Beach destination guide

26 April  |  Adventure & Travel

Blessed with over 7500 km, much of the Indian coastline is waiting to be explored. Far from the typical holidaying crowds, there is many a pristine beach where you can head for some tranquillity and solitude. Long strolls with the soothing sands under your feet, unending dips, an array of local fare to dig into and, at times miles between you and your nearest neighbour- we bring to you a few beaches which promise to be more than a just another tourist destination.

Gokarna beach

Unique rock formations and hills are distinctive of the peaceful Gokarna beach. The town of Gokarna is a set of 5 main beaches including Gokarna beach, Kudle beach and the Om beach – each one unique in its own way. Short treks, refreshing boat rides, ancient temples, yearly festivals and the serene beaches themselves – there is a lot that is packed into this place.  The resorts or hotels here provide the perfect base to explore the place. While in town, do visit the Prema, the Namaste Cafe and the Shree Shakti for a range of tasty delights.

Malpe beach

With clear beaches and clean waters, the Malpe beach is breathtakingly beautiful. Being close to the temple town of Udupi, it is relatively crowded during the weekends. However, its long stretches allow for solitude at all times. Visitors can explore the backwaters, take part in adventure sports or take a short ferry ride to the nearby cluster of St. Mary’s Islands, a geological masterpiece in itself. There are also temples and museums to explore in the town of Malpe. The coffee at the Oh! Cafe and food at the Malpe Hotel here should go into your must try list.

Dhanushkodi beach

The existing Dhanushkodi town is a silent reminder of the 1964 cyclone. The now sparsely populated island and erstwhile port is a meeting point for the Bay of Bengal and the Indian Ocean. The beach is a must visit owing to its serenity as well as the rich association with history and epics alike. Despite being regarded as a ‘Ghost Town’, the spectacular views of the sea, the ‘Rama Sethu’ connecting India to Sri Lanka, ruins of churches, railway stations that are reminiscent of a lively town before the tragedy. All these and more make the bumpy ride from Rameshwaram to the beach worth it. Barring a few makeshift eateries that sell snacks made of fish, raw banana, and lime juice stalls, there are no places to stay or eat in this place. Restaurants like the Hotel Ishwarya Veg, Nattukottai and the Ahaan in nearby Rameshwaram serve as good options.

Muzhappilangad beach

Image source:- travel source and information

Situated in Kerala, firm sand and shallow waters are distinctive of this beach, and the beautiful rock formations protect much of the shore from rough currents. This is the only beach in Kerala, and one of the very few in the country, to legally allow car and motorbike drive-ins along its stretch.  While it is a must visit for this one-of-a-kind experience, you can also participate in organised water and adventure sports activities here. The Dharmadam island walk and yearly Koormba festival held here are splendid attractions too. Must-visits like the Malabar Bay, the Sahib’s Grill Kitchen and Iceberg in nearby Kannur makes up for the lack of well-known restaurants in this beach town.

Marari Beach

Image source:- Tour my India

With nothing but the waves and nature for company, the Marari beach is an idyllic spot for indulgence in me-time or we-time, as the case may be. Explore pilgrim centres, experience ayurvedic retreats, visit temples, witness snake boat races at specific times in the year or simply soak in the natural beauty of the backwaters, Mararikulam beach comes with a host of options to please just about everybody. The Flamingo Marari, Palm Heaven Marari Homely Food are some of the must-try eat outs. Carol Days located on the beach itself provides the perfect backdrop to dig into flavourful delicacies.

A good network of road, rail and air transport allows you to travel to each of these places from anywhere in India. What’s more? Far away from cityscapes like the IT hub of Bangalore, these provide a wonderful alternative to day outing in Bangalore resorts or typical getaways to places like Nandi hills, Bangalore. You can explore any of these domestic beach destinations with a reasonable budget too. These places provide the perfect backdrop to recharge your batteries and get a dose of the ‘fresh’-waters, air, experiences et al.

8 Environmental Do’s and Don’ts When You Travel

26 April  |  Listicles

Being a responsible traveller is not difficult. Responsible travelling involves respecting the resources of the places you visit and assimilating rather than demanding. Here are some basic ‘dos’ and ‘donts’ if you want to be a responsible traveller.

