening and through numerous man made and natural canals through mangroves. Crabs are visible almost everywhere and if you like Oysters, you could just pick them anywhere (please don't though)!

If I had hired a Motor boat I would have paid a larger sum and would never have been able to see the narrow canals, so remember, absolutely no motorboats. The place is quite humid, so I was sweating in no time. I did a bit of rowing myself and the entire trip took around two and a half hours. I was absolutely thrilled and content after the boat trip; I loaded my bike with luggage and headed towards Chidambaram to continue my journey to Kanyakumari.

Getting there: Pichavaram is a small village 60km from Pondicherry, towards Chidambaram; January would be an ideal time to visit as a lot of migratory birds would make it their home. The best way to reach there would be by a two wheeler from Pondi, you can hire a taxi as well. A decent bike is about 150-200 rupees/day. A minimum of 3-4 hours is required to complete the boat trip. Do remember to pay your guide an extra fee to get into the dense mangrove areas where the real excitement lies.

About the author: My name is Kalyan Emandi - a chef, traveler and biker. I'm a civil engineer from Visakhapatnam and a management graduate from Europe, currently working in the Middle East for a living. Recently, I concluded a 3300km bike trip from Visakhapatnam to Kanyakumari and back. I am obsessed with traveling in India and will continue to be thrilled by its beauty and chaos.

Tuesday, 4 October 2011

Varkala: The Cliff Over the Beach.

Written by Guest Blogger, Raj Niranjan Das. 

Varkala has been on my travel list for a long time, and a two day break was apt for me to head to the small fishing hamlet.

It being in the southern part of Kerala, traveling from Bangalore was indeed a long journey. 14 hours was quite a bit of time but the excitement grew as I got down at Kallambalam. It is a deviation of around 10 kms from this point off the NH 47 to Varkala. This is approximately 45 kms before you touch Kerala's capital, Thiruvananthapuram.

The auto rickshaws will drop you near the helipad from where you can see the clear blue sea. The south cliff is towards the left where you have a couple of resorts. However all "action" happens on the north cliff which is towards the right of the helipad. I would recommend that any tourist who wants to be in the middle of activities, should head for the north cliff rather than the south.

To be frank I have not seen so many foreign tourists at one single place as I saw in Varkala. You hardly find any Indians other than the locals who run the shops and the restaurants. Being February, I could feel the heat slowly catching up. The best time to visit Varkala, in fact, would be September to January.

The cliff is a long stretch of about a kilometer and a half with the sea on one side and the shops & restaurants on the other. The shopkeepers lure you with all sots of arts & crafts which you can carry back home. Everything from woodworks, bangles, chains to apparels can be purchased from here. I ended up entering almost all the shops before settling down on a small rudraksh for my wrist. 

Do not expect the markets to shut down with the sunset as the night life is simply amazing, and it goes on till midnight (Bengaluru needs to learn a thing or two from Varkala). All the shops remain open and the restaurants display their fresh catch for the day to tempt the tourists in the evenings. Drinking beer and having the sea breeze hit my face in the dark of the night, with some music in the background, gave me a high which no cocktail has ever given till date. The restaurants are quite expensive but never restrict yourself from exploring the delicious sea food. They do have live bands and they keep playing and dancing till midnight.

Rarely do you find a cliff next to a beach, but Varkala is where you can say, YES...its right here. From the top of the cliff, steps take you down to the clear blue waters. Must appreciate the authorities for the way they have maintained the beach. It is the most well kept beach that I have ever been to. The waters are not very deep for about 100 meters. However the tides are quite strong. The tourists frolic on the beach from the morning. I found people doing yoga, practicing karate, taking a sun bath, jogging etc. I actually found many just playing with the tides the whole day. With safe guards always roaming around, tourists found it all the more safe.

The sunset view from the top of the cliff is one of the best you can ever see.
This is one place you should go to if you want to just laze around. The feel of going back home would never be there. I just did not feel like leaving the clear blue waters & the fine sand. This is the best beach I have been to and for the sheer beauty of the place, I will go back again for a longer vacation. 

About the Author:
Raj Niranjan Das is passionate about travel. Be it long bike rides or treacherous trekking or leisure holidaying or backpacking through the countryside or an engrossing train journey, he loves to do anything and everything that involves travel. He dreams of setting foot on every single country on Planet Earth and meeting friendly strangers, learning new tongue twister languages, tasting mouth watering food, studying vibrant cultures and exploring exotic places. Visit his blog at