July is Picnic Month! A Quick Check-list for A Perfect Picnic

27 July  |  Listicles

A picnic is a throwback to an older age, when our ancestors enjoyed their mid-day meals under the shade of a tree, punctuating a hard day’s work. It is also a ritual to make the most of good weather. Enjoy an outing with loved ones over some food and games. Here are some tips before you embark on your picnic.

  1. Pick a Good Spot

Pick a spot that has some shade, direct sunlight will cause dizziness and is never recommended. Whether you are visiting a city park or a place in the outskirts, always look for a grassy spot. Grass is more comfortable to sit on, and your clothes will not get too dirty too.  Picnic spots with a view are always ideal, whether it is next to a lake or stream or on a height providing a panoramic view. You might want to avoid the really crowded places.

  1. Food and Drinks

This one is an obvious one, but there are certain pointers to keep in mind when packing a picnic lunch. Skip the rich and lavish Indian spread and try out special picnic fusions. Instead of roti and sabzi, you can present them as rolls for easier packing. Sandwiches are always a hit, and the filling could be your favourite dish. Carry plenty of water and juice as a day of activity in the outdoors will get you dehydrated.

  1. Carry Toys and Bond with Games

A picnic is not just about the food, it is also about the bonding. Games are the best way to experience a day out with your loved ones. Tossing a flying disc around or a soft game of football are perfect activities for everyone. A simple round of catch-catch, hide and seek or a treasure hunt game is always loved. If you are looking for a more laidback picnic, take a book along.

  1. Carry Bugs Repellent

    From mosquitoes to ants and leeches, the outdoors can be a little pesky to deal with at times. Don’t let the insects spoil your picnic experience and carry bug repellent with you. Sprays are convenient, or you may opt for a bug repellent cream. Mosquito bands seem to be quite a hit with the kids, especially with them being the most active of the group.

  1. Pack a Picnic Blanket

    When choosing a picnic blanket, the first thing to look out for is size. If the blanket is too small, it will be very uncomfortable for everyone to be accommodated. You also don’t want to keep your tasty food within reach of ants. Choose a bright colour, so those picnic selfies have an extra dash of vibrancy to them. Make sure it is made of quick-drying material, so it doesn’t get heavy and wet after being laid down on the damp grass. And last but least, it should be easily foldable and portable.

    It is also important to remember your responsibility to the environment. Do not litter the picnic spot after you are done. Carry a carton so you can put all the waste in there and dispose it properly. It is best to avoid drinking in a picnic, especially if there is driving involved. Keep a first aid box handy.

    Picnics are a timeless joy, and we all have those childhood memories permanently etched in old photo albums, usually featuring flower beds, lots of grass and a long forgotten favourite toy. Celebrate friendship and love with this most simple, yet most fun activity.

Things to do in Alleppey – The Land of Natural Beauty

27 July  |  Adventure & Travel

The famed backwaters of Kerala are in full glory at Alleppey or Alapuzzha, a destination that has enamoured visitors from across the world. This part of the sub-continent has been a global confluence of trade and cultural exchange for centuries and a trip to Allepey will immerse you in some of the most picturesque and unique coastal areas of India.

Boathouse and Rustic Scenes

An Allepey trip cannot be complete without a boathouse stay. Enjoy top-class service as you meander along on the gentle waterways that crisscross and surround the district. A boat cruise also gives you a glimpse of the calm countryside, plantations and laid back serenity that is a hallmark of Kerala’s rural life. Stop over at a village and enjoy some fresh toddy while interacting with the residents. Swaying palms and sultry breeze provide the backdrop for your adventure in the backwaters. Make sure you indulge in the cuisine of Allepey, some highlights of which include seafood preparations and chicken curries with the goodness of coconut milk and home grown spices.

Bird Watching Paradise

Kumarakom Bird Sanctuary is a must-visit for the pristine natural beauty alone. This place is a haven for bird watchers and some of the species that inhabit this forest permanently or as a migration stop include Siberian cranes, flycatchers, brahmini kites, herons and cormorants. The Vembanad Lake and Kavanar River are the two main water bodies that have created a special but fragile eco-system. Enjoy the untouched beauty of the place, a pretty diversion from the usual tourist activities of the region.