DONTs

No to Plastic

Image source:- plastic-pollution.org

Plastic bags have taken the human desire for convenience to a level where it is literally smothering precious eco-spaces. Completely unnecessary in most scenarios, these bags are used for a short span and end up becoming a waste disposal problem that will last centuries. That enough should convince you to substitute plastic for light jute bags or similar alternatives. If you do use plastic, ensure that you are reusing it over and over (and over) again and not leaving it behind where you travel.

Be Wise with Water

There are many destinations across India and the world where there is a chronic water shortage, but travellers do not feel the pinch as they usually get the most comfortable accommodations. Know your role, research your hotel’s energy and resource plans and respect the larger picture wherever you are. Long showers aren’t always necessary, and you can reuse towels.

Use the Bin

Image source:- lionsclubsindia.org

Countless restoration projects aside, one person’s inability to put back wrappers in his pocket leads to a slide that ends up in impromptu garbage dumps in majestic forts, markets and scenic viewpoints across India. When travelling, keep your litter with you until you find a dustbin to throw it.

Do not Disturb

Never get into a habit of collecting souvenirs that may involve disturbing a site. This also includes scribbling on surfaces. Defacing cultural and historical landmarks is a criminal offence and disrespectful to the place you supposedly enjoyed visiting.

DOs

Keep Luggage Minimum

Travelling light gives you immense freedom. Reduce the number of expendables in your luggage. If you are catching a flight, try to get away with just enough for the cabin or maybe one more bag if it is a long trip. This is your contribution to reducing your flight’s emissions. Investing in some travel specific clothing is a good idea.

Plan Eco-Friendly Activities

Enjoy experiences that are in harmony with the surroundings. Choose destinations and hotels that complement the environment of the place with their design and facilities. Eat local produce. If your physical shape allows it, treks and walks are a much better option to explore places than from the rigid confines of a car. Use public transport more often – remember your carbon footprint.

Be Power Conscious

Image source:- Grist

A lot of destinations are burdened by a constant need of power, partly due to infrastructural demands. You can be more responsible by using fewer devices in your accommodations. Do not leave the TV on all night. Avoid unnecessarily switching on fans or the AC. Try the windows instead.

Recycle and Re-Use

Reusing bags is one step in the right direction. Instead of constantly buying bottled water, carry your own water bottle and fill it up whenever you get the chance. Products like the Lifestraw water filter also allow you to consume regular tap water without any worry. Get rid of recyclable waste the proper way; do not dunk it in random garbage spots.

Be Part of a Positive Movement

Travelling with a conscience results in a beautiful experience, where we act out our empathy towards the places we visit. It may seem like a speck in the universe, but your individual efforts to travel responsibly is a movement that is gaining momentum, one person at a time. Be the change by taking pride in your environmentally conscious travel habits.

Economical getaways for April

21 April  |  Adventure & Travel

Are you looking for an April break before summer hits peak and rates go up? Whether it is a getaway to Nandi Hills Bangalore or shacking up in one of the economic Masinagudi resorts, there will always be a destination to suit your budget. The 3 basic areas to cover when planning a low-cost trip are accommodation, food and activities.

Image source :- Karnataka.com

The 3 Areas of Budget Travel

Hostels and ashrams, if available are some examples of cheap lodging. Ashrams are free, but you need to do your research beforehand.  In some places, many temples and gurdwaras offer free quality food, a chance for you to have some unique cultural experiences along with saving on a meal. When it comes to activities, experience local culture and explore the streets and markets. Spend more time on public heritage spots and places of scenery.

Top Destinations

Image source:- Tripoto

Gokarna is one of the best places to travel if you are on a budget. Cheap accommodations are freely available before the monsoons. Shacks are very common and comfortable too, offering privacy and a rustic experience along with low rates. A trek across the hill from Ohm Beach to the other smaller beaches is recommended, or you can sit back and read a book at the seaside. Eat local and include a lot of fruit in your diet. Gokarna town is also an important spiritual centre, and there is a lot of heritage to explore on your own.

Image source:- India.com

The verdant hills of Coorg are another great destination if you are looking for a budget trip with no compromise on fun. Many homestays have sprung up in the district, and you can set up base in Madikeri, the town with most options. Choose local cuisine to reduce unnecessary expenditure on food. Why pay more for a pandi curry in a touristy cafe when you can get a better experience for less at a local Coorgi joint? Enjoy your shot of pepper rasam before your Old Monk, and walk around the town admiring the distinctive architecture of the houses, complete with shingles and all.

Image source:- mouthshut.com

The cool climes of Kodaikanal make it a weekend favourite. The charming hill town is a good budget destination, and there are many interesting sights and activities which all can partake in. Dormitories are available in the town, and the best activities include nature treks and scenic walks near the Kodaikanal Lake. Food is not expensive in Kodi if you explore local options. There is a fair amount of Tibetan stalls in the town which offer wholesome, hearty meals on a budget.

Image source :- Travel Triangle

Hillside meadows and the magnificent Nilgiri peaks welcome you at Ooty. There are many dorms where tourists can find a bed from as low as 75 rupees per night, and this town is also full of smaller budget homestays and guesthouses. Home to many local eateries, the Charing Cross and Commercial Road areas are the best places to grab a cheap meal. Ooty is so scenic that you can spend hours doing nothing but wandering around town and soaking in the mountain air. A visit to the Botanical Gardens and a Doddabetta Peak trek are recommended.

More Options

Image source:- Media India group

There are many Bandipur resorts that offer good deals before the peak of summer. Kannur is another region that is picking up as a good budget destination, and you can enjoy a nice getaway at a resort in Masinagudi. A cheap April getaway is just what you need to kick off a new financial year and prepare for a scorching season. Strategize it well, and you will not miss out on any fun.

5 types of food items to avoid while travelling

21 April  |  Listicles

A bout of food poisoning or a disagreeable tummy is not on anyone’s agenda, and if you are travelling, then these are sure shot reasons to put a dampener on that precious vacation. Other foods can make you lethargic or have other adverse side effects. Rather than blindly taking off certain foods from your list, understanding the preparation and sourcing scenarios that are the real reason behind food-related sickness will help you make informed choices.

  1. Watch the Hygiene Standards

Image source: – Look for Diagnosis

We are not going to tell you to completely avoid local economy food stalls as that is indeed a part of the travelling experience. However, be discreet when you choose a restaurant. Unclean water and contaminated oil are common in street food joints, the ticket to an upset tummy. Also, remember that street food is more likely to have flies hovering around it. Screen the vendors properly – some indicators of bad hygiene include servers handling prepared food with their hands and dirty floors and tables.

  1. Dairy Debacle

Image source:- omicsonline

Unpasteurized dairy products, including yoghurt and cheese, introduce unfamiliar microbes to your system like an alien invasion. Contaminated milk is a serious problem in many parts of the world, often mixed with polluted water. If you need to consume dairy, it is recommended to stick to packaged milk or related preserved products.

  1. Reduce the Fried Stuff

Image source:- gowaddle

Loaded with fats and no nutrients at all, fried foods are a big no if you are constantly on the move. Fried foods cause acidity, and if you have a problem with motion sickness, then deep fried stuff has been known to bring out the worst symptoms.

  1. Cooked Animals Only

Looking for some Instagram-worthy adventure, you might have ordered the raw shellfish, but ideally, it is better to stick to cooked meat. Remember that certain diets require immunity from the bacteria that might be present in food. As a traveller, you probably do not have such resistance and something as harmless looking as a fresh oyster can hurt you real bad. The seafood example keeps popping up as there is so much variety to fall sick from, but you should also apply the same rules to other meats, especially the exotic ones.

  1. Avoid Post Meal Lethargy

 

Image source :- Eat this

If you have planned a day of activities, then avoid heavy cooked food for lunch, and save that experience for dinner instead. A large rice or pasta meal will make you long for a bed, not a calming afternoon stroll. Giving your digestive system so much work can also lead to unpleasant stomach issues, so always control the portions and avoid overeating.

Any dessert or cool refreshment that involves ice or raw ingredients should also be avoided unless you are completely sure that the restaurant concerned spends time washing raw products and does not use tap water for ice. If you do have to get your fix of raw food, choose fruits and vegetables that still have their peels on.

Aside from these major precautions, it is also prudent that you spend some time researching your destinations and mentally flag any issues like safe-water scarcity or seasonal diseases that afflict the region. These basic indicators will keep you on your toes when it comes to choosing food while travelling, as a lot of times you will have to make quick decisions. Do not put yourself at risk and enjoy your trip.