Beaches and Lighthouse Sunsets

A 150-year-old pier is one of the highlights at Kerala’s most iconic beach, the Alapuzzha Beach. The beach is a popular retreat for locals too, and there is nothing more soothing than the calm seawaters of the Indian Ocean sweeping onto your feet. The lighthouse of the beach is an attraction that must be visited. Sunset views from the lighthouse are an eternal favourite, a beautiful scene that tugs at your heart as the water reflects the golden rays. If your Alleppey trip were a picture book, that sunset would sum it all up.


Rejuvenating Ayurvedic Treatments

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Allepey is the best place to pamper you with Kerala’s favourite traditional massage and spa treatments. Harnessing the goodness of Ayurveda, these body therapies are known to rejuvenate the weariest of travellers and methods have remained unchanged for centuries. From all body treatments to couple massages, the spas and Ayurvedic centres of Allepey provide the perfect preparation for more exploration.

A trip to Kerala may not be squeezed into your busy schedule. You can choose from resorts in Kanakpura Road or head off to Nandi Hills, Bangalore for a day. If you are looking for wild escapades, then browse some Bandipur resorts or shack up in a homestay in Masinagudi. A corporate day outing to these nearby locations is also a good idea, as fun can also be had with colleagues and peers.

4 Travel Related Health Hacks

19 July  |  Listicles

The worst thing that can happen when you are travelling is an illness. Sometimes you are brought down by a bug, and there is no other option but to recuperate with rest and medication. However, there are certain common health issues that tend to pop up during travel, which can be dealt with more swiftly.

  1. Motion Sickness

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Motion sickness is something that can afflict even the most hardened travellers. Luckily there are enough over-the-counter drugs that will alleviate the symptoms and prevent the scenic journey up the hills from turning into a nauseating nightmare. Tilting the head to one side is also known to reduce the feeling of motion sickness. Eat some ginger, which is a good and healthy preventive measure against the feeling of nausea. Eat a few olives when the feeling of nausea starts, the tannins help in reducing the saliva levels.

Make sure your eyes are relaxed and do not read or text in a moving car. Keep the smartphone away for a while and stare at the horizon instead for a stabilising view and good long stretch of the eye muscles.

  1. Upset Stomach

Travelling with an upset stomach is probably right up there with death on the list of things we do not want to happen. Sadly, however, one odd fresh salad or a tiny microbe in a glass of water can trigger what many be termed rather straightforwardly as – Travelers’ Diarrhea. The best way to handle it is easily available medication and foods like bananas and biscuits. Keep yourself hydrated when you are suffering from an upset tummy.

  1. Dehydration

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This one sounds pretty simple. If you are dehydrated, pump in some water into that system. However, for a quicker response from your body, it helps to add some ORS or oral rehydration salts in the water, readily available in any medicine shop and store. Cucumbers and watermelon are some of the best hydrating foods. Go easy on the alcohol when you feel dehydrated, it will just make it worse.

  1. Muscle Pain/Cramps

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Sometimes, travelling can include long hours of inactivity. Post long rides or flights, a lot of travellers face muscular discomfort, especially around the core and back region and joints of the knees. The best way to prevent muscle pains is to have a bit of movement punctuating your dormant state. There are many stretching exercises that can be performed in the confines of a seat. It helps to stand up for a while too. During road trips, it is good to take rest stops. Get out in the open and try out basic stretching techniques. Carry a travel pillow around, so you don’t doze off in an awkward position and wake up with a stiff and unbearably painful neck.

Travelling is one of the most fulfilling experiences of life. At the same time though, it is a time when we need to take extra care of our health and watch what we eat or drink. Be prudent and observant of the conditions around you and always keep in mind the basic things you can do to avoid illness while on the road.

Wildlife Spotting at Masinagudi

19 July  |  Adventure & Travel

The forests of Masinagudi teem with life and offer a primeval experience to those wander deep into them. They take you back into an age when humans were the hunted and predators prowled in the darkness of the canopies, while the only sounds of warnings came from alarmed primates and rushing deer. This pristine chunk of thick forest in one of South India’s wilderness areas is a great place to experience India’s wildlife from up close.

When to Visit

The reserve is a 5-hour trip south from Bangalore. The best times to visit Masinagudi are the winter months to mid-summer (October to May). Monsoon is also a good time to visit as there is moderate rainfall and the forests are at their verdant best.