How to plan an effective one day trip

12 April  |  Miscellaneous

What do you do with a holiday that pops up in the middle of the week? What if you do not want to take a long weekend off but want to utilise that Sunday instead of the usual sessions at the pub? One-day trips can sometimes inject life into what is a dull phase of work and weekend routine, but you need to adopt some habits to get the most out of them.

So how to you plan a one day trip that is less ‘searching’ and more ‘experience’?

Destination Shortlist

Start comparing possible destinations within a 100 km radius, maybe you want to stretch it to 150. If you do want to go for a longer road trip, start your day early and choose a destination where the journey is interesting too.

Bandipur resorts and Masinagudi resorts are a common choice for trips from Bangalore, offering some rustic respite from the buzz of the city.

Decide on Activities & Landmarks

After deciding on the destination, you will find out certain attractions both offbeat and popular that fall on the way. Keeping in mind the time constraints, choose the stops you want to take, whether it is a historic temple or a scenic lake. A lot of times these landmarks are accompanied by food vendors and rest stops so you can plan your meals and breaks based on the journey highlights you stop for.

Plan Your Breaks

There is always that one friend who likes his tea-breaks and the other who constantly needs a water-break. The larger the group, the more important it is to maintain decorum and not end up wasting time on stops. Plan your meals and toilet stops together and do some basic research on restaurants and cafes on the way.

Pack for One Day, And a Half

If you are getting out of the city, chances are the weather might be a little different. Carry an extra jacket or sweatshirt in case the temperature dips during the ride home. Those same rules apply if you are heading off to a higher elevation. Do you really want to remember your day trip to Nandi Hills Bangalore as a bone chilling experience because you had packed for Koramangala instead?

Stock up!

Image source:- TravelWithAMate

Basic first aid and surplus drinking water is a must. Some biscuits and light snacks are always a good idea, to keep those glucose levels up in case you are walking a lot.

Stay Connected

Image source:- Hi2buy

You are certainly not going to forget your phone, after all this trip will probably go on Instagram. The electronics packed should also include a charger or power bank, for you may be using the maps on your phone, which drain your battery a lot. You will be taking more than the usual pictures too; another reason to have that power backup. Carry some small plastic bags to keep your electronics in, in case of rain. If you are packing a DSLR camera, take the case along- a measure against the possibilities of inclement weather destroying your fledgling photography career.

Dress appropriately

What activities are you going to be involved in? E.g If you are heading off to one of the resorts in Masinagudi, make sure are carrying footwear that is meant for walks and hikes. Hats are always important for sunny weather and raincoats can be stuffed in your backpack in case there is a chance of rain.

Do Them Often

One day trips are more than just token getaways because you couldn’t plan a ‘real’ one. They sometimes set the stage for some of the best memories and discoveries. Whether impromptu or planned, ensure that there are certain rules you follow and you can end up starting a tradition of joyful and short getaways.

6 Ways to improve your stamina

12 April  |  Listicles

Vacation time is here, and you will have to shift gears and welcome a lot of travelling and physical activity. A holiday can get exhausting, especially when you load up your itinerary with things your corporate lifestyle has left you physically unprepared for. Here are six tips to increase your stamina during your travels, so you do not end up needing a break after your ‘break’.

  1. Keeping Hydrated

From a diet point of view, it all begins with hydration. Include as much liquids in your diet that balance your salt levels. If you are consuming more than your regular alcohol shots, then regulate it with glasses of water – spare yourself the lost day due to a hangover. Water can get monotonous at times, so spunk it up with some fresh fruit juice and shakes which will invigorate you with glucose.

  1. Loading Up the Carbs

 

Oatmeal may be a little boring, but there are very few equally convenient and nutritious breakfast items out there, packed with all the good carbs. Energy food of the ancient Inca warriors, quinoa has stepped up from its hipster domain and is a favourite for many travellers. Easy to prepare, this grain is perfect for quick meals and hectic itineraries.

  1. Easy Energy Foods

Image source:- ban2brothers

Safe, fresh and available almost everywhere, bananas are a superfood for travellers. Bananas can be consumed in shakes too as they compliment a lot of other protein-heavy food. Other fresh produce that infuses you with instant energy are apples and carrots.

Beans and legumes are cheap, tasty and filled with the necessary supplements to keep you on your feet. These are available in many dishes so you have a wide array of tastes to choose from. Some moderation is required here but there is no doubt that coffee gives an instant caffeine kick.

  1. Protein Packs

Eggs are a rich protein source and delicious too. Choose a heavy breakfast with lots of egg white and healthy grains. If you are travelling in a seafood state/country then fish is one of the best endurance foods, being a protein rich source that is easy to break down unlike red meat.

Keep a stock of healthy food in your backpack for those bites in between meals. Dates, almonds and some energy bars will be lifesavers on a tiring day.

  1. The Physical Habits

 

Post a long flight or journey where you have been in a single posture, try out some basic stretching exercises like back twists and jumping jacks to release those muscles. These exercises will get the blood coursing through your body.

Uninterrupted sleep is very important when you are travelling. Some of us struggle to sleep when we are in unfamiliar surroundings so sometimes a little workout is necessary before you crash. Taking a walk around the hotel premises is a good way to give your body a light cardio and a signal to recuperate.

Take short naps when you can. There’s nothing more rejuvenating than a 30-minute shut-eye in the late afternoon.

  1. Take it Easy

Squeezing a dozen activities into your short weekend trip is something that will look good in your trip album but will put your body under stress. Make sure your vacation schedule includes time to wind down. The joy of travel lies in serendipitous experiences too, so you always want to have some unplanned hours with no pressure to catch the next bus.

At the end of it all, the main intention of maintaining the right diet and adopting some useful physical habits is to ensure that you enjoy every moment of your vacation. Keep your body primed for all the fun, travel is not just about ticking boxes but enjoying the experiences to the fullest.

Let’s welcome summer with open arms!

06 April  |  Miscellaneous

The song “Summer Holiday” by Cliff Richard and the Shadows have best captured the sentiments associated with the summer season.  Along with fun and frolic, this is a time best associated with much-awaited vacations. While many look forward to it as a time for family bonding with visits to kith and kin, others head out to scenic locations like Nandi Hills, Bangalore to beat boredom or destinations that provide respite from the sweltering heat. Reputed to be hot and almost unforgiving, the Indian summer is also a time when we need to protect our body from problems like dehydration. Whether you are travelling or not- here are a few hacks to keep you and your loved ones from the heat-related travails.

Stay hydrated with these helpful summer foods

Image source:- DGIwire

Fruits such as watermelons and oranges as well as veggies such as cucumber and tomatoes contain over 90% water. Stock up on such food. And preferably consume it in its most natural form. This way your body not only gets the required hydration but also other essential fibres, minerals, and nutrients. All these collectively work to keep your body nourished and healthy. Start by including more salads and fruit dishes in your existing diet.  And work from there to increase your intake of these summer foods.

Exposure to the sun, sweat, and humidity – our bodies tend to get dehydrated in many ways during the summertime. The best way to counter this is by consuming fluids in small amounts, frequently. In addition to fresh salads and fruits, it is imperative to hydrate your body with water. Other drinks like aam panna, lime juice, buttermilk, tender coconut water, lassi, and fresh fruit juices are all delicious options.

Be wary of dehydration

Image source :- Media.healthplus

Two-thirds of our body is made up of water. Among other important functions, it helps lubricate joints, flush out toxins, and aids digestion. So, dehydration can have adverse effects on our bodily functions as well as affect our performance.

Thirst and sweating are indications that your body needs fluid replenishment. Dehydration happens when the body continues to lose water for long durations without replacing it. With immediate action, problems such as tiredness and dizzy spells can be treated at home. However, extreme conditions with indications like nausea, low blood pressure, bloody stools, and diarrhoea can be detrimental and may need professional medical care. But how do you know if your body is hydrated enough or not? The rule of thumb is that your urine should be light yellow in colour. If not, it means you need to increase your fluid intake until it becomes so. Regardless of the extent of dehydration, the bodily fluids must be replaced immediately.