Wildlife of Masinagudi

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Masinagudi is home to many of India’s flagship species. The region is abundant with many types of deer, including the spotted deer, a staple of South India’s forests. The reserve is part of a much larger tiger habitat, the Mudumalai National Park. Other predators include the elusive leopard and smaller cat species like the jungle cat and leopard cat, the striped hyena and the Indian wild dog or dhole. Common large mammals include the gaur, wild boar and sambar deer.

Masinagudi is a fascinating place for bird watching too, and some of the avifauna here includes the Malabar trogon and different hornbill species. Safaris on elephant back allow you to get closer to the wildlife, and you can go for treks or jeep rides with local guides who will show you the hotspots of the reserve.

Where to Stay

There are a host of Masinagudi resorts which provide a perfect base for your explorations. You can look for a homestay in Masinagudi or around the area for a charming cultural experience. Masinagudi is the heart of the Nilgiri Forest Reserve, and you can further explore the region around this forest. Nearby places include Bandipur National Park, just an hour away. Ooty is only 30 kilometres away.

Things to Pack

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Pack the right items for the jungle trip to avoid inconveniences. Stick to light clothing which blends with the surroundings. Carry insect repellant and have an extra pair of shoes. Look for sturdy shoes with grip, especially useful in wet conditions. Carry a poncho in case it rains. The sun will be beating down in most months, so hats, sunscreen and shades are a good recommendation. Masinagudi provides a great stage for photography, so you will want to carry your camera. Ensure that you also have a weather-proof backpack to keep your possessions safe.

There are many other wild getaways around Bangalore. Browse through some popular Bandipur resorts, another popular choice for wildlife enthusiasts. If time is a constraint, there are many resorts in Kanakapura Road where you can enjoy an outing with friends and loved ones and take a break from the daily grind. Nandi Hills, Bangalore is also an ideal destination if you want to step away from the city for a while.

7 Must-Visit Monsoon Destinations in India

13 July  |  Adventure & Travel

The monsoons are here, and it is time to plan that trip into the clouds. Get away from traffic jams and flooded roads and relish the uplifting beauty of the rains. Here are 7 destinations where you can enjoy the subcontinent’s season of life.

Lonavala, Maharashtra

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Lonavala is one of the famed hill stations where weary Mumbai and Pune residents go and rejuvenate. During the monsoons, the mountains are verdant and mystifyingly shrouded in clouds while the forests teem with life, an annual rebirth after the scorching summer. From nature photographers and group travellers to those who seek solace in nature, Lonavala is one of the most loved rainy season destinations. Other attractions here include the numerous forts which speak of this regions strategic importance in medieval times.

Masinagudi, Tamil Nadu

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One of the ranges of the Mudumalai National Park, Masinagudi is a favourite destination for wildlife enthusiasts. Home to flagship species like the tiger, leopard and elephant, Masinagudi is also habitat for many rare bird species. Monsoon is an abundant period for predators and moonlight safaris are a great way to witness animals up close. The hair-raising thrill of seeing a big cat prowl in the dark is incomparable and for such experiences alone. There are many Masinagudi resorts that will help you have the trip of a lifetime.

Kodaikanal, Tamil Nadu

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With a charming colonial past that lives on in its architecture and heritage, Kodaikanal is also one of the most picturesque hill towns of South India. Perched in the high hills of Tamil Nadu, Kodaikanal features a beautiful lake and terraced farms that stretch far and wide. The forest area near the town is home to many species. The monsoon months are a joy here with cool temperatures and foggy landscapes adding another dimension to the laid back vibe.

Coorg, Karnataka

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Coorg is a colourful and unique district of Karnataka, boasting a distinctive culture and a famous cuisine. Enjoy a getaway in one of the estates of the hilly region and listen to tales of tigers and leopards stealthily visiting plantations in the dark of the night. An untamed forested land with a fierce heritage, Coorg provides the stage for a beautiful monsoon vacation.

Munnar, Kerala

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Much has been chronicled about the green heights of Munnar, a land of tea plantations and mountainous terrain. Walk across the plantations as the monsoon mist comes and goes. Munnar region provides an escape from the heat and sludge of the plains and is home to many species of animals, including the endangered Nilgiri Tahr. The town provides a quaint backdrop where one can take walks and indulge in tasty local fare.

Ranikhet, Uttarakhand

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With the Western Himalayas looming beyond, Ranikhet stands pretty as one of Uttarakhand’s favourite hill towns. The Queen’s Meadow blooms with Himalayan fauna when the rains touch these northern ranges. A golf course and lake are some of the town’s attractions. Wake up to the fuzzy coolness of the monsoon mist and explore the charming lanes of the old town as you escape the din of the city.

Kutch, Gujarat

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A desolate beauty greets those who wander into the Rann of Kutch. Gujarat’s western district juts into the Arabian Sea and becomes a marshland during the wet months. The Banni Grasslands are part of a rich and delicate wildlife ecosystem, and a monsoon trip to Kutch will lead to many discoveries and unique sights.

These monsoon destinations make for great trips with the family. If you are looking at closer locations because of time constraints then Nandi Hills, Bangalore and a host of Bandipur resorts provide excellent rainy day getaways. A corporate day outing in resorts in Kanakapura Road can help in breaking some ice and create more bonding. The rain drops are falling, step out now.

5 Trekking Hacks for the Monsoon!

13 July  |  Listicles

The rains are here and the outdoors of the sub-continent beckon. Monsoon trekking is a thrill in itself and much tougher than regular dry treks. However, the difficulty is part of a larger reward as this is the season when India’s forests bloom with life and offer sights and experiences that will remain with you for a lifetime.

  1. The Right Shoes

Think of monsoon trekking shoes as off-road tires for your feet. Mud and slippery rocks will ensure that you will need to have a lot of grip to avoid sliding around and hurting yourself. Look for larger lugs and thick soles for grip, and breathing friendly designs. Remember that shoes which claim to be water-proof do not offer ventilation, so a better option would be a sturdy, grip-giving and well-ventilated shoe that dries really fast.

  1. Waterproof Backpack

Trekking in the rain is fun as long as all your stuff is dry, especially important for those who are carrying gadgets. A waterproof backpack is an essential. Make sure you check the material of your backpack before you purchase one. Sturdy and light is the combo you are going for. Zipped pockets provide better protection, so the more hardware, the better. It doesn’t even have to be an expensive outdoorsy brand; a lot of regular good quality backpacks provide weather protection, ideal for short treks.

  1. Sunglasses and Sunscreen

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Monsoon trekking in tropical belts like the Western Ghats still means pretty high temperatures. The rains tend to subside sporadically, and suddenly you may have burning sunlight to contend with. Sunscreen is very useful in this regard. It protects you from harmful UV rays which are still there even with cloud cover. Sunglasses help reduce glare and protect your face from errant brambles and thorny leaves and bushes.

  1. Keep the Salt Ready

Take away the blood-sucking part and leeches aren’t really that harmful. Of course, most of us city slickers can’t handle a spider in the bedroom so a leech enjoying happy hours on your arms or thighs may not be a welcome development. Don’t pull leeches off, they leave your wound open, and the bleeding continues for a long time. Throw some salt on the leech, and it will fall off.

  1. Flip Flops

Flip flops are a surprising addition to the list, but when you think about it, they are the best way to cross rivers and streams. Your trekking shoes may be able to take the hit but the drying time also needs to be considered. Flip flops or slippers do not have that problem. Keep a pair ready.

There are still a few more pointers that help. Your clothing is another important aspect of a good trekking set up. Avoid cotton or similar fabrics that soak in water and become heavy. Fabrics that breathe and dry fast are the best for monsoon jaunts. Experts will tell you to opt for a poncho over a rain suit. The humidity can be unbearable if you choose the latter.

Monsoon treks are fun, and that is exactly why we love them. But we also need to respect the terrain and the weather, unforgiving to those who go unprepared. Be ready and make the most of this amazing outdoors activity.

Basic Flying Etiquette for Every Passenger

05 July  |  Listicles

‘Man is not a social animal when on a flight’- this should probably be an adage attributed to the wisest of philosophers, for not too many statements stand truer. A flight can also make one forget his or her manners and airport rage has been documented all over the world. No one is immune from it, from the regular economy class majority to politicians. It helps to pause and remind ourselves of some off-limit areas as we accept our boarding passes and head over to our gates.

  1. Respect the Crew

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This one is clearly a no-brainer. Flights can get us twitchy and impatient, especially if we are pre-occupied by something else, or there are delays. Cabin crew members are trained to show utmost patience, but once in a while people tend to take them for granted to the point of dehumanizing them as just an extension of the ‘evil airline company’. That is just wrong. These are the folks that ensure your safe flight and comfort in a metal tub gliding at 30,000 feet above the ground. They deserve respect and understanding.