Summer fashion for the travel-lovers

Image source:- InOnIt

Comfort, ease of use, cleaning, and packing- you may want to consider numerous aspects depending on the length of your holiday. It could be a day outing in Bangalore resorts or a longer homestay in Masinagudi. However, keeping your wardrobe functional need not mean boring.   Team your all-weather favourite jeans with cool cotton and natural weaves. Shirts, kurtas, and kurtis in pastel shades, light colours and floral prints are all good options.  No matter what attire you choose, it would be best to let your individualistic style speak. Go ahead and gear up for travel and take that much-needed break from the cityscapes we see on a regular basis.

10 Places to spend your long weekend

06 April  |  Listicles

Depending on what you are looking for, there are many wonderful weekend destinations to choose from. From sun soaked beaches to misty hill stations, wildlife experiences and heritage trips to tropical escapades, each of the destinations below offers the getaway you crave.

  1. Kumarakom

Image source:- Criterion Travel

Nothing epitomizes Kerala’s famed backwaters like the village of Kumarakom. Nestled on the banks of Lake Vembanad, this resort destination showcases the iconic Kerala houseboats that meander on the canals and lake waters. You can marvel at the bird species of the region and the lake is home to many types of fish. Also, the cuisine of Kerala can simply not have a more picturesque backdrop.

  1. Gokarna

Image Source:- MouthShut

A seaside destination characterised by sparse crowds and beaches conveniently close to each other, Gokarna is a backpacker paradise. Gokarna town is a blend of spiritual landmarks and flea markets. There are many shacks set up on the beaches in the summer months and the surrounding hills allow for good beach hopping treks.

  1. Kodaikanal

Image source- Mapio.net

The Kodaikanal Lake is one of the main attractions of this charming hill town, set against the splendour of the meadows and forests of Tamil Nadu’s highlands. This colonial town is best experienced on foot and some attractions include the Coaker’s Walk and the solar observatory.

  1. Coorg

Image source:- Peersome

Coorg is a rather large district to explore over a weekend but close to the town of Virajpet, the scenic trek to Tadiyandamol – one of the highest peaks in this corner of the Western Ghats, is a must. While in Coorg, make sure you get a local to narrate stories of leopards and tigers entering coffee estates. Do not miss the delicious pandi curry, a testimony to Coorg’s love of pork.

  1. Allepey

 

A 19th-century lighthouse, a beach and a houseboat on a tranquil river are the elements to a pretty good weekend itinerary. Allepey is a centre of Kerala culture and the Mullakal Temple is a must on your list. If you happen to be in the Venice of the East around the time of the annual boat race, then that is an experience of a lifetime waiting for you.

  1. Wayanad

Image source:- Pinterest

Misty mountains and sprawling estates blending with untouched wilderness welcome you at Wayanad. Another getaway for those escaping the scorching Deccan plains, highlights of a Wayanad trip include treks to Meenmutty Waterfalls and views from the summit of the 2100 metre Chembra Peak.

  1. Yercaud

Image source:-  Blog.via.com

In contrast to nearby Salem’s industrial landscape, Yercaud is a hill station in the Eastern Ghats that is famous for its moderate weather, and a namesake lake. When in Yercaud take some time off to visit the old Colonial landmarks of the town and make sure you don’t miss the Raja Seat, a picturesque park which offers numerous photo-ops.

  1. Hampi

 

Image source:- Hiveminer

The ruins of Hampi are a UNESCO Heritage Site and date back to the 7th century AD. A trip here is not just a history lesson but gives you an insight into the artisanship and architecture that had developed so many centuries ago. Add to that the sun set scenery of the ruins with the backdrop of the Tungabhadra, and you have a movie-worthy moment highlighting your trip.

  1. Pondicherry

Image source:- Holidayiq

The Promenade, French Quarters and nearby Auroville are just some attractions of Pondicherry – one of India’s most cosmopolitan and laid back destinations. The baguettes here are as popular as the idlis. Visit the lighthouse or explore some of the beaches on the East Coast Road. Auroville is also home to some enterprising continental and ‘organic only’ restaurants.

  1. Nagarhole

Image source:- Thrillophilia

A trip to Nagarhole is a perfect way to immerse in a quintessential Indian jungle, straight out of a Kipling scenario. Sandwiched between Coorg and Mysore, the national park is home to tigers, elephants and the Indian bison.

There you go! Pack your bags, call up your friends and do not forget to apply for your leaves. The long weekend a.k.a ‘the light at the end of the tunnel’ is here. Your TV show binge watching can wait and so can the pub. Step out and explore.