  1. Give Space to Others

 

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We have all met the guy, who takes over the entire arm-rest during a flight, or the lady who thinks her bawling three-year-old possessed child is the cutest thing on earth, and you are supposed to let it trample on your formals. Don’t be those people. Your flight seat entitles you to a certain physical radius that you can call yours for a while, nothing beyond it. The meaning of space also includes sound. Use headphones for media and avoid being loud when you communicate with the crew.

  1. Go Easy on the Alcohol

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Whether it is the overpriced beer at the airport bar or the free malt in an international flight, travelling seems to be an apt time for a tipple or two. Now, remember that you are going to be in a confined space with hundreds of strangers, not interested in random conversations. A harmless situation can turn embarrassing, which in turn can turn serious.

A flight is also a great way to dehydrate if that ever becomes a good thing. The lack of humidity is severe and physically can have adverse effects. Too much alcohol speeds this process. The free in-flight booze can help you momentarily doze off, but in the long run, you are hurting yourself.

  1. Follow Protocol

Impatience can pop up again when we stand in a queue, whether it is for boarding or security. But we shouldn’t forget that everyone wants the same thing, to get the journey over with. So when you are all on the same team, it means you all follow the same rules.

When the flight ends, do not immediately get up and grab your overhead luggage. You will end up crowding the aisle and standing foolishly for 10 minutes. Instead, wait for some space, collect your baggage without the urgency of a bomb disposal squad and head out calmly. Remember, the transit bus waits for everyone.

At the end of the day, a happy mind is the best mind to travel with. Avoid confrontations and ugly scenarios when you travel. It will help you focus on the trip ahead and lay the path for a memorable adventure.

Reasons Why You Must Try Waterfall Rappelling!

05 July  |  Adventure & Travel

Rappelling or abseiling is a popular adventure sport where the participant descends a height with the help of a harness. Now picture this – add an extra element of thrill by rappelling down not just a rock, but a waterfall. Hug the surface underneath a powerful current and descend the face of a waterfall to complete an exciting activity. Here are some reasons why waterfall rappelling should be added to your adventure itinerary.

Ultimate Adrenaline

Nothing can replace the adrenaline rush of an adventure sport like waterfall rappelling. Imagine staring up-close at the rocks on which the waterfall slides down, having your face pounded by the cool waters as you are descending, all this with breath-taking scenery around you.

A session of water rappelling throws you in the midst of nature. You will be one with the elements of height, hard rock formations, and water, and you get to negotiate these elements with your physicality and the safety of a harness. Waterfalls are mini eco-spaces in themselves and provide a scenic backdrop to many unique plants and amphibians. Enjoy a heart-raising and professionally supervised activity in a picture perfect and pristine setting.

Improves Physical Strength

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Rappelling is one of the best ways to build your core strength and increase your stamina. An activity that requires you to use almost all your muscles, the added factor of water creates a platform where you learn to adapt quickly and utilise a wide range of motions. It is also a fun and memorable way to burn a lot of calories. Rappelling also improves the person’s leg strength. You will also be employing a lot of concentration, and the mental victory that comes after completing the descent down a waterfall is a high in itself.

Mental Wins

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Activities like waterfall rappelling also help the release or neurotransmitters like norepinephrine, which helps in reducing stress. Waterfall rappelling is a great confidence booster as it helps people conquer fears.  A lot of time the fear of heights stops people from trying so many similar activities. Rappelling is a great activity that eases a person to overcome this challenge as it does not involve any sudden drops and the comfortable waist harness gives the individual total control over the speed of descent. Similarly, the presence of a harness helps people face the water related fears.

Add an Experience to Life

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Waterfall rappelling is a tick on the bucket list. It also entails a nice trek into beautiful natural surroundings, a bonus to signing up for such an activity. It will also lead to some amazing pictures and memories that will last a lifetime. Perform this adventurous activity with a bunch of friends so you can share and enjoy each other’s experiences. Adventure activities are also great for a corporate day outing.

With a host of professional adventure activity facilitators and state of the art safety equipment, rappelling is a safe activity. Do read up on the basic precautions and ensure that your health conditions are in line for such an activity.

There are many team outing resorts near Bangalore which organise multiple activities. If you want to leave the adventure for another day and just relax, a trip to Nandi Hills, Bangalore or one of the resorts in Masinagudi is perfect. Browse through Bandipur resorts for a wild experience.